Monday, December 20, 2010

Deck the halls...

For the first time in about 9 years, I put up a tree.

It’s not that I’m opposed to them, it’s just that it never seemed important, or I was not going to be home, or I was (frankly) just not in the mood.

My cousin, Glenna, is coming up to spend Christmas weekend at my house. She’s the nearest female cousin in age to me (my sister and I are the youngest of our generation). Over the years, particularly as adults, we’ve become the dishwashers after family parties. I’m not sure how that happened, frankly, since I really hate doing dishes. However, with a glass of wine and Glenna, it became really fun. We got to catch up on all the gossip, avoid the crush of the rest of the family, and sometimes, got well and truly toasted (like after our grandmother died and we had the first Christmas ever somewhere other than her house).

Glenna’s parents (my aunt and uncle) both passed away within 3 weeks of each other this spring. This will be a very difficult holiday for her (and me…). My uncle was my dad’s last remaining brother, and my aunt was the last remaining wife of the original 4 couples. My dad is now the patriarch of the family. So, she’s been feeling the need to escape San Diego. When I heard about this, I immediately invited her up. She flies in Thursday am. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

I apologize in advance about the picture quality - these were taken with my new iPhone! I finally got tired of having no signal at home, unless I was standing mid-pasture by the pumphouse. I broke down and joined (partially) the new world order. I've downloaded 2 apps, and have figured out how to transfer photos, music (purchased Mannheim Steamroller's 25th anniversary set). I know there's lots more it can do, but I'm kind of a luddite, and refuse to do texting.

So, in putting up the tree, I found ornaments that I had either a) never used them, or b) used only once. To take the picture, I had to leave the new led lights off – they are really, really bright!

Some of the cooler ornaments:

 Spike, the devil dog (thanks, Amy!!)
Beaver (thanks, Mary)

Because some of my ornaments are small fruit, and Lyra loves apples, the dogs have been banished to dog jail. Last night I had to discourage her from “trying” one out numerous times! I know they don’t smell like fruit, but her search image for apples is finely honed.

Harry’s tail is also hard on ornaments. That, coupled with his obsession with balls, prompted me to leave the red balls off of the tree. He would have spent every waking hour staring at the tree saying, “Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball…”

To my knowledge, the three mouseketeers have not seen the tree yet – I’m hoping it is still upright when I get home…

I also rearranged my living room with the added benefit of having room for the tree. The configuration makes my small room seem much, much larger. I live in an 840 sq. ft., 14 x 60 mobile home with no weather tight outbuildings, to which I moved from a 1436 sq. ft. 1.5 story antique house with a large attached pantry and covered storage. To say I have no room for all my stuff is an understatement. My power tools are all scrunched into a small cupboard – more a testament to my puzzle solving ability than a comment on the number of tools I own. In the previous post (here), I mentioned the involuntary stash reorganization – it was really a blessing in disguise. Now if I could just do that with the rest of the house!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Of cats and wool (and rain)... Picture heavy

Before going on a tour of the Creekside Fiber Mill, I’d like to introduce you to the rodenators-in-training:

Chaos and Mayhem


I went through many possibilities of names for Chaos and Mayhem, and ended up coming back to the original idea after all. It’s hard to tell them apart, though possible if you get close, but the end result by either one is still the same – chaos and mayhem!! Ted is the anti-social one – you can tell, since the picture was taken of him hiding under a desk behind a box!

Unfortunately, after I picked up the fiber from Creekside, I attempted to organize my stash.  I have a garden bathtub under which the floor is rotten, so the bathtub can't be used.  Perfect, non-floor covering stash location!  However, the kittens did very naughty things and ruined a significant amount of the wool that was stored there.  I have two contractor's size trashbags full of stinky wool in the back of my truck to go to the dump.  The good news is that I got it all organized, labled, and stored in a kitten-proof manner.  I borrowed the idea of hanging bags from Mim - I call them the pod people.

On to the mill. It’s nice to have a fiber processor within driving distance that can do everything. They wash, blend, card (bats or roving), spin into your choice of yarn and make needle felt. Check out the website (Here). I have no affiliation, just a satisfied customer, yadda, yadda…
The front Door

Drying lovelyness

The Picker/Blender

After going through the Picker once

Through the carder once

After going through the carder twice - into roving

The pin-drafter

The spinner

The plyer

The needle felter with some alpaca felt

And here are some of the results of their efforts:

Yarn porn

This is 47.2% wool, 37.3% alpaca, 10% Mohair and 7.5% silk, sport weight, 2-ply. It knits up at 6.5 sts/in on size 3, and 6 sts/in on size 5 needles. The wool is from a crossbred sheep – Rambouillet, Romeldale, Montadale (known as a Rommanot), and was a nice variegated gray with really nice crimp. The alpaca was white, as was the silk, and the mohair was brillo pad gray (though not texture!). You can see the sheen of this yarn in the photo – it’s really luscious to work with, and I’m sure will dye really well. I have calculated the info for a couple of scarves – one on my loom (4 shaft) and one on my Mom’s (8 shaft). Should be as fun weaving with this as it is to knit.

Merino Alpaca Roving

The picture doesn’t accurately show the color of this fiber (it's much darker). It’s 50% moorit merino, and 50% Rose gray (though it was really chocolate brown) alpaca. It’s also really wonderful to handle, and I need to work a little on my slow skills for this – otherwise it becomes very thin rope… I’m hoping to make something for myself out of my half – Correy contributed the wool, I furnished the alpaca, so we’re sharing the result!

I've been knitting a baby sweater for a co-worker - pictures next time.

Current rainfall since November 1, 2010: 21 inches.  I'm trying not to float away...

Friday, December 10, 2010

I think I had too much fun...

I got back from Thanksgiving and crashed (got a cold…). It was a great time, the turkey was wonderful, if I do say so myself. It was fun to see my sister’s new house – she has a great view of Mt. Rose. Here is a sunset view:
She also has a *very* large cat, Watson (he weighs about 22 lbs.). This is a standard size barstool that he’s sitting on:
He is really a golden retriever in a cat body. He loves water so much that you have to close the toilet lid so he won’t play in it. He will curl up in a sink and beg for you to turn the faucet on. He also fetches, and particularly likes the little plastic spiders you can get around Halloween. He and my dad’s dog, Snickers, have reached détente – this picture makes Snickers look really tiny (she actually weighs about 18 lbs.):
The trip down was uneventful, mostly rain, and no snow, and I could actually see Mt. Shasta, though it looked like the mother ship was parked on top:
 While there I got to visit with my friends in the area: Friday I got to see Allison’s new horse and Amy gave me a Wolf pup stuffed animal, that was appropriate, as the Wolf Pack beat Boise State on Saturday; Saturday I drove up to Mim’s and Sharon’s into this:
I had to use 4wd to get to Sharon’s and decided to park at the top of their driveway instead of driving down and having to chain up to get out. I managed Mim’s driveway in 4-low.

All of us forgot to take pictures of ourselves together… I guess we were having too much fun!

I probably could have gotten the trailer, since it didn’t snow on the way home, but it was much less stressful to drive without it! The view of Mt. Shasta was even more breath-taking on the way home:
There’s something about that mountain that says, ‘Here I am’ – there is a presence about it, and it never ceases to awe me. I guess I should say all volcanoes do that, since the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Rainier, to name a few more local peaks, do the same.

I picked up some loveliness from Creekside Fiber Mill last week – next post will include a photo tour of the mill (I love those machines), and a picture of the products that I had done. I have to say, that the yarn I had done is really, really nice, and I have 7.5 lbs. of it (roughly 12,000 yds)!!