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Stress Free!

Last Thursday I took an actuarial exam.  I had been studying like crazy at work, but getting nothing done at home.  I did not want to study AT ALL and had convinced myself that I didn’t care about this exam.  In the final weeks I felt a lot of pressure.  My bosses expected me to do well (even though not registering for last Spring’s exam and failing the fall sitting got me booted from the student program) and my husband expects me to finish these exams!  I freaked and fell into a pattern of getting nothing done again.

I went into that exam KNOWING I failed.  I hadn’t learned anything, even though this was the second time I studied for CAS Exam 7.  In the 15-minute readthrough I got to question 20 (of 36) and realized that I knew everything asked about so far.  So I feel much better now!  I realize that I will have to do much more during the week, BEFORE crunch time, for the next exam.

I’ve been cleaning out closets and sprucing up the yard (items on “the list”).  I have a giant pile of shoes to donate to Goodwill hanging out on my bedroom floor!  Pictures on the computer are sorted, there are now pictures of BOTH my dogs on the mantel, and “the list” has been moved to my updated and again useful Palm VII.  By this summer, I should have all my projects complete!  Well, not the long-term stuff like rip out the kitchen and start over (10 years away, probably), but I will have lots more guilt-free knit and spin time!  Looking forward to it!

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Snuggling with these guys is great stress relief . . . but it doesn’t get much accomplished. :)

One day late.

I am trying to post on Mondays (according to “the list”), so this post is one day late.  I really only picked Mondays because I thought enough would happen on the weekends that I would have something to say!

Items I tackled on my IMPORTANT LIST this weekend included cleaning, tossing old cosmetics and lotions, trimming doggy toenails, and organizing photos on the computer.

We have lots of duplicate pictures on the laptop.  If you don’t check the “delete
after uploading” box, they always get uploaded again. It is kind of a struggle to find the extras in a sea of dog photographs, so I have gotten as far as grouping the pictures – knitting/spinning, misc (only 10 or so pictures!) and various dog categories: Dexter, Dexter & Trillian, Trillian, Trillian & Viking, Viking and Doggie Friends. Tonight I will be paring down a few of these folders.

Getting rid of my makeup was tough! I had a makeup bag each for eyes, lips, nails, face (powders and foundations), and creams & cleansers. I NEVER WEAR MAKEUP!! It seemed so silly to get rid of so much untouched makeup, but I’ve had it for years! I put a few cleansers in the shower and made up an “everyday” makeup bag. Maybe I’ll actually start using some of it!

The main impetus for creating the list in the first place was so I would have more time for fun stuff. So, I spun almost this whole bobbin over the weekend.
bobbin of romney
This is Romney wool that my sister bought for me in New Zealand. I plan on making the Tangled Yoke Cardigan when I’m finished with the spinning.
bag of romney

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try to show the finished objects I’ve made over the past few months, as they never made it to the blog. First, the trekking socks are finished!
trekking socks
I changed the stitch count in the heel slightly, so the rib would be the same on either side, but otherwise blindly followed the pattern. I LOVE them! The trekking feels amazing on my feet. A surprise, because I thought it was just a wee scratchy in the skein.
trekking socks back

Organized Life

Recently, I realized I had too much on my plate.  I was stressed about all the things I thought I needed to have done, and accomplished nothing.  My husband had me write down everything that I was keeping on a mental list in my head.  It was three legal pages long!  We grouped everything into long-term projects, afternoon-sized projects, and itty-bitty projects.  Since we have been doing a few things from the itty-bitty list every day I feel much better!  I grouped everything further by how often it re-occurs and I am going to make my own planner.   Knowing I won’t forget anything really helps me stop worrying.

Today on Ravelry I got a message from someone in my old knitting group!  I LOVE Ravelry!! I haven’t gone lately because I lost touch with the group when I moved and I don’t know where they’re at.  Hopefully, she will clue me in and I can start going again!

It’s been awhile, but I’m going to start using my blog again.  I’ve been using Ravelry to track my knitting and I love the simple, clean format it provides.  I’m Fiber Hounds over there.  The biggest excitement here is that I started a business selling dog collars, also named Fiber Hounds.  The shop is located at Etsy, which I LOVE. I did all my Christmas shopping there this year (at least as much as I could get away with).

I am much too lazy to dig up some pictures to post, but I wanted to get something new on the blog while I was thinking about it. Maybe I’ll update with photos tomorrow!

I am shocked.

This happened Tuesday night, three doors away from my house. At five o’clock I came home from work and there were cops parked on the side of the road. We took the dogs for a walk to see if anyone knew what was up – all the neighbors had found reasons to be outside. At that point Deb and Bryce were “missing”. We went home for dinner at 6:15ish. We came back out when an ambulance drove past our house at maybe 7:30. There were still three ambulances parked and the neighborhood consensus was a murder-suicide. I am amazed that something like this happened in my neighborhood. This is a quiet, friendly suburban neighborhood, where everyone knows everyone else and everybody waves when they drive or walk past. I didn’t know much about this family – we knew them as the neighbors whose chihuahuas would chase us in the street when we walked past, and the house whose lawn was never mowed. We didn’t even know a child lived there until around 2 months ago; we’ve only seen him once. I feel badly that I complained about the lawn when there were obviously much deeper problems in that house.

Please keep this family, and all the parents in our neighborhood trying to explain this to their children, in your thoughts tonight.

WI Sheep & Wool

Last weekend (September 8th) my sister and I drove down to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. I went to this festival two years ago by myself when I was a pretty new spinner. Most of the fiber I bought is still sitting on my shelf. I think all the yarn I bought is still in skeins, too. At least I’ve been using the swift I bought! Last year I didn’t go, because I went to the Mall of America with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law and spent way too much money to allow my self to drop another couple hundred bucks on stuff I didn’t need.

So, anyway, this year I was armed with a plan. I was going to see if Sandy’s Palette had the shadow shawl pattern I passed up in 2005 and I was going to buy a bowl from Jennie the Potter. Other than that, we were going to take a walk through both store buildings and take notes on what I wanted. That plan worked out well for me. Sandy’s Palette was the second booth we saw, and she did have the pattern. I decided to wait and come back because she also had some beautiful merino/tencel roving and I wanted to check all the other fibery places out first. When we came back I only bought the pattern, as I had gotten what I felt to be quite enough roving.

At Jennie the Potter’s booth I am pretty sure I made a giant fool of myself. I told her how much I was looking forward to buying something from her the whole time my sister and I were checking out. This was the one vendor I was REALLY excited about seeing. I look at her bowls and mugs online ALL THE TIME but couldn’t justify the purchase. The whole point of Sheep & Wool to me is to buy things I don’t need (My birthday is September 25th, so this trip is what I get myself as a gift from my husband). Jennie had medium size bowls that she doesn’t sell on line and one had a brown sheep with turquoise yarn. I was in love! This is the only thing I bought here, but I kind of want to buy a mug too. I didn’t at the time because I only use a mug consistently for coffee at work, and since I don’t wash it every day, it is a pretty stained mug. I didn’t want that to happen to a mug from Jennie. My sister picked up a gift for my mom here too. I won’t say what it is on the off chance that Mom has found my blog.

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Isn’t this just beautiful?
Here is the rest of my loot:

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The shadow shawl pattern and a bunch of stuff from Huacaya Moon. I got 4 ounces of a Lincoln-Mohair blend to spin for socks, a kit to try out needle-felting, a peppermint-scented bar of soap, and a black sheepy tape measure. I love the soap I got from my sock pal, so I am trying to stock up on others slowly. I love using peppermint products during my morning shower – they help me wake up. I got the new tape measure, because my white sheep one (which I got at the festival from this same vendor two years ago!) is the only tape measure I have in the house. I figure it’s a good idea to have a few around the house.

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This is a small bag of angora from Pine Tree Rabbitry (I think. I can’t find a website and I am too lazy to go look at the tag). The rest of this is from The Illinois Green Pastures Fiber Cooperative. There are two colored bumps of New Hampshire wool (I don’t know what that means!) and two big bumps of Cormo. I bought these on the first pass through the barns, because they were the last of the cormo at this booth and I hadn’t seen any elsewhere yet. Later on I went through a booth with cleaner cormo that was much cheaper (actually only a dollar less, but an ounce more!). I should have stuck to the plan!

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All of this is from River’s Edge Weaving Studio. This was my favorite booth for fiber! I got two braids of BFL, two of Merino/Silk blend, one Merino/Tencel and a bump of Wensleydale. My sister bought some of this for a birthday gift for me. This shop had only beautiful stuff. Even their signs were pretty. The women working there (the dyers I presume) were really nice. I’m excited to spin all of this up.

I’ve got to get to bed now – but next time I’ll tell you about the cute animals we saw at the festival!

Dyeing Excitement

Here’s another thing I accomplished on vacation:
I’ve taken up dyeing!

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Here are my supplies. The spray bottle is full of vinegar, which I forgot to use! You can see the book I used in the background – Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook.

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These skeins are Knit Picks Bare, fingering weight. The skein that ended up with purple in it is merino and silk (it’s the yellowish skein in this picture), and the blue is superwash merino. I made up stock solutions of a few colors (1/4 or 1/2 tsp per cup of water – I wrote this down but I don’t remember right now). I didn’t dilute them further before dyeing, because I wanted to keep my first attempt at this pretty simple. I laid each skein across saran wrap, and squirted the dyes right on. I had rubber gloves on, so I just squished the dye around with my fingers to get it exactly where I wanted it. Then I wrapped the skeins up and steamed them on the stovetop.

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I couldn’t find a rack that fit inside my pan, but this set up worked pretty well (I put the lid on it and the corners of the rack stuck out a bit). I let everything cool for an hour or so, then unwrapped the skeins and rinsed them. I rinsed by running water in the sink opposite from the skeins and squooshed water out of the skeins by hand. The brown, purple, and blue rinsed clear right away, but the green bled quite a bit. The final color is still really vibrant, so I’m willing to bet I put too much dye on.

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I left the skeins on the deck like this for a little while, but then hung them from a shepard’s hook by the cotton “handles” I had put on the skeins before I dyed. I am really happy with the results!

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I reskeined the blue, but not the purple. I am unhappy with how messy the blue skein looks now. I think it is because I rewound it on a niddy-noddy instead of a skeinwinder. Any opinions?
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I’m also considering selling these, for say, $18 each plus shipping? I can get the detailed specs of the yarn if anyone is interested.

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