Thursday, December 23, 2010

LB Flagship store in NYC!


As you can see from the photo posted, I could not be so close to the Lion Brand Flagship store and not stop in! The farthest tip of Long Island is much closer than Virginia after all. And I did buy some yarns that are only carried in the store or online. But I really needed to "pet" the yarn to truly see if it was what I wanted.

Okay, so I had already completely made up my mind. What I did discover was some yarn that would be perfect for this throw blanket that I've been wanting to make, Umaro by Brooklyn Tweed. That I will order once I have a few more projects cleared off my plate. After all, the KAL sweater is coming up and I should really be focusing on that for now. (yeah, right!)

Somehow, I will manage to to at least partially clear my plate. One project was in the queue for 2 years and then in the projects hibernating for 6 months I hadn't even really cast it on, I just wound the yarn into cakes (balls, or what ever else you want to call it). But cast-on I finally did. And I will need to get one more skein of the yarn to complete it. One very expensive, special order hank of yarn. But it will be beautiful when done. Oh yeah, it looks like the colorway is discontinued.

Now, the boyfriend accompanied me on this trip to NYC. And I want this clearly stated on the record. I was finished and purchased and ready to move on to the next wonder BEFORE he was ready to leave the yarn store!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Singular moments in history, at least during my life.

I remember it, not very well, but I do. I remember my father getting me up out of bed and herding my sister and I outside in the middle of the night. Was the house on fire? Did the carbon monoxide alarm go off? Were secret assassin ninjas attacking to steal my father's schematics for some new invention?

Nope. Haley's comet was making it's appearance, as it does about every 75 years. It was the best night to see it with the naked eye. from my sleepy state, I recall my father explaining about the tails, the visibility, and how we may have a chance to see it again in our lifetime, but that most people wouldn't. He patiently expalined all of the what's, hows and whos about Haley's comet to a half-awake 9 year old. But I did listen, and some things stuck.

In my 9-year-old brain, I didn't truly grasp the significance of the event. But since then, I have. And I am glad that my father had me standing outside in February freezing my back-side off looking at a celestial ball of ice making it's way through the night sky.

Which is why, last night, I got myself out of bed and went to stand outside in my pj's, freezing my back-side off, to look up into the sky to see a Lunar eclipse on the winter solstice. At 3am. Something that I will most likely never see again.

Yes, it didn't look any different from most lunar eclipses, but it was significant. It is a moment in history that won't come again for many years. When things line up in a combination that create a beautiful and peaceful moment. The point is, I saw it. A singular moment in history that will never EXACTLY be repeated. And once again, it was cold out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Making a list and checking... O! A squirrel!!

Lists. There is so much to be done for the holidays and the time grows ever nearer. Presents still need wrapping, but only some. Rooms still need cleaning, but only a bit. Laundry still needs folding, but really just put away. Little stuff. I have plenty of time until the ARRIVAL on Friday.

Really, I know I have clean sheets, I just need to put them on the bed. So much time, I think I'll sit and knit a spell. Just a bit.

I have my list, I know what I have to do tomorrow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Stress

Everyone knows the holidays are stressful. But for knitters, the holidays have a different level of stress. A more intense level.

We still have to get the house ready for the season, but this most likely includes moving and relocating stashes. I've been told that is is rude to leave pillowcases filled with yarn on the guest bed instead of actual pillows when guests are coming. We must make room for a tree, or clear off space for a menorah, thus displacing yarn and roving.

In my case, I live with only a cat, so she doesn't nag me about the fact that I use the main couch to line up current projects. It keeps them in easy reach. I don't have to move far from my nest. But guests and family are coming, and the nest itself must get cleaned and organized. Don't get me wrong, it isn't a filthy, disgusting mess. It is a nest. Where in my spot (the seat that I spend my time while home), I have arm-reach access to various projects, skeins of yarn, roving, spinning wheel, needles, pattern books, accessories and so on and so forth.

So my little comfy corner must also be picked up aside from the regular holiday cleaning. All of this coming to a deadline. Buying and wrapping presents, making cookies and fudge, sing with glee and peace while not killing relatives....And lets not forget the most INTENSE part of the knitting holiday layer: knitted gifts.

Yup, we have all the stress as regular people, but we also have the added stress of knitting gifts. Don't do it you say? This year I wasn't planning too. I have enough on my plate. And then I started getting requests. Little Timmy wants a funky hat again this year. Sally really wants a scarf. Bob saw this hat that Johnny Depp was wearing and had to have it. Cousin Marget saw the Harry Potter movie and wants the same sweater that Hermione wears in it.

All to be done in 2 weeks along with everything else. No one realizing the about of time that it takes to make these things. I Made presents once for everyone. I started in July and barely made the deadline. Yet, well meaning friends and family think that I can whip out a sweater in a weekend. Honey, I'm not that good. Really. I just ripped out the same sock 3 times, should do it again, but have successfully reached the screw it phase. What to do with the requests? I've tried the teach them how to do it method on some. It really doesn't deter them from asking. I haven't got an answer. I'm too stressed out to think about it.

If someone comes up with a solution, please let me know.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tonight's News

The headlines for the news tonight in my small town:

County board gets sung to by local schools.

Workers have fixed the Berryville stoplight

Bed, Bath & beyond to Open

Not kidding, these are the headlines. While not as titillating as national headlines, they aren't nearly as depressing either. In fact, I would much rather have these than ones of murder and mayhem. But if you want a little action:

Flyaway blow-up snowman bounces off my windshield causing no damage to either car, driver, or Mr Frosty.

Cat discovers that front claws are needed to really climb a Christmas tree. Fortunately, she almost landed on all four paws.

Knitter sits on afghan concealing DPNs. While the knitter's rear padding prevented injury, all concerned were most great full that the favorite sock needles survived the attack intact

Friday, November 19, 2010

We all have our favorites...

We all have them. Favorites. TV shows, books, recipes, yarn, needles, magazines, fiber, family members... Good, bad or not, we all have favorites. Admit it. We rank things in our minds. I would much rather spend 2 weeks with my sister going shopping than 10 minutes in polite conversation with my uncle. Both choices would come after major dental work. But I love going to haunted houses and little adventures with my sister. Just not shopping. Favorite past times.

I also have favorites else where in my life. My favorite standard wool yarn? Paton's Classic Merino Wool and Plymouth Galloway. I love my Harmony Wood DPNs. My favorite hat pattern is a basic 2x2 rib that fits everybody and is quick as all get-out to knit. And I have my favorite circular "hat" needle.

It was inexpensive. It's plastic. Not even some nice funky plastic. Just plastic. Size 6 and 16 inches. The needles portions have been bent to accommodate my knitting of hats at just the right spot. It's perfect. It works for any hat. Really.

So, here I am in fall, needing to make a bunch of hats, and I can't find my favorite needle. My favorite circ. Now, I have 2 interchangeable sets of circular needles, that I could use. But it isn't the same. Not at all. I could easily use one or the other to make a size 6, 16" circ. But..

After searching and coming up empty (but destroying my house in the mean time) I went to the store where I bought my hat needle originally to get another one. I would just have to break it in. And if I found my needle, I would have 2!! Happy days!! Now, the store has new owners, but much has remained the same. Needle selections, though, have not.

I cried as I left the store. No one would get hats this year. I wouldn't be able to make new warm head wear to match my latest sweater. As I drove home in a sullen funk trying to think of replacement knitting, I had given up hope. I got home and went to the project bags I had created of yarn an pattern. I pulled out one thinking that instead of a hat, I would use the yarn to make a headband or a shawllette.

And there was my needle, in the bag, with the yarn and the pattern of hat. Who the hell organized my crap?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I feel I may be due for a crash soon. But I don't think that will happen until after the New Year. Yup, it's that time again, making presents.

Now really, I only feel obligated to knit a few items every year. Some bizarre hat for my BIL, and a few hats for charity. Thank goodness that my folks live in a warm climate and my sister isn't a fan of hand-knits. Same with the boy friend, where he's at, a sweater or wool socks would be hysterical. (But we all know why I won't be knitting him anything for a while)

And yet, somehow I have managed to overload myself. Entirely my own fault, but I'm not sure I can back out now. And when you add work and school schedule on to it, I'm knitting instead of eating and definitely knitting instead of sleeping.

The other night I was up until past 2AM knitting. For me, that is insane. But I will keep doing it. I will continue to reduce the amount of sleep I'm getting so that I can hopefully finish all the projects in time.

I'll sleep later.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

31 Days: Update

Longest scarf I've ever made!

(note: queen size bed, corner to corner and hanging)


Saturday, September 4, 2010

31 Days

It started at 31 days. My Birthday is on the 31st. On the 30th, I got wonderful gifts from my friends. In particular, a skein of beautiful wool LACE-weight from Amanda. Really, honey-it's not sock weight. And, looking at it, it shouldn't be made into socks. It should be made into something eye-catching, something not hidden in shoes.

The following day, my birthday, it occurred to be that it would be about 31 days until I met my boyfriend's parents for the first time. We will be going up to New York to visit. Then it really hit me. I need a Hostess Gift! For people I have never met. I am not new to the giving of hostess gifts, but normally I know the person before hand. On this one, I am flying blind.

I start trying to pry more information from my boyfriend. Ever the good secret agent, his lips are sealed. His mother likes crosswords and knitting, his father reads. Great. At least I have somethings in common with them. Like breathing air and drinking tea.

Okay, sarcasm aside, I've got an in with the knitting thing. I don't know her to get her yarn. You definitely need to know a person to buy that kind of a gift. I don't know her knitting style or what she prefers to knit with or make? Cotton, wool, silk or (gasp) acrylic? Scarves, doilies, afghans, pot holder or sweaters? Large projects or small?

Then I saw the yarn from my birthday and it spun out in my mind and imagination into a gorgeous light lacy scarf. Simple and elegant and a perfect gift. And I had 31 days to make it. I've been at it for less than a week and I've hit that point.

That point is why I don't make scarves. I am at the point where the scarf has stop growing. I still am working on it. Row after row. I took today and tonight off from doing anything just to knit and lay on an heating pad. And the scarf has stopped growing. I have just spent 2 solid hours knitting and watching TV and I swear it is the same size as when I started.

I don't know if I can go on. I don't know if physics will continue to defy me and keep the scarf from growing into the ultimate gift. But if it does finish, it will not go alone. I have tea coming in from Europe and some homemade jelly (the way to any man's good graces is through his tummy), and I am complimenting other small possibilities.

But 31 days will be the kicker. And If I'm putting all of my nervous energy into the scarf, I can't really get nervous about meeting the folks for the first time, right?


Friday, August 13, 2010

What about Bob?

Bob came into and out of my life quickly. A little over 24 hours.

Bob was first spotted yesterday afternoon at work. We tried to get close to see his age, health, etc.. but the quick little guy got away and hid under a cargo transport trailer. We hoped that we would see him again the next day.

Today, while going to get the mail, I saw him again. Such a smart little boy, he even had me on my hands and knees in the mud attempting to coax him out. I could tell that he was very scared and malnourished and that he had been exposed to the elements for far too long. I decided to let it be for a while but talked to all the guys and put them on high alert. I didn't want him sneaking into one of their trailers and getting locked in there all weekend.

Then I got the call. The guys had him surrounded under a truck. We finally got him out, and I scooped him up in a work tee-shirt. He was in very bad shape. Frail and all bones. He was covered in tics feasting on draining the remaining life out of him. I started popping them like bubble wrap and felt no remorse. Pop! I gently laid him on my desk next to Work Cat and he calmed. Too much. I realized that the fight had gone out of him. I tried dribbling water into his mouth, but there was little response. Work cat apparently didn't realize that there was a kitten curled into her as she slept, but when she woke there was a reaction I hadn't anticipated. She was scared of the kitten. We joked about him being a landscape cat and named him Bob Cat. (get it?)

And the kitten continue to let go of life. I laid him in the kitty pi bed and drove him home. I cooed and sang softly, gently petting while I drove home. I got him home and grabbed some towells, I locked us in the down stairs bathroom. I tried to get water down his throut with an eye dropper. But it was too late. With a last exhalation, he was gone, the light gone from his eyes. I sat on the floor holding him in towels.

I gave him a bath and dried and fluffed him. As I did, I took a closer look at Bob. And I started to suspect that the name we gave him may have been more apt than we realized. His ears were overly large on a kitten, and while he was obviously still in the milk phase (only teeth cut were canines), he seemed large framed, even if the poor guy had starved to death, which I think triggered a heart attack, or he simply gave up.

When he was clean and presentable, I went about tending to the disposal of his remains. While I personally wish to be cremated, I am fairly certain that firing up the wood stove would be a very bad idea. In the end, I decided that a nice Victoria Secret bag would please him. Had he lived, I have no doubt that he would drag my underwear around the house. I laid him in, wrapped in tissue and added a small ball of cashmere yarn. What kitty wouldn't like yarn and cashmere will go along way on the River Styx.

I buried Bob under a Mulberry tree on the edge of a field of honeysuckle. I laid two large logs in an X over his grave. Said a prayer and let the drizzling rain hide my tears. I could have done nothing different and this was just the circle of life.

But I looked out of curiosity, and this bobcat kitten looks very much like Bob.

Rest in Peace.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


No, this blog has nothing to do with my emotional state. It has to do with my house. My projects. And my chores. They are currently incomplete. Partially done. Just that one last thing and it will be finished. So close. Really, I've gotten it to this stage, I can take a break now. I need to wait until the weather cooperates a little more. I've been very busy with sister's and friend's weddings and parties and birthdays. Really, I've accomplished quite a bit. Yet...

They are all incomplete. Unfinished.

My house is a construction zone. I can't put the laundry away until I finish the attic stuff. You can't get into the guest bedroom because of the insulation for the attic. The living room has a ladder against the wall, and extension chord and various tools, not to mention a drill and marine battery on the entry table with all my drill bits. The upstairs bath has been striped, waiting for me to finish the tub, which is sealing it at this point. But I now need to wash the shower curtain and pray I get all the cat hair off or I'm going to have to go to WalMart and buy a new one (I checked, they still have the same design). There is makeup on my kitchen counter waiting to be put away and the fan cover from the master half bath. The cabinet for that bath is in the living room. The downstairs makes the upstairs seem pristine.

The craft room. Need I say more? Still has boxes waiting to be unpacked, each box is less than 1/4 full because the rest is already done. I aught to just upend them all in a small pile and breakdown the boxes so I can walk through the room. Lord knows How I will truly get that organized. The lab also needs to be re-organized. It has become the dumping ground for spare bits and parts. The paint can be taken to the shed to free up some room for the tools and such. The pile of CLEAN laundry waits down there until the attic is done so.....

I have been having nightmares of my mother's kitchen that was under construction for 15 years with no cabinet doors on and all the paint stripped off. Just waiting to be completed. I can't take it anymore. I've been making progress every week, but...

So I have given myself a deadline. My birthday. A little over a month. And it has already begun. Tonight spending a good hour and a half in the craft room. This weekend I intend to be on the caffeine binge from hell and may not actually sleep. I will get things done. I will ship those overdue packages. I will clean and organize and hang the cabinet. I will finish the tub. I will keep at it and continue until it is done. Each weekend, each night (knit nights excluded) until it is complete.

THEN, I can mess it up again.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life in the Wilds of Frederick County, VA

That Spot in the distance is a Hot air balloon. It looks so far away in the photo, But I assure you in person it was much closer. Enough for me to wonder if the pilot saw the trees at all.

But in the evening, one of the greatest show in the area can be seen from my deck. In my back yard and the woods. Bats doing their nightly aerobatics show, fireflies flashing all around, deer cruising by, squirrels, rabbits, cats, turtles and ground hogs.

I have recently had 2 run ins with the wildlife in my backyard. The first I was out mowing the area that I am reclaiming for the forest and a sea of honey suckle vines (I've dumped enough commercial strength round up that the ground should be fallow.). So I was pushing the mower when what I thought was a rock flew out the back. When I realized it went far and was lighter, I went to check it out. Not a rock. I had just shot a turtle over 25 feet with the lawn mower.

The turtle was fine, I cried for 1/2 and hour. Then I started looking and discovered that there were a good few turtles out there. The pictures here are NOT the one I mowed. As I said, he was fine.

These were taken on a different day and this turtle was larger that the astroturtle.

My second incident involved Bob and Charlotte. Grounds hogs which pictures appear in a previous post. Bob charged me. I was standing on the top of the slope by the deck about to go to the shed. One was inside the den underneath. I stopped and we were just looking at each other. After all, I didn't want to scare it off. Then I here this crash from the undergrowth below the second terrace. And there he is. Charging out of the forest and up the slope. Where I thought he would stop. He didn't. He passed the shed running at top ground hog speed heading right for me. It became clear that at that moment, he was not afraid of me one bit. I ran into the house.

I attempted another foray to the shed to get the electrical cord I needed, and was again thwarted. So with out the cord for that night's project, I had to settle with knitting. (shucks! ;)_ )

But some how this week, never coming in to contact with anything, as I completely ignored yard work, I now have poison ivy/sumac. Yup. First time. I am trying really hard not to scratch and am using the stuff the doc gave me and taking Benadryl. But really, I think I might have to were those little mittens that they put on babies to keep them from scratching, because I really want to itch it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Power Bill

I just got the electric bill from the new power company. Went from $223 to $85. Just because they actually READ the meter every 2 months. Much better.

Round 2

I am currently going through what I am referring to as Round 2 of home improvement. And while I haven't given up, I was hit with an obstacle that I hadn't foreseen. While it is hardly insurmountable, requiring only more work on my part and rethinking the way I was going to do things, I can't seen to quit moaning about it.

I've been whiny, self-centered and pouty. Actually, this week, I seem to have morphed into "Moaning Myrtle." I have been bemoaning everything. I seem to have forgotten some crucial life lessons regarding humility lately.

Well, as my wise friend says, "time to pull up your big girl panties...." Get the work done. So it takes a little longer, I'm not on a time schedule. Count my blessings. Remember to appreciate my blessings, after all, I have a lot. Not the least is a great family, a hot guy, and wonderful friends.

Tomorrow, I plan on counting my blessings with every step and giving thanks. Now, I will stop moaning about moaning.

Monday, June 14, 2010


We all launch protests from time to time. Sometimes directly and some times in a passive aggressive manner. Normally, I will take a protest for what it is. Some times it is merely a vent to let off steam. Other times it is for a cause one feels deeply and profound about. I understand this and respect another's right to protest whatever they feel like. After all, that is their right, it is my right to completely ignore it.

Unless their protest involves destruction of property not owned by them. Property that is mine. Property that is intended to be a gift. Something I have been pouring my heart into for luck and well being for the recipient.

Now, I should tell you that I am the only female in the company. So when things get to a certain point, I break and do strange things like clean the floors, dust and vacuum. The boys would gladly let the dirt pile up to their knees before thinking about shoveling out. Today was one of those days. I took out the trash, cleaned and picked up. And then I vacuumed.


The ultimate sin. There I was, at the end of the day. The foreman bee came in, and I turned off the vacuum to discuss the day's work. Then it happened. Work Cat launched a protest. It was so clearly aimed at my vacuuming. While sitting on my desk. She stares up at both of us making sure to catch our attention. We cease speaking noting a glint in her eye of pure malice. She very pointedly looks at the vacuum (now quite), looks back up at the 2 of us, staring back with some weird fascination and sensing impending doom. And then she did it.

She VERY deliberately pushed a full 22oz cup of coffee off my desk upside down into my bag, where a project that I am working on for a friend's baby shower (this weekend) is laying innocently. Not to mention EVERYTHING else in my purse/bag. She gave one last snort of disapproval at the vacuum, eyed us again, and then had the NERVE to climb into the Kitty Pi bed I made her.

We stood there, mouths agape. I looked at the other person and told him what that was in the bag. He remembered his son had a school thing and beat the hastiest retreat I've seen in a while. And all I can do was stare at the destruction from her protest.

The damage was done. Coffee was pouring out of my bag as I rushed it to the sink in the other room, a trail of coffee on the floor behind me. There would be no more vacuuming that day. The protest was clearly heard. So I will not vacuum unless Work Cat is outside. Even if it means I'm dumping her butt out there in 2 feet of snow!

Friday, June 11, 2010

First Sock Syndrom

I know that most knitters are aware of the dreaded "second sock syndrome." This is when You finally finish the first sock and you simply dreading having to start all over with the second start. It usually has side effects such as stashing the first sock until you feel refreshed enough about the pattern to knit the second sock. This usually results in finding the first sock, months later behind the couch, in the freezer, or on top of a blade on the ceiling fan.

Well, this syndrome is different. I finished my first sock, which was really torture, only to discover when I but it on, it fit beautifully and it feels like buttah. I mean, my foot sighed and my toes tingled at pleasure of being encased in this bamboo and cotton blend sock. Perfect. A perfect sock on every level!

So here is where I freak. There is NO WAY I can make the second sock as perfect as the first! I should never have tried it on before the pair was done. Which has become a new rule. If they don't fit when done, they will fit some one.

In the mean time, I have one perfect sock.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Plant Fiber dreams

I have been working to clear out my "back forty." Which is really a couple thousand square feet which I also refer to as "the lower meadow." This has been hard physical labor to clear out the years of weeds, vines, brambles and and garbage from the neighbors.

I've been pushing myself hard to plow through it. And I'm still trying to figure out how to actually till it when I get it to that point. In the mean time, I've been using hand saws, blades, scythe, mower and pure frustrated strength to pull, hack and chop my way through.

The other night after work, I was out there again with the mower running over some areas that is mainly dead creeping vines. I kept thinking of the flax and cotton I would plant. The area where I would plant my dye garden and the area that will get the medicinal plants. Echinacea, Valerian, etc.. I was very caught up in my plant and fiber dreams. I was suddenly wrenched from ideal thoughts by a huge BOOM!!!!

Uh-Oh. I went in to my standard process for when things like this happening. I don't even need to think about it anymore. 1. Jump back as far as possible while letting go off all equipment. (when in doubt, let it out) 2. watch for fire, sparks and smoke 3. asses if equipment is posessed and will continue on it's merry way unmanned. 4. slowly approach like you would a wounded tiger 5. poke with foot. I don't know why, but this always seems smart to do. 6. All Clear is given 7. truly see what the damage is.

In this case, the vines had completely grown over a soccer ball many years ago. The mower had just popped it.

I think it's time to call it a day. The fiber dreams will be there tomorrow.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Clean and De-Stash!

The craziness of destashing. I know, who would want to destash, right? But really it is a swap and also let us make more room for new fresh items to goo-goo over and pet. For example, in a Few short weeks, the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is happening with all the fibery goodness one can hope for. This time, I am just hoping for nice weather.

So, there will be roving and yarn, doodads and gizmos. Yes, I know that I do not need anymore yarn or fiber. But I have made a little room for a select item or two. I'll behave.

Promise! ;)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meet the neighbors

Meet the neighbors. I have named them Bob and Charlotte.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wool Sweaters

For those who don't know, yes, you can wash wool. The trick is to do it gently. Veerryyyy gently.

So, I've been starting a pile of sweaters to wash all at once. Sweaters are definitely one of those items that does not need to be washed every time it is worn, unlike underwear. One sweater had lipstick on it (yes, I smooched myself somehow), one had gotten damp from the rain and had a faint "funk" going on with it. So, on and so on. Two of the sweaters being my new favorites that my sister gave me for Christmas.

So, I prep the sink of water with Ivory Snow, and slowly start adding sweaters and waiting for them to sink. Because wool sweaters should be soaked and laid flat to dry. Meantime, I start up the washing machine for a load of dedicates. Slowly, sinking sweaters. Sigh. I get to the one sweater that my sister gave me that is my cool, soft fav and wonder if the wool has been blended with anything to give it the silky feel. So I check the label.

100% Acrylic.

Into the washing machine it went.

'Cause I have a Cool mom!

She is standing just to the right of the machine in the group picture.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I'm making cheese! Why? Because, why not? I can bake bread and make butter, so let's add cheese making skills to the list. A basic skill that was once known by every farmer and housewife in the not so very distant past.

So I went online and found a website that teaches you how to make cheese. The author is a professor of Biology and Chemistry. This is the recipe for basic 1 pound of cheese from 1 gallon of milk. I went to the health food store and got fresh goat and cow milk for my experiment. The point was to try to make it as natural as possible.

First, we must warm and inoculate the milk. Which is funny, because we are adding sour milk(buttermilk) to do this. Then we add rennet. I used the vegetarian instead of the stuff from a sheep's intestinal track, simply because, ewe! (hee hee)

We separate out the curds and whey. This is whey.

Then the cheese must be pressed and formed into a round or a cylinder for shaping into wheels. Since this is a small batch, I am using a quart size yogurt container with the bottom cut out.
Then we have cheese. This is fresh farm cheese here. It will then be refrigerated to 2 weeks while the rind forms. Then dipped into wax to be aged more for a sharper cheese, or used for a mild cheese.

When I was in the Netherlands, in the grocery there are 3 types of cheeses essentially. New, regular, and aged. I was told that regardless of the type of cheese, it all had to be labeled with how long it had been aged, by law (or so I was told). New cheese is aged under one month. Regular cheese is aged around 3 months. To be considered aged and the expensive stuff it had to be aged more than 6 months, but usually more than a year. This was how they were graded.

So how long should I age the cheese? I realize that people have been making cheese for thousands of years with out the benefit of refrigeration, exact chemical formulas, or anything closely resembling a sterile environment and man kind has survived. Still, I think it would be safer to divide the cheese in half, use one as new cheese, and age the second half.

I also think that I will be eating samples of both cheeses before serving it to anyone else. If anyone is going to be poisoned in this endeavor, I'd rather I go down than have all of my friends cursing my name as they hang over toilets!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Project-Brumbaugh Fleece

Fleece (from sheep)
Carded fleece

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cashmere and Corsets

AH, My sister's wedding grows closer. I have decided to ditch knitting her the cashmere shawl. She wouldn't appreciate it. And she certainly wouldn't understand the amount of time that would have gone into it.

So I'm knitting a cardigan for ME to wear to her wedding instead. She has proclaimed that she must approve it before hand. "Because she doesn't want anything tacky." So, she thinks I'm tacky? Or knitting is tacky?

Lace weight cashmere cardigan in cream. Ecologically friendly cashmere. I don't think it is possible to MAKE it tacky on purpose. Now, if I wanted to be tacky, I would knit a nice Merry Widow in something like yellow with red hearts. With fun fur. And bedazzle the nips. But I will be wearing it under the dress, so I could actually go as tacky as I want in that area. Provided there is no wardrobe malfunction. But if there was, the look on her face would be priceless.

Ah, screw it. The belittling digs and barbs I've been getting will disappear when she wants to rip the cardigan off my body to wear herself. In the mean time, I have a wonderful friend who lets me unload my emotional bull on him and then cheers me up with a hug, even if he is thousands of miles away. And he'll make sure to protect my person and cardigan from cashmere thieves. Because that is just the sort of guy he is. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In Case of Emergency, Break Plastic

It's been a hell of a day, and I've just been a spectator. Which I really think is worse. I would much rather be able to DO something than not. Today, I felt fear.

Real fear. I haven't had that in a while. Not simple anxiety or panic because I've ran out of milk. Not an irrational reaction to a lost file. I know about these. I know my anxiety will trip to the edge for no good stinking reason. I can pull it back from that. I KNOW what's happening. I get milk, do yoga, knit a few rows and the world eventually rights its self. Or my perspective of it slaps it's self in the face. And I don't mean being merely afraid. People who say they aren't afraid of anything are lying or have no imaginations. This was not being afraid of the boogie men.

This was different. This was rational fear. This was a fear of a real threat. Real fear awakens primitive instincts. It brings us all to basic level that cares nothing for our job title, money we make, opera tickets we hold, or who's elbows we rub. Multiple degrees and higher education fly right out the window. We are all capable doing what needs to be done to survive. We instinctively feel fear when something threatens our safety, security and happiness. We protect what we hold most sacred from danger. It's in our nature.

So, it's been hard to focus on anything other than my fear. Just now, the shock of the fear is passing. Trying to make poor jokes to lighten the mood, knowing the worst is most likely over (but the frickin' tinder box could explode at any time). I admit I broke into the "emergency bag" of M n M's at work. The fear is still there. And bad.

The fear has been so bad, I haven't been able to even knit!

All my love and prayers.Em

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Power update


Called the power company to give a new meter reading and have them adjust the bill. We discovered that the meter has died. Which means that bill has gone bye-bye and they can only charge me the minimum charge of $10.00 plus taxes, etc. And they have to send someone out to replace the meter, which means that they can't accurately charge me until that happens.

So, a tech will be digging through 3 1/2 feet of snow to replace the meter. And in the mean time?

I've cranked the heat ALL the way up. Sure the heck beats paying over $600!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Electric Bill

Boy, is the power company's estimate off. $629.37. My very first electric bill.

I don't think so.

They "estimated" my first bill. How exactly do they do that when they have no previous data of usage? Cause I really think they pulled a number out of their dreams. With the amount of wool in my new house acting as extra insulation, a candle can maintain the indoor temp. Plus the wood stove, the all florescent or led lights that were installed, the energy efficient skylights, the door and window weather proofing I did that has effectively hermetically sealed the house.

And they think my usage is how much?!
Original Reading (actual) 12/08/09 = 2249
Estimated 02/05/10(during blizzard) = 9260

Estimate usage= 7011

Current ACTUAL reading as of today =2259
And I read the sucker three times and checked for other meters that are unknown to me. Nope. This is it.

Now, What does this read to all of you? I do not see this reading anything close to 9260. But hey, maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowed in!

So, 3 feet of snow. Time to play with some fleece. I wanted to dye a little bit in various colors to try my hand at felting. So how do you dye in small batches with out being wasteful and in many colors at once?

You can it. Just like jam.

I used food coloring and then did a little test with various acids to see how it would turn out.

I wet the fleece and twisted it into "hanks." I filled the jar 1/2 way with water and dye solution and gently lowered the fleece into the jar. I then added water covering the fleece. I but on the lid and tilted the jar so that the dye and water would mix. Do not shake! Once I had all the jars filled, I put them in a water bath as though I was canning tomatoes.

I put on the lid and let it sit at a low simmer for about 45 minutes. I then let them cool in the water bath, and then removed them to the counter to continue to cool to a warm temp. I then gently opened each jar, pouring out the contents (one at a time) and giving them a gentle rinse in a bowl of warm water. Then into the salad spinner with each. I then let them dry on a rack. Once they were mostly dry, I un-twisted the hank and spread them out to complete the drying.

Which gave me little bits or roving in multiple colors. I thought it was a simple way to dye and fun.

The Neighbor Who Doesn't Smile

I have a neighbor who doesn't smile. The other neighbors don't know his name. They all say he's grumpy and keeps to himself. But every time I see him, or pass him on the road, I smile and wave. He never smiles back. And it doesn't matter, I smile and wave.

This morning I knew I was waking up to almost 3 feet of snow. Dreading the day of nothing but shoveling ahead, all my head could focus on was making coffee. As I waited for the glorious machine to let me know that the elixir of life was ready, it occurred to me that I was hearing a humming. The humming of a motor. Could it be possible that by some fluke the snow plows were actually clearing our cul-de-sac? I crept to the window and peeked out.

There was my non-smiling neighbor, with his snow blower, clearing out my driveway and a path to my door. His house and my house across the cul-de-sac, and a little way up the pipe stem he cleared.

Once dressed, I went out to contribute to the snow shoveling efforts. My non-smiling neighbor was cleaning his snow blower to put it away. I went up to him and smiled. I introduced myself and thanked him for clearing my driveway and making a path to my door. With a slim cigar clamped in his teeth, he told me his name is Tom. And I could tell in an instant.

I grew up with a neighbor named Bob. And elderly gentleman. Who seemed gruff and stand-offish, when really, he was painfully shy. And that was who Tom reminds me of. Tom has a slight studder and struck me as being very shy. Not grumpy, cold, or a bad neighbor. Just shy and a little solitary. And he was caring enough to take pity on the single woman living alone and cleared her driveway.

I have a neighbor named Tom. And I will smile every time I see him, whether or not he smiles back.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Training and Pre-qualifiers

Ravelympics 2010. My first time participating. Oh the stress and pressure to perform.

My event is the "Fleece to Finished Object" in which I will spin the yarn, dye it and knit it into a completed item. In my case a hat, since its a simple pattern, doesn't use much yarn, and can be very forgiving. Which will then most likely be donated to Warm UP Winchester, supplying hats to the homeless during cold weather months.
The fleece can be in any shape, so I washed and prepped some Brumbaugh fleece. Carding the roving 3 times for good uniformed fluffiness. Afterward cleaning the drum carder. And then did not move it from it's spot on the floor because I am lazy and didn't know if I would card some more. So each day it appeared to start showing more wool in it.
Did I have gnomes or brownies helping out? Little house spirits carding fleece while I slept? What was happening here. And then I discovered. My long haired furry little princess has thought that the carder made a perfect brush to keep her fur in beauty salon style. In other words, my cat was carding herself.But, I have carded a bin of fleece. I need to get a new battery for my scale so I can figure out how much I have and need to do. But, I've got some done, and test spun it to see what it's like and am awaiting the official start time.
At least I have my Fleece prepped. Without extra cat hair.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Give me wool

So the time has come for planning for the Ravelympics. For those of your who are not in the know, or haven't heard me ramble on at length, the Ravelympics is a knit-along challenge to occur during the Olympics.

The idea is to pick something that is a challenge to you. Something you haven't done, or want to accomplish. There are various events, such as the Hat Half pipe, in which to choose from. You create your team with members and then pick your event and at the opening ceremonies, cast-on your project. Or begin. My understanding of the whole thing, anyway.

Now, if I want to be in the spirit and do something that challenges me, I would have to Follow Pattern Directions
. But since that isn't an event, I won't. :) I decided on Fleece to FO. Fleece to Finished Object. This event includes spinning the yarn and then knitting it up to something complete. Just so I don't over do, I figure I could pull off a chunky hat. Remember, you event must be finished by closing ceremonies.

After Checking the Official rules, I can prepared the fleece ahead of time. And this is what I see.

Each bag is filled with fleece. Raw, unwashed, straight off the sheeps' backside fleece. Smelly, lanolin-y, dirty and straw filled raw fleece. I had asked for wool from anyone that has a sheep. It arrived. By no means is this my fleece, I am merely the keeper of the fleece, the protector of the stash. With the facilities best suited to process it. (I'll admit that this was a consideration when buying my new house) But I don't think anyone will mind if I use a portion for my event, especially if I wash more at the same time.

So, I am beginning by running test in the Lab of the best way to wash it including which products and processes to use. Small tests in Mason Jars. I figure that I will need 4-6 ounces of washed fleece for my hat to be on the safe side.

So as I set all this up, blessing those who donated the bags of fleece, something occurred to me. In about 3 months, MORE bags will be arriving from the spring shearing which has already been scheduled for March.

Ahh....gulp! Well, I asked for it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Going bump in the night

I'm in a new house and am still getting used to the regular noises. The sighs, creaks and moans when it settles. That one spot on the floor that always squeaks. The door that whistles when the wind blows. The chimney cap that bangs with a slight breeze.... And the various other sounds hat go on in a house.

Normally when I hear a sound, clang, or crash, I know exactly what caused it. A small furry, black and white mischief maker. Sharp sounds. Something falling over. Something being pushed off a surface. You know those sounds. Scampering across the floor above. Then a crash.

The other night I awoke to a sound downstairs which was a "sharp" sound. And in my sleepy head, I wondered what was busted now. And then there was another one. Slightly grumbling about the cat as I tried to focus on the clock, I discovered her curled up on the pillow next to me. Sleeping blissfully while noises continued downstairs.

Hell. That's not good. Now there are a few different options at this point. Call the cops and say I thought I saw a prowler at the neighbors, thereby getting them out here and not sounding like a chicken. Grab a kitchen knife and go downstairs to check it out (thus fulfilling the horror flick standard guaranteeing I get killed). Or what I did, ignore it and go back to sleep secure in knowing my special security system will take care of any unwanted intruder.

They have to get through the obstacle course first of yarn my cat unraveled and strung throughout the house like a laser grid before she came to bed. Dodge spinning wheels that will take out any one's unsuspecting kneecaps. At this point, they may trip and fall, grabbing at any available surface to check their fall. This will most likely impale their self on any number of DPNs, aluminum needles, scissors, or drop spindles.

Now, If there was someone really downstairs, I would be hearing swearing at this point. I don't care who you are, a Double Pointed Needle through the palm will make you swear like a sailor. At that point I can call the cops or listen to them leaving in a huff of frustration and pain.

In the morning daylight with coffee in hand, I inspect the downstairs to see what my over-active imagination took to be the night-stalker. All the yarn, WIPs, wheels and such were in there normal places, untouched. I found no bloody DPNs or a dragged drop spindle covered in blood leaving the scene. No intruder after all. Just a trash can that got picked up and blown around the lower deck before being lifted over the railing and pitched down the hill be the wind.

Still, I'm sure my security system would work and I'm safe. Besides, I have sharp pointy sticks next to my bed, just in case.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"I'm sorry, I can't sell that to you."

Huh?! Today I was turned away from a purchase. I was not allowed to buy something. For a project of mine. Could not buy it. Was told I could not buy it. Would not sell to me.

Now, I know some of you who know me are shaking you head, asking, "Dear God, Erin. What were you trying to do now?!" Really, it isn't me!

My laugh lines prevent me from getting carded while buying Cigs and I quit over a year ago anyway, so that isn't it. Class 4 Controlled Substances? No. Regulated chemicals? Nope. Four pallets of high Nitrogen fertilizer? Nay.

One tube of Glow-in-the-Dark puffy paint.

Sigh, excuse me. I have to go. I'm dyeing a sweater in the dishwasher right now and need to get back to it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dumb Luck

There are times that I realize, on occasion, I just lucked out. I post this here instead of my blog, because I know that my father rarely checks this. And I am fairly certain I would get a well deserved lecture involving fume hoods, dust collectors, proper chemical handling, ventilation and keeping in mind what and where all possible ignition sources are.

In my defense, I had actually planned this out. Sort of.

I had laid down plastic in large quantities to contain the dust and fall-out. I wore the proper safety equipment including protective clothing, goggles, gloves and face mask. I made sure that the area was cleared for several feet on either side of the project and that the cat was safely put out of the area. So really, since I couldn't go do anything today, it was perfect for sanding down and staining the coffee table in the lab.

Children, please note:
Sanding any wood surfaces should not be done in an enclosed space. Sawdust and sanding dust can be incredibly flammable.
Chemicals should always be used in a well ventilated room, because fumes can build up and can be volatile.
All heat, flames and potential ignition sources should be kept at a great distance to prevent accidental fireballs.

So, being snowed in, in a mostly underground room with one small window that was blocked by 2 feet of snow, was a poor location choice. Running the electric dryer in the same room at the time, was really bad timing. Trying to shrink a wool hat in the dryer thus producing enough static electricity to power the X-mas tree in the next room probably should have waited to another day. The fact that I had a wood stove in the next room was, well...

I had already rigged the stove this morning using tin foil and other non-flammable materials due to the poor installation of the contractor. The fumes that the stove has been giving off all day because the contractor used spray paint to "refresh" the old stove, might have affected my thinking. But I did have the fans on to keep circulation going through the room. I was however, worried enough about the stove this morning that I brought down the fire extinguisher. Which I now think is a good thing. Because I have added sawdust, acetone and varnish fumes to the vapors already emanating from the stove. And I can't open a window. Not, "don't want to," can't.

And the potential danger suddenly makes its self aware through the fog in my head. CRAP!!
I manage to heave all chemical laden towels, jars brushes, etc.. out an upstairs door. And letting in about 4 gallons of snow. After vacuuming for a very long time, I managed to get most of the dust up. Wet towels are cleaning an wiping up the rest. The dryer is off. The stove is not, because really, I have no idea yet how to do that. But I feel safe enough now that I am reasonably certain that my house will not light up the snowy night in one huge fireball.

Therefore, I get 10 points. For shear, dumb luck!

Friday, January 8, 2010