Sunday, June 29, 2008

I love my Cormo

Ok - so after reading some discussion about cleaning fleece I got inspired to finally tackle my Cormo I picked up at the NH Sheep and Wool festival. I was nervous because I really hated cleaning the black Romney I got at the same time. It was dirty and didn't come out as something I am inspired to spin. Cleaning it was just uck. Although I knew the Cormo was much cleaner I was still not scared, not to mention that I really want to spin this fleece so I did not want to blow it and end up with a felted mess. Well, after reading some good information I took the plunge ...... and it worked out great!! I ended up with some very pretty fluffy wool just waiting to be spun. 
Here are some pictures:

Here is the entire fleece - all 4 pounds of it.

Here is a close up of a lock. Isn't it pretty! So white and some nice crimp. Almost all of it was this clean - a few dirty tips. 

So, a couple tricks for this effort. First, I did small batches. A few ounces at a time. Second, I took tuille and carefully laid down the fleece, lock by lock, and layered it two layers deep. This package went into a lingerie bag.

This first batch turned out ok but I wasn't completely satisfied. I liked the tuille idea but there was still too much movement. Off I went to the pet store to pick up the sifting kitty pan. While there I picked up a couple of different dog brushes.  These I used to open up the tips of the dirty locks before cleaning. This really helped the next batches and I had fewer dirty tips. The cat pan was key in that I was able to keep the fleece completely flat during the water changes which kept the locks intact. 

For the wash I did three 15-20 minute baths with Dawn in hot water. The fleece was so clean that after the first bath I had a tub with visible lanolin. No dirt. It was so different from the mud I had from my first fleece. After the 3 Dawn baths I followed with about 4 more water baths, also hot, until the soap was gone. Then a quick turn in the spin cycle in the washer and I had clean fluffy wool!
I have to say that I LOVE this fleece! I cannot wait to spin it up! As soon as I am done with the skein I am working on this in going on the wheel.  I also have to say that I loved cleaning and touching this so much that I went to Cormo Sheep and Wool Farm and ordered another Cormo fleece - Kathy2. I have my work cut out for me but I have big plans for all this wool - can we say Christmas gifts! 

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hufflepuff Homework

This week - a Transfiguration:

Transfigure the following quote from Order of the Phoenix back into English and post it to your blog by noon (est) on Tuesday, July 1st.



Ok - so want to know the really spooky part about this week's homework? I got most of this transfigured and then decided to pick up my book (which I just finished so I had on hand) and I literally opened it to the exact page with the quote.  How weird is that?

Oh and an update. I made it out of the infirmary finally. I still have to take some potions but at least I am up and walking again! Thanks to all for the well wishes. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Post travel blues and random acts of kindness

Well the fallout from my week of travel continues and it sucks. What I thought was just a cold morphed into a full fledged bronchial infection. Having spent days coughing until I thought I would burst I finally made it to a doctor (and don't even get me started about the lack of medical care availability in Massachusetts on a weekend). I know have some antibiotics and some serious heavy duty cough syrup. The downside is that while I wait to recover I have found that any amount of exertion causes a coughing fit. I am most comfortable when sitting on the couch. Even lying down is dubious, although improving. I had to walk up the stairs this morning and paid heavily for the next five minutes. Unfortunately I am still very behind at work from the travel and this is only making it worse. I have been able to do a few things from home but I am looking forward to working the weekend to try and catch up. Yeah. How I miss the days of childhood when you could spend a week in bed with tv and comic books and not have to pay for it later. Sigh. 
So the upside, though, is that I have been able to sit and knit. I cast on a sock with my Noro and am excited to see it progress. Once I get a bit further I will take a picture. Also, once I feel more up to the trip on the stairs to get my camera. But I am enjoying working with the Noro. It reminds me of my handspun in the way it varies in thickness. Also, my new Addi's are an absolute dream to knit with! My Spoiler told me she was tempted to keep them and now I can't say I blame her. I can only hope she gets equally spoiled this summer and gets her own. 
The other upside is I get to Snitch hunt today with the HSKS Quidditch bonus round. I have to say I was taken by surprise by all the emotions surrounding the last Snitch hunt. I guess people's competitive natures got the best of them. Whatever. For me, HSKS5 is fun. I am amazed at the level of organization and effort that has been into this swap by the Organizer, Headmistress Wartbobble, as well as her prefects and head girls/boys. Yes, I would have loved to have found the Snitch but I didn't. Yes, I admit I was jealous of Selena but fair is fair and she happened upon it first. She rocks at Snitch hunting. So I am super happy for her (but her butt is fair game today!!!). Beyond that it is all just good fun. This is also my first swap, although I have joined more since.
 One thing I am learning from swapping, from the HSKS swap, and from the knitting community on Ravelry in general is that there is an amazing number of people who just like to do things for each other. Talk about your random acts of kindness. Seriously, swaps are based on giving for giving sake. There is incredible effort put into making the swap packs the best they can be - at least it seems that way. Whenever I talk to people it seems they are working hard to make it a great package. I know I am struggling with mine as I want to make sure they are liked by the receiver. I think I am doing well but every day I ask myself "can I do better". This is kind of like Quality in general. Quality is really about asking yourself that every moment of every day. I see so many examples of that in the knitting community. Its amazing to know that there are so many good people out there tied together by fiber. 
To top it off yesterday I got the most amazing PM on ravelry totally out of the blue. One of my swap questionnaires I posted mentioned I collect postcards. This is something I recently started with my son. We are collecting postcards from strangers. It is very cool to see the places we get - including my price postcard from Inuvik Canada. I would probably never go to Inuvik, nor had I heard of it before, but now we have a postcard and know more about it. So anyways, out of the blue I get the PM from someone in England offering me a postcard. I love it. Nothing in return, just willing to send the postcard. Best of all was what she said: "It's fun for children to see how nice the world really is." - That says it all. The world is nice and it is nice to have a community of people working freely to remind each other of this is small ways every single day. I know it makes me smile - even though that is about all I can do today!
Go smile and make the world a happy place. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hot Sauce Swap Questionnaire

Hot Sauce

1. What kinds of sauces do you like? Do you like ‘em hot and spicy or more toward the sweet? Do you like four alarms going off at once, or a heat that builds?
Hot and Spicy! I grew up in San Diego so I grew up eating spicy Mexican food. I love a sauces with a bite with a preference towards a good build up. 
2. Do you have any sauces that you do not like at all?  
Tabasco. Its just not right for some reason. 
3. What do you like your hot sauce on?
Mexican food most of all. All kinds of rice and beans, meats, chips. Not so much on eggs except the occasional huevos rancheros. 
4. What kinds of recipes do you like to work your hot sauce magic with? Do you BBQ? Throw it in take-out? Put a dash into your eggs in the morning? Do you like to cook, or do you prefer to just dress up a good take-out dish?
My husband is the cook in the family. He will use hot sauce on anything when he is cooking. Along with living in San Diego, he grew up in Brazil so his cooking tends toward spicy. We will both put sauce on take out as well. 
5. Do you have any particular food allergies that should be avoided when picking out a hot sauce?
Fortunately no!
6. Recipe you would like to share? I will get my husband's mango salsa recipe and post it. Its not a sauce but it is spicy!


1. Do you knit or crochet?
Knit only. Can't crochet at all.
2. What are your favorite types of yarns to work with?
Most anything except acrylic or novelty yarns (ie fun fur). Right now I am having fun with wool, silk, bamboo. I also spin so I love homespun and the variety of textures that come with homespun.  
3. What do you have on the needles (or hook!) right now?
A sweater for my son,  a cashmere scarf, a shawl out of my own homespun and a pair of socks from my first swap package yarn I just received in the Summer of Love yarn swap. 
4. What are your favorite colors to work with? Are there any colors you wouldn’t want caught dead in your stash?
I love purples, blues and greens but also have a tendency to enjoy warm colors. I love the rainbow. I do tend to avoid  sixties avocado cream and burnt oranges. 
5. Any preference in your hooks/needles? Prefer bamboo over plastic or aluminum? You’re good with whatever you’ve got to work with? Let us know.
I prefer wood over plastic or aluminum but will use what works best for the project. I love my harmonies from Knit Picks but I also just received a set of Addi's and am finding they are a dream for socks. 
6. Notions. C’mon, let us know – if you get one more measuring tape, will you run screaming from the room? Or are you the type that loses stitch markers constantly? What notions do you love and loathe?
Amazingly this is one area that I am lacking. I have been a closet knitter for over 20 years. I never knew so much existed in this area since my exposure to yarn stores has been mostly generic craft stores (think Michaels). In fact, I only saw my first "fancy" stitch markers a few months ago. Until then I thought stitch markers were plastic rings. 
7. Any fiber allergies we should know about? Nope! Yeah


1. Are you a snacky type of person? Do you like candy? Chocolate? In between hot sauce applications, what would we find you snacking on?
Candy and chocolate. 
2. Are you into recipe magazines? Knitting mags? What kinds of quick, stash-it-in-your-knitting-bag reading do you like to have on hand?
Not so much into recipe magazines since my hubby does the cooking and he is a make it up as he goes along guy. I love all things fiber in mags. I have a subscription to Creative Knitting but am discovering this is entry level in the world of knitting - again I have been in the closet. Am just beginning to explore what is available in the LYS I just discovered. 
3. What cheers you up?
My son :) I have a four year old and he keeps me amused. I like silly things like kid toys. I had fun working last week when I took a happy meal toy on top of the helipad and took its picture. We considered staging a full blown Kung Fu Panda battle on the helipad but ran out of time. These are the silly things that amuse me. See this post for the pictures. Sometimes I am an overgrown kid. 
4. Do you collect anything other than yarn?
Fairies and disney princesses, postcards. 
5. Do you have pets?
I have two dogs. 
6. Any other allergies?
Nothing worth noting.
7. Are you a swap newbie, or have you done this before? Any good advice for newbies you’d like to share?
I am still something of a newbie. I only discovered swaps recently and am now in several. I received my first package and am sending my first packages this week. 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quidditch Pictures

Kingsley ShackleboltBellatrix LestrangeNymphadora Tonks
Remus Lupin

Quidditch Round 2

1. At the beginning of the year feast, who is the only person who rudely interrupts Dumbledore during his speech?
b. Professor Umbridge

2. Off what street is the alley where Harry first met Sirius?
c. Magnolia Crescent

3. Tonks’ mother had two sisters, both pure-bloods, and both left on the Black Family Tree. What are their names?
c. Narcissa and Bellatrix

4. What spell are the students studying in McGonalgall’s class when Umbrdige is doing her inspection?
d. The Vanishing Spell

5. Who comes to warn Harry and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army that Umbridge and her group of followers are coming to break up their meeting?
Answer: ___DOBBY____________________ (five letters)

6. Who are the members of the Order that met Harry Potter in the Dursely’s house during the summer before his fifth year?
c. Alastor Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Elphias Doge, Dedalus Diggle, Remus Lupin, Emmeline Vance, Sturgis Podmore, Hestia Jones

7. Moody used the Disillusionment Charm on Harry.
a. Yes

8. Which of these Death Eaters is Sirius related to?
d. All of these

9. At what age did Sirius leave his home?
Answer: ____16_______________ (Number)

10. How many of the original Order members were killed (don’t include those who disappeared)?
b. 8

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I've been Spoiled! Summer of Love #1

Today's mail brought me a package and I was thrilled to see my SOLYS spoilers name in the corner! My very first Swap package! Oh I was so excited! So was my son. He started working on opening it with me right away. It was filled with wonderful goodies!

Here he is with the opened goodies. I got TWO skeins of yarn! Yeah! One was Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn which I have been dying to try. It is a pretty rainbow of colors - I cannot wait to see how it stripes up.  The other is Tofutsies in a really pretty grey and pink. Another one I have heard of but never tried but now I am fascinated. Tofutsies is made with Chitin which is made from shrimp and crab shells and is antibacterial (yes I am reading the label). This sounds awesome for socks. Its also really soft and looks like it will make pretty patterns when knit up. I am so excited to start some socks! 

Also, a pair of Addi Turbos in Size 1! Yeah! I was so excited to see these as I have been wanting to try Addi's, but more because I decided I wanted to try a sock pattern I have but discovered I needed size 1 needles, which I did not have. Honestly, I think my Spoiler, Knit One Purl Two - Knit One, must have been reading my mind. I discovered this just before I left on my trip and hadn't really thought about it since I knew I couldn't go shopping. Yeah - now I can start. 
Also in the package was a fabulous card - check it out in the picture - Flip Flops!
 This card is going on my wall -it makes me feel like summer. There was also a cool knit pattern postcard which is going in my postcard collection. Then there were the goodies. Smarties - my fav! Ferrero Rochers - MMMMMM Chocolate, and Pop Rocks! I haven't had Pop Rocks in forever! 

I love Pop Rocks! The best part was my son wanted to try the Pop Rocks. He is four so this was a first. After dinner tonight we busted them out and shared a Pop Rocks desert. His face was priceless!
He was not real sure what was going on! But he passed on seconds. Too funny. What a lovely Summery package! I can't wait to go start on some socks. I picked out a Magic Loop pattern and plan on casting on before the weekend. Yeah!

Back on Solid Ground

Whew, it is good to be home. It has been such a hectic crazy week! First, its a 13 hour trip to Honolulu from Boston. There is nothing quite like sitting cramped on a plane for that long. Yuck. My layovers were just long enough to change planes so it felt like one long ride. It was also a 6 hour time change which made for some very early mornings. This was good, though, as I had to work every day. Unfortunately, I had to work very long days, rarely making it back to the hotel before 8 pm. So much for beach and sunshine.
I do get to work on a very unique piece of equipment and it was an amazing opportunity jobwise but it was also a very unusual environment. I spent most of my time 150 feet above the water, much of which was standing on open grate walkways. The first time I visited this particular site I was scared out of my mind. I stepped out a door and I found myself looking straight down at the water way below. By the end of this visit I was so exhausted I found myself not caring and as a result I was able to explore more and I ventured up to the edges of the area to enjoy the views. 
Here is what I looked at every day:

That is the Missouri and the memorial over the Arizona. From our vantage we could clearly see the oil slick coming off the Arizona. Its amazing that after so long there is still that much oil weeping out of that ship. It was also quite moving to spend so much time overlooking Battleship Row and seeing the site of such a historic moment. 
What little time I spent on the ground I spent walking .... in steel toe boots no less. My legs are still not the same. I have run marathons and felt better than I have after this past week. I think, though, the fifteen flights of stairs I had to climb down didn't help. They were a very scary fifteen flights of open scaffolding stairs. Yikes. But I did it. Most of the time on the ground was spent walking to McDonalds for lunch. Since I am always on the lookout for gifts for my son I got Happy Meals. Kung Fu Panda toys. We got the tiger on the first day and decided to take his picture.
We had to wait until the Generals had left before getting this shot. We weren't sure they would be impressed.  Its also worth noting that to take this shot I had to go to the very edge of the helipad - one of the highest points. I was getting brave!
I didn't have much time for anything else in Honolulu. I was hoping to get to visit a couple of yarn stores but alas, it wasn't to be as those were one of the few Honolulu stores that held normal business hours. I barely had time to make my usual stop at Maui Divers to pick a pearl. I love picking a pearl and getting it set. This visit I got a gorgeous silver pearl which I had set in a white gold leaf setting. Beyond that it was all work. Which is fine because I find Honolulu to be a busy, crowded tourist trap. I would much prefer the other islands. But I guess, all told, there are worse places to have to travel for work. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hufflepuff Homework

The homework this week was to create a spell or potion to make snakes disappear. I looked in the Standard Book of Spells and found one:
Slithery, slippery, slidey snake, away from all no bites to take
But I think I did something wrong. Instead of making snakes disappear I was swished away! But where I ended up there are no snakes! It seems on the muggle island of Hawaii there are no snakes. Now that I have been here a few days I am thinking this is not a bad way to have a spell go wrong. Of course, I am so busy with work I cannot go enjoy the waves crashing on the beach just across the street but there are worse places to be!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hufflepuff Homework

I have another secret. I normally wouldn't tell anyone but its a good topic for this weeks homework. I am dreadfully afraid of puffskeins. Yes, I know they are "cute" and "cuddly" and I have many friends who have them as pets, especially those Pygmy Puffs you can get at W3, but I absolutely shudder every time I have to be near one. You see when I was very little, I couldn't have been more than 2, my cousin Ambrose thought it would be fun to lock me in a cabinet that had a nest of puffskeins living in it. Only, he didn't tell me that's what they were. He just locked me in and went away telling me we were going to play a game. So for what seemed like forever I was in this tiny dark space. I heard this loud purring noise and I felt these "things" start to crawl all over me. Keep in mind, I was very little so having so many of these creatures on me was just overwhelming. I was so scared I couldn't move, I couldn't scream, I couldn't even whimper. I guess I just froze and when my Mom finally figured out what Ambrose had done she found me and rescued me. (And boy, let me tell you, Ambrose got quite the shout over this one. In fact, I don't think Mom let him come back for months.) I was fine as the puffskeins don't cause any harm, but to this day I can't get near one. Actually, I can't even wear one of those eyelash fur scarves that were popular a few years ago because they remind me of the feel of those puffskeins. So that's my secret and my story.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Encroaching Muggle World

Ah, the muggle world is encroaching on my Hogwarts life.  I am afraid I am being called away for some travel in the days ahead. First a trip to the city that never sleeps, NYC. I am so excited for the silliest reasons. I have the whole day to myself in the city. I have never been there alone so I have always had to negotiate what to do, where to go. This time it is me myself and I for one day. I am planning on a museum, checking out the yarn stores, and a visit to my favorite place of worship, the shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue. Sigh - shoes are one of my guilty pleasures. Although its just to look this trip. With gas prices and everything being what it is I just can't justify buying. Not when I want to buy yummy yarn!  Then, I come home for two days and work is taking me away for a week. But I can't complain too much because it is Honolulu where I am being forced to spend my time. Gosh, my job sucks but someone has to do it. I am hoping to get in a little goodie shopping while there as well. 
In the meantime I am working on my swaps and thinking about the homework this week for class. I should have that done tomorrow. 
I was also thinking about swaps in general. How cool is it that you get to stalk someone and not get arrested for it? Instead of a restraining order you get presents. Ok - yeah I am a little twisted in the way I think. 
So the Summer of Love Yarn swap suggested we post some of our non-knitting hobbies. I love to read - I am a voracious reader. I also read very fast so I suck down books like martinis. In fact, I have often thought a good drug habit might be cheaper than my book habit. Thank goodness for libraries and yard sales. I mostly love light fluffy reading, chick lit, light fantasy, comedy and childrens books. I have a weakness for Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins. I am not a book snob. I love all books equally. I also love reality tv. Its wonderfully mindless and especially good for on the treadmill or knitting. Ever since having my son I don't commit to too much tv, especially drama. Reality tv is easy and relaxing. My only exception is Lost to which I am devoted. Can't wait for next season. I also like games and puzzles and working my brain. Mostly though I like spending time with my family. My son loves to race his hotwheels so we spend a great deal of time crashing cars in the living room. He loves it. 
So that is a little more about me. Pretty average but I like it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Patronus

Your Patronus is the Wolf! The wolf is a symbol of wisdom, loyalty and independence. He is one of history's more revered (and feared) characters.
That your Patronus is a wolf says that you are very wise as a person. You tend to be loyal to your friends, even when they screw up, but you are also independent. Finding that balance is key; finding it will ensure that you will be a wonderful witch or wizard!

The questions making the rounds

1) What I Was Doing 10 Years Ago
Working at my first "real" job as a software developer and buying my first house.

2) 5 Things on My To-Do List for Today
Oh - today's a big day.
Validate media
Give the Approval to Ship Dog and Pony Show for said media
Ship said media if approved
Find map of NYC for Saturday's trip
Clean house - oh heck who am I kidding - play with son instead

3) Snacks I Enjoy
Starbucks Coffee

4) Things I Would Do If I Were a Billionaire
Pay off bills for myself, family and friends, send my son to private school, buy a house in Kauai, travel, start a small business

5) Places I Have Lived
La Mesa, CA
Melbourne, Australia
Marlboro, Vermont
San Diego, CA
Methuen, MA

6) 5 Peeps I Wanna Know More About
I love reading this so post away!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Music Quiz

I stole this quiz from a Hogwarts House mate - it was fun and honestly, I do have more than just Kelly Clarkson and the Dixie Chicks in my music library!

Here's the rules:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press play.
4. For every question, type the song that's playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button.
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool.

Opening Credits: Maybe, Kelly Clarkson, My December
First Day At School: I Like it, Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way
Falling In Love: Henehene Kou ‘Aka by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Alone in Iz World
Breaking Up: Damn by LeAnn Rimes, Twisted Angel
1st date: The Long Way Around by Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way
Prom: I Hate Myself for Losing You by Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway
Life's OK: Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) by Dixie Chicks, Home
Flashback: Get it While You Can, Janis Joplin, Greatest Hits
Getting Back Together: Hey Little Cobra, The Rip Chords, 60s Pop Hits
Wedding: The Scat Song, Cab Calloway, The Roots of Swing N Jive
Final Battle: ‘Ulili E, by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Alone in Iz World
Death Scene: One Way Ticket, by LeAnn Rimes, Blue
Funeral Song: The Wood Song, Indigo Girls, Swamp Ophelia
End Credits: Kind of a Drag, The Buckinghams, The 60s Top of the Pop Hits.