Yarn School!!

Another week, another late blog post. But, it’s for good reason! I was at Yarn School for a long weekend and just got home yesterday.

What is Yarn School you say? You can read all about it here, but basically, it’s a long weekend of learning how to spin yarn, dye wool, and prep wool for spinning. It’s very relaxing, and my friend, Erin and I go each spring. It’s set in an old rural high school in Harveyville, KS, where all the classrooms have been turned into bedrooms. It’s such an awesome retreat away from it all. Notwithstanding, Nikol also makes amazing food for everyone too.

Erin and I make a road trip of it and bring our spinning wheels as well as many comforts of home. It is blissfully quiet there, and it’s so nice to not have to worry about anything…just relaxing and working on the crafts we love.

Shockingly, I didn’t take many pictures this year (I know!), but you can see pics from years past:
Yarn School – Spring 2013
Yarn School – Spring 2012
Yarn School – Spring 2011
Yarn School – Fall 2010
Yarn School – Spring 2010

Here are a couple from this year:

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Dying wool; color inspiration was my Orla iPhone case. Photo credit: Adrian Bizilia

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Everyone’s dyed wool hanging from the balcony

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The wool I dyed

While we were there, we also decided to do some maternity pics of Erin. The school and surrounding property has some gorgeous light at certain times of the day. These were my favorite two shots:

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Just outside the elementary school building

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Shockingly, this was taken in the men’s bathroom in the school. Yarn School is primarily (if not always) all women. All restrooms are, therefore, unisex. The men’s room in the elementary school had frosted glass on the windows that diffused the light perfectly. Hey, if you’ve got great light, you’ve gotta go with it!

All in all, an awesome weekend, and there is a big part of me that’s suffering from post-Yarn School withdrawal. Oh well….there’s always next year!

National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk + Hello Yarn Giveaway!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted to the blog (work busy!!), and I promise that I will write a post about Yarn School soon (albeit way too late).  For now, however, I’d like for this post to be dedicated to a cause that my husband and I feel very passionate about…

This year, William and I will be participating in the Northeast Indiana Kidney Walk in support of the National Kidney Foundation.  This is an organization we feel particularly drawn to because of William’s story.  13 years ago, William received a kidney transplant due to an unknown cause that put him in renal failure.  The good news is that he has done very well and continues to do very well to this day and is very healthy.  You can read more of his story directly from William here.

All of that being said, there is still a lot of work that the National Kidney Foundation is doing to help others who face the same diagnosis.  Chronic kidney disease affects 1 in 9 Americans, and 85,000 Americans are waiting for a kidney transplant.  The funding from walks such as these throughout the country goes towards kidney disease education, early detection and prevention, supporting research for better treatment, advocating for kidney patients, and promoting organ donation.

To help spur up some donations for this very worthy cause, I am conducting a drawing for anyone who donates on our behalf.  The prize will be two, yes TWO, 4-oz. bumps of Hello Yarn Fiber from my stash – one fiber club fiber (Shaking Leaves on Finn) and one Yarn School fiber (Roasted on Polwarth), both pictured below.  This means that there will be one winner who gets both fibers.  If you are a non-spinner that still ogles over yarn spun from Hello Yarn, never fear, you can still participate.  I will happily spin up these fibers into yarn for you!  So, how can you get your name entered into the drawing for this awesome prize?!  Instructions are as follows:

  1. Click on this link (the same one as above, btw)
  2. Click on the “Donate” button.
  3. Enter the amount you would like to give.
  4. You can choose to have your name/donation displayed on the team page or be anonymous.
  5. THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT TO THE DRAWING: Regardless of whether your gift is anonymous or not, please enter your Ravelry name into the “Add Personal Note” box.  This is how I will contact you if you win the prize.  If you don’t have a Ravelry name, then please put a method by which we can contact you!  Rest assured, that nothing in the Personal Note section gets displayed publicly…it just comes to us.
  6. Click through the next steps to enter in your credit card information, and that’s it!  You will receive a thank you note from the National Kidney Foundation.
  7. I will hold the drawing on June 17, 2012 (1 day after the walk).  If you win, I will send you a Ravelry PM (or contact you how you indicated) to get your address.

Thank you so much in advance for your support!

Hello Yarn Polwarth (Roasted, Yarn School Fall 2010 Colorway)

Hello Yarn Finn (Shaking Leaves, Club Colorway)

Out with the old, In with the new

Well, 2011 was really a trying year for us, so I’m pretty happy to see it kicked to the curb.  We’ve had a host of medical problems in our family right up to the bitter end of the year, some of which are still unresolved but are hopefully on their way to being resolved soon.  Work was busy and stressful.  There were rivers of tears.  And, there has been some family drama that I don’t really care to repeat again.

Of course, there were plenty of good things throughout the year as well.  We had a ton of fun and took some really amazing vacations.  I think I’ve learned a lot about myself as well as new crafty things to do, new things in the kitchen, new things with photography, and definitely new things at work.  I think I’ve grown a ton with all of these new learnings.

Here’s hoping that 2012 won’t be quite as trying and that we are on to bigger and better things!  In the mean time, here are a couple of pretty pictures of some fun remaining things for 2011.

First up, my Hansen miniSpinner, a super generous Christmas gift from my husband.  I’ve had a ton of fun playing around with this, and I think I’m starting to understand the adjustments I need to get the yarn I want.  This is so different from my wheel but good all at the same time.  I love the portability and ease.

Next up:  I’m kind of obsessed with making this Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake (recipe here), which I got via Angry Chicken’s blog (if you don’t read it, you should…link to the right on here).  I’ve made this cake 3 times since Thanksgiving.  Most recently, I made it for my husband’s birthday at the end of December and finally got a decent picture of it.  It is a bit labor intensive as far as cakes go, but it is so so so tasty!  The recipe is definitely a keeper.  This last round of making it, I made one minor modification to the recipe, which I think I’m going to do from now on.  That is that instead of taking the cake out of the pan before putting the syrup on it, I left it in the pan and drizzled the syrup on the bottom.  I found that putting syrup on the top of the cake after removing it from the pan, you lose a lot of the syrup.  This way, it all goes into the cake to help keep it moist.

That’s it for now!  Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2012 and a better year than 2011! 😉

Holiday Fun

My husband and I trade spending Christmas with each of our families every other year.  This year was the year to be with his family.  It was great, outside of some family emergency stuff that came up midstream (boo! 😦 ).  However, here are some pictures to document some of the fun goings-ons:

All of the presents we took with us. So much fun…everyone loved their gifts!!

Family…our 3 little nieces, my mother- and father-in-law, and brother- and sister-in-law, and us of course (I’m in the red cardigan, and my husband is in the Eddie Bauer sweatshirt) 🙂

Me teaching my 9-year-old niece to knit.  She ASKED to learn how to knit & spin!

We bought our middle niece a “Build Your Own Volcano Kit” for Christmas.  Here she, her older sister, their dad, and my husband are all building the volcano, followed by a picture of it “erupting” later on.  Apologies for the poor picture quality on the erupting picture…it was dark outside, and we had a flashlight shining on it to see.

Craft-wise, I did get some spinning done (not much because of that unplanned family emergency).  Below you’ll see a picture of a 2-ply handspun yarn, spun from Spunky Eclectic Falkland wool in colorway “Gone Fishin.'”  This is destined to be a hat for my father-in-law, an avid fisherman.  A nice wool hat will be just the ticket for when he goes night fishing on cool nights.  Here’s hoping I can get the yarn washed and the hat made while we’re still visiting with them.

Best Christmas gift I received?  It’s hard to pick, but my husband really did a good job this year.  He got me a Hansen miniSpinner, complete with the WooLee Winder.  Sorry…no pics yet, but soon, I promise!  I played around with it a bit on Christmas day, and I think I’m going to love it.  It’s so different from my wheel and will take some practice/getting used to, but wow, such a lazy/easy way to spin! 😀

Next blog post will hopefully have some recipe ideas and a new knitting pattern that I’m writing, which will be available for free on Ravelry!