Monday, April 27, 2009


Last week was an odd combination of highs and lows. After the podcast Monday night I was feeling a little bit ill - might have had something to do with the Ben and Jerry's I had afterwards, or so I thought. Turns out my ulcerative colitis was gathering up a head of steam to kick my ass. Things went downhill pretty quickly...

so I spent Tuesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon in the hospital getting fluids and many unfortunate tests. The good news is, as much as I dislike having UC, it beats the crap out of the many other nasty diseases it could have been (and isn't). For this I am thankful. Seriously.

I nagged the doctor into letting me out so I could attend the ASJA conference (that's American Society of Journalists and Authors) on Friday and Saturday. I always love going to the conference, but this year was special because I got to speak on a panel discussion about Profiting from your Writing Passion. I had a really great time and got some nice feedback. Friday afternoon was editor meetings, and I managed to get through most of Saturday's workshops as well.

Saturday night, LL did a big dance fundraiser with her new dance school and it was a whole lot of fun- although we didn't get home until 1:00 AM! She danced in four different numbers and had a blast - all the fun of performing with none of the ups and downs of competition. Middle Sister came too so she could watch.

Now I am exhausted! But not awfully sickly, just way worn down. Finishing up knitting two sweaters, trying to catch up with everything that didn't get done last week when I was ill. Mostly sitting on the couch full time - knitting or crocheting, or writing, or emailing. Cinderella Puppy is happy I am home and keeps coming over to check up on me, which is cute.

So two more things - I am teaching my Designing for Print Publication online class again - this time on Yahoo Groups so I can have knitters as well as crocheters. Check it out here.

And for today's high? I admit to going through phases of checking out my books' sales rank on way more often than might be considered necesary by a more normal person, but with Hooked for Life being new to the market, I have succumbed to the lure of the rankings. It has spent a whole lot of time on the top 100 crochet books list, which of course pleases me greatly - thanks to all of you who shopped or bought the book there already. But when the ranking is particularly high, I turn up on the top 100 essay books list - which makes me feel a lot like a grown-up writer - a feeling I don't always have. So today was one of those days when I was on the essay book list.

I now share my dementia - I clicked over to see the whole list of top essay books today to see the kind of company I was keeping, if only for a brief and shining moment. Joan Didion was one title above me, Kurt Vonnegut one title below. I can die happy now!

Speaking of books - if you are the mother or special adult in the life of a tween or teen girl, I highly recommend this one -

I met the author over the weekend and enjoyed her immensely.

Back to the knitting...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Even I got tired of talking!

This is where I spent last Tuesday...Reading The Secret Language of Knitters aloud so there will be a brand new audio book available in July from Knitting Out Loud. I admit that I enjoy talking, as any of you who know me in real life or listen to the podcast know. But even I was ready to be quiet for a while after reading with proper diction and some attempt at intonation for four straight hours. Phew!

All done though - back to planning events for Hooked for Life: Adventures of a Crochet Zealot. Which has been in the top 100 crochet books on Amazon for most of last week. Not that I am happy about that or anything....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A little belated Easter frivolity!

Can you tell LL is a knitter and crocheter? She didn't want a chocolate bunny in her basket, she wanted a chocolate sheep! Can you tell we were at her grandmother's house? note that all the photos behind the basket are of LL :-)
And the annual bunny cake she makes with Middle Sister. This year LL did the cutting herself - all those hours of watching Ace of Cakes is finally paying off!
Got the taxes done - AMEN! And am now trying to figure out what the most productive use of my time is today. I suspect it isn't going to open knitting at the LYS, but I might do that anyway...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Help, the wool, it is taking over!

It all began with a phone call. I gave a talk when Secret Language of Knitters came out, and someone in the audience said her daughter threw out sheep fleece because she didn't know what to do with it. When I reacted in horror, the listener took my card and said she would pass on the info. Almost two years later I got a call saying if I could get to the farm in question, I could pick up some wool. So off we went!

This is what we came home with...

Yes sir, yes sir, FIVE bags full. Suffolk wool for those of you who are keeping score at home.

While I spin, I had never actually processed a whole sheep fleece and wasn't entirely sure what I was doing, so I began with a large handful and the kitchen sink.
These fleeces aren't particularly neat or clean and they have a very long staple length (6" plus!) So it has taken many many tubs of water to get them reasonably clean. After they are washed they sit in the sun for a while, but during a damp weekend I plonked a bunch on top of the heater so it would dry...
Then I picked through the dry fleece one more time - getting rid of whatever nasty bits I can lay my hands on. We wind up with a giant pile of puffiness - thusly...

Since a lot of this was two year growth I have to assume that yellow stripe ain't coming out for nothing. I thought it was lanolin but it isn't greasy feeling at all anymore, so now I don't really know what it is. It will add character to the final product though, so I am not stressing about it.

No matter how much fleece I pull out of the garbage bags, they don't seem to be getting any emptier. This could be a problem...

I was going to send the scoured fleece out to be carded, but the staple length is too long for the company I wanted to use. Now on the hunt for a drum carder to rent or borrow.

Next I need to learn how to dye some of this stuff. I have done Koolaid and frosting dyes with LL, and I have some Jacquard dyes lying around, but I have never dyed fleece so I don't know how to do it. Dye it now or after it is carded? Or even after it's yarn? Input welcome...

Monday, April 06, 2009

The book, she is here!

Here she is - my newest wordy baby! Available at fine yarn or book stores near you starting on or about April 21st, 2009.

We at Chez Alpaca had a very busy weekend - my parents, sibs, LL, nieces, nephews and assorted grands gathered at my favorite place in the whole wide world, Cape May New Jersey, and had a loud, alcohol, carb, fat, and sugar fueled celebration of my parents' 65th wedding anniversary. That is not a typo - they have been married for 65 years come the 15th of the month. Can you imagine?

And for those of you trying to do the math, yes I am their youngest :-)