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January 2007 Archives

January 6, 2007


Get it - like the Fox Force Five Girls joke? Anyway, let's just say I'm getting caught up since Slugfest '06 here at the Dream. I typically scrimp and save my vacation days, but I may make it a regular thing to take that week between Christmas & New Year's - even though it felt selfish and indulgent, it felt goooooood. I think America should just close down in December - what real work gets done in the middle of the collective hysterical mania of America during the season?

We've (I've) been making sure the definition of Slugfest is well defined for each sex, and I do believe it's different - DH's looks more like sitting still, while mine looks like not going to work, making yarn and delicious food, taking care of the cats, the house, and the man, while yes, also managing to nap. A lot. All good - and better than being at work. Amazing how much my routine got reset not going there for so many days in a row. Not to mention by staying up late on New Year's Eve.

Which brings me to the reason for staying up all the way to the ball drop - the Cherry Tree Hill midnight sale, where, for the very first time in my knitting life, their Silk & Merino anything was discounted - 50% discounted. Well worth keeping my ass upright, and at 11:57PM, I scored 6 hanks of the S&M worsted in Silver Streak for nothin, plus a couple of Orphan bags for fun. Like I need more yarn, right? But I'd marry the S&M yarn if I could I love it so much. I did this sweater from Vogue a few years back and it's soooooooooooooo soft. Someday I'll redo the crochet edge on the neckline to make it a little less droopy.

I spun a lot, and made my best yarn to date. Funny how that works, eh? Each time I get a little better - imagine that. Here's the evidence:

This is the absolutely gorgeous South Seas Wensleydale from my most generous Spinning SP, in sngles form, ready to Andean ply the last of a bobbin, and with a quarter for scale, two-plied. Here's some mystery wool in teal from the very same lovely pal - I'm quite pleased with it, also two-ply.

The strand at the very left on the quarter is my favorite and I aspire to have it all look that way. Both of these are my finest to date and were spun on the middle ratio on my Lendrum. I'm fixin to try the highest ratio soon - after I finish my silk hankies. More on them later.

We also, smack dab in the middle of Slugfest, tore out some awful built-in window benches in our sunroom and painted it a much more organic and less offensive yellow ochre-y color. (I'm being VERY liberal with the "we" here - remember the Slugfest definitions above.) It now fits in with the rest of the house like the Sesame Street song that keeps going through my head - it now belongs to the house. Before & after:

Terrific how such a little change can make such a huge difference - now we have to figure out how to furnish it.

Let's see, I'm almost done with the Slugfest recap- stay with me another minute or two. I think I'm ripening with age, and witnessing the Gerald Ford funeral events during Slugfest made me more keenly aware of that than ever. Ford was really my first President - the one I was first aware of besides Nixon, who I knew at eight was a sneaky guy involved in Watergate from hanging around with my hippie aunt. When I was lucky enough to convince the babysitter to let us stay up late, I laughed at Chevy Chase on SNL tripping and falling around the Oval Office impersonating Ford. Anyway, I spent more than half my life rebelling against whatever I could come up with... perhaps the result of being the oldest of an original Navy SEAL dad and a very creative & liberal mom. My favorite t-shirt and high school senior yearbook quote says "There are no rules," and I made sure to wear it at every chance to torture dad. Today, zooming toward my 41st birthday, I'm amazingly all about the rules. I know, I was talking about the Ford funeral, and what I have to say about that is that what struck me most, watching all the ceremonies, was how very much and very deeply I now "get" and appreciate the honor and the respect and the ceremony of the military - something that for whatever reason was so much harder to see when I was younger and is more and more obvious as I get older, and especially since my father is gone. Seeing the Navy Chief piping the side on the bosun's pipe at the WWII Memorial knocked my socks off, because dad played one, and my brother played it at his service. Whew. Enough of this.

So Happy 2007, glad to finally be here and out of the mire of December. Silk hankie singles are filling a second bobbin now and before long will be shiny, slubby, thick & thin yarn for what else - a Clapotis! And now I must get to a promised cable swatch for my cool designer - ttfn.

January 9, 2007

Silk, silk, and more silk.

It's been all about the silk, all the time here at the Dream. Since New Year's Eve I've been working on 4oz of silk hankies I dyed with kool aid this summer. It takes a lot of time and physical effort to get these babies stretched and prepped for spinning, and when they're all predrafted and wound into little bundles (next time, I won't wind - just puddle little piles) they look spectacular, like this:

Cotton candy clouds, so light, so shiny... Singles looked like this on my first bobbin,

which was funkier and slubbier than the second when I started getting the hang of it a bit more. Took me a week to spin it all up, and two more nights to ply it. I've got gobs and gobs of the stuff, and once it relaxes a bit this morning, I'll wind it into a skein to see what kind of yardage I've accomplished. It's pretty fine - maybe between lace & sock weight - and I may ply it back on itself once again for something more substantial. We'll see. However it turns out, I love it, and it's my first official dye job.

Speaking of dye jobs, I've saved those pokeberries in the freezer since this summer, and I've got 2oz of Bombyx Silk/Wool from The Yarn Tree cooking up right now. I'll let it simmer until I have to get ready for work, and soak in the dye til I get home tonight. Cross your fingers I get something reasonable. It looks quite magenta in the pot.

And one more moebius for you - this one has a TRIPLE twist! It's amazing how quite simple these babies are once you get the cast on down. It's Lamb's Pride Worsted on size 10s - single stranded. I don't have much sense about stripe and/or color placement, but it's good and fun enough to live on my dining room table as a centerpiece for the time being:

Is it only Tuesday? How in the world will we get though a full work week?

January 10, 2007

Big Day

At the Dream yesterday. Woke up at 4AM and proceeded to have a full morning before I went to work. First I fiinished plying the silk hankies, artfully displayed on the cat's bird watching post in the sunroom. This is 801 yards, and I'm almost positive now that I'll ply it back on itself for a bulkier yarn.

Then I set about dyeing the silk/wool fiber with the pokeberries, which turned into this:

I did my usual scientific method - I eyeballed the alum and cream of tartar in the dyepot and threw in the pokeberries loose. I mashed them about a bit and came up with a lovely shade of magenta - real, true, bright magenta. In went the fiber which immediately took on that bright hue. I wandered off for a bit, and when I returned, it had started taking on a few brownish spots, and then later completely changed into this strange pale, dirty apricot/peach (kind of like the baby loop I got in the CTH sale now that I think about it). I left it to soak in the pot all day, and found lots of color still left in the end. Silly to have left those mashed up berries loose in the pot - they had all firmly adhered to the fiber and took some work to rinse. If you look closely you may see some dark spots - berry bits. There are a very few faint streaks of that magenta buried in here. I have no idea - but I love that I've completed the circle started in the 70s when mom did some natural dyeing in the woods in rural Pennsylvania.

I unloaded the dishwasher, did the usual cat routine and then my own and worked a full day. During which I found out that carpet runners we had ordered were in and needed to be picked up, so I did that, lugged them and the carpet pads in from the car and did an instant redecoration of my halls. At which point, the UPS man turned up with my new desktop computer to replace the six-year old one that's become achingly slow. So, then I crawled around on the floor like a lizard to hook and unhook everything, during which time I made a feeble attempt to clean up the cable snare under the desk. I will be purchasing one of those newfangled devices that allows for those humongous adapter plugs that hog up space on your surge protector strip. I only made it worse and now have an additional cord snaking across the room, sure to trip the man when he gets home. Oy.

So, I am woman, hear me roar - all endeavors over the looooong day yesterday were successful, I'm freakishly strong for my size, I made my home wireless network function all by myself, and basically, I just rock. Thank you veddy much.

Random thought for the day: Do you find that, if your pants have more than the usual two-step closure, like two buttons, or a button and a hook, in addition to the zipper, you're more likely to leave your fly unzipped? Just wondering. If I have to think about more than the usual one-two, approximately 7 of 10 times I have to zip up, I'm likely to skip that third step altogether.

January 16, 2007

Another Monday Off

I could get used to this. Too bad I have to wait for President's Day to have another planned long weekend. The man had to travel for work yesterday, so I had a glorious span of time all my own. Since I'm still waking up at ridiculous hours, I got busy very early with all that silk. That pretty, pretty silk that I've been having a hard time keeping my (dry) hands away from, and have shown off at several opportunities, and only tied once when it came off the skein winder. It is suggested in all spinning references I own that you tie your skeins securely in several places - at least two. Why I can't possibly do such a simple task is beyond me, but yes, you know where this is going. I've invested a lot of time and energy into this silk, in a good way, and so after marinating for a few days, I finally decided Sunday night that it needed more twist if it was to grow up to be the four-ply I wanted it to be. So I rigged up the winder behind the wheel and attempted to put that skein back on the winder. It looked perfect - until I untied my one spot, and that damned end would not let go of the rest of the hank. You know that figure eight thing hanks are usually tied in? I somehow retained a twist, and almost two hours of cursing, yanking, re-winding, over/under-where-the-hell-is-that-going-now hell ensued. I only put it down because my arm was falling off from trying to hold the hank. Not only was it all tangled, those underspun areas are very grabby, making it look like tangles when really it was just sticky singles. Ugh.

So, Monday morning, back to the hank. I had coffee and most useful assistance from the cats, and we got sorted it out. And so I got it back on the bobbin after twisting the bejeezus out of it. All good. I even got it into a center pull ball over a tp roll sleeve. Then I got nervous that I'd wound it too tighly and it would go limp, so I hopped right back on the wheel and commenced the four-ply. Wheeeee! Until the center pull ball got lazy and I started pulling out that yarn barf from the middle - all energized and clingy and hanging onto itself for dear life. At which point I stepped away again. It's mocking me from the other room right now - I suspect it will be conquered tonight, and let me tell you, the Clapotis it turns into better be spec-freaking-tacular.

In the middle of all this silk excitement, I managed to finish a pair of socks that have been on my needles since last April, knit for two hours at my LYS with my new friend and her regular Monday gang, where I started My So Called Scarf with the BFL I spun up a while back. MMMM. What a lovely pattern - amazing, again, what one can come up with using just two little stitches. And amazing too, all those brains that come up with this stuff.

These are Wendy's generic toe-up socks in Lucy Neatby's Merino Dream, and I learned two new things on these plain stockinette socks - two at a time on two circs, and from the toe up for the first time. I was pretty queasy about the short row heels, but wore them today and they're sooooo comfortable.

I think I'll go back to one-at-a-time on dpns for my next pair of socks - less fiddly and perhaps more relaxing. I have some lovely Mountain Colors Bearfoot to play with.

Off to see about that silk - think good thoughts!

January 18, 2007

YARN! I made YARN!

Hear Tom Hanks chanting FIIIIIIYYY-YUH when he finally manages to get his fire started in Castaway. Picture me jumping up from my wheel this morning like a gymnast, into that dismount, arms raised in a V, back arched, I did it celebration (I’m known to jump up from my desk in that pose when I do something smart, or off the couch at the end of a row with the right number of stitches in lace)! And then I danced around the wheel like it was a campfire, chanting to my silk, singing my powers to the cats before work this morning. Can’t think of a better way to start the day than to tame those silk hankies – I can use that success all day! I did it – I now have 4-ply silk yarn, ready to begin its life as a Clapotis soon. I just didn’t have the energy to get to it last night, particularly after starting to watch the typically entertaining first American Idol show of the season – ick. So they had 10,000 people at that tryout, and we saw what, 12? I couldn’t take the pseudo-drama of it all, so I turned it off. Don’t need personal interest stories at this stage, thank you very much.

But the silk. Oooh, the silk. The yarn barf was there waiting for me this morning, and I was resolved to get it done. In recent years, every thing in my life seems to be there to teach me patience, calm, and peace, and these hankies sure did their part to humble me a bit more. I didn’t get my brain in the right place to start, so I struggled and cursed for about 15 minutes trying to get it sorted out. Had a little talk with myself about my short fuse, and took some nice slow, deep breaths. Scissors were briefly involved, and with great calm intention, I slipped the remains of that center pull ball over my wrist and FINISHED!

Did some more talking to myself about how satisfying it is to work calmly and determinedly through a problem, and how much, much simpler that road is than my usual head blowing off my neck routine. And about the fact that this spinning thing is about pleasure, and my head blowing off doesn’t qualify as pleasure, so I’d better work on that. I’m listening, universe!

I’m getting a spinning callous – on my right forefinger, where the fiber flows over it as I’m drafting or plying. The silk is incredibly strong, and perhaps the callous got kick-started by all the hankie stretching. I like battle scars, but it’s a real PITA when working with silk, and my cuticles-gone-wild didn’t help so much either. My fiber addictions have seriously cut into my manicure time – who wants to wait for nails to dry when I could be spinning? Or knitting. I’m down to just using that fabulous Crabtree & Evelyn scrub and moisturizer set anymore. It may sound like I've been whining about al this silk, but it's been great fun to experiment, and I've been very single-minded about it - just wanted to see what it could be!

January 20, 2007

Is it a sign?

Of better times on the way for our world? That this afternoon, on a bright sunshine-y day, an actual, real life Girl Scout knocked on my door selling cookies? I don't know about you, but the last time I think I saw an actual Girl Scout in a neighborhood (not in front of the grocery store) was oh, about the time I was knocking on doors in 1975! I'm no different than anyone else - Thin Mints make me nostalgic, and I buy the cookies every year from the mom or dad who's posted their daughter's form at work, but I do it grudgingly. What life skill does that teach the kid? Do they learn about earning their "pay?" The sense and thrill of success? How to handle rejection? No, they learn an easy way out, and all of us out there are forced to get our fix through less than satisfactory, obligated, impersonal transaction with the form posted on the break room wall.

We jump when someone knocks - we don't get a lot of visitors and we like it just fine that way. So I snarled when DH said "it's a kid at the door," prepared to turn away someone selling overpriced candy for their basketball team, or raffle tickets for something, but my heart leapt when I heard the little voice ask if he wanted to buy some GS cookies. I jumped up, greeted the little girl, and headed out to sit with her on my porch steps in the sun to fill out the form. It was a glorious sight - her dad standing out on the sidewalk with their two big dogs (a bonus for me) and her mom working the other side of the street with the older daughter and another dog. I engaged the little girl and agreed that her favorites, Thin Mints and Samoas were top-notch choices, and I hapily ordered four boxes. And then talked to the mom and dad, and the dogs.

I tell you, when I came back inside I was verklempt. Touched. Delighted. This is the way it's supposed to be! Oh, it made me smile. All was right with the world in this perfect little neighborhood moment. Yay world!

January 23, 2007

Got a feeling 41 is gonna be a good year

(I know, the line is actually "51 is gonna be a good year", but I'm sticking with it)

A lot of fabulous things, besides my birth and my twin's 12 minutes later (a most important fact), happened in 1966:

  • The first Star Trek aired

  • The Mustang convertible was at its best

  • The Sound of Music won Best Picture

  • A Taste of Honey by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass was record of the year (!)

  • The Food and Drug Administration declares "the Pill" safe for human use (wow - didn't know that!)

  • Billie Jean King won Wimbledon

So far, for my birthday today, I've worked up about four inches (okay, I started last night) of a Clapotis with my pet silk that's looking just how I imagined it would. Ahhhhh. And last night, just in time for today, I finished my first handspun knit object which I'll wear all day to work. I think it will look perfect with the tiara I'll be sporting as well. If you had to share your birthday your whole life, you'd go all out too. It's amazing how many people look at me like I'm wearing the tiara as a serious accesory - geesh!

My So Called Scarf from my handspun Spunky Eclectic BFL on size 10.5s, wearing my tiara and a closeup below:

I also just watched the sweet, sweet last scenes of Fandango so I could hear the magical Pat Metheny It's For You and then the BBC Joni Mitchell concert from 1970 again. TIVO rules. If you haven't seen Fandango, run to the video store and rent it right now. Your man will like it too - I promise.

I'll have more birthday musings and a clue to my psyche tomorrow....

Anyone care to name the song referenced (incorrectly) in the title? It's from a soundtrack if that helps....

January 24, 2007

I guess they've got my number!

My youngest sister (that's twin humor) greeted me yesterday on IM for my birthday with this exact line: "good morning birthday girl! you wearing a crown today you little freak?" And then I got an email from my best girlfriend three hours away that included in the first paragraph, "you are wearing your tiara, aren’t you?" Of course my twin WAS wearing her tiara many states away, and I sent her a feathery pink one just in case along with a magic wand for good measure. It's a long standing tradition - I don't see an end to it any time soon. No doubt you'll see me when I'm 70, with the same goofy smile, explaining that no, it's not a new fashion accessory, it's just my birthday.

Middle sister (the twin - just to tweak her) sent this funny little book:

Which I opened to the page on How to Make an Origami Crane. Now, I consider the origami crane a sort of personal totem, and both twin and I have folded them obsessively since early childhood crafts sessions with mom. I could do it blindfolded. I'm not sure if I just think I'm so cool when I whip one of them out sitting in a meeting from scrap paper or stickies, or if there's some deep-seated meaning in these cranes, but I do love 'em. Twin & I buy each other origami things on a regular basis. Okay, I already have one Hippie thing under my belt - what else? See all those flags? I went, page by page, through the book and all the green flags are the things I 've done, seen, read or currently do on a regular basis! The pink ones are things that are already on my list. It's conclusive proof that I was born ten years late - I really am a hippie. Or a yippie dink at least.

(I'm turning on Alice's Restaurant, another fabulous thing from 1966, right now just to complete the mood. Quick story - I once walked into a meeting to debut my new gigantic white board calendar system at work and said something about circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one to a room full of blank faces. That's probably be happening again now, right? The clue is there - figure it out.) My references are all out of whack with my age group - again I'll blame my hippie mom and her sister for their very strong influence. (Lucky me!) Another great one from How to Celebrate a Hippie Birthday - number one item - Watch Free to Be You and Me. Another personal anthem! How did they know so much about me? It went on and on - so silly, so much fun.

I think that might be when I took a detour from silliness and between Pat Metheny and Joni Mitchell I missed my dad and grandpa while pondering this aging stuff and reflecting on the impermanence of life. Seems like a switch was flipped in the last few years and the losses started coming with more regularity. Makes me wonder a lot about what mark I want to make and when the hell I'm going to get my a** in gear and go about making it. I'm certainly marinating on it. Another thing about getting older is that somehow I've reached the inversion point - where professionals I need are younger than me. Like my doctor, or lawyer, or whatever - I like those folks to be gray and wrinkly so I at least get the illusion of experience and wisdom. I switched doctors a few years ago because I was easily ten years older than my little teenaged doctor and it plain wigged me out.

And - will I spend the rest of my life being shocked that things like "I remember when" keep coming out of my mouth? Or "you know, twenty years ago...." They're playing 80s music on classic rock stations - that's just wrong! I mean, I can talk about the days before personal computers, cell phones, and DVD players in cars. That's my generation's "walked back and forth to school barefoot in the snow" - we couldn't hold a telephone conversation in line at Starbucks or email thank you notes. My first PC was a Mac Plus with the teeny tiny screen built in that breadbox sized package. It's not that I'm pining away for the past, or only looking back, but I am doing a considerable amount of reminiscing. Maybe it just means that I do have a lot of amazing memories. Does it get stronger every year, the same way time goes by faster every year?

I have two test swatches I should be knitting, but that silk just won't loosen its hold on me. It's an addiction - I think about it way too much and haven't stopped spinning/knitting/touching it since I began on New Year's Eve. I like to keep it in sight at all times. It's quite remarkable really, since I also can't stop thinking about the next couple things I want to cast on, including but not limited to: socks, a sweater from the Silk & Merino CTH, a turquoise moebius basket by request from the niece, and those swatches! TTFN

About January 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Dawn's Dream in January 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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