MuseCon Report

IIRC when last we left the circus, I had working plumbing (blocked drain line for the shower and downstairs bathroom sink on Thursday, required a visit from the plumber) and was mostly packed.

Robin and Marmaduke were very good about taking care of the dogs.  We’ve corrupted Marmaduke, he’s now a Sooj fan, a convention fan (we’ll see if he can go to WindyCon), and probably a filker.   Robin was in charge of Logistics, Marmaduke was staff, and AFAIK they earned their names in the program book.  🙂

Friday

Friday morning I packed up the last bits and pieces, then met Ron, Robin, and X1 who were back northish to do Logistics tasks for breakfast. Picked up the dogs, then Marmaduke, and off we went.

I put up signage, sorted T-shirts for Reg/Ops, wandered around a bit and hung out in the fiber end of the big workshop room (blinkies and fiber). Lunch and dinner presumably happened, but I have no memory of them. We managed to stretch Opening Ceremonies out to a whole whopping half-hour! The Fire-Spinning was insert-ethusiastic-superlative-here! No, not being sarcastic, just that everything I think of sounds trite. So pick your own.

Saturday

Saturday was more busy. I was late-ish getting the day’s schedule signs up, being distracted by the breakfast buffet. I attempted to help a couple people in Lizzie’s Knitting 101 class, with permission, and worked on kilt hose. I made one of Loren Damewood’s cord bracelets, that I think came out quite nice. Loren did a bracelet with EL wire left over from X1’s class, and later a choker. Nobody was brave enough to try my charkha during open spinning. 🙂

Kevin Wiley was a very good sport about the poi-spinning class, which ended up over-booked. Thankyou thankyou thankyou, K!

The wedding was a great success. I’m told the tie-dyed sheets we’d done the previous weekend and accomplices helped get onto the bed were also a success. The minister remarked on how it was odd that the fannish wedding was not the most colorful one in the hotel – yes, we were quite eclipsed by all the gorgeous saris at the other weddings in the hotel (one AM, one PM).

I passed on the crowd I expected in the hospitality suite for wedding cake and adjourned to our room to order pizza for dinner. Over dinner I learned that Elrond had gone on an unauthorized unsupervised tour of the 5th floor earlier in the day. Ron saw him making said trip, but by the time he got down from 12 Elrond was being escorted back to the room by the members of our extended party who’d had the lapse in judgement/attention that led to the breakout.

After dinner was my InDesign class, which was made of flail. I hope I wasn’t too horrible, and I don’t think I’ll be repeating it.

The concert by S.J. Tucker and Betsy Tinney was a lot of fun. Especially the tango-line that kept growing as it wound around the room for “Alligator in the House”

Sunday

Sunday morning was made of panic. I rarely sleep past 7 am, but did I think that would be a day I might and set an alarm? Silly wabbit. Then I discovered that my bank card was lost, and Chase bank is made of stoopid in terms of getting to the right extension to report lost/stolen cards. Nothing suspicious has happened on the account, and it’s the only thing not in my wallet, so my guess is just plain lost. By the time I got off the phone with Chase, stress and low blood sugar had me all messed up. X2 was made of win for finding me some food.

Ron gets my thanks for putting up the day’s signage. Next year we’re putting Saturday and Sunday signage up the night before.

Got to my leather sewing (key fobs) class slightly late, and slightly later discovered I’d left my hole punches at home. I had an exacto knife to enlarge holes with for attaching decorative conchos, so it all worked out. And it was a class I could teach in my sleep, so I think once I settled down and got people started it went quite well – I think in the end 12-14 people did the project?

Closing Ceremonies was fairly short, and the comments were mostly positive, not-too-serious issues we were already pondering, or hotel issues.

Packing up packing up at various times throughout the day.  I made a trip north with Robin and our truck loaded with Youth Programming supplies.  Second trip with both the truck and the car to drop off Marmaduke, Robin, the dogs, and the truck so that Robin could unload the truck at his leisure.

Ron and I returned to the hotel after a stop for food, went swimming, and went to bed at a decent hour.

Monday

Another swim in the morning, packed the car, and departed.  We got home about 10 am, to find Robin had just gotten up.  We were mostly lazy the rest of the morning, then we started looking at Sizzix die-cutters, which are made for (s)crapbooking.  But they have a line of dies that are up to cutting thin leather – one of the people in my key fob class had some gears she’d cut with hers.

After some internet poking about, we proceeded to the Arlington Heights JoAnn store.  We found dies on sale 40% off, but no machines.  I decided that odds were we’d either end up with one, or figure out how to use them in the big press, and purchased some.

A couple phone calls later, and we were off to the Vernon Hills JoAnn store, which had a Sizzix BigKick machine in stock – also 40% off.  So for about the list price of that machine we got it and several dies.  We’d been looking at a machine that is much more expensive, and also has some additional features, but this was a wiser choice, as well as being available – if we don’t use it much, it wasn’t a big outlay, and if we do we’ll upgrade.

Stopped at the grocery store for food, then back home to return to lazy-slug-dom.

I kan haz nap nao?

More Mostly Knit Knatter

My off-white yarn is still somewhere in transit from Paradise Fibers.  Shipped USPS, with an estimate of 3-10 days.  Tomorrow, 14 day after ordering, I’ll call and see if they have a record of when it shipped, as we may still be in the transit window.

Friday evening I started the almost-black kilt hose.  I am now ready to start the cuffs.  Yes, in 4 days I have knit a pair of giant kilt hose of doom.  This was made possible by:

1.  Working on pair number three, with notes from pairs #1 and #2 available, and pair #2 available for direct comparison.

2.  Knitting most of the afternoon/evening Saturday, a bunch of time Sunday, and on the train downtown and back Monday.

I was going to choose a cabled design from a stitch dictionary and just keep going around and around (so halfway through the ribbing that hides behind the cuff I switched to the cuff color and knitting direction, because the outside of the cuff is the inside of the sock because of fold-over).  Then this morning I remembered that there are very spiffy cables in Elsebeth Lavold’s “Viking Patters for Knitting”, and dug out my copy. Now, the thing is, most of the patterns are going to look better if the cable goes around the cuff, which means knitting the cuff back and forth, and grafting it together.  And I suck at grafting, probably because I pull too tight because I’m usually doing it somewhere like a sock toe or mitten point.  But I’m going to suck it up and graft.

I also had to do some math.  Being an engineer this is not a big deal, of course.  I checked my gauge, and computed how many rows around Ron’s giant calves are vs. how many rows the pattern repeat is.  My stockinette stitch gauge on the foot (the rest of the sock is ribbing) is 5 stitches/inch.  I loosened up on the leg, which is k5, p1 ribbing, and the k5 bits are still an inch wide, or close enough for the moment.  on the leg I’m getting 7 rows/inch.  Ron’s calf is 21.mumble inches around, let’s call it 22.  22 x 7 = 154 rows around.  The ribbing is about 4 inches wide.  4 x 5 = 20 stitches wide.  The cuff I’ll be working onto is 72 stitches around, and you use one of those stitches every other row as you’re knitting the cuff onto it.  72 x 2 = 144.

Now, 154 does not equal 144, but I have to increase up from 60 stitches around for the ribbing, so I can throw in another increase round or a few more increases to make the math come out. All that nattered, I need a cable in the neighborhood of 20  stitches wide, and row-wise multiplies up to 150-ish.   Er.  The pattern I did have in mind is 40 stitches wide, which would equate to an 8″ cuff.  A bit excessive, I think. Since my problem is picking a design from many choices I like, I’m sure I can find something.

I did get some spinning done on Sunday.  I finally got my second quill of Black Welsh Mountain wound onto a bobbin and plied with the first.  The skein definitely isn’t balanced, I think it’s over-twisted in plying.   It also has a lot of knots from ply (mostly the first batch) breakage.     Oops.

Ron had his doubts about the Woobu, until he felt it.  It is nice and soft.  So they’re probably going to be con-kilt-hose.  🙂 He’s also saying he wants to get some more tie-dyed T-shirts, which we’ll look for while we’re at WisCon (we got the one he has from a vendor at the Farmer’s Market on the Capitol Square last year).  I think I have made it sufficiently clear that a tie-dye kilt is Right Out.

The trip to The Field Museum was fun.  General admission was free, Target is sponsoring a second Monday in the month free day.   I suspect it may have increased attendance somewhat, but it wasn’t too crowded.  We got there about 10:00 and our tickets for The Horse were for 10:00, or any time after.  I think on very busy days they prefer you not show up too late after your ticket time, but I don’t think the guy taking our tickets for the exhibit looked at the time at all.  But we went there first anyway.

It was a nice exhibit, but I did have one grumble – it appeared that the exhibit was bass-ackward in the space – not completely so that we started out at the end and worked through to the beginning chronologically, but most of the the bits (ooh, bad equestrian pun, sorry) that had a definite left-right  progression – several paragraphs or whatever – we encountered the right-hand end first.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it struck me that somebody wasn’t thinking.

My other complaint, again not serious, was that nowhere on The Field Museum website did it say that the coat check was closed for the summer.  If I’d have known that I’d have left my knitting and lightweight jacket at home so I didn’t have to carry them.  I mentioned at the admission desk that it would have been nice to know.

After we did The Horse Ron started playing with taking sets of photos for doing High Dynamic Range Imagery.  (Wikipedia explanation Wikimedia Commons HDRI image) We considered which sections of the museum were likely to gave interestingly non-uniform lighting and not be overrun with urchins, and then blew through most of “The Ancient Americas” exhibit (which has been re-done since last time we’d been there and was much nicer) until we got to the Northwest Coastal/Eskimo/Inuit section.   I suspect Ron may have decided on that in part because I like that section.  OTOH, the lighting on the house/spirit poles is interesting.

He did run into some issues with lighting – last time we were there, I think the lighting was at a constant level.  This time they had almost everything in that section on motion sensors, so the lights from cases were going on and off.  With the longest exposure being several seconds, it was an issue. Had we been thinking I could have paced back and forth in front of a particular case, instead of wandering around, sometimes causing said light issues.  🙂  Also, Ron didn’t bring a tripod, which requires getting a permit to use.  He did have a monopod (which doesn’t block traffic the way a tripod does, so in our experience no-tripod facilities don’t mind monopods), without which he wouldn’t have been able to get some of the shots at all.

I don’t think he’s gotten any HDRI images, out of the image sets he took yet.  But I think he enjoyed the challenge.  A co-worker of his did some really neat HDRI images at the EAA museum, where his son’s Scout troop did a sleepover.   Hmm.  IIRC from when we were members that the Field has events where you can spend the night.  I wonder if that includes going through exhibits . . .

I did pick on Ron, I ended up buying my own birthday cake.  Actually slices of a couple yummy chocolate things from Eurofresh.  I did bake a cake Saturday, a honey spice cake from the Bundt cookbook I have.  I ended up using my honeycomb pull-apart pan again, my sandcastle cake pan was not clean.  That has been remedied.  I definitely need to get no-stick spray with flour, I tried not flouring the pan this time, and had a cake extraction fail.  The shards, as Robin turned out, were tasty though, and that’s the important part.

Tonight is the second-to-last class for my Graphic Arts class.  Review for the final exam next week, and I think a brief show-and-tell with our final projects.

More Morning Natter

Ok, I’ll try to wrap my natter up here in post #3 for the morning.

Food-Ish

I’m developing a taste for sushi, I think.  Ron definitely is. We went out for dinner at Asahi with Xap Thursday night.  Robin stuck with pork tonkatsu, but tried a bite of very lightly smoked salmon – the style on a mound of rice, and some california roll.  And the crab in his cucumber salad.  He’s willing to try again.  I had a couple (Maki?) sweet raw shrimp things, and a larger helping of a beef thing – lightly seared beef draped over California Roll.  I told the waitress I’d eat the beef raw if they were willing, so it was only seared on one side – just enough to get nice flavor.

Previously cooked and frozen brisket for dinner tonight.  I may reheat it with a small can of tomato sauce.

Hardware Store-Ish

Yesterday was much running around, as well as finishing my final project (see today’s first post).  Last week Ron had remarked that we were going to need to replace the downstairs water cooler soon, the lining was looking pretty sad.  So a couple-few days later it started leaking.  We got it over 10 years ago, so I’m not complaining.  Best price we found for one with both hot and cold water was at Menard’s.

Trying to get the blade off of the circular saw, the bolt got rounded off, so during karate we went to Berland’s.  The Makita reps in for the weekend were a nuisance, but we did end up with a new Makita circular saw.  I had commented that I thought we already had another one, but Ron didn’t think so.  I was willing to believe that the second one had been declared dead at some point, like in the basement flood or other cleanup.

Well, it turns out that we did still have the second one.  But the new Makita is nicer, so we’re keeping it.

Other errand-type stops here and there were made yesterday.

Dogs

Yesterday morning, about 2 AM we were awakened by the crying of a very unhappy Elrond.  He was very very sore in the neck and shoulders.  So bad that for a while he wailed any time Ron (who he was snuggled up to) moved.  Then he apparently decided Ron wasn’t snuggling enough, and started scrootching, and squawking, toward me.  And pawing at me.  I finally got that to stop by putting both arms around him and napping forehead-to-forehead with him.  Eventually he loosened up some, and went back to his crate.  But Eowyn stayed in bed with us, although she shares the bed nicely.

In the morning Elrond was better, but still a sore unhappy puppy.  He seemed to be improving as he moved around. We decided to wait on going to the vet, but did find out what would be safe to give him.  At bedtime he got a small dose, and this morning he was much better and happy dog again – no squeaks until he shook his head, and then just a little squeak.  I’ll probably give him another small dose of painkiller tonight, mostly to try to prevent him stiffening up overnight.  No idea what he did. Friday evening he was out playing with Alan, so he may have tripped or run into something.

Stringy Bits

I started another pair of kilt hose for Ron on Wednesday, out of the giant (one-pound) skein of Mountain Colors Weaver’s Wool – bottom quarter or so of page.  Color is  Harmony Moss – about a third of a way down the page, they say soft greens and browns, I say greens  with bits of sprucey blue.  I have all my notes from the first pair (neatly written into Pages on the iPad and mailed as a PDF to myself to save on my phone), so I don’t have stop and have him try them on very often.  I thought the Weaver’s Wool was worsted-weight, just slightly lighter than the Cascade 220 I did his first pair out of, so I’m doing these socks on US size 3 needles again.  Turns out at least one website (Paradise Fibers) calls it sport-weight.  I think they’ll be ok.

Anyhow, I’m (toe-) up past the heel turn, and have done about an inch of ankle on each.  I decided cabling on the cuff wouldn’t show on this yarn, and couldn’t find a light green in the same yarn that I thought would work, so I have two 4-ounce skeins of off-white ordered.  One was probably enough, but I think I’ll have Harmony Moss left, so with a skein or so of off-white, I should get a pair of socks out of it, too.  Oh, and I did finally darn in the ends on my stripey socks made out of leftovers from the first pair of kilt hose.

I’m afraid I failed another saving throw vs. temptation at Blue Moon Fiber Arts.  Yes, again.  Yes, I like their yarn.  I got a skein of Socks that Rock Lightweight in Basan for me, and two skeins of Woobu in Count Cluckula for kilt hose for Ron (and leftovers for me).  I had been thinking of Socks That Rock Heavyweight for kilt hose, but it was more expensive than the Woobu.  The Woobu is nice to knit with (I used for my legwarmers), so I’ll try it for socks.

Today I think the plan is to knit and do a bit of spinning.  Only a bit, because somebody ran off with the spinning wheel, and the quill on my charkha is getting full of Black Welsh Mountain singles.  Somebody suggested that I could wind it off onto a bobbin and ply it on the bobbin, but the first bobbin was done with the Lendrum, and the Babe is going to give me a different amount of twist while winding the singles onto the bobbin.

I suppose I should also get dishes caught up.  They got behind because of that (epletive) final project for school, and I keep doing the oldest/grungiest, and what was left from yesterday was two half-sheet pans and my big roaster, which is taking up a lot of counter space.

I could also make a trip to L.L. Bean.  That medium-size Boat & Tote bag I ordered?  Well, the bag says it’s a medium, with long handles, but the handles are short, and either I’m badly mis-visualizing the dimensions compared to the flattened real thing, or it’s actually a large.  But I can return it to the store, so I’ll eyeball the Boat & Tote bags for size (which I probably should have done to start with), and either they’ll have one in a nice color of bottom/handles with long handles, or get them to order me another.  And on Nth thought I might waffle back to a zip-top.  If I hadn’t already gotten a tool bag for my charkha, this bag would probably be the right size, come to think of it.  But I already have a tool bag.

Computer-ish

Friday night Ron cleaned up his desk, got rid of the old printer (superceded months ago), and moved the drive farm to where the printer used to sit.  This was occasioned by the backup drive for the Drobo (yes, we back up the RAID: redundancy, we haz it) going tits-up early last week.  Fortunately, it turned out to be only the power supply or bastard-connector cord/wall wart, so Ron just had to get a new enclosure.  He also got an enclosure for a drive that had been sitting naked on the desk.  Now all the drives are neatly lined up, and labeled, so we know which one is which.

Ron also got me a new, bigger, thumb drive, my final project for school had outgrown the one I had.  I tried using a little WD passport drive, but the Mac at school didn’t recognize it.  I suspect it was a security “feature”.  Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be outgrowing a 32 GB drive soon.  I do need to go through and clean up and do some file-sorting in my directories, though.  I pretty ruthlessly pruned my laptop’s hard drive a couple-few weeks ago, time to attack my corner of our main storage.

Well, I think that’s everything.  And probably more than enough.

Accomplishments

Friday night I got to bed late, and slept poorly.  So yesterday I was rather a zombie, and didn’t even try to get any work done on my final project for school.
OTH, I supervised Robin filtering the honey from the top-bar hive (he and Robin pulled almost all the comb out last weekend, since the girls built across multiple bars with great abandon).  Filtering consisting of propping the tank up to drain, and checking on it occasionally.

All the wax went on the stove in the two halves of my big enameled roasting pan with water.  Most of the comb was from brood, so it was rife with cocoons.  A LOT of cocoons.  Melting didn’t remove the cocoons, as they float and so get caught in the wax, but the process at least reduced the volume.  When I pulled the wax out of the mess this morning  it turned out there were a lot more cocoons than wax, so we did get rid of some of them.  Most of the rest will be filtered out by melting the wax that’s left and pouring it through a sieve.

We extracted the wax from the comb by the low-tech crush & strain method – squish the combs, and put it into the capping tank to drain, which it was doing last week.  Initial impression was that the wax had a very funky smell.  Now that we’ve filtered the wax, it seems that it’s the brood comb that had the funky pong.  The tea made from it in the process of melting the wax certainly did. Robin took a sniff of the filtered honey and said it smells much better.

I also did some spinning yesterday.  Finished one ply of Black Welsh Mountain and got a good start on a second.  I also watched a spinning DVD, “Spinning for Lace”. I’m a bit disappointed, it really should be “Spinning Merino for Lace” – lots of good information if merino is what you want to spin.  And the only “and more” from the description is plying your merino with something else.  I won’t try to get my money back, but I may leave a review that explains the description issue.

While waiting for Peapod and yesterday, I cast off and darned in the ends on the pair of socks I made myself out of the leftovers from Ron’s kilt hose.  They’re worsted-weight, so I’m not sure how much I’ll wear them this spring, but then again, the weather predictions aren’t encouraging.

This morning I pulled the wax out of the cocoon tea, so that I’d have room in the kitchen to work (the two halves of the roaster take up a lot of real estate), and made Scotch Eggs.  They’re in the oven at the moment (Nope, I don’t deep-fry my scotch eggs. Not that I object to deep-fried foods, but baking on a rack in the oven is simpler and doesn’t require my attendance.)  The scotch eggs are breakfasts for next week.

In a little while I’ll go and start lamb shanks.  I’ve never done them before, but after reviewing a plethora of braised lamb shank recipes, it doesn’t seem like a process I’m likely to mess up.  It’s pretty much how I make pot roast.  The only decision is what spices to use, and what liquids besides wine for the braising liquid.  I’m thinking Penzey’s lamb and/or Greek seasoning, depending on what I’ve got on hand.  Tomato sauce and/or chunks seem to  be almost required, so I’ll probably go ahead with those.  The planned other ingredients are rosemary, garlic, carrots, celery, and onion.  I may add pearl onions at the end, and one of the recipes on the Epicurious iPhone/Pad app had a side dish of white beans, which sounds good.

The Ether Bunny was lazy this year.  Three bars of good chocolate.

Going over to a friend’s after lunch with Ron to learn about the registration system for MuseCon, so I should probably get to work on my project.

 

Monday Again

Oh look, it’s Monday again already.

Last week was . . . a week. School happened. Dinners happened. Work happened. Dog excavation both happened and was averted. Dishes happened.

Took Eowyn to the vet to see what’s up with water consumption. Blood work and urinalysis says one kidney enzyme on the high end of normal, one slightly elevated. Get a first thing in the morning urine sample, please. And try to see how much she’s actually drinking vs. what a dog her size should go through in a day (around 10 cups). At least the vet did acknowledge the difficulty of that last one in a two-dog house. Some signs of arthritis in the back legs, but otherwise healthy for a dog her age.

Saturday afternoon Ron, Xap, and I went out to The Fold to get a bag for the Lendrum spinning wheel. I didn’t mean to buy anything else, even though some merino/bamboo had called me the last trip. But then we found a ginormous skein of yarn that said it wanted to be another pair of kilt hose for Ron. And I do mean ginormous – pound of worsted-weight yarn. (Mountain Colors Weaver’s Wool, 1450 yards/lb., I don’t remember if it had a colorway listed).  And a 4-ounce braid of merino/bamboo followed me home.

After that, I went to FedEx to pick up my order from Paradise Fibers.  I’ll have to post a picture of the crossword puzzle that came with the punis (rolls of cotton), I’m totally stuck.   The Black Welsh Mountain top is indeed coarse, but that’ll be fine for sheep puppets.  The “oatmeal” BFL is nice and soft, just like my chocolate cherry BFL roving.  Oatmeal is a good discription – not quite brown, not quite grey.  I also got a naturally sagey-green cotton roving.

After getting a pouch I was working on to a point where glue had to dry and doing some dishes, I finished spinning the second ply of a batch of the  chocolate cherry, wound it onto a bobbin, then plied and skeined it.  This one went much better, I think I had only one knot in one ply.

Then I played with cotton.  I spun one puni, then tried plying it.  Breakage and breakage and breakage.  I think, in retrospect, that I needed more twist.  I thought I was putting enough twist into it, based on what I’ve been doing for the BFL, but the cotton staple is shorter.  A lot shorter.  Yesterday I threw that first cotton skein out (which is about what I expected to do with it).  I had tried doing this hand-plying trick again, which has worked reasonably well for wool, but I’m wondering if it was also continuing to my issues.  Next time I’ll wind off onto bobbins.

Yesterday I snagged the charcoal grey pencil roving that Ron hadn’t used, and played with that.   It comes as a pair of strands, so I wound a pair of golf-ball sized balls spun without drafting, then plied them back together.  Ron hadn’t been able to successfully spin a single ply of roving, the pull on the wheel was too much for his skill level at the time.  I didn’t have that problem with the charkha, but by the time I wound it onto bobbins, I think I had it over-spun, parts of the two-ply are still twisted pretty firmly.  It came out about sport-weight, and I wanted fingering to lace-weight.   Looking at and playing with the un-spun roving, I don’t think it’s going to draft very well, so I’ll either continue with the process of splitting it into two plies for sport-weight, or spin both together and then ply for heavier yarn.

The spinning experiment with the pencil roving was after dinner.  Earlier in the day Ron, Xap, and I had gone downtown to visit a friend in the hospital.  Nice view of the lake!  On the way there I worked on the socks I started for myself out of the yarn left over from Ron’s kilt hose.  While we were at the hospital and on the way home I did the toes for my Very Loud socks (crazy zauberball, to go with my Very Loud Dress).  My leftover-kilt-hose socks are ready to be cast off and the ends darned in, but I didn’t feel like doing that last night.  Maybe tonight.

Ron was pouting that since I started my Very Loud socks, he’ll have to wait for ever and ever for another pair of kilt hose, but I pointed out that either of the next pair of kilt hose use different size needles, so maybe I’d start them before I finish my socks.  Hinting that somebody could help by winding kilt hose yarn into balls was apparently too subtle.  🙂

Ron is really liking Zinio for magazines on the iPad.  It is nice, although he’s been reading more magazines than I have.

Last week I finally read _Minight in the Garden of Good and Evil_ which was interesting.  I was poking around the Wikipedia “Southern Gothic” entry, and decided to re-try Cherie Priest.  A while back I started _Boneshaker_, but despite being nominated for Hugo and Nebulas, it just didn’t do it for me, and I stopped about halfway through.   But her Eden Moore books looked pretty good, so I gave the first one a try.  When I finished that one I went and grabbed the second and third.

The odd thing about this is that I don’t do horror any more (I used to read Stephen King before he got to big for his britches and editors stopped editing him).  Except Lovecraft, yes.  OTOH, these aren’t exactly what I tend to think of as horror, either.  They may stray over into Urban Fantasy, I suppose, but they aren’t really that, either.  But they’re good.

A while back Robin was looking at _Leviathan_, another of Cherie Priest’s, set in the same steampunk-ish milieu as _Boneshaker_, and I’d told him I’d pooped out on _Boneshaker_ (which I was reading on my phone), and he decided not to get _Leviathan_.  I told him I was enjoying her horror books, and _Boneshaker_ had been nominated for this and that, so maybe he should give it a go (in paper).  And he decided to, so if he likes it I may try again.

As Wikipedia notes in the link above, the Eden Moore books may be billed as a trilogy, but each one is a standalone story.  I’m sure it helps to get all the earlier references to things that happened in previous stories, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

After Elrond was Cruelly Tortured by being forced to only go out on a cable last week, Robin staked down some hardware cloth over the wonderful-to-dig-in spot.  Hopefully rain, time, and re-growth of grass will render that spot boring.  His nose was out of joint that Eowyn got to go for a ride to the vet’s Friday night, but Robin took him out for a run up and down the street, which probably helped.

Finally saw the new “Tron” movie.  It’s pretty good, as far as action-adventure goes.  Also saw the original, I think for the first time since it was in the theater.  Ouch.  I may be a child of the ’80’s and still like the music, but the clothes and some of the dialogue are sooooo painful.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Just plied and skeined off another batch of chocolate cherry BFL. The first quill’s worth went great – no breaks at all as I wound it onto the bobbin.

The second one wasn’t so good. 4 breaks, which means there’s 4 knots in the skein. Grumph. I think the problems were bad joins and letting it get too fine.

On the other hand, the skein is balanced. It hangs there with only a fraction of twist in it – not even a quarter-turn. That tells me that even though there may be a few over-twisted spots, on the whole it’s good.

Brats are in the crock-pot for dinner tonight. Provided the skirt steak we still haven’t eaten hasn’t developed an attitude, I think I’m going to pot-roast it for another attempt at shepherd’s pie. My last attempt was good, but a little too soupy.

The plan for tomorrow is to do taxes. Yippee skippee. Not that I expect any bad surprises, it’s just isn’t a particularly exciting/interesting job. Nor do I really expect taxes to take all day, but if I don’t plan to do anything else, maybe I won’t put them off yet still again. Spinning and knitting and cooking are a lot more fun.

Debating if I want to start spinning another pass of chocolate cherry, do a little alpaca, or work on my leftover-kilt-hose-yarn socks. Or fire up InDesign and do the door banner I had a request for. I can probably knock that out before I have to go get Robin from karate, so that’s probably what I should do…

Another Shopping Fail

Earlier this week I said I was going to try not to build up a big stash of spinning fibers, unlike my yarn stash.

Then Ron asked me if I’m ready to try spinning cotton yet.  I claimed I wasn’t . . .

. . . but then this morning I found myself shopping on-line.  Woodland Woolworks didn’t have much that was sending me, so I tried Paradise Fibers.  I had avoided shopping there much in the past, something about their website turned me off, but then we watched a couple videos they’ve done about the Lendrum wheel, and  it turns out they’re a small family-run business.

We have a DVD about spinning cotton that says punis (rolls of carded cotton fiber) are the best preparation for learning to spin cotton, so I ordered a 4-ounce bundle of natural/white punis:  Cotton Punis Fiber

I also looked at other cotton, and I really liked the caramel color of one, but it was out of stock.  Pout.   Natural Organic Coyote Cotton.  (Woodland Woolworks was also out of this one.  It had caught my eye there first).

In fact, a lot of their colored cotton was out of stock, so I ended up with 4 ounces of this kind of sage green one: Natural Organic Palo Verde Cotton.  Why naturally-colored (as in not-dyed) cotton?  Because it’s nifty!

Then I started looking at wool, because my brain said it would be fun to spin my own yarn for the sheep puppets, yarn stash be damned.  The sheep are black, grey, white, and dark moorit, which is a dark brown.  I was looking at colored wool when I remembered that I already have some brown at home.  So in the end I got 4 ounces of each of these:

Black Welsh Mountain Top, wool roving, black wool top,l spinning fiber.

Oatmeal Blue Faced Leicester BFL.

The reviews of the Black Welsh Mountain says it’s coarse (which the description also says if you know what the numbers mean, which I don’t), but that’s ok for puppets.  I like the fact that it’s not black-black.  I like the chocolate cherry BFL I’m currently spinning, so that made that one an easy choice.  It just seems proper to knit the sheep puppets out of naturally-colored wool.  I can’t remember if my brown is dyed, but I’m not going to get fussy about it.

On the one hand, I only got 16 ounces of fiber.  OTOH, cotton pretty much requires itself to be spun really fine, and the sheep pattern calls for laceweight.  So 4 ounces is a fair amount.

I guess I’m building a stash after all.

And on top of that, a bunch of lexan-ish-bodied Rubbermaid containers followed me home from the grocery store last night. My defense for the large-sandwich-sized ones is that they don’t slag and discolor the way standard Rubbermaid does when reheating leftovers, and the next size up are a size I seem to be needing lately for leftovers.  The cute little ones . . . ok.  No defense.  I just wanted them.   Ron just laughed, he knows my weakness.

I really should buy Rubbermaid stock.  Not necessarily a lot, just enough to say I own some.  🙂

Shopping Fail

I was looking at Interweave.com this morning to see if the original “Homespun Handknit” book is still in print (appears not to be, ordered a used copy on ABEbooks.com).  While I was there I made the mistake of poking around to see what else they had in the way of books and patterns for spinning.

These followed me home.  Too damn cute.

(http://www.interweavestore.com/Spinning/Digital-Projects/Estonian-Sheep-Puppets.html)

Which reminds me, I need to copy the knitting patterns and other such files I have to  the iPad.

That was the weekend that was

Visit from my parents went well.  Saturday night Chere and I went to Williams-Sonoma, and a cake pan followed Chere home and then moved into my kitchen.  It’s a “pull-apart” pan that makes little hexagon cake sections, with honeycomb and bee designs on them.  W-S was selling a honey bundt cake mix with the pan, but it was a honey cake only inasmuch as it used a honey glaze.  So that didn’t follow us home.

Pulled out a chocolate bundt cake mix, haven’t made it yet, as Ron’s tummy was upset Sunday evening and yesterday.  Perhaps tonight.  Yes, chocolate honeycombs will look funny.  Ask me if I care…

Anyway, Sunday morning we all went out for breakfast, to Ace for footwarmers for Chere and looking at the Weber goodies there, and then to Eurofresh for tailgating supplies before they headed back to Evanston for game two of the Northwestern/UofM ladies’ softball series.

Sunday afternoon I took my iFruit to visit the Apple store, and it came home with a new battery, as expected.  In the afternoon I also plied the first batch of chocolate cherry yarn, then spun another two quills full on the charkha.

Ron and I were both feeling ooky yesterday, so we stayed home.  Ron did work-work, I searched for the clipboard with information I needed on it, never found it, finally found the information on-line, ranted, and finally wrote the paper that’s due tomorrow.  The missing information on my clipboard was the assignment for the paper, and the two essay questions and an extra-credit essay for tomorrow’s final.  Fortunately, they were available on-line.  Unfortunately, I remembered this morning that part of my final project is also on the clipboard.  If I don’t find it by tomorrow I’ll explain to my instructor that it’s gone missing and ask her to make a note in her grades that she did see it two weeks ago (which she did), in case it doesn’t turn up before the final project is due.  I can replace the bit that went missing, but it won’t have the appropriate scribble on it that she looks for.

By the time I finished the paper Ron suggested that perhaps I should wait and do the essay questions today and tomorrow, which would be plenty of time (since the exam is set up to allow enough time to do them then), because my rationality was in question.

I agreed, and plied my yarn.  And then after dinner last night I washed the big pile of yarn we’ve been accumulating.  I snapped the skeins before hanging them up to dry, but didn’t weight them.  And I took pictures this morning.  First up, you may remember the kinky skeins:

Even though this isn’t a great picture, I think you can see that this skein is still kinky, but not as exuberantly as before washing.  It now looks like a skein, not a floofy bracelet.

Here’s two skeins of the bluish-purple:

The upper skein is one of Ron’s, the lower is one of mine.  Ron’s is about worsted-weight, I think.

And here’s all the chocolate cherry I’ve spun so far:

My attempts to get colors to line up have somewhat fallen by the wayside as being beyond my skill at both splitting roving into equal sections, and spinning.  But I like how it’s coming out.

I think all the yarn of mine in this post is in the fingering weight neighborhood, with possible forays into light sport or laceweight.  Works for me.

This weekend I also found my stash of little bits of brightly-dyed alpaca that came home from Ron’s parents’ wrapped around some of Robin’s miniatures.  I think some of it may have bits of suri alpaca or silk blended in.  There won’t be a lot of any one color, but that’s ok, I can use it for colorwork.

I found instructions for “hand plying” on knitty.com that allow you to ply a not-too-long length of singles back on itself, kind of like working from both the outside and inside of a center-pull ball.  So I can just spin as much as I can get out of each bunch of alpaca, then make 2-ply from it, and it will come out even.

Tonight I have to sew a leather book cover together, no spinning.

Oh, I remember now, Saturday morning Ron went out to see if he could figure out why none of the colonies made it through the winter (starvation, cold, disease), and it turns out the east hive is not quite dead!  He opened the top, saw live bees, and shut it right back up.  We’re guessing the others froze, as there’s honey left.

We are liking the iPad.  Figured out that it wants a high-power USB port to charge from, which the hubs on Ron’s desktop aren’t.  But he freed up a slot on the machine.   That explains why its charger wall-wart is bigger than the iPhones’.  We’ve got it set up so that we can both check our various e-mail, facebook, and other accounts without logging each other off, which is convenient.  Managed that through setting up mail for multiple accounts, and then judicious install and setups of various apps and bookmarks in browsers.

Internal Dialogue, plus Stringy Bits

Time: Saturday Afternoon

Brain:  Time to get ready for the MuseCon meeting!

Tummy: no meeting

Brain: Yes, time to get ready for the MuseCon meeting!

Tummy: no meeting

Brain:  Oh come on, you don’t even have to do anything.

Tummy: not going

Brain: Yes we ar. . .

Tummy: NOT GOING

Brain:  not going

Brain arranges for Publications information and laptop to go to the meeting

Brain, tenatively: Hot bath?

Tummy:  grumble

Brain: Soaking in nice hot tub and not moving?

Tummy: acceptable

Eventually I did emerge from the tub, but being a slug was the order of the day.   I did make progress on Ron’s kilt hose that have been on hold for a while.  One is 2-4 rows, cast-off, and darning in ends from being done, the other has an inch or three to go, which isn’t too bad when working in worsted-weight yarn.

Yesterday morning my tummy pointed out it still was not entirely happy, but I did venture out with Ron to Wool Warp and Wheel, which is in Richmond.  We picked up a smaller niddy-noddy, a couple issues of “”Spin-Off” magazine, and a book, “Spin Control.”  And roving which I failed to resist.  8 ounces of Bluefaced Leicester, in a colorway called, IIRC, “chocolate cherry” – reds and magentas and a touch of brown.  I’ll see if I can remember to get a picture this evening.

I waffled around how to spin it in regard to the colors.  I settled on dividing it in half lengthwise, to become two socks or mittens.  I split one of the halves in half again, and put a tag on each, A and B, and similarly labeled the two new bobbins that arrived Saturday.  The A and B quarters get plied together, and if I keep track of which ends are which when making skeins and eventually balls, hopefully I’ll end up with two balls of yarn with longish repeats of color, which will produce mostly-matching socks or whatever.

I debated not fussing with it that much, but I like the colors in the roving, and didn’t want to muddle them up too much (even though the end result would still have some variation and look nice).  We’ll see how it goes.  In 20/20 hindsight, after filling the quill on my charkha once, I should probably pull equal sections (based on where the colors change) off of A & B at once, to make it easier to fill the charkha evenly.

Made a meatball and vegetable stew last night that I refer to as a meatball tagine.  The little bit I had was good.  But more would have been a bad idea.  Tummy still not completely happy today.  Oh well, I needed to work on eating less anyway.

Saw the doctor this morning, not for the tummy bug but just an “it’s been a while, time to come in and give us some blood yadda yadda” visit.  I’ve actually lost 20-mumble pounds since I was last in (which was, admittedly, 2 years ago).  That’s something of a surprise.