Monday, December 29, 2008

Well, back to reality. Coming back to work after a lovely week of vacation is quite a jolt. It was a nice break. We ate lots of yummy meals (and cookies), and went to Anthony Lakes for skiing and snowboarding, watched movies, and did a fair bit of lazing around nursing colds. It was really great to spend some time with my sister and brother-in-law. It was even good to see my stubborn, opinionated, and intolerant father, who is apparently not as enamored of our nice new home as we are, after he found out that our middle-aged landlords (who live across the street and very nicely came over to help him dig his car out of the 10” of snow we got) are not married. Gasp. The horror. The world is doooooomed.


Emma tried skiing for the first time, and after a bit of resistance seemed to enjoy it…mostly. She wasn’t too keen on sliding down the hill by herself, but thought going with me and holding on to my legs while we snowplowed together was great. I initially was on a snowboard in the morning, but switched it out for skis after lunch because I was Not. Having. Fun. Snowboarding is hard and frustrating. I am a wimp. Even today, three days later, I am feeling muscles that apparently don’t get used much. I really must get back in the habit of going to the gym (see also: cookies, above).

One last thing, which has me in a fair froth of excitement, is my Christmas (and New Year’s and birthday and Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day and anniversary and Fourth of July and … you get the picture) present to myself. I ordered it on Friday, it should be here January 7, it is coming from Copper Moose’s eBay store, it shipped this morning and the box weighs 31 lbs according to the UPS website, and I am SO EXCITED!

Can you guess? Hee hee!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We made more cookies today, helped by the resident princess.

Princess dresses make everything more fun, don't you know. We made shortbread jam sandwiches, yum.

That's my home made plum-orange jam in the middle, and they are divine.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yummy bean soup and biscuits were on the menu tonight. I took a 1-lb package of dried beans (16-bean mix), a smoked ham bone, a bay leaf, half an onion (chopped), a carrot (chopped), garlic, and 8 cups of water and cooked them all over very low heat for four hours. At the very end, I mashed some of the beans to thicken the broth, and pulled the bits of ham meat off the bone. Easy peasy, and the result was a hearty soup that costs almost nothing. Paired with scratch-made biscuits fresh out of the oven and it was a very satisfying meal. (Adding a salad would have been even better, but I ran out of energy.)

Beans are so pretty.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My sister and Emma and I had lots of fun concocting various baked goods this afternoon. We started with Hershey's Kiss cookies (Note that the instructions at that link don't tell you when to add the milk. We added it with the rest of the wet ingredients):

They are as good as we remember. Then I tried a new recipe, loosely based on this Spicy Molasses Cookies recipe. It's a keeper.

We modified the recipe a bit: used honey instead of molasses (because I don't like molasses and didn't have any anyway), only used 1/2 cup of shortening, and subbed a heaping teaspoon of fresh grated ginger for the dried powdered ginger. Yum. The flavor of fresh ginger is so much better than dried. It's more floral and less bitter.

I also made Julekage (Scandinavian Christmas bread) for Christmas morning, and my sister made carnitas for dinner. The carnitas were yummy, but when you're five nothing holds a candle to COOKIES FOR DESSERT!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just to be perfectly clear, I was not complaining about my job yesterday. I am exceedingly grateful that I have a job. I was only complaining that I spent all weekend sick, and couldn't go out to play when I finally felt better.

Because, you know, the snow is so pretty.

That's the front yard of our new house, with a lilac bush and a little stream on the left. There's plenty of room for snow angels.

There's an alley way in the back, with a birdfeeder next to the bushes that are always chock full of sparrows and juncos.

(The birdfeeder has been de-snowed since I took the picture!) The back yard has a thicket of plum trees bordering the stream.

Did I tell the story of finding this house? Well those plum trees in that picture are the plum trees from this post. Remember all that plum jam? When Emma and I showed up at the address from the Freecycle ad to pick free plums, we found out that we actually knew the people who placed the ad. They're the managers of the GROWISER preserve, where Emma and I have had several beautiful walks over the past couple years. Turns out they also own the house where the plums are, and were looking for renters. We hadn't been looking for a new place, but when the opportunity presented itself, we took it. The new house is slightly cheaper, slightly bigger, and just a nice-feeling place. More light and a better floorplan. We like it, and we also love that our rent is put toward maintaing and improving a native plant and wildflower preserve, rather than going to a money-grubbing faceless landlord and the rental management company that wouldn't even fix broken screens or clean the chimney before we moved in.

I never would have guessed, when I went for a walk to look at flowers or saw an ad for free fruit, that it would help me find a better place to live. It was a series of threads that came together just right. Serendipity.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Monday and I'm at work. I'm writing permit applications for two stream modification projects (a diversion dam/fish ladder replacement, and a bank stabilization) that will be built next summer.

Next summer seems a long ways away. I know that if I don't finish these applications in a timely manner (as in: this week), the clients won't get their permits in time and won't be able to do these much needed projects and water quality will get even worse in those streams and the fish still won't be able to get upstream to spawn.

I know all that, but next summer still seems like a long way off, especially when we've gotten 10 inches of snow over the past two days and it is still snowing. All I want to do is escape from my desk with my newly-recovered health, snatch Emma out of daycare, and go sledding. Of course that's followed by mugs of hot chocolate with liberal toppings of marshmallows, a snuggly blanket for two on the couch, a Star Wars movie, and my knitting.

Pesky work. It's just not fair.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'm feeling SO much better today. The horrendous sinus pressure finally abated Friday, my energy level is back up since yesterday, and I can stay awake longer than four hours at a stretch. It was a miserable three days, but I think it's about run its course.

Every time I recover from a cold, I am reminded anew how amazing the human body is if you take care of it. The ability to defend itself against germs, to repair damage, is nothing short of miraculous. Not to mention the ability to forget pain; the sinus pressure that made being in a well-lit room torture is barely a memory. Same thing with the kidney stone that made itself felt at 2 am in July of 1998, and childbirth in September of 2003. A detached memory that these were painful experiences remains, but no physical body awareness. And incidentally, if I had to choose between the kidney stone and childbirth again, I'd pick childbirth every time. The kidney stone was more far more painful than labor, even the labor before the epidural FINALLY kicked in when transition was nearly over. And at least I got a baby out of that trip to the hospital.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I do not like being sick. I am currently sick. I am not happy.

I tried to go to work yesterday and today, but ended up coming home early both days. Today was worse. All I want to do is watch escapist TV (working my way through Alias again), hold a hot rice bag on my forehead, and whimper.

My head feels like it's stuffed with fiberglass, held in place with staples through my sinuses. My skin hurts (probably from the fiberglass dust leaking out through the staple holes), and my throat does too. My scalp hurts, and it feels like my hair is growing into my head instead of out.

It's possible that the Sudafed has made me loopy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Getting ready...

Another tree we cut ourselves in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, with our $5 permit. Thinned from a crowded thicket, leaving room for the others, and grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I like how the sparse and spindly branches let the ornaments and lights sparkle together.

(P.S. All these photos was taken with only the tree lights on. No tripod, and no "adjustments" to the photo after taking it, other than resizing. I love my new camera.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

A couple months ago I received a lovely surprise gift from Norma (I know! Norma! Famous Norma! Sent something to me!), just because I was having a sleepless night, was up way late -- rather like tonight -- and found the typo she was wondering about in her Blog-365 post numbering.

This is a 1.9 oz wool-silk batt. I don't know where she got it, or the official colorway name, but Norma called it Strawberry Chiffon and that is perfect.

The wool (merino? something soft, anyway) is pale pink, and the silk is red. It's a carded batt, not top, and not thoroughly blended, and really didn't want to be superfine laceweight. It wanted to be thicker, so that's what I did. And just for kicks, I decided to spin this on the Schacht spindle, even though I was at home and standing four feet from my wheel. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

It was lovely, like gulping down a big bowl of strawberry ice cream. I couldn't stop once I got started, and it was nice to spin something other than laceweight for a change. I didn't worry about getting a perfectly even yarn, since the batt had some nepps and the silk was streaked throughout the batt instead of blended. I did split the batt into quarters and predraft a little to even out the silk just a bit, though.

This was not only spun on the spindle, but plied as well. It worked very well to wind the singles off into a ball, hold both ends of that ball together and wind it into another ball, and ply from that doubled ball. Much easier than plying on a spindle from bobbins.

Two ounces is apparently about the maximum that a 1.1 oz. Schacht Hi-Lo will hold. That spindle is stuffed! It wouldn't work as a top-whorl spindle after about an ounce was plied, because the yarn was too close to the edge of the whorl, so I just turned it over and used it as a bottom-whorl, with a half hitch. No biggie. Next time I will make an egg shaped cop so that there's still a space below the whorl to facilitate using the whorl notch and hook, without the yarn rolling along the edge.

It turned into 170 yards of puffy, lofty two-ply fingering weight, approximately 15 wpi.

That picture is actually taken after I washed the skein, but before I put it back on the spindle to add a bit of plying twist. If you click to enlarge, you may see some spots that are seriously underplied, but that has been fixed now. It was amazing how this fluffed up in the wash. It's incredibly soft. Yum.

Thanks, Norma! This was fun!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I made a pot of the most gorgeous turkey stock ever, yesterday. I always make stock whenever we have a roasted chicken (or other bird), and freeze the stock in 1-2 cup portions for later use. Yesterday's stock, for whatever reason, came out so incredibly dark and rich and delicious that I just had to use it right away. So I made an enormous pot of turkey vegetable soup.

This was Emma's reaction:

I quite agree.

It's giant batch of soup, so half of it will go into the freezer, to be savored in a month or so, or as long as I can make myself wait.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Emma and I watched Willow last night. I know many disagree, but I think it's a very sweet, funny movie. I was a little worried that parts would be too scary for Emma, like the two-headed troll-monster and the baby-exorcism at the end, but I got around that by telling her ahead of time that it has a happy ending, and that the evil queen Bavmorda was only trying to steal little Elora Danan's powers, not kill her. I explained all the way through the movie what was happening, and introduced the monster as silly, not scary ("It has two heads! How can it have two heads??!!")

I needn't have worried, though. I forgot that this is the girl whose favorite movies are all six Star Wars episodes. She caught me looking at her worriedly during the baby-exorcism scene, and said to me "It's OK, Mom, this is only a made-up story. They won't hurt the baby actor."

Then, at the very end, when everything works out and everyone lives happily ever after, she got really quiet and turned her face into my shoulder. I was suddenly worried again, because she was crying... she said "I'm just so happy for the little baby. She has a family now. And Willow went home to his family. They're all so happy."

I love my little girl.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yay for the new camera! Taking these pictures was much less painful than with the old camera - no white balancing needed! No Photoshopping! No replacing the batteries after 10 pictures!

1. lemon chiffon, 2. garnet, 3. fireworks, 4. cottoncandy, 5. grapey, 6. mother of pearl, 7. cinnamon red hot, 8. portobello, 9. brass, 10. melon, 11. hollyberry, 12. princess, 13. silver, 14. berrycrush, 15. blush, 16. autumn night

New hand dyed laceweight yarns, destined for my shop (some are there already, one is sold already!).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I finally got fed up with my old and decrepit digital camera yesterday, and bought myself a present. My old camera gave faithful service for 4+ years, and I'm a bit sorry to have to move on, but I was getting frustrated at having to reset the white balance for every single shot when photographing yarn for my shop, plus post-editing in Photoshop to get the colors right. And the battery cover was cracked, so the only way to hold the batteries in was to screw the tripod base plate to the camera and hold the cover closed by sheer force. And it was starting to eat batteries.

Have I sufficiently justified myself yet? No? Even when I say that I now have 8.1 megapixels instead of 3.2 and 5x optical zoom instead of 3x? Still no? Well, how about if I just show you this:

My dessert tonight. Mmm, pomegranate seeds. I always have a little contest with myself, to see if I can extract every seed without puncturing any. (Tonight's score - Me: eleventy-hundred, Pomegranate: zero)

My new camera is WAY close-focussing. Five centimeters. It captures beautifully true colors, even indoors, at night, without flash or tripod. The viewscreen is big and clear, and there are tons of options and settings. It seems pretty easy to use, so far.

It's not top of the line by any means, but it's a great little point and shoot. I like it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A productive weekend:

I finally got back to dyeing, for the first time since we moved. I got 16 skeins dyed - 4 pounds of laceweight!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today I am immersed in these, identifying dead plants pieces collected at a wetland delineation last week:

Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest, by Wilson of the Carex Working Group, 2008.


Manual of the Grasses for North America, edited by Barkworth, 2007.

Pardon the terrible cell phone picture. I bought these two books about a month ago as personal resources for my job. They are FABULOUS. Pricey (think textbook prices, $30 and $80 respectively, for paperbacks), but fabulous and worth every penny.

The sedge book contains all the sedges (ALL! 163 species!) in Washington and Oregon. The grass book covers all the grasses (ALL! ~900 native and ~400 introduced species!) in North America north of Mexico. With pictures and range maps for each species. The grass book is extremely dense, basically a 350-page dichotomous key, with an additional 200 pages for the line drawings and maps. The sedge book is a little less ponderous, with a full 2-page spread for each species in addition to a dichotomous key, more descriptive text about each species, and several color photos for each. But of course, it only has to cover 163 species, not 1300 like the grass book!

These are not light reading, but will be incredibly valuable for what I do. I nearly drool when I look at them.

I'm a geek for sure.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not much to report, really. I had to go into work this weekend because Emma's teacher was sick on Friday and canceled school, and I had Emma all day. She came to work with me in the morning, but I wasn't getting anything done so I took the afternoon off. Which meant, of course, that I had to finish off my Friday work day on Saturday. Blech. I feel all discombobulated now, like today should be Sunday. But no, it's Monday and here I am at work again.

I did a lot of spinning this weekend, contract work for Tanglewood. She sent me 18 ounces of gray-brown cashmere this time, and it was lovely stuff to spin.

I did six ounces Friday, eight ounces on Saturday, and four ounces on Sunday. This pretty much spun itself; easy, relaxed long draw with double drafting, to ~30 wpi. Each 2-oz ball of singles took about an hour to spin. Sweet.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It is SO GREAT to wake up the morning after a presidential election and feel hopeful instead of slimed.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Well, we're moved in. Still no internet at home (Really, Verizon? It truly takes you a week and a half to flip the switch and let us get online? Whatever. You said by the end of today, remember. AT THE VERY LATEST, you said. We'll see.), so I'm stealth blogging from work.

We're mostly unpacked, and settled in nicely. I like the layout much better than the other house, especially the living room. We got rid of the honkin' enormous entertainment center that came with the house we bought in Friday Harbor, and bought ourselves a pretty little coffee table style TV stand and a DVD rack, which is much better. We also bought a dinette set that will be Emma's desk. A girl has to have a place to color, after all, and I think it's really important that she has a dedicated place to do her homework. The table fits perfectly in the breakfast nook in the kitchen, along with two of the chairs, and the other two chairs are in the living room. Yay, we have extra seating now! Plus, it's not an overly large table but still big enough for Emma, a friend, and all their crayons and pens and papers and scissors and glue and tape and glitter and stickers.

I know I said last time that we have too much stuff, so how does buying more furniture fit in? Honestly, next time we move, the TV table, DVD rack, and dinette set should take up less room in the truck than the entertainment center we got rid of. When I said honkin', I meant honkin'. I'm sure they collectively weigh less, too. The dinette is real wood, not particleboard, and the TV table, while particleboard, is nice and small.

Enough of moving. Unpacking is almost done, and I'm sick of it. So I washed some wool.

This is eleven batches of the merino ewe hogget fleece I got last July. I was getting a bit nervous with having this hanging about still greasy, so decided that it was time to start washing. I didn't want the lanolin to harden.

That's probably about a third of the fleece, washed in mesh bags in dishpans in the bathtub. Two soapy soaks and two rinses, and while I haven't thoroughly checked it for residual grease yet, I think it's clean. I'll do that tonight once it's dry, before I put it into the storage pillowcase. Merino is a greasy breed, eager to felt, and this is a hogget fleece (first shearing) so the fiber is very fine. I washed it carefully, in small batches, with my hottest tap water, and so seem to have avoided any felting issues, thankfully. This should comb up beautifully.

I've also been spinning. In addition to some contract work (cashmere and silk, mmm), I've been plugging away on Herkel's wool. I'm still working on the bobbin I started when my in-laws were here in June, with the first 100 grams of wool I combed. I spun one nest of the combed top last night, a total of 8 grams, and it took me 2 hours and 20 minutes. I have 38 grams of top left, about 11 hours of spinning time!

I get all smug when think about how many yards of singles must be on that bobbin....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do you ever feel like you're frantically busy all day, but when you look back it seems like you got nothing accomplished?

Yeah, I'm there.

In other news, we're still not moved. Tonight I attack the kitchen.

I guess the good news is that what we have managed to move to the new house is mostly put away.

(Aside: we have way too much stuff. This needs to change.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One other thing that I haven't mentioned before? We're moving. Why, you ask? No good reason, really. Shaun doesn't like the rental house we're in, and I'll admit that I'm not thrilled about the torn screens (repaired with duct tape by me) and unusable fireplace, not to mention the less-than-steller property management company that won't pay for a single thing to repair or maintain the house, even things that were broken when we moved in two years ago.

That said, it is a measure of how much I love my husband that I will leave a perfectly serviceable house with a fenced back yard and a gas stove in the kitchen, for a house with no fence and an electric stove. I'm still not sure where the clothesline will go.

I packed up the loom room over the weekend, and we moved most of it over last night, as well as some of Emma's stuff. We're renting a truck this weekend for most of the big furniture.

Ah, packing. How I love thee.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Apparently, I do still know how to knit.

This is a custom order for my Etsy shop; fingerless mitts knit to look like the ones worn by Rose Tyler in the new Doctor Who series. They're made from Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, dyed by me to the proper shade of purple, which is not accurately represented in the photo. In real life, they're darker and less pink.

In the interests of full disclosure, and in case anyone's worried about me selling someone else's copyrighted design, I should mention that there is a very similar free pattern out there, also based on the mitts from the TV show. The customer sent me a link to the pattern as well as a screenshot (and I found more screenshots on my own), but I DID NOT EVEN LOOK at that other pattern before I finished knitting. These are my own design. I looked at the other pattern after I was finished, and while they are close (they would have to be, since we were aiming for the same design), they are not quite the same. I used worsted weight yarn, for one thing; she used DK. The number of stitches is different, my side cables are over 4 stitches, instead of 6, and my mitts seem to have a longer hand. The cable is a very basic, traditional design. In any case, I feel perfectly comfortable selling these mitts.

I figured out a pattern by looking at photos, yay me!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I haven't mentioned this before (why, I don't know, except that work has kicked my butt up one side and down the other the past two weeks...) but my hand dyed yarn is now also being carried over at Yarny-Goodness, a great online shop that specializes in small fiber artists.

Go on over and check it out! I'm Heritage Needlework there, same as for my Etsy shop.

Plus, Yarny-Goodness is having a one-day sale next Monday (10/13). Everything is 15% off!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

If Senator McSame says "blah de friends...blah de blah de blah whatever" in that smug, condescending tone ONE MORE TIME, I swear I'm not going to held responsible for any damage to my TV.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I finally got around to taking the pictures I've been meaning to take for a month, regarding my spindling. Remember the silk hankies and cotton punis?

On the top is the cotton yarn, 1.1 oz, 280 yds, of 30 wpi 2-ply. On the bottom is the yarn from the silk hankies, 0.7 oz, 350 yds of 65 wpi 2-ply.

The silk yarn is entirely spindle-spun and spindle-plied, but the cotton is spindle-spun and wheel-plied. I've decided that I really don't like plying on a spindle. And I'm fine with that. Maybe if I wound the paired singles into one ball to ply from it would be OK, but spindle plying from two bobbins is not. fun. at. all.

The twist is somewhat variable, but overall I'm very proud of these yarns. Spindling is a great take along project. Just give me my wheel to ply.

Speaking of which, here's the next project I started:

Some tussah silk top, spun two weeks ago while watching Shaun compete in the Black Diamond Half Ironman triathlon, in Enumclaw, Washington. Go Shaun! I'm immensely proud of him for finishing this race; the longest tri he's ever done, and a warmup for the full-length Ironman Canada triathlon next August. Actually, I think he's nuts for wanting to do an Ironman, but to each his own. :-) A seven hour race (~14 hr next year?! He is nuts!) leaves a lot of free time for the spectators, and I spun up an entire spindleful between wrangling Emma and moving from point to point to watch Shaun zoom by.

One last set of pictures, to show a couple undocumented purchases. When Emma and I went up to Friday Harbor in July for the practice Sheep-to-Shawl, we stopped at Weaving Works again. I'd been having fun spinning the cotton punis I bought, but wanted to try naturally colored cotton. I couldn't find colored cotton in prepared punis anywhere. Besides, where's the fun in buying them ready made?

In the interests of increasing my skills, I bought two 3-oz. balls of naturally colored cotton sliver. This is the Cinnamon color, a warm reddish brown.

The ball of "Seamist" cotton, an interesting greeny-tan, has already been turned into this:

As you can see, I also bought a pair of Schacht 208-point cotton cards. There's a bit of a learning curve in making punis, and carding in general, but once I got going I carded the whole 3-oz ball of sliver into punis in two evenings. The spinning is going well, though it's been stalled the past couple weeks. This cotton has a shorter staple than the white cotton, so it's been an adjustment, but the punis make it easy to get a nice thin thread.

Plus, it's very fun to spin from punis I made myself!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Great Jam Adventure of 2008 continued this weekend, with two more batches: kiwi and pear-lavender.

The grand totals, left to right:
  1. kiwi jam (6 half-pints)
  2. pear-lavender jam (6 half-pints)
  3. plum jam (36 half-pints)
  4. plum-orange jam (19 half-pints)
  5. chunky peach jam (12 half-pints)
  6. smooth peach jam (12 half-pints)
  7. plum-orange syrup (9 half-pints)
It's just so much FUN! I got all adventurous yesterday, after picking some free pears from the tree outside my office. I decided to see what lavender-y jam was like, so I steeped 1 heaping tablespoon of lavender flowers in half a cup of boiling water for about 20 minutes, strained it, added that liquid to the mashed pears before I added the pectin, then proceeded as usual. It came out quite nice. I think the lavender would be fabulous in peach jam as well.

The kiwi jam was a spur of the moment idea, when I was in the grocery store getting pectin. I've never heard of kiwi jam, but the kiwis were on sale, and they're one of the few fruits Shaun will actually eat, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's really good. The little seeds are crunchy and it tastes very kiwi-y. Shaun hasn't tried it, so no verdict on that yet. (I just won't tell him I think it looks like frog eggs!) Emma and I like it, so it's a winner.

Yes, I think a round 100 jars of jam should hold us.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I finished spinning the Strawberry-Rhubarb laceweight last Thursday, and rewound it into two lovely full bobbins, all ready for plying.

I plied it last night, and it made beautiful yarn very much like Jaggerspun Zephyr, though a bit springier and without the silken shine.

This is 2.1 ounces and 670 yards of 45 wpi 2-ply. Yum.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Emma and I spent about an hour this morning picking plums. It's so easy to pick "just one more" and before we knew it, we had 25 pounds of fruit.

That's just half our haul. We could easily have picked three times as many - the trees were loaded. These are Italian plums, with yellow flesh and purply-blue skin. These are on the small side, about an inch and a half in diameter.

Pretty, but not really much to write home about when eaten fresh. They're moderately sweet and juicy, but not outstanding. Cooked for jam, though, they're transformed. The bitter/sour skin and sweetish pulp blend and something synergistic happens. I don't think I've ever had plum jam before, and it's not quite like anything else. A bit like grape, a bit like blackberry, but with a tang all its own.

I processed 2/3 of the plums this afternoon: 36 half-pints of plum jam.

That is a lot of jam. Both this and the peach jam from last week are lower sugar recipes, relatively speaking, and you don't miss it at all. The fresh peach flavor shines through beautifully, and the plum jam is perfectly tart-sweet.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Once again, I missed my own blogiversary. Yesterday marked 4 years since I started this little corner of fiber fun, with thoughts on Emma and life in general sprinkled through.

Emma had just turned one year old when I started blogging. 1+4=5. She's FIVE!!! How did that happen? We measured weight and height this morning, and she's gained almost two pounds and an inch and a half since the beginning of August! No wonder she's been cranky- that's a lot of growing in a month and a half! At 46" she's almost 4 feet tall. No wonder she towers over all her friends.

When I told her how tall she was this morning, she quickly looked down and said "No I don't! Don't be silly, Mommy. People don't have four feet!"

Anyway, happy blogiversary to me!

I still haven't finished spinning the Strawberry Rhubarb merino, though I think I might be able to finish the singles tonight and rewind the bobbin to be ready to ply this weekend. Provided I can manage to stay awake past 8:30, that is.

We're going to a retirement party tonight, going to a Freecycle-stranger's yard to pick plums (more jam! yum!) tomorrow morning, Emma has a playdate tomorrow afternoon while I make jam, and we're having friends over for dinner tomorrow night.

That's as much socializing in one day as I usually get in a month. Sunday will be for spinning. I can't wait!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Is this not a beautiful sight?

I canned twelve half-pints of chunky peach jam last night, and processed the rest of the box of peaches into less chunky pulp for smooth peach jam. That's in the freezer at the moment, and will be cooked and canned tonight. I ran out of jars.

These are organic Suncrest peaches straight from the orchard, when I was passing through Kimberly, Oregon two weeks ago on a work trip. My co-corker and I each got a 22-lb box from the Kimberly Orchards farmstand, and got to drive home smelling warm, fragrant peaches all the way. They were a bit hard when we bought them, but ripened nicely. They are delicious. We ate some fresh, but 22 lbs is a lot of peaches!

It was perhaps not the best plan to start the canning process at 8:00 pm, after working a full day, but they needed to be processed NOW. If not, there was a danger of them passing from perfectly ripe to rotten. It would have been a crime - a CRIME, I say - to let that happen.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Another update on what I've been up to:

That's a lovely natural gray Corriedale fleece, that I somehow purchased from last month from Sheepeez on Etsy. I saw this fleece while browsing one day, loved it, but talked myself out of buying it because money's tight. A couple weeks later, after I had sold a skein or two of yarn, I saw that it was still listed. Well, that has to be a sign, right?

It's from a 100% Corriedale sheep named Buttercup, in gorgeous shades of gray from light to dark. Buttercup is a girl but the fleece was a bit... shall we say...fragrant. It was mandatory that I wash it right away. I like the way raw fleece smells, but I suspect the less-obsessed members of my household don't hold the same appreciation I do.

It's all good now, though. It washed up odor-free, lovely and soft.

The raw fleece weighed 5.5 pounds, and after washing it weighs 3 pounds. The staple is about 4 inches, and it has a gentle crimp. It's soft, but sort of a durable soft.

I'm thinking there's a sweater in that pile of wool.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Here's the first installment of "What's Sue Been Up To Recently?" These updates will be presented working off a random timeline, as first up is my most recent project.

I ordered a bundle of merino top from Zaruela's Fibers (we must support our fellow Etsians, after all) a couple weeks ago. This is the Strawberry Rhubarb colorway.

That's about a half-ounce in that coil, all that I have left that's unspun. I split the top into quarters lengthwise (along the natural divisions of the top). A full ounce of it has already been turned into this:

And the rest is on the bobbin:

This is a beautiful dark pink, very subtly variegated, and super easy to spin. The top isn't matted at all from the dyeing, and it's turning into a nice even ~90 wpi singles.

The top was mottled, not striped, but because I'm spinning this very fine, I'm getting long stretches of color. When it's plied it will be marled, and should give gentle tonal shifts.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I have been uninspired to post recently, for a variety of reasons. Cobalt, obviously. Several trips out of town for work. General overwhelmedness.

Oh, and also, my computer fried itself on Wednesday. Kaput. Bye-bye hard drive. I'm trying not to think about it, and not really succeeding. I'm posting this from Shaun's computer; we're getting a new hard drive for mine, but it will take a couple days.

Why not just wipe the drive and reinstall? Because I'm stupid and didn't back up enough and maybe I can take the drive to someone who has a magic wand and can make all my files reappear then I won't have to cry (but they probably can't) so I'm still trying not to think about that yes I should back up no I didn't don't yell at me I've learned my lesson did I mention I'm an idiot?

Yes, I'm an idiot.

I'm off to take some pictures now, and will maybe get them posted tomorrow. Then I'm going to spin for a while and wind up all this tension in my mind into some lovely laceweight merino singles.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sometimes even the expected can be unexpected... heartwrenching... horrible. It's taken me more than a week to write this post. Our dog Cobalt went up to Friday Harbor with us last weekend, but she did not come home.


She'd been getting progressively impaired this summer, though she never had any acute attacks like she did a couple years ago. Just a general decline. Less stable on her feet, a little blind, a little deaf, but still her same sweet self.

July 1996

She was originally from Wilmington, North Carolina, born in 1994. Shaun got her from an animal shelter, in November of our first year together. She was about nine months old, our relationship was eleven months old. She was mostly past the puppy stage, incredibly sweet and cuddly. She wanted to be a lap dog, a 50 pound lap dog. She was picked up as a stray and we think she'd been abused, as she was always skittish around tall men with deep voices. We didn't even hear her bark for more than a year.

January 1996

She lived with me (illegally, in my no-pets apartment) for our last summer in Wilmington, while Shaun did research in Florida, then they moved to Pittsboro, North Carolina in the fall of 1995 when Shaun started in the PhD program at Chapel Hill. I finished up my Master's degree and joined them in December.

January 1996

She enjoyed the colder winters and occasional snows of the Piedmont, and deluded herself into thinking that she could catch the squirrels and deer in our yard.

July 1996

It was hilarious to watch her scratch her own back by wiggling with all four feet up in the air.

February 1999

She hated baths, loved to be brushed, and would flatten into a puddle of black fur when the temperature went above 80F.

July 1996

We moved to Friday Harbor in 2001, to the wonderful cool Pacific Northwest. Lots of beach walks and snuffling in the underbrush at Jakle's Lagoon. When Emma was born, Cobalt was interested and gentle and protective. She was very tolerant of the toddler-play.

February 2005

She traveled with us up and down the East Coast visiting and vacationing from Maine to Florida, and across the width of the US three times.

August 1996

She pretty much went where we went for 14 years. She was part of our family from the very beginning, from the very first inklings Shaun and I had that we would be a family.

January 1996

We knew she was old and gradually failing. She had a long life, and had cheated mortality several times - hit by a car, heartworms and the terrible treatment for them, cherry sized bladder stones and surgery to remove them, pancreatitis, and a stroke or possibe brain tumor - not to mention the less dangerous crises - bitten by a copperhead, stoned from licking a toad, a muzzle full of porcupine quills, lots of apparently benign but still sensitive large fatty tumors, and idiopathic vestibular disease.

October 2007

Despite all that, she kept going along. Even up to the end, she didn't seem to be in great distress, just a bit creaky. I was dreading having to make the decision to put her to sleep, but we didn't have to.

February 2005

Cobalt, Cueball, Cue-balty. You will be terribly missed. Rest in peace, sweetie.

September 1998