Thursday, May 29, 2008


I had a loverly birthday, thank you. I did indeed go to work, where nothing went wrong. Which would be the exception rather than the norm lately. Then I came home and found a beauty of a dogwood tree with my name on it. We went out for dinner, where the girls behaved themselves, and we were home in time to watch the Penguins win. Well, sort of watch them win. Our big night out made us both fall asleep with about 8:27 left in the 2nd period. I liked what I saw, anyway. Go, you cute fuzzy-faced young little hockey players!

On at least three separate occasions this spring I've gone out and weeded the beds for over two hours. I take wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow back to the compost heap but it barely makes a dent in the condition of the yard. (it seems that way, but really the perennials are definitely benefiting from not being choked with weeds)
Tonight I decided that I'm not weeding. I'm harvesting the dandelion crop. :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

All aboard the train of thought

The girls and I went camping over the weekend at my family's place on top of a very large hill (not officially a mountain, but we think of it that way) near the Allegheny National Forest. I've mentioned it here before. I spent almost all my Memorial Day weekends there growing up. I find it therapeutic. It's a good place for navel gazing, drinking, or just sitting around getting dirtier and greasier. The advantage of the later is the joy inherent in showering after three days with no running water. It always takes me three shampoos to get the smoke out of my hair.
I'm noticing that after these weekend excursions, I'm mentally resisting returning to ordinary life. I think that means I need a vacation. But is there such a thing as a vacation when one is the parent of pre-schoolers?
Tomorrow is my 31st birthday. I will celebrate by going to work, coming home, eating dinner, and reading picture books on the couch. I may watch a little tv. I am a wild woman.
The dog is staring at me.
Mr. Unreserved made more progress this evening in Operation Demolish the Deck.
When we looked at the house, the previous owners didn't even mention the L-shaped deck that wrapped around beside and behind the kitchen. It was snow-covered at the time and I didn't even notice it back there until the 2nd time we came to look at the place. You'd think someone would mention a feature like that.
The reason they didn't, we later found, is because it was not sound. It was sagging noticeably where the deck met the kitchen at the back. Mr. Unreserved chose to stand on it while spraying for ants last fall and *Creak!* dropped the deck. Sort of. (no husbands were harmed in the sagging of this deck) Turns out the beam of the house to which the deck was (incorrectly) attached was completely rotted. As in I could go back there and scoop out the remains with a plastic spoon if I so desired.
The deck itself was no real peach, either. Having never been sealed against the elements, the decking was succumbing to the same fate as the support beam.
After much debate we decided not to try to salvage the deck since we have a plethora of porch space around the other two sides of the house. I'm slightly disappointed, since it filled in a rather useless space between the house and the garage. But I'm more happy that the de-dumpification of the house is continuing.
Besides, it had to go so that we can proceed with the gutter project. The current gutters back there are functioning solely as a nesting box for a family of sparrows.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Still posting with a sleeping baby on my lap.

I suppose I should wrap the word baby in quotes, as Claire is as feisty as 2.5yr olds tend to be. She was not sleeping well, and conked back out on my lap. I've only got so many years in my life to spend time with a sleeping child on my lap. I cherish them.
Even if they reek of bathroom cleanser.

Earlier this evening, while we were cleaning up from dinner (full disclosure - Mr. Unreserved was cleaning up, I was making a cup of Earl Grey), Claire decided to go potty. Only Miss Claire hasn't figured out that you're supposed to go potty before you, um, go potty. So there was quite a mess on the floor of the bathroom, which she decided to clean up all by herself. She's a very thoughtful devious child.
Lesson learned: child locks are still a requirement on the bathroom cabinet.

I suspect she was mimicking her sister, who's been getting happy with a can of Lysol lately. (note: I am not normally a Lysol person, believing that there is no substitute for good old fashioned "clean," but there was a nasty bout of stomach bugs this past winter and I started to get paranoid)
Lesson: See above regarding child safety locks.

Awwww. . . Claire rolled over, startled by my sneezing, and has her hands clasped in front of her as if in prayer. As if she wasn't angelic enough while sleeping.

Did I have a point?

Well, I did come here to update the adventures in fleece. A second washing and double rinsing has taken the lanolin out of half the corriedale fleece, but it didn't get the yellow out. (You'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!) I have decided to embrace the yellow. A quick trial with the hand carder shows me that it should blend into a nice, creamy natural color. The fibers appear sound.

Also I came to brag that with the miserable weather, I spent the bulk of the weekend indulging fibery pursuits. I dyed some hand-spun, spun 4.2oz of merino/silk from Stony Mountain Fibers, assembled and played with the new hand cards, and set the twist in the skein of icelandic 3-ply. (I broke down and bought a new niddy noddy - the original one failed to materialize.)

I've come to the conclusion that I really need to rig up some sort of tension for my lazy kate. I just don't like the inconsistencies in my plying.

Also I need a lawn gnome. Steve and I established this at the Pittsburgh Blogfest, where I am proud to say I spent a whole evening with people whom I am not related to (except Steve) and do not work with. (oof, that sentence was a mess, but there it stands) Okay, maybe "need" is too strong of a word, but really, who doesn't need a lawn gnome?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Le Sigh and also gullible children

So confident was I in my newfound wool scouring abilities that I got the kiddies off to bed by 8:30, rubbed my hands together, and headed down to the basement to tackle the corriedale fleece. In my ambition, I divvied it up into two portions in two laundry bags and used both sides of the laundry sink. It got two super hot soaks with generous squirts of ultra super duper concentrated Dawn (I added a kettle of boiling water to the 2nd washing, as I feared the first wasn't hot enough) and two rinses and a spin. I was pleased to note that this fleece does not smell as bad as the last one, and the initial wash water was the yellow of lanolin and not the brown of mud.
Yeah, about that lanolin.
The bases of the locks are still yellow. Oh noes! Could it be the dreaded canary stain? (these are the things you worry about after quick Googling) Longer Googling made me think it is not. Or hope it is not. Because ew. Unidentified microbial action is not my idea of a good time. Remind me to tell you about my mold phobia some time (so you can laugh at me).
The stains are all at the base of the locks. They are soft, buttery yellow, not bright yellow. The fiber seems sound. And the most damning evidence of all? My twice washed twice rinsed spun dry locks are still greasy as all get out.
Hrm. Looks like more washing is in order. Stain or no, they're unacceptably greasy.
(but lovely and fine and fluffy and I can not WAIT to get them prepped for playing with!)

And now for something completely different. A man with a tape recorder up his nose.
No, not that. Gullible small people.

The scene: Dinner two nights ago. In addition to our regularly scheduled dinner items, we are having a veggie mix of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.
Anna: What's this white stuff?
Me: Cauliflower.
Anna: I like cauliflower. Where does it come from?
Me: Cows.
Anna: [looking appropriately skeptical] No it doesn't.
Me: Birds.
Anna: No. . . where does it come from?
Me: It grows on the moon. That is why the moon is white. It is covered in cauliflower.
Anna: Oh! Okay.
Me: No, I was just kidding. Cauliflower does not grow on the moon. It grows in gardens, or on farms.
Anna: [already tuning me out and on to some other random subject]

Scene II: Yesterday evening
Anna: Mom, what was that white stuff?
Me: What white stuff?
Anna: The stuff we had for dinner. That grows on the moon.
Me: [boggles at how easily she bought that one, wonders what other misleading information I can stuff her impressionable young mind with]


Saturday, May 10, 2008

More crafty bits

I've washed the rest of the lincoln fleece. It's still drying. The weather hasn't been terrifically helpful in that regard. I picked up a couple of extra laundry bags so that I can store the lincoln in one and wash the other fleece in another. I've read that fleeces shouldn't be stored air-tight and that sounds like good advice, although I'm a little worried about the fluttering m-word. I also have to figure out where I'm going to store it. The top of my closet it starting to get a little full, as there's already a couple pounds of icelandic roving in it.

I've been reading about people's purchases on Ravelry, including more than a few regrets people have had that they passed by something that they later wished they bought when they could. I can honestly say that for now, between my yarn stash and my fiber stash I feel well stocked.

This would be even nicer if the GIRLS hadn't LOST the middle of my niddy-noddy. I've got a bobbin stuffed with wool/mohair that I plied and I can't skein it up. And it's bugging me.
Mr. Unreserved would point out, and rightfully so, that if I hadn't left my niddy-noddy on the end table, it wouldn't be missing parts.
Then I would point out that I am tired of having to lock down everything I don't want missing or broken. (which is silly because I have small people, and that's what life is like with small people)
I could order a new one. They're not that expensive. But I know full well that the minute it gets here the old one will turn up. Even though we've turned the house upside down looking for it. Even though I've bribed the girls that I will give them $5 (a princely sum!) if they happen to make it turn up. No dice. (which is just as well because if they catch on to that scheme all sorts of things may go missing for ransom)

To reward you for listening to my rant about obscure missing equipment, here are pictures from Easter. These are from Easter Eve, before we went to Easter vigil. The ones from Easter day consist of the girls in their jammies and the girls in their dresses with their winter coats over top. I plan to have nicer pictures done in the dresses later because I'm tickled with how they came out. And the kids aren't half bad looking either, but I might be more than a little biased.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A special kind of stink

Hello all three of my readers! Guess where I've been?
You're right! I did go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. You must be psychic.
And what did I come home with, ladies and gentlemen?
Two fleeces! (And some roving, and hand cards, and a sachet of herbal moth repellent, and some really nice smelling solid hand lotion) (Having a birthday the same month as MDSW is great - thanks, Mom!)
Two very dirty, greasy, stinky fleeces. Because I feel the need to do things old school. No, I do not, nor do I plan to, churn my own butter. Butter = boring. Fleece = fun!
How much fun?
Let me show you!
First, we have here two pounds, or one half of a black and brown Lincoln fleece. Excuse the glamorous back-drop. I was doing this in the basement. Our basement looks like one might expect from a house that predates cinder block.

It's pretty gross, at least for a city slicker like me. I am unaccustomed to eau de barnyard.
It goes into a mesh laundry bag:

And the whole shebang gets gently lowered into a laundry tub full of scalding hot water and a generous squirt of Dawn dish washing liquid. Holy sheep poop, that was some dirty fleece!

Now we have wet, steamy barnyard odor.
After a 20 minute soak, it got to hop to the other tub to drain while I filled up the tub with new hot soapy water. Another 20 minute soak later, it went into hot non-soapy water for a rinse. And another rinse, with a glug of vinegar, and another rinse. By the third rinse, the water was starting to look less like pond water and more like tap water.

While I was waiting for all these soaks, I demolished part of the laundry cage at the bottom of the laundry chute(I'm still more excited that I should be that we have a laundry chute - little things in life thrill me I guess) and installed a vanity base with a folding counter beside the laundry tub. Also I washed the kids (our only bathtub is in the basement for the time being). And swept the floor. I was in the basement most of the evening. Those were long soaks.

There was still a slight tinge to the last rinse water, but I'd had enough of the basement. Maybe I'll try a third wash on the next portion, or heat up a kettle of water to make the washes hotter. I feel it's clean enough to spin, and it'll get another washing to set the twist after spinning. The scoured wool got to go for a spin in the washing machine, sans water, to spin the water out. I spread it out to dry. It felt eerily like a pile of warm, damp human hair.
Lucy the cat discovered the wool while I was at work, so I popped it back into the mesh bag and the wool got to spend the afternoon in the sunlight outside today.

It clouded up around dinner time like it was going to rain. Lucy was glad I brought her cat bed back in the house.

I was glad for moder conveniences like hot running water and modern sewage. I can't imagine how much work scouring fleeces must have been back when all the water had to be heated over an open fire after being hauled from a well. Then again, laundry day was more of the same 150yrs ago, so I guess they were used to it.

The other fleece is a white 5lb corriedale. I'm in fiber heaven!
I can't help but think that processing my own fleece pushes me over the "hobbyist" line, firmly into "hobby lunatic" territory. But I'm happy here.

About me

  • I'm Sarah
  • From Pittsburgh, United States
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