Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Neti Pot

So, my nose sometimes gives me problems. I have some allergies, and my nose tends to always be runny, but also dry. I won't go into further details. You may thank me now.

Anyway, when I first got interested in yoga, I got a few books, and one of them described using a Neti Pot. The one in the yoga book looked kinda like this one:


What the heck is that for, you might wonder? Well, you put warmish water in it, add non iodized salt, and pour it into your nose. Yeah, sounds gross. I know. You do it while your head is tilted forward, and your sinuses fill up with water, and then it pours out the other nostril. Then, switch nostrils and repeat.

Why would you do that? Well, it is meant to flush icky stuff out of your nose, including allergens and excessive mucous and also germies. The neti pot is gaining popularity; you can even buy them at Wal Mart now. If you would like to watch an educational video from the good people at NeilMed about how to use the Neti Pot, CLICK HERE. If you do NOT want to see that video, then for goodness sake, don't click there! Do not!

Anyway, I bought one. I flushed out my nose. Initially, you get that tangy 'water up the nose' sensation, and then it is kinda weird. And then it is even weirder. And then water starts pouring out of your other nostril. And then your eyes might water just because it is so weird. Not because it hurts or anything, because it doesn't. (Just make sure to add the non iodized salt, cuz otherwise, it stings a lot, evidently)

Afterwards, it did feel nice and clear up there. I will see over time if it helps with allergies, colds, and dry/ drippy nose issues. And will report back if you like. Note: you will all be pleased to know that I will NOT be taking any pictures or videos of the process. That would just be inappropriate.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Whew.

Well, that was quite a weekend. The Folk Festival seemed to have record numbers of visitors - downtown was jam packed with festival goers! Art in the Courtyard was a smashing success, with loads of people browsing the arts/ crafts, and pulling out their credit cards so that they could take a little piece of Lowell home with them.

I was under a big tent with Liz, Candace, and a few others... Liz and Candace were great to share tent space with - we could watch each other's tables when the other had to run out and do other stuff, and our work is different enough to draw in a wide variety of shoppers - it was great!

We ALMOST made it through the weekend without having to deal with the rain... but about 45 minutes before the weekend was over, the skies opened up and gave us downpours and claps of thunder. I got a phone call from a friend about 5 minutes before the rain hit, telling me "Pack now, or you're gonna get wet!" It gave us enough of a head start that we could make sure that none of our important stuff got wet. Thank goodness!

I'm taking today to recover and collect myself to get back to enjoying the summer - it is zipping by so quickly!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lowell Folk Festival

This weekend is the Lowell Folk Festival, and I have been selling jewelry through Art in the Courtyard. It has been a busy weekend so far - my theory is that people are going crazy and are all happy and doing fun stuff after so many rainy, thundery, floody, yicky days.

I'm sharing a tent with my friend Liz of Made in Lowell , which has been great - she makes beautiful felted and polymer clay items (jewelry, pins, hair accessories, beads, polymer clay covered eggs). It's always nice to share space with someone - it's an extra set of eyes, someone to chat with when things get quiet, it's all good, really!

Anyway, if you are interested, I did some number crunching. These numbers will be more interesting to you if you also sell at craft shows, or if you run a retail-type small business of some sort. (If numbers and stats and stuff like that are not interesting to you, now is where you should go check out another blog on your list - see you soon!)

For a couple of years, I did not accept credit cards - I did not know that such a capability was accessible to me at a reasonable price, and I wasn't sure if the cost would be outweighed by the benefit. Well, through Propay , I think that it has indeed proven to be worth the cost.

Check it out - here are some stats from the first two days:

My number of cash sales and credit card sales were 1:1. HOWEVER, the average cash purchase was about $21, whereas the average credit card purchase was $51! Even when I take into account the credit card fees for these purchases, the average is still $49.30. My conclusion? People spend more money with credit cards than they do with cash, and the fees are worth it. I think that this is probably particularly true at craft shows/ fairs/ festivals, where a lot of vendors don't accept cash, so people become more miserly as the day goes on... they have to save the cash for food vendors, for parking, and other costs where they can't use a credit card.

Anyway, we really lucked out over the past two days - the weather has been lovely, and people have been out in droves. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for tomorrow is less than optimal, but I guess we'll see what happens. Wish me luck, if you get a chance!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Habu Textiles

For EVER now, I have wanted to visit the Habu Textiles yarn store in NYC. However, it has never quite come to pass. So, when I heard that they'd be at the Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester NH this weekend, I squeezed it into my already full weekend schedule - how could I not! Sure, I need to go set up my jewelry in less than an hour, and will be at "Art in the Courtyard" downtown as part of the Lowell Folk Festival... but the trip up north was worth getting up early for, because I just loved the Habu booth!

What makes them so alluring to me? They use very unusual fibers in their yarn... paper, fiber from strange plants, stainless steel, and of course some of the more expected ones... cotton, wool, silk, bamboo, linen... just fascinating! The shopping experience was nice because everything was well marked, and there were a lot of knitted swatches to look at, which was definitely helpful while shopping.



The green one: fiber from a pineapple plant! (Yes, I have a few ideas)
The purple one: cotton, but feels like paper.
The silvery gray one: undyed linen.
The bronze one: 100% sil.
The navy one: silk and... stainless steel!
The tealy blue one: 100% cotton, but feels sooooo soft... how did they do that?
The cranberry one: bamboo

I am just thrilled. Sadly, I must leave my new yarns and go sit outside, hoping people buy my stuff. ;-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Berry Picking

I have been slacking on my blog posting. Sorry about that.

Last week, I went raspberry picking. (I know... yum, right?) It was a hot, sunny day, so after I slathered up with sunblock, I drove to the farm. I picked a row, and the bushes were just huge! There weren't really any berries at 'normal person height', but there were tons about 7 feet in the air, which is great for me, really. Just look at these huge bushes, taken from my eye level:


The berries were really big, too - this one wasn't even abnormal compared to the others!


Here was a mutant berry:


Here was its skeleton... after I ate the good part:


AND..... I SAW A UNICORN!


Okay, it's really just a goat that lost a horn. Thanks for RUINING EVERYTHING.

Harrumph.
Making Laundry Detergent

Yes. I made my own laundry detergent. Why, you ask, would I do that? Well, commercially made detergents have a lot of fillers in them, and the home made stuff I was buying online was nice, but kinda pricey. I did some research, found a few recipes for laundry powder, and went to town. Here are the groovy, old timey ingredients:


Recipe: 1 cup grated Fels Naptha soap
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda

I had to chop up the soap:


Grate it - that was loud and fun! (I then chopped it further with the choppy blade)


Here it is, all mixed together:


There was a little soap leftover, and of course, a ton of the other stuff. You only need a tablespoon of it, and it's about 3 cents per load.

I tried it right away, of course. I was a little nervous, because the Fels Naptha soap had a horrible perfumey odor to it. Just awful. But you know what? My laundry came out smelling like warm, fresh fabric, instead of perfume. Even better than commercial detergents!

So, I am pleased.

This little exercise also kinda fits into my New Year's resolution of being more environmentally conscientious... none of the ingredients are yicky in that environmenty way.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


I have been knitting....


.... not that you'd know it from looking here!

First off, some successes, starting with "Shrug This, Me Size".


The original pattern garnered a lot of comments about how it fit perfectly... if you were a 7 year old girl! So, I started by casting on more stitches, and continued the raglan increases for much longer than suggested, until things seemed to fit my frame. The pattern was only 30 inches around... who is 30 inches around???

Anyway, I also lengthened the pattern. It has already gotten good use - I just toss it on over a tank top if there is a bit of a chill in the air, and it is just perfect!

Project Details:

Pattern: Shrug This by Toni Kayser Weiner
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease, 4 skeins, used doubled
Needles: Denise Interchangeables, size 10 1/2 US
Modifications: I cast on eight extra stitches to start out, and did 16 raglan increases instead of the prescribed 12. I then knit 10 inches of body, then did the ribbing and cast off. Had I not done any addition to the body, the shrug would have ended mid boob - and considering my modest bust, this is surely saying something!

Comments: I'm REALLY not sure what adult human the original pattern would fit. There were women who said that they usually buy XS shirts, and this shrug was too small. Additionally, the pattern is only made in one size. However, despite these things, I definitely like the construction and design of this item. It was just the thing I needed to keep away the chill during early summer mornings or late evenings.

Next up, a duo of Noro hats. I acquired a couple of skeins of Noro from friends, and found this groovy pattern on Ravelry for the Noro Spiral One-Skein Hat by Manuele Ducret.



Project Details:
Pattern: Noro Spiral One-Skein Hat by Manuele Ducret
Needles: Denise Interchangeables size 8, magic looped
Yarn: Noro Kureyon, colorways # 138 (the bright one) and 116 (the black and grey one)
Modifications: I got a gauge of 4 stitches to the inch, and cast on 88 stitches. I knit the straight part of the hat for 5 1/2 inches before decreasing.
Notes: I like this pattern! It is simple to memorize, the pattern shows up against the Noro but doesn't take away from the color changes.

I've also been spinning! Here was the fiber I chose; it's from Woolytreasures , and is about 5 oz of merino.


Here are the spun singles. I felt that the fiber was a bit clumped together, maybe even a little felted at spots, but with a lot of predrafting, things turned out very well. I did feel that the colors were very vibrant and well saturated - there were no undyed spots or faint spots.



And here it is, all plied up! My urge is to underply, so I plied it MORE than I thought I ought to, and I think it turned out quite well! There are about 280 yards of worsted weight yarn here, and I'm not sure what to do with it. It's not totally even, there are thick and thin spots, so it couldn't be anything that required a precise, crisp look. There's enough for like 4 hats, certainly enough for a scarf of some sort. I just don't know yet!


I have serious startitis lately. The problem is this: every project I start, I manage to totally screw up somehow, and have to do some major ripping/ restarting. I don't know what the deal is! The Rusted Root WAS finished, but I decided it was too short and have unraveled the bottom ribbing, but don't feel like finishing it. Plus, I have now decided that I don't like the ribbing I did around the neck and sleeves, either. I started the February Lady Sweater, knit to below the armpits, and then decided I really needed to do the next size up. Then, I completed the main part and got maybe 7 inches into one sleeve, then suddenly realized I had knit the sleeve onto the wrong side of the sweater. Rrrrrrrrrrip. Then, I started a toe up sock and I think that I have made the foot part too long.

So, what next? Will I run away from all of these projects, or will I belly up to the bar and actually finish something? All of these projects look like they are going to be really great - both sweaters look like they fit very nicely, and will therefore be faves to wear. but, um, not in their unfinished forms! Aggggh! I even made two hats out of handspun yarn, and had to restart one of them, too! (the crocheted one had to be redone... luckily, it was a VERY quick knit). I'm wondering if I need to do some sort of two hour SUPER EASY project that will be like a reparative experience for me. Or is that just the startitis talking!
Tour de.... Fleece?

Today was the first day of the Tour de France, as well as the Tour de Fleece! Internet savvy knitters and spinners are always dreaming up timely knitting/ spinning challenges, and the latest is the Tour de Fleece.

The idea is to spin along with the cyclists, but on our spinning wheels instead of on bicycles. So, I spread out my stash and surveyed the scenery, to decide which fiber to start with:


Yeah... there are a lot of options there! I decided upon a gorgeous 5 ounce braid of merino from Wooly Treasures on Etsy.

Now, it appears as though most participants are just going to spin like crazy, but my goal is going to be a little different - my goal is to both spin AND knit this up into something, since I've already spun a bunch of yarn and haven't managed to actually KNIT any of it! I think that this is because I'm sort of afraid that the yarn will be inferior and will fall apart as soon as I start to knit it or something! I hope I'm wrong! :)

I started spinning this morning along with the riders. At first, I was all confused and upset, because I could swear that today was Day 1, but it was called "Stage 1" instead of the "Prologue". Where was the prologue? Where did it go? When was it? Fortunately, I figured out that I did not miss out on anything, there was no Prologue this year.

I didn't take pictures of my spinning from today, but will update as I go along.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Jeans!

I am always in search of the perfect pair of jeans. My long legs immediately render most pants of any type completely unwearable. I have no sympathy whatsoever for short people who whine about having to hem pants - at least you have that option! There is no option to lengthen jeans, my short legged friends. Even a lot of 'long' pants only have a 34 inch inseam, which is juuuuust a bit too short for me. Bummer, right?

My second problem is that even when I DO find a pair of jeans that are long enough, chances are they have a too-short inseam or are too boxy in fit, so that the hips are tight, but the waist area is several inches too big. Once again, it is not possible to lengthen an inseam, people!

Now that I am done whining, I will note that a LOT of people have a hard time finding that perfect pair of jeans. Enter the solution: you can MAKE YOUR OWN JEANS! At this website, you select a type of denim, you enter certain measurements, pick a cut (boot cut, baggy, skinny, etc) choose any add ons you like (various pocket designs), and add in any other specifics... and presto! Perfect jeans! Including shipping (from India), most jeans are about $65, which is certainly cheaper than a lot of jeans out there. I am absolutely going to try this. If it works out, I truly may never try on a pair of jeans in a store again. They even have a maternity option, and they even offer a Brazilian cut jean. I have always wanted Brazilian jeans, because they accentuate the posterior, while offering enough seat coverage to avoid 'plumber's butt'. However, they are not made in sizes appropriate for a woman with Amazonian proportions! :)

Now, who says that late night web surfing doesn't pay off! My only problem now is to decide which jeans I want. They have a page of customer appreciation shots, and it certainly does look as though the 'customer is king'... there is one dude who appears to enjoy a TWO INCH FRONT INSEAM (that particular photo is not for the faint of heart), and presto... he gets what he wants! They will make ANY waist size, although the cost goes by waist circumference... there is even an option for a waist size above 68.1 inches.

I am beside myself with delight. I really hope this works out!