Friday, January 30, 2009

Fleeces and Sweaters

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it.

I haven't been slacking, though!

Recently, I ended up ordering an Icelandic fleece. I was so inspired by Kim's experience working with Icelandic fleece that I wanted to try some! So I looked for a local farm, found one in northern Oregon called Dolce Farm, and emailed with Annie, the very nice owner there. (She subs on bassoon in the Seattle Symphony, as well!) Since we couldn't coordinate an in-person meeting, she sent me the fleece in the mail. Her lamb fleeces are $1 / oz, and this one was $20 (20 oz) + $5 shipping. I think I can handle that. :)

I received the fleece on Wednesday, and noticed that the fleece was remarkably low in lanolin (compared to the Gotland I had begun processing a few months ago). Thursday afternoon, I managed to finish washing the fleece in my washing machine, spinning most of the water out of it, and then laying it out on a towel to dry before I had to go work out.

Here is a photo of the fleece as it arrived:

The plastic sandwich bags contain samples of other Icelandic fleeces Annie has up for sale.

Here is the fleece, laid out to dry:

I was surprised how quickly the fleece dried. By Friday morning, it was dry! I packed it in a bag because a construction team was at my condo, and I figured they might get construction dust all over my clean fleece.

After work, I came back and started playing with it. I followed the tip Kim got off of Ravelry, and gathered small bunches of locks, held the tips, and let the drum carder pull off the thel (downy undercoat) from the tog (lustrous outer coat).

I decided to be anal, and placed the tog in a box, all lined up in the same direction.

I then kept adding thel till I could roll off a batt from the drum carder.

I don't know how much I actually processed, but it feels like a lot. Maybe 10 oz? There is definitely VM interspersed through the fleece (as one would expect), but it's not too bad. Annie did a great job skirting the fleece, I think I've only come across one really small clump of what could possibly be sheep poo.

The fleece is also very soft. I noticed what looked like neps (little "balls") forming in the thel when I ran it through the drumcarder a second time, so I decided to not do that anymore, and just run it through the one time, as it gets pulled off the thel. The fibers are very short and fine, reminiscent of cashmere's staple length. I will probably spin the thel off of the drumcarder batts, and treat them as giant rolags so I can spin perpendicular to the direction of fiber organization. The tog I will run through my combs once, and probably hand-pull a roving to spin from that. The fibers feel softer than the Gotland fibers I have. It will be interesting to see how the two different fibers spin up!


In other news, I bound off the bottom edge of the body of my Wisteria sweater!

I'm going to pick up the stitches for a sleeve tonight or tomorrow morning. I'm so excited that it hasn't taken me a year to make this! :)


I also received my January 2009 RSC kit! Gorgeous dark turquiose / teal colors, a pattern by Sivia Harding, and it's beaded! This will be fun. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Itchy Fingers

Well, not literally. That would be gross and I'd have to get a cream or something for it.

A current list of what I'm working on, and what I want to be working on is below. It helps me to organize my thoughts, see where I'm going...all good things.

I would also like to note that today is DAY TEN with No Superfluous Sugar. (I think it's Day 10. Could be Day 9.) This means: no junk food, no candy, no sugar in tea or coffee, no ice cream. I am still eating fruits, some fruit juice (not much, and unsweetened), and unsweetened dried fruits. It's going OK, actually. Probably because I'm letting myself eat dried fruits. 4 more days and supposedly I'll kick the majority of my sugar-eating habits out the door.

Currently Underway:

- "Dashing" mitts, in tangerine Cascade 220 (sleeping, I guess)

- "Hemlock Ring" blanket, in latte/ oatmeal Cascade Eco-Wool (I haven't touched it in maybe 5 days)

- "Wisteria" sweater, in "Cuarzo", Malabrigo worsted (22 bottom-chart rows left)

- "Monkey" socks, in "Fire on the Mountain", Blue Moon Socks That Rock Lightweight (foot and toe left)

- "Dog's Paw Shawl", in handspun merino / tussah silk / dog down


What I Want to Start:

- Slouch hat for my sister - probably "Porom"

- gloves for Olivia - either bulky weight mittens or maybe fingerless gloves

- gloves for John - flip tops?

- socks for Daniel

- sweater for Daniel

- flip top mitts for me with my new Kureyon (#207)

....Among myriads of other interesting looking things.


In unrelated news:

- my building is tarped. It sucks. I am pretty pissed. The entire building is wrapped in what looks like forest green window screening. The mesh makes the outside world beyond look dark and foggy all the time. I really hope the contractors get their act together and hurry this project up.

- my neighbor is selling her unit. I am hoping she tells me how much she gets for it, and whether she is able to sell it with the tarp over the window!

- Daniel and I were discussing my condo, and he suggested that I sell it in 2010 before the ARM resets, and rent until he got back in WA and we were able to buy a home together. :) This is an interesting proposition, and I could get living downtown "out of my system" (if it ever wants to leave).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Blankets and Sweaters

I just wanted to show off the lates progress on two WIP's:

1) Hemlock Ring blanket, adaption of doily by Jared Flood.

Needle: US 10.5
Yarn: Cascade Ecological Wool, color 8063

Dawn gave me encouragement on this pattern, since she made the doily-sized...doily...via a KAL already. :) (Hers looks great, by the way!)

The ball of Eco-Wool is so big that this piece of blanket just manages to cover up the ball (I can just palm the ball of yarn, if that helps with scale).

2. Wisteria sweater, by Kate Gilbert

Needle: US 10
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted

I am 31 rows away from being done with the body of the sweater. I'm so excited! It went so fast, too! But I can credit travelling and being homebound from the snow to that.

Wow, the snow is still coming down in Seattle!!

...Back to knitting!

Esta Nevando

*translation: "it's snowing", in Spanish*

If it continues snowing tonight, I may work from home tomorrow (since Seattle can't come to deal with snow effectively). Plus, most of my coworkers live out in more suburban or rural areas, where the snow really does pile up, and they are sympathetic to others.

I took some really crappy pictures of the snow. If it stays put tonight, I'll have better pics tomorrow. :)

Home Improvelence

Hm, sort of out of order on the pictures, but Oh Well!

New Years Day I created this:

What you see, my friends, is a freshly caulked kitchen sink. (Heh heh...."caulk").

I also took care of the adjoining countertop's caulk trim between it and the tile backsplash. Here is a shot I took during removal and cleanup of the old caulk (if you look at the corner where the tiles meet, you can see that the caulk in there has yellowed. I am assuming it's a combination of age + the last guy's chain-smoking habit. Probably nicotine stains as much as anything else...)

Here is a gross close-up I took on the other corner, during cleanup and removal:

I will have to redo one side of the countertop, though. The caulk I bought dries clear, and it magnified some flecks of old caulk I didn't remove entirely... Ah well. Live and learn.
I still have to re-caulk the bathroom sink and tub.
If you are attempting to do this yourself, please do! It's pretty easy. All you really need is a razor blade or utility knife (don't cut yourself!), bleach or other cleaner, tube of caulk, rubber gloves (?), and time.
1) Use the razor blade or knife to cut out all the old caulk. Hopefully it's easy and comes off in big strips. Make sure you take the time to get EVERYTHING off.
2) Wipe down the area with normal cleaner, then run a bead of bleach all up inside the crack you just exposed by removing the caulk.
3) Let the bleach dry. Repeat if needed. Make sure there's no fungus or nastiness in the crack.
4) Cut open your caulk tube's tip, and squirt away. It's pretty thick stuff, so be prepared to muscle it in. Make sure you get an even bead. I used a wet finger to run it in and smooth the join, but they sell "as seen on TV" tools that supposedly do a better job (for $19.95...versus...your finger, which is already attached to you). I just used some paper towels and a wet rag to keep everything clean.
5) Once you're satisfied....make sure to let it dry. This usually means you can't use whatever fixture you just caulked - sink, tub, etc. - for 24 hours.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I'm slowly getting buzzed and alternating between Raveling, knitting on my Wisteria sweater, and looking at what pattern to cast on next...while drinking beer and watching Star Trek.

What a start to 2009!

Actually, I am sort of waiting to see if Kris and Randy will give me a call. They are (or were?) over at their friend's Ken and Crystal's house. I would have gone, but a) I was re-caulking my kitchen sink and countertop (seriously. It looks better now.) and Ken's house has various cats in it, so I didn't really feel like drugging myself up to go hang with the cats. Ah well. :)

I recently finished knitting up Brooklyntweed's "Habitat" hat (below..can you even tell what it is, beyond a textured gray hat?? :) ). I enjoyed it enough to consider other patterns of his.

Note: This hat needs a yarn that shows stitch definition. The Gotland I used is too fuzzy. I will remake this in perhaps Cascade 220 or my Malabrigo test skein for Daniel's sweater. I will also make the "Small" size. I made the M/L size and it's...big. It's too big for me or Daniel. It might fit my siblings - either my brother or my sister has a huge head. I can't remember which one. :)
Anyway, I have the cast-on fever, and I am considering either starting Brooklyntweed's Girasol blanket (aka "sunflower" in Spanish), or his Hemlock Ring adaptation into a blanket. I bought a skein of Cascade Eco-Wool in a fit of consumerism, and am loving it, but wondering if really I want cream wool, or if I should go back to Fiber Gallery and buy a darker color?... I am perpetually amazed at the put-up yardage in Eco-Wool (for the price). AWESOME!!! :)
As for hats, I also want to make Porom for my sister (since the model kind of looks like her, and I think the slouchy hat would work well for her curly hair). And the "ktbl" still eludes me, so Koolhaas is on the back burner for now.
Yes, yes, I have Jared-Fever. I can resist the Noro striped scarf, though. :) But once I figure out the "ktbl" thingie, I'll go for the Koolhaas again...
Sometimes I hate being a knitting groupie (check out how many people have knit Clapotis or Monkey socks or even that blasted Noro striped scarf). But sometimes (sometimes) the best patterns really do rise to the top of the pile, and since knitting is not as everyday a skill as it used to be, you can be somewhat assured that whatever you choose to make will be relatively unique....till you spot another knitter wearing it. :)

Happy New Year!

Image hosted @

Up above is a mosaic of all my finished projects for 2008. If it is acting weird, you can check out the URL here:

I hope everyone had a great year!

My goals for 2009:

- Exercise at least 5x / week. I am pretty much taking care of this already, but I noticed I didn't go cycling nearly as much as I would have liked this summer (excuses that it was a cold summer notwithstanding). I go to Crossfit Monday - Thursday, and I have pilates on Sunday morning with Kris and Jeanelle, but I would like to incorporate more outdoor activities, especially now that my knees are so much better.

Goals related to Crossfit:

6 Month (by June 09): 80 kg (176.4 lb) deadlift, 10 strict (no knees on floor) pushups, handstand pushup (x 1), run/jog a mile without breaking to walk.

Health / Lifestyle Goals:

- Visit Daniel in Japan...lots. He will be leaving in February, and I will miss him insanely. Luckily, my manager at work said I should be able to telecommute from Japan for short spurts.

- Eat less meat. Just a goal in general. It's healthier and lighter on the Earth.

- Eat more vegetables. I do pretty well, but honestly I could tune this up a bit.

- Visit the farmer's markets more. Buy more local food. I just noticed a bottle of hard cider I bought is from Michigan. Why did I support shipping something halfway across the country when there are plenty of great ciders made in Washington and Oregon?

- Save & invest more money. I am aiming for a promotion this year, which would mean a substantial raise. The automated savings deductions work very well for me.

- Buy a house. Up to $300,000. At least 2 br / 1.5 bath. Yard. Gas range. Cute. With a Walking Score of at least 85.

- Visit my family and friends around the US. Or, when I have that spare bedroom...they can come visit me!

- Reconnect with Seattle friends.

- Be Outside! Enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.