Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Joy and Serenity of Fiber Preparation

Every step of any fiber-related craft that brings me closer to the sheep or animal where the fiber came from, is one that I enjoy the most.

Sheep Love

Years ago, I had the privilege of taking a workshop with Nelda Davis on "Fiber Preparation."  It was an amazing day of learning and I learned about everything from "sheep to shawl" when it comes to how wool and other fibers are processed to become fodder for knitting.

I learned words such as skirting, carding, crimp, staple, noil, scouring, top, woolen, etc.

I find incredible satisfaction in working with a fleece, or carding fiber or blending to fibers on a drum card.  It can be truly wonderful to watch a matted, clump of fleece turn into a cloud of roving that is worthy of spinning into a fine yarn.

Current Fiber Preparation

I decided I wanted to start preparing some of the glorious first-shearing mohair from one of Mindy's goats, Adama.

I plan on blending this beautiful, silky mohair with some other fiber, but I haven't decided what it will be blended with yet.

I almost did a short video so I could show the movement and the luster and the silkiness of this lovely fiber.  It is going to make an a beautiful yarn and it made me feel like a magician being able to convert those wavy locks into a fluffy cloud of roving.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Christian Bully

Ever know one of those assholes who are in a position of power and use their position to lord their religious convictions over their underlings?

Bullies of Every Type Suck

When I was consulting, one of my clients was a very respected newspaper organization.  I had the opportunity to work at one of their newspapers in the Southern U.S.

I was conducting training for their Human Resources department...five employees of the newspaper, including the head of HR for the newspaper, who seemed to wield a lot of power in the organization.  She was smart, but she was also a mean and vengeful bully.

At one point during the training, someone pointed out that my computer screen, that was being displayed on the big screen in front of the class, had gone to a screen saver.  As I went to fix the issue, I muttered, "Good God."

At this point, Ms. Self-Righteous stands up and says, "Yes, He is good, and stop using His name in vain." (I inferred the capital H's)

I didn't have any rebuttal or clever retorts for this, so I just replied, "Got it." and continued on with my training.  But I was pissed.

In a room with only her direct reports and an outside consultant, she could afford to be a soldier of Christ and defend his good honor from a heathen like me and try to make me look foolish in front of the group.  I have to admit, if she had said, "Excuse me, but I'm uncomfortable listening to someone use His name in the way you did."  Or if she had pulled me aside to tell me the same thing, I would have taken full responsibility for being insensitive to my audience.

As a consultant, I opted not to respond in any way, but I also didn't look for any other opportunities to go back there.  To me, that kind of behavior goes against all of what Jesus taught and it was completely self-serving for her to puff out her chest in public and demonstrate to all the little people how important she is in her Christian faith.  And if there is a heaven, and that woman is going there, then I'd prefer not to go, thank you very much.

Current Knitting

Made a bit of progress on both my two knitting projects.

I've got about 2 feet to go to finish the edging on the blanket (so exciting for me!) and I've completed about 2 feet on the Ric Rack scarf. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Where are the Catholic Boycotts Now?

With all the hate coming out of Rush Limbaugh, Fox News other conservative media about the pope, it's shocking the Catholics aren't saying "Enough!"

Why Is It?

Where is Representative Joe Wilson, yelling "You Lie!" when this man is in front of the nation?  Why is it that this man commands more respect than our president?  Why is it that Christian conservatives hate the very ideas Christ would be espousing if he walked the Earth today?

Hypocrites...selfish, hateful, hypocrites each and every one of them.

Don't get me wrong...I'm not a big fan of the Pope...I don't see that he has effected any of the change he speaks about, but I am a HUGE fan of his ideas about the poor, about capitalism and about climate change. 

Current Knitting

Since Wednesday, I've made minimal progress on the fourth and final edge of the kid alpaca blanket and the Ric Rac scarf...work has been a bit crazy lately.

But I am thinking that Rowan is making a big comeback lately and I need to get back to my Rowan Tilt Cardigan I started a while ago.

I've heard the latest Rowan Magazine (58 if you're counting) is quite good.  Need to go grab a copy of it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When Is Enough Enough?

The amount of savings required to retire is an impossibly difficult number to determine.  There are WAY too many questions..."How long will I live?"..."What kind of return will I have on my investments?"..."Will my health as I age require that I go into expensive assisted living?"

The Questions are Seemingly Endless

My original goal for leaving the professional workforce was when I turned 52.  That turned out to be pretty unrealistic, so at the age of 56, I continue to work and put away money toward retirement.

In making the decision as to what amount of retirement savings will be necessary, the first step was to determine what my expected costs would be each month or year when I retired.  That kind of budget is relatively simple to put together.

The easiest approach to calculating necessary retirement savings is the 4% Rule, which states that you can withdraw 4% of your portfolio in the first year, then adjust that withdrawal amount for inflation each year, without fear of running out over the course of a 30-year retirement. Over the years, I've used a number of on-line calculators to determine when I could retire.  This web site has three of the top calculators for helping make this determination, but I still insist, determining the "correct" amount of retirement savings is not really possible.

One last component that I find confounding is how to determine what to include in retirement savings.

Do I include the value of my house if it's paid off?  Do I include social security payments in the calculation?  Some of my retirement savings will be taxed when it's withdrawn, other funds won't...how do I estimate taxation.  Can you estimate possible inheritances.

And of course, throughout all the calculations, I want to take the most promising methods that indicate I can retire earlier.

Suffice it to say, it's definitely not easy.

Current Knitting

I have done scant little work on my two currently active knitting projects.

With a few feet on each project still left to accomplish, the edging for the Kid Alpaca Blanket and the Ric Rac Scarf are progressing, but slowly.  But I am enjoying both projects and the combination of the two very different projects makes for keeping my knitting interesting.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Uh...No...Just No

I don't think any amount of money or incentive could ever get me to have anything to do with the Moab Monkeys' hand knit hammock in the Mountains of Utah.

Fear of Heights

I am definitely afraid of being in high places...I hate glass elevators...I felt like I almost died when I went on the glass floor in the CN Tower in Toronto...just overlooking a few stories of height takes my breath away and makes me dizzy.

So risking life and limb by tightrope walking onto a hammock suspended 400 feet above a canyon floor is not my idea of exciting.

I'm a little trembly just thinking about it as I type this.

Just to prove I'm not anti-hammock, I did participate in the creation of a hand knit hammock at the last Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.

A mere 2 feet from the ground, I even used the hammock and wasn't the least bit fearful.

Current Knitting

Diligently continued knitting the border for the kid aplaca blanket.

It's getting close enough to being finished that I think I ought to stop calling it a coffin cover.  I've finished three borders and have begun knitting the fourth and final border.

I also felt I needed to have a "living room project" for the times when I'm not watching television downstairs. 

Plus, it's nice to have a project with more immediate satisfaction and results.  This is the Ric Rac scarf by Jo Burton from Lorna's Lace/Haymarket that I got at the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival.  Seeing the scarf in person convinced me to buy the yarn for it...it's a one-skein scarf in the pattern, but I'm alternating between two colorways and will make it a bit wider and quite a bit longer as a result.

It's a fun pattern and makes a nice drapey fabric.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fleece and Friends Weekend

Each year, the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival gets better and better...both in terms of vendors and in terms of the friends that attend.

New Jersey's Own Fiber Festival

This past weekend, friends Marilyn, Jack and Hayes came to lovely Ringoes, NJ to check out NJ's contribution

The vendors included Mindy from Puff the Magic Rabbit and Verdant Gryphon yarns, as well as many more.  It's a small show, but I still decided to limit myself to just what I could fit in my Kaffe quilting bag.

Of course, the first thing I see is a $355 yarn swift and hank winder that I just fell in love with...but not enough to spend $355 for it.

I ended up buying the following fiber and yarn.

Mindy had about 5 ounces of first-shearing mohair from Adama, one her beautiful goats.

I had to have it, and I figure I will blend it with some of my existing fiber to make a silky and beautifully soft roving.  I also got some beautifully dyed yarn from Mindy while I was at it.

I saw a scarf at the Haymarket vendor's booth that I wanted to make, but I couldn't tell the pattern stitch, so I bought two hanks of yarn to get the pattern for "free."  It's Lorna's Laces yarn, and I think the two colorways will blend well in the scarf pattern (just yesterday, I found a free copy of the pattern on Pinterest...but I'm still glad to have the yarn and pattern).

I can't walk by the Verdant Gryphon booth without buying yarn.  Her dyeing is fantastic and I ended up spending most of my money there.

I have no idea what I will make with these yarns, but I know whatever it is, they will be fantastic.

I'm starting to love the annual NJ fiber festival more than most...both because of the caliber of vendors and the friends it's starting to attract.  Plus, it's practically in my back yard.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tragedy, Restoration and Safeguarding

Yes, it happened, I cracked the glass covering on my iPhone 6 while I was on vacation.

I Was So Naïve

Having dropped my iPhone 4S a number of times, with no ill effect, I made the assumption that the iPhone 6 would be equally as durable and that I didn't need a case for it.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

The shattered glass of my iPhone 6 happened with a very minor drop of the phone...less than 12 inches from the ground, it dropped and fell flat on its back on a flagstone patio.  And the front of it shattered.

The phone still worked, and even without AppleCare, I was able to get the glass replaced for about $120, but I did lose a little faith in the quality of Apple products because of the event.

I have also decided I clearly need a case for my phone...one with a bumper that protects the edge of the glass and also a screen cover that will buffer any future drops of the phone.

Here's the one I ordered (based on the advice of a number of young people who know about these things):

It's the  iPhone 6S Case, SUPCASE Apple iPhone 6 Hybrid Bumper Cover.  I think it's only available through Amazon, but I've been treating my repaired iPhone very gingerly while I await its arrival.

Current Knitting

I've decided to make a concerted effort to FINALLY finish the kid alpaca blanket/coffin cover.

It's not finished yet...I've completed the body of the blanket and two of the edges, and I've just started the third edge.  I've realized I have a bunch of ideas and creative fiber-thoughts in my head that requires me to finish up loose ends so I can work on the new ideas.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Back Home!

And no spam!  Not even a feeble attempt to bypass my spam-guards.


Thaddeus and I were so fortunate to have gotten to spend last week at his sister's family's place on Martha's Vineyard.  This is the view from our own separate living room, and from our individual beach chairs in front of the house.

I ate fantastic food, and relaxed with a vengeance.  It was a great reminder of what it will be like to not have to work.

Current Crochet
While I didn't get a ton of fiber-work done while I was on vacation, I did have the small crocheted bead project to work on in my spare time.

At one point, I will continue to crochet these little gems, and perhaps even make a necklace and matching bracelet out of them.  Perhaps not...we'll see.