Friday, February 27, 2009

Oh how I'll miss you

It made the national news outlets: the Today Show, NPR, most of the countries major newspapers and Evening News shows. Today was the last issue of Denver's Rocky Mountain News and my mornings will never be the same. The Rocky was printed in tabloid format which means that it fit on the breakfast table without encroaching on anyone else across the table. That was not the only reason I loved it. It was part of my morning routine: the local and national news, the columnists, the comics, the entertainment section and the human interest stories. My day did not start without it for the last 35 years since my move to Denver and I will have to adjust as my subscription moves over to the Denver Post.

I have always read a newspaper, starting with the Norwalk Hour (CT) which was an afternoon paper in my hometown. It was really a nothing of a paper with local school board news, obituaries and engagement notices, but it was my connection to my hometown. The New York Times was the morning paper of choice when I was old enough to appreciate it. It didn't have any comics, which turned me off as a child, but educated me and entertained me once in High School and beyond. I do not read it regularly now that I am in Denver, but I maintain my contact with it through its online site. That is probably part of the problem with the whole industry. Today's generation gets most of their news online, as well as entertainment and contact with the world's events. I, however, have always loved flipping the pages, reading the ads, and getting ink on my fingers. My first job in Denver with a major (now disappeared Department Store) had me proofreading ads for my division and for years after I left, I still looked over each ad for the registered trademark symbol and misspellings. I think my grammar and spelling really improved as I looked for errors.

I can remember my grandfather spending hours reading every word in the morning newspaper when we lived with him in the 50's. As an immigrant, he honed his English skills with the newspaper daily.

I literally matured with the Rocky. I didn't appreciate the power of columnists until I came under the spell of John Coit in the 80's, Greg Lopez in the 90's and Gene Amole all through that time until 2002. As a matter of fact, it was Gene Amole who taught me how to make cinnamon rolls and turkey stuffing in his columns along with his opinions of the city and how they moved him. I mourned with the whole community with the passing of these wonderful journalists. If you have never read their words, google them, and make them part of your lives too. You will be forever richer for the effort.

So my mornings will be bittersweet now spreading the much larger Post and avoiding blocking Gary's sports section across the table. Some of the current columnists will be moving over to the Post and the comics will be picked up as well. But it will never be the same.

Oh, how I will miss you, my Rocky Mountain News.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mid-Week Posting

Here is a rare mid-week posting, because I felt like it. So there......

I am 3/4 through my reading for my course for my new job in the financial industry. Not that I know it all, but at least I will have "encountered" all the concepts before I start my prep class next week: M-F and 8:00 - 5:00.... ouch. I need to finish this book by Saturday night so I can treat myself to the Alpaca Extravaganza on Sunday up in Longmont. I love fiber field trips and it usually allows a lot of time to talk to vendors about the fiber, spinning, and projects. Not to mention petting the cutest creatures known to mankind. Pay day is Friday, for both jobs, so maybe I can even spend a few cents.

Sunday was the second meeting of the South Denver Spinning Group that formed from Ravelry. Mary and her daughter left early so are missing from the photo. Left to right: Angela, Lisa, me, and Becky. And Julie was ill, so couldn't show us her progress on her new wheel. This group should continue to keep growing and spinning! I am working on some Baby Alpaca that I won from a blog contest on NeedlesofIron's site. It is so soft and has a nice halo to it. I am spinning pretty thin, so I probably with chain ply the singles.
However, my new Minstrel wheel has a squeak that I just cannot seem to get rid of. Argggghhhh. I have oiled every place that I am aware might need oil, and I am afraid that the next step might be disassembling the wheel and waxing the areas that I didn't wax, since I was too excited to put it together the first time. Any suggestions from the readers out there??? The squeak seems to be coming from the treadle rod on the left side. I finished spinning the 3rd skein of the BFL and now I have enough for a real project. The color is natural, so I may just try Kool Aid dying for the first time. I have been reading up on it and I think I will use my crockpot for this. Results to follow...but with my current schedule, it may be a few weeks... don't hold your breath! This is on my new Niddy there no end to the toys I can acquire???

Friday, February 20, 2009

Yarn Barf and other Musings

Today was the 5th of 6 days working this week, between both of my part time jobs. One requires my brain full time, and the other requires nothing but my presence and I don't know really which is more exhausting. This has been the second week of this 6 day a week schedule and so far, I am holding up well.

I have been relaxing when I can between studying, with my spinning wheel and I finished the last of my natural BFL fiber. I figured out how to set up the scotch tension with the help of the Ravelry boards, but probably made a mistake by switching in the middle of the bobbin. I am too new at this to have known which way the bobbin was actually turning in double drive and whether that changed when I switched to the scotch tension. From what I have read, they spin in the opposite direction, so the plied yarn is probably unspun and under spun. I had two bobbins, one fuller than the other, so I wound each into a ball with my ball winder.
I then plied from the inside and outside of the first ball with success and no issues, except that parts of the plied yarn are now a bit under spun.

The second ball, I plied part way through the ball and developed what is affectionately known as yarn barf as it twisted and felted on itself as I was trying to ply. I was unable to untangle it, so I grabbed a scissors and quickly cut the offending tangles, before I could think more sanely.

I found the ends again and continued to ply this ball on the wheel, and each time I arrived at a cut end, I found the other end and spit felted it and continued plying. This happened about a half dozen times, and eventually, I arrived at the end of the ball. What I learned is that one needs to be very careful with plying with the inside and outside of a center pull ball to keep yarn barf under control. I would have plied from the 2 separate bobbins, if they had been closer in size to each other, saving myself this step.

They say if you want something done well, ask a very busy person to do it. I have accomplished so much this week, in spite of my 46 hour work week. I went to the dentist early one morning and began catching up on long overdue mouth maintenance. Not my favorite thing, but I have found that the entire staff at the office I had been going to has changed and they are much better and nicer and more competent than the last time I was there. That's why it has been such a long time. A pleasant surprise.

Last Sunday, I took my spinning wheel on its first field trip to a newly formed spinning meetup for those of us south of Denver. She traveled well and I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and the uninterrupted "me" time. We are meeting again this Sunday, and I will bring my camera to record the action.

Wednesday was Book Club and this month we read (I got through 1/2 of each) two books. The first was Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, which is a compilation of essays about dining and eating alone by assorted authors and foodies. It was amazing that some chose such elaborate meals and some resorted to repetitive simple meals. I fall somewhere in between. Over the last 6 months, I have rediscovered spaghetti! And dirty dishes. In the book, several used only one dish per meal. How did they do it??When I actually cook a meal, instead of my usual grazing through the Fridge, I tend to saute up some onions, chicken, and whatever veggies I might have on hand with either a teryaki sauce or Italian red sauce, or even just some olive oil and Parmesan and chicken broth, but I always prepare a large enough portion to allow at least two more meals of leftovers. This particular meal tonight was on brown rice instead of spaghetti.I add to the mixture as the days go by until it is gone and then I might do it all over again.

Of course, there is always a glass of Red wine handy. Cheap box wine, but I save the budget for the good stuff for when I have company. Can you blame me?
The second book was I Feel Bad About MY Neck by Nora Ephron which is a book of humorous essays about middle age women and our many quirks. Some of it is sarcastic and snarky, but oh so true in so many ways.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

I was surprised this morning with a Valentine's Gift of pearl earrings along with the card. Gary is not usually the jewelry type of gift-giver, so it was a surprise. May he was feeling bad because this was my 6th day working this week, but whatever, I appreciated the gift and the thoughts.

Here is a new photo of the Spring Forward socks in progress. Working my way to the toes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bye-Bye to late nights and later mornings.

I was up this morning for an early Dentist's appointment at 7 am. I guess I better get used to these early morning hours since one of my jobs will be starting at 7:30 or 8:00 am. Driving to the dentist, the full moon was large and bright in the western sky and I wish I had my camera to capture the beauty above the snowcapped mountains west of Denver brightly lit by the rising sun. Take a moment to imagine the sight. la la la. Wasn't that nice? I haven't been up this early in a long long time.

Over the last 6 months, my bedtime has gotten later and later, and my malingering in bed got later and later as well. My morning routine has been an hour or more of NPR's Morning Edition to catch up on the news, and to make sure the world didn't blow up while I was asleep. This started on 9/11 when I became a news junkie and began to linger in bed with the radio to get myself ready to start the day. On weekends, it is Scott Simon and Liane Hanson who keep me in bed.

I am usually a night owl, and breaking that habit will prove difficult for me. The house is quiet, the dog is sleeping, the leather chair is so comfy. I will miss knitting with Jay Leno and Conan. I will miss Ravelry at midnight and catching up with my beloved forums. I am planning to spin as a last activity of the evenings, just before retiring and I am finding that it is a zen-like meditative activity which relaxes me enough to make bedtime easier. And I will miss my mornings with NPR, since I will now have to pop out of bed and get my day started without lingering.
Tomorrow I start my new job (the 2nd part time job), even though I feel like I have been doing it for a week now. Each night, I spend 2-3 hours with the books, trying to absorb material that sometimes feels like it is written in a foreign language. The series 7 prep books are dry and full of concepts, formulas, rules and regulations, and at the end of each chapter, is an exam. So far, I haven't been doing too well, but with more review and memorization, it should start making sense soon, I hope. I have 4 months from tomorrow to pass the test.

Here is my first finished skein of my wheel spun yarn. It is Louet natural BFL, two ply. The weight is 82g and it is about 115 yards. The yarn fluffed up quite nicely after the soaking and thwacking.

I am feeling so much more productive with fiber than with the prep books. I have to get my brain back in shape to work and think. My fingers are very fit and active.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A day off

Since soon I will be working 6 days a week, with Sunday off, I had one of my last weekday days off today and I relished it. I slept in a little, reviewed some of the texts for my new job, read the paper, and called back my favorite "Field Trip Friend", Stacy. We agreed to drive up to the Merchandise Mart in North Denver for the Rocky Mountain Sew Expo. Last year it was called the Denver Creative Festival and I thoroughly enjoyed myself then. Again, it was mostly about other types of fiber arts, like quilting, sewing, and embroidery. But Philosopher's Wool had a booth as well as Textiles a Manos and Cheryl Oberle and they were fun to see and chat with. I was a good girl, since the funds are more limited this year and I only bought an African Basket for my fiber next to my wheel. One funny thing was that we filled out the door prize tickets when we entered and we were not into the venue more than 10 minutes before we heard BOTH our names called out over the loud speakers as winners! Stacy won a hard cover book about ribbon embroidery that was beautiful, but nothing she wanted and pretty heavy to carry around. While we were at a particular button booth, the owner commented on Stacy's prize and how much she loved it. A trade was made and Stacy left with some really neat ceramic buttons which will go great on a sweater TBD.

My prize was for a couple of quilt patterns. I don't quilt, but I picked out a couple that could possible be fun, one of which I am giving Stacy, because she liked it. The other was for tote bags which could become handy.
Most of the crafts at the Expo left me pretty cold, but the booth where they were demonstrating coiled fabric-wrapped cotton cording was fascinating. She made coasters, placemats, bowls and tall vases with this and a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine. I could do this...if only I had more time, money and the energy to indulge in a new craft.
Spinning update: I did two half full bobbins of singles and began to ply them onto a third bobbin. The consistancy is not quite up to snuff yet, but with a soaking and a good thwacking, it may be pretty knittable! Here is the plyed bobbin so far:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Only 24 hours to the day

I am definitely going to need more than 24 hours in my days from now on. Either that, or I will need to figure out how little sleep I can actually survive on.

I was up past midnight last night enjoying my new Minstrel Wheel and spinning on the BFL fiber. Today, I went to my new office-to-be and picked up the text books and study courses that will be my constant companion for the next several months. OMG, the stack of books is about 8 inches high and thumbing through them, they don't even seem to be written in English! Keep in mind, that in college I didn't take a single business course, and other than from a consumer standpoint, I know next to nothing about the financial industry. I know it is not rocket science or brain surgery, but I haven't been in school in nearly 35 years, unless you count the computer classes I took in the mid 80's. I read the first chapter of the first book and took the test at the end of the chapter and only scored 75%. Not too good, since I have to score 70% on the entire course to pass and get registered.

I have decided that I need to channel Maggie's compulsive study habits, like when she was studying for the LSAT in her 40's. She grabbed every five minute segment of time she could muster and had her book out. I need to do the same and harder, since it is all so foreign to me.

I am going to spin a little bit before bedtime to relax.

It's Here!!!

Right after I got home from getting my hair done, Mr. UPS arrived in his lovely brown truck with a large box for me! We carried it into the house and I was grinning from ear to ear. My Kromski Minstrel Spinning wheel has arrived.

Once opened, I was amazed it arrived in as good condition as it did. There were Polish newspapers and junk mail flyers loosely crumbled around the wheel in the box.
There are lots of pieces.
Here it is all put together. It has a hemp drive band which I set up with the double drive. I installed the scotch tension, but it is not functioning the way I did.
Doesn't the antique piano stool look like she has a new best friend??

I couldn't wait to start spinning and manage half a spindle of natural colored BFL from the stash. Treadling wasn't too difficult to get going and since I have been spindle spinning for a year now, I seemed to pick it up easily.
It is past midnight now, and I must go to bed, although I bet I could spin all night with ease.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Turned the heel

Yes,the heel is turned, picked up the gusset stitches and I am still 2-at-a-time and moving right along. The hardest part was getting the right stitch count on each needle with them lined up in the proper order. Now it is clear sailing through the gusset decreases as I move towards the toe.
Minstrel update: UPS tracking shows it has moved from La Marque, TX, to Houston, and has arrived in Dallas early this morning. to be continued......

I went to the library yesterday and saw they had the book, "Teach yourself Visually, Handspinning", by Judith MacKenzie McCuin. I thought right, sure, this would be pretty lame, but then I saw that the technical editor was Maggie Casey of Shuttles Spindles and Skeins in Boulder and the author of Start Spinning, which I already own. I knew then that this would be a worth while way to spend several days before the wheel arrives. Yesterday was the Superbowl, and since I am NOT a sportsfan, I blew all the way through this book during the game. It is great and covers everything from fiber prep, through handspindles and wheel spinning, to dyeing and knitting with handspun. The photos are great and even if the info is pretty basic, it is very clear for beginnners and a valuable resource along with Maggie's own book. I did confirm while I was reading this book, that even though I am right handed, I spindle spin like a lefty. I keep my fiber wrapped around my right wrist and draft with my left. I wonder what will feel best when I get the wheel set up.