Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yarn Diet and Cold Sheep Progress

Completed the Blooming Mystery Knit-a-long (renamed the Blooming Garden Shawl) - 528 yards  (This was hand spun yarn and does not count towards decreasing the stash.)
Even though none of my stash yarn was knit or woven up, my total did decrease due to the yarn swap for Liz's last meeting with the Infinite Knitters.  I got rid of some fingering and lace yarn and acquired in trade some worsted yarn.

I would conclude that I was successful in my cold sheeping and yarn diet this month.

Starting total: 108,649 yards
Starting total for March: 109,848 yards
Yardage purchased:  0

Yardage received as gift:  2,615
Yardage destashed:  2,865 
Yardage used in finished projects: 0 
Ending total for March:   109,598 yards

E-Mail Crash

I have had internet service with an AT&T subsidiary for quite a long time.  I was even careful to create a couple of accounts for spam and such.  This past week has been a total frustration.

It started with a blast of e-mails that touted verification after almost all the e-mails I sent came back as undeliverable or just sat in the queue for delivery.  After 24 hours, a message was generated stating that the server couldn't locate the intended recipients and I got the "failure" notice.

I then started to receive these e-mails stating a new policy at AT&T which use to be SBC and now my yahoo web mail which is also AT&T based is not working properly.

At this point, I'm not sure what has been delivered and I sure as heck know that I haven't received my normal stream of incoming mail.  I'm tired of doing the work arounds and am hoping that if I wait a week or so, this might all be fixed by fairies and all will be back to normal.  A girl can live in a dream world....

On top of all this, my work e-mail has been compromised and I'm now receiving all these UPS delivery attachments, a host of online pharmacies touting illegal drugs, plus the always popular penile enhancements.  My work e-drones are no closer to fixing this problem either.

I guess my options are to start the dreaded texting or just drop technology altogether and just go sit in my craft room and weave and spin....I know what I will vote for....

Letter writing anybody?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eolia Loom

I think I have weaving on the brain now.  I saw this used loom up for sale and I purchased it thinking it was a good deal - I am always falling for "good deals."

The heddle design of the Eolia is vastly different from the looms that I have and it seemed intriguing. 

The package came in two shipments so it took a little while for all the parts to arrive.  It also came with a nifty instructional DVD so it was pretty easy to set up and start to weave.

I dug around the stash and found some Bernat Satin Sport that I think I got on sale from Michaels and it is a pretty pastel color called Meadow.  It is 100% acrylic and very soft.

After watching the video, I was able to warp the loom fairly quickly and I started weaving on it in short order.  Here is the start of the scarf.
Here is a little video clip of the actual weaving with the heddle.
I think that I'm going to have to jury rig an extra set of extension bars for this loom so I can increase the length of the fabric.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review - The Big Short

I checked this book out of the library after reading the inside cover.  I seemed strange that the author, Michael Lewis, also wrote The Blind Side.  I didn't read the book but the movie was excellent.

The book describes the subprime mortgage fiasco from the side of the people that made huge amounts of money while everyone else was losing theirs.  It was very enlightening to confirm that the Wall Street firms that were in trouble over the housing crisis were criminal in their goal to make as much money as possible.

The book highlights the few lone individuals that couldn't figure out why the big firms were so gung ho and were the ones who bought insurance on "the destruction of the financial system."

There are some complicated explanations on the instruments created for the purpose of greed and the lax government oversight as well as the turning of the other cheek of the rating agencies.

The Big Short is a very good book on understanding how the U.S. financial system brought the world to its knees.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meatball Sandwiches

I saw a recipe for meatball sandwiches that called out for me to try to make them.  I have never made meatballs so it was definitely an adventure.

I used ground turkey and a bunch of fresh parsley for the meatballs.
The recipe is definitely a step process with the first being preparing and the browning the meatballs.
It was tricky to try to brown them on each side.  My poor meatballs are sort of triangular instead of round.  Some of them with the extra bit of water looked more like scallops.

I then put some meatballs into a pot with Ragu sauce and brought it up to a low boil to heat up the sauce.

Instead of using the onions, I just spooned a few of these meatballs with sauce onto a roll and covered with gruyere cheese and then broiled it in the oven.  With the melted cheese, the sandwich was lovely.  The meatballs are not dry and I suspect the bread crumbs had something to do with that.
 Before baking.
After baking.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spinning Cotton DVD

I have been on a cotton spinning kick for a bit and got this video - Spinning Cotton by Stephenie Gaustad.  

It is a great DVD for a beginner cotton spinner and Stephenie does a great job describing the fiber and goes through quite a bit of tools for preparing and spinning cotton.

It includes:
- cotton seeds
- ginning cotton
- hand carding cotton
- spinning on an upright charkha, great wheel, regular flyer wheel, tahkli, and various other spindles
- skeining cotton
- washing and setting cotton yarn
- plying cotton singles

I highly recommend this video if you are just starting out with cotton.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Charkha

A while back, I purchased a book charkha from another person selling hers on Ravelry.  I had no idea how to use it and it has sat in the cupboard in a time out.

This weekend at spin group was all about cotton.  I handled ginned cotton, cotton roving, cotton/bamboo roving, cotton/flax fiber, and recycled blue jeans cotton.  There is so much variety to cotton.  I excelled at carding punis.

Jan had a video called Spinning Cotton on the Charkha by Eileen Hallman which we watched for a bit.  The video is great in that it takes you through setting up your charkha for spinning.  If you are new to cotton spinning on a charkha, this video is a must have.

We spent quite a bit of time working on the set up and finally was able to get the thing working.

It is an ingenious little device and here are the photos of how it is set up.
In the above picture, the band is set for S twist (where the top of the band travels to the bottom of the whorl).  For Z twist, the drive band needs to be changed so the top of the band travels to the top of the whorl.
Now off to practice drafting and hopefully be able to spin cotton successfully.

Here is a demo of Gandhi spinning cotton on a charkha.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Am The Puni Queen

So this weekend at spin group, I learned how to card ginned cotton into punis (a light and airy preparation of cotton fiber for spinning).

After getting a lesson and some cotton hand cards from my fiber guru, I was off.
By the end of the day, I was the undisputed puni queen!
I can't wait to start spinning my punis.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Almost Snow in San Diego

A storm blew through San Diego this week and the weather has been interesting.  I really dislike the gray skies and wished it would just rain already.  Boy did I get my wish!  In the overnight it sounded like rocks were hitting the house, but it was too warm and comfy to get out of bed to check.

In the morning, rain fell pretty hard and then the hail started to hit.
Within a few minutes with the continued rain, all the hail was gone and the almost snow was over.  It is very windy and cool.

It is a nice change of pace especially if you don't have to go out at all.

Scalloped Potatoes With Leeks

I was supposed to make this recipe last weekend for supperclub but had the dreaded stomach bug.

I ended up making it for my spin group this weekend and used my new handy alligator slicer for the potatoes.

It starts with leeks and butter...
Adding layers of potatoes, gruyere cheese, some salt, pepper, and nutmeg and covered with a cup each of broth and heavy cream.
After baking covered and uncovered, it had a nice brown top.
It was very simple with few ingredients and the resulting casserole was delicious.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blooming Mystery KAL = Blooming Garden Shawl

I previously posted about a KAL - knit-a-long with Tiziana Sammuri from Ravelry.  It was called the Blooming Mystery KAL and within 5 weeks of clues, it has transformed into the Blooming Garden Shawl.

This was a free pattern and it was great fun to spin the yarn to knit this shawl.  It is super soft and has a beautiful drape.  The fiber is merino, bamboo, and silk.
I'm thinking about entering this at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cotton Spinning Primer

I recently purchased a quill attachment for my HansenCrafts mSpinner to spin really short fibers.
I asked my teacher, Margaret Tyler, for a demonstration on cotton spinning at the Grossmont Adult School and she practiced some cotton spinning and demonstrated in class.
After seeing the demonstration on her banjo charkha, she gave me some cotton top to practice on.
My first attempt was laughable as I could not figure out how to attach the fiber to the quill.  All the youtube videos I watched already had some cotton on the quill as did Margaret's banjo charkha.

So it was back to class to ask Margaret about starting a new project with a naked quill.  Here is Margaret spinning cotton on my mSpinner.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Search Dog Foundation

My friend Val forwarded me an e-mail about the Search Dog Foundation in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake.

It is a small group in Ojai California (where the Bionic Woman was set - you can really date me now!) that rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to search for survivors in disaster zones.

I think this is a great organization and their teams have been deployed to many disaster areas including the one in Japan.

After thinking about this, I decided to add a gadget to my blog for rescues -  They have created a cute search block with an animated dog that you can see at the top of my blog.

If you want to donate money to the relief effort and maybe want your money to apply to something specific instead of the "general fund" of the Red Cross or other large charities, consider the Search Dog Foundation.  I think they are doing good in two major ways.

Last, I came across a series of satellite photos from the New York Times of the devastation in Japan.  It was very profound to see the maps of the affected areas.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time Wasters

I was sick with a stomach bug this week - hence no posts but I did find some things to pass the time.  Thank you iPad and App store!

I know that the new iPad 2 launched this week and I heard from an Apple source that they were flying off the shelves and there are no more in the store.  My friend ordered hers online and she stated that it is a 2-4 week wait.

I have the first generation iPad and have been laying around in bed playing with it and found some cool new games that are addicting.  I happened upon this website that has a bunch of apps listed at a discount.

First is Abble Dabble HD for $.99 which is similar to Words With Friends HD.  The board changes the squares after you play a word so you have more chances of getting those bonus points.  Also, it lets you know when you are placing tiles if the letters you are choosing are actually a word before you hit play.  If you download the game, you can start a game with me - I'm sdmags.

Next is a game that I got for free called Fishdom HD.  It is a cute game where you are starting an aquarium with fish and stuff.  There are three measures of fish, comfort and beauty.  You can buy items in these categories with money you earn by playing a puzzle game.  It is highly addictive and I found myself playing until the wee hours of the night.  There seems to be a glitch in the programming since you can only play the "lite" version but a new full version is currently being approved by Apple so I'll be on the lookout.

Based on this game play, I downloaded one of their other games called Fishdom H2O Hidden Odyssey which was $4.99.  It is similar to Fishdom in that you are creating and maintaining a fish tank - a few in fact, but to earn money you are on treasure hunts while diving and it is a search game for items under the sea.  The graphics are very realistic and this was another one that I stayed up way too late to play.

Last is a solitaire game called Cleopatra's Pyramid HD which was free.  There are multiple levels of card games which after being solved helps you build a pyramid.  If you like card games, it has cool graphics and many levels of play.

I'm feeling much better now so it is back to work and I must stash my iPad where I can't see it during the day so as not to get sucked in when I should be working.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sewing Class

Had a great sewing class where I attempted to make some knitting bags with vinyl - I got the lesson but will need to do some homework.

It also entailed buying some new feet for my sewing machine - good thing for where one can find almost anything.

I knit a cabled hat for Mary, the teacher, in exchange for sewing lessons.  It is the shamrock tam by my friend Brandilion.
We also had garlic, tomato, and cream cheese focaccia pizza and these great square cupcakes for lunch.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Awesome Lap Quilt

Thanks to the ladies at Beverly's Fabrics who helped me pick out fabric to border my awesome lap quilt, I finally finished the quilt top.  This pattern came from the Moda Bake Shop and Val provided me with the jelly roll called Urban Chiks - 1974.
That is Aidan doing quality control on the quilt top.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spinning Flax

This week, Margaret Tyler demonstrated spinning flax.  Flax is a plant fiber and you may know it by its other names after it has been spun - linen.  The fiber was very coarse and has an extremely long staple length.

In the video, you can see her distaff which is mounted on a camera tripod.  It is amazing what kinds of equipment can be repurposed for spinning and other fiber crafts.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Self Striping Socks

In a previous post, I videoed a demonstration on dyeing yarn for self striping socks.  In the video, there are two samples.  The first was a rainbow color and can be seen at the beginning while trying to untangle and wind the yarn into a ball. 

Here is the resulting sock.
The second sample was seen during the dyeing and here is the resulting sock from that color way.
Last week while I was not in class, dyeing continued and another model was made and this was the resulting sock.
Pretty cool results.  I will definitely need to add this to my to do list.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Infinite Knitter Farewell Plus a Swap

I'm sad to say another infinite knitter is leaving San Diego for a new adventure in Italy.  You might think it is exciting and not sad, but Liz (evk0109) will be missed here.  I think she is planning on arranging some knitting/cooking trips to Italy while she is there so that may be fun times.

I decided to host the knit nite here at home so we could spread out and Liz had the idea of doing one last swap (where everyone brings "stuff" they don't love anymore to trade for someone else's "stuff").  It can be yarn, fiber, books, bags, anything that is fiber related.

Here is the gang to bid adieu to Liz.
Here is the pile of swap items.
I think everyone went home with a better stash than they brought.

All the best and bon voyage to Liz.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Travel Summary

I was away on travel status this week and it was a very long but productive work week.  To save my taxpayer's dollars, I drove up to Northern California instead of flying and renting a car.  It was a long drive but it was lovely to see the signs of spring.
I was in quite a few cities and saw quite a bit of the landscape.  There were so many signs of spring including the blossoms on the fruit trees as far as the eye could see, babies of every kind - cows, goats, and sheep all prancing around.

There was even a sighting of turkeys in the middle of the city.  There were a total of four birds I saw all just taking a walk by themselves.  One struck a pose for the camera.
I stayed in Sacramento on the first few nights since it was in the center of where the work had to be done.  The hotel was first rate - Le Rivage which is where the NBA players stay.  The best thing was the bath tub!  The bath products were so sumptuous that I had to take the samples home with me.  I will need to look up the product and see if I can order some.  All the products were infused with blood orange essential oil and had a quite lovely smell - my favorite.
My co-worker who came out from Houston to help me made the hotel arrangements and I handled the food.  The first night we ate at the restaurant attached to the hotel - Scott's Seafood.

We had the Wild Prawn Fettuccine and Peppercorn Crusted Sterling New York Steak.  Both were delicious.
The next night we went out for Chinese food with my parents and ate at New Station.  We had a family style meal with soy sauce chicken, deep fried fish fillets, spareribs, beans and pork, house special fried rice, deep fried prawns, and monster oysters (these were as big as my hand).
We next headed to the coast and tried to stay at the Double Tree at the Berkeley Marina, but when we arrived they had lost power and we could not check in.  We headed to the Oakland airport and stayed at a Hilton.  We were able to meet up with my cousins Angie and Tony and family and have dinner at Tatsu Sushi which they have been raving about for years.  This was as good a time as any to see what the fuss was about.

The sushi at this place is amazing and the portions were gimongous and delicious.  We were totally stuffed afterwards.  Angie is a regular there and the owner and staff were super friendly and we were served cheesecake as a dessert.  Here are the rolls we had - so many that I can't even remember the names.
Here we are were at the end of a great meal.
That little cutie is my first cousin once removed - Harper.  She is two months old and is a hefty little thing and she generates heat like nobody's business.  I was getting a hot flash from holding her.  She is happy and entertaining.