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Monday, March 25, 2013

Tummy Trouble

I am very disturbed to have confirmed my suspicion that I now have a not so nice reaction to lentils. I love lentils. I've been eating them for YEARS. I love them hot. I love them cold. I love them solo or with lots of veggies.

But lately, lentils DO NOT love me back. The show this lack of love by giving me two days of painful cramps with all kinds of other things you can imagine.

I've done some research, as I always do when trying to figure out this kind of thing, and it seems that just like dry beans, legumes have some substances that can make digestion very difficult. I love beans too but generally buy canned beans so I don't have to go through the process of soaking prior to use. Lentils however, I've never had a problem with and they cook up so fast, 30 minutes or less. Apparently you should also soak lentils, and the green ones and black ones are the most difficult to digest. The addition of turmeric can potentially help offset gastric distress.

There is a great deal of debate between the paleo community and other raw food/whole food schools of thought on whether or not lentils have "anti-nutrients" and thus should not be consumed. In general I've found that it doesn't really matter what other's say, I have to go with what seems true for me. In this case, lentils currently don't like me. I'm not sure when I'll be willing to give them a try again, even with soaking and adding turmeric and ginger. Two days of misery following ingestion is really not worth it to me when there are other foods out there.

I just hope this "sensitivity" does not start to extend to other legumes because I depend on beans and nuts as a large part of my diet.

Do you have issues with legumes? Are they a big part of your diet? I'd love to hear your experience with them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring is Sproinging

Yes it's Spring is about to spring time but around here it feels more like a sproing. The pollen is thick and both my youngest son and I have a head cold. This one will definitely make me lose my voice. I can tell already because my throat is raw.

A doctor told me once, with a cold it's either 14 days or two weeks. So you can do things to try to lessen the symptoms but pretty much, it's around that long. So I'm doing what I always do, lots of chamomile and honey tea, homeopathics if I catch it in time, and aspirin when I need it. The chamomile helps with the loss of sleep a little too which is a bonus.

Baseball season has begun for my boys which means a packed week with two games, two practices and two Tae Kwan Do practices. It's a miracle we find time for homework.

And the house really needs a good cleaning. It needs a good cleaning in many ways. First, it needs an actual physical cleaning. Sure we do the usual every weekend, floors, kitchen, bathrooms, dusting etc. But I'm talking spring cleaning here. I'm talking baseboards washed. shelves purged, grout scrubbed, etc. If only I had the energy.

Second, the house needs a good airing out. We have been lucky to have a few days recently where we could open all the windows for a bit without making it too cold in here but the problem with that is an extra layer of pollen settles on things so that not only is the car now green instead of black, but all horizontal surfaces inside are coated as well.

Finally, the house needs a good energetic cleansing. After talking with some friends about this today, I'm thinking I'll mix up some water and salt, clip a bunch of rosemary from the garden and tie it together, then dip the rosemary springs into the salt water and anoint the corners and crevices, just to clear out any yuck energy lurking there.

Now the question is, when am I going to get around to all this?

What do you do for spring cleaning? What do you do around your home to bring in that feeling of renewal and rebirth?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Dog Hair Sweater?

I'm about to embark on an attempt to spin dog fur. Yes you read that right. A fellow Etsy merchant asked me if I'd give it a try. She sent me a bag of the undercoat. I haven't had a chance to really see what it's like, the staple length, etc. So I think I'm going to try spinning it solo and then carding it with some wool. In either case it's going to be very interesting. Here's what I'm starting with,

I'm not too hopeful I'll be able to spin it into something for her. We'll see. North American Natives spun dog hair into yarn for years before sheep were introduced by the Spanish. So I guess it all depends on the type of dog and the hair. This is an undercoat and even has some lanolin like feel but it's definitely not as soft as wool.

There are plenty of people out there still doing this so I'm going to give it a go. I'll post back with my after pictures. I am going to try two ways, one, just spinning it as is, although I'll need to card it to get the fibers aligned. Two, carded with regular wool to increase the staple length.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sneak Attack

The Merry Spinster was featured this week in a Sneak Attack sponsored by a wonderful Etsy Team and I was honored to be included with the other amazing shops.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Good Day to Dye

Today was dye day at The Merry Spinster. Last time I did a round of dyeing I used my kitchen which proceeded to stink up the house. So now, baby's got a new attitude. I set up a dye station outside and it worked much better.

Turns out we have a brand new Coleman stove we've never used so I went up to OSH and got some propane canisters and set her up.

I'd planned on dyeing one pound of merino wool in two half pound batches. The first was going to be a lovely bordeaux color by dyeing it in Lac at a 3% solution. Lac has a ton of sediment so you have to dissolve it and let it sit at least an hour, preferably overnight, to let the sediment settle to the bottom and then you must strain it into the dye pot, trying to avoid getting sediment into the pot. Well all was going well till I knocked over the cup of Lac ALL OVER THE KITCHEN FLOOR. It's rare I get that angry. I was furious. It was the last of that dye stuff I had AND it made a huge mess.

I was able to salvage some of it so instead of bordeaux I got strawberry.

I'm not super pleased with this but I already have some ideas on what to do with it.

The second batch, which I didn't photograph yet, was dyed with 3 tablespoons of Cutch and 1 teaspoon of Logwood Grey. It's supposed to give a deep chocolate brown color. I'd have to say it's not as dark chocolate as I'd like but I have some ideas for working with it as well. I think some of what made it not as dark as I'd like is that I mordanted the second half pound in the same mordant bath as the first. I mixed up the right amount of mordant for a full pound and then did one half of the wool in the first batch and the other half next. Maybe there wasn't enough alum left in the mordant bath to help get a really dark chocolate color. It's more the color of chocolate milk. I'm seeing a neopolitan yarn in my future.

So all in all, I'm happy with the new set up. I was able to do all I needed out there although two burners going simultaneously would have really rocked. But as you can see, I can't fit both pots on that stove at the same time. Okay can't wait to see how this stuff looks dried and how it's going to spin.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Organization Time

I was just over at On the Round reading about how she really needed to clean up her studio and it struck me for the second time today that I NEED a studio. Seriously folks I have stuff in the living room, stuff in the kitchen, stuff in the garage and stuff in my bedroom. It's not working for me.

I have a table set up in the garage with my ball winder clamped to it and all my fiber supplies, dyes, oils, etc for my products but I also have a knitting bag in the living room with yarn where I sit and work on crochet and knitting projects. Then there's the bookshelf in my bedroom where I keep my stock and paperwork binders and then the kitchen has a cupboard with all my bath and body products in it.

I'd like to get everything in one place and I'm thinking the garage makes the most sense. I have to craft my bath and body stuff in the kitchen and I have to dye outside, and the garage gives me easy access to both. But I have no storage options out there. I'm hoping I can find some inexpensive shelving to set something up and I DEFINITELY need a light source out there.

It's hard to run a business when you are scattered and unorganized. This weekend I'm hoping to remedy that to some extent.

I put some new items in the shop today, drawer sachets, tub tea sachets and these adorable little tooth fairy pouches. All these items I'll make to order.

Coming soon, more dyed fibers, more art yarns, and some fun crochet pieces, including a gorgeous lariat style necklace.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fiber Arts Frenzy

I'm just finishing up a beautiful openwork crochet shawl and I have designs on three other projects. I'll be making a great crochet headband in variegated yarns, an adorable little tooth fairy pouch in white with some embellishments, and testing out a new clutch design.

I just became the proud owner of some beautiful fingering weight yarns, variegated in blues and spring colors. I can't wait to try them out.

Are you in the SF Bay area and interested in learning to knit or to spin? Join us at Amelia's Antics in Millbrae beginning in April. Keep tabs on Amelia's web site to see when the first class will meet. Karen, the owner, is so wonderful at creating great community events and we are thrilled she is hosting us as we learn to knit and spin together. I'm one of the teachers at the meetups and I'm sure that as our group grows we'll be adding other fun skills to the lineup.

Finally, since today is about needle arts, I'm very interested in learning amigurumi. Do you know about this adorable needle art?  Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting tiny animals or anthropomorphic creatures. Check out Etsy among other places for some great examples. Sometimes they are cute, sometimes they are creepy and sometimes they are just plain weird. But I'm very interested in learning. Do you knit or crochet? Have you done some amigurumi projects? Post a comment and let me know. I'd love to learn from you!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Motivation Needed, Apply Within

So I'm really flagging these past few days. I am minimally motivated and need to be VERY motivated. I have great ideas for items for the shop and I am excited about some new developments, info to come soon. But I'm definitely in a funk.

Maybe it's the need for change of seasons. Maybe it's the stress over what's about to happen on my career front. Maybe it's just too much sugar back in my diet.

So I'm deciding right now to stop wallowing. Nothing changes by putting your head in a hole or crawling into the closet. Because those bills are still going to be there. The taxes you have yet to do are still going to be there. The people you need to call and the emails you need to answer are still going to be there. Therefore, it's time to take tiny steps and celebrate tiny victories.

Wish me luck!