Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Beatrice Chronicles Part 3

After the re-disappearance of Beatrice the Blanding's Turtle I searched about a 4 mile radius around her last known location. The searching did not happen all in one day and was completely dependent on other work tasks that needed to be done and/or however my boss was feeling that day. So it was about five separate attempts to relocate Beatrice. One day I searched south, then west, then thought maybe she'd be the kind of jerky turtle who would go back to where we first found her and check east. And of course, last but not least, I checked north. I also checked west again... just to be sure.

Jokes by co-workers and my boss were made at my expense. I made jokes that she probably made it out to Prior Lake, which if you're not familiar is a pretty stinkin' big lake. It would be pretty impossible to try to track her there, based on the size of the lake and the amount of private property along its shore. It's also 5 miles away from Cleary Lake, which many turtle experts would readily say is an exceptionally long distance for a turtle to travel. Nobody thought she would really go as far as Prior lake.

And then I got a call. It was Madeleine calling to let me know that someone had found Beatrice... in Jordan. A mere 15 miles from her last known location! No wonder I couldn't track her signal, she had already gotten the heck out of dodge.
Someone had found her in a neighbor's yard, saw the radio on her shell, and brought her in to the Minnesota River Valley Nature Center (or something like that). The person at the nature center noticed the phone number on the radio and BAM! We're back on Beatrice's track... no thanks to me, I guess.

Beatrice was released again in a nice looking pond close to where she was found. I will be sent out on a sporadic basis to check on her location, which currently happens to be about a one block's distance from the Minnesota River. This basically means that if she stays put for once I'll have a good idea of where is.... and if she makes her way to the river... there will be absolutely no way to figure out where she might be going... and then the jokes will probably start all over again.

I google searched Blanding's Turtles. One website said that female Blanding's turtles have been known to travel up to one mile away from their wintering location! One mile! One mile?!?! Beatrice was found 15 miles away from her last known location! Actually, about 18 miles from where she was first released! This brings up serious questions about how turtles (OK. how this one turtle) may travel in an increasingly urbanized environment.
Of course turtle-car collisions never turn out in the turtle's favor. The increase in impermeable surfaces with expanding roadways and pavement may increase the amount of water in the ditch system; could this increase a turtle's ability to travel long distances? Maybe. But maybe that would be dependent upon precipitation levels. This year has been very wet so far. What happens if it doesn't rain as much next year? Would turtles like Beatrice be forced to cross over roads instead of through culverts? What if there are more turtles out there like Beatrice? Wandering turtles with a love of adventure and a sly sense of humor that sends humans in circles trying to stay on their trails. Will these turtles thrive or just survive? And for how long? McMansions are being put up all over the Prior Lake area, covering up where Beatrice or some other turtle may have wanted to lay her eggs. Can a species like this last long term in a place where people's dreams get bigger and more developed everyday? I don't know.... but I'd like to find out.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Beatrice Chronicles Part 2

So after searching high and low to find Beatrice the turtle I found her as discussed in the previous blog. We figured that since Cleary Lake is a good sized body of water, that she would likely stay put and chill out there for the remainder of the summer.

I wasn't able to make it out to search again for a while. I asked a couple of co-workers if they could check on her since they would be in the area. The report back was that she was not there.

Darn that turtle!

Over the 4th of July weekend I decided to go out and see for myself. I searched all around Cleary Park and all the potholes I could find within park boundaries. Nothing.

I really have no idea where I should even start the search now. I got lazy and now she's got more than a week head start on me.

What a tricksy turtle.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Beatrice Chronicles

So it's been a while since I've posted. I've been pretty busy at work and in real life, but work has been exhausting. I had six transects for breeding bird surveys at work, which means there were six times when I had to get up at 4am in order to get to one of the park reserves (40 minute drive) in time to start my survey half an hour before sunrise. And in late spring, the sun sure does come up early.

In addition to bird surveys, I was put in charge of heading up the Blanding's Turtle patrol at the previously mentioned park reserve. For those of you who don't know, Blanding's Turtles are threatened in the state of Minnesota (threatened in several of the states in which they are found actually). They are also super cute.

So it's Blanding's turtle nesting season, and as it turns out Blanding's turtles typically start nesting activities in the evening. And Blanding's turtle nesting season overlaps with breeding bird survey season. So yes, it's been busy at work.

Well, one of the perks about Blanding's Turtle duties is that if you find a new unmarked turtle, you get to name it. And since it's my third season at the park AND I'm in charge of M-H turtles, then by golly it's about time I get to name a turtle!

Anyhoo, a big group of us decided we should have a big group effort to find some turtles one evening. There was me, Angela co-worker, Bob co-worker, Stephanie volunteer, and Stephanie's friend all out to find turtles. Stephanie drives up a few minutes late and lo and behold she has a turtle in her lap! An unmarked turtle! Finding unmarked an unmarked turtle is always a nice find since it doesn't happen too often these days.
So the turtle is found and everyone is excited. Several hours pass and lots of things happen, which will only lead to side stories and off-topic tangents.

So the turtle goes back to the office and Madeline, who is the resident turtle expert, has two turtles and one radio transmitter. The decision was between putting the radio on the turtle Stephanie found (which was out of the park along a fairly busy road) and the turtle who had nested within park boundaries (presumably so we could concentrate efforts in the following years to protect her nests). All signs pointed to putting the radio on the turtle who nested in the park.

So I get to work the next day and at the morning meeting BossMan says, "Well, Jenn. It's your responsibility to track this turtle once or twice a day for the next couple of weeks to find out where she goes."

OK. That sounds like a fun and interesting task.
Oh. And Madeline had also decided that even though Stephanie found the turtle, that I could name her. After all, Stephanie had already named a turtle some years before. I agreed, because if I'm supposed to spend all this time tracking this turtle, then this turtle is mine, and I get to name her. And she was dubbed "Beatrice."

So Friday morning I dropped the turtle off at Southwest marsh in the park reserve. Friday evening she was found at the other end of the marsh.
Saturday night co-worker Nate helped out and found her in the Credit River, and he actually saw her as she swam out of the park boundary.
Sunday evening I found her on land by the Credit river, but only about 8 feet from the side of the busy road where she was first found. I got worried about her and brought her back to the park where she would be safe. But then I talked to Madeline; she reminisced about Orchard Lake Turtle who was moved within park boundaries two or three times in a previous year only to be found in the same yard of a neighborhood near Orchard Lake. Then she told me to put the turtle where I had found her.... near the road.

Monday evening when it was time to locate this turtle once again, I searched her last known location, then assuming she would continue following the Credit River I tried to find her signal around various cul de sacs in the area that all pointed toward the Credit River. After about two hours and many miles of driving around pretty much in circles, there was still no signal.
Tuesday I was pissed off and needed a break from Beatrice.
Wednesday I had convinced BossMan to let me search for the turtle during daylight hours instead of having to pull over on the side of the road during rush hour traffic time. I went even farther south to even more cul de sacs all pointed near the Credit River. Still no signal. I was very frustrated. I threatened to un-name Beatrice.
Thursday at the park reserve, one of my co-workers said he saw a picture of Beatrice at the grocery store on a carton of milk. I didn't try to find her, but did mention the fact that "Trixie" is a decent nick name for Beatrice.
Friday I had the day off work, but technically was still an hour and a half short for the week, so I decided to meet Caleb for lunch and have one more look for this darn turtle. I thought to myself, "Self, even though you've already checked there, I think you should go to Cleary Lake. Just to see. I've got a feeling."
So I did. And as I was walking to the picnic area close to the lake I was imagining how funny it would be if I actually cut out a picture of Beatrice and clued it to a milk carton.
But there she was.
Stupid turtle. All that searching I did, and somehow she just ends up at Cleary. What a jerk.
But I like her again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Back on the subject of 'shrooms

And here's another thing about morel foraging....

I get that these folks want to pick as many as they can so they can make as much money off of them as possible. I mean, $35-50/lb? It's hard to resist! But I mostly think of it as, "Hey. Look at all this money I didn't spend!"

But the point I'm trying to make in the middle of all this rambling, is that people make me crabby (clearly that's what I was getting at). It's always said that one should leave a few mushrooms out there so they can spread their spores and you'll have a reliable spot for next year. But I'm pretty suspicious that there are an awful lot of people out there who don't... particularly on public land. If it's public land then anyone can go there and collect (various rules and regulations may prohibit this, but you know what I mean). But generally speaking, if it's public land it's pretty much first come first serve.

So suppose that you've found this sweet spot, but when you find it all the morels are small. You take note of the location and leave them there so they can get bigger. And the next time you go there, they're all gone! All of them! You can't really stake a claim on morels on public land, but you know the general "rules" of morel "hunting." Anyone who goes morel hunting knows the rules. And leaving some for sporing is at the top of the morel hunters' moral code.

But what if by the time you find the spot, 3 other people found it before you? If there are only two mushrooms there do you leave one? But if you only take one, that's hardly enough to saute and throw on a burger. How do you know?
I don't know.

But I have a nagging suspicion that I'm not making any sense. So I'll stop typing now and go to bed. But first....
I always feel like my blog is naked if there isn't a picture. This is dinner a few nights ago.

It was delicious.


Morel madness, that is.

I don't have too much to say about the subject other than, "I've got it bad."

The craziest thing about morels (at least in my experience) is that you only find them when you're not trying to. I do realize that there are commercial morel "hunters." (I once told my boyfriend he was actually foraging, and he wasn't too pleased with my terminology. They usually do go by morel hunters, though. It's not really hunting at all.)... side tracked again. So there are these commercial morel hunters who go around and collect as many morel mushrooms as they can, and then they sell them for ridiculous amounts of money. I saw some at the farmers' market for $35/lb! My friend's brother-in-law is a chef somewhere and once told her he'd pay $50/lb for some.
What was my point?
Hmmm... oh! My point was that even though there actually are lots of morels out there, and there are some people who find enough to sell, that I only find them on accident.

Today was a burn day at work, so we were burning a few prairies and small woodlots. Well, when we're done making fire we have to put it out so we can go home. And in the middle of mop up (which is what we call putting out the rest of the fire) I screamed a little. Just a little scream, a scream of excitement. And then I screamed again.. and again.

And this is what I screamed at...
Then this:
Then this:
Then this:
There were morels all over the place and most of them had been, at least a little bit, charred in the fire.

I took a good portion, everybody got some actually, and when my boyfriend looked in the bag when I got to his place, all he said was, "These smell like smoke."
Well, they did just survive a fire. Kind of survive a fire. Well, there was definitely fire on them.

I washed them.... and they still smell a bit smoky.

I lost my point again. Partly because I'm really tired and partly because I'm generally a little bit of a scatter-brain.

But I think I'm stealing Angela's idea and these will end up in a wild rice/morel dish. Mmmm... I'm hungry.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What makes the ticks tick

People have a lot of bad things to say about ticks. Actually, people probably only have one bad thing to say about ticks. They just say it a lot.

Supposedly it's only the females that suck blood. They hang out in the grass until some warm blooded animal happens by. Then they go for a ride, find a spot to nestle down (usually behind some animal's ear or something), and gorge themselves on blood. The get so full they can't hold on anymore, and they fall off and lay eggs somewhere.
It sounds like a pretty boring existence.

And as much as I dislike ticks in general, if you ever just look at one tick, it's kind of fascinating.
It's hard to notice a tick unless it's crawling on you. And despite their name, wood ticks like to hang out in the grass. Also, if you follow all rules and stay on the trail where you're supposed to be, then they'll pretty much be avoided all together.
I have a job that gets me off the main trail. And sometimes, if I slow down and look around instead of trudge through to get from one spot to the next, I get a chance to see something really interesting.
I noticed somehow out of the corner of my eye a tick in the grass. As I got closer this tick, only a few millimeters in size (well, the size of a tick), I saw that it started to reach out with its arms... or a couple of its legs... you know what I mean.

And after the initial reaction of, "Those jerks! Hanging around trying to catch a ride and a meal. I hate ticks!" ... after that initial reaction, I realized hmmmm... that's actually pretty interesting.

Of course I didn't have a camera with me that first time, so these photos are staged. But you have to admit, it's kind of cool... in a weird and creepy way.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Put those kitties away!

So I was sitting at the table searching the internet for a good way to cook brussel sprouts and I heard this noise. Well, I wasn't sure what would make a noise like that, but I knew it couldn't be good. So I went outside and found a cat in my yard. I hissed at it and it ran away, and then I saw something small and brownish-grayish go under the porch. I got crouched down to see what it was....

Turns out that cat had been trying to kill this poor, little, baby bunny! Right outside my door!
Don't get me wrong, I regularly curse city rabbits and their garden eating shenanigans, but what's worse than rabbits eating my lettuce? Outdoor kitties, that's what!
I don't dislike cats or cat lovers; I just don't get it. They're not my thing. But if someone is going to go ahead and have a cat, then they should go ahead and keep it inside. Sure, people have cats to eat the mice in the barn, but this is Minneapolis. I haven't seen any barns in my neighborhood. And there's the fact that outdoor cats kill millions of birds every year. But on top of that, I certainly don't want cats running around in my yard torturing baby animals!

I mean, look at this face...
Would you really want him to suffer?

I ended up giving him a look over. One of his legs was bleeding and there was a chunk of his flesh missing from his belly. I took him to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville.

Monday, March 15, 2010

... and I kicked.

So I had this dream last night.

I was in some sort of interactive museum... almost like a haunted old mansion from the movies... with a lot of red couches. So I'm looking at all the things on display and I see a creepy stick insect on a spider web. This little girl yells at me, "You're standing too close to the spider! Get away!" "You're standing too close to the... that thing!" I had been referring to the creepy stick insect, by the way. Just then a monkey, it was about 3 feet tall or so, came up and grabbed the stick bug and ate it. He looked at me, grabbed the spider (which was about tarantula sized), and ate it. I asked the woman who worked there if the monkey was supposed to do that, she picked it up and said it was fine, then passed the monkey to me.
I carried the monkey around the museum for a while... until it broke. The monkey just broke in half. I looked around to see if anyone saw, nope. So I put the two pieces together and the monkey just blinked and yawned. I asked the monkey if he was tired, and he nodded yes, so I set him down on a counter for his nap so I could continue looking around. The monkey grabbed my arm. I asked the monkey if he wanted me to lie down for a nap too, and he nodded yes. I asked the monkey if he wanted to sit on the couch with me, so we went over to a couch and sat down. But while I was sitting there my co-workers from my field job showed up and told me the museum was closing and it was time to go. So I put the monkey in a cage, which looked a bit like a lab cage from a science fiction movie, and told the museum curator where it was. She said they didn't use those anymore, and carried the monkey away.
So I was driving away with my co-workers, and the vehicles were... Transformers (more than meets the eye)... from the cartoon, not the movie. We all got tired along the way, so the transformers all laid out under some trees (in robot form, not vehicle form) and my co-workers and I slept in a trailer tent.
We woke up early to the sound of strange noises, and it turns out that we had been followed by a traveling carnival... who wanted to put us all on display (not sure why they wanted me and the co-workers and not just the transformers). So the guys who worked for the carnival (who were wearing black uniforms and black berets) were trying to break into the tent, while my co-workers and I were trying to pull the shades on the tent. I was trying to keep the tent snapped together and the carnival men were pulling it apart... and I was so frustrated and I kicked at the carnival man....

and then my leg kicked at the air... and it woke me up.
I was trying to kick so hard in my dream that I actually kicked my leg out... and I kicked so hard that it woke me up.
Luckily I only kicked the air and not my boyfriend. But I did start laughing at myself so hard that it woke him up too. And then he didn't remember it later, because apparently he wasn't quite awake, but I swear he laughed about it too.

Anyway, I thought it was funny.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I had attempted to get all the bones out so that I could more easily convince others to give it a try, but I couldn't quite manage.
I ate a couple of pieces, and it's not nearly as good at the time that Steven and Arion cooked some up (maybe because I somehow wasn't able to rinse all the fur off).
Maybe I should have looked for a recipe online... but really, what's not delicious with salt, garlic, pepper, and fried?
Maybe I'll try it again soon, but I think I'll have to go about hunting it down myself next time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The difference a (spa) day can make


.... five hours later....


I, personally, am quite fond of this one taken somewhere in the middle of the process.

I call it my border terrier ode to Albert Einstein.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Llama (I like to say yamma)

So my spinning instructor gave everybody samples of different types of fiber last week, and last night she let us take some extra of what was left over. I took some extra llama fiber, complete with guard hairs in tact... lots of guard hairs, actually.
So I spent a large portion of my evening (into late night) attempting to separate out the guard hairs from the soft and downy undercoat.

The left bag is a bunch of guard hairs. The bag on the right is fluffy undercoat (with still quite a few guard hairs as they are more of a pain to get rid of than I had anticipated).

Here's the carding of the fiber. I took about half the carded llama, recarded it to blend in some merino, and spun the stuff without the merino.

It's not as soft as it would be if I could get all the guard hairs out. Hmmmm... I wonder what i can do with it.

Hmmm... I guess I didn't actually have anything interesting to say. Oh yeah...

At least this turned out ok.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The thing about public bathrooms

Here's the thing about public bathrooms. People in general, but maybe more specifically prissy girls, think that public bathrooms are disgusting. I tend to agree, but to a reasonable level.

What I really hate are those prissy girls that say, "Ewww... public bathrooms are gross." And then proceed to hover-pee so their precious bottom doesn't get soiled by the germ encrusted toilet, and end up peeing all over the seat... and then they don't bother to, at the very least, wipe it up with toilet paper. You see, they have now turned the otherwise not-any-dirtier-than-you-might-expect-in-a-20-year-old's-apartment bathroom into the disgusting filth ridden cesspool that they claimed to be against in the first place.

My latest experience with this was in Chicago, in a nice Irish type pub in Wicker Park (one of the trendier neighborhoods from what I've been told). I walked into the bathroom that was clean enough, good lighting by the mirror, filled soap dispenser, plenty of paper towels, really all you could really need in a bathroom at a pub. But I went into the stall, and one of those prissy girls clearly had been there. This time it wasn't pee all over the seat. This time instead of the hover-pee, the prissy girl had covered the seat with toilet paper in an attempt to provide a barrier between her precious tushy from the icky sticky ucky yucky germs on the toilet seat. What she didn't do was remove the toilet paper from the seat when she was finished.
Now really, did she really think that noone would notice? Did she think it just disappeared when she walked away? This must be someone who doesn't understand cause and effect. If you put the toilet paper on the seat, it stays there if you don't remove it.

I mean, come on! I understand why one might feel the need to cover the seat, but how hard is it to just slide that tp into the bowl and flush it down?
I know the answer... It's not hard at all!

Also, I think that people should keep track of their pubes. I hate seeing one of those on the seat. Not as bad as someone peeing all over the seat and not cleaning it up, but probably more than the leaving the tp on the seat. But definitely... EWWWWWW.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There's something to be said for customer service

So, as much as I love online shopping, in person shopping is so much better.
Pretty much ever since I got my wheel at the thrift store I've been planning my next wheel. I've searched online, looked at pictures, and checked ravelry to find out what other people love about their wheels. I had it narrowed down to a Kromski Sonata. It's a full size wheel that's portable, has double treadle, and it comes in a gorgeous walnut finish. But the wheel is $540. I found it on ebay for $590, which includes not one, but two extra flyers that would make the wheel make more different kinds of yarn than I would know what to do with. I've finally decided that I will get no new wheel. Yes, the tax return money would mean I can afford it, but no... I still don't have a job.... it's just not the right time.
So I decided that what I really want is a new flyer for my current wheel until a new wheel is a more realistic option. I searched online and narrowed it down to an Ashford sliding hook flyer that would fit my wheel. I made my appointment at Detta's Spindle (a small, in house shop that's by appointment only) and asked if she had it available. So I went in yesterday, she got the flyer, and let me put it on the wheel and try it out just to see if it's really what I want. She also gave my wheel a professional once-over. She put a new brake band on, prettied up the spring thingy, gave me a new drive band, greased it up so it goes smooth. Oh... and she also helped me figure out that my wheel is probably from the early 70's. My wheel is older than me!

And then I saw it.... the Kromski Sonata. She had it, and I wanted it. She let me try it out. I was hoping that I wouldn't like it as much as I imagined I would. And while I was trying it out, Detta put a stain on the flyer for me so I wouldn't have to when I got home. Well, it turns out that I love the Kromski Sonata even more than I had imagined. And the walnut finish in person... there was drooling involved.

I told Detta that I was interested in getting a lazy kate for plying... and she suggested that if I'm thinking about getting a new wheel (which I am.... eventually) that maybe I should wait to get the Kromski lazy kate.... and instead she showed me how to make my own lazy kate for zero dollars!

Oh... and Detta also had in her shop some fiber that is 50% yak and 50% merino wool.... I rubbed my face in it. Then I bought some. I'm planning to spin this into a thin yarn so I can make a cowl... or something that will be near my face... so I can rub my face in it... all the time. But, I should get back to my point... which is that in person shopping can be so much better than online. Here's my new sliding hook flyer after Detta stained it. And some yarn I made.
And back to the moral of the story. As nice as it is to sometimes be able to save a few dollars by buying online, there really isn't a way to get the personal customer service over the internets. And since I'm the kind of person that even if I really have my heart set on buying a certain item in a store, if I don't get decent customer service I will change my mind and walk out, I really like the idea of supporting small local businesses.

Well, I very likely will continue to buy books on amazon and shoes on endless.com. But for other things I think local business is the way to go.

On another note.... I got home from knitting group last night and there was an icicle hanging from the porch. It was hanging really low and I thought I should kick it.... and then I slipped and fell... and my wrist hurts.
I should stop doing such silly things.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Amazing discoveries

So it's snowy today. Spinning class has already been canceled. I don't have a whole lot going on right now. So I'd like to take this opportunity to share an amazing discovery... on the subject of underpants.

It was an accidental discovery made yesterday. I was in a hurry after doing some laundry and had to get dressed in a bit of a rush. So I pulled my underwear out of the dryer and put them on... straight from the dryer... warm and cozy...

And I think it's important for me to share this wonderful knowledge with as many people as possible.
I highly recommend getting dressed with clothes straight from the dryer (particularly underpants).

It just feels good.... but not in a weird way.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Something to think about

A friend posted this on facebook:

Go to urbandictionary.com, type in your first name, copy and paste this as your status, and put the first entry for your name under comments.

So I did it. And this is what showed up for "Jenn."

As the world is so overpopulated with Jennifers, we need to be able to distinguish the cool from the evil. The only acceptable abbreviation for the cool Jennifers is Jenn. Jenny, Jen, Nifer and any other variations of Jennifer are hereby deemed stupid and will no longer be tolerated! Anyone still answering to any other variation will be recognised as evil and or a loser!
Linda: "Is that Jenny over there?"
Tim: *smacks Linda's face* "You mean Jenn right???"
Linda: *sobbing* "OMG I soooo meant to say Jenn!"
Tim: "It's okay, I won't tell Jenn what you called her! But only this once."

I think this is pretty funny.... and amazingly accurate. When I was little I everyone was forbidden to call me "Jennie... or Jenny." As an adult I discovered this was because my grandfather had a girlfriend on the side named Virginia, "Ginnie" for short.
When we moved away from Tennessee, it took me a couple of years before I realized that those rules didn't apply anymore. So when I was 12 I pretty much forced people to start calling me "Jennie. No, not Jenny... Jennie." Huge difference. All the other Jennifers were Jenny. I wanted to be different. I was Jennie.
I think I was about 20 when people started calling me "Jenn." It took me a while to get used to it... and then I started to like it. So now, my grown up name is Jenn. Yes, with two Ns. It just looks prettier. I'm still fun, but a little bit more mature (not much though, almost anyone will tell you). You can take a Jenn seriously, but know that she's not uptight. Jenn is definitely the coolest way to go.

There were also a variety of not-so-flattering entries about "Jenn" on urban dictionary, but the first one was the best.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Slowest Monkeys Ever

So I knit this pair of socks. They're called "Monkey Socks" and it's one of the most popular sock knitting patterns ever. I see the posts on Ravelry, and some people can knit a whole pair in a week or less! It makes no sense to me. I don't even have a job right now and it took me almost 2 months to finish this pair! Seriously... 3 days short of two months, that's how long it took me. I don't understand how other people do it.

You may notice the way that my feet are positioned. This is to hide the fact that they don't actually match. I used the same yarn for both socks. I even used the same needle. But somehow between the knitting of the heel of the 2nd sock and knitting the toes of the 2nd sock my gauge increased dramatically. I'm not really sure how it happened.

You see, I have a notoriously tight grip while I'm knitting. When I first started I would get cramps in my hand because I was holding the needle so freakin' tight. I even thought I was started to develop arthritis last year, but it turns out that I was still just holding the needle really tight. I even snapped one of my wooden needles! But somehow, in the middle of knitting the 2nd sock of this pair I must have actually relaxed a little... because around the foot of the 2nd sock the pattern gets totally HUGE!!! I couldn't even do the same amount of decreases to get the end of the foot fit. So the 2nd sock is square! Who has square feet? Actually, who has only one square foot? But my only other option was to rip half the thing out and find even smaller needles... or stop relaxing, which might have happened pretty easily if I had ended up ripping half the sock out.

So now I have a pair of socks that just don't quite match. And although they will, for the most part, be tucked inside my shoes I will still know that they don't match.
That's all. I'm not sure if I can get over it or not, but we'll see.

In other news, spinning class starts on Monday!!!! Except that my nephew's first birthday party is on Monday. And I would love to celebrate my nephew's first birthday, but I already paid for the spinning class... and it's non-refundable. He'll only be one year old, so I doubt that he will hold it against me since 1) he often cries when he sees me and 2) because he's one, he won't remember if I'm there or not.
It's his dad and grandma I'm worried about. But... but.... non-refundable.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sweet Dreams

So last night I had a dream. In my dream I was at a music shop and there was a used oboe for $80. Can you believe it?!?! An oboe for only $80!
I found a reed so I could try it out, and it turns out that in my dreams I'm a pretty darn good oboe player!

It would be pretty cool if I could play the oboe when I'm awake.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Moving Right Along

I haven't had loads of time to spin. I spend most of my time away from home, but am worried that moving the spinning wheel to my boyfriend's apartment could be considered an invasion of space. I've continued to spin on the spindle at the bf's place and come home a for a while every day to feed the birds, clean the cage, and spin on the wheel.

I was dinking around on ravelry for a while yesterday and another newbie spinner posted that she was ready for the yarn thwacking. Although I have six books on spinning at the moment, I haven't gotten far enough in any of them to know about the thwacking part yet. I took this as an opportunity to expand my spinning experience. I read the next few posts and decided that it was time I washed my yarn (especially since my first completed yarn had a sort of slimy, waxy feel to it) and give it a good thwack!
I'm not really sure if the thwacking made a lot of difference in the end product, but I have to admit that it was an enjoyable experience.

I also started spinning another bit of fiber. It's two ounces of corriedale roving from misty meadow designs. I bought this in September at the State Fair... before I had a wheel or a spindle. It's quite pretty; orange, red, and burgundy. I started with the orange bit first (naturally) and have gotten a bit into the red.
The color is a bit washed out since there is no sun today and I had to settle for flash photography. Here's the rest of it.
I think when all is done, this will be a hat... well, I at least hope it will be enough yarn for a hat. Because I think it would be a pretty cute hat.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Getting the hang of things

So, in addition to my first try at spinning I also had to give it a shot at plying. Plying is pretty much just twisting your single yarns together to make a new yarn that's a little bigger and a little stronger.
I decided to go for a navaho-ply, mostly due to the fact that I have a limited amount of spinning supplies at the moment.
I don't have a lazy kate. I actually only just learned about the existence of a lazy kate. If you don't know what it is, it's a thingy that holds the bobbins so they don't go rolling through the house while you're trying to ply your yarns.
So, having no lazy kate could be a problem. But I came up with a solution that so far is working fine.

I like to think that I'm rather clever, in a MacGyver kind of way.

So here's my first try at the navaho-ply.It's a bit... bad. I was having a hard time getting the wheel to do what I wanted it to do. I wasn't able to keep it spinning consistently and was getting pretty frustrated with the whole thing. So I gave up for a few days and decided to try again.
I think it's a bit difficult to tell from the photo, but the second attempt is significantly twistier. I'm not sure what I did the second time, but the wheel spun fine and the yarns didn't get caught.
in anything spinny.
I hope I don't learn too much before my class starts. Maybe I should just start with beginning spinning 2.

In other related news, I went back to the thrift store to see if that other wheel was still there (purple tags will be 50% on Monday). It's not there anymore.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

And the spinning begins

So today I decided that I should go to a fiber store. Because although I have ordered and received some really pretty fiber from a couple of sellers on etsy, I'm worried that since I don't actually know what I'm doing yet that it will be a big waste to use up the pretty fiber to make yucky yarn.
So yes, I stopped by The Fiber Studio (48th and Nicollet Ave in Minneapolis) to get some stuff to practice.
I walked into the store, and the lovely owner Pam asked if I had any questions. I replied, "Well, I've got tons of questions. I just got a wheel." (Yes, I love telling my wheel story, particularly to people who will actually appreciate hearing it). "And I've signed up for a class at the Textile Center... but it doesn't start until February and I want to start now! What's a good practice fiber?"
Pam's eyes lit up when she told me that I came on the right day, because there just happened to be a spinning group downstairs! Oh, but I didn't bring my wheel. sniff
No worries, Pam let me borrow one! We went in the basement and there were about 6 people with their spinning wheels and one fella with a spindle. I sat between two ladies with wheels, and the lady to my right (I think it was Celeste, but I'm terrible with names) gave me some pointers, I watched what she did, and I started spinning!
When I left for the fiber studio, I honestly thought I would only be there for 15-30 minutes, you know, just to pick out some stuff and head back home.
Three hours later I had this!Apparently it's pretty darn good for a first try. All the spinners said that their first yarn was thick and thin, not very consistent. I really can't figure why mine is so thin though. (Yes, I understand that if I let thicker bits of fiber through the yarn would have ended up thicker. But it just didn't feel right.)
I was also worried that maybe I wouldn't do as well on my wheel at home. So I spent a large portion of the evening practicing a bit more.
It's not too consistent in the thickness, but I'm pretty pleased about my first day of spinning. And I really wish it were February already. I want this class to start before I go ahead and learn too much on my own.