Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Victimizing the Victims Part III

You wait.

You must wait to put gasoline in your car. You must wait to buy groceries. You cannot order the shoes that you need. You are stuck waiting for the bank to put your money back because they told your husband that they would.

On Friday, the bank deposits $1,200 in your account. But there is not yet any refund of the $150 overdraft charges.

On Saturday, you get a letter from the bank stating that they have "temporarily" put the missing money back pending the outcome of their investigation and if it is discovered that the money really was stolen due to no fault on your part, the deposit will be permanent. You wonder what is meant by "no fault". You wonder if there was something you could have done differently to prevent this. You feel a burst of anger at the bank people because you feel as if they are doubting you and may, in fact, try to blame you for what happened.

You still don't have a replacement debit card. But at least the bank covered the check you had written to the grocery store.

On Monday, the bank finally puts back the overdraft charge fee.

Payday is on Thursday. You are worried that not closing the account altogether may have been a mistake. What if the thieves know when you get paid and try again to spend your money?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Some pictures

I need a break from the drama and took a few pictures of works in progress.

First is the yarn I made for my sister's hat. I just hope I have enough. It's roughly fingerling weight... may be a tad heavier.

The other pictures are of the red sock


Victimizing the Victims Part II

You find that by light of day the money is still gone but you have access to more people who can help.

A few hours of sleep helps.

Your husband, who has worked all night and gotten no sleep at all, reads the anger and panic in your face and while he initially complains that going to the bank can wait, realizes that you are about to careen off the edge of sanity if he doesn't wait just a few more hours to rest. He sends you off to your first day of testifying in court for your new job.

You arrive at work and tell your new boss what has happened. He gives you a look of concern and wonders out loud if you might not be better off doing something else today. "Your mind isn't going to be here, anyway," he says. He means well but it comes across as being a bit condescending and he seems to read this in your body language and immediately changes course and says, "Well, never mind then, come on; we have things to do."

On the ride over to the court house he tries to help you be a little more understanding of the sheriff's departments. You're not ready to do that. You talk instead about feeling even more victimized by the very people who are hired to help. He suggests that you write up your own report and deliver it to them. You wonder what form to use for that report?

The court room is packed. It's term day. You look around and wonder how many of these people are in the court room today because they are crime victims. Do most victims even know that this is the day when cases are reviewed for dismissal or extension or other sentence changes both minor and major. If they do know, do they feel that justice is served here?

The day begins with the seating of the Grand Jury. These are the folks in the community who determine if the Commonwealth has a case worth pursuing. They are given instructions by the judge and are sworn in and removed to a back room where they begin hearing testimony from a steady stream of investigators, deputies and other witnesses.

You wonder if the people who stole your money will ever be caught, and will the evidence collected be enough to get past a Grand Jury and into a court room. You decide it is better to focus on the cases coming up before the judge and for a little while forget about what has happened.

You end up being in court for less time than you thought. The new assistant commonwealth's attorney does not spend a lot of time making arguments pro or con. He presents the facts and moves on calling for statements from probation officers and offenders. A handful of civil matters are docketed for later dates. Some offenders lose the privilege of living in the community because they still cannot follow the rules. Others have, at least for a time, found ways to function fairly well under supervision, claim to be contributing members of society now and are released from their sentences. You learn there is usually a pool placed on each offender regarding how long it will be before they return with new arrests.

You, your boss and coworker leave the courthouse just after noon and head back to the office. There is a message on your cellphone from your husband who reports he has been to the bank, there are four forms you must sign and he is leaving them in front of your computer at home. He says they must be returned in the morning so the bank can start the process of getting your money back. He doesn't say how long this will take but notes he is going to bed and he will see you the next day because he has to work again tonight.

You return to the office. You feel better. You feel lighter. Perhaps some progress is being made. Your phone rings, it is an assistant to your delegate calling. She is very kind and you apologize for the frantic and bizarre message you left for them the night before. She assures you that it is okay and she understands and is concerned that I felt I was given the run around by the various law enforcement agencies. You advise her about what the forms the bank has prepared. She asks if you have to close the account. You don't know. She tells you to call her if you have any more problems or need any more help. You feel she is sincere in her willingness and ability to help.

You spend the last few hours of the afternoon drafting violation reports and filling out arrest warrants.

You get home. Your son says he isn't hungry, chats for a minute and complains that school is "stupid", then disappears to his room with the phone. He's worried about his report card and knows he will soon lose his phone privileges because of his grades. He is stressed.

You look at the pile in front of your computer and find the forms and sign them. You call your husband at work but he is so busy that he doesn't have but a moment to talk and says he will take the forms back to the bank in the morning.

He also tells you the bank says they don't need a criminal complaint from the sheriff's department. Something in the back of your mind sets off a low alarm bell. For some reason, you don't quite believe this is true. You decide to write out your own complaint as your boss suggested and deliver it to the sheriff's department with a copy of the state law first thing in the morning on your way to work. You decide to request that they process it and call you if they have questions.

You have no appetite but decide that a glass of wine would probably taste pretty good. While reading your emails you have a second glass.

You get an email from the friend you wrote the night before who works with Victim Services. She provides the name and phone number for the contact person in the Attorney General's office that works specifically with fraud and identity theft. She also strongly suggests that you contact the various credit bureaus to warn them not to open any accounts in your name or using your social security number. You wonder if this means that you won't be able to open any new accounts either.

You also get an email from another friend who knows people in California. Her connection there writes back with the names of the Board of Supervisors and their phone numbers and suggests that you contact them to complain about how you were treated. His job is to collect child support from deadbeat parents. He understands what it is to be a victim. In addition to his suggestions, your girlfriend provided a link to the FBI internet crime site where you can file a complaint.

You feel very tired. You decide to wait until you are less exhausted to write to the FBI.

You still don't know if you have to close the account that you have. You try to mentally draw up a list of business who get automated payments out of that account. You can only think of one but you know there are others. The wine is starting to cloud your thinking.

And you are so tired!

You wonder how to go about getting your paycheck if there is no account to transfer it to and who you have to call to get this fixed. You think about calling your husband back to ask him but know he is probably up to his eyeballs with the inmates and staff he supervises at the prison.

You find some leftovers in the refrigerator and heat them up in the microwave. Cooking requires more energy than you have right now.

You knit a little on the sock you have been trying to finish but it just seems like too much effort. You look at the clock. It's 9 p.m.

You tell your son you are going to bed and order him off the phone. You get the dogs settled in for the night and crawl into bed. You don't even bother to get undressed. In minutes you are fast asleep.

Then, there is loud bang on the roof. You look at the clock. It is 1:30 a.m. The wind is howling and the tin roof on your house is bumping from the wind. You get up and let the dogs out. While you are waiting for them to come back you get a glass of water, then drink a second one. You feel hungry and eat a yogurt. It's 2 a.m. You let the dogs back in. You start to write hoping you will be able to get back to sleep before dawn. At 3:20 a.m. you head back to bed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Victimizing the Victims Part I

You never think it's going to happen to you. You think you are doing everything you are supposed to be doing, taking precautions like you are warned to do.

Then one day, you go to the grocery store to grab a few groceries on your way home from work and your debit card is rejected. Now, you've done the math wrong from time to time and had this happen but the bank (because you have overdraft protection) covers it for you and charges you some outrageous fee for the privilege. But you don't begrudge the service because it keeps you from writing rubber checks and being charged with fraud or uttering bad checks. But you are pretty sure you have enough money to cover $50 worth of groceries. So you write a check to cover because it really probably just the fact that your card is bent and the machine isn't reading it right.

So you come home and bring your bank account records up on line only to discover that you are over drawn by more than $1,000! Now, you know your math skills aren't THAT bad, so you frantically scroll down over your statement report to find a charge for $300.00 even at Macy's in Santa Clarita, California. Then there's a charge for $300.00 even at Sears in Santa Clarita, California and then another at the same Sears for the same amount and then a fourth charge for $300.00 again at the Macy's. There is also a $150 overdraft fee from the bank. All of it on the same day. It was 2 days ago.

$1350.00 gone.

Shit! Someone has stolen your money!

You call the bank and leave a message because it's 7:30 p.m. and they are closed. You tell them that they must not make anymore payments on that account.

Then you call the Sheriff's Department where you are told by a deputy AND his supervisor that they can't take your complaint because the charges were in Santa Clarita, California. But they begrudgingly tell you that someone will come out to the house to take a complaint if you insist. You do. You've heard about this kind of thing and you know you have to file a criminal complaint so the bank can refund your money and start their own investigation.

While you are waiting, just to cover your behind, you call the Santa Clarita Sheriff's Department where they pass you around for a while, then put you on hold for 22 minutes until you end up talking to a deputy who says you have to file the complaint with your local sheriff's department. She is rude about it. She refuses to let you talk to her supervisor and then she hangs up on you because you insist on talking to her supervisor.

You make a mental note to write a complaint letter to the Sheriff of Santa Clarita, California.

Then you call your Representative in the Virginia General Assembly. They are also closed but you leave a message. You know you may need some help.

You write an email to your friend who works with Victim Services in Richmond and ask her for a contact person at the Attorney General's Office who works with fraud cases.

You go back to the bank statement and decide that even though Virginia shuts down at dark, it's only 7:45 p.m. so California is probably still open for business. So you get on the internet and look up the phone number for customer service at the Santa Clarita, California Macy's. The gal there is nice. She gives you an 800 # and warns you that the automated operator will keep asking for an account # but you need to just keep saying "Help."

You call that number and sure enough you repeat the word "Help" about 8 times before a real live person comes on the line. Somewhere along the 6th time you say "help", tears start welling up in your eyes. It dawns on you that you really are a crime victim, you have lost the equivalent of an entire paycheck to some stranger with a computer and you really truly do need help.

The real live person who comes on the line at that local store notes immediately that you need to talk someone at their headquarters in Ohio in the fraud department and gives you the 800 # but offers to connect you. She does that and a young man comes on the line. He's nice, but says he can't help you because the charges were made on a third-party account and not a Macy's charge card. You have a melt down. The drama queen finally comes out. And he listens through it all. Twice. Then you are calm. You take a breath. You laugh a little. You tell him you are sorry for the ranting. He apologies for being unable to help you. He at least sounds sincere. He tells you that because all four transactions were for an even dollar amount it sounds to him like the thieves were buying gift cards. You agree that this makes sense.

It's now 9:30 at night. No deputy has come to take your complaint. You decide to go to bed and take a sleeping pill so you can rest because you have to testify in court tomorrow against criminals who do things like this to people and you need to rest because you need to be able to think clearly and be professional and not break down in tears on the stand because you are so angry and so frustrated.

You wake up at 4:00 a.m. You look again at the bank statement and get out the calculator and figure out that if this had not happened, you would have $250.67 left until pay day. It's not much, but you could buy groceries and fill your car with gas once. You know how to make that much stretch over a week.

You note again that the fraudulent charges were made two days ago. You worry because you have to be in court all day and cannot get to the bank. So you call the bank back and explain more calmly this time that you did write a check to the grocery store the night before on this account and it needs to be covered, but nothing else is outstanding and nothing else should be paid and that your husband will be coming in to talk to them today about this and you are giving him permission to handle this business because you have to be in court all day today and cannot come in. You give them the approved check # and the number of the account in question.

You know this is entirely too much information to pack into an automated voice mail. But you feel panicked because they must not let any more of your money go out. You think about the trip you made to California in May when the bank would not let you pay your hotel bill with the debit card because it was over $500 and they had a limit on how much could be transacted at any one time from out of state. You guess that anything over $300 must be too much and the criminals who steal money know this.

You go back on the internet and look up state law. It only takes a couple of minutes but you find that in the Code of Virginia 18.2-186.3:1 it states: A. A consumer may report a case of identity theft to the law-enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where he resides.

You also find this piece of Virginia Code: 8.4A-204 (a) If a receiving bank accepts a payment order issued in the name of its customer as sender which is (i) not authorized and not effective as the order of the customer under 8.4A-202, or (ii) not enforceable, in whole or part, against the customer under 8.4A-203, the bank shall refund any payment of the payment order received from the customer to the extent the bank is not entitled to enforce payment and shall pay interest on the refundable amount calculated from the date the bank received payment to the date of the refund.

You find it also gives you 90 days to find the problem and report it.

You interpret this on first reading to mean that the bank has to refund your money and cannot charge you the overdraft fee. On second reading, you think they may interpret this to mean they have to pay you interest against what is missing if they would have owed interest on it if it had been left in the bank. In any case, the 90 day notice seems important.

You call the Sheriff's Department back and tell them you found the state law that says they have to take your complaint. The dispatcher tells you that you will have to come into the office to file the complaint. You explain that you are in court all day and why. He tells you to stop by on the way home. You begin to feel victimized again and tears well up in your eyes. You know you look swollen and miserable.

You wake your son because it is time for him to get ready for school. You realize you have been awake for two hours and still haven't made coffee. You start writing about this in your blog because if these people are ever caught you want a well documented story that you can put in your victim impact statement.

You know this may end up being a long drawn out nightmare. You just hope they don't have access to your credit cards, too.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Colorado Hat

I sent my sister in Colorado and email yesterday and gave her an update on the hat she requested. As of yesterday, I had spun the alpaca and the rambouillet (after rewashing and recarding it).

She was so excited to hear that I had taken her seriously and said she is going to be bragging about how not only did her sister knit this hat, but that I had spun the yarn, too!

Nothing like a little pressure, eh?

As of this morning, dried and skeined, I have 126 yards of worsted weight 2-ply. It's very nice. I'm just not sure I have enough. Fortunately, I still have some alpaca roving and there is still some of the wool on the bobbin so I can make more if I need to.

As I was plying I was a little concerned because I had spun the wool somewhat finer than I did with mom's hat (also minus all the neps and junk). I had also spun the alpaca on the spindle for mom's so it was very much finer than the wool. Anyway, as I was plying, it appeared that the alpaca color (the fawn) was more prominent than the chocolate brown wool. My sister was especially excited by the chocolate color in mom's hat because she thought it would match the color of a coat she was preparing to buy. When I washed the skein, however, the wool bloomed beautifully and the two colors are almost even in presentation. I'm very happy with this yarn.

And I will take a picture before I start knitting it.

Anyway, I got to thinking as I was plying these singles last night, that this whole hat really will be fully representative of the Made in Virginia theme. Both animals (the alpaca and the sheep) are Virginia raised and their fleeces were harvested in Virginia and sold in Virginia to a Virginian who is spinning and knitting with them.

And when complete in a couple of weeks, will be going to keep the head warm of a former Virginian.

I'm a little concerned, however, because on February 2nd we are traveling to West Virginia for the weekend to visit with friends. What if I'm not done by then? Would it be cheating to carry it across state lines and knit on it? Or should I just lay it down as we cross the line, pick up another project to work while in West Virginia, and then pick it up on our way back? Or can I just invoke that old pre-Civil War notion that West Virginians were just being ornery because they were all poor and didn't own slaves and no matter what they say, they will always be Virginians?

How silly can I get with this anyway?

Thanks for the Support

I do want to thank the many folks who commented and those who wrote me privately to encourage me in the weight loss project.

Yesterday was not such a great day in that department. I thought I had a healthy, low fat lunch until I went back and read the label and realized that the soup alone was 10 points! Yikes. Watch out for those Thai noodle meals. Anyway, I went over my points yesterday but I'm onto a new day and can just proceed.

I think I will have to find a way to track my progress in the side bar somehow... maybe. I'm a bit balky about going into that sidebar stuff even though it's a lot easier with the new Blogger.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sweater Weight

It dawned on me the other day and took me nearly a week to find the courage to write about it, that I'm really too fat to make a sweater from a pattern that I pick up for free or cheap.

I need to purchase a book for sweater patterns for the more endowed among us.

The biggest problem (no pun intended) is that making larger sweaters means that one must use more yarn.

Yarn ain't cheap (unless you shop at Knitpicks) but it would be very nice to be able to purchase a cute pattern for a cute little top and get some really nice yarn (perhaps something with silk in it) and knit a cute little thing that comes together fast and I can complete in something like a week. But because I'm whale sized so anything I make requires mountains of yarn and months to complete. If I start a sweater in June, for instance, it MIGHT be finished in December.

So, the goal this coming year is to lose enough weight to drop three sizes. That means I need to lose at least 45 pounds.

To that end I have re-joined Weight Watchers. I've joined the YMCA (this is partly to get in shape for the job).

When I started all this the week following Christmas and before New Years, I weighed 203 pounds. When I weighed in last Thursday, I weighed 198.5 pounds. That's a loss of 4.5 pounds.

Perhaps by being honest here, I can motivate myself to stay on track. Encouragement is welcome.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More This and That

Over the weekend I spun up a bunch off odd fibers and plied a bunch of singles that I had lying around from spindling.

Here are pictures.

There's not much yarn in each skein. One, the 3-ply natural Corriedale, is actually a very nice yarn but I only have about 10 yards. I took some really trashed junk Rambouillet and spun it up as much to get it out of the way as I two half bobbins full of it so I just plied it together.

I also made this very nice two-ply purple and white corriedale that will make wonderful sock yarn. The problem is that there isn't enough to make an adult pair of socks. I'm thinking that I'm going to save onto it and make some baby booties. Trouble is I just don't know anyone expecting a baby just now.

But I have also spun up some very nice alpaca which is waiting to be plyed with some much nicer rambouillet.

As noted in an earlier post, I have started teasing the rambouillet and then running it through Fred. I realized it was still really sticky because it was still full of lanolin. So over the weekend I nearly boiled the stuff in soapy water. Then rinsed it twice in 160 degree water.

Amazing to me, it STILL has lanolin in it but it is no longer sticky. I did run it through Fred again because the washing and re-drying made it a bit compacted. It is now some really nice stuff. I have about a half a bobbin full. I'm going to shoot for about 3/4 full then ply with the alpaca.

That should give me enough yarn to knit up a hat for my sister in Colorado.

My sweater progresses a bit.

I turned the heel on the first red sock this weekend.

Progress.... it's coming slow but sure.

This and That

I'm done with training and am a real live Parole and Probation Officer now. Work load continues to climb. There really is a crisis every day. And my caseload is double the size that is manageable. I do feel as if I have good support from my co-workers. My immediate supervisor goes so far as to ask me whenever she has a minute if there is something she can do to help and will run criminal checks and make odd phone calls for me when things start to bog down or two people or issues need attention at the same time.

Oddly enough, I feel less stress now than I did three weeks ago. I'm realizing that there is no earthly way I can actually get everything done that has to be done and no one can or will fault me for that.

I do wish we were allowed to work some overtime. At least that way I would feel less guilt about leaving some things undone. But I'm also starting to get a feel for the priorities and the things for which we get "credit" or rather what things are tracked by downtown. What's frustrating is that the things I believe are important and the things they think are important are actually drastically different. Not much difference there from when I was a counselor at the prison.

But help should be coming soon as they are getting ready to hire a fifth officer. This person will be responsible for the sex offenders and may get some "odd jobs" like transfer investigations and/or higher risk offenders or people with special needs. That would take some of the more time consuming folks off my pile.

So I came home tonight and read a few emails and then went upstairs to the fiber room and talked to Eleanor for a while. Ken came up (I think he missed me) and decided she needed more oil, so while I was spinning away he lubed her up real good. He seemed pleased with his help and amused that I find the spinning so relaxing, but even Macha (one of our dogs) seemed to enjoy laying down next to Eleanor and watch her work.

I must take the camera and a box of diskettes upstairs and start tracking my progress.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Handy chart for spinning folks

Yarn Type

50 Grams per skein = 1.8 ounces per skein*

Yards per 50 gram skein

Yards per Pound

Wraps per Inch

Needle Size

Stitches per Inch


50 grams = 1.8 oz


2600 + ypp


#00, 1, 2 or larger depending on project



50 grams = 1.8 oz


1900-2400 ypp


#2, 3, 4

6 – 8


50 grams = 1.8 oz

103 - 110

DK = 123

1200 – 1800 ypp


#4, 5, 6

5 – 6


50 grams = 1.8 oz


900 – 1200 ypp


#7, 8, 9

4.5 – 5


100 grams = 3.53 oz *


600 – 800 ypp


#10, 10.5, 11

3.5 – 4

Super Bulky

100 grams = 3.53 oz*


400 – 500 ypp


#13, 15, 16

2 - 3















I have no idea how this is going to translate into Blogger.

I made this chart to help myself have a fair to middlin' idea of how much yarn I need to make for any given project. And how much fiber I need to purchase to make said yarn.

The information was gleaned from lots of different places and does not necessarily correspond from column to column. The 50 yard skein comes from Knit Picks because that seems to be their average for skein size (it does go up for the bulkier stuff, of course). The yards per pound figure obviously does not correspond with Knit Picks and I can't remember where I got the figures but they do seem to run fairly accurate.

As I make my own yarn and measure and weigh, I will probably make adjustments to this, but it is a starting place for me.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Home again, home again

I returned home yesterday from the Academy after a really LONG four days to find my husband sick with a very bad cold and laryngitis.

My youngest son was in fairly good spirits but his general teenage angst came out tonight when he requested to get on the computer and was told that he could not get on again until his report card came out and if he had any grade less than a C, would not be allowed on the computer at all for the next term and would also not be allowed to use the phone.

All this delivered in the loudest voice that the currently voiceless stepfather could muster. You can imagine the temper tantrum that ensued. Pleasantly, it did not last long and youngest son actually sat down with us for a moment at the dinner table and inhaled his meal before he disappeared with the phone.

Then middle son (the soldier) called and wanted to know if we had found his cell phone. I went up and looked around the room where Eleanor now resides and where middle son slept the few nights he slept here and did not see it. I told him we would mail it to him should it turn up.

He did get the box of all the other stuff he forgot when he left.

The good news is that he says he is not one of the 20,000 being sent over to Iraq. He sounded very relieved when he said it. This does not prohibit him from being one sent over later yet, but at least I have hope now that he will not be going in March.

On the fun side while I was gone, I discovered a really cute little yarn/fiber shop in Powhatan, Virginia which is just around the corner from the Academy. It's called Holly Spring Yarn Shop.
I bought some cashmere.

This is some Oh My Goddess!! stuff. I took it to class with me to let one of my fellow newbie probation officers feel it. She had expressed an interest in knitting as she watched me get about 9 inches completed on my green sweater while sitting in class. I thought it would be nice of me to share some really nice fiber with her.

Well, the bag made it around the room and all 53 newbie probation officers and six instructors fondled my cashmere! I may have to wash it before I spin it up. But it appears to be none the worse for wear. In any case, I spent $16 for an ounce of this stuff. But I know in my heart it will be worth every penny. It's really nice and the goats from which it came are raised by the woman who runs Holly Spring Homespun.

She sends the fleece out for processing (somewhere out West). She had some yarn already spun up and it too was wonderful.

I'm trying to decide if I will blend it with another fiber (like a good quality merino) or just spin it as is. The fiber is relatively short (about 2 inches) but has a nice crimp. It is incredibly fine.

I also bought a really pretty hand dyed roving that is merino. She does very nice work with his hand painted stuff. I was most impressed. She also sells spinning wheels and really truly understands the addiction -- like any good pusher.

She also has some really wonderful yarn for sale. And patterns. And she told me that January is "sweater month" and if you buy enough yarn to make a sweater there is some kind of significant discount. And on Monday evenings she hosts a knitting group.

I will be back to visit her.

And the Christmas tree is still up. I took the decorations off last weekend before I left with the understanding that it would be down and all the Yule stuff put up by the time I returned home. I guess sickness prevents productivity.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Final Week

I'm off to the Academy again tomorrow. This will be the third and final week for the Basic Training for Parole/Probation Officers.

I leave at 5:30 a.m. That means I have to get up at 4 a.m. Now, I normally wake up all on my own between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. so 4 a.m. should not be so bad, right? How much do you want to bet, given this situation, if I did not set an alarm, that I would wake up on time. That's right. None. So, for the first time in a very long time, I'm going to set the alarm clock.

And tomorrow evening, when class gets out (and I pray they release us about 4 p.m. so I can hurry up and get checked into my room), I'm headed off to a newly discovered yarn and spinning shop with is around the corner and over the river and through the woods (or past farm fields) from where I will be. Just minutes away. They stay open until 8 p.m. on Mondays. I'll let you know more when I get back on Thursday night.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Combs in the Forge

I went to visit Dan's Forge which is the blacksmith shop built behind the Rice's Inn Hughlett Tavern in Heathsville, Virginia. I knew they were working with some apprentices and were willing to try to recreate historic tools.

I asked them if they could make me a set of Viking or English combs for combing wool. After some rather interesting discussion about what would be involved and how they would be used and whether or not they really needed to be sharp; I dashed home and brought back a copy of the Woolery's paper catalogue with a picture of several varieties of combs and Amos's book with a fairly detail set of instructions of how to make them.

These guys were awesome. They were both interested and even a bit excited to make tools that would be used and were historic.

They have about three projects (commissions) ahead of me (one of which is fairly large: a fireplace screen for a fireplace large enough to walk into for one of the historic homes in the area.)

They are going to call me when they get started in case they have more questions. They think it won't take but a day to accomplish. One of the fellows is also a wood worker and will prepare the handles.

They were surprised at the catalogue and to see that there is actually a market out there fiber working stuff. They said they had a member of their guild who worked at Stratford Hall and she could sheer a sheep in 8 minutes flat with those non-electric sheering clips. When I go back I will get her name and number and find out if she might know where I can get my hands on some fleece.

They also told me that in April the Tavern folks are hosting an event where folks will be demonstrating old skills (like barrel making, weaving, wood carving, etc.). They wanted to know if I was interested in getting in costume and joining the festivities. I told them I would but that I do not sew, have a limited income, and don't have costume. I was amused when one of the fellows told me that his wife would be happy to make me a costume in exchange for a pair of hand knitted socks. I smiled and told him I best talk to her about such arrangements for I would be highly annoyed if my husband negotiated such a deal for me!

In any case, I'm delighted and excited because in the back of my mind I have this notion of selling handspun yarn at the farmer's market. I probably would not be able to generate a lot of money, but I would certainly meet some interesting people.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I have abandoned the original tea cozy I was knitting for my MIL from a cone of cotton. The fabric was pretty but I somehow crossed the "arm" and messed it up. When I tried to rip it out, I screwed it up even worse.

So I started over. This time I used some of my homespun. This stuff.

I started out using the two ply. That lasted about 2 1/2 inches. Then I switched to the Navajo ply. The two ply is very "heathery". The Navajo is coming out more striped. Still some heathering but striped. It's cool. I am using the singles to do the sewing. I have hemmed it in the picture. I will end up sewing on the pocket with the singles.

I'm thinking the sleeves need to be in Navajo but I have to make the singles MUCH finer so they aren't too bulky to push up and clear the handle and the spout.

Oh, I'm using the pattern from the Fall 2006 Spin-Off of the Tee-shirt tea cozy.

Mom-in-law's birthday is in February. My mom's birthday is in February. Both of them knit. I'm going to give my MIL the tea-cozy. My mom wants yarn I've made.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Meet Fred

This is Fred. He just arrived today via UPS.

He's bigger than I thought he would be. It's probably a good thing I didn't opt for the larger version as I probably would not have had room. As you can tell, my fiber room used to be one of the boy's bedrooms.

Leave this home only if you dare for you will lose your bedroom! Our downstairs bedroom (where eldest son slept) is now a walk in storage room as we have only four small closets in the whole house (built in 1910 when folks used wardrobes and did not accumulate STUFF!

Anyway, I'm having fun already. The first thing I did was run some of the Sheep's Shed Studio black and white roving. I was amazed at how fluffy it became. All I had to do was roll the batt over and it was like a short piece of roving (actually just shorter than what I normally work with at one time). I did a bit of pre-drafting and low and behold, I had PERFECT stuff to work with. Truly amazing!

Then I took this same batt (flattened it out a bit and broke it up a bit) and laid it back on the tray. On top of it I put a couple of tiny locks of purple mohair and ran it through. Pretty nice but it was missing something, and I dug out the pink mohair and used about half as much as I did the purple. I'm wondering if a pinch of green wouldn't punch it up. I may try but don't want to create mud either.

Then I cleaned off what I thought was all of the merino stuff and ran some of my teased rambouillet (Kate's fleece). Check it out.

You can see where I missed some of the white. Lesson learned... first go through should be just a little bit of something to "clean out the previous stuff I missed in the clean up". In any case, I'm very pleased. This is so much nicer than what I was working with before. There are no nebs!! I can still see some junk (vm) but it's MUCH better than it was as the teasing took out most of it.

Might require some tweezers.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year! It's Raining!

I’m writing this entry out in Microsoft Word because now is the time I have to write and the rain is coming down so hard that we cannot get a satellite signal for the internet. Yes, folks, we live so far out in the middle of nowhere that we don’t get internet without a satellite.

Well, we could if we used dial up. And we did that for a while but it drove us all quite mad. And if the phone lines went, we were still cut off. So, now we use the satellite. It works great until there is very heavy cloud cover or rain. I should mention there is also the issue of uplink time. There is just enough lag with the thing that my husband is not welcomed to play on-line with the war games folks as they say his response time is too slow. We can, at least, play card games and such which we could not do with the dial-up.

I started back on Weight Watchers on Thursday but losing weight and getting in shape are two of my big goals for positive new behaviors for 2007. I joined the gym last week, too, but haven’t had an opportunity to use it yet. I’m hoping to go out there tomorrow. They are closed today for the holiday or I would be there now.

Ken is not out of bed yet, but promises me that he smoked his last cigarette last night. He has the nicotine patches and says he is going to “sacrifice” his last 8 smokes in some fashion today. I’m thinking the toilet would be a good choice.

John is off with his friend, David. He and David took off last Wednesday and we heard nothing from them until Saturday when I contacted my oldest son, Wes, who put out an all points bulletin with his friends. Someone finally got in touch with David. They were partying up in Baltimore. I decided that since he would rather spend time with his friends than with his family that his friends could take him to the bus station on Tuesday at 2 a.m. So, yesterday morning at 4:30 a.m. John tried to sneak into the house and gather up all his stuff. I woke up as it’s normally what time I wake up anyway and helped him gather up what we could find. He got his lecture and he left.

Of course, I found some more of his stuff scattered throughout the house and will pack it up and mail it to him sometime this coming week. I just hope he makes it back to Fort Gordon on time and sober.

Matthew is at a friend’s house but will be home later today. He and his buddies took advantage of the nice weather yesterday to go skateboarding up in Callao.

Went grocery shopping yesterday and spent just over $190. The cost of feeding this family is getting very bad. Fresh fruits and vegetable costs have nearly doubled in the last two years and the cost of meat is just ridiculous. Granted, I’m not the farmer at the other end trying to make a living; but unless you want to live on canned goods and dried beans and rice, it’s very hard to make a grocery budget that makes any sense. I do feel sorry for folks on a limited fixed income. These times have got to be very scary.

With John’s departure, I got my fiber room back and Ken carried Eleanor upstairs for me after I cleaned up his mess and vacuumed the floor. I need a small stereo up there. A little TV would be nice, too. But since it would have to hooked up to the satellite dish, this could get expensive so it probably won’t happen anytime soon. In any case, the wheel “faces” the door and sits in the middle of the room. It’s a small room, but it is really amazing how much space Eleanor occupies.

Hopefully, the drum carder will arrive tomorrow. (Maybe while I’m at the gym, so I’m not distracted from that mission). I teased out a lot more of Kate’s locks. I hate to say it but a lot of that fleece is a mess. It’s going to take a lot of patience on my part to really get a decent amount out of it. However, the price was worth the learning opportunity. And I still have about half of it to wash so there is probably more worth struggling with than not.

2007, here we come!