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....