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!