Blog, Interrupted

Dearest Blog,

Hi. How have you been? Lonely, huh?

I’m writing to apologize for neglecting you these many months. The thought of you has haunted me like the nightmares of pregnancy.

I dreamed I put the baby down and then forgot about her for weeks and weeks and when I finally remembered to check on her she had shriveled to the size of a mouse.

It’s not you, it’s me. Despite the buckets and pails of writing I do in my professional life, your blank screen still intimidates me. And then there’s that dang Midwestern upbringing. Will I have anything to write that doesn’t sound self-aggrandizing and less than perfectly humble? How did Garrison Keillor overcome his origins? (Of course, Keillor  writes about his origins, so there’s that I suppose.)

But, in the end, I can’t quit you, blog. And so I’m back. Asking—no, begging—for your forgiveness, and recommitting to our slightly one-sided friendship.



July 3, 2011 at 9:28 am 3 comments

Know Your Wool

Meet Abigail. She’s the warm one on the right. That’s me—the cold one—on the left.

Abby has the most beautiful fleece and I want it. Though, I’ll let her keep it until Spring, of course.

I met Abby and her BFFs on a visit to the beautiful Observatory Hill Farm just after Christmas. She is part of a flock of saucy Corriedales of all hues and colors, but there was something about her carmel-y locks and shy ways that caught my attention. Well, shy until the bucket o’ corn and oats came out. After that she was eating out of my hand. Literally.

Here are some of Abby’s flock-mates running down the snowy hill for supper.

You’ll notice they are all in coats to protect the fleece from hay, burrs, poo and all that icky farm stuff. No, they don’t get too hot. Yes, there is an opening under the tail. :-)  I got the inside scoop on sheep coats from the shepherdess, who also happens to be my sister. And, yes, the coats come in different sizes. See Big Bella coming down just to the right of the lineup modeling her plus-size coat for the full-figured ewe?

So, I’m trying to figure out what to do with my many bags of unspun Shetland so that I can justify getting my hands on Abby’s lovely fleece in the Spring. Some women have closets full of shoes. Some have bins full of yarn. And me? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full…with seven or eight more in the basement.

• tess •

February 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm 3 comments

2010 in review

Just when I thought about beating myself up over my spotty blog performance for 2010, the stats helper monkeys at sent me a high level summary of my overall blog health. If mine is a “Wow,” how do they rate the ones that post every week…or every day? Hmmm…methinks that WordPress wants to keep bloggers coming back for more. (And upgrading to the paid features.)

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Here’s What Else WordPress Had to Say

Featured imageA Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 29 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 57 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 27mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 20th with 35 views. The most popular post that day was Chocolate Dogs and Cakes.

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for yarn bowls, yarn bowl pottery, dandelion dye, yarn bowl, and julie knowles pottery.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Chocolate Dogs and Cakes July 2010



Yarn Bowls July 2010



About April 2010


Cast of Characters April 2010


Dandelion Dye Day May 2010
1 comment

Oh, dear WordPress! You have exonerated my mediocre blogging record for 2010 and given me cause to hope for happy, fruitful blogging in 2011. What would I do without you? :-p

• tess •

January 2, 2011 at 11:00 am 3 comments

1 year out from corporate mordor

This blog post from one of my favoritest bloggers, Mary Scott Huff, reminded me that January first marks a one-year anniversary for me. Is is now one year since I jumped from the relative security of a full-time, corporate, middle-management j.o.b. for this life of carefree (hahaha) pursuit of the freelance, homespun life.

How has it been? Careening on the edge, for the most part, with a grand flourishing finale.

How has it felt? Absolutely awesome, with a side of scary, and a deep, satisfying finish.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas I was able to put about 150 Hunger Games-related presents under trees all over the country, thanks to my Etsy shop. I have landed some wonderful new freelance clients. I have made awesome new acquaintances and friends through Ravelry, Etsy, Twitter, and Facebook…some of you even read my humble blog–THANK YOU!!! And, perhaps most importantly, we still own a house, both old jalopies, and are still able to put kibble in the bowls of the kitties and woof. No one had to be sold to the glue factory to pay the electric bill.

It’s not quite what I pictured. I am spending many more hours making PowerPoints than spinning wool and clicking needles. But, the effects of the long, long journey through Mordor are beginning to disappear. The eye is fading. The shire smells sweet again.

Happy New Year to us all.

• tess •

December 31, 2010 at 10:10 am 2 comments

Finally Fall Foods

Do you love it when the weather turns and it’s time to bake again? We’ve been waiting extra long for the autumn weather here. No complaints, because I started baking anyway. I mean, we’ve got apples and pumpkins sitting around. Let’s get it going, already.

Assembling apple crisp

Apple Crisp Recipe

Lentil soup and cornbread from scratch

Homemade pizza with the last of the summer basil


Loving the scones with jam and the fine china. ;-)


November 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm 3 comments

Amigurumi Maniac

(Say that five times fast.)

I’ve succumbed to the amigurumi fad and this little guy is the result. Behold the bedraggled, 1.5 eared kitten Buttercup from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Okay, Buttercup. Turn around and show the nice people how you look.

Gooooood kitty.

Buttercup is 3.5 inches tall and adapted from several patterns, plus improvised along the way using worsted weight yarn and a size E crochet hook. The best thing about him is that he doesn’t shed and doesn’t contribute to the litter box.

As for amigurumi, I think I’m “hooked.” (sorry, couldn’t resist)

• tess •

September 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm 1 comment

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival

I went, I saw, I came home with a bag of raw wool…even though I promised myself I wouldn’t. Ah, the best laid plans.

But there was this bag of Leicester calling out my name and I fell into its dark, sexy locks and mysterious depths and was lost forever. Plus, the price was right. But, more about the seductive Leicester in another post.

From the newborn lambs, and the sheep herding demo, to the pirate coffee van and the vast barnfuls of vendors, this year’s festival was a winner in my book, despite the drizzly, cool day. Next year I pledge to take at least one workshop and to submit a skein of handspun for judging. But for now, I bring you several highlights of our day in pictures.

• tess •

DD and yours truly, in a state of yarn bliss

It was a toss-up as to who was herding whom here.

DH and DD ordering pirate coffee - The Booty is in the Beans

September 18, 2010 at 11:11 am 2 comments

Fiber Arts Friday Found

A little birdie told me (on Twitter, of course) about Fiber Arts Friday. Down the www rabbit hole I found Andrea’s blog, Wisdom Begins in Wonder. She’s connecting fiber folks by encouraging us to link in and share our blog posts on Friday. (Can I play, too, Andrea? Pleeeeeeeease? :-)

I am happy, happy, happy to report that all Shetland half-fleeces have been washed, with the exception of a very gamey and musky fellow named Badger. As much as I love that sheepy smell, I may have to put on a mask to tackle Badger.

The most recent beauty to come out of the bath was Coco. Isn’t she lovely drying in the sunshine? I also washed Freya while you weren’t looking.

And washed in the nick of time since in the last 24 hours we went from “it’s too hot to cook,” to “I can’t wait to bake!”  I have a serious obsession with baking in the cool seasons. Quick breads are my drug of choice…scones, soda bread, nut breads, etc. In fact, I’m fantasizing about blueberry muffins as I write.


• tess •

September 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm 3 comments

Dog and Cat Diaries

Not that I would know, but I think cleaning closets probably results in unearthing treasures you’ve totally forgotten. Cleaning out old computer files is the closest I come to cleaning closets, and usually occurs when I’ve got other, less appealing, though higher priority work to do.  And so it is tonight.

In my cleaning, I stumbled across a bit ‘o pet humor to share with you. I wish I had written this. Please forgive the “forwarded email” indications. Procrastination allows me to reread old computer files, but not to remove “>” symbols, apparently. What discipline, eh?



> > > > Day number 180
> > > > 8:00 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 9:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 9:40 am – OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 10:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 11:30 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 12:00 noon – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 1:00 pm OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 4:00 pm – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 5:30 PM – OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > >
> > > > Day number 181
> > > > 8:00 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 9:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 9:40 am – OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 10:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 11:30 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 12:00 noon – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 1:00 pm OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 4:00 pm – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 5:30 PM – OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > >
> > > > Day number 182
> > > > 8:00 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 9:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 9:40 am – OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 0:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 11:30 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 12:00 noon – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 1:00 pm OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 1:30 pm – ooooooo. bath. bummer.
> > > > 4:00 pm – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > > 5:30 PM – OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVOURITE!
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > DAY 752 – My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling
> > > > objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry
> > > > cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the
> > > > mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture.
> > > > Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.
> > > >
> > > > DAY 761 – Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their
> > > > feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top
> > > > of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile
> > > > oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favourite
> > > > chair… must try this on their bed.
> > > >
> > > > DAY 765 – Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in
> > > > attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike
> > > > fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a
> > > > good little cat I was…Hmmm.  Not working according to plan.
> > > >
> > > > DAY 768 – I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason
> > > > I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a
> > > > burning foamy chemical called “shampoo.” What sick minds could invent
> > > > such a liquid. My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck
> > > > between my teeth.
> > > >
> > > > DAY 771 – There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was
> > > > placed in solitary throughout the event.  However, I could hear the noise
> > > > and smell the foul odour of the glass tubes they call “beer..”  More
> > > > importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of
> > > > “allergies.” Must learn what this is and how to use it
> > > >
> > > > DAY 774 – I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe
> > > > snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to
> > > > return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to
> > > > be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports
> > > > my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety
> > > > is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time…

September 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm 1 comment

Washing Clair’s Fleece to an Early 70’s Tune

It hit me last week that I’ve still got four Shetland half-fleeces to wash this summer while I can dry them in the hot sun. No problem, right? After all, it’s only August. Plenty of summer left.


This is the maple tree in my backyard…two weeks ago. As of today the leaves are falling. Yikes.

So, I’m on the wool washing. Yesterday a manky fleece from Clair went in to soak. This time I got smart and turned up the water heater. The whole time I kept singing, “Clair / If ever a moment so rare / was captured for all to compare / that moment is you / and all that you do…” Don’t worry. I had to look it up too. Gilbert O’Sullivan, 1972. Here’s the YouTube video.

Clair came out looking like a million bucks. Well, maybe a million bucks that had taken a roll, roll, roll in ze hay. There’s still a lot of vegetable matter to be dealt with. But take a look at the lovely locks. Who’d have known there was white wool under all that grease and dirt?

Besides the VM, Clair came out with another problem, for which I could use the help of an experienced wool washer. Some of the tips were SO caked with filth, that they came through the entire scour with only moderate improvement. Voila:

For now, I have separated this junk with plans to wash it again. But, short of manually scrubbing it out, I’m not sure another soak will get it clean. Ideas?

And if there are any shepherds reading, why does the softest fleece always seem to have the most VM to pick out? Or is that one of those perception things, like how the sweetest apples are at the top of the tree, or the biggest berries grow on the thorniest branches?

• tess •

August 17, 2010 at 8:49 pm 5 comments

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