Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Promised Pics

Here's the promised pictures. This is Murphy, building block castles. He's had these blocks since he was a baby, and never showed any interest. Last week (probably due to cabin fever!) he discovered making castles with them.

This is the castle that Aunt Merridee gave him for Christmas last year. We tucked it away and pulled it out recently, and he's been having a blast. He discovered that he can WRITE things on it with the markers, and is so pleased with himself. He wrote "Flawers for Mom" on it, under his drawing of some flowers; very cute.

This is my new baby. She's much smaller than she looks in the picture, and weighs practically nothing. I'm told she was made in Alsace, France around 1810-1820. She's beautiful and delicate and spins the finest yarn I've ever been able to spin, truly a lace weight, and maybe even a cobweb, when I get a little better. She's a little creaky, though much improved with some Woodbeams and oil. I'm spinning the Ramboulliet that I got at the Santa Monica Fiber Festival on her, and it's coming out gorgeous. I'm trying to find the perfect name for her; maybe I should hold a contest. I'm looking for a very delicate french name, preferably starting with the letter D.

This is the side view. It's a double drive wheel, which I've never used before, so it took a little adjustment. It's also a single treadle which I've never used before. I find I do prefer the double treadle, as it's less tiring for me, but I love her anyway. The bobbin is so tiny! I'll be surprised if it holds two ounces of fiber, though at laceweight, that is still a fair amount of yarn. I'm hoping to dye it something yummy and maybe, just maybe, actually knit a lace shawl.

I'm doing lots of knitting, most of which is being frogged, these days. I'm learning so much! I want to complete a pair of socks but just can't seem to get there. I finally have my Trekking socks started, and I'm about four inches into the leg. Rather than get frustrated trying to focus enough to follow a pattern, I'm simply doing stockinette stitch, just to got the sock DONE. I'm also working on a few things that hopefully will be Christmas gifts, so I can't discuss here, but several of them involve new techniques, so they're progressing slowly. I'll try to get pictures up... someday...

Been A Long Time Coming

So, between hosting Thanksgiving, the Birthday Week from Hell, various and sundry illnesses, the Christmas rush, and work being a wee tad stressful, I haven't blogged in a while. So today, I'm home sick from work, so I'll see how long I can remain vertical with these meds and try to get caught up.

Thanksgiving was fun, actually. I love having my sister-in-law Merridee and her family over. They're good people. I got just the right amount of help and the food was fabulous, if I do say so myself! We had SIX pies and a 22 lb turkey and amazingly few leftovers. Guests included Mammama and her husband Bill, and his dog Max, Merridee, Terry, Brian and Kelsey, and Peru's cousin Kevin, as well as my crew. It was really nice to see everyone. We'll all be getting together for Christmas as well.

Then, way too quickly, comes the Birthday Week from Hell. Eric's birthday is Dec. 4th, mine is the 6th, and Peru's is the 7th. With Eric's college schedule we didn't see each other more than 15 seconds all week, so celebrations were pretty much nil. We did get lovely packages from Nana and Grampy and The Sweenys with wonderous things for us all though, and then on Saturday we went to Joe's Crab Shack to celebrate. Joe's Crab Shack? Honestly, it was awful! Don't get me wrong, it was fun; it's got a lovely view of the very choppy ocean at sunset, which was gorgeous, and it has a playground for Murphy, who had a blast. But the food was awful! And way way way over priced. We'd wanted to try it for a long time though; now we know, and I don't think we'll be back! We'll stick to Sea Fresh for our seafood, thank you; even though their prices went up recently, at least the food is worth it there!

For presents? I got a lovely bath set from Nana, and a really cute Advent Calendar. Barbara knitted me a stole that was just what I wanted; really long to wrap all around, and warm, and a lovely blue/turquoise/purple color that is so soft to touch. Eric's gift really touched me; he broke my gravy boat after Thanksgiving (it was really slippery!) so he gave me a lovely antique one, with a poinsettia on it, and a lovely matching dish. Really, very sweet of him. My darling hubby gave me a bundle of knitting tools and implements which I thoughtfully had put together for him to give me! Really, my spinning wheel was my present, and I really need to get pictures of her up on the blog!

Murphy was sick all last week. It's so hard to tell with him if he's really sick or just having allergies. Sometimes they morph into each other. He had a fever for a few days, so I figure that's sick. Then Saturday, Eric looked like death. Yesterday it was me. Sinuses hurt so bad my teeth ached, my head pounded, even my hair hurt. Was trying to put out a fire at work so I could leave ASAP, only to find out two hours later that the Bossman resolved it and neglected to mention it. Argggh. So I"m home recupperating today.

Breed Swap is coming along. I have almost all of the research entered and formated; I think I have two more breeds to do. Then to start printing it! and collating the fiber - oh my! But it has been fun and man, I have learned a lot!

And yesterday I heard from my "Spin Me A Treasure" mystery pal! Very cool! She slugged through this blog all the way back to September, I think! Patient woman! This should be fun. I really enjoy these swaps, and this one was started internationally, though most participants are still from the US. Maybe after the swap I'll try.... what am I out of my mind????

I'm still sloggin away at Christmas. I was hoping to get more fibery stuff done, but it's just not working out that way. Not enough time! And I haven't mentioned my second job at Artful Living, a craft store here in Ojai. Barbara Beck, the owner, took a shine to me and offered me a chance to help her out on occasion in exchange for goods in lieu of pay. So I get yummy fibers or really mostly books in return for working about two hours a week. If only she could give me insurance it'd be full time! How cool would that be? Sigh....

Well I'll try later to get some pictures of the Murph up later; the Theraflu is kicking in and I'm finding it hard to type...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Anyone got a spare room?

I got home today to find FIVE packages on my doorstep! Three were boxes of fiber for the Breedswap I'm running. I now have ten very large boxes, and it's getting a tad crowded in my room. Anyone got a spare?

The other two were interesting. One was from Gary, a member of the guild, who VERY generously offered to help me fix my Baynes castle style wheel. It makes a clanking noise when treadled, kind of annoying. He thought that perhaps leather fittings on the footmen would be more flexible, and offered to replace the plastic pieces with custom made leather ones. Peru and I fit them on the wheel and they do seem to help a bit, maybe more after they get broken in. You can still hear a bit of a clank, but it's softer, and I can't feel it in my feet, so I shouldn't get tired so quickly. Thank you SO VERY MUCH, Gary!

The last package was my birthday present to myself. It's a parlor wheel, circa 1890, very tiny and SO light. It's amazing. I haven't quite managed to figure it out entirely; it's a double drive which I've never used before. The bobbin is so tiny, if it holds an ounce of fiber, I'd be surprised. The oriface is tiny as well, and I think it'll be suited to making lace. At least that's my guess! I've oiled it up but need to get better instructions on how a double drive is set up. Where's a guild meeting when you need one?

Yesterday, I got a new spindle, from Jen at Crowhill house. It's GORGEOUS! It's VERY heavy, maybe three ounces! I got it for plying. What really surprised me is that I was able to spin a fairly thin single on it. I'll try to get pictures up soon.

Time for bed. I think I may be coming down with a cold. I get sick out here way more often than I did in Boston. Winter. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wish Lists

Several people have expressed a wish to know what I and my crew would like for the upcoming birthday and holiday time.

I'm easiest. I want fiber. Lots of fiber, in pretty colors. I like silk, or merino, or even better, a blend; or exotics like buffalo or yak or camel or oooohhh cashmere. Or Spindles. Links to my favorite stores on the sidebar. Or Knitting/Spinning/Weaving books. I'd love a copy of "Spinning for Softness and Speed" by Paula Simmons, which can be foundhere. "Wild Fibers" magazine subscription, or any magazine subscription put out by Interweave Press. (Spin Off, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet) Oh... and Lantern Moon knitting needles; they're so GORGEOUS! Or a set of "Options" circular needles from Knitpicks.

Eric? He's easy too. Money. For social events and books and CD's and games and comics and such. There's a few subscriptions he'd like as well, and I'll try to get a list up.

Murphy? Star Wars figures. "A light saber that makes noise." Moon Shoes. Games. He likes interactive things. If you get him clothes, he's a size 8, but he'd prefer TOYS!

Peru? Guitar Center certificates. Man, he's TOUGH! I have no clue. He always answers "I don't need anything." except for guitar stuff, and I won't get that; too personal a thing, you know? So gift certificates.

Our Town

Eric, aka, Quentin Tarrentino Jr, is currently starring in a production of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder. We all went to see the Sunday Matinee, and I must say, it was very good. It's a very small theater, so you can see and hear everything very well. The actors spoke clearly and for the most part slowly; the worst thing about amateur productions is the tendency for the actors to rush through their lines.

Eric plays Simon Stimpson, the church organist. It's funny, but even in costume, even from the back of the theater, before he even said a word, Murphy said "THERE'S ERIC!" He was so excited to see his big brother in action and find out why he's always at rehearsal and not available to play with!

Not being at ALL prejudiced, I thought he was wonderful. It's a painful role to play, and he has to scowl through the whole deal and even cry. I'm very proud of him. He's getting much more comfortable on stage, and the Mommy curse didn't show up this time! (I have in the past, made him nervous, and he'd screw up on the nights I came.) The entire play was quite an enjoyable experience, even for Murphy, and we topped it off with the obligatory trip to McDonald's on the way home. Being out with my family is so much fun. I'm so lucky to have such a great guys with wonderful senses of humor and we enjoy every moment, no matter how trivial. I remarked after the play to Peru that it was so sad that people miss half their lives waiting for the big important moments, when the really important moments are there every day. Kinda the point of the play, eh? But I KNOW how lucky I am, and every second of every day I think about it and am so grateful.

The play continues this weekend, so if you're in the Ventura area, it's worth a looksee.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We now return you to your regular programing...


In the midst of election noise, I never posted pics of our little joy in his Halloween costume. So I present for your fear and amazement TA-DA!


We had a lovely time; the weather was perfect, there were more goblins about that I've seen since I've been here. Murphy got a TON of candy. He has watched "Return of the Sith" every day for I can't tell you how long. It was great fun.

And in fibery news, I created a special yarn for Halloween. I had a small skein of the raggedy uneven ends of this GORGEOUS black merino:

and some leftover gold/apricot silk:

So I plied them together and the result?

I love how it looks; very halloweenish and cool. There's not enough to do anything with, unfortunately; but next year, I'll be ready!

I also plied some white kid mohair/merino blend:

And the softest most amazing targhee, I've fallen in LOVE; it's as soft as the mohair blend! Amazing! I can't wait to get my hands on more.

I bought two pounds of raw targhee fleece. I've washed it and dried it. It's now sitting in a bag in my bedroom waiting for me to gain enough guts to try to process it. And I still haven't processed my fleece for the BreedSwap, the California Varigated Mutuat I bought a while back. I'm so afraid of ruining it! But everyone has sent their research, and five people have already sent their fiber, so I'd better get started.

BTW, do you have any idea how much room 32 boxes containing two pounds of fiber each will take up? I may end up sleeping in the car....

Go Dems!

Thank God! Voters turned out in record numbers and spoke up, which to me, despite the landslide victory for the dems, is the real victory. People participated. People paid attention.

Now it's up to the Democrats to prove their worth. Keep your noses clean, keep you wallet and various body parts in your pants, and DO YOUR JOB! Provide oversight. Represent your constituents. Show up to work, be honest, work hard. Get us out of the mess Bush has gotten us into, and provide the things we so desperately need. Make America great again.

We Will Be Watching.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Can you waste a vote?

After my earlier post today, there was a discussion about third party votes. Someone asked, "Why would anyone waste their vote on a candidate that can't win?" This was my reply:

"First of all, the founding fathers warned us of a two party system, fearing exactly what has happened. Though they tried to protect us from ourselves by setting up those famous checks and balances, the idiocy of people not performing their jobs through greed of power and money is something they couldn't legislate.

Second, your vote should be your opinion, your belief. To abdicate your choices simply because there's no chance of winning is how we got here, and is unfair to the system.

When things are this fucked up, it's a hard choice to feel like you're throwing your vote away; but a vote is worthy all on it's own, and does not need the justification of winning to be important. If more people had the courage of their convictions, and I'm talking now to the current Dems, John Coyners and Russ Feingold and their like excepted, we wouldn't be in this mess.

I too would vote in any possible way to get these liars and murderers out of office, but I greatly respect the choices we make when we vote, and would not discourage anyone from voting their conscience."

This is something I've wrestled with on and off for most of my adult life. Being who I am, off beat non-traditional candidates often appeal to me. Do I throw my vote away by following my heart, or vote the "sensible" way?

What has come to me over the years is that the vote itself has intrinsic value. The act of casting one's vote means you've made a commitment to the process; that you're participating, you're invested in your country and it's government. This is no small thing. To me, it's very similar to the situation our soldiers find themselves in now; their service alone, their commitment to country and to each other is noble and worthy of support and even awe, regardless of the legality or the ethics of the war in which they serve. Again, it's an act of participation in a greater structure of our society.

So no, I don't believe that you can throw your vote away. I do however, think that sometimes the "throw the bums out at all cost" is worth consideration.


I haven't posted in a while, as life has been busy. I've done some fibery things that I'll get to later, but first the obligatory editorial. I've decided it's too hard to maintain two blogs (can hardly handle this one!) so from now on, here you get me in my full glory, lucky you!

Tomorrow will be one of the most important days in our country's history. I sincerely hope that EVERYONE will get out and vote. Voting is a right and a duty and above all, a privilege, a franchise that this country was built upon. Never mind if there are long lines... never mind if you think they'll cheat and your vote won't count, never mind if your spouse votes opposite of you and you think they'll just cancel out. VOTE ANYWAY!

One of my favorite jokes was about a husband and wife who were of different parties, and they decided that since their vote would cancel each other out, why bother? Of course, one of them secretly did vote every year while the other didn't.

Above all, it's important for you to stand up and give your opinion. This is a chance for you to tell your government just what you think of them and their policies, and an Aye is as important as a Nay. SO VOTE. Yes, even if you disagree with me. Even if you think President Bush is doing a fine job and you agree with his every thought. This is the difference between progressives and republicans... we protect rights we disagree with and encourage the voice of every American in the voting booth and elsewhere.

However... if you're undecided, here's a few things you might keep in mind.

1. Bush lied. Repeatedly. And because of his lies, nearly three thousand American soldiers are dead, and hundreds of thousands more are maimed and torn; in total, far more than those affected by the completely unassociated World Trade Center bombing of September 11, 2001.

2. Bush has given the perpetrator of that bombing every single thing he has ever wanted.

A. Osama bin Laden wanted us out of Saudi Arabia. We are OUT. Gone. Kaput. Our presence in his Holy Land was the main burr in his craw, and Bush capitulated and left. Silently, if you notice... no big press circus around that, for sure. The US has never done that, pulled out completely leaving no troops behind, in any other situation.

b. He has replaced a secular dictatorship (yes, I know, Saddam was a bad man...) with a Fundamentalist Islam government, where the Koran supercedes their Constitution. As the Koran is at least as contradictory as the Christian Bible, this leaves huge room for interpretation, leaving the plight of women and children in Iraq far worse than it was under Saddam, admittedly no picnic then.

c. He has constantly threatened us with fear of attacks, instituting bizarre "safety" regulations and curtailing and finally eliminating our fundamental rights as American Citzens. OBL wanted us to live in fear, and GWB has tried his best to insure we do.

I could go on, but honestly, it's too depressing. And that's only GWB himself; shall I start with his Adminstration? Remind you of the incompetence and apathy of Katrina? Point out that despite controlling ALL THREE BRANCHES of government, the only acts of significance they have managed to pass have to do with curtailing our liberty? That they have accomplished NOTHING of what they told us they would do? That they have spent less time in session than any Congress in our history? Point out the hypocrisy of these "Family Value" politicians that are now in jail, or under indictment, or under investigation? Shall I discuss the ethics of promising us tax cuts in wartime to make themselves more appealing in elections, shaking our hands while stealing from our childrens future and mortgaging our country in pieces to those we often count as enemies?

The Democrats fare not much better. Democrats failed us by bending to pressure and not telling us or fighting for the truth. They remind me of the somewhat ethical member of a corporation who meekly raises his hand in objection but is easily cowed back into his seat when reminded from where his paycheck comes. There have been a few lone voices crying in the wilderness, but not nearly enough. They are as at fault as the Administration.

On the whole, I prefer Democrats. Their scandals are limited (usually!) to sex between consenting adults and petty theft, and when they take your dollars for taxes, they do give you some services in return. I do wish they'd grow a spine, however. Russ Feingold, anyone?

At any rate, please vote. This is what our country was based on. It's the foundation of who we are as Americans, what makes us unique. It's what our soldiers have died for in every conflict throughout history, for our ability to have a voice within our goverment, choose our leaders and affect their policy. Get to the polls. And if you find there are issues with the vote, do not let it pass. Speak up. Fight for your rights. Make THEM follow the rules. Make this election fair. If it isn't, march in the streets. There will be patriotic Americans beside you, fighting for our Country. We are here, and we will not be silenced.

Vote. Just Do It. VOTE.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Saddest Day in History

I don't usually post here about politics but I'm so saddened/angry/frightened for my country I have to write about it.

With one stroke of a pen, George W. Bush did what Saddam and Osama and Hitler and Tojo and Castro couldn't do. He shredded the Constitution of the United States, and took away all of those freedoms he so proudly touts.

Just think about it. By simply signing his name to the Military Commissions Act of 2006 George Bush has removed the protections that made this country unique. That made the citizens of this country FREE. Now any person, anywhere in the world, US citizen or no, can be arrested, detained indefinitely, without recourse, simply on the President's say so. He also quite conveniently pardoned himself and his administration for any war crimes, past present and future.

People joke about King George. I think it's gone beyond that. He wants to be God.

Talk about power. What a rush for him! Don't like Cindy Sheehan's t-shirt? Don't have to arrest her and cause a public outcry anymore! Just disappear her. Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" segment getting on your nerves? Poof! Gitmo for you! Toss in a little homo-erotic torture and some waterboarding in, just for fun.

How have we let this happen? How can it be that even stalwart Republican members of Congress cannot understand that this is wrong? Why are Democrats not SCREAMING about this? Why aren't WE THE PEOPLE not out in the streets, with torches and pitchforks to toss these criminals out?

We are no longer America. The land of the free, and the home of the brave? I don't think so.

Maybe we deserve it. We abdicated our responsibility to monitor our government. We somehow allowed this country to become a two party system; something our founding fathers warned us against. We've become so complacent, trusting our elected officals to be working in our best interest rather than for themselves. We pick one issue and elect people on what they say about that one issue, rather than picking the best person for the job. We're too busy watching "Dancing with the Stars" and following Paris Hilton's escapades and "Branjelina" new baby and Tom Cruise's Scientology meltdown to care that our government is killing us. Killing our soldiers in Iraq. Killing our children with poverty and ignorance. Killing our creativity buy killing our freedom of speech. Killing our self esteem with unemployment.

Even as Iraq continues to decompensate, and the administration continues to deny there's a civil war, and Afghanistan is falling again to the Taliban, and there's nowhere nearly enough troops there, even as North Korea tests their nuclear capacity again... the Eisenhower Strike team is headed for Iran to prepare for the next war. Have you heard about it in the news? Nope. They arrive on or about the 21st of October, just three short days. What happens next?

And what will happen to those who protest it? Will they be labeled "unlawful enemy combatants" and be rendered?

This is the darkest day in our history.

Where is the outrage?

Friday, October 06, 2006

I am SO excited!

Ok, I haven't been blogging much recently. I've been busy. I know, yadda yadda. But I really have! And I have a bunch of news that is exciting, to me at least. Those of you who visit now and again may not find it all that enthralling, but here goes.

One VERY big, very wonderful piece of news is that Murphy, my "I will not make any developmental milestones until I'm darn good and ready and you can't make me, nyah" child, who swore only two short months ago that he COULD not read, WOULD not read, and didn't WANT to read - he read me a book tonight.

And he really really read it. Unlike Eric, who would just remember, memorize and read by context at first, he actually reads every word. Murphy brought this book home from school today, with instructions to read it to one person and bring it back to school. So he read it to Daddy, in the car on the way home. And he read it to me and Eric. And to himself. I'm so proud and happy I could bust. The best part of it is his attitude. Hey, I can do it, no big deal. But there's this undercurrent of excitment and pride and happiness, and THAT's what makes me want to burst.

Have I mentioned I love Montessori? At least for Murphy, it really seems to be working.

On to the next wonderful excitment; and this is about Eric. The last two weekends he performed in "A Series of One Act Plays" at Ventura College. He was in a Perry Mason play. Again, I'm busting with pride. His character was a bit of comic relief, and he really did it well. He kept it from going over the top (he played a hayseed with a trash collection business) and it would have been easy to make him TOO much of a caricature; but he didn't. They didn't allow picture taking so I didn't get any, unfortunately, but here's a picture of the program.

Then on Saturday, I attended the monthly meeting of the Ventura County Handweaver and Spinner's Guild. It was a lovely meeting, as always; the women are so friendly and helpful. I won a huge bag of charcoal roving, which is rather coarse. I'm going to try knitting with it unspun, as roving; it works up soft that way. Not sure what I'm going to do with it. The news from that meeting is twofold; first, I met two lovely women named Ellen and Anna, who would like to learn how to spin. They have a couple of alpacas and want to learn what to do with them. I, in my VAST experience as a spinner for all of half a year, told them I'd try to help them. So we met at Nibbles N'knits on Wednesday and had a lovely lesson, with some help from Susie too! They're such very nice people. The second news from the meeting is that I've been roped into "running" for Recording Secretary for the coming year. I'd feel very honored to be asked if I didn't know how desperate they were.

So now we come to the next exciting news. Like I don't have enough to keep me busy? Well, I started a project. A major project. The Yahoo group "Spindler's List" where I have found a world of information and wonderful people has the occasional exchange, where people sign up to make a gift box for someone else on the list, usually with some theme, or purpose. I am running this one. And it's a biggie. A Breed Project. Each person in the swap will give one ounce of fiber, one lock of fleece, and one yard of spun fiber from a breed of sheep, along with a page of information, all sent to me. I will compile them all into 32 separate notebooks which will then go out to all the participants. We'll end up with a book of information and samples of 32 breeds of sheep. I am SO excited about this project. And my fiber arrived today! Two pounds of roving and one pound of raw fleece from a breed called CVM, or California Variegated Mutant. Sounds like the breed *you'd* pick, I can hear some of you whispering now! I've never dealt with raw fleece before, and WOW I forgot that it would be a bit ripe! But it's so cool and still greasy and I can't wait to dive in and play!

Poor Peru has been sick this week. I feel so bad when he's ill. But it made me remember last year, when I was sick on and off for months on end. I didn't do anything around the house, I whined and was miserable. He waited on me hand and foot, did all the chores, made me soup, comforted me. He never complained, never made me feel like he thought I was slacking, just took care of me, and the house, and the kids. This is love. Simple, true, amazing, unconditional love. Roses are nice, and candy and jewelry, and all the trappings that men are supposed to give to show their love. But I don't need those, because every day, I get the "I love you" message in ways that don't expect reward. Coffee that arrives magically in my pot every morning, even though he has to warm his up in the microwave. Making me my comfort food, Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup (classic only!) when I don't feel well. Shoveling my grass path (in flipflops and shorts!) so I wouldn't get snowy feet from the car to the door back in Boston. Letting me cry when I need to for no reason at all without judging me. Always accepting me, as I am, taking what I'm willing to give, sharing what he has. I am so blessed. And so very grateful.

And then we come to politics. Oh dear God. I can't even go there. I am so angry with these self important selfish greedy power hungry idiots I can barely breathe. But that's going to ruin the lovely mood I had thinking about how much I'm loved, so I think I'll go play with my fiber -oh! and watch Dr. Who!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Meet Homey Bear

This is Homey Bear. He is knitted from my very first ever yarn. His vest is spun from merino roving that Murphy and I dyed. He's the first, the very very first thing ever created out of my homespun yarn. He's gone to visit Auntie Barbara and keep her company at work when she's having a bad day. I know they'll be good friends.

The winds changed today, and took the ash clouds away from Ojai. There's hope that on Wednesday we'll have some showers to help fight the fire. I'm just glad that for now, the winds have moved it away from homes, and back into the forest.

As much as I love my wheels, lately I've gone back to spindle spinning. There's nothing like a full cop to give me a feeling of accomplishment. Last night I spun some fiber I bought when I first picked up a spindle; the colors are pretty but the wool is quite coarse. I think it was meant for needle felting. And I'll probably use it for felting, in a handbag, at some point. I do love making bags! But it's so lovely to finish the batt of fiber, and have a full cop to admire, nicely shaped and balanced. I'm working on my third cop of a lovely sea blue silk, spun pretty fine. It will be interesting to see how it turns out plied.

I have so much fiber it's hard to know what to do next. I'm really into knitting now, though I've frogged the last several projects I've started. I'm taking that as a sign of maturity, since before, I would keep every single thing I made regardless of how poorly it was done or how much I disliked it when finished. Now, I'd rather play, try new things, rip it out after I've learned a few things, and start over. Get it just the way I like it. Growth, right? RIGHT? Perfectionism? Uh, maybe.

I'm off to start something new. Or maybe, just maybe, fill that third cop of silk....

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Snow in Ojai?

Peru was loading up for his gig last night, and it was the strangest thing; snow was falling! Okay, it's not really snow. It's ash. The Los Padres Forest Day Fire is relatively close to my house (as in, close enough to smell and see ash, not close enough to cause real worry). It looks remarkably like flurries, until you open the door and the smell hits you. I am a little concerned for my boss and his wife; their house is a whole lot closer to the fire, and may be part of the evacuation area. Hoping all is well with them!

The pictures below don't really give you the full effect; the white part of the ash doesn't show against white, and the black doesn't show against black, but you can get the idea. Remember, this car was clean less than 12 hours ago.
It's almost to the point where you can see your footprint walking outside. Freaky. So far, I don't think the fire has damaged any homes (other than that soot deal) but I'm not sure, and I know there are evacuation orders for upper Ojai. I'm waving DPNs (double pointed knitting needles) that they get it under control soon, and that no homes are damaged.

Will have pictures soon of some FO's; they're being held till the recipients get them. Can't wait to show you!

Which reminds me; if you visit my blog, please leave a comment once in a while; it's a little strange to feel like I'm posting to no one, makes me feel crazy, like I'm talking to myself. Let me know you've stopped by!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

No Time to Post

It's been a busy few weeks. School is finally settling into a routine. Eric has dropped one of his classes, but added two more low credit courses. Murphy's back in school to find that several of his friends are not returning, but he's making new friends quickly.

September is a big birthday month. My brother Keith's is on the second, as is my friend Doug's, who got a new baby boy for his present this year. Roger, my asbestos friend Barbara's other half, is on the fifth. My mother in Florida celebrates hers on the 10th. Billy, Peru's firstborn, arrived on the 13th. Happy Birthday wishes in great abundance fly from our house to all of you on your special day!

Oh, wait, did I forget someone?

Murphy turned six on Thursday. My baby! He's so grown up now, and is such a delight. Memories of four days in the hospital awaiting his arrival, and the precipitousness of his delivery after so much waiting brought me to tears as we celebrated. We had a lovely dinner at Carrow's, where Murphy had funny face pancakes (what else?) and a HUGE slice of chocolate cream pie. Then home to open gifts; Star Wars was the theme and wow, he got a lot! Nana sent a junior version of Monopoly which we're planning to learn today. Auntie Barbara sent all kinds of lovely art supplies in different mediums for creative exploration. Eric gave him "Ratchet and Clank II" for the PS2. Guess what's melting from overuse? We all missed Eric as he had classes and didn't even get to see Murphy on his birthday, but we still had a lot of fun anyway.

I got my final package from my "One Skein Secret Pal." It's a scarf made from a bobbly type yarn; very lovely. Even my husband thought it was beautiful! And some wonderful handmade soap that is currently making my bath "stink good" as my husband would say. Thank you so much, Frances. You were a wonderful partner, and all my good wishes go out to you and your husband.

I've got lots of spinning and yarn stuff done, and will get pictures out soon, I hope. Just never have enough time!

Happy September to all!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Newest Acquisition

This is Cerridwen. She's my newest wheel, a Baynes castle style. As you can see, she's in pieces. I bought her unfinished, and Peru and I spent Saturday staining her a lovely cherry. This shows her in the bathtub drying.

Sunday, we put her together. One of the most amazing things about our marriage and relationship is that we always work together without bickering. I can't count the number of pieces of furniture that we've assembled, and despite Japanese directions, or pieces missing, or pages of instructions missing, we still manage to have fun doing it. This, of course, mostly consists of me reading the directions, finding tools, holding pieces, etc, while Peru does the real work. So here is Cerridwen, fully assembled.

And here is the side view. It's very different to spin on than my Gem. The ratios are different, the action is different. It took a bit of practice to get Cerridwen spinning well, but it's coming pretty quickly. There is a mysterious clacking noise from the treadle that I'm working on eliminating. I think she'll be a wonderful plying wheel; she spins much faster than the gem with far less treadling. I was worried about being able to control the spin forwards and back, but really had very little trouble at all. I'm pleased as can be with my new baby. I plan to do some serious decorating on her, stenciling some Celtic knotwork and such at some point. My biggest problem now is finding enough time to spin everything I want!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Last week, Eric and Murphy both started school. Eric is attending Ventura College, which is a community college in the area. He's studying film arts; acting, film history. He auditioned for and got a part in a one act play already. The logistics of getting him to class are interesting; he's got one class every day at noonish, and one class every night at 7. Good planning, eh? But he seems to like it, and has already made some friends. I'm so proud of him. It's so strange to think of him being so grown up, managing things on his own.

Murphy is back at school as well, and is thrilled to have his favorite teacher again; Sharon. He's in kindergarten and is a math wiz! He can read five digit numbers, add and subtract and multiply. He loves to count the minutes till The Simpsons are on. He loves school and has lots of friends there. One really nice thing is that one kid who was kind of a bully to him last year seems to have grown up over the summer, and Peru arrives at school finding them sitting together and sharing lunch. Wonderful! He really is lucky to be attending such a great school. Thanks, Mammama!

Off to work... more pictures later.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Fiber Festival

Last weekend I didn't post, because I attended the 2006 Fiber and Bead Fest in Santa Monica. It was fun, but much smaller than I expected. Mostly was booths of beads and jewelry, with not nearly as much fiber content as I had hoped. The highlight was the Carolina Homespun booth, where I managed to spend a pretty penny, as they say.

The first purchase was something I'd been wanting for a while; Wool combs. These deadly items are invaluable for getting raw fiber under control. They are four pitch English combs, where one is clamped to the table and the other is swung (carefully!) perpendicularly to align the fiber. I'm waiting to have a quiet child free moment to try them out.

Next purchase was a pound of Ramboulliet top. I bought 4 four oz balls. One I gave to Murphy, and we spent the weekend dyeing it. One I gave to Eric, and he preferred to spin his first, then dye. He gave it a valiant try on the wheel; started off really well, but when the roving broke, had some trouble getting it started again. I unfortunately had to work, and left him in the lurch. We'll have to try later.

One thing I bought was really inexpensive, but I can't believe the difference it makes in my finished product! I bought a Niddy-Noddy. This is a simple little device for winding a skein of yarn or roving. It makes the skein neat and uniform and makes my homespun yarn look so professional! The yarn on it is from Murphy's last dyepot; I'm very proud of it because it's so uniform in size. The colors are really cool too!

The last thing I bought (and wasn't I being restrained?) was this lovely Merino/Tussah Silk blend. Ohhhh it's so yummy, I can't wait to spin it, but I have SOOO many projects going! It's going to have to wait some time, I'm afraid. Which is good; because I'll have gotten lots of practice by then!

There's many more things to tell and pictures to show, but they'll have to wait another day, as it's time for a game of Uno with Murph, and a sleepy bedtime.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Well, we have had an interesting weekend. On Saturday the wonderful gentlemen that normally do a lovely job taking care of our yard accidently cut the main water pipe into the house. Just a little nick. Unfortunately, it required turning the water off until it can be repaired. Ever look at those splashy ads in the Yellow Pages, where plumbers advertise in big bold red letters "24 hour Emergency Service!!!!" I have news for you... THEY LIE. Out of six that we called, only one returned our call. And he informed us that it would be $150 per hour for him to come out on Saturday. How many hours do you think it would take to repair this little pipe at that rate? I bet a few. My enterprising beloved gave repairing it the old college try, but with out the proper equipment didn't have much luck. So we're praying for an early visit from the plumber this morning, and fearing a motel stay tonight if it can't be fixed... I REALLY need a shower! And we won't go into the machinations necessary for say, a trip to the restroom. YIKES!

On the other hand, I got quite a bit of yarning done. I finished one bobbin of the lace weight blue and plied it; haven't set the twist yet as we have NO WATER!!!!! but did manage to ply and wash some of the heavier weight blue and Murphy's yarn Friday, before we went dry. The blue is so silky feeling; I have to look again and see what variety of wool it is. It's not a blend, that much I know; this is the first wool I took from raw wool to yarn!

This is yarn from the Merino roving that Murphy handpainted. It's gone through some interesting changes, and I have learned a lot from doing it. It's very soft and the color changes are kinda wild, but the overall effect is muted, and thank goodness, not girly pink. I'm not quite sure what to make from it though!

I started several projects this weekend. Some I will post pictures; others are for gifts and will have to wait till the recipient has seen them for posting. Some I'm really excited about. And some are waiting for WATER for blocking...

More later...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ventura County Fair Part 2

On to the fun stuff at the fair! First thing through the gate, Murphy and Eric hit the big slide.

Then we did some browsing and shopping, and then stopped into Uncle Leo's Barn, which Beardsley & Son sponsors every year. The only thing Murphy was really interested in there were the chickens, for some reason. He was very excited to see a real live chicken, which he did. Which promptly pooped just inches from Murphy's nose, making him gag. A farmer, my child isn't.

Then the Dragon Wagon - the first "all by myself" ride. What a grin on his face; he had a blast!

It was corn dogs and steak sandwiches for lunch, then back to the rides! Here we find Daddy, Eric and Murphy in line for the Tilt-a-Wheel. For the SECOND ride. Sigh. Murphy takes WAY after Daddy. LOVED the Tilt-a-Wheel.

A hang gliding ride; he liked this one after a while but was "a liddle scared" that he'd fall out. Daddy rode beside him and made him feel safe.

It was a wonderful fun and exciting day and we're already anticipating next year.

Ventura County Fair Part 1

Mommy played hooky from work today, and we all four packed up and went to the Fair! We had a total BLAST!!!! First stop was the Home Arts Pavillion, where I had entered five items. Wonder of wonders... I WON!!!!! I won two first place awards.

One for a crocheted scarf,

and another for a crocheted, felted bag.

I also won a second place for a homespun crocheted bag.

as well as an Honorable Mention for a skein of homespun yarn.

I also entered this knitted bag, which didn't win anything.

I am extremely pleased, as I entered on a lark and really didn't expect to win anything. Four out of five ain't bad! Watch out, because I'm already planning for next year!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Musings on Fiber Folk and WIPs

I just discovered, accidentally, the blog Farm Witch. Just a few lines of reading, and I knew I'd found a friend. She sounds like quite an amazing woman.

I started to wonder about the intersection between the pagan community and fiber community. A lot of the fiber lists I read seem to have many pagan/wiccan/whatever members. I say seem to, because their paganism isn't touted, usually, but their screen name, or things they say seem to hint at it. And I wonder if their pagan beliefs and respect for earthen things leads them to spinning, weaving, etc, or vice versa, that the respect they have for fiber animals and handmade things leads them to Mother Earth type spirituality. Not sure it's an important question, just something I was musing today.

Life is settling down after Barbara's visit. Murphy's getting hyper with nothing to do, so Daddy plans a beach trip today. I haven't done too much on the Mystery Stole, as I couldn't concentrate while Barbara was here (wanted to focus on HER while I had her!) and now I'm too tired. I have been instructed that the cardinal rule of lace knitting is DO NOT ATTEMPT WHILE TIRED. Sounds reasonable to me.

So current projects:
1. Need to assemble the Berroco cabled bag. (Procrastinating cause I HATE joining!)
2. Making new gauntlets that fit for Murphy. Did one template, now need to find the perfect yarn.
3. One Skein Pal project is about a quarter finished. Can't tell what it is, as I don't know if she reads the blog, but will put up finished pic. Someday. Deadline; August.
4. Mystery Stole. 7 rows done of clue one, side one. Clue two released already; clue three due tomorrow. I'm a tad behind. But that's okay; I'm not going to rush it. The pattern is gorgeous, and I want MINE to be gorgeous. So I'll be happy if it's ready by oh, say Christmas. Or Yule.
5. I bought a new project bag. I bought it in natural canvas, so I could dye/paint it myself. So, I need to find a design and get it started before the bag gets yucky being used every day.
6. Currently spinning that cool blue stuff I got from I'm trying for lace weight again, and not making it, again, but this stuff has been a major deal; I'm not used to unprepared fiber, so cleaning and carding etc has left it less than ideal. LOTS of neps. I'm fairly happy with it so far. We'll see when it's plyed.
7. Speaking of plying... I have several bobbins full of fiber (a luscious black merino, and luscious white merino, some silk) that need plying, and even though I've had some success, I'm still not entirely over my fear of plying. Someday.
8. Organization. I need to inventory all my fiber and store it properly, and finish the notebook I'm starting for current projects. Slowly getting there.
9. Oh yes, the silk on my Bossie. I have several cops full, nearly ready for (yikes!) plying......

Sigh. I think that's it. For the important stuff, anyway. And this week is the deadline for entering things in the County Fair... do I have the courage?

Monday, July 17, 2006


My very asbestos* friend in the whole world, Barbara, arrived from Boston on Tuesday. She's the most fun, relaxing, non stress person Ever. We've been trying to spoil her with yummy food and play time and some "I'm going to do absolutely nothing at all" time. She did however, have to make pancakes for Murphy on Saturday. She was a good sport.

After pancakes, we went to the beach. Barbara got some solitary rock time.

Murphy got buried in the sand.

Eric hung out and watched the girls in bikinis.

Daddy and Murphy got to play in the surf.

And me? I walked the beach with Barbara and had a blast watching the people I love have fun.

Barbara and I have shopped and knitted and shopped and knitted and talked and giggled and had munchies and generally turned the clock back about 20 years. She leaves tomorrow, which I'm trying not to think about.

* Asbestos friend came from "bestest" friend, a mild corruption, but an apt one. She insulates me from things that would harm me. She's true and real and the person I most want with me in a firefight. And is just has hard to remove! Of course, she's minus that lung disease causing element...

Monday, July 10, 2006

New Yarn

I finished spinning the lime green yarn sent to me by my Dyeing for Spring Exchange partner. I was aiming for lace weight, but didn't quite make it, plied. It's about 21 WPI which puts it at the thinnest category of fingering weight. Still, I'm pleased; it's fairly consistent, and was GREAT to spin.

While I was carding, Murphy decided to try on a new look.

In family news, Murphy is learning to tie his shoes. He's doing pretty well, getting lessons from Daddy. He's practicing on the Spiderman skates Aunt Merridee got him for his birthday.

Eric is learning too.

Now we're preparing anxiously for the arrival of my asbestos friend Barbara, from Boston. She's arriving Wednesday, and we're all holding our breath. Can't wait to see her!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Yarn Harlot

Ok, finally, finally, I got around to posting the link to The Yarn Harlot's blog. Not only is she a wonderful knitter and teacher, she's laugh out loud spew the milk out your nose funny. I frequently forget to check her blog, and am always rewarded when I finally do remember. I'm hoping the link on my own darn blog will help me remember to check in more often!

Many thanks to Sharon, who graciously brought the Guild's drum carder to Nibbles N Knits last night (where it seems nearly everyone is spinning or crocheting, rather than knitting!) I spent last night and tonight learning how to use it, and carding the fibers that Murphy and I dyed last weekend. I now need to figure out how to retain the color definition when I want to. Oh, there's so much to learn, and so much equipment to invest in, who knew?

Tonight I start the provisional cast on for the Mystery Stole along. It's exciting and a tad scary all at the same time. So I'm off to check for the tutorial. Darn! Another link to get up!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Busy Weekend!

We here have had a busy weekend. Amongst all the normal chores and games and other weekend things, The GRADUATE (thanks to Mom and Dad, who managed to get him smiling without looking dorky) Eric got a JOB!!!! Whoo hoo, go Eric! He's the newest bag boy/general slave at the grocery down the block. Very excellent position, so close, decent pay, nice people. And it's my favorite grocery in town. We're very proud of him.

Then, Daddy got to play at Los Corporales, a Mexican restaurant in town. He plays blues with his friends, and this time even got to see someone he really admires at another place across the street. He had a blast. Someday, I'm going to be able to get away to see him play again.

Meanwhile, Murphy and Mom made homemade butterscotch/chocolate/cinnamon chip cookies. Mom hasn't been baking much over the last few years, so this was quite a treat. We had a lot of fun and Murph even managed to scarf a few cookies before bedtime.

Today, we had a REAL adventure. Murphy helped me dye some fiber! We used Kool-Aid in Murphy's chosen colors; red, blue and brown. Brown was a bit of a challenge for me, not having much experience with blending Kool-aid. I used 2 Tamarind flavor, 1 orange flavor, and 1 ice blue lemonade, which resulted in a color I didn't like at all. It came out a muddy olive color. So I added a couple of packets of fruit punch, which came out a lovely reddish brown. Here are some pictures; hope the colors show true! This is Murphy's design. He went with a spattered, tie-dye kind of motif. He seems to like it, and would like me to spin it, and make him a giraffe toy out of it. I have NO idea why a giraffe. Not what I expected at ALL!

This is mom's fiber. Wasn't too wild about the brown between the two bright colors, but it should be interesting to spin!

This last batch I just used to exhaust the leftover dye. I was amazed at how bright the red came out. I added the orange dye the white in the middle and was amazed at how much it spread! Again, it should be interested to spin!

I have to work tomorrow, but am already looking forward to Tuesday!