Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crunching the numbers (and bones), or how we spent Memorial Day Weekend

How long ago did I mean to post this? Ohhhh, about 6 weeks ago....

6,250 - pounds of dirt, sand, aggregate, river rock, and pavers moved, selected, loaded, unloaded, positioned, used, and filled in
2 - items we bought off of Mr. Softee on Saturday


2 - times I had to reserve the CarShare for hardware store trips
300 - cost, in dollars, of additional materials (the pavers were leftover from the backyard patio installed 4 or so years ago)
14 - friends hung out with in the evening
4 - nights spent grilling
3 - containers of ice cream
2 - recycling buckets put curbside after a weekend of friends and drinking
1 - pair of pants destroyed in the process
22 - hours spent doing hard labor
24 - Advil administered for aches and pains
36 - tulip, daffodil, and crocus bulbs unearthed and replanted
1 - sage replanted
4 - rows of knitting completed for the entire Memorial Day weekend
0 - yards spun on wheels or spindles
28 - beers and ciders consumed by the workers (that is, me and Mike)

Add that all up, and you get this:

new path

new path 2

Monday, May 11, 2009


I finally took the time to check out a soon-to-be gone local mill. John Wilde & Brother has been in Philadelphia for about 125 years, predominantly offering carpet wools, though in more recent years, had started carrying products for hand-knitters and spinners. I say had because Wilde is no longer producing yarns, though they have some stock in their retail shop (hours by appointment or luck). I called sometime last week to see about stopping by on Thursday. I spent 30 minutes milling (har har, fiber pun) about, looking at the odd lots and the rummage bags (25 cents each!), examining a mohair fleece, and fondling the cones before settling on a large fiber-festival sized bag of goods:

wilde haul
From the top, clockwise: 4,800 yards of laceweight singles, 480 yards of bulky singles, a peek of the 2lbs carded wool, bits and bobs from the rummage bags (red, orange, blue), 1,400 yards 3-ply down in front, and a white bag full of 1 or 2 lbs mohair fleece.

I won't even tell you how much I paid for it all because that would make me seem obscene. And possibly dishonest - you will not believe how little I paid. In fact, I will just say this: the carded wool, the 2 lbs of it? Cost nearly 50% more than EVERYTHING ELSE on that chair, together.

wilde tag
Love the tags on the bulky singles.

I spent Saturday night and Sunday morning skeining up the big hanks - the 3-ply was portioned out in 110 yard skeins (with the intention of pairing them for 220 yard lots) while the laceweight singles were skeined a couple of ways - I had 8 hanks of 250 each and 5 hanks of 500 each and a leftover hank of 300 yards. I do not recommend winding hanks by hand, though I will say that my Fricke skein winder was absolutely the only thing that kept me sane whilst winding at midnight on Saturday. Or is that Sunday? It doesn't matter - it was all a blur.

I did all of this winding off and tying up in preparation for dyeing on Sunday. The original plan was for my dear friend Anj to come up to the Falls and we'd spend the day dyeing al fresco. But, poor Mike was just as sick as he's been all year, so I went to South Philly instead. I packed up my suitcase full of yarn and fiber and trundled on down. I managed to only get about half of the yarn dyed, much to my disappointment, but have made a somewhat firm date for more dyeing to take place in the near future, much to my delight.

Most of the yarn should be dry now (I started with the laceweight) while the carded wool is still lurking about in Anj's basement, dripping itself dry. Eventually, everything will go up on the shop, but for now, here's a wee sneak:

wilde singles preview rainbow
Two hanks, fraternally dyed for your knitting pleasure.

wilde singles preview greens

These two and the rest of what I dyed yesterday will go up on Etsy the beginning of June. Then, by mid-June, I hope to have the 3-ply dyed and ready to go, along with a few other things. Check my Flickr for preview photos, or subscribe to SparkCrafted's RSS feed to keep up with new listings.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A brief and recent history of illness

A few weeks ago - maybe even last week, though at this point, the days and weeks all just blur together and have found that I am losing my grip on temporal things - Mike checked out the new produce market in our neighborhood. For those of you that aren't familiar with our neighborhood, we really don't have any viable options for shopping. Sure, there are corner stores and bodegas, and down near the historic cemetery, there's a "marketplace" (though at a two-bus ride or 3+ mile round trip walk, it's not convenient. Plus, there are only so many Fuji apples one can eat...), and we've got a couple of pharmacies. But, there's no grocery store. There are grocery stores within driving distance, though we don't have a daily driver of a car.

Anyway, we were excited to see a produce market open closer to the house - if nothing else, we'd be able to stroll the 4 blocks to the market and back whenever we wanted to. Mike, finding himself home alone (I was either working or hanging out with my mom), checked the place out and pronounced it awful - but not before buying some apples, oranges, and a bag of seedless grapes. He started in on the grapes immediately, and it wasn't until he got to the last few in the bag that he made a somewhat gross discovery - when trying to pull the stem off of one of the grapes, he realized he was tugging on a worm. He immediately chucked the remaining half-dozen grapes, but was likewise immediately convinced he'd consumed who-knows-how-many worms.

Our discussion when I got home that night went something like this:
Mike: I have worms.
Me: What?
Mike: Yeah, you need to take me to the vet.
Mike: The vet needs to get rid of my worms for me.
Me: You do realize that you could go to a people-doctor for worms?
Mike: But vets deal with worms all the time!!!
Me: You don't have worms.
Mike: Yuh-huh! I ate them! They're in my belly!

Later, Mike: Maybe they're eels.

Like with most of my husband's claims of ailment, I laughed and humored him. Getting home after work, I'd ask him how his worms were. Swimming at the Y, I'd ask if the eels were restless. I even asked him, one night, if he had the urge to drag his bare butt across the rug. He may be insane, but I'm right there with him.

He emailed me yesterday to let me know that his "worms have no concept of what day it is. I'm pretty sure they're celebrating Cinco de Mayo right now, even though they shouldn't be." Likely translation? He had gas....

After biking through the last 8-10 days of Philadelphia rain, Mike's developed a bit of the sniffles: sore throat, ache-y, sneeze-y, and so on. Of course, he's convinced that he has the Swine Flu, though he's taken to calling it the hiney flu (H1N1). He's further convinced that the worms in his belly are somehow involved in this head case and is currently planning tactics for eradicating the worms. I have no idea what that means. As I was getting ready for work, all I could hear was him moaning, "Woooooooooormmmmmmmmmmmmms!!!" Then, he'd shuffle by, tissues in hand, shaking his head. When I left, he was prone on the couch, the cats peering at him quizzically. I have no idea what to expect when I get home from work, though I suppose bringing home some gummy worms is not the best idea today.