On My Birthday

My birthday was several days ago.  We got home from New Jersey only a few days before that.  I was tired and needed to get back into a rhythm at home.  I decided the best gift I could give myself for my birthday was progress on personal projects.  I made progress on three projects: (1) Finishing a loom and spinning wheel; (2) Scouring fleece; and (3) Spinning a batt.

Finishing

In early January, I wrote about the problems I have with the finish on my rigid heddle loom and my spinning group’s wheel.  My mother-in-law passed away the day after I wrote that post.  When we left for New Jersey, I left all the pieces out on the workbench.  I was at a bit of a loss of how to proceed because after five passes with the mineral spirits, some of the pieces were still tacky.  On my birthday, I took the loom and the treadles to our local Woodcraft store and explained what I had done so far.  They said I probably put too much Danish Oil on, which is why it never dried.  They said that continuing with the mineral spirits was the correct approach but that if that doesn’t work then I will have to remove the entire finish and start over.  I was using paper towels to apply the mineral spirits.  They suggested that I use a shop towel because the paper towel might be too smooth.  Over the course of the last several days, I applied another 5 or 6 rounds of mineral spirits.  Some of the pieces are no longer tacky, some have parts that are tacky and some that are not, and some are still tacky all over but are not as tacky as they were before.  We continue to move in the right direction!

Scouring

In early January, I scoured some fleece and wrote a long post about it.  That day, I only scoured a fraction of the fleece I needed to scour.

The day my mother-in-law died, I was at a friend’s house, about to scour more fleece.  My spinning group was holding our third annual retreat (I posted about the first one).  This year, we decided to spend the day at the home of one of our members.  These retreats are usually low-key, bring a project and do your own thing affairs, but this year several of us had fleece to scour, others had never scoured and wanted to learn, and our hostess has excellent space for scouring, so we decided to do a scouring day.  I brought all the fleece I needed to scour and all my equipment.

Since several of us were processing fleece and since I had several 4 – 16 ounce samples, I put all my fleece into mesh laundry bags.  Inside each laundry bag, I wrote the name of the breed on a tyvek wrist band (Amazon affiliate link).  I used these wristbands when dyeing and scouring because they will not dissolve in water and you can write on them with a Sharpie.  I had just finished putting everything into bags and was about to start scouring when my husband called to tell me his mother had passed.  I immediately packed up all my fleece and drove home, leaving my equipment behind since everyone else was using it.  I picked up the equipment after we returned home.

I still wanted to get all that fleece, plus additional fleece I had at my house, scoured.  So I spent the afternoon of my birthday scouring fleece.  Here’s all the fleece I put into laundry bags while with my spinning group.

My friend Nancy told us that she and her sister now do cold soaks of fleece before scouring.  I decided that I would try that method.  We have a plethora of 5 gallon pails.  We use them for putting water into our hydroponics system, for toting around tools, and for storing things in the garage.  Last September, we bought several more to use for water storage as part of our Hurricane Irma preparations.

TANGENT/

We filled the bathtub after I took this picture. Total water storage: 35ish gallons in the tub, 50 gallons in buckets, 6 or 7 gallons in the frig, 50 gallons of non-potable water in the rain barrel.

Copious water storage was an excellent thing because we were without power for 6 days, without water for 24 hours due to a water main break on our street, and on severe water restrictions (no showers, no flushing the toilet if you only peed) for a week because 85% of the lift stations in our county were without power.  Lift stations move waste through the pipes to the treatment facility.  If they can’t do their job, somewhere that sewage will seep into someone’s home.

Six trees came down at this house, including two that came through the roof in the middle of the storm, nearly hitting one of the teenagers. The family fled to a friend’s house. The roots of two trees pulled up through the water main, breaking it in multiple places.

 

No running water, no showers, no electricity, high heat and high humidity. This is how we kept clean.

 

When our power went out, the dishwasher was full of dirty dishes. After a couple of days without power, they really needed to be washed. I did it in the backyard, using water from our buckets. I did the three bucket method, with the last being a chlorine bleach rinse which meant I didn’t have to heat water on the propane camp stove.

/TANGENT

Sorry about the tangent.  As I was saying, we have a plethora of 5 gallon buckets.  I used those for the cold water soak.

No soap, no hot water, and maybe 15 minutes in the bucket at this point.

I liked the cold water presoak a lot.  It is amazing how much comes out of the fleece, simply soaking it in cold water.  I put the fleece into the pails to presoak, then finished setting up the rest of the equipment for scouring.  When I took the fleeces out of presoak and put them into scour, I dumped the water out, filled the pail with clean water, and put more fleece in to soak.  All the fleeces were in the cold water for a minimum of 20 minutes.  Some were in there for an hour or more while I scoured others.  With cold water, I don’t have to worry about the water cooling and lanolin redepositing onto the fleece.  Anything that came out with just cool water should stay out!

I did only one scour with detergent on most of the fleece, followed by two plain water rinses.  This was effective for almost all the fleeces.  One particularly dirty alpaca fleece got two rounds with detergent and three plain water rinses.  One or two of the greasier fleeces needed more scouring and I will be doing another scour on them.  Stay tuned for more detailed blog posts on which ones needed more scouring and how I handled that.

I made one other change to the process I described in my previous post on scouring.  I added two more bins for scouring, so I had 6 going at one time.  When I was at the spinning group retreat, I discovered that my dish pans hold the same volume of water as the other containers I was using for scouring, so I set up two dish pans plus the containers!

With six bins going and the presoak doing a lot of work before scouring, I was able to scour 19.5 pounds of fleece in 4 hours.  I have one fleece left to scour, an 8.5 pound black Corriedale fleece that I intend to scour a lock at a time using Fels-naptha soap.  Stay tuned for a blog post on that when I get it done.

Spinning

My birthday was the day that NBC broadcast the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, so my parents came over and we watched that while I spun.  I worked on the SassyBee polwarth batt I’ve been spinning for a bit.

It was an awesome birthday!

Post Script

My parents wanted to spend a day with me and told me to pick what I’d like to do and that would be their gift.  The Tuesday after my birthday, we played an awesome escape game at Escape Effect

We had fabulous Indian food at a restaurant in the same plaza, then we went next door to Escape Effect and took the museum tour at the Chocolate Museum and Cafe.

Yes, this Taj Mahal is made out of chocolate!

 

The Highlights Reel

While I was at The Knit and Crochet Show, more than one person commented to me that they couldn’t take classes the entire time because it was too much for them to absorb.  Wasn’t I totally overwhelmed?  Nope, not at all.  The entire event was an adrenaline rush and I enjoyed every moment.  A week after I got back, after reliving the entire event through writing the blog posts about it, I crashed.  This wasn’t all because of the show; August is break month for the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup.  I push myself hard during the term, achieving feats of crafting that I otherwise wouldn’t attempt, and I appreciate break month!  Don’t get me wrong — I still crafted and had fun adventures in August and September to date.  Here’s the highlights.

August

S’s 5th Birthday Party

My cousin’s daughter turned 5 and had a birthday party at the zoo.  It was the largest kid’s birthday party I’ve ever attended — 28 kids and 30+ adults.  I made fondant cupcake toppers (I don’t think I’ve mentioned here that I’ve got mad cake skills?  I don’t make cakes as often as in the past).  Since I live 2+ hours from my cousin, she bought cupcakes locally and I put the toppers on when I arrived at the party.

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And I was the first person in line to get my face painted.  I got to the party early so I could get those cupcake toppers on the cupcakes and the few children already there showed no interest in getting their face painted.  I figured I’d beat the rush!

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I knit the birthday girl a Barbie dress.

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Sorting Yarn

A few months ago, my friend Nancy and I went to the home of a member of the weaver’s guild who had passed away (see my blog post).  She wanted her yarn to benefit the guild.  Nancy and I sorted it to pick out anything that was suitable for demos.  We always have a little takeaway for kids and are constantly on the look out for yarn for those.  We packed up any project kits or yarns suitable for weaving and brought those to the guild’s annual auction.  The money raised from the sale of those yarns is designated for demos and will be used to buy yarn for takeaways once we use up our current stash.

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Orlando Shakes Open House

From the Weavers Guild meeting, I went straight to the Orlando Shakespeare theater for their annual open house.  I’ve never made it to this event before and had a great time.  I went to all three panel discussions — one on lighting and sound production, one on building props, and one with the directors and educators about visioning and producing individual plays and the future of the troop.  They also had a small display of props and costumes from previous productions.  Here’s a small selection of the spectacular costumes, which are created in house, in conjunction with the theater department of a local university, and with the help of many volunteers.

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Akerworks

My order from Akerworks arrived!  I got 6 bobbins for my wheel (one in each style) and 3 drop spindles (one in each size).  I didn’t take pictures before they got pressed into service, but I’m sure you’ll see pictures in future blog posts.  I did take a picture of the lovely hand-written note Adan included in the box.

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Ravenclaw Staff

I accepted a position as blog mistress for The Ravenclaw Aerie, the blog for the Ravenclaw Tower in the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup.  This is a big part of the reason for the neglect of my own blog; planning and executing for that blog has taken the time I had for blogging.  Now that we’re on a schedule over there, I expect to be back to my own blog regularly!  Most of what’s on The Ravenclaw Aerie is probably only of interest to those in Ravenclaw Tower or the Cup, but one of the first posts is about something else I did in August.  Ravenclaw Porcupine Snuggles works at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  She and two of her colleagues drove from Baltimore to New Smyrna Beach, FL to release Cougar, a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.  I met them in New Smyrna Beach so I could witness the release, and Porcupine Snuggles and I wrote a blog post about it for the Aerie.

Disney with Beth

My friend Beth came on vacation for a week and we spent lots of time at Disney!  We ate at the Be Our Guest restaurant in the new part of Fantasy Land in the Magic Kingdom.  We did not expect to be able to get a reservation because this restaurant, the interior of which is a replica of the castle in Beauty and the Beast, is sold out 6 months in advance.  We checked anyway; someone must have cancelled because we got a 1:15 pm reservation!  The restaurant is stunning inside and out.

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On the day we went to EPCOT, it poured.  My mother, Beth, and I walked from The Land to Journey through the Imagination without seeing any one else walking around (everyone else was smarter than us — when we got to Journey through the Imagination, the ride was down because the building was struck by lightning!).  It was eerie, and made us think about what the park is like after it closes.  We waited for Journey through the Imagination to be back up, and after we got off the ride, the rain had settled down to a normal rain shower rather than a deluge.  We headed towards the World Showcase, wading through a calf-deep puddle on our way there.

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All the rain made for a beautiful sunset!

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Sick

A couple days after Disney, my husband got sick with a very bad cold.  I caught it from him and it turned into a sinus infection.  Yuck!  For the last week of August and the first week of September, we took turns feeling misearable.  Not much got accomplished around here.  I was coughing so much that fiber crafting wasn’t even viable 🙁

September

L’s Birthday

Fortunately, I felt better in time to fly to New York City for a long weekend celebrating my sister’s 40th birthday.  Before she arrived on Friday evening, her friends and I went to the Global Fashion Capitals exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum.  Here’s a couple of interesting pieces from that exhibit.

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We were trying to decide what to do next when I saw someone walk by with a Mood bag.  For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Mood is a fabric store and is the place contestants on Project Runway shop for the fabric used to make their creations.  We decided to go to Mood and since it was a lovely day we walked the 10 blocks to the shop.  I was totally overwhelmed by Mood.  On the ground floor, there’s a two-story section of upholstery and other home decoration fabrics.  To get to the main shop, you take this old elevator, operated by an elevator attendant, to the third floor.  Once there, you have another 3 stories of every fabric imaginable.  I have no idea how the contestants manage to shop for fabric in only 30 minutes!

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Yes, I did pet Swatch!
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One section of the leather department.

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One day, we went to the Tenement Museum (no pix allowed there).  Our grandfather grew up in the Depression-era tenements of the Bronx, so this was a poignant visit for us.  Afterwards, we wandered around SoHo and I bought my first ever pair of Fluevogs.

Later that evening, my sister and her friends went to a play.  They bought tickets before I committed to the trip, and I wasn’t able to get a ticket to the show.  Instead, I took a train out to Long Island to visit law school classmates and meet their 4-month-old baby.  It was good to see them!

The next day, my sister, her friends, and I went to the Cloisters Museum, and visited their famous room of unicorn tapestries.

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We ate fabulous food every day, including the best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten, from The Doughnut Plant.  The interior of the shop was adorable, with doughnut pillows on the wall, a doughnut tile backsplash, and donut chairs!

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The last night, my sister and I stayed in her friend’s apartment in Brooklyn.  The friend was out of town, but gave us a key.  The apartment came with bonus kitty, Billie.

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Billie was super sweet and reminded me of my Pepper, whom I still miss very much!

Although I lived in the Northeast for nearly 30 years, I had never spent more than an afternoon in New York City before this trip.  I had a wonderful time and hope I get to visit again!

Spamalot

For the fifth year in a row, Chris and I have season tickets for the Orlando Shakespeare theater.  The first show of the season was Spamalot!  It was absolutely spectacular.  If you have the opportunity, you should totally see this show.

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Orlando Maker Faire

Last weekend was the Orlando Maker Faire.  The Drunken Monkey Spinners and Weavers of Orlando shared a booth for the event.  Nancy and I spent the entire weekend in the booth; other members of the two groups spent one day or the other.

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This was the fourth year of the Orlando Maker Faire.  Last year, they expanded from the Science Center and included some exhibits in the park.  This year, they expanded further, with arts and crafts exhibits in the Orlando Museum of Art, which is located on the opposite side of the park from the Science Center.  The expected attendance at this event was 15,000; I didn’t hear an actual number after the event, but it is by far the highest attendance at any event where I’ve demoed.

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The Science Center was wall-to-wall people; the Art Museum, where we were located, was steady but manageable.  This was a fantastic event to demo.  The people coming to this events are makers themselves.  They like to know how things work and ask lots of questions!  I spun the 50/50 Camel Down / Silk that I bought from Red Fish Dyeworks at The Knit and Crochet Show.  I only got 1 ounce spun, out of 4, in the 17 hours I spent spinning!  This is partially because I talked to lots of people, but also because it is spinning very fine.

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Hey — there’s one of the Akerworks bobbins I got in August!

Florida Fiber In

This weekend is the Florida Fiber In.  I went last night, but won’t make it there the rest of the weekend.  I picked up some Black-Faced Valois locks and some Bombyx Silk fiber, and spent a couple hours spinning and chatting!

Fiber Crafting

The new HPKCHC term started on September 1 and I’ve been crafting like a mad woman.  I haven’t taken pix of anything yet, but I’m working on that today and tomorrow.  I’ll have a Year of Projects update post sometime tomorrow.

Ongoing

I have also been working on improving skills to benefit my blog.  I bought my first DSLR camera (a Canon 70D (affiliate link)) and a Pro-Am video camera (Canon XA-10 (affiliate link)).  I added Adobe Stock to my Adobe Cloud subscription.  I used my Lynda.com subscription to learn how to use Adobe Bridge, then used Bridge to move all my photos out of Apple’s Photos app and into their own folders on my external hard drive.  I’m still working on adding metadata and tags to the photos.  I had 19,000 photos and videos in Photos and have a very hard time actually finding anything when I’m looking for it!  It’s a lot of work to organize, but I believe it will be worth it in the end.  I’m just starting the Lynda.com courses on Adobe After Effects and Lightroom, to further improve my photography and videography skills.

So that’s the highlight reel of the last six weeks.  What’s your highlights?