Friday, July 27, 2007

Jury Duty

So - I come home from work, and I'm really hungry, so I put some water on to boil to make some whole wheat pasta, and I walk back to my office with my Jury Duty summons in my hand, and I sit down at my desk to ring them to see if I have to report as requested on Monday.

Still in work mode, I mistakenly dial "9" to get an outside line . . . and "1" before the area code . . . and I proceed to dial 911.

They answer immediately . . .

Nine-one-one, What is the Nature of Your Emergency?

What?!?!?!?! Oh My God - 911????? I didn't dial 911!!!!!

Yes, Ma'am, you did. What is the Nature of Your Emergency?

NO! No Emergency!! I'm SO SORRY!!!! No!!! No Emergency!!!! (No Emergency at all except that I'm an idiot) Oh my God - I'm so Sorry!!!

OK, Ma'am (geez - she's calling me "Ma'am." I feel ancient.) Are you at . . . ? (OMG they know where I live).

Yes, yes, I am - I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry.

What's your name, Ma'am? (Ma'am! Again!)

I give her my name - and apologize at least six or seven more times . . .

Within minutes there is a very loud knock at my front door (because my stupid doorbell is, once again, broken), and I think, who could that be? Let me preface the following by telling you that not too much ever happens in the sleepy little village where I live . . .

I'm almost to the door and I can see the police cruiser on the street through the fan glass in the top of my front door (OMG, they sent the police . . .). As I get closer, I see, on my front porch, one very large police officer - he had to be 6' 3" - with a shaved head, black aviator sunglasses, and all the other stuff that goes with being a police officer - you know, Kevlar vest, nightstick, cuffs, gun . . . (OMG, this is terrible - the police are here) I open the door, and the litany of I'M SO SORRY (henceforth: ISS) picks up where it left off.

. . . OMG, ISS, I can't believe they sent you - ISS, I told them it was a mistake - ISS, no, there is No Emergency . . . ISS . . . he said they have to come anyway . . . ISS segues to I'M SO EMBARRASSED . . . and ANOTHER cruiser pulls up . . . OMG, ISS, ISE . . . and he says, yeah, four cars are on the way. . . my hair proceeds to stand on end while my heart starts pounding in my chest (OMG - I'm going to have a real emergency here).

I'm dying. By this time, he's laughing. I manage to calm myself down.

I'm really going to hear about this from all my neighbors (No, no it was nothing - I just dialed 911 by mistake - Yes, just wasting our tax dollars - Why yes, yes I am an idiot - What was your first clue?) . . . I walk down the driveway and out to the street and apologize to the second officer as well, and I beg them not to put it in the police blotter (which is published each week in the local paper). They laugh . . .

I manage to gather some modicum of dignity and walk quickly back up my driveway and into the house. The pasta water is boiling like mad by now, so I put the pasta in and it IMMEDIATELY boils over, dousing the gas - which I quickly turn off - leaving an icky mess for me to clean up.

All because I was trying to call about Jury Duty.

Let this be a lesson in reading comprehension: had I read my jury service summons properly, I would have realized that it is not a Standby Summons (which is the kind I got last time - the kind where you can call and see if you really have to show up), it's a FOR REAL Summons, the kind that demands you appear, no excuses, no standby, no nothing. Show. Up. Which means: THERE WAS NO REASON FOR ME TO BE CALLING IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!! :-S

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Finished Product

All washed and ready to knit with! The re-twisted 2-ply is on the top and the 3-ply is on the bottom. Taken in natural daylight out on my back deck. I'm ready to spin my next learning fiber. :-)

Attended the fiber fair yesterday and it was wonderful - and upon my return, my Harry Potter book was on my doorstep . . . I'll be back in a few days. :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More Yarn!

Thanks to the patient, kind, and encouraging folks on the Lendrum spinning list, I'm learning a LOT about plying. The Internet just amazes me sometimes - I learned to grow African violets online with the help of growers all over the country, and now I'm learning to spin the same way. This totally rocks.

Anyway, skein two came out looking about as icky as my first effort. More experienced eyes looked at the photo of the first skein and said, "more ply twist," and gave me a link to a wonderful You Tube video by Abby Franquemont Wow!!! Thank you, Natalie!!

Another list-member said, "3-ply covers a multitude of sins," so I thought I'd give it a try - particularly since I had 3 bobbins of singles left. Oh how true!! Thank you Christine!!

Here are my three skeins together. The first is 2-ply and has been washed (that's the Ick-a-Roo skein). The second has not been washed. It is 2-ply that I ran through the wheel again to get more ply twist. The third has also not been washed yet. It's 3-ply.

Here are two close ups of skeins 2 and 3. I'm way pleased with how they look already and will be washing them this evening - this time in HOT water, thank you Judi!!

Here is #2

Here is #3

I'm off to run the water hot!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Made Yarn!

It's official - I made my first skein of yarn . . . and it looks like crap :-D

Unfortunately, I'm serious. What a complete learning experience spinning is. I know it will get better - I will get better - and I have been reassured that even horrid looking yarn can look pretty good knitted up. So, I will figure out something to make with it and move on. Here is my progress:

First - here are 5 of the 7 bobbins of wool singles that I spun (I was so proud of them!)

Second - here is the first skein, drying

Finally - here is a close up of the yarn

Ick-a-Roo! Don't you agree? At least it was pretty well-balanced. It just didn't loft at all when I washed it, and I thought it would. I think I might have spun the singles a little too thin for this type of yarn - but this is part of the learning. I mean, how else are you going to know how different yarns respond until you actually spin them? I followed what I read, in that I spun it all at once and now am plying it all at once. That's good advice - for experienced spinners. I think, had I known then how the first would turn out, I would have spun a smaller amount, plied it, set the twist and then regrouped. You know, they did that with my eyes - I had Lasik surgery a number of years ago when the procedure was relatively new (best money I ever spent, in case you're wondering). They did one eye first, and based the the second eye on how the first responded to the surgery.

Wish I would have thought of that before spinning the entire 1 - 3/4 pounds of Lincoln as thin as I could reasonably get it . . . like I said, I think the singles might have needed to be not quite so weeny - but again, I don't really know, so I'm taking this with me this weekend to the Fiber and Folk Fair. There will be a million spinners there - I'm sure someone will take pity on me and teach me what I might have done wrong and what I can do better the next time. :-)

The next will be better, and it won't be dark brown. I'm supremely tired of dark brown.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Adventures in Spinning - Part II

So, Linda and Jamie and I take my car (a large black station wagon) and head North and West to The Fold. I was so excited to be there - Linda and Jamie have been there before, so they were old hands already, and Jamie is an experienced spinner.

OK - if you have not been to The Fold, it's hard to describe what a spinner's and knitter's paradise it is. Every conceivable fiber, every conceivable color, wheels, spindles, tools, books, patterns, and an entire other room filled with commercial yarn! All that, plus Eric, the giant German Shepherd. And then there's Toni - this woman has the patience of a saint. I'm not kidding.

We bypassed spindles altogether (probably a good thing for me, actually) and she sat me down at a Lendrum ST wheel (that one in the photo below - I just took it home with me). Jamie sat down next to me with her own Lendrum wheel, and Toni proceeded to show me how to thread the fiber and we got started. I wasn't perfect, but (according to Toni and Jamie) I was better than the average beginner. It all seemed to make such sense to me, and my body had little trouble coordinating my feet, my hands, the fiber and the speed of the wheel - I'm wondering if this is because I'm a piper - you have to do a lot of different things at the same time to play the bagpipes.

Anyway - after conversation, and teaching, and shopping, Linda, Jamie and I headed into town for some lunch and then came back to the store. I asked a million more questions, and we did our final shopping, and loaded up the car. I think Linda has a picture of all the stuff we came home with (this is why we generally take my station wagon to places were we could possible buy a lot of stuff (yarn stores, Stitches, etc.) instead of hers - mine's bigger :-D

So - here's the desk in my kitchen. On the far left on the desk, is the bag of fiber that came with my wheel - I forget what it is, exactly - other than wool from New Zealand, but I was able to work with it pretty well. Next to it is a blend of wool, silk, and cashmere. Then some roving I got more recently, Gypsy Girl, merino/Tencel blend. Then a variety pack of wools from different English sheep. On the chair, on the bottom, is a bag of Merino, and on the top, a bag of Blue Faced Leicester that Linda gave me because she discovered that she doesn't like to spin. Hidden in there somewhere is some black Wensleydale, which I confess, I had to get because I'm a Wallace and Gromit fan, and that's the cheese that Wallace always talks about (silly, I know). The only thing not in the photo is a huge bag of dark brown Lincoln, and that's because I'm spinning it up. Anyway - you can see I have my work cut out for me.
One last photo - Toni plied my beginning yarn for me and made it into a wee skein! So thoughtful of her! As you can see, I'm clearly a beginner (hey - I had only been spinning for an hour :-D), but stay tuned for the next episode of "Adventures in Spinning" and we'll see how things go :-D

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wheeeeee!!!!!!! I FOUND MY NANO!!!!!

That bears repeating: Wheeeeee!!!!! I found my iPod Nano!!!!!!

It's been missing for months - actually, let's say that I noticed it was gone a number of months ago. That tells you how much I actually use it - but use it I do, and I really like the portable speakers that I have for it. I started looking for it at the beginning of May.

Every bag (purse, travel, makeup, you name it), every drawer, every crevice in the car. No Nano.

Last night I dreamed that I found it in the pocket of a Black Watch tartan poncho (No, I don't have a Black Watch tartan poncho - I don't even own a poncho - you know how dreams are.). When I woke up, I thought, "how weird." But when I actually got up, I thought it might be worth a shot to check all the coats in the front hall closet - after all, that's the one place I hadn't looked.

First coat - my black and blue outer shell jacket - the one with eight million pockets. Jackpot. Has to have been there since early April - that's the last time it was cold enough to wear a fleecy with that shell.

EUREKA!!!!!! I have found it!!!!!!!!

:::::::Happy Dance::::::

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Adventures in Spinning, Part I

People are asking me about the spinning wheel. Here it is. It's a Lendrum, single-treadle.
It all started in Iona . . .a tiny, magical island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. I was there in March. I know, I know, who in their right mind goes to Scotland in March???
Me. :-)
Being a knitter, I wanted to get some wool while I was there, but really, there was none to be found that had been spun there on the island. There are a lot of sheep there - probably more sheep than people, but I was there in lambing season, not shearing season. Anyway, there were tufts and bits of wool all over the ground, and I was hiking every day, and when the lightbulb went on in my head, I started picking up the bits. Then my friends started picking up the bits for me, until I had a large plastic bag full of bits of wool. I figured that I could do SOMETHING with it.

Fast forward to mid-May, when the boxes I sent home finally arrived. There was my little bag of wool! Time for a trip to The Fold. After a number of phone calls, a time was set up for an actual lesson with owner, Toni Neal. I headed out early one Saturday morning in June with Linda and Jamie in tow. Thus began my adventures in spinning . . .

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Works in Progress

Independence Day! I am enjoying my day off - and have been watching movies and doing handwork all day long :-) I thought I would share a few photos of some of my works in progress. First, here is a photo of the prayer shawl I mentioned a couple of posts ago. I'm working on this - and also this scarf as part of a prayer shawl ministry, that we have recently started at the church I attend. I've been enjoying getting together with a group of "church ladies" on Thursdays. I am one of the teachers, so it's been a lot of fun. More information about the original group and its founders is available here: Prayer Shawl Ministry.

There is an Iona story behind that camo yarn. There are a LOT of Iona stories in my life since my visit there in March of this year, but more about that later. For now, that camo yarn carries with it the joy and peace of Iona, and it is knit with the intention of love and serenity for its recipient.
OK - you HAVE to see these. Could they be any cuter???

This adorable pattern is the BEST thing for leftover sock yarn!! It came from the 2007 Knitting Calendar Pattern-Day, a calendar in a box that I picked up when calendars went to half price in January :-D It was worth it for these cute socks - I am ready for any baby shower, now! Even MORE perfect, no worries about pink for girls, blue for boys - these are totally unisex.

Last night I finally had the opportunity to see "An Inconvenient Truth." No matter what your political leanings are or how you feel about Al Gore, YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FILM. Which leads me to my next project - the Lily brand Sugar 'n Cream Crochet Market Bag. Linda told me that she was making one of these, and I remembered that I had a copy of the free pattern, and my stash needed some thinning. We were using canvas bags in Colorado when I lived there 20 years ago, but somehow mine fell by the wayside. I'm sure you've been hearing the same newscasts and reading the same articles that I have. We know about the problems with petroleum-based bags (thousands of pounds in landfills, cities and counties banning their use). This Market bag pattern is FREE on the Lily site, and I just noticed that their "Cottage Tote" is what amounts to a canvas shopping tote - and that pattern is there for free as well. If crochet is something you've been wanting to tackle, what better way to get started!

Using canvas grocery bags and making a string market bag is a small gesture, I suppose, but if it keeps a plastic bag from the landfill, I think it's worth the tiny effort it takes to remember to take the bags to the store. I plan on keeping one or two in the car at all times.

I just ordered a case of biodegradeable trash bags. I'll let you know how they work out.

An Inconvenient Truth. Please, you need to see this film.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


A few weeks ago the small African violet society of which I am a member had their annual show. Here is of one my plants. It's an African violet species, s. orbicularis var. purpurea. I grew it from a leaf. It's still a relatively small specimen (it's in a 4" pot), but will likely grow to substantial size if I can manage to keep it alive :-D It won best in its class, and also was Best Species plant in the show!

I've just realized that none of my hobbies involve much of anything electronic. I knit, raise African violets, and recently have learned to spin (wool, not an exercise bike). In fact, I took a spinning lesson out at The Fold, and liked it so much that I purchased a spinning wheel - which prompted one of my friends to ask me if I'm going to move to a cabin and take to wearing "Little House on the Prairie" clothes.

Well, OK - I've been knitting since I was a little girl, and I love indoor gardening, and I did recently buy that spinning wheel (there is roving, top and sliver - there seem to be a lot of names for fiber - all over the joint to practice with), and I do live in The Prairie State. I can see where they were going ;-D However, I'm far from a Luddite. No - I just have found my creative process appears to be in my hands. In the world we live in today (at least the world I live in) - where we seem to go faster, jump higher, work longer, play less - it's a joy to have quiet, simple time, creating things that are beautiful and functional, and to have plants throughout my home to enjoy.