Yes, I am alive and well

A friend reminded me that I had been silent for a few days. Time spent with hubby and via phone and video chat with family, time spent finishing my December spinning challenge, trying to finish a shawl as a finished project for the same challenge, and getting ready for the start of the new year, spinning challenges and mentally preparing for even more isolation as we are seeing about a dozen new cases of COVID in our county each day (56+% of the cases in the county since December 1) and between people travelling and gathering for Christmas and New Years, it will get worse.

When I went to the Farmers Market on the Saturday before Christmas, part of my goal was to obtain a Christmas roast for our Christmas dinner, we still have Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer. The vendor apologized that his abattoir had not gotten his latest beef back to him, but he expected to pick it up on Monday. He made a stop on his way home and let me buy a 3 pound rib roast. It was a much more expensive cut than I would usually purchase and wanted it to be cooked perfectly. When we have family here or that we can visit with, we usually have Italian food at Daughter’s on Christmas Eve, and Turkey, ham, and all the sides on Christmas day here. As a younger married, I would prepare either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, my Dad doing the other and extended family gathered. The Christmas dinner was always on Christmas eve and we grazed on left overs and other goodies on Christmas Day. Traditionally, I make Huevos Rancheros for hubby on Christmas and New Years Day mornings. Because it was just the two of us, I did prepare the breakfast then later in the day, prepared the roast that I had seasoned the day before. It was perfect and delicious. We have eaten about half of it over two days, the other half frozen to be pulled out in a week or so and enjoyed again.

We woke to a white Christmas with continued snow showers all day. Gifts had been exchanged with our children and grand children via distanced meetings or mail. We celebrated with just the two of us. My gifts included items lovingly chosen based on my interests, fiber to spin, a Jumbo flyer for my wheel, a travel Lazy Kate, a leather tooled pocket notebook cover, counter top herb garden with grow light, hand made pottery planter made by DIL and bee barn from them as well, wool socks and a wool tee shirt to keep me warm. It was a calm, lazy day filled with too much food, but no in person family except hubby.

My December spinning got side tracked when I started knitting the Peacock shawl, but I still finished with plenty for the challenge.

Yesterday was spent plying yarn, the “Redbud” ended up about 450 yards of light fingering weight and the Jacob (the gray) is this month’s and last month’s plied together to about 115 yards of light fingering weight.

The fiber hubby gave me is the left of this photo and will be the breed I begin my January challenges with, both the “Something New” challenge and a Breed Blanket.

After several frigid icy days, the sun is out and the snow and ice are melting, the temperature finally above 40 degrees, so we ventured out to take a walk, figuring the paved rail grade being the safest path. For the most part it was clear or wet, but there were some areas like this below.

Some of the areas that looked wet were black ice, but it was good to get out and stretch our legs and get some fresh air.

I have about half an ounce of yarn left before I have to use the rest to do the picot bind off. I’m hoping it is enough to finish the repeat I am on.

I’m very pleased with how the gradient blends until it gets to the purples and the gradient isn’t as subtle there, almost like the purples were reversed, but I spun this yarn on spindles and was very careful to keep them in the order they came off the braid. It is still a pretty shawl. Once finished, washed and blocked, it will go in my shop.

I hope you had a safe Christmas and will have a safe New Year.

The calendar flipped and so did the weather

All day yesterday in preparation to turn from November into December, the temperature that wasn’t that high in the first place, fell. From mid 40’s to 28. Yesterday morning and the night before, we got about 2″ of rain. Overnight, a dusting of snow and there are still flurries.

It isn’t the earliest snow we have ever had here, but with it are gale force gusts of wind driving the wind chill to bone penetrating cold. When I opened the coop pop door, they just looked at me like I was crazy if I thought they were going to step their dainty claws into that white stuff and wind. Their water is frozen, that I have to remedy even if they stay indoors all day. It is only going up a couple of degrees today and even colder tonight.

As November ends, so ends another month of Jenkins spindle challenge.

The month ended with a bit more than 130 g of spun fiber, some spindle plied. The purple skein on the left if BFL wool that came with my birthday spindle, plied with BFL/silk blend with more of it on the spindle. The white/burgundy is Alpaca blended with dyed Coopworth. Last night I finished spinning it on the wheel as I didn’t like the way it handled on the spindles and ended up with 268 yards of fingering weight yarn that went into my shop for sale.

December will begin finishing the gray Jacob seen in the bowl above and here, along with more of the Redbud colored BFL/Silk.

Last month’s spinning was slowed by knitting as I finished the sweater for one grand daughter, the Intarsia knit Christmas stocking for the newest grand son, and a pair of fingerless mitts from spindle spun yarn for my shop.

All have been wet or steam blocked and ready to go.

Somewhere during the month, I also finished this skein on the wheel as it frustrated me on the spindles. And it joined the Alpaca/Coopworth in my shop.

Yesterday a jar of Daikon radish kimchee was started, two batches of soap made to saponify overnight. Today I will wash out the pots and spatulas now that the caustic mix is soap and make one more batch of the soap I use as shampoo and body soap for my use this next year.

I decorated the outside on the porch Sunday afternoon, I guess I should start on the inside too. I also need to get some gifts wrapped that will have to go in the mail soon.

I guess I should get busy.

Zen

“Zen emphasizes rigorous self-restraint, meditation-practice, insight into the nature of mind.” Meditation of any sort can help reduce stress.

My Zen time is spinning with my spindles. It is total focus on the single process, it quiets my mind, slows my breathing. That wasn’t always the case, like with any new endeavor, there is a lot of tension involved as you learn the skills, but with time, you relax and it becomes enjoyable. I have been spinning now for over a decade, starting with spindles, moving on to wheels, and for the past 8 months or so, returning to spindles.

When spinning with my spindles, whether in my chair, the car, waiting for an appointment, or out in nature, I feel my shoulders relax, the tension drain from my neck, my breathing focused. It gives my mind a non stressful activity on which to focus, a form of meditation. It ceases to be production and instead, is a serene, peaceful activity. I am still making yarn, but at a much slower pace.

As I am approaching the end of the month, as a spindle is filled and emptied, it isn’t necessarily getting refilled. The Fig Aegean, my largest spindle is resting right now, my newest Ambrosia Wren is filling, the smallest Honduran Rosewood Finch is almost full and will soon sit idle for a few days. The notched shaft bottom whorl in the left of the bowl is my Living History spindle and doesn’t generally spin at home. They rest in a wooden trencher, also from living history, or sometimes a basket or pottery dish depending on my mood. And it all sits on a small hand woven “towel.” The weaving process is still in the tension filling realm as I haven’t gotten good enough at it for it to be relaxing, maybe someday.

In a few weeks, some of my yarn, knits, weaves, body care items will go to Wilderness Road Regional Museum to an Honor System craft display during their Noel Nights weekend. If you are interested, you can reserve a spot for a tour, goodies, and shopping on their website. Twenty percent of my proceeds from that event will be donated to the museum for their operation and educational programming.