Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How Time Flies When You're Having Fun

As usual I didn't realize it was so long since I posted. Dust, dirt and paint having been flying here at Chez Ray. Loads of summertime chores postponed since last summer are being finished. The most visible of these is the outside doors and storm doors. Four of the five have been sanded and painted to include door frames and thresholds. The front door still has to be done and we hope to get to that next week after the heat and humidity subside. Summer has arrived in the mid-Atlantic and heat records are being broken daily. We've also cleaned flower beds, planted our container garden and busted up and removed some old stumps. And that's only outside! This year my lilacs put on quite a show. I moved them several years ago and this is the first year they bloomed.
Inside, I'm trying to figure out how two people can collect so much junk! Still slowly decluttering and it never seems to end.

Lest you thnk it's been all work and no fun - I made my first mint jelly. We don't eat a lot of lamb, but it can also be used on pork (which we don't eat a lot of either, hmmm). In the side flower bed we have a boat load of mint. I'm determined not to let it all go to waste this year. It was an easy recipe found in one of the books Miss Ginny recommend in an earlier post. Or it would have been easy if I hadn't forgotten the lemon juice and had to re-do it! The jars are gelling and we hope to try them soon.
Some of the of the mint was used to dye roving. The color is not as dark as I would have liked. Right now I think I'm going to spin it as it is, then overdye it. Then maybe not, we'll see.
I've also washed my first two fleeces, but they'll be a separate post.

Sunday I attended the Eastern Angora Goat and Mohair Association's (EAGMA) Annual show about 40 minutes from here. I took the 3 hour Advanced Spinning workshop with Phylleri Ball. One of my goals was to have my spinning evaluated. It was and it wasn't. I'd hoped to get an evaluation of my overall spinning skills. Instead it was evaluated in terms of what I wanted to get out of the workshop. It was helpful in getting me to see what I can do differently. I also learned that I use the short draw. The reason my default yarn is so thin is that I learned to spin on a Canadian Production Wheel (CPW) and those wheels are designed to spin fast and thin. I wanted to learn to spin yarns the weight that I want. A larger whorl, slower treadling and (for now) spinning from the fold will get me where I want to be. I can also split my roving or fluff it a bit. The one thing we didn't get to was hands-on fiber preparation. There were only two of us in class, so we were able to get a lot of personalized attention. The big thing though is to practice, practice, practice.

The festival was very poorly attended. The overall economy and heat were factors, but also the organizers didn't do a good job of advertising to the fiber community or the general public. They have no Ravelry presence and it's only a couple of weeks since the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. The organizers hope to keep it in this area and they want a spring show. Last year there were 10 vendors, this year only 5. I'd really hate to lose this show. It's small so you get to talk to the suppliers and since the sales are direct the prices (at least for the fiber) are better than buying on-line and you get to touch. I was on a strict budget this time and only bought some dyes. There are a couple of things I'll buy from the vendors later. I didn't buy any fiber or yarn. I took a good look at both stashes before I left!

I hope I debunked a couple of myths. The general position and what's promoted on Ravelry and other spinning boards, is that you can't buy an antique wheel as your first wheel and that you can't learn on a CPW. I've done both. I didn't know how to spin period so was it harder? I don't know. It's what I had so I used it. I'd rather invest $75 to find out whether I liked spinning rather than hundreds on a new wheel. I did buy another wheel later but by then I knew what I was looking for.

Ok rant over! To end this on a positive note, we babysat GC #4. Isn't he adorable?
TTYL, Melodye


Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

First, Yes! he is adorable and they are sweethearts at that stage...later is when they become little monsters :o)...
At least this post had a lot of meat in it and I'm glad your so busy in Retirement :o) You will soon find yourself wondering how you ever kept a job, your days will be so busy. I'm happy and thankful that you are canning..would you be surprised that it gave me a thrill? l felt as if I was leaving someone with something of great value for the rest of their lives, Good for you Melodye. Another hint, put that mint into a large large container (see my blog). and you won't have to worry about it getting over everything's roots travel, in a pot it will remain and come back next year. You can dry it and have it for brewed tea (delicious).

Spinster Beth said...

Oooh sorry about the festival :( I can see how the MD S&W would push it out.

I'm trying to think of a use for mint jelly aside from meat. With cream cheese on crackers? On ice cream?

Sheila said...

WoW you are really busy and your post offered a lot of food for thought on mint jelly. Speaking of flowers... I need to clip my parsley & cilantro.

Your GC#4 is sooooo cute.