Friday, October 17, 2008

It's a Fiber thing!

A couple of weekends ago I visited Taos, New Mexico for my first time that I know of. It was for the Wool Festival. Once Emily told me about it and since I had already gone to one festival in Estes Park, I knew that I had to go to this one. Emily had suggested going through La Vita pass, but I decided to go through Cimmaron instead. It was a gorgeous drive. New Mexico started out flat. There were grassy plains with little groups of deer here and there. About an hour or so into the southern state things started to get a little rockier and the straight highway started to curve. The grass plains turned into hills, rocks, and mountains. The dry grass turned into green pine trees with splashes of yellow and orange from the changing aspen trees. There were times that I just had to pull off when I could to take it all in…along with pictures. The road kept winding and winding and winding. I was starting to think that maybe I was on the wrong highway. Then I was on Kit Carson Road and I saw all of the haciendas. So very cute!

The only thing that I knew about Taos was that it was known for its skiing and other winter sports/activities. I am not a skier or snowboarder so I normally don’t go to towns like this. I had a friend of mine die in a skiing accident when I was in middle school and since then I won’t do it. I’ll take pics of the mountains, but that’s my limit. The town is full of so many art galleries! Since I have driven through parts of the town and outside the town, I know why there is so much art there.

I decided to see what was at the festival and was overwhelmed with all of the booths set up in the park. It was so much to take in all at once. There were a couple of animals, but soooooo much fiber!!!!! By the time I made one round the booths…I was pretty much broke when it came to cash. I started out with about $100. I got 3 oz of an alpaca blend of roving, 4 oz of variegated alpaca, and an 8 oz Interlacements wool braid. The colors were amazing!!! By the time I was done spending money it was time for me to check into my hotel room, so I walked back to my car. On the way, there was a cemetery in the park! A memorial for Civil War Vets named, Kit Carson Park Memorial Cemetery. It is the resting place of Kit Carson, his wife, and mother. Supposedly I’m related to Mr. Carson through marriage. His third wife is the one that is buried next to him, but I’m not sure which wife I am related to. My mom tells me it was the one that was Indian (Apache maybe). From what I’ve seen online he married two Indians, so I’m not sure.

Since Emily, Winnie, and Sandy wouldn’t be in town until later that evening I went to Wal-Mart and got some office supplies, snacks, and more cash for the next day. Lol I spent a good 5-6 hours off and on grading lots of papers that I needed to grade for awhile. They sadly kept piling up and were shouting, “Grade me!!!” There were times that staring at papers got to be too much and I had to stop and watch Night at the Museum. It was nice knowing that those got done and I wouldn’t have to worry about them when I got back in town. I just wished I had a computer so that I could have entered them into the grade book while there. Of course if the computer were with me, the papers wouldn’t have been graded.

The next morning I ate breakfast in the hotel downstairs and wrote a friend of mine a snail mail letter. I was surprised to find out that I was only allowed a 4 oz. glass of orange juice. Yeah, I could have had coffee or tea, but I don’t drink either in the morning so I asked for another orange juice. I was told that there were no substitutions allowed. OMG! It’s just 4 oz.!!! She was nice enough, after all of my complaining, to bring me another 4 oz. It was a little weird, because I was the only person sitting alone. I could have joined the girls but we all had free breakfast at our own hotels. Hmmm…

While waiting for the girls I watched some TV until check out time and then I decided to walk around the area of the park. When I finally met up with the girls it was similar to the same excitement as the day before…but way better! On the first day I was just poking through the booths, but with the girls I was paying more attention to what was really there…which in other words was good and bad. One good deal that I got was my buffalo! My friend Emily had bought two skeins of buffalo a few years ago from the Taos fest and just recently knit up some really nice fingerless gloves. I fell in love with the feel of the buffalo and wanted some of my own. A skein of 200 yds was $65! Emily just happened to have her buffalo gloves with her and showed them to the guy who ran the tent. He was then able to give me a deal on a skein of my own! Yay! I was so happy! I too plan on making myself a pair of fingerless gloves. I just got to find the right pattern!

Continuing to walk around with the girls, they start to point out more things you either hadn’t looked at before or missed. I had to break down and buy myself more alpaca from the same booth I got the variegated alpaca. I got some spruce green alpaca that I couldn’t pass up. Then Winnie gave me the idea of spinning it with some copper angelina! Then while looking at that I found exactly what I was looking for! Rose grey alpaca!!! Cheaper than the dyed alpaca! It was awesome. I was also to meet up a few members of Ravelry! I even got a Ravelry pin to wear around. I also found a cool headband that I wanted, but it was over $100. It’s totally not worth it when you can make your own. I also got a variegated silk blend to make a shawl that was displayed in a booth there. It’s a good thing and a bad thing to have samples and patterns available. Good…but bad. It’s also a bad thing to run out of copies for another cool pattern for a shawl I loved!!! (Skeins seen in pic in above paragraph.)

We had lunch at a local restaurant and then went shopping around at some of the local shops there. It was fun. Then I decided to follow the girls back to Pueblo. I didn’t feel comfortable going through the windy mountain side in the dark, especially since it had rained a little late in the afternoon. The rainbows we saw as we drove home were so bright and colorful. I have to say their route was a lot prettier and less curvy. The hills and mountains in front of the sunset were awesome! I got home a little after 8pm and climbed the stairs to my apartment with a handful of fiber. It was nice!

I haven’t been able to spin or knit anything that I’ve bought. I’m working on some alpaca that I got at the Estes Park Wool Festival this last summer. After that I can’t wait to get my hands and wheel on the green alpaca and angelina. I have no idea what I’ll make out of it, but it’ll be fun!

The temperature here is starting to get cooler and I’m starting to realize that I don’t have a lot of things to wear to keep me warm that I’ve made. Once I’m done with my Christmas presents I need to work on more things from me. I’ve already gotten supplies, I just need the extra time to get the projects done. That’s when I ask again, “Is it Thanksgiving yet?” Sadly I have to say it’s still 4 weeks or so away. Darn it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

National Alpaca Farm Day

This last weekend was National Alpaca Farm Day and I spent Saturday in Westcliffe, CO at my friend Allie at her Eye Dazzler Alpaca Ranch. I had planned on it being a trip for my mom, my niece, and myself, but then my friend said she wanted to go (no problem) and then my dad invited himself (problem). My dad tends to be rude and has a short fuse with lots of things. It wasn’t until a few miles out of town I ad to roll my eyes and think “I should’ve driven in my car and had them follow.” It would’ve been different if it was just family, but my friend was with me.

I had been to Allie’s place before, but just for spinning. Every time we were at her house I wanted to see her Alpaca’s, but we and her were so busy that we never got around to it. Hailey was excited once we got out of the car. Of course the hour drive down there wasn’t too fun. She was so ready to pick out a pumpkin that sat outside the barnyard doors…even though it was about two-thirds her size.

Inside they had about a dozen alpacas in pens for people to see and if you had permission, to go inside and get to touch some of them. Since I knew the owners I was able to flag down Allie’s husband a he let us touch one of the painted baby alpacas. It was so soft! The momma was pretty cute too…just a touch of white on her nose.

While there they had dry and wet felting demonstrations. They also had an outside area where you could see a few alpacas and even get to have your picture taken with one. There was one black one that seemed to take a liking to Hailey. It seemed to be attracted to her. Hailey did not want to leave. Allie also had a big white dog that is a Polish something or another. My friend Debbie called him, Falkor, the white dragon from The Neverending Story.

Lunch was also provided. It was a Peruvian lunch. It was a chicken soup with red potatoes. I don’t know how to spell or pronounce the name of the soup, but it was good! We all ate on bails of hay while Hailey sat next to the barn cat. He was a pretty good behaved kitty. A total beggar of food though. He kept staring at Hailey, her bowl, and her tortilla.

There was also spinning demonstrations. Rosemary gave spindle demonstrations and Julie and Sharron did spinning wheel demonstrations. While there I kept telling myself “I should’ve brought my wheel and drove myself!!!” After lunch, I removed my shoes and tried out a new spinning wheel that Julie had left vacant. It was a double treadle, but I didn’t like it. I think it was a Majacraft. I liked the different speed settings but not the point where the fiber gets its twist and leads onto the bobbin. You could feel each turn in your hands and it was annoying. It was probably like this when spinning wheels had a actually spindle. Maybe I’m just spoiled with my wheel.

Even though I had bought about 8 ozs of alpaca roving the last time I had been at Allies for spinning I had to buy more. I bought some from my friend Luci and more for myself. Sharron mentioned that she had an alpaca blend that was machine safe and it would be good for making socks! Shame on you Sharron! (Other side of me is saying “Thank you Sharron!!!”) I think I will make a 3 ply on the spindle for the alpaca blend to make socks. Wouldn’t that feel awesome on your feet!?!

Well I better go. Got papers to grade. Are you sure it isn’t at least Nov?

I almost forgot! I got two new drop spindles!!! Aren't they purdy!?!?!

Middle School Horrors!

Towards the end of August I started my new teaching job at my first middle school. I do have 1.5 years of experience teaching, but at the high school level. I though that there was a need for a change and just went for it. Our first day was on a Tuesday, but I had to miss the first two days for a mandatory meeting on a new math class that I was going to teach. I thought that since I would miss the first two days I would go in early to get my room together. I went in and got my keys. I had been called a month in advance to be told that I was going to be placed in a science room, but when I walked into my room I found out it was still a science classroom. Nothing had been taken out. I had a loud and huge fish tank, my cabinets were still full of science books, and the back cabinets were still full lab equipment. I was totally upset! One of the new science teachers came in and helped me move out the science books and clear out the closet. By mid-afternoon my classroom was somewhat put together. I still had all of the lab equipment and the fish tank, but it was still a work in progress.

After my training, I had my first meeting with all of the staff members. Come to find out, the teacher who was in my classroom before still taught at the school!!! After the meeting I approached the principal with the fact that I had gone through her stuff. I was informed to collect everything of her’s and make it available. The bad thing is that I had thrown some of it away…thinking the teacher had left it there. The teacher…Mrs. S came into the office pissed off (understandably). I informed her that I wasn’t told the teacher hadn’t been moved out. She informed me “I wasn’t going to move my classroom in the summer.” I went and gathered all of her stuff together that I could and went to help my supervisor. When I came back she had torn down the bulletin board decorations above the chalk board and it looked terrible. The paper and boarders had been thrown in the trash. If she didn’t want the boarders all she had to do was leave it alone. Now I had to add something new to my list of things to be done. I was furious. This we coming from a woman that was close to twice my age! I understand she was pissed off at me, but I wasn’t informed that she hadn’t moved her stuff.

That afternoon my supervisor found an empty classroom and asked the principal if I could move my classroom to this new room. She agreed and so the next morning I spent the day moving my room including my stuff, math books, and the desks (with the help of the custodians). I didn’t like the two-seater desks that the classroom had. Remind you, this is on a Friday…before classes started the next Monday. It had been the 8th grade math classroom and it too had lots of stuff left in it from the teacher previous (and she wasn’t coming back). The desk was still full of stuff and all I could do was shake my head and curse under my breath as I put it everything in its place.

My new classroom is pretty big. I have a full wall of chalk boards but they are hard to get to with the cabinets that are installed beneath the boards. The other wall is full of bulletin boards that were covered in cartoonish material. That has been replaced with something nice and somewhat subtle. I’ve gotten complements on them a few times. The first couple weeks of class I had a class of 45 kids and without a good cooling system it get very warm. After the second week that class was reduced to 25. It was a nice change since they turned out to be one of my best classes behavior wise.

It is now week 6 and I am stressed out. I have been coving my a$! by making my phone calls home to inform parents of their kids grades. I am having problems getting the kids to turn in their work. There is also a lack of respect for their elders. They like to talk back and refuse to do what you ask them to do. I know that if were to do something like that and my dad heard about it, I would have gotten a spanking of a lifetime. These kids don’t care. There are older teachers and staff that tell me “When I taught this worked for me.” I don’t think they understand the difference between kids then and now. I’m going to stick with my phone calls. I know that I am getting a good response from parents when I do keep them informed….whether it be good or bad news. Lately it’s a lot of bad news. It’s their grade and behavior and not mine.

Is it Christmas yet?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Move

Last fall I had to return to home with the folks while I finished my degree in math education…just one class short. Since this was class that I had already taken a time or two before I didn’t want to hurt my chances of passing the one class I needed to graduate while working full-time. It was a good plan because I got the class passed and with a whole 2 letter grades better than my first time! Yay me!

Being at home this summer became more uncomfortable and I had to get out ASAP. I looked around for about a week and found a cute little Victorian house that’s been remodeled and turned into a 4-plex. For what I’m paying and the places I’ve been before, it’s not as clean or well taken care of, but it was the best I could find at the time. I’m just happy to say that I am on my own and alone! (Which is good (No parents) and bad (I’m alone alone). I don’t have to deal with anyone else’s bs, but my own.

It’s a 2 bedroom with a nice little sunroom in the back. Most of the floors are either wood or tile. My kitchen has black and white tiling with a pink counter! Yes, pink! I’ve made the extra bedroom into an office/craft room. Since it’s an older house the extra bedroom is kinda small. About half of my boxes were for my addictions: scrapbooking (3-4boxes), knitting (3 boxes & 2 large plastic containers), and spinning (1 box).

At my last place (before my return home) I didn’t really organize my things and most of the stuff stayed in boxes. My second bedroom became a storage room. About three years ago I worked at Hobby Lobby and bought so much yarn! The discounts and the sales were too good to pass up. So two years ago I took back a lot of it and was only able to get 50% back. Some of it I thought I needed to keep for some reason or another. Since then I started visiting the LYS. I found better yarns, yarns that were better to work with than the acrylic stuff I had been buying before. While unpacking my boxes recently I found the acrylic yarn that I had decided to keep from before and wondered why the hell I decided to keep them. I totaled everything that I didn’t want & could take back and it totaled to a little over $200. I was only able to get about $130 back. I figure that it was better than getting nothing back.

So even though I have gone through most of my yarn, knitting, and fiber boxes (one left) this is what I have. This does not include the unfinished faux suede afghan that I started for an person who is longer a friend of mine, yarn (bought more than 5 years ago) for a blanket I was going to make my sister, yarn (bought at least 3 years ago) for a wedding/anniversary gift for friends of mine, more yarn that I thought I could save for my next knit clubs at work, and about 3 unfinished afghans that were left from my late grandmother. Now I feel like I need to finish all of these projects, especially my grandmother’s afghans.

Right now I have about 5 projects going on at once. I’m working on my first sweater which is a neck-down pattern and I’m just below the bust. It’s been kinda warm here and it’s almost a little too heavy to be working on right now. The second project are my Monkey socks. I have one of them done right now and they’re just beautiful. Then I have 3 spinning projects; two on spindles and one on my wheel. The multi-colored wool (Navajo 3-ply) I misplaced some drafted roving and found it after I had already reconnected from the braid, so the colors are off a little. I was so mad at myself that I put it aside and started to work on my other spindle. When I got back into spinning a few months ago my friend Rosemary gave me about an ounce of some really nice Merino. It was one of those beginner’s fears. Nice fiber for my first spinning project!?! I should’ve faced that fear because Merino is sooooo nice to work with! (Along with alpaca…it’s a total dream to work with!!!) I got my wheel about a month ago and I love it! I’m currently working on some Cranberry Merino. I’m spinning it pretty thin and have about 2/3 of bobbin full. I plan on it being a 2-ply and I would love to knit a lace pattern…maybe a shawl.

I worked my last day at the LYS last weekend. I had enough hours to pay for my wheel and more (yarn, fiber, a Namaste bag, etc). I’ve got more Market Bags to make (finally some for myself) and a felted pinwheel rug for my new hardwood floors. I loved working at the shop, but just like any other friends who knit they give you new ideas for projects. Bad girls! Bad girls!!! ;)

Speaking of last weekend…I was bitten by a dog. As I was coming off the interstate I saw a red husky loose. The exit is a hill and I have been known to kinda “speed” and I was afraid that the dog would most definitely get hit. I’m the type that has Animal Control on speed dial. Since I too have a red husky at home, I couldn’t bare to see one that looks like my puppy get hit. I decided that I would try to get the dog out of harm’s way until Animal Control could make it. Scared, the dog of course did not come to me, but trotted closer to the interstate. Thank god a cop was coming down the hill to help me corner the dog so that I could grab the collar. Once I had the collar I tried to lead the dog down the hill, but it wouldn’t budge. I tried again and the dog jumped, twisted and bit me. I knew that if I let go of the collar the dog would probably run into traffic that was still coming down from the exit. From there I decided it would be best to stay where I was. While waiting I looked down at the hand that still had hold of the collar and blood was dripping down my wrist and hand. I knew he had bit me, but I didn't realize he broke the skin like he had. I looked at the collar and did not see a name tag, but thankfully a rabies tag (I’m up to date with my shots). Finally Animal Control showed up and collected the dog. My arms were wet and covered in black dirt and I smelled…gross like the dog. I’m glad to say that the truck was well stocked with antibacterial wipes, cream, and band aides. Since then, my arm has turned black, blue, and now yellow. My scar is healing very nicely and there is no sign of infection. I was very lucky in that sense, but so was the dog. I hope they find his owners or a new home.

Lastly (two pages later), Tuesday is my first day back to school. This year I’ll be teaching my first year of middle school at the 8th grade level. I have been at a high school level for 1.5 years and need to try a change. I had too many incoming freshmen that weren’t prepared for high school, so I think I need to step in to give them that. There is to be no babying. They need to know what deadlines are and that they will be responsible for their grade. My first two days were supposed to be full of meetings with my new colleagues, but instead I have to train for a one section of a math lab I’ll be teaching. I have one week to prepare for the kids. I know the material I’ll be teaching so I’m good there, but again it’ll be my first time teaching at this level so I’m a little nervous. I’ll be going in on Monday to set up my classroom. I’ll for sure being posting pictures of that soon.

Well I better end here. I always type out my stuff on Word first and I just started page 2. Til next time!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My new Wheel!!!

So I have been spinning on a drop spindle for a few months. It’s thanks to Rosemary that I’ve become addicted to spinning. It’s also her fault for inviting me to a spinning group in Westcliffe a few months ago. Everyone had a spinning wheel other than her and I. Watching everyone was so much fun! I met some fun and interesting people. People who were so nice, I won’t mention any names (Sharron and Julie) that towards the end of our trip I was invited to use a wheel. I never really got a feel for the treadle and keeping it going in the right direction, but I fell in love with using the wheel! From then I was stuck!

So within a week or so I was looking around online for new and used wheels on Ebay and Craig’s List. I knew that the local shop had one for about $300-325. I even told my family that they could help with payments when it came to X-Mas and birthdays. My mom just looked at me and told me to save my money. So sadly, for awhile I gave up the search.

I was approached about mid June with a proposition to work the amount of the wheel off in the local fiber shop. Every day I’ve peaked into the window and saw it behind its glass prison. I’d tell myself, “It will be mine. Oh yes! It will be mine.” So for weeks I’ve been doing inventory for the store. I am happy to say that all of the counting and checking is done!

What was even better is that my friend Rosemary had invited me to a fiberlicious party in Springs with a whole group of spinners this last weekend. It would be sad for me to go with only my drop spindle (sorry Rosemary) and not be able to bring my new wheel. So I asked if I could get my wheel out of jail a little early. I was sooooo happy to hear that I could! So this last weekend I had sooooooo much fun on my new wheel! As we walked into the backyard of Peggy’s house all I could see was a circle of women and their wheels! It was so cool. I was also happy to see that a woman, Sylvia, had a Traditional Ashford too. She helped me oil my new wheel that had been in a display window for at least 2 or 3 years. Once she showed me what everything was and I had practiced peddling, I was on my own and spinning on my wheel for the first time! It was soooooo cool!
Learning the drop spindle really helped with the drafting. It took me a while to get used to peddle and drafting at the same time, but what I was producing was awesome…well for a beginner, I think so anyways. ;) Rosemary kept shouting “Look at her go! She’s spinning!” I could only sit there and smile…while peddling and drafting at the same time of course. Everyone made fun of because of the look of my yarn. They kept telling me “You’re allowed to have bumps, you know?” I kept telling them, “No bumps!” While being distracted, I created a bumped…looked at it and kept going. “There’s your bump!” I told them. I only stopped to eat and drink, but I had to been going for a good 3 hours or more. It was a blast. Stupid me went and rushed out the door without her camera. Darn it! It was a nice, but warm day. I was glad when the wind brought in the clouds towards the mid to late afternoon.

Later that nite I stayed up late (1 am) and filled up my first bobbin. By the second nite I had my second and by the third nite I had the two bobbins plied onto 3 full bobbins with a 2-plied yarn that I had spun and plied on my new spinning wheel. I’m so proud of myself. ::tear & a sniffle or two::
I’m working on a nice 8 oz. roving of 100% Merino now. I’m spinning it pretty thin. I thought that I’d try something different. With all of the 24 oz. of fiber I bought at the Estes Park Festival I should be busy for awhile. The only thing that will put a kink in that is that the end of summer break is coming up faster than I think. I’ve also been looking into moving out of the house and one place that I looked into has a really nice sun room in the back of the unit. I’m thinking that this will be perfect for when I want to spin, especially with the great light that comes in through the windows.

Tonite’s special: Rented movie and more spinning! Come one! You should’ve gotten the last part of that at least. ;)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Market Bag

So my newest project is the Market Bag, which I saw in Colorado Fiber Arts. Miss Emily had two samples hanging in the shop and I just had to make myself one. What’s so cool about it is that it’s made in one piece and it folds up into its own pouch for storage.

So I went and bought enough cotton boucle (which was totally on sale!!!) to make 4 bags…2 in teal and 2 in purple. I decided that since my friend was going to Florida I would make her one. It would be a perfect beach bag! Then another friend of mine’s birthday was a week ago and she’s the outdoors-ies type and I thought that it would be perfect for her also! I am happy to say that both girls absolutely loved their bags and thought that it was something they would most definitely use. Now I’m making two more for a friend and her mom that I haven’t seen in almost 13 years.

I’m so giving! So you may be wondering, what about Erin? Where’s her bag? This is my weakness! When I learn a new project I feel like I have to share it and make one for everyone. My New Year’s resolution was to do more things for myself. I was doing pretty good until recently. Thanks to a couple of friends, I think my crafts will be refocused on my new love for spinning. (There will be more to come about that!)