September 2006 Archives

Pre-drafting stubborn fibers


I miss El Matchador but I'm rekindling my love for my beautiful little spindles while I'm here in India.

I've noticed that there is a wave of knitters taking up spinning lately and so I have a couple of simple tutorials I plan to post while I'm here, to help the newbie. I'm sure these are "well duh!" items for most people but they have been useful for me so perhaps they will be useful to others.

Today's tutorial will be on pre-drafting fibers that are being a bit stubborn. If you don't know how to pre-draft yet, there are a couple videos here. The process involves separating your roving into strips then gently tugging the fibers, lengthwise, to loosen them up.

I'm spinning some pygora right now, on my 0.9 ounce Golding spindle. The pygora is prepared as a pencil roving, meaning you do not need to separate the roving into separate strips as it's already thin enough.

Pygora spins up beautifully when properly pre-drafted

However, this particular batch has some areas that are a wee bit hard to pre-draft. I think areas have matted ever so slightly in transport, making them impossible to pre-draft the normal way. The solution is as follows.

Break off a length of roving to your liking. I prefer a couple feet of roving, many other people prefer a shorter, more manageable length. Do what you like best.

Attempt to pre-draft as you normally would.

Excuse the awkward photo, I only have 2 hands and no tripod. Imagine I was trying to do that with both hands.

To loosen the fibers, begin stretching the roving side to sides. Gently part the fibers, starting at one end and working up the length of the roving.

When you hit the matted area, spend extra time carefully releasing the fibers. Remember, you don't want to break any of the fibers, just loosen them up.

When you have worked the entire length of the roving, you have something that looks a little like this.

I then like to tug the roving, very gently, lengthwise. This not only makes it a little easier to handle, but it allows you to pre-draft it a little more.

Again, this should really show me doing this with two hands.

When you are all done, you can wind it around your distaff (if you have one) or, as I prefer to do, make a little bracelet out of the fiber, by winding it around your hand.

The finished roving looks like this:

Now just spin spin spin.

Next tutorial will be on achieving a balanced two ply on your spindle.

Would that be H2O4?


I left Mumbai after a breakfast of coffee and toast and hopped a small plane to Pune. This involved another trek through various security check points. Not the least of which was the "Ladies' Frisking Booth." How's that for a friendly how do you do?

It wasn't nearly as exciting as it sounds. It's more your standard issue wanding by security.

After a short wait we were all bussed to our plane in which they'd piped the smooth sounds of musak. La Bamba played as I entered and began again right before we disembarked. I guess they save money by keeping the music rotation just about as long as the flight and pass the savings on to the customer.

I landed, collected my things and headed to the hotel.

Ahh the hotel.
Remember the view from my Mumbai room? Here's how it looks in the day:


Here's my new view:

But it's got internet access, a shower and a bed, which should pretty much cover my needs. They also have the most amusing bottled water I've seen yet.

I don't find their water any more oxygen-y than any other I've had the pleasure to try but I'm reassured to know that it's got 300% more than "source water under standard testing conditions." Heaven knows, our doctors are always telling us to drink more oxygen in our diet.

But the amusement of reading water bottle labels wears off quickly which is where the internet access comes into play, and oh boy am I taking advantage of it. I'm not sure if it makes me more or less homesick, but Leo's been video conferencing with me when we're both awake. I don't have a web cam, but he and Panda do.

Panda doesn't love the web cam. It sort of confuses her to hear my voice coming out of, seemingly, nowhere

But that just makes her get all snuggly with Leo for reassurance.

I miss being with them but am glad they are doing well.

Well, it's time for me to try to catch a little shut eye. Yesterday, that was unexpectedly challenging. There's a festival going on right now, and my room is right next to a temple where they were blaring religious music most of the day. Luckily, I have a couple pairs of earplugs to help dull the noise.

Today and tomorrow, we have off and then it's back to the grind.

I hope to have something more interesting than airports and hotel room views to show you next time.

International Dork of Mystery


So after my internet session expired in Frankfurt, I decided I needed to up the dork factor while I passed the time.

Let's be honest, it's pretty darn dorky to be blogging, taking pictures of yourself blogging and listening to .wav files of your boyfriend and doggy back home.

But why not crank out the ol' ipod and listen to science podcasts while spinning on a drop spindle? Short of bringing along a TRS-80 and a butter churn, there are few things I could have done that would have been less cool.

Sorry guys, hands off, this girl is taken! When it started to get too crowded to comfortably spin, I reverted to knitting and listening to the Unger Report.

Finally, 1:45 rolled around and I boarded my flight to Mumbai. Since I was already 17 hours into my 22 hour travel itinerary, I wasn't expecting much of note for the last 5 hours. The plane was definitely rockin' the ol' school business class, but it was roomy and they kept us well fed, so who am I to complain, but I did find one things particularly blog worthy.

Do you see that woman's tray? Note that we are in business class, which means that anytime other than those when the plane is actively taking off or landing there are folks pushing free booze your way. And if, perchance, you happen to feel a thirst coming on during the 5 minutes that the beverage cart isn't at your side, any of the flight staff will gladly hand deliver the liquor of your choice. However, this woman must have feared they'd run out before they reached her again. She has not one, but TWO glasses of white wine and a glass of cognac on her tray. I'm not sure what the glass of water is doing there. Maybe she thought it was vodka.

I passed out for a fitful 3 hours of sleep after the meal and woke up in time for the next meal and a little tea. Now I'm in my temporary hotel room for a couple hours before heading back to the Mumbai airport to fly to my final destination.

The room is nice, though for 5 hours, probably more room than I need. Heck, I never thought I'd feel this way, but if the Mumbai airport had those chest of drawer style sleeping quarters that they have in Japan, I'd have been perfectly content with that. But hey, I’ll enjoy it while I’m here. Wanna see a shot of the pool from my room?

Don't you think that would make a banging night club? Did I just say "banging night club"?

Man, I need some sleep. I'm almost out of internet time, so I'll sign off for now. Presuming my hotel near the office has internet connection, I'll be posting more soon.

Where's my welcome wagon


Here I am, 14 hours after I left the house this morning, in the Frankfurt Lufthansa lounge. I don't know how many of you remember my last layover in Frankfurt, but I'm hoping this one is far less exciting. So far so good.

I haven't slept yet, so there has been knitting, there has been reading and there has been a bit of bad movie viewing. I'll probably grant myself a nap once the sleep deprivation hallucinations set in. Weeeee! Better than the free booze for entertainment. All this in hopes of getting close to the 12.5 hour time difference in India. I realize this may be an ill conceived plan as my work schedule these next two weeks is not yet finalized. I may end up actually needing to work a 9-5 PDT which is overnight in Pune.

In the mean time, Leo is taunting me with pictures and audio from home.

Nothing like a little puppy face to make you homesick.

Crappy segues brought to you by Jetlag® (A wholly owned subsidiary of Wonky Moods Inc.)

Last post before I leave


I'm in a bit of a fog with all I have to do before I leave tomorrow, so this post will be a bit haphazard. That said, let's get to it.

I stopped by OFFF on Sunday for just a little while. Leo and Panda drove down with me but when we found out dogs weren't allowed even to the outdoor sections, Leo and Panda went off to check out the town and I wandered the booths.

My first and favorite stop was Janel's of Chameleon Colorworks and Spindlicity.

Hey Julia, see that big bag on the left, that's all BFL, baby!"

More about what I got there, below.

I walked around all the other booths and showed surprising strength of will, even when passing the Wooly Winder stand. Mmmmm, Wooly Winder.

But what would a flock and fiber festival be without some flock?

I'm not crazy about livestock but I can't help but appreciate these guys.
I didn't take a ton of pictures of the festival, knowing they'd be a dime a dozen online. But let me tell you, there was much to be seen. I'll have my calendar marked for this event again next year.

After the festival, Leo, Panda and I were thirsty and ready to find some lunch. Leo spotted this place on his way back to pick me up.

It seemed serendipitous, I had to go in.
There was a bar and a restaurant and I went into the bar portion.

I enjoy a beer as much as the next person but Bud?

Lunch was every bit as spectacular as the decor. The "Coke" I ordered for Leo was a grocery store brand and the bags she packed our lunch in came from the 99¢ store. Now that is one classy establishment.
When I asked about the history, the bartender said it'd be around for many many years, and had gone through several incarnations. She didn't seem to know much more than that. When I told her there was a spinning festival going on down the road, she seemed politely half interested.

On the way home, I fondled my new rovings. 4 ounces each of 4 different colorways from Janel's booth.

Here, from left to right, Optim in colorway "Pearl," Merino/Viscose in colorway "Autumn" and a one-off colorway that I simply think of as "Peach" in the same Merino/Viscose blend.

Also, on the wheel and nearly completely spun up, some alpaca in colorway "Iris."

It's spun at a pretty fine weight and has a range of shades from nearly yellow green to blue to purple and all sorts of in-betweens.

I don't know about you, but when I spin these beautifully dyed colorways, there's always one color that makes a minor cameo amongst all the more dominant shades. Usually, it's a color that on its own, may not impress me, but mixed in with all the colors, it just sings. With this colorway, the shade is a soft dusty blue, more subtle than the dominant blue shade you see in the pictures. When I see that special blue coming up to my fingers, I always get a little excited. I felt the same way about the pink shade in my Autumn Spice roving. I hope to finish spinning and maybe even plying this fiber before I leave, but if not, I know I’ll be coming home to a relaxing treat.

Great, now I have even more to miss


Well, it looks like I'm headed back to India for a couple weeks, starting on Wednesday or Thursday. So now, I will be away from Leo and Panda, my two little rays of sunshine AND El Matchador, my new constant companion (is it just me or does "constant companion" sound like a personal hygiene product?). I expect this trip to be much more intensive and less fun all around, but I still hope to make the best of it. I'm a touch nervous about going without anyone I know and as the sole representative for my company. But let's not talk about work, let's talk about freshly spun yarn.

The Red Maple roving worked up quickly at a nice thick and thin, mostly worsted weight yarn, once plied. Do you want to see something amazing? Here are the two bobbins after I finished plying them.

Please excuse the lighting, it was evening when I did the plying.

I had all of maybe 12-18 inches of singles on one bobbin when the other emptied. There was no planning, no trying, just magic. *sigh* It'll never happen again.

I thought the red purple would look nice against the cement of the back patio.

It's a thick and lofty yarn, with out too much spin, and the results are every bit as squoochy and sproingly as you'd want it to be. I already have plans for some of this.

Panda gives it a due air of elegance.

After the merino, I pulled out some more roving dyed by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (alas, still no website) that I bought from Carolina Homespun. The colorway is "Purple Haze" and it's a heavenly mix of purples and steel grays. The blend is Merino/Bombyx and I had 2 ounces worth.

I spun it up pretty finely because I wanted to try to use the Navajo Plying technique. For those who haven't tried it before, Navajo plying is a means of achieving a three ply yarn off a single bobbin by, in essence, working very long crochet chain stitches. It takes a touch of coordination, but with a little practice, it's actually quite fun. I started with some scrap yarn I had and got the motion down, before trying it with my new singles.

The results are nice; a nearly balanced 3 ply with lots of sheen and a soft hand.

There's a lot I'm going to miss while I'm away.

A lot indeed.

Went to OFFF today, will post about that soon.

After seeing MK Carroll's Knitty Gritty episode, I popped off a little comment to her and we started conversing. Turns out, she was going to be in my area, right about...well…now. So she invited me to a local Knitting Guild which offers two free visits for non-members. I went last night and had a great time. I met some lovely people, MK included, who made me feel incredibly welcome to my new town and who didn't act the least bit put off by my rather clumsy conversation and non sequiturs.

First, there was Amanda, who kindly welcomed me to her table when I showed up late and popped down in a corner. She was gracious enough to forgive me when I, in my infinite social nervousness, didn't recognize her name. Sorry! She just happened to be sitting next to MK and then introduced me to the rest of the table; Katrina, Chrissy and Donna one other woman whose name has escaped me but who should not take that as any reflection of my opinion of her. I'm still trying to find someone in Portland who is mean, but I'm not having any luck. To paraphrase Leo, who is paraphrasing someone else, "If you can't find the jerk in the group, chances are, it's you." I'm kidding of course, no need to fill my comments with reassurances.

Since I didn't take any pictures while there, I'll have to leave you with some Panda goodness instead.

Here's my little girl all curled up and sleeping on the couch, one chilly morning this week.

When she hangs out by the computer, Leo calls her our little firewall.

And here she is, realizing that she can see Leo on the other side of the window. He's taunting her and she's barking.

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with "L."

Every time I pull a new skein of wheel spun off my niddy noddy, I'm inspired anew to crack open my stash of roving and see how the next fiber will work up. This time, I pulled out my supply of Red Maple Merino, one of the Almost Solid Series fibers that Amy offers. It took me a few yards before I really started to get the feel for the merino. It's a more challenging fiber for me to control than some of the others I've spun lately, but I think the practice paid off. This stuff is sproingy, soft and airy. I'm spinning it a little thick and not too tightly (I hope) in an attempt to maintain it's great innate qualities.

During my lunch break, I often eat a quick bite before sitting down to spin a bit. Monday was no exception. As I did so, Spongebob playing on the tube and Panda sitting beside me (try to top THAT for a lunch break), Leo stopped and watched me for a moment. I look up and our eyes meet. He smiles and says "Can I try?"

Well, short of offering to do all the housework forever onward, there are few things he could have said that would have filled me with more joy. So hurtling over pre-drafted yarn, a sleeping pup, and nearly crashing into the coffee table in my excitement, I ushered him over to El Matchador. We practiced starting up and maintaining the speed of the wheel with the treadle and then I reattached the unspun fiber to the yarn on the bobbin and held his hands while we drafted together. After a bit, I left him to try it on his own, offering advice when he asked.

Let’s be honest, though, I am probably not the person to be teaching anyone to wheel spin right now. After a few minutes, Leo gave up in frustration. I removed his yarn from the bobbin and piled it carefully next to El Matchador and started back to my own spinning.

Later, he picks the small pile of yarn up off the table and begins to straighten it out and untwisting it. "How will you salvage this?" He asks innocently.

"I don't plan to salvage it, I love it," I say as I snatch it from his hands before the fibers are completely set loose. "It's sentimental now."

He smiles and walks off and I go into the kitchen to do the dishes. And then he realizes the implications of what I've said. From behind me, I hear "You're going to BLOG about this aren't you?"

I don't meet his gaze.

"I won't if you don't want me to."


He kisses my neck, gives me a little hug and says, “go ahead.”

He's a keeper.

I think they call that "loft"


I never cease to be amazed at how very spinable the Cotswold is that I bought from Nistock Farms. Cotswold is not a very soft fiber. It's certainly not as rough as some wools, but I wouldn't make a bikini out of it, that's for sure. But there's something about it that really appeals to me. It's got a soft halo with just a bit of sheen and the way they dyed it (the color way is called, Autumn Spice) is simply spectacular. I love this yarn. Spinability wise, I think it bears a bit of resemblance to the A type Pygora, though, of course, the Pygora is much softer.

Much like Julia felt while spinning her first skein on her gorgeous Rose, I wasn't so sure this skein would live up to my expectations. It seemed a little flat and blah and perhaps a bit too thick and thin, while plying up. Then when Laura (alas, no blog) pointed out that in my complete newbie haze I'd used my bobbin backwards, I though for sure I'd blown it. But beginners luck shined down upon me and this is what I pulled off the niddy noddy.

I don't know if it counts as "balanced" since it doesn't twist as a whole, but it does have little kinky bits in there. I would guess it'd be considered unbalanced in its constituent parts yet oddly balanced overall. But man, this is 152 yards of lofty goodness. At this unwashed state, it is just a big poof of orange yumminess. Do you see that other mini skein in back? That's the leftover Cotswold and the leftover BFL/Alpaca, plied together to clear off the two bobbins. There was more of the brown than the orange, so after I exhausted the Cotswold, I Andean plied the remaining BFL/Alpaca into the same skein. It's a pretty unattractive little skein but I just couldn't bring myself to simply toss the leftovers.

The big skein though? She is one sexy mama. I'll let the images do the talking. Just try not to love these.

Thank goodness I have an extensive stock of unspun fiber right now because if I didn’t I’d be buying up a whole bunch more of this roving.



With my first skeins of yarn completed, I'm ready to expand my wheel horizons. Thanks for all the encouragement and kind words towards those humble skeins. I have no idea what I'll knit from them (too much deadline work right now to think about it) but whatever it is, I expect to cherish it for it's significance. In the mean time, when I'm not knitting away on my projects, El Matchador and I are making sweet whirring music together. First, I attempted to spin a few thicker skeins of yarn. Admittedly, my first roving choice was poor. It was a Merino blend that, I think, had felted ever so slightly, making it a real bastard to draft. The result is the beautifully dyed but poorly spun specimen on the right.

My second attempt was with more of the roving I spun up recently on my spindle. The results (on the left) are still a little rough, but much improved over the first skein. Both are relatively balanced and neither has been washed and hung to dry, which would probably smooth out their appearance a little.

I used an Andean Ply for both so I could spin up a small amount and not waste any trying to get two bobbins perfectly matched.

After remembering that I don't like knitting with thick yarns and so should probably focus on worsted or lighter weight yarns, I opted to pull out an old favorite
and finish off my stash of it. It's weird to me that my spindle spinning is so much more controlled and even, but this practice is good for me.

I spun up two bobbins, partially full and am plying them now.

And because you can only look at so much yarn spun up by a novice, Panda wanted to give you a little pearl of wisdom. She says:

"If your parents take forever to unpack your toys, you must play with all of them at once, when you finally get them back.

I love my new wheel. I just feel I need to say that, in case it needs saying. El Matchador and I have been spending a lot of time together lately and these are the fruits of our loins labors.

First, about 500 yards of the mystery white wool I got from Greenwich Yarns. This was spun up at a fingering weight, more or less. It's fairly consistent but with a few thick spots and some areas that are probably closer to a lace weight

And here is probably 550 yards of Alpaca/BFL that I bought on the road trip. This stuff wanted to spin up super super fine. I think it spun up mostly at a lace weight but there are points that were basically thread weight.

When I paired them, the result is nothing you would ever want to buy, but I love it. I really think that knit up, it will look fine, but there's no doubt these skeins have "character" in spades. I think you can see how inconsistent the plying is in these pictures, what you can't see are the various repair jobs for breaks and occasional run away ply that plies on itself, making little appendages. I think I only have one or two, but they are in there. With nearly 500 yards, though, I should be able to make a little something special out of my yarn.

Yesterday, I picked myself up a few extra accessories at Pacific Wool and Fiber. All they had were high speed bobbins (and only two of those) so I grabbed those and a fast whorl and will begin my adventure with those this weekend.

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight


Let me start by saying, if you have any regard for me as a mature woman of a refined wit, even after this post, then you:

  1. Don't know me very well.

  2. May work with me.

  3. Probably should just disregard the rest of this post

But for the rest of you, check out the post, after the bump.

The UPS man cometh


I checked my tracking number yesterday, knowing that the wheel was scheduled to be delivered that day. Google Maps, the bloody liar that it is, told me that package was 11 minutes away. Ok, it's not Google Maps's fault, but having checked the site at 6AM, by 5PM, I was starting to lose hope. What if they delivered it to someone else's house? What if the UPS truck went off the edge of a cliff? What if, what if?

So I decided to take a shower and midway through, the doorbell rings. It takes all my self control not to run to the door, hair lathered, naked as the day I was born, and greet the UPS man. Luckily, Leo was home, dressed and not otherwise indisposed and he was able to get the door.

While I got myself rinsed off and dressed, he did what any good fiber lover lover would do and he started to get the box open for me. Check this baby out:

Whoever said that good things come in little packages never had a Schacht coming their way.

Inside, was my wheel, in great condition and looking beautiful.

After about 15 minutes on the Schacht website, I had him going. I used a little bit of motor oil that Leo had, and tied some Rowan Cotton Glace on for a drive band (I know it's not ideal, but it got the job done). For the next 3 hours I spun spun spun spun. The only whorl I received was a slow whorl and I like to spin very fine with very slippery yarns, so this will have to change. Adjusting to this took a little bit of time. The results (though poorly lit) aren't as bad as I feared.

I have no idea what the fiber is. I got it from Greenwich Yarns and have always found it very spinable on the spindle, but it's even more so on the wheel.

Despite the slow whorl, I think I still managed to overspin the singles, but who cares, at this point I'm just enjoying the sound and feel of spinning. I am itching to do it right now, but will have to wait until my lunch break.

I probably have enough of this fiber to, more or less, fill this bobbin. This means I can andean ply the yarn or ply it with another fiber. I'm thinking I may do the latter, so that I can use my new lazy kate. Woohoo!

At my request, this weekend we decided to try some sight seeing inland. The ocean is always a safe bet but there's a whole lot of Oregon that doesn't even come close to being near the beach, but which is supposed to be lovely.

Leo got a recommendation from a friend who said that Silver Falls was both pet friendly (though she hadn't brought a pet) and really wonderful. It did sound amazing and hearing that pets are allowed on all trails except the "canyon trail" lead us to believe we had some beautiful falls in store for us. Alas, there are no falls, that we could see, anywhere on the other trails. Luckily, we still got to see much that was truly beautiful.

These weren't redwoods, but the trees stood incredibly tall. I just wasn't able to get a picture that showed a single tree from top to bottom

This fallen tree was immense. Leo and Panda look so small next to it.


The trails were fairly well maintained and a pretty easy walk. It didn't seem too challenging and surprisingly few buggies about our heads. As immense and breathtaking as all the views were, it's the little things that catch my eye.

We have icky spiders about the house, but it doesn't mean I can't appreciate a beautiful web when I see one.

Those shocking red berries look so intense next to all that green.

And if you think those are enchanting, look at this moss growing everywhere.

Some trees had thick coats of this growing on them, while others seem relatively untouched.

This seems like a setting out of some fantasy movie.

I had no idea I was making a heart with the leash. Cute, no?

After our hike, we went back to Portland for some lunch. We ended up at a wine bar called Thirst, where we had a delicious but light meal.

The view from our table, overlooking the river, on a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Panda hanging out at Leo's feet, and Leo sporting a lovely Panda shirt.

Since it was a wine bar, we decided to try their tasting options. I was expecting and would have been perfectly content with, smaller servings of wine, but their selections were great and really fun to try together. Leo got the "Eclectic Reds" and I had the "Light Flight All White." Paired with our salads and an order of assorted olives, we were three happy hikers.

Our favorite was the roasted kalamata olives. They were addicting. I'm surprised it didn't come to blows deciding who would get the last one.

A little eye candy


While I wait for my spinning wheel, I have been passing the time on my non-public knitting projects and my spindle spinning. I'm pleased to say that my tencel/merino blend yarn turned out every bit as lovely as I hoped.

Here it is looking rather unassuming on top of my laundry hamper.

It's about a sport weight, two ply, spun on my 0.9 ounce Golding Tsunami

It's fairly balanced, with only a single twist in it after removing it from my niddy noddy.
But check out how much better she looks basking in a little ray of sunshine.

I actually had the skein on my desk and I had already downloaded a bunch of pictures I had taken earlier. I saw the way the sun glinted off the yarn and just had to take this second picture.

And because she makes my heart melt, here's a little picture of Panda napping near me while I work.

It doesn't get much cuter than that.

We were channeling our inner knitwear models in these pictures. I think the Lush Hoodie better suits the scenery than my vest, but one makes due with what one packs.


I think I may have laughed myself stupid during this.

See all the silliness here and here.

A little glimps of what I'm doing


While I have a myriad of knitting ideas and projects in my head, and a couple on the needles, right now I'm working on two projects for Kat Coyle's upcoming book, so knit blogging will be sparse at best. She has granted me permission to post little unrevealing bits of what I'm doing, and so, I give you a swatch’s eye view of my current progress.

This is the public side of the fabric. It's worked in Alpaca in a stitch known by several names. I believe Barbara Walker refers to it as a "Woven Stitch" and the Harmony Guides refer to it as "Linen Stitch." Either way I love the way it looks though it's a beast to knit and a real yarn hog. I don't care though, it's worth every hour spent. Check out how the back of the fabric looks:

Isn't it great? It's a sort of highly defined seed stitch, though of course, not reversible. Despite the fact that all the knit stitches face the front of the fabric and all the purl stitches face the back, the fabric does not roll the way a stockinette does, which means that the requirement for edging is really minimal. All in all, I'm very happy with the results so far.

But that's about as much of that as I can show you. Instead, how about a little spinning?

Here is some roving from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (no site, but you can search google to see all sorts of shops that sell her work.) It's tencel/merino blend in colorway "Sandlewood"

I can't decide which shot I like better.

On the left is the roving in the shade. There's a bit of a flatness to it but it's got a soft and pleasant look to it. On the right, she basks in direct sunlight. You might need sunglasses for the glare but it really shows her sheen. Either way, I'm in love. And can I just say how much I love this tree stump in my backyard?

Not everyone loves a parade


Saturday, Leo, Panda and I decided to walk around Portland a bit. Panda doesn't really love "social" settings, she's more of a reclusive nature girl. She's definitely gotten better over the years, but it's still a little overwhelming to be in the city. We try to give her small doses of relatively positive experiences in public places when we can and lots of good times at places she’s more comfortable.

After walking along the river for a while, we headed back inland for some lunch at a wonderful Thai restaurant. We sat outside, enjoying our great meal and giving Panda a little breather from the hot weather and noisy city only to hear a bit of a commotion coming up the street.

What was it?

An immigrants' rights parade.

The "haters" sign amuses me to no end.

Panda, on the other hand....

...Is NOT amused. If you aren't an animal person, you may not be able to read her expression, but to me, this screams "get me the hell OUT of here." Click the image to get the full effect. I can't help but laugh. I know it's wrong, but I do anyway.

Once the parade passed, we found a quiet route back to the car and ran into this little guy:

And if you are wondering, here's his tag:

He's a part of this project. How cute is that? Check out some of the other pictures in the galleries.

Dammit Janice, and OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY!


The day I arrived back from the road trip, I had an email from Janice suggesting I get my tukus over to ebay to bid on this.

It's been a rollercoaster week of waiting to see if I'd be the top bidder. On the few occasions when I have bid on items on ebay, it's always for stuff I would like but can completely live without. And while I can live without this item, man, did I want it.

Well, I'm the big winner. I suspect the item will go out UPS ground sometime Tuesday, so I might even have it by next weekend. I think she'll need a little TLC to get her started again.

If anyone has suggestions for a place in Portland where I can get her a new drive band, some oil and maybe a once over by an expert and some help setting up, I would love the recommendations. Of course, I'd be happy to pay for the expert's time. I've done enough work in yarn shops to know that when you bring in something you've bought elsewhere and ask for help, you should really be offering to pay for said help.

The best laid plans of mice and men


Leo, Panda and I went to the beach this weekend. The coast is usually a safe bet for us because it's generally beautiful and Panda loves it.

Even our shoes seem happy at the beach

Leo had explored the Oregon coast a bit before and when he had, it had been beautiful but exceedingly cold. He suggested lots of layers. So we threw on some warm clothing and headed out for a quick half-day trip to the ocean.

Read all about it after the bump.

Settling in nicely


It's really hard to tell this early, but so far, I'm very happy in Portland. Seeing Panda so happy, eating great food and meeting kind people, it all seems a bit too good to be true. Perhaps when the rains start coming in earnest, I'll be singing a different tune. For now though, I will fall asleep counting Pygora, and wake up to great coffee, I'm going native, people.

Maybe it's unfair to compare the accommodations of a second story apartment versus the little house we are renting now, but from my office window, it's not uncommon for me to see birds and squirrels, fattening themselves up for the winter. We have some sort of tree with berries, growing right outside the window, which makes for no end of visitors.

But you know, the contents of this blog have been leaning pretty heavily towards talk of road trips and shenanigans (that's right, I call shenanigans!) I feel it's time to at least make a passing reference to something crafty.

I did a little more spinning on, and then plied the roving that saw all the great sites on our trip.

The fiber is a blend of BFL and Alpaca. I think this shot makes it seem a little course, but it isn't. It's an example of a fiber blend that is greater than the sum of its parts; soft, drapey, silky and unbelievably spinable.

This skein is exceptionally special to me because not only has it seen great sites but it's a combination of work by both Julia and me. I love the work I spin on my own, but it seems all the more special when someone else has spun a little of it too. I think both of us learned a lot going to the Fiber Fest and stopping at several shops on our way to Oregon. By Crater Lake, we were both able to match each other's spinning quite well.

To add a little more specialness still, I asked Panda to give me a hand with the photo shoot.

You'll have to excuse our yellow lawn. Once the weather gets cooler and rainier, I'm told I expect plenty of lush green grass.

And since there's been a bit of clamoring for Panda pics, here's a bit more to sate your appetite. After work, the three of us decided to take a jaunt around the neighborhood. I rode my pretty pink bicycle, and Panda and Leo....

Well, they do things their own way.


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