Monday, August 22, 2011

Yep. I'm a Nerd.

Nerd God, to be exact. :) says I'm a Nerd God.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and talk to others on the nerd forum!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dying Yarn

I decided to try my hand at dying yarn.  This is a process that can either go very well or quite badly, but no matter how you do it, you'll always get something different.  For this batch of sock yarn, I am aiming for the color chartreuse, and using Kool-Aid in my slow cooker.  This is what I did, plus a little bit of extra info for slightly different situations.

1. Start with a slow cooker, yarn to be dyed (must be of animal fibers - synthetic fibers will not take dye), and Kool-Aid.  For this color I am using two green and four yellow packets.

2. Carefully remove the ball band from your yarn and spread it out.  Hopefully your yarn is in a large loop already (mine was).  Loosely tie some off-color (or white) yarn that will not take the dye or spread its own dye.  Here I used Red Heart Super Saver in orange.  Having an off color will help you to find these strings later.

3. Soak your yarn for several hours or overnight.  Simply put the yarn into the container you will soak it in, and gently pour in room temperature water.  Push down on the yarn with your hands to remove air bubbles.  I soaked mine right in the slow cooker, but used NO HEAT for this step.  At this point, the slow cooker is turned off and unplugged.

4. Once the yarn has soaked long enough, mix up your dye with water in a glass measuring cup (glass will not take on the color of the dye like a plastic cup may).  If you soaked your yarn in the slow cooker, remove it to a colander.

5.  Mix the dye with the water remaining in your slow cooker, and gently return the yarn to the colored water.  Use a spoon (unless of course you want to dye your hands, too) to gently push down on the yarn so it is under water.  Cover, turn the slow cooker on low, and (this is the hard part) WALK AWAY for a few hours.

 6. Leave it alone for a few hours until the water is clear.  Turn off and unplug the slow cooker.

7.  Uncover and allow everything to cool to room temperature.  Since I had the option, I took the crock out of the metal liner to allow for more airflow around it.  This seemed to help reduce cooling time.

8. Once the yarn is cool, gently wash it in a bowl with a small amount of a very mild soap.  I used a dime-sized squirt of my dish soap.  Some people use baby shampoo.  There are also specialized yarn washes available.  In this instance, "wash" means "soak in the soapy water for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice as the spirit moves you".  Do not swish or squeeze the yarn much, this can cause it to felt (depending on the content).

9. Rinse yarn by removing from soapy water, dumping and thoroughly rinsing bowl, refilling the bowl, and returning yarn to clear water.  Maintain water temperature as much as possible; do not make drastic changes in temperature.  Again, do not agitate the yarn much.  Even if you have a yarn that will not felt easily, it's best to avoid forming habits that may cause you problems later.

10. Repeat this process (drain, rinse and refill bowl, return yarn to bowl, gently push down on yarn to rinse) until water is clear of all suds.

11. Remove yarn from bowl and gently squeeze out excess water.  Most of the time, this is accomplished by rolling it up in a towel.  However, since this is a superwash yarn, I cheated and spun it out in the washing machine by carefully opening the skein around the agitator, then turning on the spin cycle for a few minutes.  This is where the orange ties came in handy.  It was very easy to find exactly where to open up the skein around the agitator in the washer.

12. After removing the excess water, hang skein to dry.

13. Wind your yarn into a cake, and you're ready to work with it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Few Comparisons (a.k.a. Sara's Feeling Nostalgic)

 Two of these pictures were taken January 15, 2009.  The other two were taken July 22, 2011.  Amazing the difference two and a half years can make.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Some Thoughts on Miscarriage

After reading this blog post, I got to thinking.  What follows began as a comment on that blog and has become a blog post all its own.

I truly believe that some of us feel we have to suffer our grief over a miscarriage in silence, because we have little or nothing by way of mementos.  If we had a child who died after being born, we would have photos and keepsakes.  A child who dies in utero, especially one who passes in the first trimester, is seen by some as "less than" and we as the parents are expected to just agree and get on with our lives.
I know that I make people uncomfortable with my unwillingness to pretend this child never existed in my life.  When people ask if I have any children, I often respond with, "None living."  I will mention having been pregnant, and someone will say that they didn't know I had a child, and I tell them that she died before she was born.  I don't pussy-foot around to make others feel better.  This child, my child, existed and I refuse to pretend otherwise.  I don't go around with a bullhorn announcing my loss to the world, either.  I don't often bring up the subject on my own, but I am more than happy to talk about it with anyone who wishes to do so.  I will definitely talk freely with someone else who has lost a child - we all need to know that we are not alone.

My daughter (lost to miscarriage at 10 weeks) has a name.  She has a date that is forever "hers" in my mind - the day I miscarried.  She left my body on that day and that is, to me, her birthday and her deathday.  The day that was my due date used to be an extremely difficult day for me, but that one has gotten easier to deal with.  The biggest reason her due date bothers me as much as it does is that it was also my grandmother's birthday, and I often wish that my daughter had lived to share birthday parties with her great-grandmother (my grandmother passed on in 2008, shortly after her 85th birthday and what would have been my daughter's fourth birthday).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity

The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save HumanityThe Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity by Andy Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In The Final Summit, we become re-acquainted with David Ponder, who is still an inspiration to many but yet struggles to inspire himself. This time, instead of a purely personal journey, David (along with other Travelers) is charged with finding a solution to the downward spiral humanity is on. What two word answer will save humanity from itself?

This is a sequel, and having read the first book (The Traveler's Gift) helps tremendously. I started this book without having read The Traveler's Gift and was confused enough by chapter two that I stopped, got the first book from the library, read it, and then started over with The Final Summit. It was most definitely worth it.

Reading the struggles that David and his fellow Travelers go through to come up with the answer to humanity's downfall caused me to think more about what is going on globally in the here and now. This book, like its predecessor, gave me a lot of reasons to stop and think. In my opinion, a lot more people in this world need to do just that - stop and think about where they personally are going, as well as how they are contributing towards the future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, April 29, 2011

Some Sock Stuff

Lately I've been on a big sock kick, due to a fun KAL on Ravelry.  I have made almost three pairs of socks in the past two months (the fourth pair is about 2/3 complete).  It's a lot of fun, but I think I need to take a break from socks and work on some other things (this from the girl who recently bought enough yarn to make three new pairs of socks....).  Thankfully this is the last month of this KAL, because my drive to do socks and very little else has definitely been motivated by the prizes possible (and the couple I have won) during this KAL.
Socks by their very nature are difficult for me to knit due to my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  I've been thinking that I need to mix it up a bit - work something small, work something large, work something medium sized - and through all of that mixing it up, possibly chip away at my ever-growing pile of UFOs - including crafty things that are not knitted!  I have several scrapbooks that need updating/completion/started, two quilts (one needs the top finished, the other just needs to be quilted and bound), and multiple patch/repair jobs lined up for my sewing machine.

Anyway, here are a few pictures to show what I've been doing lately:

Lace and Cables Socks
Bavarian Cables Socks - in progress
Ribbed Ribbons Socks

Wizard quilt block
Dragon quilt block #1
Dragon quilt block #2
Dragon quilt block #3
Dragon quilt block #4

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: The Serpent Bride

The Serpent Bride (Darkglass Mountain, #1)The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the book - I think I would have enjoyed it more had I known in advance that rather than being book one of a trilogy (which the cover states it is) it is actually the 9th book in a series, following a six book arc and two stand-alone novels. Now I am trying to decide whether to continue with this trilogy or go back and start at the beginning and read the entire series.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ticket Rant

Who would have guessed that you can get a ticket for something that is not even illegal?  I wouldn't have, but I managed it on Friday night.

Talking on your cell phone while driving is NOT illegal in Michigan.  Granted, it can be a distraction, but no more so than having a conversation with someone sitting in the car with you.  I do not agree with the degree of distraction that people claim cell phones to be.  Cell phones have become a scapegoat/excuse for poor driving skills and the craziness is getting out of hand.  I reiterate: talking on the phone while driving is NOT illegal in Michigan.

Yet somehow I managed to get pulled over AND TICKETED for driving while talking on my cell phone.  How is this possible?  Easy.  Find another excuse for the traffic stop and the officer's ass is covered as far as a bogus stop is concerned.  And my stop was certainly bogus.

I was driving South on US 127 and near the Alma/M-46 interchange.  I slowed down for those exit/entrance ramps due to some traffic there - I'd rather be going a little slower when people are getting off/on the highway and I can't get over into another lane to give them extra room.  When the traffic behind me cleared, I moved into the left-hand lane so that the lane closest to the exit and entrance ramps would be available to those who needed it - and there were people doing both.  After getting past the ramps and when it was clear, I moved back into the right-hand lane.  I did not use my blinker to signal these lane changes, admittedly because I was talking to Laura on my phone and did not have a free hand for the blinker lever.  I did, however, look in my mirrors and over my shoulder to make certain that my path was clear - I did not cut anyone off nor did I cause a traffic hazard.  As I am returning to full highway speed, Jon notices a State Police car next to us.  This SP car was going faster than I was and pulled almost past me, and Jon saw him looking over at me (I was still on the phone).  Suddenly, the SP car slammed on his brakes and flipped his red light on to pull me over.  I told Laura, "I'm getting pulled over - here, talk to Jon," and handed the phone off to him.  Then I said, "I don't know what's going on, it's not like I'm speeding.  I'm not even quite back up to the speed limit yet."

When the officer came up to the car and asked if I knew why he pulled me over, I honestly was able to say that no, I didn't know.  He proceeded to say that it was because I failed to signal my lane changes.  SAY WHAT?!?!?!  Suffice it to say, I was stunned.  He got my license, proof of insurance, and registration, and asked for Jon's license, and went back to his car.  He was there for a while, and when he came back he gave me a ticket for failing to signal a lane change!  He claimed he cut me a break by only writing for one violation, since I had twice changed lanes without signaling.  I was stunned.  STUNNED.  I have a clean driving record.  I have not even been pulled over for so much as a headlight out in over a year, and have had no tickets in almost nine years.  And I get ticketed for not using my BLINKER?  SERIOUSLY?  And this only after he had pulled up next to me and saw me talking on the phone?  I smell a rat.  A dirty, stinky, wanting-to-send-a-message State Police rat.

Don't get me wrong.  I have nothing but respect for police officers at all levels.  With the number of people in my family who are members of the police force, I would be crazy to have anything BUT respect for the police.  But let's get this straight - you blatantly lie to me, I lose all respect for you.  So by claiming that he pulled me over simply because of the blinker, that particular officer lost all respect I may have had for him.  To me, he became nothing but a jerk throwing his power around, and that is disgusting.

If it were really all about the blinker, he never would have pulled up next to me to know that I was on my phone while driving.  If it were really all about the blinker, I would have seen that flashing red light in my rear-view mirror first, not just to my left in my peripheral vision (since he was still next to me when he turned it on).  And, let's face it, if it were really all about the blinker, chances are good I would have gotten a simple warning rather than a ticket that will cost me about $150.

I have a week to decide whether or not to fight the ticket.....

Review: The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of WrathThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some may question my choice of three stars for this book. After all, it is a classic, and a good book in its own right. However, that doesn't mean that I personally think "it was amazing" (5 stars) or that I "really liked it" (4 stars). I just "liked it" - hence the three stars - based on Goodreads star descriptions.

This book is definitely worth reading. Somehow I never had to read it for school, which is probably just as well since many of the books I read as school assignments during my 6th-12th grade years were not books I paid much attention to - only enough to pass the test and/or write a paper about it. Some of those books are books that I have subsequently gone back to read again, others I have happily left behind. This book, while often taught in schools, is one that for me does not hold the taint of "required reading" and I was therefore able to enjoy it.

I have never known the kind of poverty described in this book. I have often been poor, at times have gone without enough to eat and frequently wore hand-me-downs that had been through four previous owners, and I have even been homeless for a short time. But those hardships pale in comparison to the abject poverty of the Joad family. This book definitely gave me a new appreciation for how much we did have - even when we thought we had nothing.

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