Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A pre-emptive strike

The coyote came back for a second day. He definitely was stalking my squirrels.

I am having none of this. It's time to take a preventative, pre-emptive measure.

We built two "sky cafes" for the squirrels.

We put them about five feet off the ground, too high for the predators to reach but low enough for easy refill.

Nibbler obviously appreciates it!

The things you do for your animals!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Too Close for Comfort

It was about two in the afternoon when I looked out my kitchen window and saw this:

At first I thought it was a fox, but foxes have bushy tails and are much smaller.

The neighbors confirmed it: a coyote.

In my backyard.

I called animal control who told me to keep an eye on him. They don't respond to just a "wildlife call," but if the animal appears to be injured or rabid they will come take care of it.

Usually such animals are nocturnal so when they are out in daylight it usually means they are injured or rabid. Not a good news.

I am keep an eye on my backyard. And hope the squirrels stay up in their house.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Simple math

This works.

Earlier this week I forgot my breakfast so I went down to a McDonald's and got an oatmeal and a hash brown. $3.25.

I normally bring breakfasts and lunches to work. A two six-pack of bagels or muffins at Costco cost seven dollars.

I did some quick calculation. One work week of McD's = $16.25. One month would be $65.

Twenty-four bagels from Costco costs $14.

That's $51 savings.
This is definitely an "Aha!" moment, because that's a Glindle!

This is my mohogany Russian-style support spindle with cobalt accent. I am still learning to spindle on a support spindle, so it helps to have the right tool.

Now a Cobb salad at Quizno's costs $8. That's $40 a week, $160 a month.

My lunch is usually leftovers from dinner the previous night.


Here is a reversible top/bottom spiral spindle from Malcolm Fielding from Australia:
And another reversible from Grizzly Mountain Arts:

I like math.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A weekend to remember

September 10th was Carl's birthday. We went on a tour of the Potomac River on the restored 105-year-old skipjack Minnie V. The Minnie V was originally an oyster-dredging boat built in 1906. There are fewer a 100 skipjacks left in the world and only two working as an oyster boat in the Chesapeake Bay.

The weather was nice after the week of drenching rain. The sail went up and we cruised along the Potomac for an hour and a half.

I want a boat! Well, probably not a 105-year-old sailboat with no engine, but nothing beats bing on the water with a gentle breeze on your face...

It was such a simple, enjoyable afternoon.

Sunday was another story altogether.

I went to my first NFL game. Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

It was quite an experience. And being the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, there were moments to remember too.

Well I could not bring my knitting in (too big a bag and needles). I know next to nothing about football. It was first so hot we all got sunburned, then we were drenched by the rain. We were rooting for the Steelers who had the worst performance ever and were trounced.

We had a blast!

It was the funnest weekend ever!

Thursday, September 01, 2011


I think I have an addiction problem here:

And it is growing....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It was weird.

It was 5.8 on the Reichter scale -- the biggest one ever on the East Coast. We were all sent home afterwards. At first we were told not to come back to work until further notice because there may have been structural damages to the building. Anyway about seven we got words the building was okay and we should report to work as usual.

Well this is on the wall of the stairwell right next to my office:

People on the West Coast might think we are wimps, but it is pretty scary!

The engineers say the building is structurally sound. I hope they are right!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Feling fun

When you wash fleece, you take time to make sure that you don't accidentally felt the darned thing.

Deliberately shrinking your wooly knitted thing is entirely different, and so much fun!

Last year I made myself a pair of Felted Clogs. I felted them at my friend Ann's house since I don't have the top-loading washing machine needed for felting. She liked them so much I decided to make her a pair for her birthday this year.

Here's the "before" picture:

And just to give you a perspective. That's my foot in it:
After two cycles in the washing machine on hot wash and cold rinse, with a tennis shoe thrown in to help with the agitation:



Just don't try this with a sweater!.

Monday, August 08, 2011

A labor of love

But once was enough.

I just finished washing about 3.5 pounds of raw Cormo fleece.

This was a beautiful, half fleece that I got from a Cormo farm in California. The fleece was very clean since the animal is covered year-round. Still it was a tedious, labor-intensive process of picking out the veggie matter, dirt, then soaking in very hot water, then rinsing, and finally setting out to dry.

Cormo is hard to get commercially because the fleece is so soft it usually does not fare well through commercial processors. But if you wash it yourself the result is very rewarding.

Fluffy white cormo ready for you:

I tried putting it through the drum carder but did not like the result so I will be hand flicking this (all 3 pounds of it!) with a dog brush!

Yep. A labor of love.

On a totally unrelated matter my Vietnamese neighbor brought us a flower last night. I have no idea what it is but it only blooms once a year and it opens at nine p.m. And at nine p.m. on the dot it opened.

Very pretty. Very fragrant. She gives me one every year.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

More spindle eye candy

This is my latest acquisition: a Bosworth mini. She is made from Red Cedar and weighs in at 17 oz.

The tomatoes are from my garden. They make a lovely background, don't day?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I am in love

Or you can say I am in trouble.

Most people learn to spin by starting on a drop spindle.

I thought I had no patience for the drop spindle, so I jumped directly onto the wheel.

However, I have always wanted to get a hand on a spindle. With this Tour de Fleece, I was determined to master the spindle. I did pretty well with the Golding and even though the little ebony/lapis wobbles a bit it spins quite nicely.

But I have always wanted a Bosworth. But they say you might have to wait forever to get one. I figured I could try my luck. I placed an order Monday asking for a Midi in any wood, figuring if I was not choosey I might not have to wait too long.

An hour later I got an email back saying my Midi was on its way!

Yesterday this baby showed up on my doorstep:
She is Walnut with a birch shaft and weighs 29 grams.
And she spins.
I must say I love her even more than the Golding.

I love her so much I ordered a Mini this morning.

Yes I am in trouble.

How many spindles can one have?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tour de Fleece

More like dragging my feet...

The tour has been on more than two weeks now yet I don't have much to show at all. I got one braid spun and plied. This is a BFL/silk mix from Fat Cat Knits. Light fingering weight, two-ply. 360 yards out of 5 ounces.

There are two main reasons I am not as prolific during this year's tour. One is the crazy workload but I really should not complain since it supports my fiber habit.

More importantly is that I am bound and determined to spindle

And with a Golding, I must say I got off on the right foot.

Here is my first spindle-spun skein. I plied it on the wheel though.

Two ounces of merino/silk from Pigeonroof Studios. About 90 yards of two-ply, DK weight.

I liked it so much I bought another spindle!

This tiny beauty came from Autumn Hollow Spindles. It is ebony with lapis inlaid on the ring and weighs less than an ounce, making it perfect for lace-weight spinning.

At first I ws strugging a little bit with its light weight compared to the Golding which weighs almost twice as much. But after a while I got a hang of it and am now able to get it going.

I am spindling this 50/50 merino/silk from Spirit Trails Fiber Work:

Yes it is like watching molasses drop. But I am trudging along.

We are going to Omaha tomorrow. Guess what I am taking..

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The ugly duckling revealed

It did turn into a swan.

I remember the first time I tried to wash a fleece several years ago when I first started spinning and wanted to do it from start to finish. I did not quite know what I was doing and what I got then was a blob of matted, felted mess.

I told myself I would never again wash raw fleece.

Well, that was until I made a commitment at my LYS, Uniquities, to wash a portion of the Romney fleece for the fleece-to-scarf-demonstration and the competition in the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in September. I won't be able to participate due to family commitment but I promised to wash the fleece. So I brought the fleece home.

The is the Romney we got from Solitude Wool. I got just about over a pound which made it very manageable. I laid out the fleece in two big heavy duty aluminum roasting pans.

First a plain hot water soak:

Followed by a hot soapy soak. Then a hot rinse, and another rinse and another rinse.

I put the washed fleece in the washing machine to spin out the excess water.

Look at the transformation.
The ungly duckling has turned into a swan.

How pretty!

Saturday was also the start of the Tour de Fleece. And guess what?

I am not only spinning; I am spindling!