Monday, December 31, 2018


For my final 2018 post, I'm feeling optimistic about the future.

I feel I have some day job security.... which means health insurance and savings security.

I have some ideas for managing our vegetable garden more easily.

Our new rain chains will be useful for watering herb gardens (in to be acquired whiskey barrels).

We are healthy and I've been writing.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 12

My Gunnar Mittens are starting to look like Mittens!  :-D

I still have a long way to go, and very little spinning has happened in the last month.  But the prospectus for the Fiber Celebration show has not yet been published, so I shall keep moving forward... no matter how slowly.

Current Status:
  • 4-3/4 oz, 277.5 yd complete in 3 skeins
  • 7/8 oz in singles
  • 4 5/8 (~1) oz remain
  • 7/8 oz in mittens
Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

More Reading

I'm still travelling a lot for the Day Job, which means I still have a good amount of time conducive to reading.

This time around, you can see I've been focused on motivation.

I didn't care much for Drive or The Bully at Work.  The topics are relevant and useful, but each of these books were longer than they needed to be and I got impatient with the non-value-added portions.

With respect to The Bully at Work, I got especially frustrated.  The authors stated that they were using the word "target" instead of "victim" because they didn't want to reinforce the idea of victimization, but the book was still mostly written from the "you poor victim" point of view.  Although I do have to say that to be reading about the different bullying tactics with our current president's behavior, his treatment of CNN, and especially Jim Acosta was quite interesting.

This is a good reminder that changing words is the first step in changing thought process and behavior.... but if behavior doesn't change, the key words don't matter.  We see this all the time, especially with respect to "servant-leadership."  Servant-leadership is more than just drawing the organizational chart upside down.  Some people do it well, and others are just using the key words.

I mostly enjoyed reading Delivering Happiness.  It captured my attention and I looked forward to the next time I could pick it up.  But a lot was left out...  The stories were presented primarily as Tony Hsieh seeking the next adrenaline rush without working too hard, rather than a driven process with a long-term plan.  There was so much focus on the euphoria that I found myself asking "How does he not have a substance abuse problem?"  The book was longer than it needed to be, but Tony is a good story teller and it's worth the read.

One wonderful thing.... I had left the Bullying book on my inbound plane.  I didn't realize until the next day and hadn't finished reading it yet.  So I filed a lost item report online, thinking I probably would never see it again.  Then about 10 days later, I got an email from SWA.  They had found my book and were willing to mail it to me, and I was able to finish reading the book.  That's pretty awesome customer service.

Of course, being without that book meant I needed to find a new one for my ride home...  I found several at this new, well-curated, independent bookstore next door to my cousin's first coffee shop.

I will continue travelling, frequently and indefinitely... so I have plenty of future time for reading.  I'm loving the dedicated time to make a dent in my stash of books.

Happy Reading!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Fiber Arts Friday: Adding to my Stash

Since I'm working on my Gunnar Mittens, and feeling behind schedule, I really have no business adding to my stash.  However, like any good fiberista, I came up with a great justification.  :-)

I've been working in the Bay Area (near San Francisco, CA) since August.  Generally I am home on the weekend, but stayed over earlier this month.

I took the opportunity to visit the Computer History Museum and downtown Los Altos.

I was casually shopping for holiday gifts, but not really in pursuit of anything specific.  I found a cute coffee shop (with awesome bread), a lovely independent children's book store that had a wonderful (though small) non-fiction section for older readers, and a terrific local yarn shop (LYS).

I had been to Los Altos once before (for running shoes), so I knew it was a charming and more quiet downtown.  It would be a good respite from the traffic of the Bay Area.  The LYS was a complete surprise.

There were several people shopping and chatting, and the two ladies working were absolutely delightful.... no surprise there.  LYS people are the best people!  :-)

I told the proprietor how happy I was to find them and decided that I would find something to buy.  Local Yarn Shops are a tremendous resource, and I want to make sure I am supporting them as much as I can.

I walked around the store touching all of the yarn and found an interesting lace-weight dark purple yarn from Denmark.  The label only says "new wool" so I don't know the sheep variety, but I really liked the texture.

The proprietor then went to her office and brought out a sweater she made from that brand/style of yarn and went to Ravelry to figure out how many skeins would be appropriate for the pattern.

Have I mentioned how much I love LYS people?

We determined that people were using anywhere from 2-4 skeins for the pattern.  So based on the dye lots available, I decided on charcoal and black, and bought four.

I'm not certain I will make a sweater.  I have a few items in my queue that are waiting for the perfect yarn... and this yarn is pretty great.

I also found a lovely, perfect-sized, project bag.

It feels good to support small business, and I was able to at a few places this weekend.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


I've mentioned mud season a couple of times on this blog.

Since we moved in, we have worn a path from our house to the alpaca corrals and barn, which becomes mud when ever it rains or snows more than a small amount.

Mud sucks for pretty much anyone working in it.... but it especially sucks for wheelchair users.  So we've been talking about different solutions to our mud problem over the last few years.

The space right before the gate is shaded most of the day, so it's the last to dry out.

We love brick, but have been disheartened by the cost.

Enter, my sister.

They bought an old house a few years ago and replaced their brick patio over the summer.

It took a bit of time for us to coordinate schedules, but we finally collected the brick on the weekend before Thanksgiving, 2018.

So for the cost of a home-made meal, a load of alpaca manure for their garden, and the labor of moving the bricks, we now have enough pavers to cover most of our plan.

There is about 8500 lbs and 300 sq ft in two different colors.

We have a two high priority areas that we want to pave, so we were not concerned with having different colored bricks.

I'm excited.... this will be our major project for the upcoming spring.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Fiber Arts Friday: Twined Technique

I recently found a video on the Twined Technique.  It's fairly long.  There is no sound.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

AKC National Championship, 2018

The AKC National Championship is this week in Orlando, FL.

Gunnar and I were invited for being one of the Top 10 National Owner-Handled teams in the breed.

I hope to make the trip one day, but this year we are watching from home.

Good luck to everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 11

Since I am getting close to separating out the thumb, I met the recipient for breakfast last weekend for a test fitting.

I forgot to take a photo of the fitting, but it's looking good.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Frosty Morning

I love the Colorado blue sky on a frosty morning.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 10

As a Program Manager in my Day Job, I know that no project ever goes exactly as planned.  Generally, this isn't a big deal as long as the important things are met.  So checking in with my original plan for my Gunnar Mittens you can see that:

  • I wanted to be done spinning and plying by now - I am not
  • I was planning to ply everything at once, after all of the singles had been completed - I've already plied everything that was available.
  • I prepared far more fiber than is needed for this project, so I only need to spin about 2 more oz instead of almost 6 oz.
  • I considered including 2 oz of a contrasting color - Since it was needed first in the knitting process, I decided against it.
  • I wasn't planning to start knitting until early December - I started knitting in mid-October, 6-weeks early.  I am currently 35% complete with the first mitten.
So while I don't have to spin as much fiber as I prepared, and I started knitting 6 weeks early, I also have less available time and the knitting is going slower than I expected.

With more holidays coming up, I expect to have some extra time available for knitting and spinning before the expected submission date in mid-February.  But I am concerned that I won't complete this project on time.  Frankly, I felt the plan was aggressive from the beginning.  But that doesn't mean it's not worth trying.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal if I miss this submission deadline.  However, I will be disappointed.  So I will keep working at it.

    By the way, I really like the Crook Stitches at the wrist.

    Current Status:
    • 4-3/4 oz, 277.5 yd complete in 3 skeins
    • 7/8 oz in singles
    • 5 7/8 (~2) oz remaining
    • 5/8 oz in mittens
    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

    Wednesday, November 28, 2018

    Checking Out

    Between being a Farmer and a Program Manger, I live a life for others that is very service and task oriented.

    I spend a lot of time listening to others and helping them achieve the things they need to achieve.

    Listening to and helping others is extremely rewarding, but it's also exhausting... especially as an introvert.

    As a Program Manager, I need to be on most of the time.  As a farmer, I need to be watching and listening to the animals to make sure that we're meeting all of their needs.  As such, it's easy to neglect my own needs.

    As an introvert living in an extroverted world, it's even more important to take time to check out and recharge.

    The long Thanksgiving weekend is a good time to do that.

    This year, our large family was dispersed, so the huge and loud meal did not happen.  I had the honor of spending a quiet evening with friends while Hubba spent the weekend out of town with his family.

    Once the daily chores were done, I literally checked out for most of the long weekend.  I declined a visit with some great friends that I don't get to see much.  I took an awesome nap.  I watched a couple of favorite movies along with the National Dog Show and some of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I did some writing as well as knitting and spinning.

    I'm feeling better.

    How do you recharge?

    Friday, November 23, 2018

    Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 9

    Over the course of this project, I've been worried that I don't have enough fiber prepared to complete my opposite-spun Gunnar Mittens.

    So now that I have some knit, I weighed my yarn to determine that my consumption rate is ~1/4 ounce per 3cm on the wrist.

    Since the palm is bigger than the wrist and there's a thumb.  I am going to assume a rate of 3/8 oz per 3 cm.... yes, I'm mixing Metric and Imperial units.  Sorry if this bothers you.  ;-)

    At about 26 cm of total length per mitten, I should need about 6.5 oz (26cm x 2 mittens x 3/8 oz per 3 cm) of finished yarn for both mittens, and I will need extra yarn for the submission.  So my new goal is about 7 oz of total yarn spun.

    Therefore, at 4.75 oz, I have ~65% of the needed yarn completed and more than enough fiber prepared.

    I'll check my consumption rate again as I get into the palm and thumb.  But at least I know I don't have to finish the entire bag of prepared fiber (11 3/8 ounces).

    Current Status:
    • 1/4 oz in mittens
    • 4-3/4 oz, 277.5 yd complete in 3 skeins
    • 1/4 oz in singles
    • 5 7/8 oz prepared fiber remaining
    Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

    ps, I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving, if you are State-side.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2018

    Sunset and Nightlights

    I managed to have a window seat on my way home recently...

    Friday, November 16, 2018

    Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 8

    With my swatching complete and after getting hand measurements from the intended recipient.... twice, because the first set are in an ultra-secure location that even I don't remember where I put them ... I laid out my way points for the mittens.  As I mentioned before, I don't have a detailed pattern for these mittens, but a general guideline and a kitting technique.

    The mitts are not a surprise.  She knows I'm working on them.  I promised to make them for her more than a few years ago.

    As a general rule, Hubba and I think and talk about things before we take action.  So it frustrates me when people are surprised by our decisions... ie, raising alpacas and dogs, moving to a farm, moving across states.  None of these things happened on a whim.

    As a point of reference... the idea for these mitts was added to my Ravelry queue in September 2015.  The first conversation about this style with the recipient happened shortly after, but the first conversation about "Gunnar Mittens" happened well before then.

    It is now November 2018.... so we're talking about more than 3-years from the time the idea was first talked about to the point where knitting is in progress.

    Now deciding to spin yarn and knit mittens is not a life-style decision... or, maybe it is.  ;-)  But the timing for when this happened has more to do with other projects in progress and my goals related to fiber-related skills than anything else.  But it represents our modus operandi of working on the long game... these mittens will be entered into a competition before they are gifted to the very knit-worthy recipient.

    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2018

    Things that Work: Wheelbarrow

    My old wheelbarrow is finally spent.

    We replaced the air-filled tire with a solid one about 5 years ago.

    The cracks around the fasteners appeared over the summer, but have gotten big enough that the wheelbarrow is no longer reliable.

    The new one is about the same size, but narrower and taller, with a longer lever.

    I love a good wheelbarrow.  It's such a simple device and extremely useful on the farm... and at 9 years, I think we got our money's worth!

    Wheelbarrows definitely work!

    Friday, November 9, 2018

    Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 7

    Last week I mentioned that I needed to practice casting on with two strands.  The instructions in my book aren't quite clear, so I went to YouTube.

    I learned that casting-on with two strands is basically the Long-Tail Cast-on, which is my standard cast on.

    The Twined Knit swatch on US2 needles yielded about 6.5 stitches per inch and a dense fabric. 

    I think this is it for mittens.  Hooray!  I'm excited to start knitting this project.

    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

    Wednesday, November 7, 2018


    You don't buy a house because of it's color.

    You buy it because of it's location and features.  The color can be changed.

    Finally, after 9 years, the directions to our house no longer include the phrase, "baby poop yellow."

    Sunday, November 4, 2018

    Making a Difference

    Yesterday, I had the opportunity to mentor a young woman who is considering Aerospace Engineering as a career path.

    I don't talk about my Day Job much on this blog.  Mostly because what happens there is not for me to share.

    I am a degreed Mechanical Engineer and have had the opportunity to work on many flying objects.  But my path to becoming an engineer happened because of one very short conversation with a community college councilor.

    I wasn't really prepared for college, and I certainly hadn't been prepared for engineering school.  As a result, I make it a priority to spend time with early college students, high school students, and occasionally even younger people to talk about careers and future plans or goals when the opportunity arises.

    I'm not part of any formal program.  I'm just willing to share my experiences and listen to young people whenever I have the chance.

    I've always thought it's important for kids to have multiple adults to talk with, observe, and listen to.  I've also always thought that the best leaders do so by example.

    I'm very impressed by the STEM opportunities made available to kids these days... and very proud of the progress made for women in STEM careers since I was choosing my direction in life.

    We have a long way to go, especially with the current rhetoric in and around our government.

    If you are a woman over the age of 18, please exercise your 19th Amendment Right this week.

    If you are a non-white man over the age of 18, please exercise your 15th Amendment Right this week.

    If you are anyone reading this post, please ensure you are working for the greater good, for unity, for peace, and lifting others up.

    Helping others is good for you, but it's especially good for them.

    Friday, November 2, 2018

    Fiber Art Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 6

    I started swatching with my Tibetan Mastiff, opposite-spun yarn  last week.

    I found my US3 needles with an alpaca project,

    and a cashmere project.

    But the short circs were free...  I think we're close with the US3 needles.

    So I also tried US2.

    Both of these swatches are standard knit.

    I feel like the US2 is very close to my desired fabric.  So I'm off to practice casting on with two strands and starting a swatch with twined knit technique and US2 needles.

    One awesome revelation: I now spin at a fine-enough and consistent-enough quality, that I can use US2 needles on a 3-ply yarn.  :-D

    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

    Tuesday, October 30, 2018

    Rough Haus

    Hubba was featured on Season 2, Episode 2 of Rough Haus earlier this month.

    I can not tell you how much I enjoy sharing my life with this amazing person.  :-D

    Rough Haus is a locally produced television show, airing on KCDO - Denver/Sterling, CO.

    Friday, October 26, 2018

    Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 5

    Now that I have two skeins finished, I can start getting ready to knit the final project... swatching with the intended yarn comes next.

    Knowing that the twined stitches are tighter, I started with standard knit and the assumption that US6 would be too big, but close.

    This is a nice fabric, but definitely too loose for mittens.  So I need smaller needles.

    According to Ravelry, I don't have any US4 or US5 needles, but I have a set of US3.  Now to figure out what they're doing since they are not in my box of available needles and hooks.

    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

    Wednesday, October 24, 2018


    Over the last month or so, I've been using several different computers, and therefore different keyboards.

    All of these are QWERTY keyboards and all are on PCs, but the Control button, while always in the lower left corner, is not always in the same place.

    And just because it's frustrating... All of the photos were taken landscape, they all show as landscape on both my phone and PC, but they import at portrait.  smh

    Friday, October 19, 2018

    Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 4

    After finishing my technique swatches, I was antsy to start knitting for real.  So I wound off single #6.

    Plied it with with singles #1, 4 and 5.

    ... and finished skein #2.

    Current Status:
    • 3-5/8 oz, 196.5 yd complete in 2 skeins
    • 7/8 oz in singles
    • 6-3/8 oz remaining

    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

    Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    Apples, 2018

    Our apples have been ready to be processed since August and our tree was especially full this year.  Which is nice given all of the hail we had over the summer.

    Normally the apples are not ready until October.... which I think is predicting an early and harsh winter.

    We've given a lot of apples away, since I haven't had time for processing.  But I borrowed my neighbor's orchard ladder (now on my to acquire list) over the weekend.  I picked 8 grocery sacks-full, gave a few sacks away and processed several batches.

    I started with our favorite applesauce and tried apple pie filling and pickled apples.

    I'm super excited about the pickled apples!  I wish I had time to make more.

    In the last week we've had our first snow (10/10), first frost (10/12), +60F shorts and flip-flops weather (10/13), and first hard freeze (10/14).  It's back in the 50's-60's for the next several days.

    I love this time of year.