Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Workity Work

I’m working. Not that you can see, but things are coming along. I have several colorways for yarn that I adore and are repeatable. Now, if the skies clear and the deck dries, I can create the photo montage for the top of the web page. If not, lighting kit and fake stone in studio.
I am no longer pushing myself more than I can handle. A summer with MS fun has me deciding that I can do what I can do and damn the rest. If I don’t want to do the accounting, hire an accountant. As soon as the house is done and I’m making money, someone else to clean. What? Have the children do it? That’s crazy talk. They are male teens. Not all are pigs, but most pigs are far more clean.
I am still into yarn bondage. Stop freaking. It means I’m putting ties on yarn for dyeing. Figure 8. Yes, much of it comes from the factory with ties, but even the person who is my favorite wholesaler says they are not enough. More on this in my first video podcast. Yes, I’m doing it. Mostly on my work, but that’s life. I’m planning a vid cast a month and an audio cast a week. I am planning to get this thing and iTunes compatible, but links will be here. Also, on my other blog.
Blogging. Writing and photos are back. Once a day. No photos today. My camera batteries need charging and I have yarn to tie, but tomorrow. I have pics of my work as I go and I want to share them. Also videos about how I dye. Feel free to use them as a cautionary tale if you wish.
I would like to offer public credit to those who inspire me. The first is to, Dale Hwang from, Light Brown Hare. She put out a video on her way of dyeing a couple years ago. I’ve watched it probably fifty times and there is something new every time. Same video, I’m slow. I developed my technique from hers. It’s not what she does, not a copy. My work is informed by hers. I like my colors to be more in the same family. I also mix in dip dyeing. As I do videos for your entertainment, and edification, I expect the former more than the latter, you shall see.
So, I work. I write, I work, I note-take, and I prepare my kids to return to school. I will miss them. However, I reserve the right to dance the parental happy dance when the busses come. I was never going to do that. I was the home ed parent. The one who was always going to lead by choices that the child would make with logic. What we don’t know before life makes a dork of us. I love my boys. However a day without swearing, stomping, yelling and general, “MAKE HIM SHUT UP!!!” is going to be wonderful. Too bad they don’t have different days off and I can’t take one child out one day a week to learn with mom. The schools don’t offer that and the weekends have four kids in them. Le sigh. All we can do is our best and stay as sane as possible while they are in our care. Cause after the last one becomes an adult, it’s a rubber room and yes, I know the negative implications of that thought. It is unkind to make fun of those with mental illness, but since I have depression, agoraphobia and panic issues, I feel free to make light of it. Why wallow?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dyeing Day Pics to Come

Cripes, I went nuts yesterday dyeing. I also felt like I was about to croak because it was a thousand degrees in the kitchen. That's Kelvin too. Okay, I exaggerate. Cable was down most of the day. 8 trucks and various, "Clown Car Keystone Cop," capers were something to behold, if you felt like venturing out into a Michigan summer. The heat that makes you sweat in the shower. I wish that, "Sweat in the shower," was mine, but alas, it is not. It's a great phrase for general misery in heat. Humidity. A day you wished you lived in a state with drier air. Except we have water and to dye, one must have it.

I had spent most of the day Saturday getting skeins ready for the long week to come. When I get yarn ready to dye, I go a little nuts. I have different colors of acrylic to tag it with, so I don't mistake one kind for another. I tag it and if it's on a cone, many times it is, I run it up on my skein winder. That is an electric gadget that wants to kill me. Photos to be inserted when it gets light out.

I can run three at a time and often do them in 200 gram hanks, which is two, or four skeins, depending on the size of the final skeins I plan to sell. Then the tieing starts. I run figure 8 ties through the skeins four times, plus two choke ties. I detest tangles.

The night before I dye, I place them all in a nice bath with a detergent, often Dawn, and maybe some Citric acid. Sometimes I have dyes that I want to pop onto the yarn like magic and this does it. Sometimes, I add it later. I should note that this is for animal hair and silk, not cotton. That's a horse of a different color.

So, Saturday night I prepped 26 skeins of yarn to dye Sunday. Not the most in a day, but all labor intensive.

I did blues and a two reds. I consider pink in the red family, so you can infer some pinks in there. All are variegated. Meaning, I dye different colors on the same skein.

Four large crock pots, the oven at ready and I'm raring to go. Each of these color combinations is carefully thought out, but each has the virtue of never being tried before. One large skein is going to be a new version of Storm Warning, a grey, black and blue number that looks like a storm at sunset. I've always added the black at the end and never liked it. It's one of Julie's formulas and it looks great on roving, but not yarn. This time I twisted the skein up, it was a double, and did a layer of lack on the outside. Re-twist, a grey, retwist the first blue then I got all daring and added a second blue. Gasp. It was all warm and snuggly in the crock last night. I have no idea how it will look today. I let my colors exhaust overnight. I get better colors that way and don't have to deal with hot yarn.

I also did, "Korean Wedding Dress," a red and goldish color, "Raspberry Beret," and three other blues. I'll rinse them and fix any gaps, or misses in a bit. Again, it's early and I like light.

Among all this, I've started to dye fabric. I always had that as a plan. To dye yarn, roving and fabric. This project is three tee-shirts of mine. One, I bought to dye. Two had stains on them from dyeing, even though I'd not used dye for cotton and I wanted to make them tie-dye and pretty. I did the cram a jar effect. I soaked the shirts in soda water, salt, warm water and MX dyes. The dyes for cotton are different from the dyes for wool. You can use the cotton dyes on wool, but not the other way round. I put them in small jars overnight and will pull them out today. One of the shirts was new and supposed to be ready to dye. HAH! It had sizing in it. I know it did not dye and I will have to wash the sizing out. I could feel it, but at that point I was in dye-ville and not really thinking. That's why I prep one day and dye another. I have to get my mind on one thing and one only, or it all goes blah.

On tap for today. Finishing the shirts, re-dyeing the one I have to wash the sizing out of, dyeing two colorways, and finishing yesterday's work with hand-painting if something has a spot that's not dyed on it. I never mean for it to happen, but it can.

One of the awesome things I learned and love is what dyes like to break. Go back to the colors they are made  of and which are the nicest when they do that. There is a color from one of my companies called, "Gold." It's just a deep yellow, but it is a nice color. I can sprinkle this on top of my water and it breaks into blue, yellow and a nice red. It's on my red from yesterday. I will probably do a little more of that color on the color from yesterday.

The main point? I'm having fun.

Gene-Gene is at camp. The house feels lonely.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Darien and Gene-Gene

We are not supposed to call him, Gene-Gene anymore. He will be seventeen in a week and he is Eugene. I'm not a superfan of Boy Scouts, but it has given him direction and purpose. He wants to be an Eagle. He is working hard and he is getting his Star status after a weekend of volunteering.

In his life, Gene-Gene has had one constant. His love for animals. When I was at a race in 2002, Darien was born at my in-laws. Darien, a small, but loving cat. Loving if you were my son. Indifferent, at best, to the rest of the family. Most cats in homes with huskies die by Husky. Not Darien. When Mani-Nana came into our lives, he sidled up to her and swatted her across the nose. She never bothered a cat at all. Darien was not tolerating that.
Darien did not want to be left behind.
He loved broccoli. No, he was not supposed to have it and he didn't eat it. He held it in his mouth and growled at you till he was done killing the horrible vegetable.

Last summer, after we lost Mani-Nana, Darien began to lose weight. The vet thought it was thyroid. He was the right age. All his tests came back normal. The answer, cancer. We left it in my son's hands. How long, how far, and how much. We would provide the money, but there was not much we could do. It was bad. Darien never let us know, other than weight loss. He got thinner, but never lost his spirit and did not seem in pain. He stole a piece of chicken out of my hand last Saturday and ate it. Darien liked protein and you needed to guard your plate.

This week he seemed cold. I held him. He was not in distress. I know animals in distress and Darien was thin, but not hunching, he ate, etc. Early Friday morning I noticed he was on my bed. I asked my husband to take him to Gene. He was sleeping, but he had a tendency to eat the bed. For a six pound cat, he needed room. At 5 Gene-Gene came in and said Darien was throwing up. At 5:45 he came back in and said it was time. Darien had begun seizing without notice, except for the vomiting, which was new. The vet opened at 8. At 7:10 we went to check on Darien and Gene-Gene. Gene-Gene was asleep. his hand on Darien's head. Darien was gone. It must have happened quietly, and peacefully. He was sick for an hour. Truly sick. He hung on and did not let on, for a long time. They were together. I know he had an hour of pain, but that was it. I've been over and over if we missed suffering, I don't think so. We, as a family, do not tolerate suffering in an animal who cannot understand. Darien just got a little sicker, at a time, so it was his norm. He died like he was born and lived, with the boy that chose him and that he chose.

I can't make this better for my son. He is still waters, and they run very deep. He does not think I understand that, but I do. He fights to keep emotion off his face. Part of it is his Tourette's. Those ticks happen, but rarely now. Part of it is Gene is stoic.

Darien will be followed by other cats. Gene-Gene has another one, but Darien was more than a cat. They were best friends. He is buried in a box in our garden, wrapped in a shelter snuggle I knit for him when he got thin. I put a note in a plastic bag in the box that tells anyone who finds him who he was and what he meant to my son. It will outlast his remains. We will remove it in a few years, so the ground does not have the plastic in it.

Darien was more than a cat. Gene-Gene is more than a normal boy. Yes, he treats me like yesterday's dog doo, but he loves me and his father deeply. Far more so than he will ever let on.

Darien was a part of  my son and I don't know how to fix it. I can't. Time will. Love will. Just being there. Love and acceptance is what he needs. I want to do that and not smother. I would smother if he would let me. I respect his need not to be. Today he goes to work on his volunteer work. He needs to. He is running out of time and he needs time to breathe.

Yesterday, he slept.

We think the loss of an animal is not as important as the loss of a person. I say, that depends on the animal and the person who lost him. Darien was a member of the family. Cherished, loved, depended on. Darien was there when Gene-Gene's Tourette's was so bad he could not speak a sentence. School was a nightmare. Darien did not tease, no laugh, just accepted. A true friend. Someone who can never be replaced. I loved Darien too, but Gene-Gene, I can never explain that to anyone.

You either get it, or you don't.

We will miss you D. Eugene, most of all.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Done with Boneyard

I am thinking pink shawl, green border. Dream in Color Smooshy from the Loopy Ewe.

I finished my Boneyard Shawl. No photos. I'm washing it today and it looks like cat fur with a shawl attached. Serves me right for leaving it in a neat pile, on the chair the cat has claimed as his. You know where a 20 pound cat sleeps? Anywhere it wants to.

I have the first Vlog-cast in the can, but it needs to be edited. Something I thought I could do today, but Gene had to be at work at 4 am to re-boot some servers. The first Tuesday after the second Monday of each month. Herne needs his hair washed and cannot do it himself. I cannot wash it because Herne is getting too adult looking and he is having a hard time doing it alone. So, it's not my job. Gene has to. I stand by the door, so there are no questions about propriety and Gene washes hair fast. I do wish he could do it alone, but the bubbles really upset him. It's an autism thing. So, Herne is staying home and making use of his time by learning to use Photoshop. He's really very good at it. Far more so than a ten year old should be. It's not a special gift. It's the ability to lock out the universe and concentrate on one thing. Autism allows that. Better than the five hundred things my sorry brain is working on at once. ADHD, the gift that keeps you confuddled.

I have a clean oven, and can dye yarn today. I may, if Gene is awake when he gets home about noon. That is the benefit of going to work before the birds are up. He comes home early. He also does not compensate by sleeping early the night before and tends to fall asleep mid-afternoon. I can't. One nap and I'm up half the night.

I also have research on color trends to do for next fall. I predict fall colors and someone doing a military look. You can count on one designer doing military for fall and nautical for summer every year.

Sam #Zell said yesterday that if more people wanted to make more money they should work harder. He's a real estate tycoon in Chicago. I did some contract work for him in the 90's. I remember the day they called their entire IT staff in and fired them while we changed their passwords. If you won't give opportunity, then shut up. He saved very little and lost a lot of loyal employees. I felt sick and do to this day. I'd rather work for myself, harder than I've ever worked for less, than someone like him in any capacity. You can't be someone who does not value your employees and fires them to save very little in the long run and a lot of good will. He's also a famous grump. Makes Trump look warm and fuzzy. Oh, and I'm taller than he is. I'm 5'2". He just fires at will and is famous for it. I've seen it, so it's not rumor. Those poor IT people. I think of them often.

Stay warm and gift yourself a hobby. It makes life more enjoyable and delicious.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Post Wherein I Will Not Mention the Weather, Cause We All Have It.

Yaps enjoys Dad as a pillow.
Let's just say it's a, drink hot coffee and snuggle cats day. Perhaps cats you steal from others, so you can all be warm. 

Favorite project of the moment, my Herbivore, by Stephen West The Yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts  Cashmere Sock from Eat Sleep Knit, in Mallard.
I'm plugging along on my three live knitting projects and trying to come to grips with the horrific number of snow-days, and my alarming amount of newly grey hair. It's alarming. The phone did not ring at 6 this morning, a call of doom to parents all over the Ann Arbor School District, and I jumped out of bed to do the, "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!" dance in my ratty nightgown. I don't know when I stopped caring about cute nighties, but I have. I said it. I confessed. I am not ashamed. Okay, I'm somewhat ashamed, but this new knitting thing has me all happy and if it's a nighty, or yarn, yarn. End of story. Yarn can be undone if it all goes wrong. A fight in a nightgown sours the nightgown forever. Leaving it as the, "Nightgown we had that fight in." Okay, Gene and I rarely fight and when we do it's loud on my end only. Still, one cannot take such chances of bad mojo on a nightgown, when one can have a spiffy hat instead. So says me.

Boneyard Shawl. Pattern by Stephen West of  Westknits. Cascade Yarns Pima Cotton. No give and painful to work with.

Herein I could post pictures of what it looks like outside, but stare at a white wall for several hours, and you have the general idea. I love it. I am the Goddess of winter, the hula-hooper in the snow (I should get my husband to photograph me hooping outside). Old, big of butt, and happy in my snowy world of snowy-wonderfulness. I love it. As long as I don't have to stay out long, or, heavens forbid, attend Herne's fifth grade winter survival day. Next Thursday he goes into the woods for the day with his class. It's done every year and we are prepared. Too bad Herne is not. He needs boots. Not a problem, but it's been so cold he has not wanted to go outside except to transfer to the bus and back. No recess outside, too cold. He has not had to encounter feet frozen weather. He has mittens, several hats and a toasty coat and socks. Just not boots. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I can have a pair here in time. They will be on sale and hopefully JJ can wear them next year. Herne is alarmingly tall now, for his smallness at birth and it's bugging me. I have asked him to stop growing, but he won't. None of them fall for that, but JJ. Poor JJ is small. Not little person small, but not far from it. If the kid makes five two, I will be astounded. Five foot two inches is not really a great height for a man, but I look his grandfather in the eye, so it is very possible. Short gene's kid. Sorry.

I managed to cast off my Loopy Ewe bookmark. I've had the pattern forever and it is a nice palate cleanser in the matter of larger things.

This week I'm working on four shawls. All of which I should post pics of. Okay, now I have to stop, take pics and post them. There. Labelled and everything.

I am 18 answers in to the Hitchhiker shawl by Martina Behm. There are forty two answers in all. Question, are you nerd enough to know what this refers to, without looking it up? The Yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere, in Wilderness

Stay Warm!
Darien hides under my computer desk, that hangs over my chair. Often laying on my arm and blocking all circulation.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Yarn and Fabric Stash and Rule!

Rules? There are no stinking rules. That's my rule. Seems to me that every January crafters everywhere decide this is the YEAR OF THE STASH DOWN!! Meaning, they all have intentions of buying from a large event, or not at all. Some do manage, more don't. Come on, it's a cheesecake world and you are talking about having only plain lettuce.

Angel snuggles my hand dyed Gracious Gray Alien, yarn. 

I have a different approach, not better, I am not better, just different. Buy with intent. I have more patterns than I can use. I love patterns. Each one is a novel of shape and form and I read them, like I do cookbooks, like a novel. "Oh, the Cuban stew in ___ cookbook reads like a spicy love story. Yum!!"

Patterns are potato chips. One pattern can be inexpensive, some free, but if a designer is good, I try to support them. I will buy the patterns I love. I hoard them. The knit and crochet patterns are all listed in my library on Ravelry ( and include an impressive list of designs that are some, "Yes, I will have the skills to make that, If I reach 200 and can still knit," and some, "I can do that now." So, this year I pick designs I aspire to, and buy for those patterns. I have some in my stash, but not all I need and some stash I may never use. That does not get knit into any ole thing. I am selling that to other worthy knitters. Maybe what I intended to do with it would not look good in that yarn, maybe it's an independent dyer and I want to make something I don't have enough for. I can sell it and get something that works for a, "I am doing it this year," project and buy with intent. I will make three sweaters. I have enough good yarn for two. I will decide on the third and buy for it, or dye yarn for it. Probably the latter.

Sock yarns? I can always use them, but thanks to gigantic feet, my husband has fat feet and I have very long feet with toes that could probably knit, they are so flexible, that I need more yarn than the average human when I make socks. They are not as cost effective as other things, but fun and interesting. Hats? I can never have too many and they make wonderful gifts.

Wolverine always appreciates knit items. Especially the ones I love. Really, is your outfit ever complete without cat hair?

So instead of stashing down, I am stashing useful. If I don't have enough sock yarn, it's going to someone with smaller feet. If I don't 100% love the yarn, it's being gifted, or sold. I'm passing it on. I refuse to knit with something I hate. It might be the feel. I am very tactile, or the look, not usually that. You never know. I'm just going to be more selective. Dyers are businesses who need to keep going and independent dyers need to keep income flowing in. I want to support them. To encourage creativity and growth of small companies. This is a way to do it. Make things I will use mindfully. Not just knit for the process. I am a process knitter. Finish more, get what I love and wear what I make. Gift more of what I make. It's nice enough. Not knit with something I bought five years ago that met my criteria then. I am not who I was. I am becoming. We all are. Goals change, life changes and my kids are not knit-worthy. While I'd love to make them hats and mittens, they don't care. I'm only going to knit for those who appreciate what goes into the process. I think those are reasonable goals for life. Do what you love, love what you do and work for those who appreciate your love and time. The rest can have a gift card.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bosco Sticks of Death, or why JJ hates Mondays

It's Bosco stick day. Apparently, this is a food so foul, our child who will eat ANYTHING, including pate and snails, will not deem to look at them. We were unaware. Three schools, three different lunch menus.

Bosco sticks, or the mere mention of same (I believe these are what you would order as a deep fried cheese appetizer covered with bread crumbs, but I am not sure) will turn our happy, sort of, child into a force for evil. No coaxing, begging, pleading will allow entrance onto the bus on Bosco day, without an alternate lunch.

We forgot.

"I am not going to school today and be forced to stare at that disgusting lunch. I mean it."

A calm voice, no drama, but a will of iron and a backbone of titanium met us in a wet towel and dripping hair.

The problem is, JJ looks like an angel. He is all smiley and blonde, with HUGE blue eyes the color of the sea right before the sun is about to set on a clear day. You just don't expect the evil drawn out, splatted down and dared in front of you at the mention of something with cheese in it. Of course, this would be the same school lunch program that believes ketchup is a vegetable. No one really bought that. Except Ketchup makers.

So, there would be no school until a trip to the store for a lunch. Meaning, he was late.

"Mrs. Liedel. This is JJ's school. Is he not coming in today?"

"Bosco sticks."

"We'll see him when his dad brings him in. I think they're here now."

Yep, JJ hates them and even the brand new admin knows.

Much forehead slapping and cursing under my breath. If you don't put cheese on his food, he won't eat it. However, a cheese stick? No way.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014


It's cold. Figure that out yet? I mean everywhere, but Alaska (for that states norm) and Hawaii. Do you know what people with remitting repeating MS like more than remission? COLD!!!! WOOHOOO!

Okay, I am more cold than I would like to be, but I'll take it over an attack. However, the children are home and not nestled. Unless that involves lobbing insults and hurling used yogurt cups at one another. I believe, hope, pray that tomorrow will see school return (the Superintendents office has not called us, and my e-mail remains joyously free of notices of closure, for now) and I will be able to get back into the swing of work, knitting and not screwing up because I had to stop and break up a fight and life in general.

My new studio is DONE! Okay, it needs a couple of things out of storage and since the area is not heated, the storage, I won't be getting that for a few days. For some reason, my husband does not want to go there in wind chill readings below -30. I can't figure out why.

I know absence R me. However, I just photographed yarn to put up on the Ravelry page, and will edit it and put up other photos tomorrow here. No photos from the holidays because I am tired of looking at the photos of children unwrapping. You know it's soon followed by the let down of not enough, no matter how much and the after holiday, "I am SO BORED!" comments. If you have kids, you get it.

Gene -Gene is very into Scouts and has made it to First Class, with only a couple things to do before star. He wants Eagle and he may get it. Steven is busy on the phone at all hours and I mean more than I was as a teen.

Herne and JJ are either fighting, or inseparable. Depends. I am happy with my work area and Gene is just himself. Happy when it's warranted, worried when it's warranted and rarely sad. An even tempered man, and a good foil for me.

Stay tuned to this space for some fun announcements and talk later. I hear swearing and discussion about said swearing which I must investigate.

Life is rich, if not the wallet. I'll take it this way any ole day.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's WAR!!

Fleas. They must die, but with no harm to anyone, or anything else. A video is on it's way. I'm so done with this. Suggestions appreciated, nothing with Essential Oils in it. They can destroy a cat's liver. Seriously.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Goat Rodeo Fiber Fiesta: Box Hab

Goat Rodeo Fiber Fiesta: Box Hab: "Do not touch the box, do not mess with the Dream in Color Smooshy yarn, and you don't get injured. Comprende?"