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In the pre-dawn glow we prepare for a run…

Yesterday was the start of the new year and, not entirely coincidentally, the start of my new 101 in 1001 list.  I spent the last few days and hours of 2014 honing my list and a good chink of the first day of  2015 clarifying, editing and finally writing it to number. I was surprised when the tally came up and I had more than 101 but then I realized that I had spread some things out because I feared being short.  Apparently not!

One of the biggest things on my list was influenced by my Mum and Brother, K.  Both of them thanked me for my Christmas cards but chastised me for not sending pictures of myself and/or, as Mum put it, ‘your adventures’.  I realized that this has been a big failing over these past 2 years and I have missed blogging and ‘adventuring’ so I am getting myself back out there; with pictures to prove it.  My Flickr feed will have more updates and so will the blog, especially since I am going to attempt the 365 Challenge: A photo a day for an entire year.

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The dawn of 2015, Port Townsend and I. Ready for the new year with all the sisu in the world. The real Sisu too…she’s further down the trail!

Which leads me to my Goal for 2015.  My Goal, earning itself the proper “G”, is “Challenge”  In the spirit of this, I am challenging myself to many things and hopefully setting myself up for great success.  I have two year long challenges right now: Project 365 and the 52 Week Savings Challenge.

Project 365 is going to be both simple and difficult because its not just about taking a photo but taking a good one that is also meaningful.  My plan to tackle that is to not only take my phone with me but also plan on bringing my DSLR too when out and about.  There are many, many lists out there for all the ways to “do” this challenge and lots of ways to spark an idea of what to shoot too so I don’t think that I will be lost for inspiration!  Check out Pinterest for a plethora of ideas and challenges for every month…I know that I will!

The 52 Week Saving Challenge is just what it sounds like: saving money every week in proportion to the number week that it is.  Now, you can go about this challenge only one of two ways:  $1 on week 1, $2 on week 2, $3 on week 3 and so on for 52 weeks OR $52 on week 1, $51 on week 2, $50 on week 3 and so on and the latter is the method that I have chosen to do.  Why that way?  Well, even in this spend, spend, spend culture, you can still find some places with better interest rates than others and they are worth searching out.  I like Ally Bank and am quite happy with them.  And think about it: after three weeks, I have $153+ change in my account this way.  The other way I would have $6.  I’ll take the one that looks better, faster please.  Plus, I started this challenge back on the 20th of November because I realized that it would be lovely to have at least $1378 to go into the holiday season with…or travel with!  Here is the site that I got the graphic for my countdown/up that I have hanging to help me keep track of the dates and how its going without the temptation of dipping into the account.

I have other challenges too.  Right off the batt: I am challenging myself to stick with my Smart Coach plan every day for the 24 weeks up to my next marathon, challenging myself to plank for 30 days with each day building time and challenging myself to another round of the Whole 30: 30 days of only fresh fruit and veggies and meats – No dairy, grains, legumes, sugar or alcohol.

Pray for me friends.  January is going to be tough.  And pray for yourselves too…I may be tough to live with as I attempt this!

Once upon a time, a poor college student went shopping with her friends and found beautiful glass piggy bank. He was very sweet and just the type of piggy bank that she was looking for: Solid Glass. Well, not really “solid” because, of course, he was hollow, but the kind of “solid” where he didn’t have a plug in the place of his nose or in his undercarriage where you could pull it out and shake the coins out. Once they were in, they were IN. Period. No cheating possible.

The poor college student phoned her Mum, who laughed at her and told her that it was a silly thing because how could she possibly get the money out in the end but what this student wanted to do was just to save it until it was totally full. She remembered reading a story where someone saved and saved and packed a bank until it was totally full and then bought the thing of their dreams…or gave it all away to charity…it has been a long time since she remembers that story. Either way, she was enamored with that new glass piggy and she used it for all her silver coins for years and years. There were days when she considered tapping into her silver stash but, since the piggy still had space for “one more coin”, it wasn’t his time yet.

And then she moved away from her piggy and it sat, unfed, for quite some time. He was nearly full of quarters, nickels and dimes, the odd penny (though she tried to avoid ‘tainting’ him with the coppers) and a few half dollars. The student had also put in quite a few dollar bills over the years and even a random fiver too. But he was too heavy to pack along with her on her travels so he remained with her Mum and kept her silver safe.

For the past year, the Mums has attempted to reunite the girl with her sweet piggy and has been thwarted multiple times. Until now…sort of. The piggy was lovingly wrapped and packed and shipped and made its journey across the miles. If you never thought that a pig had wings, think again. This one flew for only 3 days to get from Wisconsin to Washington, an especially dramatic feat considering that this is Christmas time! The box containing the piggy made it into the loving hands of the girl who accepted him with joy and love and unwrapped his layers with care until she discovered the horrible truth. The journey had been too much for her fair piggy and he was solid no more. The silver was only a by-product at that moment of discovery and some swinal reconstruction surgery was attempted but, sadly, best efforts were thwarted by the fragility of glass and the dynamics of hollow glass piggy with no interior support avenues construction. It was a sad afternoon.

Since the idea of sitting shiva for a pig was a bit too ironic and I have no intention whatsoever to give up bacon in his honour, I decided to do the next best thing: Put his life savings to good work.  I have been saving that silver since my freshman year in college for a rainy day and one can’t get too much more rainy than a day in a Pacific Northwest winter!  I took the baggy of change with me to the local coin counter machine and let the counting begin.  Actually, the counting had begun at home…There was $30 in bills saved, including one of the old style $5!  It looks really…old…next to the new ones but really, I still like the old style better.  Less Monopoly-like.  Back to the counting:  I let the machine do its work and laughed to myself the whole time I saw those numbers clocking away.  I couldn’t believe the numbers I was seeing.  3- half dollars, 204-quarters, 156-dimes, 129-nickels and 140-pennies (not nearly as few as I though).  For those not counting: $75.95 in change.  For some reason, there was a dime that wouldn’t be taken and, because I was in MI and close to Canada: 0.75 in Canadian change too.  Grand total: 105.95- and I’m amazed.

My piggy money was split, mainly because the change machine wouldn’t take dollars, and put onto an a Amazon card to avoid charges with the $30 in bills going into my bank.  I’m doing the 52 week challenge for savings and while I have a few more weeks to go before I reach the week where I put away just $30, it will help me be ready for that day. I have no plans on what his sacrifice will wrought but I will be very please to make his gift worthwhile.

Maybe I’ll find another piggy and start him off with that odd dime and the old fiver, for old times sake.

I’m at a loss this morning.  Over the last 23 days I have established a new routine that has been ceremoniously ended.  Considering there was a huge ceremony at the start and and the end, there was nothing UN-ceremonious about this process however there is now a gap in my day that needs to be filled else-ways.  I am, of course, speaking of the recently ended Winter Olympics 2014.

I have tried “Olympic” knitting in the past but generally set myself either goals that were too lofty or was not living anywhere where I could even watch the Olympics so it was difficult to get into the spirit of the process.  In 2012 there was a rather large kerfuffle with the USOC and the use of the term “Ravelympics”, namely they were put out that a legion of knitters would ‘make fun of the effort that olympians put forth’ and would, in general, bring shame to the idea of and word of “Olympics”.  There was a huge change on Ravelry to put the legal overkillers at rest and there was launched the renamed the “Ravelympics” as the “Ravellenic Games” and there are a barrage of teams and prizes and rules and basically a massive headache to those of us who, like me, tend to keep to the Yarn Harlots vision of The Knitting Olympics, since it was her invention.  I “boycotted” those games because I was just too angry at both our litigious society and the monster that had been created in people but this year I reclaimed the Knitting Olympics as my own.

My goal was to turn this beautiful yarn:

Seahawk Yarn

from Fancy Image Yarns in the perfect Seahawks colourway into socks for Mike who had been cheering the ‘Hawks all season and was still charged because of the SuperBowl win.

 

1.5 skeins to go around his wide feel later and we have a met goal!Seahawk Socks

I cast on during the opening ceremonies and cast off the second sock on the Friday before the Games ended.  These socks feature the “Fish Lips Kiss Heel” which was a first for my sock knitting but certainly won’t be the last, in fact I’ve already cast on another pair to use this heel with.  It fits so very well and looks beautiful on the foot, mine and Mikes!  Here is a cool interview with the Sox Therapist, creator of the FLKH.  If you are on Ravelry and knit socks, I HIGHLY suggest you buy this heel pattern.  Best $1 I’ve EVER spent on my knitting.

Because being a monogamous knitter is so NOT in my genes, I had to get into another project too and while its not strictly “Olympic Knitting” because it was started before, it was my goal to get it done before closing ceremonies.

This was the inspiration:  ITW Oct 2012

This was the roving:  Bodhi-5050-MerinoSilk

This was the pattern: Song of the Sea

This is the unblocked long cowl that I made from my handspun!

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It is soaking in its bath of Soak right now and will be laid out to dry as soon as I finish this post here.  The true joy of this project is that it was sheep fluff and worm spit when I got my hands on it and now it is a beautiful, wearable and perfectly wearable object in so many ways.  I need to do more with my handspun because I always feel so accomplished when I have a finished project.

*sigh*

Now its over and instead of spending the morning with Mike on the couch watching CBC and the Olympics live, because the US coverage SUCKED, I have had to find some other way to begin my morning.  Good thing I’ve started running again, beginning again today, because that was the perfect way to put forth my own Olympic effort.  Getting up and going running in the rain and cold?  Yes, it was an Olympic effort and while I’ll not be anywhere close to the 26.2mile maintained 6 minute mile that I would need to qualify myself for a Summer Games in this lifetime, I’ll keep running all the same.

Someone recently said to me, “If you think that time flies now, just wait until you have children!”.  Well as there are no children, save for those borrowed from my friends and family in my future plans, I’ll just have to settle for time passing at my own appalling rate.

 

I have been…busy…since I last blogged in so many, many ways.

 

My joy of fibre continues. My spinning had been amazing and I’m working on this Into the WhirledDSC_6335, in Mandarin (an old club offering on BFL) and this Enchanted Knoll DSC_6345, in Johnny Jump-Up on Superwash Merino.  More on the spinning soon because , OH BOY, do I have something to show you!!

I have been knitting, but not so much in the last week due to an unfortunate injury:

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Pepper was rather put out that we left her at home when we went on our recent camping trip to Salt Creek Recreation Area 20130720_143925 and didn’t let her seen the pod of Orcas 20130720_161505 or chase chipmunks and get tangled up like Sisu did 20130721_142151 so she took out her vengeance on my leg, claws and teeth, after purring and rubbing into me 5 seconds before.  I swatted at her, missed, hit the wall and heating vent and damaged my fingers badly enough for x-rays, good painkillers and at least 2 weeks in splints to protect me.  Yes, they still hurt 1 week in but I finally have some mobility back though I cannot make a fist or touch those fingers to my palm without pain and actually, they won’t bend that far at all, pain or no.  I am not impressed with myself.

 

Mike and I 20130721_082240 have been exploring our area more than just camping too.  We went up to Hurricane Ridge and admired the view  DSC_6470

and I loved the wildflowers too DSC_6440  Lupines always remind me of my Mum and that view is to be admired! DSC_6406

The biggest part of what I’ve been doing?  Running.20130519_124750_2  Finishing the Rhody Run with my friends was the start of my real training for the Seattle 10k and my mileage has only grown from there.  So much so that I have these to proudly display:  DSC_6473  Bruised toenails #1 and #2.  They are my external display of my long runs and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of myself.  11 weeks ago I was dreading the idea of 8 miles whereas now, my last long run was 13 miles in 2.5hours.

 

Oh yeah.  And I’ve been cooking and kitchen experimenting daily, bought a sewing machine and have made pj bottoms, skirts and an amazing infinity dress that I LOVE, have a successful herb garden in my strawberry pot, been reading and listening with voracity and spent far less time with my camera than I intend to do in the future.  And intend to keep this blog going as I know I have missed sharing and need to write again.

 

 

 

One of my clearest memories is flipping thru a photo album and seeing photos of my father running.  Not just running but RUNNING.  Short shorts, no shirt or only a vest, sweat beading…Running.  His sport was track and field in high school and then earned a scholarship to college for his excellence.

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Third from the right, front row is my father with the rest of the 1969 University of North Texas Team (photo from the digital archives of the Yucca, the UNT yearbook)

I know that his running continued through his time in the US Marine Corps too…though that may be an understatement considering how much running those corpsmen/women do…far too much for the dead!  Anyway, I know that there is at least one photo I remember of him racing in a USMC singlet, most likely a battalion ‘team’.

I also know that there was more than once when I was growing up that I wanted to go run with him and he never let me.  I was always hurt by this leaving of me behind but I justified his doing so because I was a)not long legged like him, b) not in shape to run with him, c)any other reason I could convince myself of.  I don’t know that he ever knew how much I really wanted to run with him.

In 7th grade, I ‘joined’ the middle school track team and signed up for the 3200m (2 miles).  Because, you know, my father ran long distances so I can show him how much I am his daughter and make him proud of me and he can come to my meets and be proud of me…yeah.  After a week or so of ‘practice’, we had our first meet and I ran…for about 200yds with the pack and then had to walk because I gave myself such a horrible side stitch and was THAT ill-prepared for the race.  I also broke one of the rules of running by staying in the inner lane as I was lapped and lapped and lapped again.  I was so embarrassed and only saved by two things #1: My family wasn’t there to see my abject failure.  More specifically, I mean my father; and #2: One of the guys, G, an 8th grader who had already ran the race, who I barely knew from passing in the hall and at the door to band class, re-entered the track with me and encouraged and wheedled me to jog along with him for the last 2 laps.  He stayed with me the entire way and pushed me to keep going.  I don’t think that I ever could have thanked him enough.  I would still send him a card today if I knew where he was.

After that fiasco, my knees were hurting so much for the next week that I didn’t return to practice again and didn’t actually attempt to run until just a few years ago when wholeheartedly embarking on my weight-loss/health building journey.

I found my passion.

After years of saying that I hated to run and that it wasn’t for me, turns out that it was all along.  Which is pretty funny considering my sister has always hated running.  Weird because she LOVED soccer when in High School but she always said that she hated the running part.  She said that about hating that part in Volleyball too, even though it was just the warm-ups.  My brother, K, just professed to me yesterday that HE too dislikes running.  While talking to him the other day he declared ME to be the runner of my fathers children and promised to cheer very loud and be very proud of me.

Why would he cheer and be proud of me?

Because in 204 days and some odd hours from today, I’m going to start running in a big race.

SisuGirl is now Registered
for Honolulu Marathon.

I have a training plan, I have races along the way to keep me going and I have a goal.  That and some good shoes.

Here we go.

PS: To my HS friends: I was serious about sending G a card.  If you know where I can find him, please let me know!

Oh this project…

I bought this fiber back when I begun spinning and what a lucky purchase it was.  I had seen it on Etsy and messaged the dyer to see if she would dye it for me.  I learned 2 things from this exchange.
#1: You always should ask because the worst they say is no.
#2: You always should ask how much if you haven’t seen the original listing.
I was a little shocked when the bill came but chalked it up to learning and the cost of cashmere.DSC_4492

I would do it again instantly if I found another listing that sang to me the way this did.
This beautiful fiber came out of its packaging every few months to get pet and admired and then put away as I realised that I was no where near the spinner I needed to be to delve into this gorgeous stuff and give it its due.DSC_4491
After I finished Intentions, I needed a break from BFL and thought that, after all this time of spinning consistantly, it was time to get in there…and it was.
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The fiber spun as from a dream and the colours were beyond my hopes.  DSC_6147
The plying was perfect and preserved those colour repeats that I wanted to hold on to.  DSC_6170
The knitting was more bliss as I began a simple shawl with a 3 stitch garter edge with a YO and then YOs next to the spine stitch before YO next tot the other garter edge.

It worked up beautifully.
As I got to the end of my ball, I thought that simple lace faggoting would be the perfect way to finish.

It is.

I worked until I could feel the end was nigh and began my cast off with JSSBO.  I knew it would take a good deal of yarn so saved myself what I thought would be perfect.
I was close.

6 stitches close.

There was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Ask M.  There was cursing too.
Lucky for me, I was binding off in the brilliant line-green section of yarn and I just happened to have some lime green yarn that is a very nearly perfect match.  You can’t tell unless I point it out to you.
The blocking was magical, as it always is, and the simple lace is perfect.

Perfection
I wear this scarf/shawl often and it is the project that I stick into my bag daily if I don’t wrap it around my neck  before leaving.  The cashmere and superwash merino couldn’t have been a more perfect blend and this project is sheer perfection in every possible way.

We ALL have them.  Its those little things that we do that make us, well, us.

My newest quirk is a little hard to explain.

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Well, actually, its easy to explain, just harder to Explain.

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Those things?  Yeah, those are part of my new daily habit.  Unsalted Kerrygold butter, MCT oil and locally roasted fair-trade coffee.

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The special butter is for various reasons.  You can read about the nutritional value of grass-fed butter vs. grain fed here, here and the importance of good butter here.

MCT oil takes a bit more explaining because I bet many people aren’t familier with it.  MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil, basically a fat that doesn’t have a long chain of fatty acid esters of glycerol.  It is found most commonly from Coconuts and Palms (Coconut and Palm oil are both MCTs)  There are lots of articles out there that extoll the virtues and uses of MCT oil in the athletic community, bodybuilding community and the low-carb (Adkins) community.  This blogger wrote a fantastic post with lots of links to studies regarding MCT oil and its usefullness.  I HIGHLY suggest taking a look if you are interested in more information.  I don’t care about the use of MCT for bodybuilding and I love rice, flavoured pasta and potatoes far too much to ever think about low-carb anything.  The BIG upside for me is that MCT’s are not digested by the liver or bile salts in general, they are absorbed directly and can be put to use in the body.  As someone who no longer has a bile concentrator in my body and who has been suffering with the digestion of nearly EVERY form of dietary fat, just let me tell you what a godsend discovering this has been for me.

You could also use coconut oil if you don’t have or want to try MCT oil.

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So now we see the addition of the third and final ingredient:  My own Port Townsend roasted coffeeMade in my fantastic vintage Regal Poly-Perk.

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Yes.  I am blending the coffee, MCT oil and 2 tablespoons of butter together.  On High.  For 30 seconds to a minute.

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This is the result:  Creamy, frothy and perfectly hot, thanks to the speed of the Vitamix.

How does it taste?

Well, thats where my quirk gets quirkier.

Its amazing.  Creamy, smooth and perfect.

And this coming from someone who has ALWAYS had at least 2 sugar packets in a regular diner cup or at least 2 tablespoons of Coffeemate in her home-brewed mug.  For years I have been saying that my concession to “fake” food was Coffeemate but no longer.  I don’t need the sugar and don’t miss it.  As for the flavours, I have tried vanilla and almond extract and both are lovely additions.

Before you wrinkle your nose at the idea of butter and an oil in your coffee, stop and think.

Do you take cream/half-n-half/milk in your coffee?  Butter is simply whipped cream.  Or over whipped cream, depending on your POV.

Oil?  If you put Coffeemate/International Delight or ANY other non-dairy creamer in your coffee, you already are putting oil in yours.  A highly processed oil and most likely a trans fat.  Mine is simply better for you.

Now for the big question:  WHY?

Because I figured I had nothing to lose when the nutritionist at work told me about it.  She told me that drinking this “Bulletproof Coffee” helped her feel full while she was IF-ing and/or low-carbing.  Considering that I often fast by accident (get ‘too busy’ at work for lunch and go for 10+ hours), the idea of something that would help give me energy without a sugar crash or processed food binge was very appealing.  Let me be very clear though:  I DO try to eat and have healthy choices around if I take the time to eat them.  I just have no sense of time and it passes me by without me being aware until I am ‘starving’ with an hour before I get to go home and make dinner.  With the sun shining these past few days, I have totally taken my lunch breaks and enjoyed the sun, and the lunches, immensely.  I don’t generally skip meals on purpose.  Just usually.  On accident.

However…for the past week, this coffee has totally carried me through from 8am to 3pm with NO hunger and complete ability to resist the candy and snacks that have been out tempting me at work.  I feel alert, boundless energy and really enthusiastic about life in general.  Granted, this could be due to the increase of Vitamin D but I’m going to give the coffee its due.

Interested?

Do your own research like I did.  There are tonnes of blogs about different peoples trials of buttery coffee.  There are just as many articles out there about the benefits of grass-fed butter and just as many of those about MCT oil and Coconut oil.

Think I’m nuts and that this is just another fad in the food world?

Possibly.

If you discount the yak butter tea that has been drunk in Tibet and China and Bhutan so long that it has “Traditional” in front of ‘recipe’.

I just know it works for me.

Try it and let me know what you think!

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Sometimes what you really need in your life is a jump start.  For me, this project is my jump start back into blogging so I hope you enjoy it.

For me, one of my favourite holidays has always been Easter.  The promise of spring, the joy of hunting for our Easter Baskets that were expertly hidden, the pretty new dresses all were part of it, yes, but there was something else:  The Easter Tree.

When we lived on Craw Drive, there was a forsythia bush outside the first house we lived in and it was HUGE.  Not just kid huge, like that thing you think was SO BIG but really turns out to be small once you get to be full size, but really big, like big enough that we had multi-kid ‘forts’ underneath its branches.  I clearly remember my mum going and cutting some branches from that bush as it started to bud and bringing them inside to put into water.  The warmth of the house would push those buds into bloom and we would have beautiful spring yellow blooms on the table. Pussy willows sometimes would be a part too and their soft little paws I remember with fondness.

But there was more.  We would decorate those branches with Easter ornaments too.  Some were store bought…like the wooden bunnies pushing wheelbarrows, bunnies holding flowers, fuzzy chicks…but the ones that I remember best are the hand-made marbled eggs.  My memories of making these are vague at best.  I remember being in a garage, most likely in Cali, with newspaper and coffee cans on the floor (which was odd because I don’t remember coffee being drunk in my house at all, only tea), my mum and friends and dipping eggs into the cans.

Thats it.

But, Oh, these eggs.  Beautiful.  Marbled and shiny with the enamel paint.  Tender and delicate and one of the special joys of unpacking those Easter decorations.

Last year, when I started buying duck eggs at the Port Townsend Farmers Market from various sellers, I started thinking about how else I could use these beautiful eggs and it wasn’t a far leap to thinking about marbling them.  The leap was figuring out HOW to do it.  As I said, I didn’t really have a clear memory of the process.  Lucky for me, my Mum came to visit at the end of February.  Unlucky for me, we bought the wrong kind of enamel paint so we couldn’t do it!

Fast forward a few weeks.  Yesterday I stopped at the local art supply store and bought the right kind of paint and today I got to dye-ing!

Step 1: Assemble the cast of characters.

Blown Eggs.  Here are some of the duck eggs but in another box there are more duck and also 6 quail eggs too…DSC_6265

Bucket with water…DSC_6270Drying box, skewers for swirling, paper towel for wiping…DSC_6271And, of course, the enamel paint!DSC_6269

I used Testors enamels that I got at my local art store.  You MUST use these type (small bottles) of enamel paint/model paint, NOT the “enamel paint” you can get at JoAnns or Michaels in large bottles with the acrylics.  They are different.  If you can clean up with soap and water, it isn’t the right paint.  See the note at the end.

Step 2:  Prep the eggs for dipping.  I wiped the eggs with the alcohol to clean them of any residue so the paint will stick better.  I then threaded the eggs with pipe cleaners to make “handles” as well as holders for keeping the eggs up while drying.  I used full sized cleaners for the duck eggs and half sized for the quail eggs.

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Now the fun part!

Step 3:  Float the paint:DSC_6273Black and Silver shown here.

Step 4:  Swirl the paint:DSC_6274 DSC_6275

Make sure there are NO pockets of paint after the swirling because this will mean drops of paint on your egg.  You can see the paint pockets in the above photo…those little round dots of silver?  Yeah, that you want to avoid.  I swirled a bit more after the photo but I liked the look with the smaller quail eggs.

Step 4:  Get your egg…DSC_6276Step 5: Dip your egg straight down…DSC_6277

This is when the paint sticks to the egg.  If you look carefully, you can see that the paint has stuck to the egg under the water.  A better photo of this is on the next step.

Step 6:  Wipe the surface of the water free of paint.  DSC_6279This is important because you will be lifting the egg up again, obviously, and if you bring it up thru more paint, that paint too will stick and muddy the marbling.  Do you see how the paint is on the egg under the water?

Step 7:  Voila!DSC_6278

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Step 8:  Place egg onto the drying box and admire your handiwork!  Play with the colours and have fun!  Swirl more or less, use only 2 or all your colours…DSC_6290

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I had a great time!

Step 9: Allow eggs to dry in a safe, animal-free, minimal dust place for as long as it takes for them to dry.  This may be a few hours to a few days, depending on the humidity of your area.

There will be a Step 10 in a few days…threading and hanging, but right now the eggs are drying, safe in the guest room!

An Important Note:

Enamel paint is not water soluble.  I feel silly mentioning this since obviously it isn’t because it floats on the water to marble but this is important when it comes to clean up.  You need more than soap and water…in fact, soap and water won’t do anything for you at all except give you clean, paint filled hands.  And a ruined manicure.  Plan ahead.  Wear gloves if you’re smart!  Unlike me…DSC_6283

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The best thing to use to clean up is mineral spirits.  However, I didn’t think that far ahead.  But I did have nail polish remover.  The good stuff with acetone and that’s the key here.  The non-acetone stuff will leave you with still paint-filled fingers.  So a little rubbing later, I was the proud human with…slightly still stained fingers.  What had I missed?  The oil.  Mineral spirits or Turpentine, is made from petroleum.  With the nail polish remover, there was no oil to help the removal of the paint.  I washed my hands to get rid of the nail polish remover and then I used a finger full of my favourite coconut salt scrub (coconut oil and salt, nice and simple), rubbed briefly and…DSC_6288

Voila!

On the final day of the 4th Annual Olympic Peninsula Fiber Farm Tour, I visited Compass Rose Farm and their Icelandic sheep.

One of the first things that grabbed me was the colours of the sheep.  Not just black, brown, grey and white but all types of shades that comes from different breeding.   Light brown, dark brown, brown-black, red brown, tan, carmael, brown with white/grey/black/different brown spots grey, silver, grey-black, white white, off white, white with brown/black/grey spots, black with white/brown/grey spots, black-brown, black black…the list goes on and on and on…

And, just for MORE variety, there were two guard llamas looking on.  Yes, guard llamas.  And, just as their sheep are different colours, they are too!

I had a wonderful talk about the sheep themselves and breeding practises in the US versus Iceland (for multi-coloured wool here vs meat and milk there) and the practises of Compass Rose Farm.  It makes me so glad to hear that breeding for colour and fine-ness are hand in hand for them.

After talking sheep for a while, I then looked around a bit more and admired their garden and plants and realised that I really like their set-up with the chip lined pathways…

but kept being drawn back to the animals.

It was a wonderful visit.  They also have bees, though I failed to photograph their 3 hives.  Like most of the farms that we visited, these lovely folks have chickens too, 4 different breeds, and I had to buy some eggs.

 

And yes, since you asked, some wool DID follow me home.  There was a beautiful black for Mike, much more black than the dark grey (dark brown) Romney we found yesterday but with enough character for me than I won’t feel like I’m spinning into an abyss.  26 ounces (1.625 lbs) in 2 bumps.

And a cinnamon tweed for me:

36 ounces (2.25lbs) in 2 bumps.  It was love at first sight and no, I’m not sorry at all that there is barely any room in the spare room wool room.  If I could have still fed my family and bought the rest of the cinnamon tweed, I would have.  Granted, if I had bought it, I would have needed less fiber to clothe us but I didn’t think it would be in our best interests.

All in all, this has been such a stellar weekend.  The weather has been lovely, the people super friendly, the animals beautiful and the fiber abundant.  While at Taylored Fibers, Barry showed me the rescue/freecycle llama, alpaca and random breed of sheep wool fleeces that he had washed and was ready for the carding machine in the next few weeks.  With glee I gave over the Shetland and two other alpaca fleeces and should have those in 6 weeks or so.  I am so very excited about getting started spinning all my new lovely wool so the real question becomes:  Which do I spin first?  Suri Alpaca? Jacob?  Romney?  Icelandic Black or Cinnamon?

So many choices came into being this weekend, we shan’t speak of the beautiful colours that are already in the stash or coming from the ITW club.  While I’m selling my Ladybug this weekend, I am sorely tempted to get another wheel so I can have multiple projects going at once!  Wouldn’t it be smart to have two though?  One for natural colours, one for those beautiful dyed woolies?  Makes sense to me!

This weekend is the Fourth Annual Olympic Peninsula Fiber Farm Tour and I can’t tell you how excited I have been waiting for it to arrive.  Last year, I was all excited about going and then I didn’t have a job so no real money for fiber…but this year there was no problems what-so-ever.

Mike and I started our tour with a stop at Metro Bagels for our Chai (regular for him, soy for me) and bagels (plain bagel with jalapeno cheddar cream cheese for him, parmesan bagel with sun-dried tomato and garlic cream cheese for me).  We have a tradition of starting out our explorations with a breakfast from them and haven’t seen any reason to stop yet!  Everything goes better with chai and bagels to begin with and today was no exception.

We arrived at Ananda Hills promptly at 10am and spent over an hour talking and walking around there, admiring the tomato hot house, the guardian dogs with the chickens, seeing the Shetland sheep hiding in the hills and right outside the barn door, and talking for a long time with J and C, the amazing people who own and run the place.    I don’t think we could have had a better start to our day than visiting with them!

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Next we moved on to Spring Hill Farm and their beautiful Romney sheep.  I loved seeing all the variations in the colours, especially how it looked when blended!Image

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Out to Quilcene we went and onto Jacob’s Fleece where we met the lovely JG and her flock of Jacob sheep.  Talk about colours!  They have such a distinctive look and I must say, I have a ‘thing’ for critters with spots so they really appealed to me.

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Finally for today we stopped at Taylored Fibers, home of the Taylors and their fantastic fiber processing business in addition to seeing their Chevoit sheep.  I had quite a lot of alpaca to drop off for processing as well as something else that I’ll show you in a moment, but what I was really looking forward to doing was meeting Judith MacKenzie.  She was lovely and I hope that someday I’ll be able to take a class with her.  Fiber people are just some of the best people there are, I swear its true.Image

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Because we had to head home for a delivery, there is one more farm to visit on the tour and we’ll see them tomorrow.  We had a fantastic day visiting the sheep and their farms and their owners and I can’t wait to do more tomorrow.

One last thing…did you think that I could visit sheep and shepherds and not bring home souvenirs?  Nope, me neither and that would be why I brought my checkbook.

From Ananda Farm, I found a perfect Shetland in multiple shades of brown.  In a world where historically colours have often been bred out in search of the “perfect” white, I can’t tell you how excited I am.  Actually, I can:  Excited enough that I forgot to take a photo of the bag ‘o fleece before I handed it over to Barry Taylor and only have the sample of the locks that I pulled aside for myself!

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ImageSo perfect!  Before washing/carding: 3.5lbs

From Spring Hill Farm:  2 bumps of Dark Grey Romney, 15.75 and 15.25oz = 31oz (1oz shy of 2 lbs)

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Now, in the direct sun, you can see that they look MUCH more brown…but with myself casting a shadow:

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Quite a bit more grey.  Mike picked this out for himself so I am already plotting a project with him in mind!

From Jacob’s Fleece, 9.2 ounces of a true “grey”, if anything with spots can ever be truly one colour or another!Image

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Jan was spinning some of this herself and I just loved the tweed-y way the colours were blending.

I also picked up 2 ounces of pure heaven in batt form from Karen Rose of Rosebud fibers, a Port Townsend local company.  I was powerless to resist and you can see why:

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At Taylored Fibers, I dropped off my lovely new Shetland to be processed…along with 2 alpaca fleeces.  One was a 3+ pound cria fleece that I had been lucky enough to A) find on freecycle, B) be the first person to respond to the posting, C) have 2 years of growth, not the normal 1 and D) have Judith MacKenzie look at it just prior to me handing it over for processing and nearly have her swoon.  She laughed and was enthralled and could have knocked me over with a feather when she told me that she had bought some alpaca fleece recently that was nearly exactly like this…for $65/lb.  Seriously.  I knew that it was something special, so fine and long and just lustrous but now I’m even more excited about it!

The second was a birthday present from my amazing sister J.  She went to a fair in MI and walked thru the shearing and showing barn where alpaca fiber was on display.  After looking around and feeling and talking to people, she made a purchase of 3 pounds of cream alpaca with a gorgeous crimp to it.  It has a 2-3″ staple and is so lovely.  I feel so lucky to have such a thoughtful sister!

All told, I have…a LOT of fiber now.  Alpaca, llama and wool that were an amazing find from freecycle, alpaca from my sister, Romney, Shetland and Jacob from local sheep AND some lovely brown from Friday Harbor sheep that I cannot, for the life of me, remember the breed!  I have satisfied my want for natural wools for…most likely the rest of my life.

And tomorrow I get to visit Icelandic sheep…and THAT will be it.  Really.