Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wonder Years and Amazon Prime

I went to my Amazon page this afternoon and this was greeting me:

Dear Customer,

I have big news for Amazon Prime members - we've just signed a deal with FOX to add a broad selection of movies and TV shows to our unlimited instant streaming service later this fall. The new additions from the FOX library include 24, Arrested Development, The X-Files, Ally McBeal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and - available on digital video for the first time - The Wonder Years. We now have deals with CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony, and Warner Bros, and adding FOX will bring the total to more than 11,000 movies and TV shows available for unlimited instant streaming.

Since launching earlier this year, we have now doubled the number of titles available in Prime instant videos, and there's still more to come. Prime membership remains $79 a year, and of course features our unlimited free two-day shipping on millions of products. Prime is one of the best values anywhere.

I loved the Wonder Years and never thought I would see it again because all of the issues with the music...you'll have to look that up, but here it is.  Very exciting.  We don't have cable, can't get satellite, and only receive 2 television channels, so I rely on the Internet for my TV viewing (which I do a lot while I knit, spin, and process wool).  Amazon, to me, is a much better deal than Hulu Prime.  I watch Hulu, but I won't pay for prime.  It is more expensive than Amazon and Hulu Prime did not filter out adds, so you still have to sit through commercials.  Amazon also has a lot of BBC productions that I love (Bleak House, Pride and Prejudice) and tons of movies (IP man and Ong Bok are even on there).  So, I am loving Amazon.  I also do the Bing rewards thingy, so I get $5 a month in Amazon gift cards which almost pays for the membership.  Neato!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Favorite IPhone Apps

Since getting this little gadget, I have acquired a few apps that have made things simpler for me.  Normally technology adds another layer of work for me, but this has not.
My top 3 favorite apps are :

Lose It!

With lose it, you set up a weight loss goal (if you have one) and it sets your calorie budget for the day.  You then log what you eat.  I have tried other things (a notebook, Spark) but this program is unique in that I have my phone everywhere I go.  I don't have to log things in a notebook and then hunt for the book, I don't have to remember things I ate for when I get to log onto Spark.  This app also keeps all of the foods I log in a different food search area so I do not have to search all over for foods I regularly eat.  It will also store whole meals that I like to have.  For example, most of the time I either have and egg and toast with some butter on it with my sweet and creamy coffee or I have a bagel with cream cheese with my sweet and creamy coffee.  I don't have to enter each food, I can just pick the breakfast I normally have and it logs all of the elements for me.   Another thing it does is log my exercise. 
I think my favorite thing about this app is its ease of use.  If it is a hassle or even a little bit of a nuisance, I will eventually stop doing it, but this is so simple. 
Lose it! is a free app that I would pay for.  After using it for a while, I see its value. 

My other fitness /  diet app that I love is from Nike

Nike Training Club is an app geared towards women, but I have no idea why.  It has great workouts.  I often watch Biggest Loser and wish I knew how to do circuit training.  I know how to run, I can bike, and I know how to lift weights the right way, but circuit training has escaped me.  This app has a lot of workouts to choose from and they are as difficult as you are willing to make them.  I am very pleased.  They are not boring, they do not have crappy music, you can actually use your own music you have stored on your iPhone.  You can do these workouts anywhere and most of them only require your willing body, no extra equipment.  Again, this makes staying fit / getting fit super simple.  I take my phone everywhere.  If I am at a hotel, I have a workout with me, if I am at my mom's, I have a workout with me. This is another free app that I would pay for.

And... Last, but another favorite, is Stitch Minder

Stitch minder is great for my knitting.  I am currently knitting an Alice Starmore Celtic sweater and this app has been invaluable.  It marks the number of rows I have completed, the pattern row I am on, the number of pattern repeats I have done, and the number of increase rows.  Now, the one thing I wish they would do is allow you to edit the names of fields and add some fields.  The sweater I am working on has charts A,B,C,D,and E.  So, I would like to be able to label one of the fields Chart C and mark the row I am on on that chart because it is different than the row I am on with Chart B and A.  Right now, I use the other fields to mark this, but if I could change the titles of the fields it would be much easier.  Other than that, this is another free app that I would pay for.  Without the added functionality, though, I would only pay $1.99.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Craft Fair

One of the towns closest to me is hosting a craft fair.  They want the focus to be on the craft and demonstrating how to do it, instead of filling space with pampered chef stalls.  There is nothing wrong with Pampered Chef, but many craft fairs get overrun by vendors selling items they had no hand in making which makes people not want to attend. 
This craft fair will have polymer clay jewelry and demonstrations on how to make it, stained glass with some demos, hardinger lace, rose malling, many other artisans, and it will also have me.  I am trying to work out space.  I have not been able to pin down what size space I will have, but, for sure I will bring my 2 spinning wheels.  I will have the Reeves wheel for me to demo and the Joy for others to try out.  My mother is learning how to use the drop spindle, so she will be there showing people how to spin with that.  We will have 13 drop spindles for sale and for demonstrating.  I also plan on having a basket of Suffolk wool and a pair of hand cards for children to sit and card, but that will depend on the space I have. 
The other things I want to have, but I am not sure there will be space is my drum carder.  My 2 youngest children know how to work it and would prepare special batts for people who want to try their hand at combining colors and fibers.  I also want to bring my English Combs that I would bring our at the top of the hour to demonstrate how to comb fiber.  They are too scary of a tool to leave out. 
We will also have fiber, yarn, pelts, and noils for sale along with the spindles.

This is quite a project.  I have never done this before, but I think it is a great opportunity to get people interested in spinning and wool.  I have a ton of prep to do to get ready.  I don't think I have enough fiber or knit items for display.  I am looking forward to it and apprehensive because this is not only new to me, but, also to the people who are putting this on.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Missoni Comes to Target!

Rosebud thinks this is soooo cool

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You too can take credit cards

I recently signed up for Intuit's GoPayment credit card reader.  You plug the reader into the headphone jack on your IPhone or Android and you can swipe cards, or you can type in the credit card information.  The reader is free and the per charge fees are really small (1.7%-2.7%).
 People do not have to worry about fraudulent charges because credit card companies will refund the bad charges (actually they take the money back from the merchant).  So, we, as merchants, should be careful the one offering the card is who they say they are. 
Really, I do not understand why anyone who sells anything would not take credit cards.  I was in an antique store this weekend (just looking, not buying) and I overheard the lady who takes the money tell someone they only take cash or check.  How many sales do they lose?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I want my Project Runway back

Seriously, do we have to have crazy drama on EVERY reality show?
I can not really do justice with how I feel about the direction of this show.  Tom and Lorenzo are going to have to speak for me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

More construction projects

A couple of weeks ago I stopped at the local home design store to ask if they knew anyone who could do small construction projects on a house.  They gave me 2 names and I got a hold of one of the guys.

 So far, going to the design center was the best thing to do.  We got a guy who has a great work ethic, cleans up after himself, shows up on time, and knows how to do what I need him to do.  I am pretty pleased.  It isn't cheap, but he is $25 an hour cheaper than the guys who work for the design center. 

We now have a
1.front entry walk- in closet framed in
2. bathroom to be framed in with a hall linen closet 
3. the entire North West wall of the first floor has another wall right next to the old wall (now we have 7.5" thick walls) 
4. the back wall of the living room is closed up better
5.  He took out and covered a window in the kitchen, 2 windows in the front entry, and a window that was in where the bathroom is going to be. 
All of that was done this week.  I will call him back when our doors and windows come in (should be 2 weeks). 
Total, (including materials) the bill is $1,200.  We are paying cash for these projects, so it takes a little while to get it all done.  We start and stop for a bit and then start again.  Maybe I will have sheet rock before next year.   

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Old quilts

Dear's mother gave me the quilt of Dear's paternal grandmother.  It appears it was made from worn men's clothing, mostly suits.  It was in pretty rough shape. 
1. I took off all of the ties and the backing. 
2. I removed the wool batting and tossed everything but the top. 
3. I don't think it had been washed in 100 years.  I washed the top by hand in the kitchen sink a few times and rinse a bunch more, until the water was clear (did I say it was dirty). 
4. It is now hanging on the clothesline to dry and for the sun to kill what washing did not. 
5.On the clothesline, I inspected it for holes and found 4 very small ones that will need some kind of creative patching. 
6.Once it is dry it will get new wool guts and a new backing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Recently I purchased some wool from etsy.  It was a 10 pack of 1 ounce each from different breeds of sheep.  There was a discussion on ravelry about how much you can spin from 800 grams of wool and I weighed in on the different masses of wool and that it would be impossible for anyone to estimate how much a perfect stranger who is not an experienced spinner would be able to spin from 800 grams and it would be impossible to judge for even me (I tend to know how much yardage I get from merino) because the person in question did not know the breed of sheep.  Some people did not think the breed would make any difference, so here is a photo of 4 of the tops I received to illustrate this fact.
From left to right we have one ounce each of: Shetland, Merino, Falkland, and Gotland.
There are other properties of these wools that will determine how much yardage you can obtain.  The most yardage will be from the merino because it will spin up the finest and next would be the Falkland.  The Shetland is very airy but also coarse, so it would be third and make a nice woolen yarn.  It too can be spun pretty fine.  Now the Gotland is very dense.  Trust me, it has the same mass as the Shetland.  The gotland can be spun fine if you have patience, but it will want to be spun thicker than any of the others and because of the density, there just is not enough fiber, no matter how fine, to come close to the merino.  I also doubt it would be even 2/3 of the Shetland yardage.
Having never worked with the Gotland, I would guess that it would make a great carpet yarn.  It appears to have a very long staple (length of the individual fibers) and very little crimp.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Wheel

I stopped off at a semi local spinnery this weekend to pick up a used Schacht-Reeves 30" wheel in Ash.  I had been looking for one and since this one was barley used, less than a year old, it was perfect. 
I am amazed at how nice the singles are turning out.  The extra twist this wheel adds makes a much nicer lace than my Joy.
I still have my Joy, though.  It is a great wheel for travelling and it really does make a nice yarn, but this is so much nicer.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sammy Six Toes

Sammy Six Toes showed up at our house last week.  She is a polydactyl cat (6 toes on each of her front feet).  She also has 5 toes on each of her back feet. 

Monday, May 2, 2011


We found this little guy in the basement:
 This family was in the driveway:
These beauties decided to stick around a while and are nesting:
and this is a LOT of water, we have had more water this year than we have ever had since we moved here in 2003.

Friday, April 29, 2011

New Babies, the human kind

We have a new addition to our family, a little girl.  Since Dear let me go wild in the closing yarn store, I had to look for something to make for the "new girl."  My mother-in-law wanted me to make the same dress I made for another baby, but I wasn't really feeling it, I knit it twice before.  So, I found a cute little hoodie called Roo by Kate Gilbert. 
I decided to knit this in the round instead of pieces because I hate piecing knit projects.  Here is the progress so far.
This sweater is made from Debbie Bliss Rialto.  Rialto is a DK weight, 100% extrafine superwash merino wool.  The yarn is very "squooshy" and feels nice on my hands.  The stitch defenition is pretty good too.  I chose this yarn because it is wool, so it will be warm, and because it is washable.  I have some of this for sale in my etsy shop.  It retails for almost $9, I am selling it for $8 and free shipping.  I have a few more colors, but I am only adding new ones as the other sell.  If you are looking for a specific one, convo me at etsy and I will see if I have it for you.

Socks? Never Say Never

I never thought I would ever knit a pair of socks.  I mean, what a waste?  I can buy them cheap and they get holes in them and worn out really fast.  Right?  Well, with the closing of my favorite yarn shop, I bought some pretty sock yarn (Alpaca Sox by Classic Elite).  Then I searched for a free sock pattern on Ravelry and found the Artichoke socks by Megan Humphrey.  I went back and forth between the socks and Rosebud's Zauberball dress
 and finally finished them in 2 weeks. 
These are the softest, warmest socks I have ever worn.  My toes are always cold, even in the summer, but yesterday, wearing these socks, my feet and toes felt as warm as they do burried in warm sand at the beach.  Now, I am not the most consistant person in the world, probably the least, so the thought of handwashing these socks does not really bother me now, but a few weeks from now??? I don't know.  Anyways, I loved them so much that I went back and bought the rest of the Alpaca Sox yarn and purchased a book by Cookie A. .  She is famous for her sock designs, in the knitting world, and I have already begun the first pattern in the book.   

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's been a long time

A lot has happened since I last posted.  This is what my downstairs looks like, minus some furniture.  We have been living and doing school like this since last July.

We also had a run-in with the neighbor this fall.  We told them that their dog seems to have an unhealthy interest in our sheep and they should make sure it does not roam here because we don't want our sheep hurt or our llama to kill their dog.  We thought it was all worked out, but one night I was home alone without a vehicle and their dog was chasing and biting my ewes.  All of my ewes were pregnant at the time.  Well, I could not catch their dog, nor did the neighbors respond to my screams that their dog was over here.  The dog split the flock, confused the llama, and had already seriously injured one of my colored merino ewes (Button, the one that gave the awesome banded fleece).  My only option at that point was to shoot their dog and call the police.  The neighbors never asked about the sheep, never paid the vet bills, and told me I should have just let their dog kill my sheep, they would have bought me more.  Where in the world he was planning on picking up an ultra fine merino ewe, let alone a dark brown one, I have no idea.  They started tearing down our fence and driving by our place slowly.  They even screamed at my 12 year old daughter when she waved at them (H did not know who they were when she waved).  Well, spring is coming.  Hopefully they settled down. 
We also had the roof of our sheep barn slide off from too much snow on one side and no snow on the other side.
So, we had to move all of the sheep outside while we worked on building pens and moved them to a new building.  We got them in just in time.
27 also rejected her lambs again.  This is the third year in a row.  She had 3 girls, but one did not make it, its spine was blocking the birth canal and she had to be delivered, but she was too weak.  These 2 Suffolk X Merinos are Pinky and Quiggles (standing).
We lost a few lambs early on because the barn the sheep were moved to did not have the bedding build up and it was too large of a space for them to keep warm (we had a very cold winter, colder than normal).  We were being very careful about checking on the sheep and getting them into pens a day ahead of their lambing date and putting in heat lamps.  We also coated every lamb with a polar fleece coat.  Still, if we did not catch the lambing within 1 hour, we lost a lamb.  Hopefully next year will not have those problems.
We also had a tragic death this winter, one of my husband's co-workers.  It was very sad and confusing for everyone.  He left a little boy without a father.
We changed churches so the kids could be a part of a larger pool of children; our old church only had a few kids in it.
Now?  We are working with a general contractor to get our house lifted, a new foundation poured, add some bathrooms (we only have 1), new electric, new plumbing, and square off our house.  We will have to pack everything up again, including the basement, finish tearing off all of the plaster upstairs and pull all of the plumbing and electrical, and move out.  They hope to begin by the end of June and be done by September.  We are excited to finally see progress in getting our house in order.  This project is very expensive and we hope we can swing it all because this old house really needs it.
I also did some knitting.
 This is 4' in diameter and 100% hand spun alpaca. 
This last project was changed from a sweater to a sun dress, so no sleeves, and more shaping.  I think I have ripped this apart about 5 times.  My middle girl will look great in it, though.  The yarn is Zauberball.