Challenges

Sourdough bread is baking in the oven. This time I hope it’s a success. I tried making sourdough a year ago. It baked into a tasty failure. I’d used a powdered sourdough starter with a recipe that looked promising. Sadly, the bread did not rise in the oven. Instead it stayed a low lump becoming an extremely dense, chewy bread.

This time around I’m trying a recipe from a bread book that’s supposedly an authentic San Francisco sourdough recipe. It calls for making the starter the old fashioned way by putting some milk, water and flour into a bowl which sat at the back of the stove for 2 days  “capturing” the wild yeast in the air. The adventure started it last Wednesday morning with periodic additions of water and flour. The dough smelled wonderfully fragrant by yesterday morning and the scent of the baking bread right now is tantalizing.

February has been the wettest month on record in this area of Oregon. Perfect weather for soups and homemade bread. Other places have had record snowfall, fortunately we’re only about 300 feet above sea level so we only dealt with snow off and on from mid-December until the 2nd week of January. More days of snow than normal, which Ed and I enjoyed. We’re fortunate to work from home. Church was canceled on January 8th after I checked the hill to the church assessing the situation. Frozen rain early that morning on top of the layer of snow still on the ground and roads coated everything with ice.

The Surprise Jacket isn’t much larger than in the last post. It was bigger until I saw a major error way down about 4 inches from the cast on row. It sat in time-out for a couple weeks and now sees only sporadic action as spinning has taken precedence.

I joined the Jenkins YarnTools Ravelry group in the February Challenge. What a great challenge for it forced me out of my comfort zone for spinning.
The challenge was to select a mixture of 10 or more colors and/or fibers totaling 50 grams, blend & spin. Stash busting opportunity! The ten colors were from various rovings plus light grey angora, dark grey alpaca, a light brown/grey romney/cotton blend, and white BFL/silk. Working with so many colors was definitely not a direction I’d normally choose.

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Hoping to avoid a muddy looking yarn each of the above segments of colors/roving/wools were divided into 4 equal piles which were then arranged into two groups destined for the 2 singles.

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I started off using hand carders during the monthly spinning group,
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but it didn’t take long to realize a more time efficient method was required.

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Off and on through the years I’ve tackled batts and rolags but always return to spinning from combed top. I love how smooth fibers slip through my fingers. Dealing with slubs and odd bits doesn’t feel right, no matter how I try drawing the fibers into the twist.

Despite not enjoying the feel of the fibers or the way I needed to be more careful to spin such variety as smoothly and evenly as possible, I was happily surprised with the colors of the singles.
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In the end I’m very pleased with the yarn and am glad that I took on the challenge.
50 grams, approximately 82 yards.
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The bread is out of the oven and has cooled off enough to eat. It’s still more dense and chewy than I’d hoped, though not as bad as last year’s attempt, and it is delicious. I need to figure out what needs to be done to make it lighter, more airy.

Down when it counts

Reconnecting with Rachel is a highlight of visiting Moscow, ID. I met her when we moved to Flagstaff, AZ. She was a math major at NAU, I was a senior at Coconino High (such a fun word to say and spell). Transferring from Monument Valley High, a school on the Navajo Rez with a total student body of less than 300 to Coconino where there were 300 in the Senior class was a huge adjustment. Rachel and I became friends through our parents. I enjoyed many hours at their house playing table games, laughing, singing and sharing food.

After setting up our space Friday morning in the historic building where the Palouse Fiber Festival was held Ed brought me a slice of pizza and big hazelnut latte to energize me before the marketplace opened at 1pm. I’d been slowly moving on low energy all morning. Low blood pressure had kicked in. Around 11pm I woke up, heart pounding, hands and arms tingly, numb.  Dysautonomia had kicked in worse than I’d ever experienced.  Through out the night I sipped the electrolyte water that I try to always have handy to get the electrolytes back in balance. It didn’t work. If we had been home I would have woken Ed up to take me to the ER. There was no way I wanted to disturb his sound sleep and drag him to find a hospital who knows where, not when we had a show to do, a workshop to teach and the keynote to give Saturday. I prayed desperately to just fall back to sleep and wake up feeling great.

Dragging myself out of bed the next morning Ed took one look at me and firmly said I wasn’t going anywhere that day. He could manage just fine, no worries, no problem. He’d give my apology to Shelley for getting so sick. All of Saturday through the first half of Sunday I was laid low, drifting between the couch and the bed. Definitely one of those times when I couldn’t do anything but sleep. Waking up long enough to drink some more water, lots of water and periodically a bit of chicken broth that Rachel would bring to me. Her daughter and mother-in-law stopped by to take Rachel to lunch. Polly’s m-i-l has been an herbalist for over twenty years working with her naturopath husband. She brought me a bottle of tablets to take for heart well-being. I’m so grateful for her knowledge and kindness! That large bottle of tablets has been very helpful during these past five months when I’ve felt the symptoms getting out of control.

Ed picked me up shortly after 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon. We loaded the rest of our gear in the car and headed west to get as far as Ed could drive before fatigue took over. We made it to Hermiston, OR before Ed’s sciatica kicked in big time and we had to stop for the night. Just across from the motel was a Sheri’s restaurant. Perfect. Ed couldn’t have driven any further and I finally felt like eating something with substance, the first time since the bowl of Rachel’s delicious chicken soup on Friday evening. Her making an abundant amount of that soup with lots of rich broth proved to be a tremendous blessing.

By morning I was feeling much better though still not enough energy to drive. Instead I got to take more pictures.
That white blob middle right is the top of Mt St Helens, the volcano that blew her top in 1980.

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Mt Hood. seeming to tower above the top of the John Day Dam.

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Sam Hill’s Stonehedge, an exact replica of the one in England, built as the first memorial to the WWI soldiers who’d lost their lives.
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The Columbia Sternwheeler. Someday I’d love to take this cruise.

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Near the western end of the Columbia Gorge the final high point, Crown Mountain with the Observation House on the old scenic highway. The best place to visit and take in the views of the Columbia Gorge..

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Between good hours of sleep the next two days, pacing myself, drinking lots of water, and prayer by Thursday morning when we headed to the Black Sheep Gathering I was feeling pretty much back to normal.

The worst thing about getting knocked down like that was letting down Shelley and all the people who’d signed up for the plant fiber spindling class; missing out on interacting with customers, some who drove long distances – one woman on Friday had driven up from Nevada; and missing Ed’s keynote speech. I’ve heard glowing reports: he had people laughing, and wiping away a few tears. I wish I could have been there.

Tomorrow I’ll write about Dysautonomia and include some helpful links in case anyone out there would be interested. It’s something that more people should be aware of for I have the feeling there are a number of undiagnosed people who deal with low blood pressure, not feeling good, low energy, foggy-brained, along with other possible manifestations.

I’m so thankful for Rachel’s loving care when I was so sick at her house!

Swimming in Blankets

Once again an insane amount of time has passed since I last wrote. How does this happen? The water continues to flow under the bridge a couple of blocks away, fiber slips through my fingers, stitches and loops joining together, spindles handled and mailed. The minutes, days and months slip by.

In that time not one but two Mermaid Blankets were made. Seeing the first one made for 9 year old Feather, 4 year old Violet wanted one too. Not only are they cuddling in them during the evenings they take them to bed with them which made the making of them so worth the time.
#1 Mermaid Blanket crocheted for Feather. (I can’t find the picture that her mom posted on FB of her in it.)
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#2 Mermaid Blanket finished just in time for Violet’s 4th birthday.DSC02344

So much so that I offered to make the grandson a shark blanket. Unfortunately I ran out of yarn coming into the second fin and am still waiting for more to arrive.
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Since late last year our Grandson’s 2nd grade teacher has been giving students a poem every week which they have to read out loud so many times a day, to different people. As a result he calls at least twice a week to read us the poem of the week. Every time he calls now he asks if I’m working on his blanket. That yarn had better be in the mail tomorrow!

Leap Year

It certainly feels as though the year is leap-frogging and skipping over the weeks.

We’re looking into the face of March, the month with several birthdays, the annual Irish gig, crunch time for organizing tax paperwork, yard work and getting a start in the garden.

Priorities and scheduling, landing on routines that are doable.

The Mermaid blanket I mentioned my granddaughter wanting? It took a long time to figure out what yarn to use. When it came I dug into my crochet hook bag only to discover that I had NO size Q hooks, or any other bigger ones. How was this even possible? My husband spent well over a decade making crochet hooks. Thousands of them. I have none that size? So much for being generous with those I had. Somehow I thought I had more on hand. Allison of Ageary Woodworks came to my rescue and made me a Q / 15.75mm hook. An email letting her know what I needed, along with payment arrangements was sent to her. Within a couple of weeks a hook was in the mail. Allison is the young woman whom Ed taught to make the hooks and needles eventually taking over that business from us.

The fin is finished, the body about half-way along. The pattern suggests it would take “approximately 2.5 – 5 hours to make depending on size, skill and speed.” Apparently I’m lacking skill and speed. The fin was ripped back at 3 times before I finally figured out I was reading the instructions wrong. (Completely my fault). The body of the blanket is coming along nicely but it’s still be ridiculously time-consuming considering I thought the entire thing would be done within a week. Easily. Ummmm, no.
DSC02121It will be soft and cuddly, and machine washable.

We’ve had a very mild winter with lots of sunshine interspersed with copious rain. Daffodils are blooming. The plum tree next to our bedroom is beginning to bud. Daphnes have been fragrancing the kitchen.

Last Friday Violet and I visited some lambs during a lovely outing where we got to feed and pet the sheep. Some of their processed wool even came home with me.

They crowded into the barn when we first arrived hoping for some handouts.
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Some of the ewes and their lambs in one pasture.
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Jan likes to raise crossbreeds of CVM, Romeldale and Merino mixes to get sheep with various colorings, a fine wool with good crimp, and a nice hand.
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December 2015

After finishing the handspun socks in November I set out to knit up a quick hat with the leftover yarn.
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A couple rounds after taking this picture enthusiasm evaporated. It was frogged. Stitches were cast on with knitting needles stitches starting with an earflap.

About then granddaughter, Feather, informed me that she’d love, love, love a crocheted mermaid blanket. Grandson, Wes, wanted a crocheted shark blanket. Patterns were found, bought and printed. Reading the type and amounts of yarn necessary for two such beasts, er, blankets my heart sank. Acrylic yarn held double-stranded.

All knitting/crocheting/weaving mojo disappeared. The busy Advent season was suddenly less busy and time appeared for other activities:

The first Christmas letter in years was written and mailed to far-flung family.
A gingerbread train was decorated with Violet,DSC01310
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Christmas carols and tunes fiddled
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to a church full of people singing upstairs,DSC01353

eating and visiting downstairs.
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A tree was decorated,
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Presents were wrapped.
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Turtles of singles were plyed, soaked and hung to dry.

The clouds burned off Christmas morning giving us the first day of sunshine in 24 days, perfect for a cold Christmas day bicycle ride.
DSC01512All but a couple of the main paths were flooded by the 22 foot higher than normal Willamette River, the swift current racing across the path showing its power.
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Brisk walks taken with my neighbor. We were so grateful for sunshine after 24 consecutive days of rain which dumped a record amount of almost 16 inches rainfall in the month of December.
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Even with the seemingly endless days of rain December 2015 was a very good month.

Tomorrow I need to firmly settle back into the work saddle, pick up the reins and settle back into a good work routine.

Slogging away

Thank you for all the well wishes. I’m hoping in the morning I’ll be able to properly acknowledge them as each person’s comment makes my heart glow.

The bug has morphed into a full-blown cold. My nose is sore from blowing and hands rough from constant washing. A cough plagued my sleep last night. I’ll resort to cough syrup and throat lozenges tonight. Today’s anticipated bike ride in the afternoon sun at Minto-Brown Island Park was scrubbed in favor of staying inside.

Gracious, I didn’t even log into Facebook today.

Despite feeling rather miserable I managed to doggedly get work done. Photos were edited, marked and upload the spindles into the store for today & tomorrow’s scheduled appearances. All the recording and paperwork was completed for today’s sales. With tomorrow’s spindles already queued and scheduled I’m hoping that other than minding the store when the spindles go online and recording sales I’ll be able to get more rest tomorrow.

Here’s hoping for rest and to feel better soon. Aside from work and regular obligations, there’s music to practice for upcoming celebrations. I tried practicing for a bit today but simply did not have the energy for holding up the violin and working the bow. We have our first practice Sunday afternoon for the Dec 12th Christmas Sing-Along. You all are welcome to join us!

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