Friday, July 30, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: Ten Things to Do Instead of Watching TV

Yeah, so it isn't Tuesday... whatever!  :P

1) Read a book - I have recently started reading obsessively again.... I think my knitting is suffering for it.

2) Go for a walk or a swim - I really should take my own advice on this one.

3) Start a blog - Blogs are a great creative outlet and can be a great way to journal about your day/week.

4) Play with fiber - Knit, crochet, spin, weave... you name it.  It's all fun :D and addictive!

5) Scrapbook or make your own cards - You need surprisingly little to make a cute card or a nice Just a stamp, ink and some markers.  I have plenty of all, so theoretically it's really easy for me...

6) Photograph your world - Take photos of what you think is mundane.  Try macro photography or some other specific kind to test out your skills.  Then, use your pictures on that blog or in a scrapbook.  Or, if you really like them, frame them and use them for decor.

7) Bake or can - I haven't tried canning yet, but I want to.  Baking however, is a great thing to do when you have extra time.  Once you have a cake or cookie recipe that works, often you can substitute flavors and get very different results.  For example, I have a Lemon - Honey Cookie I make, but you can really change out the lemon for any citrus available to you.  I've done orange, lime, lemon, lime and I'm thinking graprefruit would be good as well.  Canning is good because you are prepping food for a later date.  I'm contemplating making tomato sauce as my first venture in canning, but I don't think I'll get to do that until next summer.

8) Catch up on reading blogs (or in my case reading the message boards on Ravelry) - It's good to get caught up on your chosen social media.  I got so off of reading my usual blogs that I had a backlog of 700+ posts to read after I went on vacation a few weeks ago.  A happy result of me getting caught up this week was that I went through and unsubsribed from all those blogs I really don't read or haven't been updated in say a year. 

9) Play some games - Board games, video games, computer, on your iPhone.... any of them work and cause your brain a little more exercise then just plopping in front of the tube mindlessly.  My favorites of late are any of the Monkey Island series for the PC and Tap Resort for the iPhone.

10) Plan your next vacation - Explore online where you might want to go and all the activities you want to do.  Once you have an idea, you can start saving and be one step closer to making your vacation a reality.

Monday, July 26, 2010

After Three Weeks of Spinning....

One realizes just how much work it is to make your own yarn!  Just kidding.  It really isn't that hard :-)  Here are some picture of what I did tonight on the first non-humid evening in a very long time.

First I gave all of my new skeins of yarn a nice hot bath with Eucalin, a no-rinse yarn and hand-knit item refresher.  Did I mention I used almost every single large bowl in the house?  Perhaps I should actually do this as I finish a skein of yarn instead of amassing a lot of six to do at once.... nah!!

Then I carefully poured out the hot water and suds and covered each of them with cool water.  The alpaca/silk blend above looked especially cool submerged.

Then I gently pressed the excess water from each of the skeins, smacked them several times on our trusty outdoor storage bench (to even out the twist or perhaps to work off some stress) and hung them up to dry on my makeshift clothes line.  

Finally it started getting really dark and while the skeins were pretty dry at this point, they still needed some air time before they get skeined back up again.  So, I gently squeezed out some more of the water that had traveled down to the ends and then brought them inside for the night.  They are now happily residing in front of our bedroom window getting some of the lovely night air blown on them from the fan in the window.  

Not bad for a night's work huh?  I'm happy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tour de Fleece Update - Day 16 - In Which Merino Singles Become 3-Ply

I didn't get a whole lot of crafty things done today.  I went out to Sturbridge as a volunteer to help my dad prepare the registration packets for the 400+ attendees of the Oldsmobile Club of America Nationals Car Show later on this week.  Mom and I were in charge of determining what gathering the different tickets needed for each of the packets.  I think by the end of the day our eyes just stopped working.  Luckily there was a nice woman who checked our work to ensure accuracy.  We actually did pretty well I thought, for the whole process taking 3 hours or so.  

After that we went out to Red Robin for lunch and I got my favorite burger, the Banzai Burger, which consists of a teriyaki marinated patty, cheddar cheese, and a slice of pineapple.... um, YUM!  I highly recommend it and anything else they have there for that matter.  Actually, the Banzai the only burger I've tried there since it was so good the first time I went, I decided to not mess with perfection :-)  Maybe next time, which will be my 5th ever visit, I'll try something new.   Nah!
After the late lunch I went home and took a monster of a nap before spinning up the last single of my red merino and then three plying it using my tensioned lazy kate.  It was so easy!  The only thing I have to work on is keeping the plying twist more consistent.  I have areas that were over spun and others that were under spun.  I should get better with practice, but for now I'm just happy I'm making yarn I can use in the future.  So far, that's four skeins completed for the Tour de Fleece plus one other I plied today, but had spun up awhile ago.  

 It's an alpaca silk top that my mom got for me before even got my wheel.  I ended up Navajo plying it just to get it off the bobbin so I could finish up the merino since I only own 4 bobbins and needed them all to ply it.  So, that's it for the day.  I'm going to go work on my Summer Wrap KAL some since I'm really behind and we get another clue on Tuesday (but more likely tomorrow (cause Tal rocks!).  

Have a good night!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tour de Fleece Update - Day 15 - Drooling Over Merino

Not too much to report here.  I haven't had much time to spin for the last few days, but I did manage to mostly finish the second bobbin of my beautiful red merino today.  Hopefully I will be able to get the last bobbin done tomorrow and then will be able to ply up my first non-Navajo plied three ply yarn as well.  Very excited.

I also managed to get another repeat done on my Mystery Summer Wrap today, but that is about it since I had a really big to do list for the day.  Oh well, there's always tomorrow!

In other news, my cherry tomato crop is officially insane!  In the past few days, I've harvested 20+ little tomato-lings.  So, in an effort to use up said produce, I actually cooked today (Brian, try not to keel over when you read that).  I just have so many of the little fruits and I felt like pasta, so I made myself a small amount of tomato sauce.  Well, it was actually more like a tomato compote because it was so think in the end, but it was extremely yummy.

I will make sure to share my basic recipe in the next few days.  I don't really do the measuring thing, so everything will be a guestimate.  Well, I'm off to retrieve laundry and attempt to find my bed under all the stuff that needs folding.  Ta!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tour de Fleece Update - Day 12 - Higher Ratio Heaven

Not too much to update you on today.  I decided to Navajo ply it and tried out the next smallest ratio I have on my wheel for the first time.  Basically, if you are looking at the middle smaller picture, I moved the drive band (the white string) from the bigger whorl (which is behind it in the picture) to the middle whorl.  By doing this, the flyer spins more times per time I treadle, basically adding more twist to the yarn with less effort.  Neat huh? 

Having the wheel set on the higher ration actually made plying the yarn much easier for me than it has even been before.  Until tonight, every time I plied treadling would become harder and harder as I got more and more on the bobbin as I plied.  I haven't quite figured out why this happened, but by setting the wheel on the smaller whorl, I avoided that problem until the bitter end of the single.  At that point, I really think the problem was that I was trying to put more yarn on the bobbin than could reasonably fit, so I think the flyer was catching and causing some drag that way.

Other than finishing up that yarn, I worked on another repeat of my Mystery Summer Wrap knit-a-long.  It's coming along nicely, but it's not a travel project, so the going is slow.  But it will be worth it.  I'm hoping to finish at least one 21 row repeat tomorrow night after my class, but well see how I feel.  

Hope everyone has a good night and enjoyed the bit of a break from the heat (if not one from the humidity).

Tour de Fleece Update - Day 11

Tonight at knit night I finished up spinning my most recent bump of Colorways Wool Top.  Yeay!  I just have to decide whether to ply it or not, follow through on that decision and skin it up and that will be three skeins done!  Exciting :-) 

In other news, I started knitting my Cosette shawl by Alana Dakos of the Never Not Knitting podcast.  She does some great designs for children and adults alike.  You can check out her blog at  I should have a progress photo soon along with a finish photo for my Otono shawl once I get it blocked.  Or maybe I'll be lazy and not block it since it's too humid and the shawl will probably never dry unless there is a break in all the moisture in the air.

Oh well, I'm off for bed.  I stayed at knitting far too late and now I'm a tired monkey.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tour de Fleece Update - Day 10 - Day of Rest

I made this fun montage for the Tour de Fleece message board on Ravelry so that people can see what I was up to today.  There are so many people involved in the Tour de Fleece that the moderators ask everyone to only post one reasonably sized photo per day.  I assume this it to keep us from melting Ravelry's servers :-)

Today is a day of rest for the Tour de France, so us hand spinners are resting as well, hence the imagery having nothing to do with anything I have spun.  On my day of rest from spinning I wound up one of my skeins of Louet Kidlin into a center pull cake in preparation to begin knitting and started the second of my summer fiber plans: The Mystery Summer Wrap knit-a-long.  The typically persistent group of knit-a-longers managed to wring the first clue out of Talitha a day early quite handily, so I came home, took some pictures of the pretty yarn and sat down to get me knit on.  2 hours, one frustrated Jo and 4 lost beads later, I emerged triumphant with a completed first clue.  Actually much of my time was spent finding a way to attach the beads without having to go out and buy dental floss (yes dental floss) to string them on.  After a few horrid attempts that don't even dignify a mention, I found the thin-est ribbon ever and made it work.  Yeay!  

Since then, I have retreated to the computer for some much needed Tales of Monkey Island time.  I'm currently on Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood.  I <3 this game so very much!  You can check ou the game at or if you want to start with the first one (that I played in the 80's and yes it's still awesome) you can go to and you can download it and the second in the series for $10.  Trust me, it's worth the measly ten bucks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sunrise at Sea

This is some video that Brian took as the sun came up after we spent the night on the boat.  Now you too can share our experience!  He was even nice enough to set the very quiet video to some copyright free classical music.  Bonus points for a job well done!


A Taste of Life at Sea

"It isn't that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better."
-Sir Francis Drake
I think it might have been a thought similar to the words spoken by Drake that prompted me to seriously consider spending a night on my in-laws sailboat.  The idea had been placed in my head and from that moment on I was actively pondering the option.  I'm just like that sometimes and can't let things go.  My thought process was simple: We were going to be on the boat to see the fireworks that night anyway...  we could just bring some blankets, pillows and other necessities (i.e. knitting, camera, iPhones and food) on the launch ride with us.  

After a bit of discussion with Brian we had made our decision.  We would be lulled to sleep by the gentle lapping of the water against the hull of the Resolution.   I headed to CVS for a quick provision run and we then started to pack.  As you can see, CVS is not the ideal place procure things to pack for an overnight, but I made due and got some things we liked.  I will neither confirm nor deny that the entire sleeve of oreos was eaten at 5am.  Please note that the object in the freezer bag is actually my knitting and not food.  Somehow it found its way into the picture.

So, we got everything together, had dinner and the four of us (Brian's folks came too) headed out to the dock to catch the launch out to the boat.  We were there around 8pm so we had a bit of a wait ahead of us before the fireworks began.  It's really amazing just how many people were out in their boats for the show.  The ride out was packed with people prepared for cool weather and with lots of food.  After about an hour the festivities began and we were treated to a nice fireworks show.  I still have problems taking good fireworks pictures, but this year they seemed a little better.  I have to walk a fine line between having the shutter speed to fast or slow.  If it is too fast and I get very little light entering the camera and end up with a dark image with little movement of the explosions.   If the shutter speed is too slow I get too much light movement and things end up getting blurry due to the boat rocking or me accidentally moving the camera.  I'll get better, it will just take a few more years!  Here's a few of the pictures that I'm vaguely happy with.

This last one is just after the last set of fireworks went off and everything was fading into the dark. It was a really great show: I only wish I could do it justice.  Out of 161 photos these four are what I would consider being "ok." 

After the fireworks finished up, we chatted for a bit and then Brian's folks called the launch to be picked up.  I had been contemplating sleeping out in the cockpit under the stars, but after a bit decided I would give one of  the bunks in the cabin a try since Brian had already commandeered the forward berth as his space so he could stretch out.  That worked well for a bit.  Then I got warm.  Then I started feeling somewhat claustrophobic.  Not good.  So, I got up, quietly took the boards out of the doorway to the cabin, grabbed a hoodie and blanket and climbed back out to the cockpit.

When we had gone to bed there were still sounds of people partying or closing up their boats for the night along with the lights from vessels going back to their moorings.  Not now.  The harbor was perfectly quiet with only the sounds of the lapping water and any fish who jumped to the surface.  The sky was clear and bright with a high moon lighting up my surroundings.  It was incredible.  I almost didn't want to go back to sleep, but soon I found myself dozing as I leaned against the cabin.  Not too much later I woke up to Brian coming out of the cabin and a gorgeous sunrise. 

We watched the sun come up, I peacefully worked on the shawl I had brought with me and it was just perfect.  Brian got some nice footage of sunrise that I will post later since this entry it getting a bit long.  After sunrise we munched a bit on our provisions and I decided to try out taking a nap in the forward berth for awhile since I had spend a good portion of the night either unable to sleep or distracted by my surroundings.  The nap was really really good.  So, for those of you who have the opportunity, I highly recommend sleeping at sea. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tour de Fleece Update - Day 6

I have been away on vacation for almost a week, so I haven't been able to spin every day since the 3rd of July, but I have managed to spin every day since the 5th!  On our way up to my folks place in Maine, we stopped at Halcyon Yarn for me to grab some more fun fiber to play with.  I ended up getting a nice assortment of three of their Colorways Wool Top which is locally dyed in lovely mixes of colors.  I also picked up my first 4 ounces of merino, which is in a nice deep red with some pinks and dark stripes and a half a pound of Corridale in a medium/dark brown. The last bit of fun I picked up some crystal mylar fiber in a blueish purple that I plan to mix with a similarly colored bundle of the Colorways Wool Top.  I can't wait to try that out!  It's so going to sparkle :)

Well, I suppose I should tell you a little bit about what I made in the first 6 days of the tour shouldn't I?  I'm really happy with what I've produced so far.  This first skein is one of the lovely Blue Face Leicester braids I ordered from MissBabs.  The colorway is Iris I ended up with a Navajo plied worsted weight yarn, but have yet to determine the yardage as I have been to lazy.  This yarn is my first real success with Navajo plying.  I have done it before, but haven't had it turn out the way I wanted.  My first real attempt didn't have enough twist to it.  Luckily it can have more twist put in if I run it through the wheel again.

This beauty is one of the Colorways Wool Top rovings I picked up at Halcyon.  The colorway is called Sizzling, but I'm calling it Summer Sun after all the heat we had when I was spinning it up.  It was in the 90's even up in Maine along the coast.  Ugh... needless to say I did most of my spinning at night!  For this skein, I used my new tensioned lazy kate to make the yarn two ply.  I really don't think I could have managed it without the new lazy kate.  On my original one the singles just fly off as you pull them and tend to get tangles around themselves and then break.  The tensioned one made plying a breeze and next time I think I will try a three ply yarn.  Oh, I have no idea of the yardage for this one either (see earlier reference to laziness).

Well, it's getting late and having spent most of the day on the road homeward, I haven't done any spinning.  So I will bid you adieu for the evening and start in on some more fiber prep.  Ta!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pictures from Sailing on 7/1/2010

It was such a gorgeous day yesterday that we went out in the sailboat for a few hours. It's so much fun to pack a picnic lunch and eat it while cruising the waves!

Proof that I actually can sail, even though it's with a ton of help from my very patient father in law and husband.

Janet and Dave relaxing and taking in the perfect weather.

My awesome man, who somehow manages to have more glee about sailing than me.

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