Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tastycrat Videos

***POLITICS WARNING*** Do Not Proceed if you are just going to flame me with anti-liberalisms....***

.... Now, Onward to My Opinion!

Most who know me, know that I am pretty damn liberal... (except that I don't want to give my tax dollars to useless programs that nobody uses...). I love gays, straights, bi's, and I think women should earn their fair share, salary-wise. I think if a woman wants to abort her baby with a pure heart and sound mind, then I think she should be able to do so. If a terminally ill person wants to end their life and their suffering, I say they should have that option. I'm for intelligent alternative energy solutions (NOT from food crops, ahem corn-based Ethanol!), and I support local businesses and fair trade organizations because they support people with Living Wages. I think the world could do without many of the chemicals used to produce products to "clean" our homes and bodies, and I support organic agriculture. In fact, I was registered Green Party in California when I lived there, and I voted for Nader, dammit.

So it should come as no surprise that I think Sarah Palin is a blithering idiot, and if we are going to elect a woman who will reinstall womens' glass ceiling with her inauguration to High Holy Office just because she has a large family and was a runner-up beauty queen, then I can think of a bazillion women I know at The Bo(r)ing Company alone who would be more qualified than her.

And with that sordid opinion, I commence taking pot shots at her:

College Humor video, "Head of Skate". (thanks to Randy for the following links!)

This isn't a pot shot, but is yet another sad example of Sarah Palin's inexcusably idiotic attempts at going on national television interviews: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaNPAgX_o-Q
She can't even answer Charlie Gibson's question regarding the Bush Doctrine...

Sarah Palin can't tell Katie Couric (I think that's Katie) what newspapers she reads:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRkWebP2Q0Y ... because "Believe me, Katie, Alaska is like a microcosm of America..."

My favorite parts are that she just can't bring herself to provide a straight answer. I hope Biden smacks her down in the debates October 2.

And Now For Something Completely Different... (not really):

Here is a final video from The Daily Show, on "change" that W wanted to bring vs. McCain's "change" policy.... MmHmm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYXv-Nq5cF8

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Works In Progress...September Edition


Although, I think I am one of the last people on planet Earth to get my RSC deliveries, if only because I live in Seattle, and I think Blue Moon ships out the closest deliveries last... (which is completely fine! :) ) I just warned about the spoiler in case someone in Rangoon didn't get theirs yet... :) (not that I think any Burmese people read my blog...)

Anyway, my September WIPs haven't been going on very far.

I am still (!) waiting on my WEBS Malabrigo worsted yarn delivery. Apparently the fire the Malabrigo warehouse suffered was pretty bad - they are still building up stores... ah well. I wrote WEBS to ask if my delivery was delayed due to the fire, and they wrote back and said that was indeed the case. Patience, my dear.

Not like there's nothing going on!

BEHOLD: The September Rockin' Sock Club shipment. This may be my favorite colorway yet. Tina said she was inspired by the tidepools in the Pacific Northwest. This is juuuust gorgeous! I am really thinking of ordering another skein of it for some socks for my mom... (these look like her colors). Plums, rust, greens, blues... good lord, this is an amazing colorway. And the pattern that goes with it is nice, too! Simple, but nice! (And.. I really love that font they used on the colorway title / pattern title!!! I need some cool fonts..). And a bonus measuring tape this month, to boot (that's the red circle-thing in the picture).

Next up is my Koolhaas. The ribbing is done, I was trying to figure out the whole "through back loop" thing... Jen helped me in the car. She is very good at spatial orientation, and describing it to me without diagrams. :) Maybe that's why she does CFD at work (CFD stands for "computational fluid dynamics"... uhm, yeah, I can barely spell it. All I care about at work is the hot air that blows through the engine... ;-) ).

In case you are wondering, my cashmere sock is knocking along. I did another inch or so on the ferry this morning... and then let my wrists have a rest.

I started the project below this afternoon. I decided that scarves were an ideal way to display some of the art yarn I've spun recently. This is the first in possibly a series. I managed to hook it to the handles on my Murphy bed in order to take a picture of it.

The pattern is very simple (something many people love about art yarns.. you really have to keep the actual knitting / crocheting simple, in order to let the yarn show itself off!)

The pattern I used was thus:

- CO 9 stitches

Row 1: k across

Row 2: *k1, yo twice*, repeat to 8th stitch, knit last stitch.

Row 3 & 4: k across

Repeat Rows 2-4 ad nauseum.

I chose to use a "yo twice" because I like the extra length that the additional yo adds, in order to let the art yarn bubble out or do whatever it's going to do. The bottom of the scarf is knit with a skein of my "super thick and thin" yarn, so that's why there are so many bubbles and flubs hanging out. The rest of the scarf is being knit in my supercoil / crazy singles... I used almost the same batts when I spun these two different yarns, so I knew the colors would go together. The supercoil yarn is actually three little skeins that I knotted together as I wound them into one big ball... I think it will be weird and WONDERFUL. Just like me. (heh!)

This scarf is going to be for moi, because a) I put a lot of work into this, and only Daniel and other extremely select individuals (like Kim, Dawn, or actual family members) get handspun (without paying for it, anyway), and b) I can't think of anyone other than Kim who would actually appreciate the wackiness of this scarf.

Here is a closeup of the scarf's bottom half.

I am debating on names for it... "Sea Bubbles"? "Mermaid Foam"? "Watery Wunderland"? :)

I suspect the next ones will be garden or sky-related... that is what the yarns are saying to me right now, anyway... :)


Check out the new bling!

Daniel surprised me with it last night, along with a really sweet card. No reason... just because.

(I took this picture on my way to pilates class this morning - don't mind the fleece and wet hair...)

I love it him.

Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival 2008!

On Saturday, my friend Jen (from work) and I hit the road early (0730) and headed down to Canby, OR for the Oregon Flock & Fiber Fest!

I love fiber festivals. There is always something interesting and new to see... but I am glad this was not my first one (I went to OFFF last year, and I went to Dixon Lambtown in 2004, and the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in 2005). I think it helps when it's not your "first time" anymore... you are more jaded, and are more aware of quality factors, price points, etc. Being that I am a repeat addict, I also think it gave me more focus as to what I actually should look for... there are many things that, since I know what they are, I now feel comfortable buying them online, and sometimes festivals are not the best price-points for items.

However, sometimes you are surprised. The first picture below is of a Gotland lamb fleece I picked up. $10 / lb, and it was $20 total. Gotlands are apparently somewhat of a rare breed, and I had ALMOST picked up a fleece online going for a whopping $30 / lb, but I am definitely glad I didn't. I have been told that Gotland wool is what was used to create the Lord of the Rings cloaks...

The color on this fleece is gorgeous. It's a salt & pepper, charcoal grey. And the locks are so curly and beautiful! The staple length is right around 3", so I am still trying to decide what the best preparation would be. It feels fairly greasy, but I am hoping I do not lose too much weight to lanolin once I scour.

Next up is my sock yarn haul. Mmhm. I actually only bought this yarn, though. As you can tell, most of it is from Blue Moon... they are all Socks That Rock in varying weights (the blue one in the center is the only Heavyweight, though), and most of them are "Rare Gems", as well. (BMFA sometimes either overdyes colorways that went weird, or a color isn't what they expected, so they save these guys and bring them to festivals). The colorway on the far left of the photo is from Mosaic Moon, and it's a really soft 75/25 wool / nylon blend. The only BMFA colorways I bought are the one directly to the right of the MM yarn, which is called "Treehugger", and the yarn that appears white. That yarn is one of their new "Spirit" colorways, and I think it is either the green or the teal one... it is SO hard to tell, but it is rather purtyful.

This is the rest of the fiber I bought (except for 1 oz of pygora / silk blend from Peppermint Pastures Pygora Farm). On the left are two different piles of mohair curls - the multi and the pinks. Next to that are three natural camelid / silk rovings from Tactile Fiber Arts (sooo soft!), and you can see the Mosaic Moon on the far right. Below are my new baggies of glitz - I bought red, purple, aqua, and one that flashes purple and green!

My big purchase at OFFF was a pair of mini wool combs. I bought these St. Baise combs from Carolina Homespun. I love Morgaine. The price was right at $150, especially considering that they come with a stand, and Oregon has no sales tax. All you need to do is clamp the stand to a table, and you're off! (Don't kid yourself - even though they are "mini", those tines are still about 4-5" long, and sharp as heck!)

Jen was awesome. She only bought two skeins of yarn! (But her stash does convert into miles of yarn... heehee :) ). After OFFF, we made a short run to Yarnia. In the event you haven't yet heard of Yarnia, it's an interesting concept. You select from a bunch of single threads / plies she has in the store, and she can run up to six threads / singles into a machine that will wind them all together onto one cone.

My reason for going there was a bit different. After having been through Lexi's workshop, I really wanted to get my hands on some thread elements. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. $40 got me all the thread on the left side of the picture. The stack of cones on the far right side of the picture were separate cones I bought apart from the threads. The threads are everything from acrylic to rayon, silk, cotton, wool, or silver Lurex (which was really hard to wind...it is so thin that it broke a few times). And the owner of Yarnia is really awesome. :) I like her a lot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Camp Pluckyfluff!

*warning: picture heavy post!*

This last weekend, I had the chance to attend Camp Pluckyfluff for the first time.

In case you aren't familiar, Pluckyfluff is the creation of Lexi Boeger, a fine arts graduate from UC Davis (woot!). She has been creating art yarns for sale for many years now - apparently she originally sold on eBay, and then moved to her website (linked above) to sell them. She finally wrote two books - one is called "Handspun Revolution", which was self-published (and apparently DO NOT buy it from Amazon, because they are not authorized to sell it), and the second (which I have and covet) is called "Intertwined" (you CAN buy this from Amazon).

The books are filled with art yarn techniques, and great photos and essays by Lexi. However, it really came alive for me once I got to meet her, and hear her / see her explain her techniques. I should mention I got the chance to email her a while back; we did a trade for some fun stuff - I sent her some of my friend Kim's Pyrex knitting needles, and she sent some fun fibers.

So, when I saw she was having a camp in Seattle, I definitely jumped at the chance!

I arrived at the camp Sunday morning, and was greeted by a gorgeously immense house in Capital Hill, very near Volunteer Park. Lexi greeted me at the door, and even carried my bag downstairs for me, so I could maneuver my wheel! Ohhh the house was lovely, did I say that? I bet the basement, which we spun in, was over 1200 sqft by itself... And the house-owner, Lorraine, and her family were lovely, too! :)

On to the pictures! Lexi taught us many art yarn techniques, most of which involved either spinning around a thread core, or using a plying thread to wrap the singles you were spinning...

Below is a shot of Teresa's yarns:

Here is a great shot of Lexi demonstrating her "super thick n thin" yarn. You spin off a "crazy batt" of fibers, and periodically make GIANT slubs (un-attenuated or un-drafted spots of fiber) and let those ride through and wind on the wheel. Lexi travelled with a Majacraft Susie Pro that the company had sent her to try out, and she ended up packing the wheel in checked baggage, and the whole treadle assembly came out hosed and broken! :( (DON'T PACK YOUR WHEEL IN BAGGAGE, PEOPLE!)

This is one of my yarns - a super-fluffy single that is plied around a core thread and pushed up to create "supercoils". One thing that surprised me was how little yardage bulky yarns required to completely fill up my bobbin!

Here is my tailspun mohair locks yarn. The idea is that you take a "sticky" core thread (laceweight mohair works great), and you spin the cut ends of mohair / Lincoln / Icelandic locks onto the yarn, while letting the tips hang free.

Here is another superfluffy yarn I did. You have a big batt composed mainly of fluffed out mohair curls, glitz, etc., and you fluff it out over a core thread as you spin (refer to the book for exact instructions). It makes a GORGEOUS yarn, and is light as air! :)

Here is a group shot of us in front of the house, holding our yarns:

L-R: Lexi, Mary, the-woman-who-sat-next-to-me-please-don't-be-mad-I-forgot-your-name, Deidra, Michelle (in back), the other woman with the cool mohair hat that I forgot her name (above me...maybe Pat? Pat sounds like it would be her name...). Front row, L-R: Teresa, Lorraine (house-owner), Lauren, me.

I should mention some specifics about the workshop. Two days, 7 hours each. Unlimited use of a Louet "fine" drum carder... which was funny because there was nothing "fine" about the carder. The teeth are not set very close together on either the licker-in or the carding drum. HOWEVER, you can crank pretty much ANYTHING through this carder. If you were not working to turn the carding drum, you didn't have enough crap in the carder. I worked REALLY hard on that thing, and it never budged off the table or slipped, or anything. It is a WORKHORSE... That being said, I wouldn't recommend it for ACTUAL fine carding, like cashmere or silk, etc. But if what you want is large art batts, this is your carder!

Some techniques we covered were: crazy singles on core thread (supercoils, granny stacks, beehives), tailspinning with locks, thread wrapping of singles, nubs n slubs, super thick n thin, and just basically going crazy on the wheel and learning to spin ANYTHING, from doll heads to felt beads, into your yarn.

Here is that cool mohair hat I talked about above. Lexi is modelling it. She said she should wear it and hunch down over her steering wheel and drive at 30 mph and see if anyone says anything... :)

Here is a shot of me and Lexi! Woo! :) She's so sweet.... honestly, I really liked being able to spend time with her. And a great teacher, to boot! My customary position became sitting on the floor, cross-legged, in front of her wheel so I could see what she was doing (and also it would let other women in closer, too).

Here is a shot of Lorraine wearing her freshly finished handspun tunic! Isn't it gorgeous? Lorraine had a whole repurposed high-school locker cabinet filled with art yarns. Thousands of dollars worth of art yarns. In fact, she has most of the yarn Lexi has ever sold. It was really incredible... I joked that Lexi had found a benefactor. :)

Here are some shots of yarns Lexi brought. The one on the left is called "Aura" and it's in the book. It combines pretty much every technique she talks about in "Intertwined", and sounds like a slow-moving bear to spin! BUT...gorgeous!!!! On the right is a brown alpaca supercoil she did during the two-day workshop.

There are plenty more pictures that I took, and if you would like to see them, I direct you to my Flickr album: Click here for Pluckyfluff camp photos!

Fitness 11: Circuits

Well, so yesterday kicked off a week of CF with alternating deadlifts and pull-ups.

Fran started us off with a weighted run around the block. I managed to do it with the lightest medicine ball - approx 6 or 8 lb extra - without stopping.

Then we moved on to weight lifting. I increased my max deadlift weight to 60 kg (~132 lb), and Fran assessed that is probably not my true max weight, since I lifted that about 6x before we lightened the bar up to 55 kg, then finally we ended around 50 kg. The pullups also felt a bit better, although I alternated between using the thickest rubber band around my foot, to aid in pulling me towards the bar, and doing kip swings on the bar.

Amy agreed with me that her lower back was sore after all the deadlifts yesterday. I also have a new matching pair of bruises, in an odd place - on the upper side of both knees. I imagine I bonked myself with the deadlift bar on the way down a couple of times?


Today's workout was a circuit. The class was pretty large for a 4 PM class - maybe 8 or 9 people? The circuit today was: 4 rounds of 15x dumbbell snatches, 15x push press with dumbbells (I have been calling it a "jump press"), 15x V-Ups, and run 400m / row 500 m.

I alternated between running and rowing. I managed to finish in just over 19 min, and although I totally felt like it, was pleased to see that two people finished after me.

After we finished the circuit training, we got a partner and did 100 kettle bell swings betwen the two of us. Amy and I paired up, and we did 5 sets of 10 each, alternating sets, using 12 kg kettle bells.

I have to admit, I came home, took a shower, did some small tasks in my place, ate a plate of tomato slices, goat cheese rounds, and basil leaves drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.... and took a nap for an hour! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Airplane

The tradition of The Airplane began a few years ago, in my group at work (Engine Performance).

Keith's wife had a baby, and they were either given or bought a toy rocker that was all wood and looked like an old biplane. The propeller even spins.

When Amie got pregnant, Keith handed off the plane to her.

When Tim's wife got pregnant, he got the plane from Amie.

Now Amie is pregnant again, so I think Tim will hand it off again. :)

I'll just be a little bit frightened if the plane ends up on my desk one day without warning, because if they know something I don't, that would be a little scary! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fitness: Check-In

I just wanted to list some weights I've been lifting, and chart my progress:

- Deadlift: 59 kg (~130 lb)

- Backsquat: 40 kg (~88 lb)

- Military press: 17 kg (~37 lb. I can jump press about 20-something kg, but not for very long).

- Pull-Ups: 3 with blue rubber band around my foot

- Pushups: Either on floor, on knees, or barbell resting at 11th hole down from top on barbell stand

- Run 400m: 2:22 best time (if I could keep it up, it would translate to roughly a 10 minute mile)

- Max # of kettlebell snatches in 5 min: 77 (with 8 kg kettlebell)

More Square Footage

I am pleased to report that my kayak sold! And for the asking price, too!

I felt so proactive yesterday. I went to CF (backsquatted 40 kg, by the way, and military-pressed 17 kg). Then I went to Fred Meyer's (a local Target-esque chain) and picked up a new deadbolt and some clear silicone caulking for my sinks and tub. Then I went to pick up my CSA box, and after that I got my oil changed.

Then I came home, and cleaned up the house before the girl came over to buy the kayak. After that, I went to the grocery store and picked up some food that I was missing. Came home, and made pan-seared lamb chops and roasted a few veggies - zucchinis, broccoli, and mild peppers. While that was roasting, I installed my new deadbolt, cleaned out my fridge, then I threw the laundry in the washer, and made myself a Greek salad for dinner. Ate dinner, showered, folded laundry, swept and mopped the floor, and the final thing I did was email Daniel before going to bed.

Whew!!!!!!!! No wonder I'm tired this morning. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lavender Lovely

Today I woke up at 0520. Daniel had duty today, so I took him to the gate and then went to the ferry to drive my car aboard. This time, I did not go to Starbucks and run back to my car, only to be the only car left in the staging area and barely make it onboard before the boat left! No, I stayed in the car, like a responsible person.

I got home, and had enough time to shower and eat a peach before Kris called to announce She Was Ready.

We had planned to go up north of Seattle to an outlet mall today. What I forgot was that I also suggested to Ryan that we go kayaking this afternoon. Sigh, I love double-booking myself!

So I got Kris around 8:45 AM, and we went up north to Burlington. On the way, we stopped off at this alpaca farm just south of Mt. Vernon (and the Tulip Festival). It is a place that I am always fascinated by, and for some reason is always closed when we drive past it. Well, today they were having an antiques auction, but luckily the owner was around, and a lady led me to her. She let me play in her fleece stash while Kris looked around the shop. For some reason, she was only showing me neck fleeces, but then I asked if she had any silver fleeces, and she went backto another building to go look, and came back with some beautiful stuff, but I came home with the one below:

It is a lavender / rose-grey (I am not sure of the exact terminology for this) blanket from an alpaca on her farm. 3.2 lb or so. It is extremely soft, and not very dirty at all. The staple length is nice, too - I am glad she showed me some blankets because I was getting discouraged from having only been shown the neck fleeces, and thought that all her fleeces had really short staple lengths!
Anyway, this is going on the carder very soon... very soon...
And, in other news - on the 27th I am going to OFFF!!! Either with Jen or Daniel, or both! :)

Kayak for Sale!

Anyone need a kayak?

I am selling my Advanced Elements 'Advanced Frame' inflatable kayak.

I realized I am not using it nearly as much as I intended to, and so I should really make some room in the condo - in a space this small, every square inch helps!

The boat is practically new - I bought it last summer from REI, and I took it out today, but it's probably been out less than 10 times, total. After every session, I lay it out to dry and wipe it down with a towel to clean it before putting it away.

If you know someone in Seattle who is looking for a kayak and doesn't want to blow a huge amount of cash on it, I encourage them to look at this boat:


(I'm also including the inflation pump). I'm asking the mere price of $250 for the boat + pump. I am choosing to keep my paddle for now.

My only suggestion is that you be a fairly short person in this boat. The cockpit is fairly small - anyone much over 5'6" would probably have cramped legs after a short time in the boat.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"I'm sailing away..."

I am going to be particularly lazy in this post, even though the pictures were great.

This past Sunday, Daniel finally got to come sailing! Ryan had a boat all ready, and we met him at 12:30 at Shilshole marina, ready for good times...

Check out the Flickr Set! :)

Fiber Frolic

I made my first art batts today!

I had been thinking about it for a while, and with Camp Pluckyfluff coming up in a couple of weeks, I thought I might have some batts prepared to take with me.

I had already spent some time playing in my stash, and assembling a box of stuff I thought would be useful at C.P. - many braids of dyed Bluefaced Leicester (BFL; by Kim), various tops and rovings (e.g. soy silk, sari silk, Lincoln locks, dyed mohair locks, Firestar and angelina fibers...), and some other stuff like feathers and threads and flowers and beads that could potentially go into yarn. So I grabbed that box and rustled through it to see what I could come up with.

I grabbed a beautiful turquoise / green / orange (trust me on this) braid of BFL, and then grabbed a few different angelina fibers that would work, some silk noils and white icicle from my Travelling Rhinos fiber club shipments, white bamboo roving, and the "cool" colored baggie of mohair locks... and got to work!

I realized...this is FUN!!! Oh, man, is it fun! I was really going, and was making batts in about 5 or 10 minutes. I would just predraft out some fiber, lay it into the infeed of the carder, and just go... I did have to be careful to not feed in too much at once, and spread out the fibers so they didn't all clump in the middle.

Here's a shot of the carder with my first batt still on it:

And here are my first two batts. The firestar / angelina are showing up as sparkles in the shot, and the lustrous colored fibers on the right are the mohair locks. I have grown to dislike most mohair in commercial yarns, but I realized that these kid mohair locks are amazingly soft... perfect for a blend!

The shot below is the result of about 35 minutes of work. After the last batt was off, I cleaned out the carder well with the included pick, doffer brush, and hand card that came in the kit. It really makes a difference, not only in that I don't necessarily want turquoise BFL in my next blend, but that I got another 1/2 batt's worth of fiber out of the main carding drum as a result of cleaning!

I can't wait to spin these up! :)