Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sleep: The Sanity-Maker

Well, it certainly seems that there is a rather widespread bout of insomnia wreaking havoc amongst the knit-blog community these days. Or nights...whatever. There were a number of comments on this matter after yesterday's post. And, after an email from Trek, I became convinced that there may be something to this. I couldn't help but reflect on the matter as I hoisted The Big, Fluffy Kitty to my shoulder in order that I might put her to bed.



Frankly, I would have thought about darned near anything to avoid that look of smug satisfaction in her eyes. I'm pretty much carrying Porky McKibblepants everywhere these days. She's perfectly capable of waddling to wherever she may want to be at any given point in the day. But she knows I'll carry her...it's a long story. Her version has a happy ending without all that silly pedestrian activity. Mine involves lower back pain.



Anyway, I was thinking about the whole "all of us awake thing." Is this a sign? Are we all supposed to be gathering on a mountaintop somewhere? Could it be that one of us is being tapped to lead the knitters in a full-on world saving kind of mission? Will I have time to pack? I don't care what kind of world crisis we are facing. I'm not going on this quest unless I have enough notice to throw together a travel bag. It goes without saying that we'll all bring along a travel project. But I'm sort of past the age where I can live out of a duffel bag. Sheepie needs working outlets...



Fortunately, I slept rather well last night. Maybe it was the exhaustion that comes from lugging around a fat cat or thinking about whether our knitting superhero outfits will be slimming enough, but I really hit the pillow hard. Since I now seem less concerned about my role in the fate of the world and what I'll be wearing for the pitched battle with unknown evil, I'm guessing that maybe it was needed. I even slept in a bit.



Not by much, though. It seems that I somehow managed to get lost in the giant pile of merino that is taking over my living room and my life. All that carding, and twig picking, combined with the searing heat, took over my brain. So much so that I managed to miss my appointment with The World's Greatest Stylist last Friday. She was as understanding as one could be under the circumstances. I don't exaggerate her "Great" status. But it wouldn't do to miss the second appointment. As is stands, I had to ask for her to cut my hair just like hers. I can't afford to lose favor, here. I had a bad moment when she told me that this was going to require a perm. But then she laughed and told me that she has to have one because she has such fine hair. I'd have gotten the perm if that's what was required to make amends. That's how far I'd go. But, I'd be lying if I said I would have been happy about it. Things got a bit dicey at the end as she was comparing the relative thicknesses of our respective locks. Her subtle wailing led me to believe that I may have brought up a sensitive issue. But, in the end, the choice to request that I look just like her was the right one. It's actually a pretty good cut and one can't overlook the kiss-up points.



With all this hair drama, lack of sleep and trying to find meaning in our mutual lack of sleep over, I'm planning to spend the evening continuing my work on the merino fleece. I'd given some thought to going to The Yarn Sellar for knitting with others, but I'm thinking that tonight has more of an "in" feel to it. I am slowly working my way through the Harry Potter CDs and they are great inspiration for carding. If the will to work with the wool is upon me, then I'm going to go with it. Since I don't have to join all the knitters up on that mountain top, I don't think there are any pressing matters to which I must attend at this point.



That is, until Her Majesty, The Big, Fluffy Kitty requires transport.



SA

Monday, July 30, 2007

Counting...Me!

I'm the first to admit that I have some odd sleeping patterns. Unless there is some sort of work schedule to keep me in line, I tend to rise bright and disturbingly early, putter about like a hummingbird on espresso for the morning then crash into a full-on nap once lunch is done. I'm then pretty likely to stay up until the wee hours playing with the wool and watching late night TV. Since it is currently my summer vacation, I am free to indulge in this sleep/wake roulette to my heart's content.

But last night was ridiculous even by my standards.

I was tired after my weekend of parade attendance and hamburger eating so I found myself a bit more ready for beddy-bye than usual. I was awake until midnight or so, but knew that I was running on empty and went to bed thinking that slumber was just around the corner. Not so.

The brain kicked into that weird gear that is often unused. The thoughts began racing. So fascinating was this series of neural firings, that sleep became utterly impossible.

Boy, July is sure coming to a close quickly...I really need to start planning to get the classroom set up for the opening of school.

Speaking of which, I probably should get my teacher certification stuff done. I've sort of stretched the "wiggle room" they allow on that.

If I don't get it done, what should I do for a living instead of teaching? I'm a pretty talented gal. I'll bet I could come up with an interesting career...

Hey, if I get a chin implant, would I look more distinguished? Maybe more trustworthy? I could become a chin model...that would be a cool new career!

Or would that just give my face more surface area for growing wrinkles and age spots. I'd probably do better to minimize the square footage of my face at this stage of life rather than put up an addition.

Why am I not sleeping? I really should be asleep. I'm pretty sure I'm tired. I distinctly recall saying that I was tired around eight o'clock.

Where is the Big, Fluffy Kitty? She makes me nervous when she stays up late. She looks like the type to make a lot of long distance phone calls or suspicious Internet purchases. She has no thumbs, though. It's probably all right.

Wait. What the heck? People type and make phone calls without thumbs all the time.

I should check on her. Just to be sure...

Maybe I should count sheep. I hear that helps people get to sleep. Sheep. That's funny! I'm The Sheep! I can count me! One!!! Hee-hee...one Sheep! Let's do it again.

One!!!! Ha-ha-ha!!!!!

OK...let's settle down here. I really should be asleep. I'm sure I'm tired. I think I even feel a yawn coming on.

....one! ::snicker::

I finally gave up and watched some TV for a while. Sometime around 4:00 in the morning, I found the will to ignore my own self's ramblings. I managed to sleep for about four hours. But, there was certainly less of the "Caffeinated Hummingbird" air about the morning's activities. I was more like a turtle on Valium... And, even by my standards, the afternoon nap was a long one.

The plan was to break out the drum carder again and renew the assault on the endless pile of merino that has taken over my living room. But, I was feeling the urge to do something a little different today what with the messed up sleep situation. So I alternated between tidying up the shetland lamb fleece (which is smaller and of a more manageable mass) and bit of knitting. There is little to show for the effort, though. The pace was slow and the amount of time spent on any individual activity short. Maybe I'll get a second wind tonight.

I'd like to think that the merino might call to me again. After four days of carding, flicking, picking and general nurturing, I have a rather small amount to show.






Ready for the dye pot...a little dye pot. Very little.
I really, really want to get this all carded before the summer ends and school starts up. I realize that I have a month or so in which to do it. There is certainly ample time. But there is a great deal of wool on a merino sheep. A great deal, indeed. I sometimes look at it and wonder if another whole sheep sneaked into that bag before it came to live with me. I know that's silly. It's one. Just one.
One Sheep.
Wait...plus me, that's two Sheep. Two!
I could have counted to two last night? Two? That could have been the magic sleep number!!! What was I thinking???
New plan for tonight! Good thing since I clearly need a bit more rest...
SA

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Everyone Loves A Parade!

This is, in my opinion, a very good thing. After another day spent visiting with the family, the vast consumption of grilled foods and a chocolate pie that I cannot discuss without drooling profusely on the keyboard followed by a most necessary nap, I have little else to discuss today. There was the barest attempt at spinning last night before I dragged my parade-attending hindquarters off to bed, but nothing that might make for interesting blog compositions. Thankfully, I am in possession of a relatively new camera and have many, many more parade pictures for you all! Today, we focus on that most enthusiastic of parade participants: The Shriner!


You gotta love a Shriner. Sure, they do all that good work with the hospitals and stuff... But, if you are a small town festivities planner, you know the value of The Shriners. Without them, your resources are somewhat limited. Sure, the local fire departments will generally commit to bringing every truck in the firehouse to the event. And there are any number of citizens who will probably be willing to decorate their riding lawn mowers and aim them down Main Street. These are the makings of small town life and treasures beyond measure. But it could all go wrong. You could plan the event during Bob's vacation and his lawn mower might be locked up in the shed for the week. There might be an actual fire that requires the ripping of the tissue paper flowers from the ladder truck in order that it might be pressed into more practical use.

In short, you might be left with nothing save The World's Grumpiest Goat:



And he does not project the "I love a parade" image that you really want for such an event.
Enter the Shriners! There are any number of parade-related roles into which they can leap at a moment's notice! They can provide a band:

Maybe not a "marching" band...but an enthusiastic group nevertheless!
They have floats just ready and waiting for the call to roll:

Why nooooo, Mr. Shriner...this creative use of recycled store mannequins isn't creepy at all. Why do you ask?
But, more importantly, they provide the one thing that is synonymous with parade fun! They give us happiness in miniature. They make the drive to wherever you may need to go in order that you might see them worth every penny in gas money. They give us...
The Little Cars!!!!


The merest glimpse is enough to start a Sheep's camera a-clickin' no matter the distance from her parade perch!




Full grown men, speeding around in tight, controlled circles, piloting their wee little cars with all the seriousness of jet pilots in combat simulation...




Seriously...does it really get any better than Shriners in little cars? It's a little slice of America, by gum!!!
There were also Shriners on mopeds performing similar motor vehicular routines. But I didn't get any pictures of them. They were, shall we say, a bit less "practiced." I'm guessing that this is something of a second string team for Shriners who want to ride but haven't actually passed the Small Car Motor Vehicle Test. Maybe it's what they do for practice. Or, and I suspect this may really be the case, it is a kind of retirement for those little car drivers who are no longer capable of death defying feats of synchronized driving. No one wants to hurt their feelings or anything, but they probably shouldn't be driving the shiny yellow cars at this point. Whatever the reason for their being astride the mopeds, photography was impossible what with all the "getting ready to leap to safety" and whatnot. There was a bit of curb-jumping and crowd-scattering with the moped team.
Now that I know this, I'll be prepared. When I see the mopeds, I'll leap up to the nearest tree branch ahead of time and see if I can't get some pictures of the Shriner carnage for you. For now though, the parade has passed us by and it is time to get back to the business of the blog.
Tomorrow I'll see if I can't get my truck to break down for you or maybe catch the cats doing something nap-related. Or I could knit something...
SA






Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pictures...Many, Many Pictures!

Because you, the faithful blog readers, must be rather tired of my posting about the endless piles of merino that are being painstakingly picked through, carded and which are generally consuming my life, I offer a little something different today. In lieu of fiber-related reminiscences, I give you the 72nd Annual Casco Day Parade as viewed by The Sheep Flock this afternoon. (that would be the paternal side of the flock, including Auntie Sheep, Uncle Sheep, a Cousin Sheep and her little lambs, all here in Maine for a visit!) There's nothing quite like a parade, now is there? Particularly one of the small town variety. Oh, and those of you using dial-up? My humblest apologies for what will undoubtedly be the most frustrating of load-times.

Can you hear the drums? It must be starting!!!!






The United States, Canadian and Maine State Flags...stirring!!
Casco Days has a fine tradition of finding the cutest children available, plonking them in wagons and dragging them down the street for all to see. It's a crowd-pleaser, to say the least!

Forty or so years ago, 'twas The Sheep in that wagon!
There are always an abundance of classic cars to be seen:


And here's a little something for Trek and Number Guy!



They were really quite good! And better dressed than I for the occasion...



Cathy, Anne and April should appreciate what comes next!


Very, very well behaved horses. And, again, better dressed than The Sheep. I sense a theme here...
And who are these handsome devils???




Why, it's my Great Uncle and his son-in law!!! Yes, I said, "Great Uncle." Brother to my grandmother...very, very spry gentleman!!
And what, perchance, is the float he is pulling for the Raymond-Casco Historical Society?

It's an old soda fountain! Great Uncle Sheep is something of a mechanical genius. And I like soda so it all works out!

It was a wonderful day spent with family and re-living some fabulous memories from childhood! This was a yearly event for The Sheep Flock for most of our lives. The rain clouds threatened a bit, but precipitation held off long enough for us to have a rousing good parade down the streets of Casco Village.

Tomorrow I'll be back visiting with family and will probably have little to show in the way of knitty goodness. But I'll more than make up for it with my salute to Shriners! More parade pictures to come, each celebrating those fine men who make it their business to find any and all local gatherings and add a little excitement to the festivities!

Yes...I have more pictures. Pictures of tiny little cars being driven by full grown men. I live for this stuff, people.

SA





Thursday, July 26, 2007

One Thing Leads To Another.

And then leads to nothing. Vast amounts of nothing, if you want the truth.

My recent late nights spent cranking vast amounts of merino through the drum carder while the amazing voice of Jim Dale reads to me from Harry Potter have taken their toll. This morning, I had to sleep a bit later than is usual. There was simply no way I was going to find the inner strength to roll myself off the mattress at the usual hour. The kitties and I enjoyed the extra snooze time.

However, there was a little hiccup in the work-out schedule yesterday. Perhaps not so much a hiccup as a brief seizure... At any rate, guilt forced me to spend an hour of the morning pedaling away on the exercise bike to make up for missing yesterday. I knit a bit on the Socks That Will Not End as I did so. I remember thinking at the time that I was quite the little multi-tasker. I may have even commented on this amazing skill of mine to the feline roommates when they saw fit to wander into the living room upon waking. They weren't all that impressed, really. But, I still felt pretty good about myself.

Now another hour behind the usual schedule, I drank the morning coffee and thought about how else I could amaze my imaginary audience with my productivity. It occurred to me that I had little in the way of sustenance in the house. It might be in my nutritional best interest to visit the grocery store. The fact that I was there just yesterday made this realization a little disheartening. If I were truly the organizational guru that I was professing to be, I probably wouldn't need to grocery shop every day. But, sometimes you just have to accept the facts.

I normally try to shop very early. This way I only have to maneuver around the staff restocking the shelves rather than the hordes of other shoppers who are visiting my fair state for their summer vacations. But, I slept late, had to make up a work out and spent valuable time patting my own back in the earlier hours so I knew that this was going to be something of a challenging trip. Not only did I have to negotiate around the shopping tourists, but also the shelf-stockers. You'd think that they would have been done and gone by then, but I have learned that they will always be there no matter the time. I am not sure if they lie in wait for me or if the stocking is something of an ongoing thing. Either way, it means climbing over pallets of canned beans while I shop.

Back home, with the noon hour approaching, I unloaded the groceries...and that's where it all ended. By then, it was hot. Very hot. Perhaps not so much hot as humid, but I don't function well under either condition so the point is moot. From that moment on there was naught but me lying on the couch, periodically moaning pathetically and mopping my brow theatrically. I did absolutely nothing for the duration of the day. Nothing. I may have napped for a bit there and I suppose that counts as a verb if you really push it. Every so often I would look over at the remaining uncarded merino and think about how I'd really like to get that finished up. When I tired of gazing in that direction, I would pivot my sweaty head on my sticky neck and look at the spinning wheel where the unfinished sock yarn awaits my attention.

But I worked on neither. It was too hot. Too sticky. And I suspect that I may have actually been adhered to the sofa cushions at that point anyway. It wasn't worth losing a layer of skin just to continue in the fine tradition of finishing stuff.

And that's were we stand at this point. The early evening temperatures seem to be dropping a bit so I'd like to think that I have rested up enough with my day of lolling that I could get the last of the merino through the carder. I'd also like to think that I might find the inner strength to pull the wheel into my "spinning spot" and make some superwash singles happen.

Of course I also think it would be nice to cure cancer, learn to speak Italian and invent a foolproof system for toning the abs and thighs in mere minutes a day. That's probably not going to happen either...

I don't care for humidity. Not one little bit.

SA

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bullet Posting For The Weary.

Welcome to the middle of the week and The Sheep's Wednesday Night Bullet Post. We like the random posting...you don't actually have to be fully awake to do it.


*I carded wool for a good six hours last night as I listened to the Harry Potter audio book. It was grueling work, but when I decided to quit for the "night" at what was really 1:00 in the morning, I was feeling pretty impressed by how much I had accomplished. I wasn't finished. And I was only putting it through for one pass per clump of wool just to get it started. But, by golly, I was really making some headway on this!

*Then I dragged my weary self into the bedroom for my well-deserved rest. There, still drying in the window sill, was another three million pounds of merino. No. I am not exaggerating. It was three million pounds that I had forgotten to put in the carding pile. It mocked me from the window as it waved gently in the breezes.





On the right is what I accomplished. On the left is the mocking, uncarded merino.
*If anyone ever has the audacity to complain about the price of a merino sweater in my presence ever again, there is every chance I will need one or two of you to take up a collection for my bail. I have visions of myself coming utterly unhinged and beating the offender about the head and shoulders with a niddy noddy or a pair of hand cards. There will be a great deal of shrieking on my part which will be unintelligible to the non-spinners. Those in the know will be able to translate it as something along the lines of, "I have given up more hours than I can count in the interest of making merino yarn happen and you will happily pay any price that is displayed for the honor of wearing merino, you heartless swine!!!"
*It was only about 85 degrees today, but the humidity made it feel much worse. I really have no right to complain, though. We've had a fairly cool summer this year for which I am eternally grateful.
*Of course, my not having the right to complain has done nothing to deter me from doing so. I am a fragile flower who wilts in the humidity. I get all limp and soggy. And the wool sticks to me in the oddest of places.
*The craft store was air conditioned, though. It seemed like a good idea to get out of the house after yesterday's self-imposed solitary confinement. There was a lady on a cell phone an aisle away from me leaving a message for her mother to overnight express her a certain bead. She went on to say how much she hates shopping in Maine because there is absolutely nothing to be had here. How we continue to live in such a savage, beadless condition was simply beyond her. I was considering playing the Helpful Shopper and offering to help her pack her stuff and get the heck out of my state.
*Then I discovered that all they had was Procion dye and not the acid dye that I needed. I still hate Queen Bead. But I was sort of thinking the same thing as she for a minute there. It seemed rather hypocritical to offer my packing services after that.
*I will be going back into lockdown again this evening to card wool and listen to "Deathly Hallows." While it is highly unlikely I will make it past midnight again, I'm still going for broke on this audio book!
*By the way, could someone please tell me why I ordered a yogurt maker this afternoon. Seriously. I ordered a yogurt maker. I suddenly have a burning urge for fresh yogurt. Maybe it's the heat...or the humidity. Perhaps the merino is throwing off some fumes. But yogurt? Oh well. I like yogurt. I'm not entirely convinced that I like it enough to be crafting it in my own home, but apparently this was the tail end of my thought process this afternoon. Very odd...
There you go! Wednesday's random brain cell firings in all their glory. If anyone needs me, I'll be wallowing in endless piles of merino and Googling yogurt recipes.
SA

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Do Not Disturb...

My plans for the evening are set. There is merino ready for the carding:






A great deal of merino, if the truth be known.
A shetland lamb fleece is drying in the cool evening breezes:

So soft and pretty...

And then there is this:


I was able to lay hands on it much sooner than I'd expected.
The cats have been fed. The answering machine is on. The Cone Of Silence is now raised.
And so it begins...
SA

Monday, July 23, 2007

Oh Dear...

Well, would you look at the time??? It's just after midnight. It seems that Sheepie was out whooping it up on the town tonight. Let the good times rollllllll!

In other words, I was actually found to be wearing shoes after 5:00, playing a rockin' game of cards with a 7 year old and discussing whether ice cream sundaes are better with or without sprinkles. For the record, they are better with, but fine without.

And on a Monday, no less. Shameful behavior.

Tonight, I headed over to visit with my friends M&L and also got in some quality time with my sweet little Nieces-By-Proxy. The little ones went to bed at a suitable hour for those under the age of 8. I probably could have managed to get home at a more reasonable hour had the adults not seen fit to engage in a rousing debate over the life choices of Harry Potter and those around him. Only one of us actually having finished the book at this point, it was a somewhat lopsided discussion, but passionate nonetheless. The hour grew late, the blog post even later. My bad...

How about I tease you with a little fiber shot to make up for the tardiness of the post? I finished washing the merino fleece last night around midnight. (lots of late nights for me, it seems) This morning, I found myself anxious to see how it was going to look in a more carded state. I grabbed a bit that was dry and gave it a few passes through the drum carder. While I admit to having a pair of tweezers close to hand for getting out some of the bigger bits, I really didn't concern myself all that much with the VM. Being as I am one who hates picky little details and am highly unlikely to tend to each and every twig or speck, I have learned to live with a little of the flora in my fiber.






A mere three passes through the drum carder netted me this. Not bad, if I do say so myself!
There will be a few more trips through the drums for this wool, but not much. A quick test spin with the drop spindle revealed that it spins very, very well and that much of the extra bits will fly out as it's whirling about. There is still a bit more grease in this than I'd planned, but not enough to cause difficulties. I sometimes have a reaction to lanolin, but there was not a hive in sight after working with this so I think I'm all set.
All in all, I'd say this is going to be a winner. I'll be carding frantically for the next week to see how much of this I can get in the "finished" pile. I'm hoping to stay focused. This could prove challenging, though. Tomorrow I start washing the Shetland.
Maybe I should consider getting myself to bed...
SA

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coming Up For Air...

My world has become very, very small these days. I wash fleece, I sleep. If I remember, then I eat something. Otherwise, it's all washing and sleeping. The whole cycle is occasionally broken up by a rousing round of Keep The Smaller, Less Fluffy Kitty Out Of The Drying Wool. That is something of a treat, really. Shakes things up a bit...

By necessity brought on by lack of space, I tend to wash fleeces in small lots. To get it done quickly and reduce the amount of Eau de Barn in the condo, I do this pretty much continuously until the job is done. And, as I have something of an uneasy relationship with lanolin, I generally don't do much sorting before washing. I get as much of the grease out as possible, then deal with the stuff that doesn't belong there.

But, after the first batch came out of the rinse water and was resting in the windows to dry, it became clear to me that I would need to change things up a bit. This wool did not come from a spinner's flock. It is mere happenstance that allowed so many of us to get our greedy little hands on this lovely stuff. As I looked at the washed wool, I thought to myself:

You know...this sheep didn't have a Mommy Sheep like I did. There was no one to tell her to wear her coat or stay out of the mud puddles. She roamed about essentially unsupervised and doing pretty much as she pleased. A simple bath is not going to do the trick here...

So, I broke out the flick carder. I rarely use this tool because I tend to get a little overenthusiastic and hurt my thumb. But, this really seemed to be the weapon of choice for this battle. And the difference was clear when the second round of fiber was spread out to dry. My path was set. Flick, sort, wash, dry. That was the determined sequence.

It'll save me a lot of work later. But has added hours to the washing time. I lasted until 1:00 this morning before fatigue brought everything to a crashing halt. It's been a while since I've had a whole fleece with which to play. I'd forgotten the amount of work that goes into the process. But, it gives the term, "labor of love" new meaning. It is worth every sore muscle or accidentally flicked finger.

And it puts other time-stealers into perspective, that's for sure.




The endless plying and detangling with the misbehaving skeins of the lamb/silk blend? Child's play!!!
I am nearing the end of the merino fleece. In fact, it is my sworn mission to wash the last lock before I rest my weary head on the pillow for the night. That will leave the Shetland lamb, which has been patiently waiting its turn and which, I suspect, will be an easier wash-up.
Good thing. Tomorrow night will be another night of the socialization training for The Sheep. I will wash the last remaining scent of the barn from my person and head over to the CamMad household for a fun-filled evening of dining and kid-wrangling. My cute little Nieces By Proxy will provide the entertainment and the Mom of the household will serve up the meal. Normally this is the Dad's duty at the CamMad house...but there was an "incident" of sorts which has left him couch-bound for a while. More on that later...it's a good story. Every mother who has ever told her children, "don't come running to me if you cut off your toes with the lawn mower" will feel highly vindicated.
Wear your coat...stay out of the mud puddles...don't play with the lawn mower...listening to Mom can really save a lot of time and trouble in the long run.
Back to washing the Motherless Merino.
SA

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bonding With My Window

You know those cartoon cat thingies with suction cups that people sometimes stick to their car windows? When you pass them on the highway, you are greeted by the sight of a panicked feline splayed against the glass looking for all the world like he is being kidnapped and taken to the vet for a procedure. You may think to yourself for a minute, "Gosh, I should rescue that poor creature!" Then you chuckle at your folly, for this is clearly the same cartoon kitty that greets you from the funny pages each morning...

High humor on the morning commute, frankly.

Well, if you switch out "cartoon cat thingie" for "Sheep" and "car window" for "second floor condo window," then you will have an image of what passers-by were privileged to see when they went out for their morning constitutionals near my house today. Of course my windows are open due to it being high summer and all. Thus, I was actually pasted against the screen so the softer, fattier parts of Sheep could squish through the little screen-squares. This added to the beauty of this pastoral scene. It was also rather hard to breathe, what with being all mashed up against the window, so I can imagine that there may have been some snuffly noises associated with the whole affair. I don't really know for sure because, you see, I was focused.

Highly focused.

I was waiting for a delivery. The Federal Express website assured me that there was going to be a visit today from a nice fellow in crisp shorts who would be bearing boxes addressed to The Sheep. To say I was looking forward to this delivery might be something of an understatement.

I did not waiver in my vigilance. I remained at my post for the duration. I ignored any and all hunger pangs or indications that my middle-aged bladder might not make it through this ordeal. I did not look at the television. I did not answer the phone. I did have to blink a few times what with that being an involuntary response and all, but I kept it to a minimum. Blinking and using the facilities was for later. This time was for waiting. And watching. And being ready.

It is a credit to the FedEx delivery guy that he braved the sight of a screen flattened and snuffling sheep in order that he might complete his designated delivery. Most impressive, really. I would imagine that tossing the boxes at the door and fleeing without looking back was probably the course of action that he would have preferred. But he was a true professional. He completed the transaction by bringing the boxes into my building and up the flight of stairs to my door. He is a credit to the fine history and tradition of package delivery. I cannot help but salute him for his bravery in the face of an excited fiber enthusiast who was fairly trembling in her attempts to not just leap upon him and claw the large boxes from his hands before he could hand them to her in a civilized manner as befits such a moment.

Rest assured, he left unscathed. Physically, at least. I would imagine that he might have a few emotional scars to deal with. But, it is my understanding that this company has an excellent insurance plan that includes coverage of mental health treatment.

After my morning of surveillance, there they were: The Boxes. A beautiful sight...






Aren't you impressed? They are really good lookin' boxes. Just the right size and shape for this:

That would be merino and shetland fleeces, people. That's right...merino and shetland. Please don't forget to breathe.


When Cathy sent out an email offering these beauties after having found the mother lode of wooly beauty on a little slice of heaven/ranch in the wild, wild west, I almost chose not to partake. After all, I have been on the receiving end of her generosity with the wool on several occasions of late. Thus, I opted to go to the end of the line and said that I would be happy to take any leftovers off her hands after the others on the emailing list had taken their pick.
I'm good that way...
Cathy is better. She emailed me back in just minutes to tell me that, for the mere cost of shipping, all this could be mine! I have been following their progress across the country ever since. My babies are home!!!
Living in a small space as I do, with nothing in the way of outside property, washing fleeces is an interesting, but necessary undertaking. It must be done quickly as the heady scent of barn and livestock is one that cannot be avoided in any room once it has settled itself in. After a little lunch and a brief nap, I began the process of making these bits of sheep covering more tolerable for those who are not as enamoured with the aroma of the natural sheep. This will probably take up a good portion of the next few days of my life. But I can't imagine a better way to spend a weekend.
And it sure beats clinging to the window screens.
SA


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Still Weird...But Harmless

Well...today was the big day! I rolled myself out of bed, passed over the sweats that I have been wearing for three straight days, ran a brush through my hair and even wore shoes. I couldn't have been more excited if it had been Christmas, Easter and Free Chocolate For Sheep Day all rolled into one. I've been waiting for this most glorious of days for a month now. I was originally not scheduled to see this happy time for another month. But, to my utter delight, it came sooner! So excited was I that I may have readied myself a bit early for the main event. Once clad and properly coiffed, I ended up with several hours to spare. I sat on the couch to wait for departure time, vaguely aware of the television in the background and fairly vibrating with excitement.

At 1:00 in the afternoon, the moment had arrived. I leaped from the couch, said a fond, "Fare-the-well!" to my furry, feline roommates and scampered down to my waiting vehicle. I may have been giggling at that point. It may even have been something of an hysterical giggle...at least that's what the looks I got from my neighbors would indicate. I didn't care. For I had earned that giggle. Today was the day, people!

I was finally getting to see the dermatologist about the rash that my doctor, with all her medical type knowledge, saw fit to diagnose as a "Weird Rash." So confident was she in this diagnosis that she wrote it on my medical chart and subsequent referral to the dermatologist. In the event that I should ever lapse into some sort of unexplained coma or develop a tic that causes me to steal underpants, this is what will be read by the professionals who are attempting to review my medical history in the hopes of finding a cure.

Weird Rash, indeed...

At any rate, the rash has lived on my arm in various states of itchiness for two months give or take. Sometimes it is bright red and bumpy. Other times it is a more subtle shade of pink and less bumpy. It is frequently hot. Sometimes it is swollen. While observing the changes and pondering the possible causes has been great fun during those times when summer television program has been lacking, I am really ready to by done with it. I have treated it as little as possible with the prescription hydrocortisone; just enough to keep the itching from driving me utterly mad. Getting in to see the one dermatologist in the area isn't exactly easy. I wanted to have something interesting to chat about once I got in there. Plus, if it was some mutant form of leprosy that should never, ever be exposed to hydrocortisone, I didn't want to get yelled at by the nice people who run the leper colony for my mishandling of the whole situation.

After all the excitement surrounding this big event, the outcome was something of a disappointment. It still all comes back to a rousing, "I dunno..." from the medical professionals involved in my skin care. Near as anyone can fathom, I had a reaction to something. From there, my oh-so-delicate skin condition ( there is a name for it, but it is long, ends in "graph" and basically means that you can trace letters on my skin and then see them come up in nice red welts but I can't remember the whole word) did what it always does and became inflamed. I then scratched it to the point of no return.

At least that's the theory. And it makes perfect sense, really.

So, it's back to the hydrocortisone and antihistamines. I am leprosy-free. Nor do I have to live in a plastic bubble courtesy of some previously undiscovered skin condition. And yes. I actually asked about the bubble. The doctor said that it was highly unlikely that this would become necessary. He is also reasonably sure that, after two weeks of liberal application of both remedies, the rash will be no more.

Thank heavens I only have a $15.oo co-pay. This all seemed rather anticlimactic...but preferable to the bubble scenario. Or leprosy.

With that mystery solved, I must now attend to another. Somewhere out there is my Will To Knit. I don't really remember the last time I saw it. It's been a while. But, at some point, I lost it. I can't think of a single thing that I have the remotest interest in crafting from sticks and string. I'm rather half-heartedly poking along on a variety of projects, but none of them are giving my 'giddy" any "up." It seems to me that I may have over-reached a bit on my summer knitting plans. As I recall, I was really more into the whole thing last summer. Maybe I've just over-glamorized how much I really got finished last year. But, I'm willing to bet that it was more than what's come off the needles this summer.

But the spinning? I'm allllll over that! I seem to want to spin pretty much all the time. When I'm not spinning, I'm dyeing. Or blending. Or plying. It seems to me that I might actually be a little happier with my wool-related progress if I stopped trying to force the knitting and just went with what makes me happy.





This is making me happy. Very happy. The kind of happy where you have a big, sloppy grin on your face for much of the day.
So I ask you, if it's looking like I may just be creating my first ever two ply sock yarn and the prospect of this is making me all smiley, isn't it more likely that I will finish it? It isn't knitting, but a finished yarn is an FO in its own right, isn't it? Heck, I'm so all about the spinning that I finally figured out the whole Navajo plying thing last night on something of a caffeine-fueled whim! I'm thinking I should just spin!!!!! Then, when the knitting mojo returns, there will be yarn a-plenty with which to craft fine, fine socks and mittens!
Maybe I'll even whip out an ointment cozy of sorts for the nice, non-bubble prescribing dermatologist...
SA

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Your Weekly Dose Of Random

And here we go! It is Wednesday and that means I don't have to think. I can just let off random brain burps and call it a post! Wheeeeeee!!!


*Anyone who has a Big, Fluffy Kitty in their lives is aware of the issues that come with pets who have fluffy bottoms. We, the fluffy pet owners, will often refer to those issues as, "Klingons" (because of the clinging nature of the problem) and need to accept that we will sometimes be brushing somewhat offensive objects out of the upper leg area. We can only hope that it is dry when we discover it. After a while, it isn't really that big a deal...



But what the heck do you have to feed a cat to be faced with this at 7:00 in the godforsaken morning???????
*I was up early this morning so that I could go to the Farmers Market. I'll just let you sit with that for a moment...
*Now that everyone is done picking themselves up from the floor and exclaiming, "But Sheep, that is where they keep the vegetables! We know of your distaste for that which grows in the ground...how could this happen???" I know. I was as shocked as anyone to find myself there.

The round thing is fresh goat cheese. To give you some perspective on the size of the produce, the cheese is about six centimers in diameter. Thems some big tomatoes 'n garlic!

*I also purchased three pounds of peas. I needed three pounds of peas because I remain firmly entrenched in my "End Of The World Is Nigh" phase and need to make dried soup mix in case something horrific should happen in the next few months. I have absolutely no idea why having dried soup mix on hand will help matters should we suddenly find ourselves in an emergency situation. I suppose I'm thinking that soup is comfort food and will lift my spirits while I wait out the nuclear fallout. Maybe distract me from the mutations...

*For the record, I don't really believe that any sort of life altering event is in the works. It just makes me feel all superior to be prepared for disaster.

*I have suddenly found myself hopelessly addicted to BBC America. How have I lived over forty years on this planet without such fine programming as "MI5" and "Hex?????" And there are vague promises that "Torchwood" is soon to be upon my viewing screen. I am over the moon here!!!

*Today at the Farmers Market, I described something as, "brilliant." I'm pretty sure there is a connection to my recent late-night viewing habits. I am eagerly awaiting the day that I find something so amazing that I can say it is, "bloody brilliant." In fact, I may even try to get out of the house more just to be faced with this possibility.

*My Smaller, Less Fluffy Kitty is horking up something vile on my carpet. She is not a delicate hairball-horker-upper. There is a great deal of hacking involved.

*After the whole matter of the kitty toy on the BFK's hindquarters this morning, I'm almost fearful to see what she is bringing up at this point.

*The plying of the lamb/silk blend singles remains an ongoing project. The end is in sight, though!

*The de-tangling of the skein that I dropped thus snarling it into an incomprehensible mess which requires the skill of a surgeon to restore it to its former skein-i-ness also remains an ongoing project. The end is nowhere in sight. Nowhere.

So that's a Wednesday in the life of this Sheep About Town. I now return to my plying, imported television and disturbingly large produce. With a little goat cheese on the side, it should be a rather pleasant evening!

SA

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

S.O.C.K.S...A Very Good Thing.

It is fortuitous that I have elected to enroll myself in the Summer Of Compensatory Knitting Socialization. This program forces me to leave the confines of my home, interact with other knitters in their natural habitat and perhaps increase my pathetic social skills to some degree. It was particularly good for me to exit Sheepie's House of Yarn Induced Stress today. There was something of a fiber related "incident" that has obsessed me since last night with its utter stupidity. I needed a distraction.

Not that there aren't one or two issues associated with traveling an hour or so in a southerly direction during tourist season in Maine. There are the forty-six million people, all clad in Capri pants and who don't live here, that want to cross the street simultaneously. I know that they don't live here because they are using the crosswalks. Don't get me wrong. Mainers really do like the crosswalks. We are always so pleasantly surprised when a clump of walkers all decide to helpfully stay within the painted lines. We are often heard to comment on how useful this is when navigating the streets during the summer seasons and wonder how long these things have been around. We debate whether to add a few more around the state. We really do like the crosswalks. We just don't necessarily believe that the rules around their use should apply to us, is all.

Wait...where was I? Oh, yeah. The yarn. The yarn which is currently suffering my displaced rage.

It all started with the skeining. I've been spinning for a number of years now and have skeined my share of yarn. It's not all that hard. I even have a skein winder in order that my delicate wrists not be overburdened with the winding action imposed by the niddy noddy. I take the yarn off the winder in its circular state after tying it off in four spots using contrasting, colorfast acrylic yarn. It then goes into its bath for twist-setting. Once the yarn is nice and dry, I clip the offending acrylic and tie the skein using a matching yarn and a pretty ribbon to gussie it up a bit. Not all that challenging. And I pulled it off last night without a hitch...

Except that it didn't look as neat as I liked. I could have just left it. But, in my state of skein-related confidence, I decided to do it again. Make it nicer. Make it neater. Make it perfect.

And I dropped it. There was nothing to hold it together. I tried to catch it. All I snagged were a few errant strands. It slithered to the ground in a clump of matted lamb and silk.

Did I mention that I was performing this act of yarn stupidity in front of a fan? A fan that was cranked up to full power in order that I might make as much of a mess of this as was humanly possible?

I stood there for a moment, the full import of this event eluding me. As the degree to which I had screwed up this simple operation began to slowly sink in, allowing the full horror of it all to ooze though each cell of my brain, I cried out. I cried out in overly dramatic tones usually reserved for the moment just after a homicide or bad dinner theater:

Dear God, what have I done????????


I then began the process of untangling the yarn clot that was my beautiful lamb/silk handspun. This led to the rage. It was a profound rage that meant I could not attend to this task for any length of time. I now work on the untangling for a while, then set it aside when the rage threatens to boil over. It is displaced anger. I know this. It was my mistake, not the yarn's. The sweet little lamb, who did nothing save give of her soft, soft wool, does not deserve it. And I don't even like to think about the sacrifice that the little silkworm made for this endeavor. I'm really mad at me, but it seems healthier to roar at the yarn periodically.

"Stupid yarn! Why couldn't you just stay in my hands? You are very, very bad yarn! You deserve to be in a big, ol' yarn clot! That's right! You heard me! You don't deserve the time and energy I am taking to painstakingly return you to a form that makes some sort of sense to a knitter's eye. You are not cooperative yarn and you think that because you are pretty that you are better than other yarn. You are not. You are very, very naughty!!!"

See what I mean? Getting out of the house was a good thing. Seriously...

SA

Monday, July 16, 2007

Need For Speed

I came perilously close to calling the United States Postal Authorities today. My hand hovered over the phone as I pondered whether this was a necessary course of action. Should I? Would I be taken seriously? Could I afford not to? How committed am I really to doing the "right thing?"

You see, on Friday the last, I placed an order with Sheila over at Tread Lightly Herbals. With the Weird Rash still flaring up at random intervals and preventing me from wearing tank tops or other appropriate summer-type garments, I was in need of some soothing herbal soaps for my dermis. Sheila makes wonderful products and has rescued me from my crusty self on more than one occasion. But, I have become concerned that she may have kidnapped one or more of her local letter carriers and is holding them hostage in her basement. It's hard to believe. She is such a sweetie.

But how else can one explain the arrival of my full order today?



My full order plus a few little extras for samplin'!
The US Postal Service is a fine organization who brings me packages full of all kinds of goodness. But they are not set up for this kind of speed! There was a Sunday in there for crying out loud. They don't even operate on Sunday! How does a package make it from Texas to Maine in such short order????? I am concerned. There is every reason to believe that Sheila has some sort of "hold" over the people at her local Post Office in order that she might continue in this amazing tradition of incredible customer service. I probably should intervene on behalf of the poor souls held captive and being forced to route packages according to her whims...
On the other hand, this course of action might affect the receiving of the soapy soothing goodness. What can I say? I took the low road. Bob The Letter Carrier is on his own. The Postmaster General will either have to pay the ransom or stage a daring rescue of some sort without my assistance. I like the speedy delivery.
I need the speedy delivery. Nothing else in my life is going at quite that pace. The lamb/silk blend plying continues. And continues. And continues. How is it that I can ply for hours and hours on end without coming any closer to being finished? Skeins are drying at differing rates in various nooks and crannies around my tiny abode. The air is humid with all the moisture being sent into the atmosphere.

Even hanging in the windows and obstructing my view of the world outside...I miss the world. I remain trapped at my wheel staring at twisting wool.
I am hoping that, with continued diligence, I can get this finished sometime in the next day or so. I am really quite pleased with the final product. It is soft and shiny. It is black in one light, soft purple in another. Just beautiful...but it would be even better in skeined and completed form.
I wonder if Sheila would be willing to loan me one of her captive mail carriers for plying assistance?
SA

Sunday, July 15, 2007

HM Says...

"Eeeeeeeek!!!!!"

Hysterical Mind, the half of my brain that is responsible for 99% of my irrational behavior and fears, has declared that we are to stand perfectly still in the middle of the nearest closet and await the end of today's rather aggressive thunderstorms. She is not exceptionally thrilled to know that I have elected to do a quick post before the thunder-boomers start up again. Rational Mind, ever ready to keep things on a more even keel around here, has successfully distracted her with a black and white cookie, the size of which should allow me about five minutes of blogging time. After that, she will realize what is happening, begin a lengthy dissertation on the subject of electrocution and how being within twenty feet of any sort of appliance will result in certain death and frizzy hair. It is easier to just shut the computer down and go live like a cave dweller than it is to fight it.

So, quickly, here's what I have for you today:

I have knit not one stitch. Not a one. The needles remain in their various baskets awaiting their turn. Instead, we have been dealing with fiber in its more primitive state.

The Lamb/Silk blend is now in singles-form and in the process of being plied. This particular fiber took me quite a while to finish up, not because it is a particularly difficult spin but more due to my having been so easily distracted by other projects. However, after realizing that is is lovely, deserves to be yarn and that I can move on to other projects once it is completed, I was a bit more inspired:



As I ply, I can literally see the places where I lost interest in it. Fortunately, I am one who sees the beauty in imperfection. Yup...that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
More importantly, a little of the mixing and matching went on this morning. The Blend is done. It is wonderful, streaky, fluffy batts of fibery joy. I am simply beside myself with the pride!

And pride may goeth before a fall, but I goeth with a big, sloppy grin on my face!
This is the best picture of about three billion that I took in an effort to really show the color. My goal was for the plum Targhee to be dominant, while the natural brown Alpaca sort of complemented it. The sapphire silk was intended to really pop. Each color was to be distinct. I am not one who can always realize my vision. Don't get me wrong...I end up with some decent stuff, generally by accident. But this one was dead on. Exactly what I wanted!!!!! Yay!
I can see from the trail of crumbs leading from the kitchen that Hysterical Mind has finished her cookie. It is only a matter of time before she catches on to Rational Mind's distraction ploy. And, as the thunder is also beginning to rumble again, I suppose I should wrap this up. But, before I sign off, I'd like to give a little shout-out to Baby Brother Sheep who is now blogging his way across this great land of ours from the cab of a giant orange truck! (Everybody wave to BBS!) Safe trip, Baby Brother and I'll see you when you get back.
We haven't told Hysterical Mind about Baby Brother's job driving the big rigs. She has a lengthy list of things that can go wrong on road trips and is always looking for an audience. There's no way I'm telling her now.
I want that last cookie...
SA

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bananas And Blending

When last you left your intrepid Sheepie Fiber Arteeest, she was blue-handed and awaiting the drying of her lovely sapphire tussah silk. While she used a variety of strategies to get her hands back to a normal human kind of color, the silk did its thing in the sophisticated drying system:



That would be a net suspended on two tension rods in the bedroom window.
Meanwhile, the hour became late and The Sheep needed The Sleep. She tucked herself in for the evening and let her mind take a break from pondering fiber blends. Or did she?
She awoke the following morning with a start. There was but one thought in her mind. One overpowering impulse that could not be denied cried out for her attention.
"Alpaca!" she cried.
And, as luck would have it, there was Alpaca to be had. Many moons ago, she had traded for some recycled sari silk that didn't exactly "work out" and had received some of the desired fiber. And thus, the final element was in place for The Blend:

Lovely, no?
Now, if this story were to progress to its logical conclusion, I would have blended the fibers and be gloating over it by now. But for a variety of reasons, some logical, some not, this has yet to happen. What you see in the above picture is where I be with this fiber adventure at the moment. First, I decided to see if I couldn't get a bit further on the lamb/silk blend that has been slowly inching towards the finish line lo these many months. And I did actually make a bit more progress on that. I even hold out hope that there may be four bobbins of finished singles before I go to bed tonight. That's a pretty logical thing to have done, right? Finish one thing before you start another...good move.
The other problem is that I am fully in the throes of my End Of The World Is Nigh Shopping and I can't seem to stop. As I mentioned earlier, I have this "thing" about being prepared for catastrophe. Should my furry roommates and I be stranded in the condo for any length of time, I like to think that we have enough canned corn and kibble to see us through. I go through phases. Sometimes, they are reasonable phases which anyone might view as responsible behavior for an adult in these uncertain times where a conspicuous zit could keep a girl housebound for a while.
Other times I dry fruit.
What can I say? It makes sense when I'm loading up the dehydrator. I don't really care for fruits or vegetables. I'm not one of those people who gets all giddy during the summer growing months because there is so much of the garden-grown bounty to be had. I'm really more of the type who gets excited by a cookie. Thus, when I do buy fruit, I tend to eat less of it than my good intentions indicated at time of purchase. I have to preserve it or I'm suddenly doing battle with aggressive mold in the fridge. This could lead to a real End Of Days scenario and I don't want to be held responsible for that. Freezing works. But drying concentrates the sugars and I can almost call that, "candy." Almost...
Plus, I am now older and have little tolerance for any beings that are all dewy and youthful. I want to be surrounded by things that are as withered and crusty as I. I demand that my foodstuffs conform to my need to be the most most moisturized thing in the house.
So, in preparation for any sort of approaching apocalypse, I took some barely drinking aged bananas and strawberries and got them looking like they were ready for Social Security benefits:


The bananas didn't quite dry enough to conform to my rigid standards of wrinkly, but I kind of wanted to eat some so I declared them, "done."
So, to all and sundry who were checking their aggregators frantically and losing sleep as they awaited the unveiling of The Blend, I offer my heartfelt apologies. But a blend must be done right. It deserves my total and undivided attention. I can't be checking my bananas and attending to The Blend. This will not go well. We must, instead, patiently wait for my End Of The World Is Nigh phase to pass so that I can focus fully on the task at hand. Which might be something of a problem.
I keep eating the bananas.
SA


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Preparedness

Before I share another fascinating tale from the experiences that make up my life, I should probably make sure that you all understand the following:

I am in full possession of all faculties, can sign any legal document without asking my mom, and have never once been discovered lurking outside the home of a minor celebrity claiming that the voices told me we were to be joined for life.

I do not eat packing peanuts nor do I count my toes compulsively.

I understand the difference between that which is considered "normal behavior" and anything that falls in the "other" category.

I am not the kind of person for whom the world crosses the street in order that they might avoid breathing my "crazy air."


I know that this seems like an odd way to start a conversation, but you'll see where I'm going with this in just a minute. It all started with the Index Cards. You remember the Cards? I wrote down all the stuff that I thought needed doing this summer while I was on vacation, called this sophisticated system The Index Cards Of Summer Organization and refer to them regularly in order to see what task it is that I need to avoid on any given day. One of those To-Do items was, "clean kitchen cupboards." They need it. They are actually collapsing under the weight of the stuff that is crammed in there. I've been puttering away at this little job for a few weeks now, diligently looking at expiration dates and throwing away things that might kill me. Some of the labels were a bit hard to read given that they were glued to cans that had bulged to the point of distorting the information, but I figured it was probably a safe bet that these contained things that might just be a bit past the point of edible.

This morning I looked at the now empty cupboards and realized that it was time for that little event that I like to call The End Of The World Is Nigh Shopping. I love EOTWINS with a passion that could easily be mistaken for crazy. Are we starting to see a little of the reasoning behind my intro?

I am not what anyone would call organized on any given day. And yet I have a genuine love for disaster preparedness. Should there ever be some sort of catastrophic event such as a natural disaster, zombie attacks, pandemic flu or a series of incredibly bad hair days, then I want to ensure that I have canned goods and other necessities to ride out the quarantine. It's my little back up system. And you just know that the day I let the system slip, all holy heck will break loose.

Laugh if you will, but when zombies are strolling the streets and munching on the brains of the citizenry, I will be happily ensconced in my condo eating canned corn and dancing to my battery powered CD player.

More seriously, I've actually had reason to break into the supplies on occasion. When you are a single gal and in a situation where you can't get out of the house, it is good to know that there is a little soup on hand. The Great Monkey Pox Event Of 2006 was one of those times where fever and general exhaustion meant that I was pretty much trapped. Cans were my friend.

So, I headed out bright and early this morning to begin the process of replenishing the stockpile. I found some delightful tortilla soup that may be a bit "festive" for the apocalypse. But, I went for it anyway. It's not like I'll be able to go out in public at that point. I can eat the spicy foods and not have to worry about the hot pepper breath. In fact, that will be the least of my worries at that point, right? The canned goods are on their way to being at Emergency Ready Levels. The next category to be dealt with is Stuff In Pouches. I rather like Stuff In Pouches. It has a lot of salt. And when you're dealing with the end of the world, water retention, much like the pepper-breath, isn't really much of an issue anymore.

See how much fun this can be? Next week I'm going to update the First Aid kit. I may swoon...

Anyone who hasn't fled the blog in total horror at this point will now be rewarded with some very pretty fiber. Aren't you glad you stuck it out? Yesterday I popped a couple of ounces of incredibly beautiful Targhee that came to me from Susie over at Perchance To Knit. I let it gently bathe in the soothing waters of the Crock Pot with a bit more of the Plum colored dye than one would think advisable for a few hours. It spent the night drying and, in the morning, it declared itself ready for its photo shoot.




Can you stand it? Seriously...is this not beautiful to the point of actually hurting a little bit?
My plan is to blend this with some silk. So a bit of that went into the same pot today with Sapphire Blue dye. I may have gone a bit overboard with that...after about a billion rinses, my hands are still kind of blue from handling it. I suspect that it is going to need a bath with the Synthrapol when all is said and done. But the blue is stunningly deep and rich. I'm waiting for it to dry before further processing. I think it's a winner, though!
What will I do with the resulting yarn? I'm not really sure. It could be a scarf. Maybe some nice handwarmers? A bag, perhaps...
Or how about some can cozies? You know...to keep my End Of The World supplies all safe and snuggly. The End Of Days doesn't necessarily mean we have to turn into savages, after all.
SA

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WNBP: From Slothville

The Sheep stirs just long enough to bring you your Wednesday Night Bullet Post. It's a struggle, frankly. I have reached a new low in lazy at this juncture. Let's see if I can hold my head up long enough to finish this...

*Have you ever done so much of the "nothing" that you are actually more tired than when you started the day? I mean, I seem to recall it being ten o'clock in the morning...now it's after seven o'clock in the evening. Dunno how that happened. I meant to go to the post office today. Never made it.

*I was so sloth-like that I now have a headache. How does that happen?

*I roused myself from the various couches and chairs to find aspirin for my headache. I managed to locate a plethora of over-the-counter remedies for everything ranging from congestion to tummy troubles, but couldn't find an aspirin to save my soul. Being as I live in a very, very tiny condominium, there aren't all that many places to look. I gave up after fifteen minutes of fruitless searching only to discover the aspirin on the coffee table a mere two feet from where I have been sitting for much of the day.

*I stood up long enough to go sit at my spinning wheel. I actually spun for a rather long time since that doesn't involve standing and this seemed to be more along the lines of "playing to my strengths" today.

*I finally had to stop spinning because the creaking of the wheel was driving me utterly mad. And that takes energy. Of which I gots none. It is clearly coming from the treadles and is the screech of wood on wood. But I can't isolate it. For a brief period there, I actually had a screwdriver in hand in an attempt to adjust or maybe find something to lubricate. Didn't succeed. It's been doing it for a while now. I just need to wait until I can either find the squeak or learn to live with it again. Either way, I'm back on the couch.

*Back in 1987, I bought a Crock Pot. At the time, it seemed logical that a single gal might want to prepare meals that would feed up to ten. As time went by, I realized that this way lay madness. And a large bottom. Now I use it for other things.






Like dyeing Targhee. Targee is pretty. Targhee is now purple.
*Dyeing is cool because while it sits, The Sheep sits. We both sat for a long time.
*I did take time out of my busy day of sitting and thinking about how much I loathe creaking sounds to utterly screw up a dishcloth. I have apparently greatly overestimated my understanding of the Short Row. Or am the victim of poorly written directions. Since I sort of know how to do a short row, I'm going with the former. Meanwhile, the dishcloth is now the bottom of a bag.
*Please note, had I not been so utterly zombified, I would have in no way thought it a good idea to make a bag happen out of a dishcloth disaster. But it seems to be working. Good thing no one called to suggest sky diving or sword swallowing. I was too lazy to think anything through fully. Sometimes risks are good. You end up with a new bag. Other times, you are face to face with a cloud or a sharp object.
*I just sneezed 5 times in a row. I do not sneeze in odd numbers. Ever. This means that another one is coming. The suspense is killing me.
*Women of my age should not sneeze 5 times in a row. It scares the cats and puts one at great risk for bodily functions on lower levels that will ruin one's couch. There is a trick to sneezing after 40. You sort of have to tense-clench-sneeze-release. It takes practice.
*I still haven't let loose with that last sneeze. But I can feel it coming...
*For those who were concerned about my well-being last night, please don't fret. The kitties forgave me for the late feeding and seem to have forgotten about the whole nightmare. ("nightmare" would be the interpretation from their perspective) They actually seemed a bit exasperated by my decision to loll about their house today. Apparently I was in the way or something.
*I ate all the ice cream last night. Now I have no ice cream. I'm sort of wishing that I'd gone out today for ice cream. But it's probably for the best. I'm still trying to come back from eating all that pie over the weekend.
*I wish I hadn't thought of that. I just remembered that there is leftover pie in the fridge. Let's hope my desire for jeans that fit is stronger than my desire for pecan pie.
*Where the heck is that sneeze???!!! I can't stand it!!!
*Maybe I'll go spin for a while. Now that I'm all distracted by the imminent sneezing event, I can probably ignore the creaking.
That's it. I must now go prepare myself for a rousing evening of more sitting and such. I seem to be elevating it to an art form and don't want to disturb the creative process at this point.
Or I'm going to go eat the rest of that pie. It's going to be one or the other...
SA

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Past My Bedtime

I know, I know. It's late. I should have posted this hours ago. I hope no one was worried. If any of you have formed some sort of "Save The Sheep" group, you may want to activate the phone tree and start letting people know that they can stop photocopying the fliers and trying to decide on the picture that will be featured on the "Have You Seen This Knitter?" posters. I'm fine.

Let's face it. I don't get out much, OK? I'm something of a homebody. I have one or two hermit-tendencies. So this is why I have elected to participate in the Summer Of Compensatory Knitting Socialization (SOCKS). This is an important step in my learning how to interact with other humans. You'll just have to bear with my Tuesday night tardiness while I enjoy my weekly knitting sessions with Noolie, Mel and the rest of the Knit Night folks who are assisting me with my socialization skills training.

It's also pretty good for sock progress...I am amazed at how much stockinette can be cranked out when there is neither television nor refrigerator within the range of my vision.

I also figured that, since I was out anyway, that I might as well hit the store and mingle with the other late night shoppers who suddenly realized that they were out of Lean Cuisine Pizza and that this is unacceptable since we'd all spent the weekend eating large amounts of baked goods. What can I say? It's not a school night for Sheepie. Sheepie can stay up past her bedtime if she wants to! No one is the boss of me!!

I'm pretty confident that you all can handle the changes in the schedule. You are probably even a little bit relieved to know that I don't just spend my days hunched over my laptop and giggling madly when my email signals that I've gotten a comment or message. Others, however, are not quite so comfortable with this. You might say that they are just a bit irked with me at the moment. It's hard to tell, really. But, if you look closely at the eyes, you can see a little of the "I'm put out with your suddenly thinking that you have the right to leave the house whenever the mood strikes" in there:





I was fed two and a half hours late. You do not rate my fully opened eyeballs. Feel the disdain, human servant!!!
I will probably have to break out the "good" kitty treats before going to bed tonight. It's that or sleep with one eye open, I'm thinking. Kitties don't care whether I have good social skills or not.
They are not contributors to the SOCKS program. They prefer the Every Animal Tended course of study.
(EAT)
SA

Monday, July 09, 2007

Blockage?

I am pleased to report that I am now less irked by the lack of "good job's," "way to go's," and "hey, sorry about the whole thing where we decided to close the agency but at least you don't have to come in to work today" messages enclosed with my final paycheck from Job #2. The fact that I spent the thirty seven dollars and change that represented my last wages earned from them on fun-fun knitty stuff took a bit of the sting out of that, I suppose.

And fear not, Dear Readers. This was not even close to my primary source of income. This was a job I took on a few years ago when I was desperately trying to cobble together a number of part time jobs in order to create something vaguely resembling a whole living. After I went back to full time teaching, the extra work wasn't needed. But I liked people and the chance to exercise a few different professional muscles. And the little bit of yarn money it brought in didn't hurt either.

But, over the past couple of years, I've come to appreciate the time to knit or spin or just sit and think about knitting and spinning more than the added cash with which to indulge in the extra yarn. Had I so desired, I could have moved over with the majority of the staff and continued working under a different logo. I was as surprised as anyone to discover that I didn't desire. I didn't desire at all, frankly. When the opportunity to leave presented itself, I took it faster than Lily Chin can crank out a single crochet stitch scarf. (and that's fast, people) I'm fine with it.

Doesn't mean I wouldn't have liked a "thank you." But I'm good. Now I can knit socks full time for the remainder of the summer. Isn't that nice?



Tah-Dah!!!!!!!
The Socks Of Summer are finito! (is that a real word?) Without a pesky job during the summer months, a Sheep can stay up way past her bedtime on a Sunday night and finish up the last few decreases. I started these socks as a way to prep myself for the upcoming school vacation. The yarn was purchased during the coldest days of February from the talented Samurai Knitter. The colorway is called Earth and is everything I think of when Summer comes to mind: green, green grass, warm dirt baking in the sun...everything but the ants! Nice, huh? They're even prettier in "real-life."
But, here's the thing. Now that I am a full-time sock knitter, I'm thinking that I need sock blockers. I'll admit it. I just wanna blog like the cool kids. And most of the cool kids have sock blockers. I've upgraded my camera in order that I might bring you better, clearer and more stunning photos of plain stockinette socks in a variety of colors. Should I not take the next step and get the sock blockers?
But, for the record, I don't think I will ever actually block a sock. Socks don't really need blocking. Once your foot gets all sweaty, doesn't it sort of block right there on your hoof? Don't we all already come with built-in blocking ability? It's all about the Blog Glamour Shots and I know it.
I'm open to suggestions. Because I believe in the sweat blocking method, I will not be needing the finest of sock blockers. Just a little something to fill out the socks for their photo shoots and to distract everyone from whatever boo-boos I may have made in the knitting process. You know what I'm saying... Does anyone have a recommendation for reasonably priced, visually distracting sock blockers? I'd like to go a step up from the homemade coat hanger variety but not quite reach the solid gold level of sock blockage. We must be reasonable about this.
I am, after all, a single income family now.
SA