Thursday, February 2, 2012

Year of the Dragon!

It's 2012 already!!!!  Wow!  I totally can't believe how fast time flies and with the year of the dragon upon us, let us hope that everything will turn out great for everyone!  I haven't been updating anything around here in a while, primarily because I spent the last month and a half just hanging out with my little one, and enjoying the time off from teaching.

Here he is in his favorite toy of all - the box from a jogging stroller I purchased (see why below) - from which I cut out a square for him and padded it inside to make him his very own space ship/race car/hideaway.

Space man Spiff!

Here he is hiding inside his box with his iPad, which I purchased from a fellow Raveller (it was an excellent, can't-say-no price, too)

His favorite Hideaway

Speaking about vacations, I totally get the summer vacations for teachers, and though I'm a year round kind of teacher working as an independent contractor for the community education area of a community college, it feels like a full time job - just without any benefits.  Boo.  And some students can make you batty.  And since I have adult students, it's a different vibe, too.  Some are there because they really want to be there (second career, life change, bucket list, etc) and some, well, just want to kill time or mom or dad are paying for the education so no loss there if they don't put in any effort.  So this year, I finally failed my first student in Pathology and how I wish I could have failed a few more last year.

Anyway, I hardly had any time to do any spinning during my time off.  The little one demanded most of my free time and he is growing up so fast!  He is now 27 pounds and is climbing over everything.  As one of my friends said, "The water level has risen" - pertaining to the height which we have to move everything we don't want him to get higher each time.

When I did get time to spin, it was mostly simple vanilla type yarns - navajo plied or andean plied worsted to bulky hands puns that will probably be destined for small projects like cowls or hand warmers.  But even knitting has been difficult to do as the little one again seems to have a radar set for knitting needles and promptly demands I let go of them and play with him instead.

Oh well...spinning and knitting can be set aside anytime.  I want to watch my little one grow and be there for him as much as possible.

My hobbies have been also left in the wayside because it turns out that I'm really really unhealthy - like, really.  My cholesterol is up, triglycerides are up, and I'm pre-diabetic as well.  And my liver enzymes were also elevated.  My doctor wrote on her note, "Cut down on alcoholic drinks," and I thought to myself, "gee, I haven't drank anything since 2006 - not even wine."  I looked it up and saw that one of the causes, if not alcohol, is obesity, and I'm definitely on the obese side now.

The days of telling myself that I can lose the weight quickly are gone.  Age makes all that a bit more difficult. I guess it's true when people say that everything seems to slow down as we age, and most everything that lasts a minute on the lips, ends up on the hips :)

So I made the decision to stop the hobbies for a while and concentrate on my health.  Instead of spinning or knitting, I now place Lucas in the stroller and we take a long brisk walk.  When I drop him off at the in-laws before class time, I try to make it to the gym and do 30 minutes of circuit training and cardio (yup, Curves, here I am!) instead of using that time to spin, knit or process fiber.  Which means that I'm also in destashing mode right now - destashing fleece that I don't see myself processing this year, especially since I didn't have the time to do it last year.

It does feel good to make new priorities for the year, especially when it comes to putting my health first.  Without my health, I wouldn't be able to do much of anything, much less spinning, knitting, and most of all, being there for my little prince.

I still find the time to do the hobbies, of course, after all the working out and caring for the little prince are done.  Sometimes you may find me spinning or knitting or crocheting in semi darkness though.  Spinning still does make me feel so calm and collected, and I get to meditate a bit as well.

The first handspun for 2012 is pretty vibrant.  Here's how it looked on a Louet Victoria bobbin, all 4 ounces of it.  The Victoria is such a sweet wheel, by the way, and I am renting it from Nancy of Nancy's Custom Handweaving.

4 ounces!

Here is it all navajo-plied:

First yarn 2012!

Here's another one from the same fiber dyer but the colors are so muted and terrible that even spinning it became such a drag and I had a hard time plying it.  I ended up having to re-ply it on the wheel but it didn't change how awful the colors were to begin with.

Spinning some awful colors

I still have 4 more rovings, I think, in the box that it all came in but I'm not so thrilled to spin them as the dye job is splotchy.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed though that maybe if I let it sit awhile, I might forget all that and like the end result of the rovings.

And here's a crocheted hat I made from one of my handspun yarns spun from a Loop self-striping roving:

Hand spun hat

And as if I didn't have enough fiber and have been destashing some of them (only the ones that require more processing than long locks!), here's a few "Kitchen Sink Bags" from Natalie of Namaste Farms.  The bags are filled with an assortment of dyed mohair, wensleydale and other wool - and even a feather!

Kitchen sink bags and locks!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And Now We're Weaving!

Yup, I just added a new item on my list of hobbies - weaving!  Specifically triangle loom weaving, that is.

Last Sunday I attended a triloom weaving class with Gale of Weaver's Cupboard and after weaving 2 samples on a 16" loom or so, I decided to get a 48" walnut loom from Gale and upon arriving home, immediately set out to weave my first official shawl.

I picked a handspun yarn from my first forays in spinning.  I think it's from a Crosspatch Creations batt and it has such a lovely luster!  After 2 hours of weaving, and another hour of attaching the fringe, I ended up with this, which I've worn twice already even though it needs a soak:

The following day I started weaving my second shawl using some handspun using Pumpkinhaus fibers as well as another handspun that I carded from Studioloo.  This one probably took me a total of 3 - 4 hours to do and I love it!

I am officially addicted to this!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Have A Wonderful Day!

It's rainy (or is overcast) today in SoCal and while the daddy and kidlet are out and about (tumbling class and who knows where else the grown up will take him?), I'm enjoying some quiet time at home with a cup o' joe and this awesome pic:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good Bye Wheels...Oh Wait, Here's Another One!

So I said good-bye to two wheels this past weekend and though I had second thoughts in selling them at first, meeting their new owners made me feel so much better about my decision.  The Clemes went to a young mom of 2 beautiful girls who now has 3 wheels in her stable.

Fricke went to a wonderful man who had never spun on a spinning wheel before - like, ever!  But he sure had a lot of fleece!  He said that he started knitting a year ago and just loved it.  Then he started buying raw fleece on Etsy and he's hooked.  It's like taking the red pill...

Anyway, I found myself really having major second thoughts as I showed him how to spin on the Fricke, but I had to remind myself again and again that I didn't have enough time in the day to spin anything.  Much less on 4 wheels in the house.  So off the Fricke went and I know they will be well-loved and at best, used a whole lot more than I ever have in the past year and a half.

Then I found myself with a Louet Victoria in tow, on loan for a month as I decide what wheel to complement my Matchless which is too darn heavy for me to take outside the house.  I've spun on the Vicky once so far and so far I am liking it.  I do have to change the brake band and spring with fishing nylon string and a rubber band, respectively because its current set up is driving me batty.

I am currently spinning some lincoln roving on it from Sandy of Homestead Wool and Gift Farm.  If you haven't heard of Sandy and her wonderful sheepies, do stop by and check her farm out.  She makes awesome tailspun yarn and has wonderful sheepies who love fruit loops!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Some Handspun!

I have actually found some time to spin and although it's not a lot, it's pretty much enough for me right now with a full schedule!  I recently bought a Cricket loom and I'm hoping to find some time to warp my first ever project on it and weave something awesome using my own handspun!

So what yarns did I finish and actually get to take pictures of?  Well, I finally got to spin Pumpkinhaus' awesome "What's your fairy name SAL" complete with feathers and here it is!
 Pumpkinhaus' Fairy Name SAL corespun with feathers!

 A close up of the corespun with feathers

 Hobbledehoy corespun yarn

Even dyed up some colorful wensleydale!

Even managed to knit up a pair of Monkey socks!

Yup, you could say I got to steal a few hours here and there!  And it sure felt good!  I did have one week off from teaching but never got to dye any fibers since I was so busy making up my student manuals for the upcoming class instead.  I can't wait till holiday break!

I did end up selling 2 of my wheels just recently - the need to make more room is getting more dire with each passing day as my little prince needs the room to run around and just play.  With all my fleece and wool and spinning wheels sitting around, or hiding in the closets or in the garage, I had to make a choice and so 1 wheel left for its new home today, and another wheel goes to someone who's never spun on a wheel tomorrow!  I'm very happy that they will be with new owners who can spend time with them and spin tons of yarn with them!

So what wheel do I have left for myself?  Why, it's the Matchless DT - although I just realized I did not put the possessive 'my' in that sentence so it means that it's probably destined to go, too.  I have been considering getting a Fricke DT 160 instead, as I kept the bulky flyer and bobbin for it, and really love that everything I need ratio-wise and portability and bobbin capacity can be found in one wheel without having to change this whorl or that flyer - except for the bulky flyer, that is.  

But for now, it'll be the matchless for awhile.  We both need some spinning to do and besides, I'd rather get myself a new macbook anyway.  The little prince has taken over my iPad.

 At the pumpkin patch having a blast!

 Looking over my shoulder

 A recent pic that's as close to a formal pose as we'll ever get these days!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Remembering Pam

Yesterday last year my best friend lost her battle with ovarian cancer.  I kept thinking it was the 7th, but as I read through my blog tonight, I realized that I had been notified 2 days after - so the 4th was the day my dearest Pam crossed over to the other side. 

I still think of Pam a lot, and just today, as I was cleaning out my garage office, sorting books into boxes destined for the library or Salvation Army, I pulled out a book and thought, "Wow, Pam sure tolerated me with my whimsies - whether it be writing or spinning yarn."

That's Pam.  She was always ready to listen to my latest story, waiting to hear when I was done writing my great fantasy novel (which, I just realized, is still sitting in the far reaches of my brain), or hear about my latest spinning wool adventure.  She always made that call whenever I forgot because, well, I was just too forgetful. 

I was always happy she remembered.  Every month, she'd call to catch up and let me know how she was doing, and even when she was not doing well, you'd never know it.  She always kept herself busy, raising money at the L.A. Marathon to benefit her favorite place to heal in the South Bay. 

When I last saw Pam, I had gone to her house to pick up our old massage school manual which she had saved.  She was lending it to me, but when I got there, she said that she wouldn't be around anyway, and she wanted me to have it.  She was so happy to hear that I was teaching massage at the local college, and she hoped that by her saving the manual (she said she saved everything - though seeing her house, you wouldn't know it, like, say, my house, where you see remnants of last week's dinner, probably saved by accident under the couch) it would benefit me and my students.

Pam and Michael
I remember I trimmed some beautiful flowers that had wilted in the heat of the Southern California sun (yes, even in October!) as she guided me through which flowers to throw and which ones to keep for she loved to look at them.  I wanted to hold her forever, but she had to take her nap.  Her husband, Michael, came in to remind her that she had to rest (she had to breathe with the help of oxygen so the tube trailed around the house behind her), and so I left, promising to see her again soon.

Four weeks later, Pam was gone.  And less than a year later, Michael followed and I hope they are together now, watching over me as I think about both of them and wondering what she'd say of my latest efforts at cleaning up the messy house, or setting aside books and stuff to give away to charity.  Or about my latest Duffers, knitted felted slippers that I made 3 pairs of which one of them I thought would be perfect for her - before I caught myself and realized that she is no longer around to wear them.

But I'm sure she would have liked them.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tiny Tots on the Firing Line

Every Friday morning I try my darndest to get my little tyke to the local library for Tiny Tots reading and play time. Some days are more successful than others, but each time we walk through the library doors, my teacup human heads straight to the playroom - where he then stands just outside the door debating whether he's going in or not. He eventually does and plays.

Today the woman who supervises the reading and playtime announced that the city has decided to no longer fund the program at the local library. Maybe the "oil money" may pay for it, but only if the city or council decide to give some of that to the library.

It makes me sad to see libraries hit the hardest during these trying times. Libraries are an integral part of a society and I don't give a shit what you say about there being the internet, Google, and Wikipedia. Oh, and Facebook. Seeing a child look through books in the children's section at the library will tell anyone that the benefits of having a library can be viewed on that child's face. The wonder of counting butterflies on the page, or reading about Elmer, the fish's adventures in and out of the coral reef, or pointing to the letter "W" and knowing how it sounds like - if you're still reading this, have you ever thought how we ever started reading "back in the day?"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's That Time of the Year Again

I'm back teaching and it's going to be a hectic quarter for me as I teach a total of 3 classes.  Two are ongoing and one starts in November.  This means that I do not have the time to spin my yarns or scour or dye my fibers.  So add another year for my fibers to sit around in their bins.  Oh well...

Which brings me to the issue of spinning wheels.  If I don't have the time to spin, what am I to do with 4 wheels?  And of course there's the issue of a toddler who needs more space to move around.

So if you're looking for a wheel, check in on me, will you?  I just may have a wheel (or two) for you!  Up for consideration may just be a Fricke single treadle folding and a Clemes modern wheel - both of these wheels have their corresponding bulky/jumbo flyer/bobbin, too!

So what do I do in the sparest of times that I do have?  Besides blogging at 3:43 am?

Playing with my teacup Darth Vader!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Home Again

We've been home about 3 weeks now and in hindsight, that 5 day vacation was S.H.O.R.T.  Even though I had originally planned on being away for 7 straight days, things just happened that prevented us from doing so.  But isn't that how life is?

I can't keep regretting this and that.  It gets tiresome after some time.

Anyway, I do have some yarns to show off.  These are just some yarns that I finished a few months ago but never got around to show since I've been too busy to even blog sometimes.  Not that it's intentional, mind you.

Here's some fiber batts I got in the mail as well.  One from Hobbledehoy and another one from Dani of Pumpkinhaus, a fairy name spin along, which, unfortunately, missed the whole SAL thing...

Hobbledehoy Batt

What's Your Fairy Name SAL
Anyway, I do have lots of fiber to keep me busy spinning in years to come.  I just need to find some time do it!

Well, remember when I wrote about us being new owners of timeshares when we were back in Vegas?  Well, now we're former owners.  Instead of being saddled with an 18k loan that would have ended up to be 32k after the loan was paid off, I whisked off a cancellation letter, crossed my fingers, and as of a week and a half ago, we are officially 'former' owners.  And boy does it feel good. 

But that doesn't mean I'm totally turned off by timeshares, mind you.  We both loved this one, and we've seen others as well since my good friend owns one and I've stayed in them.  However as my friend suggested I do before we sat through the presentation, we had better wait for the perfect 'resale' price to come along as there seems to be a thriving resale market online.  And you bet I'm keeping an eye out for the perfect one!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Viva Las Vegas, Baby!

My, this place is huge! And not a single skein of yarn or fiber fleece in sight!
We're on our first ever family vacation with the infant in tow. Las Vegas in the summer can be miserable but this week even though temps are in the 100's there is slight breeze blowing (albeit hot) which makes the heat a bit more bearable than the last time I was in Vegas in the summer. That was years and years ago but no one in the party could ever forget the uncomfortable temps of 116. Yuck.
Anyway, this time we are also staying at a timeshare hotel on las Vegas boulevard about 4 miles south of the strip. I love that we don't have to breathe in cigarette smoke in the lobbies and hallways. There are 3 pools, including a "slow river" that looks mighty fun to jump into. Or float along as you lounge on your personal inner tube.

We have got 2 more days before we drive back to L.A. and today we are going to hit the Strip and maybe check out the cool hotels. Maybe have some crepes at Paris. And some gelato at the Venetian. And before we make the trek back home, I'm going back to the Woolly Wonders, the LYS I discovered yesterday.

Yup, I'm not about to miss out on the local LYS experience. Now I've been to Vegas more than I can count but each time I've been here in the past, it's been to drive friends and family around the hotels, see the sights, take pictures, indulge in the buffets and...well, the list went on ad on. There was always an Itinerary to entertain everybody.
This time, however, there is no itinerary other than to relax and have fun.

This is an update since it's been almost 3 weeks since I last wrote the above post...and I was still on vacation!  Sigh, the wonders of running and keeping up after toddlers...

I found Wooly Wonders along Pecos and Tropicana Avenue and it is located in a small strip mall on the south east corner. There were three wonderful ladies there who helped me find some coordinating yarn for an unnamed merino silk yarn I was knitting to make Isolda's Liesl and I was running out just as I cleared the arm holes. Each woman cntributed to the pile of yarns that looked like a great match but in the end I had to pick only one. However, thank you, ladies!

I also found some other fabulous yarns as the store is a treasure trove of pattern magazines, yarns of just about every weight and in the back room, 2 spinning wheels and a weaving loom - and some fiber! I ended up purchasing 2 more skeins of yarn and 2 1-ounce bags of rust and gold angelina type fiber.
Besides having some time to knit, we spent a lot of time in the pool and just hanging around in the 3-bedroom suite all by ourselves!

On our last day we decided to attend a presentation at the timeshare and as much as I had warned Leo not to say yes (I wanted to learn how timeshares work as this suite we are in is pretty sweet and with Lucas just having a blast being here, I thought it was worth looking into), we left that presentation as the new owners of a "perpetual deed". Uh oh is what I said, too.