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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Exhausted and Tired. Oh So Tired

I don't know what got into us yesterday, but we got busy early and stayed that way the rest of the day. Sadly, for the first time this summer, we broke out the kayaks. I know, I know... It's July and I finally took my kayaks out. Which is better than last year when we didn't take them out at all.
Can we go yet? Can we? C'mon! Put the camera away and let's go!
Emmitt was so happy to be out with us without those pesky siblings.
There's a duck! Let's go see the duck! Paddle! I can swim faster than this!
Tucker and Shiela are also kayak trained but Shiela is just old for this and sitting in the kayak isn't so comfortable for her anymore. Tucker, well he's just a bit prissy and impatient and to be honest doesn't enjoy the kayak like Emmitt does. To be honest, he doesn't swim so well either so...
You can pet me too you know...
And Emmitt got to be with his favorite person in the WHOLE world. I'm the one that saved his ass from death by freezing, but am I the favorite? No...

Then we came home, did a couple little things, then hit the rock gym. The Rock Gym. I haven't climbed in a couple 4+ years, which equals soreness, blisters, and I'm just surprised I can type today. I forced myself to knit just to make my hands work this morning. I managed to climb eight routes before my left hand gave out and wouldn't let me do much else, but I hope to get back into it since the local gym changed owners again and is cleaner, updated, and for the summer until I get better again, empty.

I tried a route that almost made me cry. I remember when I used to climb routes like it to warm up for the good ones. I ate them for breakfast. It kicked my ass and I feel it. Hell, I felt it yesterday, along with the shame and irritation. So we went to the movies last night before I walked the kids before bed

Why all this jumping back into activity? Because I've been lazy. And because one of the guys at the retreat inspired me to get back into it. I haven't gained a lot of weight back, but I have gotten lazy again. I have stuck with my goal to walk the kids before sitting down to knit or spin, which is probably why I haven't gained all my weight back. But let's face it, I want to do more.

So, I am back on My Fitness Pal, and dutifully logging my food and exercise. I am even using my heart rate monitor. It makes me feel good that My Fitness Pal's calorie calculations are so very close to what my heart rate monitor comes up with.

Anyway, it's about time to head out with the kids. Bob took the kids out while I wrapped up the gussets  on my socks. So I have to get them out next. They're having the downtown crazy days sale this weekend so that's the plan for our walk. And believe it or not, I'm considering taking the kayaks out again this afternoon. I have to even out the really weird sun burn (It's more of a scald, not a burn. Barely pinked up) on my right arm. I put on sunblock and only that strange little spot. It's quite odd. I sprayed, rubbed, and there's this strange streaky splotch on the arm.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

I'm sorry to have waited as long as I have to do a real post. It's just been one of those weeks. I find other things to do instead of everything I should. Like vacuum. Let us not discuss the size of some of the dust bunnies in the house. If I don't get the Dyson moving today I think one of my dogs may lose a dominance battle with one of the dust bunnies.

So, on the note of trying to get it together, I'm writing a post while enjoying my morning tea. The dogs and I already met a couple friends and went up the mountain for a walk. We worked up a sweat and wore off the morning's calories while tuckering out the kids so I could clean house quick before going to the yarn shop for spinning day.

On the note of spinning, the Tour de Fleece is officially over. I need to wrap up this last yarn I had going so I can come up with a final yardage count. I am sad to see it be over for the year, but on the other hand it's a bit of a relief not having that item on every days list hanging over my head. Not only did I need to spin but then I needed to catch up with my teams spinning. I log onto the iPad and feel that I'm at loose ends now without all that having to be done on a daily basis.

Speaking of things being done, the Mens Rocky Mountain Retreat is over for another year. It is so much fun every year, and it's a bit of a downer when it's complete. I only get to see most of these guys in person once a year and though I love the retreat, it's saddening at the end of it. I am hoping this year to get down to Denver for some knit nights.

Once again we made it home with some wonderful new items to add to the stash. Here is a shot of the new stash items which is mostly made up of swag from the retreat.
Though there is always swag, when we go to the yarn stores I feel the need to support the business's that sponsor us. I behaved myself wonderfully this year though and bought very little despite us going down early and hitting a few yarn stores this time.
This is some lovely sock yarn that I can't wait to dive into for myself after I get my current sock project done. I bought this at the Loopy Ewe. Hi Cathy!
I had never been to My Sister Knits in the Fort Collins are either. What a lovely cozy little yarn shop! I could easily spend my days there in fiber bliss. The shop itself is set up in a guest house of a residence surrounded by her beautiful flower gardens.
I picked up some lovely Madeline Tosh yarn in Vanilla Bean. I don't know quite yet what this will be but it will be lovely I'm sure. I think I will look for a pattern for the annual Montessori School fund raiser for my friend Debbi. We'll see...

At the Stitchin Den in Estes I snagged some sock yarn for the Guy to have a new set of socks. We won't discuss his last pair, but the issue was with me. He didn't destroy them, otherwise he wouldn't be getting new ones... Which I can't locate the picture for, so perhaps you'll see them when they're done.
Then there's the usual swag yarns we get, such as this years colorway from Skeindalous. She does such a wonderful job every year and her yarns are great to work with.
Coats and Clark always donates some yarn to us. The sad thing is, the yarns they donate are wonderful yarns as Red Heart attempts to remake themselves and recover their quality. Last year was some wonderful Alpaca Love and this years is Red Heart with Wool. Both are wonderful feeling bouncy yarns that unfortunately didn't make it on the market and were discontinued. What can I say, little old lady's want to knit their granny square afghans from recycled plastic bags and they do not go to Walmart to spend a buck a skein more on a decent yarn. It's sad truly. I have last years blacks and grays set aside for a sweater. There was that much, a sweater's worth. This year, though an atrocious fuchsia, I have enough for a baby blanket that will make some little girl quite happy.
And finally, the Trekking XXL. Great sock yarn, but just not my color. I'm sure it will make it's way either knit or still in a skein to someone who will love this color.

Every year Frank and Brady who arrange the retreat seem worried about the swag. They do such an amazing job and there are so many other things to worry about in my mind that I don't understand why they always seem to worry about this piece of the puzzle. I say the same thing every year. I pay the fee and come for them. For the other guys. For the atmosphere and wonderful time I will have. I do not expect swag and in no way is it part of my decision to come. It's a great little bonus but if it didn't happen, I wouldn't think about it one way or another.

As you can see, I behaved admirably on the yarn expenditures, but I have another item I bought to confess to. It only cost me about $35.00. I bought a fleece. An entire fleece that was at one time attached to a Jacob Sheep Ewe named Regina.
If I got it right, that is her in the far back. It's a lovely fleece and soon you will see more pics regarding wool as I scour and sort her fleece for spinning. I'm excited! I did buy those wool combs after all, now I need to learn how to use them.
We again had a great hike the third day of the retreat, despite going down the wrong trail.
Don't blame Bob guys! We all had a hand in that little event. Well, except me, I led us back up to the real trail. And by up, I mean up.
Okay, so I just followed the trail up, it's not as though I found the trail, and I could have noticed that I didn't recognize the trail too. In 0.3 miles we probably gained something close to 800 feet if not more. I snapped this picture of a little toad stool growing from the base of one of the trails stepping stones as an excuse to take a few deep breaths and not look like I was wimping out. I was surprised I wasn't more sore after that excursion at 9000 feet. Though Mark, I still wonder why you didn't come along on the hike...

As someone has already pointed out, I have few pictures on this retreat of people with faces. I in fact have many face shots, but as many of you may recall, I have privacy issues. These cover not only me, but others as well and I don't feel that it is my place to post other peoples face shots without their permission. It is the internet after all. I also don't snap surreptitious phone pics to post either. But then, I'm not sly and if i wanted to I will just blatantly take the picture. Screw being slick about it.

So, there you go. Retreat done, Check. Tour done, check. Sleep getting caught up on, half a check. Blog update, check. Hopefully you will see a bit more of me here soon, but for now that's it. Now I need to go remove the dusty threat to my dogs pecking order!
I'll leave you with a shot of the sheep farm dogs.

Monday, July 22, 2013

And I'm Home

This is just a quick post to let you all know I got home safely last night form the retreat. As usual, it was a wonderful time. A Lot of driving to and from but whew, is it worth it!

I will have more to post in the near future but right now I'm to tired to compose much more than this so here's just a couple of pictures of my time away from home.
Packed and ready to hit the road! Is it sad that the large suitcase is my spinning wheel?
A Jacob Sheep
The kissing llama... Don't ask.
Fred the Fresian and the Angora Goat
My Sister Knits, if you are ever in Ft Collins, you have to stop in.
Calypso Cascades. Our hike of the event.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Heading Out Of Town

It's that time of the year again. The Mens Rocky Mountain Knitting Retreat is this week. Which means in addition to spinning for the Tour de Fleece, I need to walk the dogs, clean the house, and pack my bags/wheel for the trip. Great... It's okay, on these little trips Bob gets a taste of what my world is like when he is out of town. All you do is walk dogs, go to work, walk dogs, eat, sleep, and repeat. At least I am cleaning the house for him. Actually, he only works two of the days I'm gone for.

And due to not being around, I know that I won't post a blog update, so it's time to post something before heading out.

This morning was spent wrapping up the last yarn I have been working on for the tour.
This is a 100% Combed Finn Top. I think I have about 300 yards but until I skein it, wash it, and dry, I don't know for sure.
What's a Finn Sheep you ask? Okay for those that don't care skip this. Finn sheep are a finnish breed that in color variation are much like Shetland and Icelandic sheep. Their wool is on the fine end of the medium range. They often have multiple lambs as the picture above shows a mom with four lambs. The United States record is seven lambs.
Okay enough about sheep. Let's discuss more yarn. Up next on my queue is a 100% merino superwash I've had in the fiber stash for a bit. I'm thinking about making a 3-ply navajo ply yarn for socks for myself. We'll see how thin I can manage it.

The Tour itself is over half way done. We in the Wyoming group have a halfway and finish prize due to some wonderful members donations. Shatki form Cheyenne won our halfway prize.
Dana made a project bag as well as WPI (wraps per inch) tool from Shrinky dink material and a set of stitch markers. Cindy and myself both donated some fiber from our own stashes.
Remember the trees I discussed earlier this summer? We had bought a replacement tree for the Locust that seemed to fizzle out after the deer attack, and then when the new tree came home, the old one decided to finally give us leaves.

Well, the new one never did anything. For 6 weeks it was a stick in the front yard. The company that it came in replaced it with one that was already in leaf. We yanked the other one out, and found that we finally had roots showing up. Finally. So, we dropped it in a bucket of water and plant food for a few days to see what would happen.
And this happened. 7 weeks later we got leaves, but only on the bottom near the trunk. We placed it in the ground on week eight and it's still doing okay. I don't know if it will make the winter but we now have a new tree in the back yard. I kind of hope it takes. This is a weird little bald spot between lilacs in the back yard that could use some green.
So, now we have three locust trees... You can see the two on either side behind the clematis here. The one we put in last year on the right was slow to start this year, but wow it took off. It is probably twice the size of last year and has now bloomed twice for us. The clematis are... okay. The white one bloomed earlier in the year and is done but is never as full as the purple one. But even this purple one in the front yard is nothing like my purple one in the back yard.
And one of the reasons I love clematis is that they are just as beautiful in seed as they are in bloom.
Here is one of their pretty seed heads. The little spirals of seed heads are so elegant and beautiful. This particular seed head is form one of the large white flowers.

The service berry bushes are going to again give me a minimal harvest this year, but the bushes themselves have grown nicely to fill in the spot I put them in. The Raspberries that we thought fizzled out last year have shot up not only replacement spires but additional spots of spires on the side of the house. The siberian peas that seemed to struggle after being placed in the side of the front yard last year have decided to settle in. In fact two out of the three are taller than me now. The maple we placed where the dying pine we had to cut out before it fell on the house has had over a foot of new growth in height and most of the branches outward all have about a foot of new growth and it is still growing.
The morning glories again reseeded them selves and should be giving blooms here soon. I can't wait, they are always so pretty. I'm curious what colors will come in this year. I originally planted red, purple, pink and blue. Last year only purple and a couple blues came out. I'm okay with whatever comes up. You can see they are intermingled with a wild prairie rose that decided to come up there as well. I like wild rose species whether they are primroses, sitka roses, or these prairie roses so I let them come up. It's less mowing I have to do, right?
The only regret this year, is that my grape seems to not be giving me any berries. Dang it! Oh well, it's still growing and seems to be doing well so there's always next year. As you can seem the morning glories and the grape are growing on a structure. There is a swing built from pipe that is cemented into the back yard that we didn't have a clue how to remove without major money thrown at it so I use it as a trellis of sorts. I'm all about the recycling.

Okay, that I believe is all the pictures I was saving up. You all have a great week and weekend, I'll talk to you again next week.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ribbons, The Tour, But Not Related

First let us discuss the ribbons. Do you remember this?
If you do recall this, you may recall that I put it in the County Fair. Well, today I went to confirm this.
That's right. I got a blue and a purple ribbon. I know little of these things but I do know that the blue ribbon is good. No idea what the purple means.

The Tour is half over. We at the Wyoming Handspinners Team have had our first prize for the half way mark. Shatki won herself a bag of goodies.
Seriously, a bag, and goodies. One of our other spinners donated her time, energy, and materials to sew a project bag, a WPI tool, and a set of markers. Another spinner and myself donated fiber from our own "yet-to-be yarn" stashes.
I hope she likes it. We still have an end of it all drawing to throw in the pot.

I myself got very little spinning done today but I did wake up at an hour we shall not speak of and was unable to go back to sleep so I finished up this stuff.
I ended up with about 190 yards of a heavy worsted/Aran weight 4 ply.
Which is one of the bulkier yarns I have managed thus far.
It is a chain ply of 8 oz's total made up of 2 bfl green singles and 2 brown texel roving singles.
Both were lovely to work with.
Chain ply simply means I plyed to batches of two ply that were as above, a brown and a green, then plyed the two 2 plys together.
Not nearly as fancy as the name sounds, and resulting far less arn than a few days of solid spinning time should equal.

Then I washed it, shocked it with several dunks in alternating hot and cold baths, and beat the crap out of it on the front stoop to full it a bit and make those separate ply's stick together. I think it worked. Even if it shrank. And beating yarn on a cement stoop at 80 degrees in the morning, dries your yarn out really quickly. Just FYI in case you need to dry yarn quickly in the future... You never know.

Well, I finally got the scared foster dog to calm down so off to bed with me. Have a great one guys.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Shake Shake Shake, Shake Shake Shake, Shake Your Booty!

And here is Emmitt doing exactly that. I swear they know when I try to get a picture of them when we are at the river and try to screw up every shot.
Little bastards...
And Heathens...
I know they are just trying to get my camera lens wet.
This morning started out with a good river romp because this being the first weekend of the month, means it's bath time in our house. Sorry, no great bath pictures. At the time of actual baths, I am too wet and hairy to man the camera. You can see as we get closer to the river in the heat, they perk up and start moving towards their favorite swimming holes.
Emmitt tries to hurry me along from behind with a wet cold nose to the back of the knee but still looks away when I go to snap his picture.
Like any kids, they just can't wait to get wet and dirty. What's love other than 80 pounds of long haired border collie with wet sand in their coat snuggling with you on your bed?
And I do mean swim... Look closely, this is one of the few Great Danes you will ever see swim. They just aren't huge swimmers but last summer he decided that he loved to swim with his brother and hasn't stopped since. You would think he's too skinny to swim, but he manages it just fine, especially if there's a toy to go get and tease his siblings with. He loves to stand in water that is just deep enough they have to swim yet he can stand there holding the toy out of their reach. Like I said, Little Bastards...

After all this fun we went to the dog wash, washed them all up, trimmed nails, and got brushed and Tucker had his customary every couple of month trim jobs. I bought one of those de-shedding tools to work on their coats too. I'm hopeful since it pulled so much hair out of them. My front yard is now covered with as much fur as is left on the dogs.

In other news, we are officially a week in to the Tour de Fleece 2013. You may remember that I was working on this horrendous lovely pink Corriedale roving.
So pretty... *herk, gasp, herk*
Then I was throwing some beads into it on one of the plying steps.
And then plying it again with a third single that wrapped the first two core singles in hopes that it would trap those beads further into the yarn and keeping them integrated into the body of the yarn unlike that dreadful earlier attempt.
Remember that? Ugh, I wish I didn't. You can see the beads popping out of the yarn on their nylon leader and just hanging out, not really part of the yarn at all.

And then after all those steps, I gave the final yarn a good shocking cold water plunge after washing it in warm water to full it a bit and really fluff it up a bit and hold those beads in.
And I have to say, it worked. As you can see, those beads are part of the yarn itself. My only regret; and it's a small one based on the time suck this was already, that there are not more beads present. I wanted some that sparkled with the color elegantly like a night sky, but I feel this is more of the night sky within the confines of a large city. The city lights block all but the brightest. Granted, I didn't want the sky from the desolate dark desert where you can see the band of the milky way, that would have been overkill, but scattering of the night sky from the dimly lit suburbs would have been nice. Oh well, another lesson for another day.

In the end I have a perfectly usable 500 yards of 3 ply crepe dk weight yarn. Hope the person it is a gift for loves it. Don't worry fellas, it will be coming to the retreat before going to live at her house. And yes, she LOVES pink. Somebody has to.