Tag Archives: wool

Taking a deep breath

Ready to ply
Ready to ply

For many reasons. First of all, the summer is a little more than half over, from my teacher point of view, and there is so much I want to accomplish, and so many people I would like to spend a little time with. And the biggest reason I have had to stop and take a deep breath is that I have been trying for 7 months to get my NJ teacher’s deferred pension going. With very little success!

Needless to say, things are very different from when my husband filed for retirement in 2001 in NJ. At that time everything was done on paper, with people talking you through it on the phone, and now, there is a mire of a website to navigate, with very little help on the phone to be had (well, I hung in there at one point and was on “hold” for 1.5 hours). State bureaucracies are all pretty complicated, and in a state with the the population of NJ, I guess it’s more complicated than most. And I imagine that the workers at the pensions bureau have a lot on their plates, too much to do, and not enough staff to handle the volume.

In the last few weeks I have been contacted directly by a very lovely person at the Pensions division, and it’s been a huge help. Hopefully I am coming to the end of the paper trail nightmare. But on Wednesday when I received two letters requesting information that I had already provided, in two different formats, my frustration level soared. So on Thursday I declared a Wallow Day. Worked on cheese and did a lot of spinning, had a Harry Potter movie marathon going in the background, interrupted by some time spent with the goaties, interrupted by fruitless phone calls. Yesterday I did a few errands and popped in to work to get caught up a little and also spend some time with colleagues. For a bonus, I got a phone call from my NJ school district telling me they have sent their end of the documentation to the pension people (or the documentation that they can put their hands on, 13 years later!). Yay!  And then I continued spinning our new lovely roving (Coopworth/alpaca). I think I may be ready to do some plying today. I think my blood pressure is probably back to normal now, and it’s a beautiful day!

More Fiber Retreat fiber

Carded fleece that I am planning on plying with the silk/camel
Carded fleece that I am planning on plying with the silk/camel

Well, two days of IT training in Brunswick and one day in Rockland have left me pretty beat.  Today was a rainy one so it didn’t feel bad being inside. Lots of good and exciting stuff there, and it definitely has me more excited about the new school year than usual!

Spun silk/camel blend
Spun silk/camel blend

But, back to our fibery pursuits on the retreat last week!  We all had our separate projects, both knitting and spinning.  I accomplished an amazing amount of spinning, 4 oz of a silk/camel blend that I got from The Fold quite awhile ago now.  I have been planning on plying that with the fleece that I have been carding up from long ago (a Corriedale hogget fleece).  I am in love with the colors, all of them natural.  The fleece is a pinky/beige and the silk/camel is a white and beigey mix.  The photos probably don’t convey the real colors (I am not a great photographer, either).  These are not typical fibers for me, they are much more a ‘luxury’ type of spinning than I usually do (and much thinner than I usually spin).  I am very hopeful that I will be able to get more finished on this project before school begins again.

Shawl in progress
Shawl in progress

I also am continuing to knit on my shawl project, the High Plains Drifter pattern, out of our farm’s sock weight yarn (our sheep’s wool mixed with a little bit of a friend’s mohair).  I actually got quite a bit finished on our retreat, at least half of a 220 yard skein, and at least a quarter of the second 220 yard skein.  I am loving it, and it’s such an easy knit, not too much to keep track of, that I can take it with me places I would not take something a little more complicated.  This meant that when I got up at 5 a.m. and went outside with my first cup of coffee to admire the view and the sun coming up, I didn’t have to strain my brain to get some knitting done!

A felted stitch marker on my high plains drifter shawl
A felted stitch marker on my high plains drifter shawl

All of our fiber friends had wonderful projects going, and one of our fiber group, Kelley, also brought all of her beading materials and taught us to make felted stitch markers.  They were a lot of fun!  And I already am using most of the markers that I made.  They are lightweight and really easy to use.  Plus, they are rather beautiful.

One other fiber pursuit that I do not have any photographic evidence of is that our friend Chris taught us all how to do the Magic Loop method of knitting in the round.  I have thought that it was a giant mystery, but now I can visualize the process.  The next mitt or sock that I make will be using the Magic Loop. Great stuff!

And so our fiber retreat really was a huge success.  I know that I didn’t want to get off the ferry and get back into everyday life, but it certainly is a wonderful bunch of memories that I will certainly enjoy for quite some time. And there is always next summer’s retreat to begin planning!

Embrace the hat

Morning chores have become hat weather at last!  I am not too upset by that, I have been looking forward to the frosty mornings.  Even when it’s getting into the 50s and lower 60s during the day, at 5:15 AM it’s definitely chilly.  The longjohns have made their appearance (but the old, holey ones, not the newer, thick and heavy ones!), and in the last two mornings, so has the hat.

Hats and I do not have a great history.  When my hair was long they had to be extra large to fit all of my hair under, and I have never thought that any hats looked great on me, anyway.  But doing chores without one is not a possibility, so I have embraced the knitted cap!  I got a passably nice one at Mexicali Blues a number of years ago and I have abused that one to the extreme.  Last winter a friend of ours, Chris, surprised me with a handknit birthday cap!  It’s wonderful, I love it, and it fits much better than the other one.  (Alpine Topper from Halcyon Yarn).

Our grandson’s stuffed lamb agreed to pose for the photo, and the hat always seems to have hay permanently attached:

The stuffed lambie wanted more exposure than just his feet!

Surprise birthday hat 🙂