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Archive for May, 2014

Adapted from a post I made in the Nerd Wars group on Ravelry – today is May 25th, a day of particular interest to Nerds everywhere.

Legend has it that on May 25 (perhaps in Athens) a young Douglas Adams found himself in a hotel room which lacked towels. He realized that he didn’t even know where his own towel was, and vowed that, from that day forward, he would always carry one with him. Thus today is Towel Day.

As I mentioned in Thursday’s post, May 25th is the anniversary of Ankh-Morpork’s Glorious Revolution of Treacle Mine Road. Wear the Lilac Day also doubles as Alzheimer’s Awareness day.

It just so happens that on May 25th, 1977, Star Wars had it’s theatrical release.

All these geeky anniversaries on a single date… Coincidence, or a confluence of cosmic awareness focused on all things nerdy and geeky.  In either case, it’s something to celebrate.  Here is my crafty acknowledgement this year:

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Next year I’ll have to get something more forceful…

In any case, happy Pride Day to all you Geeks out there, whatever your fandom may be!

BLog Contests and Giveaways

Since I’ve heard nothing from the Expression Fiber Arts giveaway for this month, I have to conclude that I didn’t win.  I entered the Tails and Snouts skein giveaway (31 May)

 

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lilac sprayIn anticipation of Wear the Lilac day (25 May) I’ve thrown together a little crochet project so that I may, well, wear the lilac.

Although this isn’t a ‘real’ pattern, hopefully these directions will be clear enough that you can wear the lilac too.

 Wear the Lilac

Materials

jewelry wire

worsted weight yarn small amounts of  green and violet (though I used purple instead, as that’s what’s in my stash)

F crochet hook

 

Directions

I used approximately 5″ of 16 gauge copper wire, which is slightly thick for jewelry making , and rolled the ends with jewelery making pliers.  Needle nosed pliers would work just as well.  A pipe cleaner might be a bit flimsy, but it might work.

chain wireCatch the green yarn in the rolled end of the wire (or roll the end around the yarn) to fasten it. Slip stitch  around the length of wire, until it is completely covered, densely, even twist the chained yarn around the wire to make a spiral.. and roll the far end so that it is covered by the yarn.  Work in both ends.

spiral chain

With violet (or purple) attach to one end with a slip stitch.  Chain 2.  Slip stitch in 2nd chain from hook.  Slip stitch in next chain.  Chain 3.  Slip stitch in 3rd chain from hook.  (2 buds made).  Continue making buds in a spiral down the spire, try to get four buds per turn.

Chain 5.  Slip stitch in 3rd chain from hook.  (Chain 3.  Slip stitch in same stitch)X3 slip stitch down chains back to spire.  First blossom made.  After a few rounds, chain 4 before starting the blossom to make larger trumpets.

Continue making blossoms until 1/3 to 1/2 of spire is covered.

You can stick it in your lapel as is, or glue on a pin back, barrette or bobby pin, and wear it on the 25th to both celebrate the life of Terry Pratchett (and Discworld) and to enhance Alzheimers awareness.

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Plugging along on the Carina Begonia shawl, but no new pics.  Instead I’ll present some FO’s which I haven’t shared here yet.

The Forager set is finished.  I really enjoyed doing it, and I do enjoy it a lot, but must admit that it has one major flaw – the yarn catches on everything, and that pulls it into a kind of odd shape.  I think the thinner yarn, bigger needles wasn’t as clever as I thought it was.
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I made Easter berets for both the girls  this year.  A lovely, slouchy Asbury Beret for my eldest:
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A delicate Reverie for the youngest:
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And a little something for Cheese Weasel Day:
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Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I’ve entered two new contests this time around.  Tails and Snouts will draw for a skein on May 31, and Happy Hoppers Angora is offering a surprise basket on 23 May.

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Things Getting “Hairy”

Last week, my daughter and I donated our hair.

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Nope, didn’t measure.  We clearly had more than the 8-10 inches required, so that’s good.  Didn’t ask for receipts or acknowledgements either.

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This was her first time.  I’ve done it before.  We sent our donations to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, though I have donated to Locks of Love in the past. I do this every few years, and I do the research every few years.

About non profits and pseudo controversy

Every time, I hear the same ‘buzz’ about Locks of Love.  The “warehouses of hair” nonsense.  Allegations that they make some outrageous profit.  Complaints that the hair doesn’t go to kids with cancer.  Complaints that they charge thousands of dollars to make wigs for adults.  The implication that there is something untoward and misleading about the organization.

Um… no.  Locks of Love explains exactly what they do on their website.  If it’s not what “everybody knows” they say they do…  um…  then everybody is wrong.  The organization actually has very good Charity Navigator and Guidestar ratings. They spend very little on fundraising and awareness campaigns, so if the ‘buzz’ out there it wrong, the odds are good that buzz is from well meaning contributors, not deceitful practices.  Years ago, when I did my research, I tracked the ‘warehouse full of hair’ stories down to one newspaper account of a boutique with a box in the back of pony tails they hadn’t bothered to send in for some ridiculous numbers of years.

This time, I actually did find some documentation of possible concerns.  Nonprofit Investigator actually does have concerns about the amount of hair donations vs. the number of wigs produced.  It took some digging to find what Locks of Love says in response, which comes down to ‘we only got 317 requests that year, and we make scalp prosthesis, not wigs…’.    She also said that the nonprofit at this point in time would rather have cash donations than hair.  So, yeah, not where I’m donating this time around, because I’m looking for a place to donate hair, not cash.  She then went on to make snide comments about NPI’s “agenda”, which loses some sympathy from me. I believe LoL is doing a good job, for the right reasons.  I believe the same of NPI.  Take criticism, it’s important.  I would also be a little bit more comfortable if they did track donations.  Even though they are not that large a cash value compared to what the organization does, they are significant to those of us who donate hair.

I will be donating blood to the Red Cross next week.  I used to donate platelets, but apparently, due to new technology and childbearing, that’s no longer appropriate for me.

The thing is, I’ve seen similar criticism about the Red Cross.  I mean, they gasp take money for the blood I gave for free.  How DARE they!  The greed!

I’m against greed, and people profiting from my honest generosity, but let’s be real here.

Here’s what happens when I give blood:

  • I go to a permanent location (I assume they pay for rent and electricity)
  • I check in, either with a volunteer (no cost) or on a laptop (one time investment plus wi-fi)
  • I read the required literature on safety and what to expect (copying cost, probably but not necessarily written by professional)
  • I wait in the waiting room (there are magazines available, though I usually have a book or my knitting.  Magazine subscriptions cost money).
  • I am screened (computer equipment, trained professional, medical equipment and supplies)
  • I am seated (specialized medical chair, sterile needle and collection bag, extensive labeling)
  • A medical professional takes my blood (I really hope they pay competitive wages, because it sucks to donate blood and have a massive bruise for a week)
  • I am given cookies and juice (as far as I know they are bought, not donated)

Then the blood is tested (extensively), filtered, refrigerated and transported.

Yes, I donate the blood.  That doesn’t mean it should be free.  They used to buy blood rather than asking for donations, but the people who sold their blood were often motivated by desperation, not altruism, and had a higher than normal for the population at large to be ill or addicted (two things which might lead someone to sell their body parts…)

Non-profit doesn’t mean free.  It means that the organization makes enough money to cover it’s day to day costs.

Sorry for the rant, it’s just a pet peeve of mine.

Next Likely Time Donation

For a while I volunteered at the local Job Corps center, tutoring young adults in basic literacy and math.  It was an interesting and rewarding experience (though sometimes frustrating).  That particular program closed down, and I’ve been looking for other local opportunities which fit in with my availability and abilities.  I’ve stumbled upon Project Knitwell, which involves volunteers teaching patients, their families and their medical providers how to knit.  I sent an email last Friday inquiring about volunteer opportunities, and today I learned that the next training session is tomorrow.  If I’d had a week lead time I could have gone down and done it, as it is, I’m on their contact list for the next session.    It sounds interesting and promising, and maybe I’ll end up volunteering there.

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My Newest Obsession

As I said in my previous post about the Sheep and Wool Festival,  I adore my new Nostepinne.

 

I find it absolutely beautiful (though not the most beautiful one the Baltimore Area Woodturners booth sold), I went for the ‘pretty’ ones first (honestly, the clean curves needed make all of them really lovely).  Dark wood always attracts me (I adore cocobola), so I went for the cedar first.  I enjoyed the demo (where we learned how to wind a center pull ball) but the tool was a little bit awkward in my hand.  I picked up another, and another, until I finally found one which felt right in my hand…ImageHonestly, I just didn’t want to put this baby down, the handle is just shaped so perfectly.  It also has grooves spaced exactly an inch apart, so it doubles as a (really big) WPI (wraps per inch) tool.

I’ve tried to find out what I could about the history of it.  Although I’ve found some assertions that it is a ‘centuries old’ device, most of that seems to be cool little bits of folklore and such.  Even Sven the Merchant, who makes cool recreations of textile supplies for a living can’t seem to get a solid date on these.  I can’t seem to get anything solid before mid 19th century, but that seems awfully late…  On the other hand, they’re so simple in function, almost any smooth stick would work, so many of them could have doubled in function as distaffs or spindles easily enough…

Current WIP

ImageDespite the above, I haven’t been obsessively measuring and balling my Sheep and Wool acquisitions.  Instead, I’ve cast on the Begonia Swirl shawl with the Carina dyed yarn from Bohemia Fibers.  So far I’m really loving it, but there’s  voice in the back of my head which warns that this yarn might be too noisy for this pattern.  Will go a bit further and then take some more pictures and see.

Even if it works, I might want to switch to a solid lace weight for the border.  Or not.  The Ravelry Project Gallery for the Swirl has a number of variegated yarns, and they seem to work surprisingly well with the pattern.  Still, I know I have a tendency to go overboard with these things…  We’ll just have to wait and see, I suppose.

 

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I haven’t heard anything about the giveaways from the Musk Ox blog, and I didn’t win the April yarn box giveaway.

I did join the Sweater Babe pinterest giveaway.  (May 25).  Yes, this means I’ve started playing with Pinterest.  I was curious to see what Collen did with the Yellow Hen Pinterest board, then the younger child showed me what she’s done with hers…  So far I’m using it mostly as a tool to collect bookmarks for my next NaNo project (yes, even though I never even started to edit the last one… I know, I know…) and as a temporary holding place for links for the blog or Facebook.  It’s potentially a deadly time sink, but we’ll see how it goes.

Another Expression Fiber Arts giveaway, this one for $100 gift certificate. (May 18th)

 

 

 

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I live in Howard County, Maryland, but I’d never even heard of the Sheep and Wool Festival until after I’d joined Ravelry.  Even then, as close as it is to my home, it was a few more years before I decided I really ought to go, and then there were a couple of times when I had one of those “oh, dear, that was last weekend” moments. So I’ve only been to a handful of them.

Sometimes I’ve dragged the family along.  They bear up to it with good grace.  After all, there’s plenty to see and do even if you’re not there to devour the yarn.  Even so, they always want to leave well before I do.  I’ve gone with my knitterly sister, but she, unfortunately, has trouble with the crowds.  This year the plan was to go with a friend, but she was recovering from strep and really not up to it. So, this year, I went solo.

It was not a mistake.

Everyone is friendly.  There was never a time when I couldn’t turn to the person who just happened to be standing next to me and share my delight at some new find, and I really enjoy being able to linger as long as I wanted to over new things.

I dropped off the projects I mentioned in last month’s post on Friday morning.  There was not traffic at all getting down, and only a few cars in the lot.  The yarn bombing was already in place, though.

I was just there for a couple of hours on Saturday morning. I left home in time to get there when it opened, but realized I’d left my ‘mad money’ at home, turned around got it and came back.  That extra forty minutes was the difference between ‘this has slowed traffic a bit’ to ‘you have got to be kidding me’ density, and I ended up being directed to satellite parking.  There was a shuttle which went from the edge of the parking lot to the front gate.

There’s no charge for entry, but I made a $5 donation at the entrance.  I figure the vendors probably don’t cover the full cost of the fair, considering the amount of effort that goes into it.

My first purchases were some wonderful cranberry and horseradish chevre and some goat gouda from Caprikorn Farms. The chevre later received the 18 year old’s approval, but she found the gouda a bit too sharp.  I also got some colbere and tomae from Shepherd’s Manor Creamery.  My taster hasn’t sampled the tomae yet, but the colbere also received top marks.

ImageAfterwards I got a nice skein of Malabrigo worsted (I’ve been regretting missing my chance since last year).

It’s a lovely variegated yarn, and I’ve been thinking about trying intentional pooling for a while, so I’m thinking it might be nice for a handbag, possibly felted.  I’ve heard so many podcasters raving over their yarns, I really just wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

I also got a skein of undyed sport weight Yak fiber from Bijou Basin Ranch. I’m not sure what it wants to become, but I think it might end up playing with the buffalo sport I got from the qiviut blog contest a couple of years ago.

I went back yesterday (Sunday) morning.  This time I timed it much better, arriving there minutes after the festival gates opened.  I parked about a hundred yards from the spot where the shuttle stops at the main entrance.

I made another donation going in.  I did hear one visitor wanting to know ‘what the five dollars goes to’…?  I don’t know how she thinks the world works.  True, there is some volunteerism going on.  A boy scout troupe directs people to park and a local knitting group puts up a hospitality tent, for example.  Even so, there are a lot of labor and resources pouring into this.  If the Maryland Sheep Breeder’s Association actually makes a profit at the end of it all, I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m not sure why someone who attends the festival would*.

ImageFrom this point on it’s all sort of a happy blur.  I had to choose between sheepdog and shearing demos, because they were scheduled against each other, and I had a class which meant I could only see one.  I watched the herding, and it was truly wonderful.  I had a lamb burger (sold by the boy scout troupe which does the parking.  someone told me this fundraiser is the only one they do each year).  It was tremendously good, and not too crazy expensive for festival food.

I ended up with all kinds of awesome swag –

The lovely green and blue yarn comes from Feederbrook Farm.   It’s organically dyed DK weight Blue Faced Leicester, which I’m thinking will have to become a shawl at some point.  The suggestive looking wooden implement is a nostipinne from Mark Supik & Co. It’s a traditional tool for ball winding and oh, does it feel like it was made for my hand!  This one is actually a bit longer than I’d like, but I’ll find a way to make it work for me, because the handle is awesome.

You can’t see the sticky note, but the copy of Grounded was autographed by Heather Ordover of Craftlit. She was there the day before (This is the second or third time I’ve just missed her at events like this.  Hopefully she’ll keep coming down occasionally after she moves to Pennsylvania.)

I just had time for one more random purchase before my one class this festival.  A workshop on modular knitting by Jolie Elder.  As with all the classes I’ve taken at Sheep and Wool this one has lots of little pieces of information and philosophy which will be working their way into my knitting in general.  It was really terrific to watch as several of my fellow students had their own ‘lightbulb moments’ about the importance of selvedge treatments, or how different decreases really make a tremendous difference…  I just wish my friend Jill had been able to come along.

So that was it, except for hopping back to the bingo hall to pick up my socks and bag.

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Oh, yeah.  It was a good weekend.

* If someone has a problem with the association and their aims, then showing up to the event is hypocritical.

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At last it can be told!

I’ve been working on a very exciting project for the last month and a half.

ImageMy good friend Colleen is a very talented chef, and has finally decided to go into business for herself.  She asked me to code her webpage and blog, and, as of yesterday, it’s now up and running.  Please check it out.

If you’re in the Greater Baltimore area then please consider giving her services a try.  She is absolutely amazing at what she does, can accommodate a tremendous variety of dietary preferences and needs, and her prices are really good.

Yellow Hen Chef webpage

Yellow Hen Chef blog

 

 

 

 

 

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