Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stunning Finish

Tour de Fleece 2011. What a ride.

The guilt fiber is GONE. Was transformed in the first 10 days in fact. As a treat, I started in on my stash of Briar Rose Fibers. Here's the happy result, a fabulous bowl of nummy yarns:

This is my total production from July 2 through 24th, on spindles only. 2533 yards singles spun. Around 1100 yards finished yarn, plus 3 full spindles of unknown yardage. That comes to 6 finished hanks! I also took on both cable and chain plying for the first time. (can you tell I’m quite proud of myself? What a shameless braggart I am…)

7 different fibers used, including: Merino, silk, Wensleydale, Polwarth, Border Leicester, alpaca, angora.

Yardage on challenge day: about 300 yards, chain plied Wensleydale on a spindle in the car. (slow, unimpressive going)

Most yardage in a day: 752 yards Ravenfrog Merino, about worsted weight on my Golding.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tour de Fleece 2011

The cycling has started, and therefore so has the spinning. For those that have no idea what I'm talking about, the Tour de Fleece is a group of fibery people that use the Tour de France bike race as an impetus to challenge themselves to spin...more, differently, or even at all. Everyone is welcome, all skill levels and modalities are well represented. This year I'm spinning with Team Superfleece, led by the ever intrepid spin enabler Clara Parkes, the oh so subtle and elegantly simple dying talent Chris of Briar Rose Fibers, and the mastermind behind SpiritTrail Fiberworks and the amazingly prolific Anne Hanson of KnitSpot. (kind of enough to make you weak inthe knees just there isn't it?) An amazing stable of spinners has flocked to their banner to spin together and cheer each other on to their goals.

...all of which provided enough impetus for me to FINALLY sort through my fiber and bring out the spindles again. This is what I'll be attacking, what I lovingly refer to as my "guilt fiber" (poor unloved stash of beauty left languishing in the dark since 2008 AT LEAST...insert blush here):

...and the spindles I'll be using:

My goal is simple: to spin it all, working at heavier than laceweight. (I'm good at that already thanks to an amazing little Golding spindle that is a DREAM to work with)

Monday, February 07, 2011

MiiQuest Update

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

It all started out so fabulous and shiny. (OK, not so much that, but rather sweaty, panting and super sore...but that's not really very inspirational.) Stuck to my core principles: no new gym membership, no new equipment, no new DVDs. Managed 30 days of intense daily workouts following the Biggest Loser 30 Day Jump Start DVD's plan to a T.

[A word about this workout: I like it. I think it's a very well done and rather good comprehensive circuit style workout. However, it's 5 10 minute segments that you are to do in various combos for 30 solid days. It builds from 1 segment a day to 4, so by the end, you're doing 4 of the 5 workouts every day. A bit maddening, but it did push me to do things I wouldn't have otherwise. I just wish I had instituted the "music only" option earlier. That little gem of programming let me stop swearing at the poor Biggest Loser contestants and get in my own head instead. Highly recommended once you know what you're supposed to be doing, which is basically after week 1.]

Then the flu hit. HARD. 4 days of fever, body aches (such an insufficient word), racking cough...generally wanting to die from minute to minute. A week and a half later I'm still coughing and pretty much want to lie down on the floor and sleep and sleep and sleep. Chances are I have a headache every day at some point. So much for working out. Attempts to restart last week left me doubled over trying to expel a lung. SO FRUSTRATING!

BUT. I have lost almost 6 pounds.

AND. It's Monday again, prime time for gearing up. (at least I'm trying to tell my head ache that...please go away!) This time I shall be using a combo of Biggest Loser Workouts: Cardio Max and Power Sculpt.

Hopefully I can get another month under my belt and wave bye-bye to another 5 pounds.

Fingers crossed.

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

Oh, joy! It's here! Big announcement time is here!!! My super top secret patterns (4 of them!!) are almost ready to make their debut. The book went live to preorders today! Check out this press release from Shannon Oakey at Cooperative Press:

Today would have been Charles Dickens' 199th birthday, and Cooperative Press is pleased to announce that preorders for What Would Madame Defarge Knit? open today in honor of the author whose formidable character Thérèse Defarge inspired Heather Ordover's book. If it's been a while since your last literature class, remember that in A Tale of Two Cities Defarge knits and knits, secretly encoding the names of people she will have killed. Vive la révolution?

Don't worry, there isn't a murder prerequisite to love this book! Ordover, the creator of popular podcast CraftLit, has assembled an inspiring and thought-provoking collection of 20+ patterns, as well as essays and other tidbits inspired by literature, illustrated by the talented Jen Minnis in a black-and-white woodcut style that pays tribute to Dickensian-era publishing.

And if you're reading this, chances are good you are a strong supporter of small independent publishers. You may be interested to know that this book will be the first Cooperative Press release where all designers receive a direct royalty share of each sale. Our Fresh Designs series, which will be out later this year, is set up similarly. Instead of a small, one-time payment for their work at the beginning (and not a penny afterwards, no matter how many copies the book sells), designers have an opportunity to earn an unlimited payment for their work.

Visit the WWMDfK? website for more about the book's contributors and other behind-the-scenes information. As of today's pre-release, the book is 200+ pages, illustrated.


Signed, with extras. This is a special creation and will be limited to less than 100 copies, numbered. Shipping is included, as is a PDF copy of the book.

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DIGITAL (PDF) + PRINT ($26.95)

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E-READER EDITION ($16.95) (For Kindle, Nook, Sony e-Reader, iPad, etc)

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MiiQuest 2011

If you have a Wii, and the game WiiFit Plus, you may share my pain.

If you don't, I'll fill you in.

When you get a Wii, you are encouraged to make yourself a Mii...a little computer animated representation of you which can represent your player in various games. You get to spend time picking an astounding array of characteristics: hair color and style, eye color and alignment, face shape, skin tone, even your eyebrows. Your little Mii for the most part jaunts through life very similar in build to every other Mii until it runs across WiiFit Plus, which is a fitness game. And I love it. The whole family loves it.


My Mii? Not so much with the love.

You see, one of the first things you do in WiiFit Plus is a body test...which involves being weighed with the accompanying balance board. And if you're anything like me (or my husband, or my sister, or my neighbor), maybe on the less vigilant side of fit, as soon as you're done, your poor Mii plumps right up like the Pillsbury dough boy.

Boo. Hiss. (...and frankly, not great PR...someone, somewhere in the Nintendo organization consciously, purposefully made this decision and I am now going on record as saying you, nameless Nintendo are not my favorite.)

Lately my poor little rotund Mii has become a symbol for the many things I am not doing for me, myself and I. Important things. Things that need rectifying. NOW.

Hence The Quest.

(This all also may have something to do with the fact that 2011 is shaping up to be something of a landmark year for me. I will turn 40. My oldest progeny will turn 10, marking a full decade of unintended immersion in the home and others. My youngest will turn 5 and start Kindergarten, creating both a shining beacon of hope on the horizon and a deep seated pit of doom firmly lodged in my ego. But you know, I'd much rather blame Nintendo than enter years of psychoanalysis, so we're going with the Mii thing.)

The Quest has several components:

1) Rescue my Mii...and hopefully improve my own health and happiness along the way.

2) Rescue my ego. I believe this involves deciding what I want to be when I grow up, but really, I'm not sure.

3) Rescue my crafting. The joy needs to come back. The stress needs to go away. If I don't want to do it, I'm not going to let myself be pressured into it. You all are on notice that The Year of Selfish Crafting has begun.

4) Rescue my kids. OK, don't panic, they really don't need rescuing per say, they are really fabulous kids and are totally safe and very well loved. In terms of the larger household and family venue though, they do need to carry more of their own metaphorical weight, and really, I think that can totally be construed as saving them from themselves.


Forward into the fray we go.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The tale of the green tomoatoes

(...or Catch-Up, part tres)

Look at this.

That's about as red as any tomato got in my garden this past summer. Something aobut our weather here in MN this summer just did not jive and I was left with 7 vines full of green tomatoes.

The ones that got semi-red eventually turned enough to nosh when left on a sunny window sill, but there was no way I could contemplate tossing the rest in the compost. Something had to be done.

Once again, google provided an answer. First, I toyed with this Green Tomato and Red Onion Relish recipe (with judicious advice from veteran canners to make sure my mods weren't going to end up poisoning anyone, ya know) and ended up with a moan worthy condiment that more closely resembled a savory jam. Here are my tweaks:

regular onions versus red
no red peppers...more tomatoes!
whole head of garlic cloves roughly chopped
tsp red pepper flakes
no anise (BLECH, I so do not like anise!)
lots and lots of simmering time (like the whole afternoon)

18 jam jars of that pretty much took care of about half of the backlog. My thoughts then turned to pickles. Is there anything more enchanting than bright gems of veggies floating in a pickle jar? (OK, there most likely are many, but when faced with legions of inedible tomatoes, pickle jars begin to seem a bit magical...) This commentary I found on brine jars on the BackWoodsHome webpage (scroll to the end) nabbed my fancy, perhaps because the concept was so simple. I followed her instructions for canning them (adding a bit more garlic and of course some spice) and here they sit, awaiting their big reveal.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pretty pretty pictures

(or catch-up, part deux)

Sample made for Jennie the Potter with her fabulous Home Brew DK silk.

Blue version of the Briar Rose scarf I talked about last time. Turned out nice and swoopy.

SHHHHH! Secret!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Picture time, picture time!

Projects first: (watch out...this gonna take some TIME)

2 projects made for Chris at Briar Rose Fibers:

This one is officially "Dawn's Scarf" and is one of their $1 patterns available at shows and festivals. Done with their lovely Grandma's Blessing yarn. It's a super deep V shaped scarf to keep my front bits warm in the winter...I don't like zipping up to my chin when I'm running in and out while doing errands. LOVE the texture.

Next, a crochet edging I did for their After Hours Shawl.