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