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It’s snowing on the blog, Part eleventy.

Whoops, almost didn’t get to tell you it’s snowing on the blog.  I practically needed a snowblower to get in here, with the complete and utter lack of traffic on my part.

Okay, so let’s sum up.  Tape your ankles.

In August, I decided that I needed to get a nifty attachment for the Hansen miniSpinner.  They make a quill that you can spin on, but get this – you can also wind weaving bobbins!  And who has a neglected loom?  This gal!  So naturally, buying something else for something not getting used made great sense.  And since I was ordering stuff and they were going to have to ship it anyway – I threw a WooLee Winder in the cart.

September – We went on the second vacation of the year with Ramblin’s parents to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg in the second week of September.  It was just a short getaway, but we had a great time.  On Monday, we made a trek all the way to South Carolina (mostly just to add another state to our visited list) with the goal of a little ice cream/coffee shop only to find out they were closed on Mondays.  PSA: Don’t visit South Carolina on Mondays. On Tuesday, we traversed the Artists’ Loop in Gatlinburg, and I got to talk with a weaver.  That evening, Ramblin got to experience the Dixie Stampede for the first time.   Wednesday we went back to Gatlinburg to walk along the strip and do some of the more touristy things: Sky Lift, Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum (reliving part of Ramblin’s childhood memories), Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, and a nice little side trip to the yarn shop.  You knew we would fit that in, right?  Then we wandered farther afield to Wears Valley and on the way back, Ramblin and I rode Goats on the Roof roller coaster.  Here’s a video of Ramblin’s experience.

It was on Wednesday that I noticed my throat/sinuses felt a little weird.  I thought maybe it was just hotel respiratory syndrome, but there was a lot of smoking down there, and with my sensitivities to it, I was afraid of what was coming.

So, I spent the rest of September sick.  Unfortunately, I also had a dyeing class to teach and a craft show to vend at.  I threw all sorts of remedies at the crud to get myself well enough for the dye class on the 19th, and promptly lost my voice afterwards.  I got enough of it back for the craft show on the 24th and was worthless the rest of the week.

Ramblin’s parents came up on the 30th to see their grandson, Ramblin’s nephew, conduct the high school band in his senior year homecoming parade.  They had been calling for rain for that evening, but we pressed on.  About half an hour before the  parade start, thunder began to rumble.  About 10 minutes before the parade start, the rain came.  However, the show must go on, so armed with umbrellas, we watched those poor kids march in the rain.  That’s dedication.

I wondered if being out in the rain was the most sensible thing a recovering sick person could do, but at 8:30 that night, I felt the last dregs of the crud let go.  Hooray for feeling normal!

And that was great timing, because for October, we had booked a cabin in southern Illinois.  This trip was planned before Ramblin’s parents asked about Gatlinburg, but we decided to keep it on the schedule.  So glad we did.  The next day after the parade, we headed south to an Irish festival being held a short distance from our cabin.  It was another rainy day, but we didn’t let the rain dampen our enthusiasm.  There were two stages with several bands throughout the day, highland games, and food and craft booths.  We’re in a very small populated area, and the talent they were able to book was extraordinary.  The headlining group was Dallahan, a group from Ireland/Scotland/Hungary.  I got to meet a fellow soapmaker and chat about the business with her.

We traveled on to our cabin with a quick stop for Chinese food to refill our bellies.  The cabin was very remote in an incredibly peaceful setting.  We had a hot tub and pool table and made good use of both.  We ventured out to Lambert’s on Sunday, and then traveled on to Arkansas (you guessed it, another state for the list) to a pumpkin patch, which was open, and the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, which was not but would have been open on Monday.  Irony, thy name is tourist attraction schedules.

After we got back from Vacation Part 3, I went into soap-making mode.  Being worthless for most of September, plus great sales at the shows in July and September, had put me way behind schedule.  From the second week of October until the first week of November, I made 96 pounds of soap.  Why all the soap?  Well, in addition to the little local shop I do each year, I was going to have soap at the yarn shop (along with hand-dyed yarns, more on that later) for Small Business Saturday, plus a soap show at Ramblin’s work as part of their employee committee fundraiser, and the biggest opportunity, a very well regarded craft show at a local school.  The school craft show was in the state next door (we’re only 20 miles from it, so not ambitious travel).  I had no idea how much sales might be, so I wanted to be well-prepared.

Lest you think I spent the whole October chained to the soap pots, we did take a break and visit with Ragged and Cynical.  We got to meet their newest addition, Miss Margot the beautiful gray kitty cat.  We also ventured out to a fiber fest I’ve never had the chance to attend.  It used to be in Corydon, IN, but now has moved to New Albany.  It was a nice little show, and two braids of food for the miniSpinner aka spinning fiber from Lunabud Knits followed me home.  I was also fortunate enough to win a door prize!  There were five options left to choose from, and I selected a notebook of knitter’s graph paper.  Maybe that will jumpstart some of these designs bouncing around in my brain.

We kept hearing the vendors talking about a great sushi/taco place, and while I was perfectly game to go despite not being a particular fan of either sushi or Mexican food, Ragged insisted we find another place.  And find one, she did.  The Exchange Pub.  Oh. My. Word.  Actually, a few words: goat cheese fritters with bacon date aioli and The Exchange Burger – local beef with argula, caramelized onions, gorgonzola on a pretzel roll.  On our way back, we stopped at the Corydon Extravaganza, and Ragged hit the jackpot on vintage finds.

November!  Once the soap was done, it was time to launch into yarn dyeing, as the local yarn shop would be featuring my yarns beginning on Small Business Saturday and throughout the month of December.  November also brings deer seasons and Thanksgiving, which means traveling to the farm for two extended weekends and this year traveling to Ramblin’s parents post-Thanksgiving weekend.  And lest we forget, I play at being an online instructor for college courses.  Deer seasons this year were tough, with Ramblin only getting a doe on the very last day of the second season.  Since Wayne County lost its late season/CWD weekends, this meant one tag would go unfilled.  For Thanksgiving, I didn’t think about getting a Turkey until the week of.  You know what’s left four days before Thanksgiving?  8 pound turkeys and 22 pound turkeys.  Well, I didn’t buy an 8 pound turkey, as it was almost expensive as the 22 pound turkey.  That was a lot of turkey, but not a shred of it went to waste.

And just like that, it was December.  The second deer season coincides with the local craft show, so we head down to the farm on Wednesday, stayed Thursday and Friday with Ramblin hunting with my uncles, then on Saturday, I wake up when he does, drive the truck back to our house 40 min away, get in the car, drive three or so miles to the show, set up, sell from 9-3, tear down, drive back home, get in the truck, drive back to the farm.  Whew.  This year, sales were down from previous years, a pattern that would continue.  Then we head back home on Sunday.  It’s a bit hectic, but we get to enjoy all the things we do.

The following week, I was prepping some extra products for two shows.  Friday would be the day I set up at Ramblin’s work and the very next day was the reportedly huge craft show.  I make a solid lotion product I call Meringue, and it’s great for frequently washed hands.  Who frequently washes their hands?  Hospital employees.  I had set up in the spring previously, right before Mother’s Day.  I didn’t know how sales would go, so I only took 16 Meringues with me.  Well, those sold in the first hour, and I took orders after.  This time around, I was going to be ready.  I made 96 Meringues for the two shows and sold 38 at the hospital, with Ramblin getting hit up for more the next week.  I also made some bath bombs which are not my favorite product to make yet, but people enjoy them.  They are very finicky to get just right, and I’m sure with more practice I’ll develop that feel.

So, the hospital show was a great success, but it was a long day.  I was scheduled to be there from 7:15 – 3:30, so that was close enough to Ramblin’s hours that I just planned to ride in with him.  Then he had to go in early since his boss was off, so I got there at 6:20am.  We packed up at the end of the day and headed home to rest up for the next day.

While living right next to another state can be handy, one thing about it that is not is that it is on Eastern time while we are on Central time.  You see where this is heading.  We had to be up an hour earlier to make up for the time change.  As we had never been there before, we wanted to allow plenty of time.  So, up at 5:40am, on the road at 6:00, arrived around 6:30 – 7:30 local, found our booth location near the back of the school, parked in the back parking lot, hauled stuff in, set up, had breakfast, and were ready to go at 8:30. An announcement came that vendors should move their vehicles from the front of the building and away from the entrances.  Since our booth was at the back of the building, we didn’t have to worry.  Then at 8:45, another announcement came that vendors needed to move their vehicles away from the front of the building, and if they didn’t want to mover their vehicles, they could come to the front office and their application would be voided.  This information was provided to us well in advance, so no one had any excuse for not complying.  Of course, we’ve planned events before and know that things don’t always go like they should.

The show opened at 9:00, and sales started off well.  Vendors were set up throughout the hallways and in the gymnasium, and there was constant traffic by the booth.  As is typical, things started to slow down around 1:00. Around 2:00, Ramblin was getting hit by the sleepies and walked around for a bit.  When he got back, I went for a wander myself.  There were two other soap vendors at the show, and I felt like that was definitely a factor in the day’s sales.  A few people had walked by our booth and said, “Oh, I wish I would have waited!”  I spoke to a couple of the other vendors, one a husband and wife selling woven rugs (fellow weavers!), and another that I had been set up next to at the fall show in Olney.  Both reported low sales.  One said that while last year had been a really good year, she had only sold half of that this year.

I went back to our booth and did a quick count.  It was not as good as I had done the day before at the hospital.  There was an option to apply for next year now with a $10 deposit to hold your place for next year, but I was unsure.  This year has been an odd year, so I don’t know that much can be told from one time, but I just couldn’t commit.  Around 3:30, another announcement came across the loudspeaker that vendors were reminded not to remove anything from their booths until the show ended at 4:00, and if vendors didn’t want to do that, they could come to the front office and void their application.  Once again, this was policy stated well in advance, and it’s very standard craft show protocol.  Maybe I’m weird for following rules to the letter, but considering they can kick you out for not following them, I don’t want to run afoul of the organizers.  I even bought special to-the-floor table covers because the rules said to. (spoiler alert: most people didn’t have that).  I was a bit surprised that at no point in the day did any official come and check out the booth.  Or they might have, but they certainly didn’t identify themselves.  At some shows, the organizers will even come by and thank you for participating.  This would turn out to be one of those shows that would never happen, as you will see.

So, 4:00 rolls around, confirmed by both of our cell phones and the clock in the hallway.  Ramblin and I begin the initial packing up, as several around us had started doing a few minutes earlier.  Then there came another announcement, “Hello vendors, this is Krissy Kringle!  It’s now 4:00, so please feel free to pack up your sh– and go home!”  It went deadly silent.  Then came the, “What did she say?!” “She said sh–!”  “I bet a lot of people will come to the front office to void their applications now!”  At this point, I would like to mention that the very first rule on the craft show agreement was  “Vendors are to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.  No profanity.”  They even went through the trouble to bold it.  There was another announcement by someone else wishing us all a happy holidays, but that ship had sailed.  We were done.  My earlier hesitation to apply for the next year was well founded.  We packed up our FINE QUALITY MERCHANDISE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and went home.

After that, I felt like I deserved a reward.  Three Akerworks bobbins for the WooLee Winder, to be exact.  Merry Christmas to me.  Maybe I’ll get to spin on it again one of these days.

The following week was the last week of classes.  Over the years, I’ve worked to make this a very simple week for both myself and my students.  Classes ended at noon on Friday; grades were submitted later that evening.  Done!

The next day (Does my life seem busy to you? It seems pretty busy to me.), Ramblin’s parents came up for Christmas at Ramblin’s brother’s house.  Of course, the weather couldn’t possibly cooperate, and they were calling for freezing rain and other muck that evening.  We had lunch, then there was the opening of gifts.  All too soon, to avoid the weather, Ramblin’s parents headed back, and we returned to cozy in for the evening.

Remembering the lesson from Thanksgiving, I bought a more reasonable 13 pound turkey for Christmas.  Comparatively, it cooked lightning fast.  We headed down to the farm for lunch and gift-giving.  My uncles are not great shoppers, so typically we get scratch-off lottery tickets.  It’s a bit of fun and dreaming, even if it doesn’t come to bear.  Except this year.  One of the batches of tickets Ramblin scratched had a $1000 winner.  Holy cow!

We spent a quiet evening in for New Year’s Eve.  The next day we traveled to the farm for a lunch meal of Kentuckian Legend ham, black-eyed peas, and steamed veggies with cabbage, with dessert of my favorite strawberry jello, sour cream, pineapple, banana, and pecans.  I think the real recipe calls for Sprite, but I prefer mine uncarbonated.  I love it, but I only think to make it once a year.

And that’s where we are, friends.  Thanks for slogging through all of that.  I didn’t mention scattered through there were knitting projects for the yarn shop and knitting projects for lots of gifts.  You know, as if that wasn’t enough.

So, what’s up for this next year?  Well, certain events didn’t go the way I had hoped, and it feels like optimism is going have to be worked for.  I’m going to try to be very intentional in finding positivity because it feels like hopelessness is waiting around every corner.  I think it is going to be very much on each of us to create the reality we desire because it is certainly not going to be created for us.  That’s true at any time, but I feel like it is more obvious now.

But what about fun, Needlefingers?  Oh yes, there’s fun planned, too.  I’m not doing resolutions anymore, but I do have plans.

  • Learn to make macarons
  • tie-dye all the things
  • Learn Croatian (or bits of it, anyway)

I want to make macarons, because my goodness, is there anything prettier?

Multi-coloured macarons, September 2010

Despite years of dyeing yarns and fibers, I have never tie-dyed a single thing.  How does that happen?!  I don’t know, but it needs to stop.  I have the cotton dyes.  I’ve bought the shirts.  It’s go time.

My great-grandfather was from Croatia, and learning a language should be good for your brain, so why not Croatian?  I’ve already found a YouTube video on how to swear in Croatian, and you never know when that might come in handy.  ;)

Also, my goal is to read more.  I spend too much time faffing around on the internet, and that’s time that could be spent in all sorts of different worlds.  And since my sweetie got me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas, joining the Kindle Touch and Nexus tablet, I really have no excuse not to read.  There’s a device at my fingertips at every moment.

Okay, so I’ll see you in another three months or so, yeah?

It’s snowing on the blog! (for like the tenth time)

Yeah, that title gets overused, but hey, it’s accurate.  Or it is until I don’t post on here for seven months, and you’re thinking, “Why in blue blazes would it be snowing in August?!”

So, what have I been up to?  Making soap like crazy.  Dyeing yarns.  Plotting.  Planning.

Also, back in October (or Socktober, in which I actually managed to knit three pairs of socks), we went to New York City.  We went on a bus trip as we knew NY wasn’t something we would take on ourselves to plan. For those trips, you just can’t beat bus travel.  Well, okay, the bus riding might get a bit old, but hey, I had knitting, and Ramblin napped.

So anyway, if I don’t see you before then, have a great summer.

Latest Soapy Creation

Psychedelic Pswirl

I had been watching YouTube videos on soapmaking and saw yet another spin swirl.  I showed the pictures of the cuts to Ramblin, and he was itchin’ to try it.  So we did.  The above picture is our first effort, and it looks to be a success.  So much so that I went to Lowe’s today to pick up materials for Ramblin to make me three slab molds for more spin swirling.  And soap dishes.  And soap displays.  And soap drying racks.

Have I mentioned that I love this man?

Tune in for the soap cut pictures later this week.  We should really wait a couple of days, but I’m not sure we can take the suspense.

It’s snowing on the blog!

I always feel the need to announce that, like you can’t tell as soon as you open the page.

I haven’t knit any more socks since Socktoberfest, but I have been knitting other things. That’s not true since I started a pair of socks while this post has been marinating. (pictures were giving me fits, so I had to leave it for a few days)

First, I knitted a hat I thought was going to be for me, but then when I finished, I knew that it wasn’t.  I didn’t know who it was for, but the hat wasn’t saying, “Mine”.  Then when I learned my friend didn’t have a hat for winter, I realized she was who the hat belonged to.

Stark finished

Then, another Loopy Academy project, I knitted a cowl.

That Nice Stitch in Those Nice Colors done

And there’s been a sweater partially knitted as well, just needing the button bands and collar. Since I’m so close, I’ll just wait until it’s done for a picture.

And of course, there’s been soap.

Swirls

Well, not just soap, but other products.  Things like lotion bars.

Festive lotion bars

 

And Meringue, a lovely whipped body butter.

Meringue

And I’m already thinking about scents for Valentine’s Day.

 

My people

The day after I made my last post, my uncle died.

It was a sudden onset of something that was serious, but should have been survivable.

So, now my close blood relations are down to three bachelor uncles in their late 50s to mid 60s.  Go watch the movie Secondhand Lions and you’ll get a flavor of these guys.  I do adore them for all their quirkiness, and I hope it’s a very long time before I have to say goodbye to another one of them.  Two deaths in less than two years has left me rather broken.

But, cracked up and all, life goes on.  I’m trying to take a lesson from this and live life like there are no guarantees because that’s exactly how it is.  Ragged and I will be heading to a local fiber festival soon.  This year, it’s not so much about the yarn as it is about the experience.  I still haven’t bought any yarn in 2014.  I know that will change with this festival (I mean, c’mon, it’s Briar Rose.), but it is more about getting to spend time with my friend (our other partner in crime is unable to attend for very, very happy reasons), see people I only get to see once or maybe twice a year, and just be among people that get me.  I can’t describe being in a crowd of people that may not be exactly like you, but at least in one way, understand you perfectly.

In this area, that’s pretty rare.

Slicing day

Whoops, didn’t mean to keep anyone in suspense:

bars o' soap

 

Just looking at this picture, it reminds me of cheese.  Mmmm, cheese.

Off to look up cheese-making . . .

Lo and behold, it’s soap!

block o' soap

Today was unmolding day.  Tomorrow will be slicing day.  Then 10 days later, it will be using day.

I wish the blog came with smell-o-vision because it smells awesome.