Sunday, September 6, 2009

Counting Down the Days...

I simply cannot believe the summer is almost at the end. It seems like it never really came, come to think about it. The weather only got hot a handful of days, and a majority of those days, I was in the hospital, so I missed it all. Sheesh.

The kids will all be back in school next week. I can hardly get over it. I am a bit nervous as to how transportation will go; three kids in three different schools. I can get Rehanna and Conner to school, but Alex will have to be dragged along, only to come home and have a 45-minute-wait until his bus picks him up. I really hate dragging him out of bed for all that, but, as a single mom, this is what has to be done. Last year I had the wonderful blessing of respite care coming for an hour in the morning to stay with Alex, but she ended up getting herself fired after I found nude pictures of her on one of our computers. (sigh). I didn't mind her using the computer, but this was the kids' computer, and apparently those chats she was having online must've been pretty heated! I tried not to imagine what Conner would have said had he accidentally opened that folder of photos, which sat proudly on the desktop, bearing her name!!! What am I, a magnet for these people? I swear...

So anyway, I lost my "morning helper". Pfft. Yeeeaaah.

So, what have I been up to? Well, besides getting ready for the back to school rush, I have been working more hours at work, and there will be more to come. I have piles and piles of $150 jeans to hem. And after this weekend, there will be even more.

I've also be itching to knit something...anything! Every since my last shawl had to get dropped because I (gulp) ran out of yarn, I've not wanted to start anything else. All I have to do is just order another ball of the stupid yarn. Not hard. But I can't being myself to just order one ball of yarn from KnitPicks. It's just not done. KnitPicks orders always must be at least $50. It's an unwritten law. Now of course, there's like $300 I could spend there. But it just isn't the right time for that.

However, I came across this pattern today on Rav:

Now, I have like over 1000 yards of new handspun that I recently finished up. It is screaming to be this shawl. I swore I didn't want to make another shawl. I really wanted to do a sweater, even the one I've been designing. But nooooo. This pattern had to come along and change all that. Maybe if I at least get that last ball of yarn ordered for my other shawl, I will feel better about starting this one. Good logic? Maybe!

That's all for now...I know, terribly exciting, no?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Never Give Away Your Fat Pants...

I don't care how big they are. You will need them again, trust me.

I have two main pairs of fat pants. The biggest are black (of course) and made out of stretch terry knit (of course!). The second are some too-big blue jeans. Last Thursday I was very grateful for both pairs.

I hadn't been feeling good, and thought for sure that if I could just go to the bathroom, all would be well. You know how that story goes. Well, the bathroom was not my friend. I went to Wal-mart, school shopping for the kids with my mother, and thought to hit the pharmacy area to find some sort of medicine. I knew I had laxatives at home. So, I bought some anti-diarrheal. Figured I'd approach the problem from both sides, right? By now, the entire front of my torso was either stabbing in pain, or was so sore from being in pain that I could neither stand up straight or walk very fast. Walking, in fact, was a feat.

So I vowed that if it wasn't better by thursday morning, I would go to emergency. Well, it wasn't any better after a long sleepless night, and I went in. How I drove there, I have no idea. All I can recall about getting there was that someone saw me outside my car and brought me a wheelchair. I was standing there, clutching the car door, wondering how the hell I was gonna get from "A" to "B". But hey, if I keeled over in the parking lot of the emergency room I couldn't possibly be in a better place, right?

Long story short, I really had this thing all figured out before I went to the hospital. This was a kidney stone. HAD to be. I had all the right symptoms. I felt very positive that the doc would give me some pain meds, nicely tell me that I had to wait it out, pass the stone, and life would go on. Follow up with your doctor, miss. So I thought.

But my fave emergency room doc, Dr. Zuckerman (yes, just like the famous pig), sat down and informed me that "Ms. Benac, well...your a mess..." That was not a cool thing to hear. Turns out that something was possibly wrong with my gall bladder, I had an acute case of diverticulitis, and on top of everything, an ovarian cyst the size of a golf ball. When he told me they were going to keep me for "a couple days" I simply looked at him and said "WHAT???"

You see, this was NOT part of the whole kidney stone diagnosis I had done on myself. Damn.

So, in I went, and I was not happy. The Michigan Fiber Fest was in two days. I'd never be able to go. All of my saving and planning, down the tubes. What a total bummer.

It was a confusing time, to say the least. I waited to hear from doctors what on earth was happening with my body. Friday evening, I got up yet again to go pee, fed up with the damned IV and all the fluid it pumped through me. Of course, I had no complaints about the pain meds and antibiotics it also delivered! But sheesh, I was peeing like every half an hour. It was getting old. I had just gone, and the nurses arrived with a sheepish smile on their faces. "Do you think you could pee in a cup for us?" I wanted to snarl. But I was kind. It was only a matter of time before I could go again, anyway. The nurse said "well, it's just standard pre-op procedure, you know, they have to have a urine samp-...."

"Excuse me??" I said. "Back up a minute...did you say PRE-OP????" WHAT OPERATION?

The nurses got wide-eyed and looked at each other. "You mean, no one told you?" they asked. "Well, oh...we can't say anything else! The doctor hasn't been here?"

Noooo, no doc had come. No one except a charge nurse who had informed me that I couldn't eat anything because I might be having more "tests" that evening. Right as my dinner was being placed in front of me, it was wisked away. Buggers. But somehow the "test" had become surgery. and I had no idea for what. Well, soon I found out that they wanted to remove the ovarian cyst, and I was fine with that. Just wish I would've known. That would have been nice. I was in the hospital for a total of five days. I couldn't read, had no internet other than on my phone, and could do nothing but just lay there. It was worse than prison.

So, I now have two neat little incisions. One in my belly button, and one about three inches below it, each about one inch long. They are healing up very well. they glued them shut. Just amazing.

My fat pants have a place of honor in my life. When my tummy swelled up and hurt after surgery, my fat pants were there, in all their non-binding love for me. I'm doing fine now, and all my buddies and customers online were sending all the well-wishes they could muster. I felt them, guys! I really did! Thank you soooooo much!! You all made the pain and bitterness of missing the Fiber Fest a little easier to handle. Now it's back to life as I know it...

Friday, July 31, 2009

On Spiders and Tourette's Ticks...

Yes, such is the scourge of living by the lake. Shoreline spiders are just part of life. I have decided, though, that I actually prefer the bigger spiders over the hundreds of teeny, tiny ones that I turn my head and see all the time. Drives me nuts. The bigger ones you SEE, they startle you, you reach for the swatter, and BAM, they are dead. The little ones you squint and see, much to your alarm, that there are webs all over the place where, twenty minutes ago, there were none. Little freakin' buggers. Not to mention the outside of my house, which looks like a blender full of spider-crud barfed everywhere.

On another note, I finally found a bag for this enormous new computer I have. I have not been able to find anything that would fit a 17" laptop PC. I wanted something cool. Something different. I ran across this company called Isis Dei. Now, not only was the name cool...named after my favorite Goddess...but their products are awesome. This is the one I got:
Doncha just love the Isis statues all over it??! And this was not expensive either...amazing! I really wanted to make one, out of some cool Amy Butler fabric or something like that, but I couldn't find the high-density foam that would provide the protection I wanted. So, I figured I would have to spend $60 to $80 for a nice bag. But...not so! this one was less than thirty bucks!

Conner's been tick, tick, ticking away lately, like a time bomb. I always worry when I see him go off on a flinching, wincing, jerking, outburst-ing spree. Makes me wonder if he is worried about something, thinking about something in particular that is making him stressed. I know that his hormones are RULING his body right now, and probably that has a lot to do with it. But I worry. Being autistic is hard enough...add to that a bunch of uncontrolled jerking and loud vocalizing, and you have a recipe for a kid who just doesn't fit in. It makes me sad, but it also makes him so special. I love him so darned much.
On another note...I am gearing up for the Michigan fiber Fest! I am SO excited! I've got my new bags ready for storing the fleeces I get, and I have two payments put down on my drum carder. Eight more to go! I don't think I will have a ton of money to spend there, but I don't usually. I have two more dyeing opportunities to raise money for my little trip to Allegan, MI. However, I am getting my new 33-qt canner today from UPS! This means I can steam 12 packets at a time, which means I can put more up in my shop when I update. Yay!

Well, I am off. I have to work today, blech. But staying up late is taking it's toll. I wanna go back to bed. Instead, I should get on the bike and spin for a while. Like that's gonna happen??!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gearing Up...

What have I been doing? Well, lots of work...and I am loving it! With the launching of my ArtFire shop, I've gotten some wonderful orders, and they've kept me really, really busy. I've been encouraging my ladies to look through my "sold items" on Etsy, too...just about anything there can be dyed again. Where would I be without my recipes, eh?!

Upon discovering a couple months ago, I am finally getting into it. For anyone who puts colors together, for any reason, this site is worth it's weight in gold! (If you are typing it in manually instead of following the link, please note the British spelling of the word "colour"). Dyeing up new colorways is always exciting for me. Will they come out like I saw them in my head? Will the colors all run together and make MUD?? Or something beautiful?? These are a bunch of new colorways, going to the Etsy shop tonight:

Sometime I HATE what the rovings look like when I take them out of the steaming pots. It puts me in a really foul mood. Just ask my daughter! But somehow, as they dry overnight, they take on a new life, and almost a new appearance to my eye.

One thing I know for sure...with all these orders, I desperately need another 33-qt canning pot with rack. I'm just gonna have to spring for one. I can't find one on freecycle or Craigslist. Seems like everyone is hanging onto their mom's big pot! I thought for sure I'd be able to find one, but maybe more and more people are discoving the appeal of canning and preserving. Not a bad thing in this day and age...

And now that I've finished spinning Jackie-the Alpacie, I've been throwing all sorts of wool onto the wheel! i just finished spinning up the first of three bundles of roving that I got from the Red Barn Farm from eBay. What LOVELY wool! And the price was amazing! It came out to be like $1.87 per ounce! Here's the original combed top, called "Emerald Purple":
And here is the spun yarn...380 yards from 4 oz. After soaking and finishing, it should come up to be a heavy fingering or DK weight:

And here's some other spinning, too. the beige one is a free fiber sample from Carol at Sheep Shed. The delicious green is from a pound of alpaca/wool roving that I got in Davisburg at the Alpaca Show in May, and the large skein is my very own colorway "Little Traverse Bay"...a gorgeous merino that spun up like a dreeeaam:

Little Traverse has some really interesting colors that seems to flow out of it as I spun...colors that I intend on dyeing up into beautiful colorway. Where the dark red and teal blended, a beautiful plum color came up, and mixed with the touches of toffee, it was just beautiful. I don't know if I can sell this one. Just don't know!

Coming in just a couple weeks is the Michigan Fiber Fest! This will be my first time going, and I can't wait to see so many of my Michigan buddies from Rav. Plus, this will be my first time buying fresh fleeces that I intend to take home and process completely myself. I bought two fleeces in Maine, but left them there with a processor, as I don't think that my fellow airplane passengers would have appreciated the smell of a sheep barnyard on the flight! The fleeces wouldn't have fit in the luggage compartment anyway...although I think I could have stuffed them up there. That's a sure-fire way to get a compartment all to yourself, huh??!! "Oh, sorry about yout suitcase, biggie, that's just a little bit of sheep poop. What's you're problem??"

And by September, I should have my drum carder!! I have put one in layway, and I'm so excited! I can't wait to be able to blend fibers and colors into beautiful, subtle creations. Here's the one I am getting:

It's not just about having another product to sell. It's about seeing how my colors mix and interact, and adjusting accordingly. It's about being one step closer to the process of spinning, and/or felting. Applying color to fiber is simple enough. But those colors blend visually as you spin, and unexpected things can happen. This drum carder is going to be SUCH an asset to me!

Okay, I'm off! The daughter wants to go to the state park (Sterling) for me to take nice photos of her for her MySpace. There might even be a nice pic or two of the both of us!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Some Beefs on my Way Out the Door...

Okay, so everyone has to just GRIPE sometimes, right? And yes, I know...if these are my biggest problems of my week, I'll be doing GREAT. I know. I know....

1. On the way to the post office my A/C fan dies. AGAIN. Just had it fixed last week. How hot is it today? 90 degrees. Yuppers. And now I have to dash off to the eye doctor. There's gonna be some sweaty eyes for her to look at...

2. Shipping charges. Now I have a REALY BIG beef here. I ordered yarn from a company. They pull the cones off the shelf, throw them in a box, and slap a label on. 4 Lbs. OVER TEN DOLLARS for UPS shipping. Second scenario: I order 13 Lbs of wool that has to be pulled out, WEIGHED, packaged in plastic, and put in a box to ship. And this is for EACH TYPE of wool ordered. Package is about 14 pounds total...cost? About $14. Now you tell me...WHY does the 4 pounds thrown into a box cost over TEN BUCKS? And the distance for shipping, by the way, is about the SAME. Next scenario: A piece of software from Literally, a CD case. $9.95 for shipping. Are you kidding?? Shipping is always a bone of contention. I know, as a seller, that I have to cover way more than just the cost of shipping itself. There are the boxes and bags to cover, and other stuff. But come on, get REAL.

3. You know my spinning stool that I endured immense stupidity to get? I hate it. HATE IT. I'm going to Ikea to get one. What am I gonna do with this? I dunno. Put it in the closet for extra dinner seating. For all the dinners I don't cook. Yeah.

4. That's all!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

ArtFire is Divine!

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

Well, I finally got my ArtFire shop up and running! A few months ago, I jumped on the charter member offer that they had, not really knowing how I would proceed with it. I already was building a presence on Etsy, but knew that ArtFire looked REALLY cool. So, I decided. ArtFire is where I am offering custom-dyed fiber, where you can order up to two pounds of any colorway you would like. This is great for anyone who knows about how much fiber they will need for a project...someone who might not want to just play around with four ounces of fiber, but wants to spin for a sweater or other project. Of course, four-ounce sizes are offered, so if you wanna play around with these wonderful colorways, well, go right ahead! I posted some of my favorites, and those that my customers have favored. I am looking forward to see how it does!

With this idea in place, I can concentrate on developing new colorways, and offering them on Etsy. When they do well, and I know they are dependable recipes that will repeat well, I will offer them on ArtFire, for anyone to purchase whatever quantity they need, larger or small!

Check out the I am going to see about adding it to Blogger here, where you can purchase right from Blogger! (How cool is that??)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is It Any Wonder??

...that I need therapy?? These are my two dear boys, Conner and Alex. This particular fashion statement happened to be Alex's idea. I just stood and stared. Really. What else could I do? After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I took this photo.

This all came about because I warned Alex to absolutely NOT under ANY circumstances put a bag over his head.

Ahem...Okay. Well, he had to put the bag over something. So he aimed for the other end. Good Boy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Where Have I Been??

Well, I'll tell you! I've been busy, frustrated, and busy some more!

My computer decided to not make spaces between words. Well, it would...with MUCH effort and pounding on the space bar. The whole machine was running a bit hot, and things were just so sluggish. I was planning my trip to Maine, saving up my money, and the thought of saving up for a new computer made me a little sick to my stomach.

Now, my computer was built on March 15, 2002. that's pretty danged old. In fact, it's REALLY old. And you know, it's still a nice machine. It's a Pentium 4, 2.6Ghz, and I had a 160 GB harddrive in it. It had a Gig of RAM, and it really ran quite fast, all things considered. The display was dark, though, making my photo editing difficult. And the keyboard; well, we won't go there.

So!! I figured out a way to get a new puter for six months free interest!! I am so delighted. This is a GORGEOUS machine:

Of course, one laptop looks like any other. But this thing is's got a 17" screen that I love. And the entire thing is bronze. I am delighted!

Now, for my trip to Maine. It was wonderful! The Maine Fiber Frolic was great! I picked up two fleeces...really nice ones, and left them in Maine for processing. I decided that until I have a drumcarder, I am not going to try to attempt to process anything myself. I also got 8 ounces of some lovely dyed roving, and three bars of handmade soap. And I found a Spinner's Control Card, and a jug of Eucalon.

Upon arriving home, I had over 50 pairs of jeans waiting for me at The Buckle. Ann Arbor lost their tailor, so I picked them up. Ugh...three days in a row of sewing, sewing, sewing! I have today off, then it's back to work tomorrow. Ah well, the money will be nice.

After all, the Michigan Fiber Fest is coming up...

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Saga of my Spinning Stool...

Some people, I swear, need to wear Jeff Foxworthy's "sign"...STUPID. On their foreheads. Or somewhere else quite visible. People, yes...but you wouldn't expect that, nor want that with an online seller.

Okay, so I find this cute little stool that I think would be perfect for spinning. I'm tired of using a dis-placed dining room chair. I wanted something small, with a padded seat. I found it. It's perfect:
So anyway, I find the listing, and it says it's for a purple stool. I wanted this burgundy one. The ad said "please contact us for other colors shown!" Okay, so I write to the guy (or girl, can pick him/her out by the "STUPID" sign on their forehead) and I say "I'd love to have this in burgundy". Seller says "okay, just write a note in Paypal comment box and let us know."

Great!! No prob! So that's what I did, AND I sent off another note through eBay to remind them that although I bid onthe PURPLE stool auction, I wanted a BURGUNDY stool.

Next note I get: "I am not sure if I have the burgundy in stock."

Okaaaaay. So I send a note back. "Pink would be fine."

Next note: "We are out of the PURPLE. Is PINK okay?"

OMG. I am in disbelief as to the absolute idiocy of this dialogue. Now, here's something ELSE to keep in mind thru all this. My eCheck cleared back on May SEVENTH. I still don't have this stool. Not in burgundy, not in purple (which I never wanted), and not even in pink. Heck, at this point, I'll TAKE IT in neon green polka dots!

So...I have NO idea what these people are going to write next. And was the burgundy really out of stock?? The world may never know.

And gee, guys, I'm so sorry. Didn't see yer SIGN.

Rehanna, My Young Lady

On Friday, my daughter, Rehanna turned 15 years old. While I can still hardly believe it, I am learning the nuances of being a mother and seeing the time slip by so quickly. Soon, I know she will be gone, and I will still be, in my heart, out at the curb waiting for a school bus to bring her home.
I remember her very first day of kindergarten...when we waited for her to return home, and she didn't...not until past 5:00pm. The bus driver had gotten lost, and we were absolutely BESIDE ourselves with worry. But soon, we saw her bus, and there Rehanna was, at five years old, telling the bus driver how to get her home. That's my girl.
As she grew up, she took it upon herself to become a little mother hen to her autistic brothers, much as I tried hard to let her "just be a kid" just wasn't in her. I endured harsh criticism from certain ones of my family, that I "let this happen", but I assure you, I did not! Some children, in situations with disabled siblings, just follow that path all on their own. Or maybe Rehanna sensed that I needed help. In that case, perhaps I was a bit of a failure, I don't know. All I know is that Rehanna developed a fierce sense of loyalty...and it spills over to every other relationship in her life.As she has gotten older, Rehanna's been plagued with hard choices, some of which she has chosen wrongly. But I love her no matter what. She is still amazing to me, still a HUGE winner, and smarter than any other kid I know her age. There isn't much that gets past her.

So...15 years ago, I had my first child. A single mom, living with my own mother, but I wasn't exactly young and stupid. I was 25 years old and had a good job. I only wished I could have spent more time with her as a baby. I used to come home from work, and pick up her sleeping little body out of her crib and just hold her. I couldn't stop kissing her sweet little cheeks. She was a darling baby.
And now, she's a young woman, and I am stunned that the time has passed. I've been so wrapped up in my own life, my own mistakes...I worry I wasn't there for her like I should have been.

My beautiful Rehanna, I love you so much. And I want you to know that I'll always be here for you. There is no exit sign at the door when you turn eighteen. There is no time limit to my love, and there's no gun to your head to be anything you don't want to be.

I love you, honey.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Domain Works! LakeHouseLoft.Com!

Stupid me! Here's I've had a domain since December of last year. I started my Etsy shop around that time, and figured "oh, I'll get around to building a site for my domain name sometime or other...."

Well, once you have an Etsy shop, and a job, and KIDS, you are lucky if the Etsy shop gets updated on time. So, the domain just sat there. For quite a while. I had even sort of forgotten about it. But HEY!! I got a tip I should have known without having to be told. Look what happens when you click on my domain: (er...please click on it, okay?)

Is that nifty or WHAT?

So, yeah...DUH on me, I can hear you all saying. I'm just not as savvy as I once was.

But, the shop is updated, and here's a little taste:
And I put a notice in my shop announcement, too, that if there's anything you see in SOLD items, just let me know! I keep concise records, and recipes of almost everything I dye. I can re-create almost anything I've done. Some, but very few of my pieces are ones that I've "flownby the seat of my pants", either to use up leftover dyes or what-have-you, but 99% of everything is measured and created just for that piece.

So...if you go into my SOLD items, it's a whole other store to shop! Just drop me a line, and give me a couple days or so to get it dyed up for you.

Well, it's off to the "real job" today. Bleh!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Being a 240-Pound Mushroom is Hard Work...

Yes, you guessed it, my bike is out of the shop, and this morning it was under my butt! It was a bit crushing. Two YEARS of not riding was a horrible thing to exit out of. The pavement itself felt like it was some sort of wall I had to get over. And I noticed inclines that I never knew were there! Everything seemed uphill. After only 1/2 mile from my house, I started to think that maybe I was just too fat and too old to try to do this again.

And then I remembered in my "good" riding days I had a "2-mile" block...when I went out to ride and hit 2 miles, I ALWAYS wanted to just turn around and go back. And this was four years ago when I would easily ride 10 to 12 miles a day, and do 25-mile scenic rides on the weekends. So, I know that 1/2 mile seems a little soon to be wanting to keel over, but here I am, a GOOD 30 pounds heavier than I was back then. Wanting to DIE at 1/2-mile seems reasonable!

And I know that soon, I won't want to die until 3/4 mile, and then 1 mile, and so on. I just can't quit. Because right now, as I sit and type this, the endophins are doing their "thing", and it feels totally AWESOME. There's no drug you can take that feels like this.

So...yeah, the bike gear is fitting snugly this year, where it used to be kinda roomy. It's okay. Don't care. All I want is to be healthy and not have my back leaving me totally unable to move every single goddamned morning. I'm tired of having to clench my teeth in pain just getting the boys dressed. I'm tired of being in agonizing pain just going pee in the morning. Heck, I'm tired of just being tired.

So...I have to begin somewhere, and so I did. I didn't fail, I didn't quit, and heck, I didn't even clip into my pedals, so I didn't FALL!! (Don't ask). I can't complain. I won't complain!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Alpaca Show!

Well, I am now the owner of two alpaca fleeces; one of them a blue-ribbon winner at the show!

This was truely a show for alpaca breeders, and less of a fiber event. However, if you looked and asked around, you could get almost any fleece you might want. The alpacas competed in the show in full fleece, and then went straight to the shearing booth! It was great fun to watch, especially watching "Jackie" win the blue ribbon, and then watching her get her very first shearing. And since it was her first, her fleece was as soft and fine as a cloud. Just gorgeous. I want to roll around in this stuff! Here's Jackie before the show:

Jackie was very young, only seven months old, so she was nervous and skittish. But I managed to sink my fingers into her fleece several times, and I knew that I was going to love it!

The show took place in Davisburg, and there were so many lovely animals there. I wanted ALL the fleeces, of course! I chose Jackie for her toffee-brown color, and then I picked up another white fleece, too. The white had been sheared earlier I literally got these fleeces right off the backs of the animals.

Watching Jackie was so much fun. Here she is, as a winner! This is Lee, Jackie's proud owner.

Then it was on to the shearing booth. Jackie is peeking around the corner here...really not digging what she is seeing:

She enters the booth, and takes a good look:

Let's just say that she gave them a bit of a fuss! Not too bad though. I got it on video, but just have to get it converted so I can post it here.
So, I'm pooped. What a fun day! Now I have to get the fleeces skirted and sent off to be processed into roving. There is nothing like alpaca....

Friday, May 1, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Amazing Paul Potts...Click The Link!!

In the light of Susan Boyle's incredible debut, I love to take a backward (and forward!) glance at Paul Potts, another of Britain's Got Talent's discoveries. I am just so excited for both of them. Of course, Paul has had his CD out for a couple years now, and it is FABULOUS. His new CD comes out on May 5th, and of course, I have it pre-ordered.

And here's a word for all Paul's critics: just go F**K OFF. Paul's voice may not be perfectly trained or technically "perfect". But that is precisely what makes it so warm and inviting. THIS is what sends the tingles up our spines when we listen. Paul realness is what moves us to tears. He is not out there to tell the world how classical music should be sung. He is out there because he simply loves to sing. And people love to listen. His shows are sold out.

Let's also look at another facet of his fame: where else would a slightly "white trash" American commoner ever hear anything remotely classical?? Would you find this person at a Domingo concert? Most likely never. But you might find him listening to Paul Potts. Because Paul was at one time not so far from this...but he did have a dream. Hell, that's more than we can say about most Americans sitting on their asses every night watching reality shows. Paul is going to be a self-made legend. And I bet Susan Boyle is, too. They are the living results of simply having a dream and not being too chicken-shit to pursue it.

So: here's a taste of his new album. Hold on to your seat, and bring on the box of tissues. Most of all...enjoy. Embedding was not allowed on this vid, so please click the link.

Nifty Creative Books And My On-Going Creative Attemps...

What a marvelous book! I picked up a couple over the past weeks. Since I've only been to a couple fiber shows, I really wanted to see this book, which is an overview of the largest shows in the country. I was delighted to see the Michigan Fiber Festival included! I do NOT plan to miss this one this year. Come hell or high water, I will be there! I loved the photos and descriptions of the fleece shows...the huge tables filled with prize-winning fleeces, and the spinners lined up to buy them. There's instructions in here about how to wash a fleece (something I have no IDEA how to do), how to skirt a fleece, and even how to help out at a shearing day.

One thing I love about Fiber and Wool Shows is that they seem to follow the "old ways"....sheep are shorn in the Spring, and most of these shows are in early May. So, those fleeces are shorn, and then go right off the sheep's back to the show.

In the book, there's also a tidbit of info on how to hand-paint yarn, some gorgeous kitting projects, how to make your own spindle, and loads of other stuff. Had this been a book full of just pretty pictures and overviews of the shows, I would have returned it. Turns out that this wonderful book is a real keeper. Lots of REALLY useful info that I am glad to have!

And the next book that I treated myself with is "The Intentional Spinner" by veteran spinning diva Judith McKenzie-McCuin. Ohhh, I eagerly awaited this book! I was a bit apprehensive, though. I tend to be pretty rigid about my spinning, and I didn't want a book to start telling me how I should do things, and so on. But this book does NOT do that at all! I was delighted! With an incredible overview of all the different fiber types, the book would have been worth it right there. But of course, this is a book about spinning, and it delves in deep. Judith's way of writing is so laid back and easy, she makes you feel like you can do anything, and doesn't criticize if you just want to read and follow along in your mind!

Judith goes over all the basics of spinning worsted and woolen, plus she gives awesome advice about plying do's and don'ts. Again, you can always do things your way, but she's a veteran, so why not just listen to what she has to say!

The chapter on Yarn Design is just amazing. There's a spinning flow chart...all about cause and effect and how to get the yarn you want. There's finishing advice here, too, as well as priceless advice on how to store your items safely to keep the pests away. The projects in this book are yummy, too. I can't wait to make that shawl!

And this one is on the way. I should have it Monday. Now, why would I buy a book about hand-dyeing yarn? Well, because you can simply never stop learning. That's they way I see it. Plus, I've always wanted to write my own book about my dyeing methods, and I always like to see how other books compare to the book that lives in my mind. Most books I've found just aren't detailed enough. As I go through the instructions of other books I've purchased, I find so many holes in the process given. TWO books I have on dyeing wool and yarn never once tell the reader to cover the pot while the wool is on the stove! Okay, so call this petty. But for a beginner, this is vital info! So, let's hope this book isn't another "creative" book about "winging it" and "throwing thing in the dyepot" for your "own creative touch". I'd love to see some controlled stuff here. I'd love to see some honest-to-goodness repeatable, dependable information. Because when you know a scientific approach, your "creative touches" are based on knowledge about the process. And gee, I bet your results might just look good, too!

So...there ya have it. There are other books, too, that I am thinking of. Right now, though, I am more interested in some new music that is coming out....!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I haven't blogged since April 6th???!!!! Shame on me!! But, sadly, this is quite typical for me. I have so many scattered thoughts throughout the day that if I sat to write them all down, you would surely think I was insane. A pure lunatic. And while I can't keep my blog posts to one subject per post like some bloggers can, I just do the best I can.

After much trial and error, I got my cottons dyed up! The photo you see is a peek. I did experiments with three different types of cotton yarn, and so far, my favorite is what I named "Comfy Jeans Cotton". It says its a "2" weight, but according to wraps per inch, it's more like a light DK. It knits up beautifully and has a soft twist, as you can see in the pics. It almost look handspun. I just love it!

Dyeing cotton is nothing new to me. I've been dyeing all sort of methods with cotton fabric since college...we're talking like 20 years here. But...I had never dyed cotton yarn. Let's just say that, while the dyes and the process was old hat for me, handling cotton yarn was very new! I have four skeins here that are a tangled mess of spaghetti-yarn-barf! You see, I was so excited to think I could just throw cotton into the washer to rinse after dyeing that I didn't realize what would happen to it when the agitator started doing it' I pulled out of the washer hopelessly tangled messes of beautifully dyed cotton. UGH.

So I tried again. I tied up the hanks a short distance from each end, and a couple times in the middle. Well, that short distance from the end was just enough to get those end loops tangled badly. Wasn't as bad as the first time, mind you....but I only managed to save two of the three hanks. This last time was success. I tied the hell out of those skeins, and I ended up with tangle-free yarn.

So....whew! And I just got my wool order in yesterday, so I will be dyeing today.

This last Sunday, a trip to Ikea with my daughter was lots of fun. I found the most gi-normous storage bags I've ever seen...will be perfect for protecting all my wool this summer!

Just for reference...the table that the bag is sitting under is my industrial sewing machine, and the table is about 40-some inches long. I used to have three big huge ziploc storage bags sitting under for dyed wool braids, one for yarns for sale, and the other for my white yarns waiting to be dyed. All three of those big bags fit into this HUGE Ikea bag...with LOTS of room to spare! Ikea rocks! I also picked up a smaller bag. It's still gi-normous. Now, all of this is in defense against the dreaded clothes moth. I've never had a problem with them, but now is not the time to think I'll be safe. I have a veritable smorgasbord here for moths. It's an all-you-can-eat feast here for them, all this wool.

I also picked up a new dishes set! Ikea had a one-day-only sale. A service for SIX....plate, bowls, salad plate, silverware, coffee mugs, and two different types of glasses. Six of each...forty bucks. They are beee---yoooo---teee---ful!! Hell of a deal...! I was afraid that the silverware would be the cheapie set that Ikea offers, but this was a regularly $90 set, and the silverware included was the "Dragon" set. GORGEOUS flatware! The only thing I didn't care for was the set of wine glasses. I didn't even take them out. Super-thin glass...not suitable for my family. But then, nobody here drinks wine! I guess I will have them for special occasions, when I do have a drink.

One last note. And I put it last, because, for me, it holds the most PUNCH. Thanks to an online buddy I have, Autumn Leigh.....I JOINED WEIGHT WATCHERS!!! I am so excited! Finally, I think I have found a plan that will work!!! In five days, I lost 9 pounds! Now, of course, this is not typical, and is only because I most likely lost a ton of water and yuck that my body was retaining, but I sure do feel better! The plan is pure genius. Finally, someone figured out how to allow a dieter to eat ANYTHING she wants....putting a point-value system to everything that is much, MUCH easier to keep track of than calories or even counting carbs. I am delighted. And I am making better food choices. It's pretty straight-forward. When I make bad choices, with high point values, I don't eat as much, and I am hungry. When I choose wisely, I get to eat, and I am filled up, and I lose weight! Fancy that!

Okay, I'm off. I have dye recipes to write up, and wool to dye!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Well Then!

I would say I had some orders to get out: And when I got home, I had another order. I love all you guys! Here's a shameless plug for my store: LakeHouse Loft.

I missed Steve today. I thought about him just about everywhere I went. There is literally nowhere that I can go that I don't think of him and miss him. He's my "phone boyfriend" now, and it sure is weird. I think I miss being held the most. I miss feeling his arms around me. I feel like a ship on a huge, open sea right now...drifting alone. Most of the time, I can shove the feelings aside with various other projects and things I have to do, but sometimes when I am alone, it all creeps up on me. Tonight, Alex said "Take me to see Steve, Mamma. I wanna see Steve....okay?" I just gathered him up and held him, and I told him that Steve was still gone on his "trip". Sigh.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Stressful Therapy...

Spinning is supposed to be relaxing. And plying on the wheel is, most of the time, the spinnerly equivelant of taking a Xanax. For all intents and purposes, it is. Except when you purposely make it not so. Let me explain.

A few weeks ago, my fave group in Ravelry, Sheep Shed Fiber Lovers, did a fiber swap. I sent out some lovelies to my swap partner, and in return, from another groupie, I got this bunch of lovelies:
In this package was 4 oz of hand dyed Sheep Shed fiber, four packs of alpaca fiber (totally yum!), goat's milk lotion (which is about gone, LOVE this stuff!), handmade soap, and four vials of beads. We are supposed to spin up the fiber using everything in the box. Except, of course, for the soap and lotion. But, it's on my hands before I spin, so I guess that still counts.

I have yet to learn how to use loose fiber like the alpaca I got, so I'm saving it for another project. And the beads, well, I made a concerted effort to use the beads. I really did. You see, beads and me have a strong relationship. I do a ton of beading...I've beaded the most intricate stuff imaginable, within reason. I crochet with tiny size 11o beads. This is the stuff I do with beads much smaller than the ones I got here:

Okay, so some intense stuff, right? Hell yeah, it is. To do this kind of jewelry, you have to string the beads in a very exact pattern; an exact sequence. It's not always easy. So, when I thought about plying my yarn, and adding beads in, I thought, "no problem! This'll be a cinch!!" String the beads onto the ply, pull one up as I am plying, boom, boom, boom, Right?
I strung the beads onto my second ply. Started spinning...kind of all excited. Tangled MESS ensued. I ended up with this:

There's my cell phone, from calling my mother and telling her my woes. There's the wrapper of the rice krispy treat that was intended to soothe my soul. And my ball winder that wound up the first ply of the yarn-to-be. And if you look closely, you will see a strand of beads...that was cut out of the second ply. Yes, eliminated. They are still laying there. And there they will stay. I was sad. The yarn is pretty...just no beads on the white ply:

So. I will add those beads into this project somehow. They might end up being...well....I'm not going to give it away. It's all spun up now, just have to set the twist, count the yardage, and them come up with something original to make out of it. But using beads is just something that doesn't go with spinning for me...not yet. They will go with the knitting. That's about as far as I can go, without getting out my beading needles and doing something really elaborate!

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Have a Sick, Sick Woobie

Well, and to top it off, I am also sick myself. I kept this little guy home from school today, of course...he's got a temp of over 102 degrees, and his little cheeks are flaming red. I was proud of Alex today, though. He laid low...just rested and took it easy. What a good boy! I sure love this little guy. I thought he would be fine tomorrow if he went with Ellen, his respite care worker (who loves him like he is her own), but I just found out they are sticking some other guy with Alex. So that's not going to work. I called them up and told them to forget it. At least at Ellen's house, I know he would've laid low and rested. But this other guy they wanted to put him with has a NEWBORN BABY at his house. YEAH. Oh sure, Alex would have been warmly welcomed there. UGH.

So, I told them to forget it. I don't know what I will do about my work schedule. I guess I'll have to hope that Alex is well enough to go back to school on Wednesday, and go to work then.

I've been spinning and knitting while I've been sick. The knitting has not held a lot of charm for me. Don't know why exactly, but I do know that my spinning has been very appealing. The rythmn of the wheel going around, and the wool drafting through my fingers is comforting on so many levels. I was also delighted to find out how much wool my bobbins will hold!

There is NINE FULL OUNCES of wool on this bobbin! I was just astounded. I would like to pick up a couple more bobbins, but can't really part with the $22 a piece right now.

I am also wanting a new camera. It's hard to believe I have had this camera of mine for six years. It is a WHOPPING 4.1 Mexapixels! Ha ha! It has served me well, but I am sure tired of having to borrow my daughter's camera to take pictures. I got her a new Canon for Christmas. So...I'm using my daughter's camera which is way better than mine. And I have a business for which to take photos. What's wrong with this picture? (Every pun is intended!) So, I am saving up for this beauty:

Believe it or not, it isn't that expensive. I've always had FujiFilm cameras, ever since my very first digital camera way back in 1998. I've had three now. Been happy. This one is FAB. You can see the 15X optical zoom, plus it's 10 megapixels. Also has image stableization, which I could really use. There's tons of other stuff it does, too...all conducive to the kinds of photos I take.

Well, it's time to check on little Alex, and maybe write up some color recipes for dyeing. Looks like I will be home tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Yarny Surprises

I finally got up the gumption to get out one skein of the many of the handspun ivory punta that I've been spinning. The idea was to buy the punta from Sheep Shed Studio whenever I had the extra money, spin it up, and then hand dye the finished yarn, as opposed to dyeing it as fiber like I usually do. I knew the effect would be different, but I had no idea HOW different! So, I threw it in the roaster, and off I went with the dye:
I also added some brown to temper the wild fuschia and violet. Not only did I get the beautiful color I figured I would get, I got this:
The plys of the yarn took the dye differently!! Look at that! ha! PLUS, the entire texture of the yarn changed. It is springy and bouncy like I've never seen in a handspun! Now, of course, this must've been the nature of the punta wool, but I am astounded. Now I know I can go forward with this whole line of hand-dyed, hand-spun yarns I am going to call "Lady of the Lake" yarns. What a GREAT day!

I also completely finished and blocked the Bird's Nest shawl!

Now, it's on to either more dyeing or more knitting. Do I want to knit another shawl? I think so. This is sitting here, staring me in the face, waiting to be the Sampler Shawl...Iris Heather Palette yarn:
But for now, I have to go to work. I'm gonna sleep for another hour first, though. I'm pooped!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Week-Long Carb Fest & Knitterly Ways

Well, the diet lasted like about ONE week. I shouldn't say that it is over, because it isn't. I am back on again today, probably just to undo all the damage I did last week. I had all the ingrediants (finally) to make my "diet saver" chocolate cheesecake brownies, but was too down in the dumps to actually make them. So, I just went for the gusto, and ate ice cream instead! Ice cream! I don't even CARE for ice cream!! Yeesh! Ah well. Perhaps it is out of my system now, and I can go on to bigger and hehe...!

I finished Cheryl Oberle's Bird's Nest Shawl last night. What a wonderful knit! I will get photos up after it is blocked. I am loving KnitPick's Palette yarn; such an inexpensive, but very yummy yarn. I knit the entire thing for about ten bucks. Boy, I remember back in the eighties when I was learning how to knit; you couldn't knit anything nice without spending at least fifty bucks. As a teenager, I just didn't have that kind of money. Things have sure changed!

It appears that I prefer rectangular shawls much more than triangle ones. Now, I know that my Stora Dimun came out a little on the small side, since I didn't pay strict attention to gauge and all that. I like to cuddle up in shawls. Stora just isn't a cuddly shawl, and it's okay. Bird's Nest is closer. I am going to cast on Cheryl's Sampler shawl next, in Iris Heather Palette (of course!). It's supposed to be done in a fingering weight, and Palette is, but just to be sure, I am going to go up a needle size from the suggested. I've been using a size seven for the other two, so I already know it will be fine.

Today is also dye day! I've decided that I am going to be doing more kettle dyeing, too. It is much more relaxing a method than hand painting, and the results are so pretty. I'm also finally going to be dyeing my handspun yarn, which I have been spinning and seemingly hoarding here for so long. It's going to be kettle dyed...I just don't care for the look of hand-painted yarns unless the repeat is really short. The randomness of kettle-dyeing is much prettier in yarn. Just my opinion, but I don't like to see "stripey" hand-painted yarns. You never know how the heck they will look when knit up. If you do a large project, you get long, thin stripey. If you do a small project, you get big, chunky blobs of stripey. Ugh.

So, I'm off. Rehanna is sick today...she has been all weekend, with a fever that doesn't seem to want to break. I give her Tylenol, fever goes down (but not all the way!). Tylenol wears off, fever goes right back up. I give that scenario three chances, and then it's off to the doc. That's been my rule with all the kids. As she is almost 15, I worry about mono. I had it when I was 15. I doubt this is the case, but since I was mis-diagnosed when I had it, I am not taking any chances.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Those Poor, Poor Ducks...

The school social worker came out to the house the other day to get a social history on Conner. This is a story he told me.

A few weeks ago, several of the fourth grade boys were having fun in the bathroom. Apparently, they were being goofballs and urinating on the walls and everywhere they shouldn't. The one male teacher in the school, and Mr. Lidel the school social worker, decided to call an assembly of all the fourth grade boys to discuss the matter, as no one really knew who exactly was the culprit.

The two told the boys about respect...about not doing things at school that they wouldn't do at home. They were told about "aiming"...and how important it was to aim right when using the toilet. The one male teacher gave an example: " Now, Mr. Lidel is a hunter, and he hunts ducks. He wouldn't just point his rifle into the sky and shoot all over the place! He has to AIM, so that he will get a duck!"

After the assembly, Conner's aide, Mrs. Windels came down to get him and take him back to class. She asked him, "So, Conner, how was the assembly? Did you like it? Did you learn anything new?"

Conner nodded happily and vigorously. "OH yes!", he said. "You're shupposed to PEE on the DUCKS!!"

Never say that an autistic child doesn't listen attentively...!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Holy Crap! It's Stora Dimun!

I am bad when it comes to taking photos of my stuff. I know there are so many people out there who are very content to stand in front of a mirror, wear their new creation, and snap away. Not me. I guess I'm too much of a perfectionist. In any's Stora!! This is the most complex thing I've ever knitted, and I'm really proud of it. It's a stepping stone to feeling like I can knit almost anything I want.

I got more fiber dyed yesterday, FINALLY. It was tough, in between dealing with my computer breakdown. (See previous post!!) So, hanging to dry, waiting to get their pictures taken, here they are. Well, you can't see all of them, but here are some:

These will all be in my store by this evening, if everything goes as planned. Oh heavens, please let there be no more drama!!

Now it's off to the shower, and to get the house in some sort of order. I have a meeting with the school social worker at the house about Alex this afternoon. Would like to show him that we really don't live in a cesspool of fiber and toys....

Well, yeah. Okay, so...we do. But he doesn't have to really know that.

Up To Snuff

My computer died on Saturday. Well, not really died...just sort of said "no way, this ain't gonna work." Period.

What happened was that I was trying to show my mom how to work her new digital camera that she got for Christmas. I installed the driver on my computer for transferring the files from her camera to my computer. CRASH. Apparently, the driver gave my USB ports some instructions to follow that were just too much to handle! The computer continually looped...would not start up to save it's life. was as good of a time as any to wipe it all out. (I know, I know....AAAHHHHHHHH!!!) But was a great learning experience for me. Steve helped me over the phone...first we tried to fix the problem without having to wipe out the machine. But I was just as happy to really do it. And so I did. WOW does it run better!!! Backing up my data was not easy. I was able to get the computer back up and running, just as long as nothing came anywhere near the USB ports! So, this meant no external drives, no wireless network on which to transfer files to other computers in the house...blah blah.

So, I connected myself via a good ole fashioned wire to the router, and transferred away. Then I transferred all the data from the other computer onto the external drive. Then, reinstalled windows. Ta-daaahh!! USB ports now work! COnnected external drive to computer. Tranferred all data BACK to computer. THEN...installed all software that I use...more blah blah!

During all of THIS, I was installing the fabulous Windows updates. All 12 million of them. Think: the Windows CD that I have is Windows XP service pack 1a. Yes. You read it right...1a. So, just think of how many updates there were out there for me?? 12 million.

I decided I would like to have the latest and greatest of everything. Well, that works in theory. But Microsoft, as we all know, likes to throw crap out there for everyone to agonize over, and for everyone to ask the proverbial question "WHY oh WHY did I have to have this???" So, after installing Internet Explorer 8 beta, I had the fun experience of seeing just what it did to my beloved Ravelry when I tried to reply to a post or a thread. Let's just say it was a REALLY BAD BUG. does one uninstall IE 8? Well, it ain't easy. Microsoft doesn't make getting rid of their software easy, EVER. They WANT you to agonize, apparently. After much searching on the web (with a crippled browser, I might add), I finally found this little teeny place on the microsoft website that explained how to do it. Of course, the first way did NOT work, so I had to use the "alternate" way. Which is to say, I had to use the "forget-the-pretty-interface, put-on-the-scuba-gear-and-dive-into-the-black-screen-of-DOS" way. In any case, this brought me back to a version 6 of IE, which I then updated to version 7. WHEW. Whatta mess that was.

And how long did all this take? Well, at least a full, solid 24 hours. Of course, I did other stuff that I didn't even mention here. ((sigh)). It's done!

So far, so good. Of course, Mom feels all bad, blaming herself. Of course it isn't her fault at all! Those drivers that came with her camera are dangerous. That's all there is to it! So that leaves mom with a nice camera with crappy drivers. Now we'll have to go online and see if we can find updated drivers for it.

On to more fun stuff!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finally on Blogger!

Well, it's been a long haul here. I finally got my Blogger set up, after having this account for quite a while. However:

I couldn't get my Multiply blog imported over here.
I couldn't get my Flickr slideshow on here.
I couldn't get my Etsy slideshow on here.

Sigh. Ah well. heehee! If you want to know more about what's been going on with me lately, please, please just click onthe link to the right and head over to Multiple and read away! I can't seem to get it over here. I'll keep trying, though!

I finally got my Clematic Bird's Nest Shawl up in my projects on Rav. I never even got Stora Dimun up there, but I am going to take pics after it is blocked and all beautiful. That is, if my blocking wires ever get here from Knit Picks! (I am horribly impatient!)

Photo storage has become an issue. I really have to bite the bullet and buy a Flickr subscription. PhotoBucket just doesn't seem to work, and I really need it to. Flickr just seems darned expensive to me, although I know I will feel that it is worth it. Twenty Five bucks a year. Man! Okay, so call me cheap...but when you have three kids and not much money to work with, every penny gets scrutinized. ((grin))

I got four ounces of yummy BFL fiber spun up. I am going to ply it with white Sheep Shed punta singles. It'll be interesting to see how much yardage I get from it. It's a great color...really unusual, too bad the photo sux:

It's hard to believe that Steve's been gone over a week and a half. We talk every night on the phone, and a couple nights ago, it was a little difficult. I don't honestly know how the heck we will survive this. But time will tell.

I started the low-carb diet (again). Seems I do this every February. But now is a great time. Steve isn't here to cook his delicious, horribly fattening food for me. I will have no guilt about turning him down after he has slaved away in the kitchen. Food isn't a big deal to me. I eat to stop hunger. And now, with him gone, it's even more so that way.

We have a new guest in our house...! Steve and I bought this little guy for Conner for his birthday:

Yes, this is a rat. I had severe reservations about RATS. YECH. Well, that was...UNTIL we brought little baby Remy home. This little guy is just WONDERFUL. He's like a little dog!! He has NEVER bitten us, he gives us kisses (well, he's cleaning us, actually), his cage does NOT stink, he LOVES to be picked up, held and short, he is a FAB little guy! Remy will come running to the edge of his cage when I come home, just like a pup. He's just adorable. He will grab hold of my finger with his tiny hands, lay his head on my hand, and let me rub his tummy. It's the goll-darned cutest thing ever!

Okay, time to get ready for work. There's a new manager there now, and she's brought in a new system for the tailoring department. Aparently, she's not used to seeing so much work to be done, so I'm going in an extra day to get it, ahem, "caught up". Hmmm....well, I wonder what she will say when it goes right back to "not caught up" next week?? That's what happens when you have a store with GOOD SALES honey. Obviously not like the store you came from!