Let the games begin – no this is not politics!

So, my granddaughter is now in the air on her way to Atlanta. We are very excited and a little nervous, not about the travel but more about making sure she has fun and does not get too homesick because she is going to be here for 5 weeks. There was a little bit of drama at the airport this morning as Delta forgot to mention the additional fee that needed to be paid at the airport and also that her mum could not go to the gate with her. Hey ho! so facetime at 5.50 this morning and it was no fun, with old tired eyes, trying to transfer money on a cell phone.  All was resolved and Alana was given a GPS tracker wristband and passed over to a minder to escort her to the plane. Both mum and daughter managed to keep smiling through it all so we are off to a good start.

Now I have all day to track the plane online and get to the airport to pick her up.  We have been preparing for this for weeks. Let’s see, are we ready?

  • Swimming pool bought installed and tested (most evenings) -Check
  • Bedroom sorted – Check
  • TV added – Check
  • Books bought – Check
  • Games and Crafts bought = Check
  • Mermaid blanket knitted and packed – Check
  • Trips organised – Check
  • Candy bought – Check
  • Pancake mix and chicken nuggets bought – Check
  • Grandad shorn and shaved – Check
  • Nanny exercising past 6 weeks to ensure i have the  energy to keep up – Check

I think we are ready…..

Edinburgh and Stirling

Friday Kat (sister) and I went into town for a great brunch at the Caffeine drip, french toast to die for and great shakes. Then a good walk to help with that “full” feeling. There are some lovely buildings in the city and it is really nice to see how well they have been preserved.DSC00682 DSC00679

It was also nice to see all of these rock formations that one of the local artists has built in the river, Kat says that they fall over now and then and he comes and does them all again.

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Back to the apartment to start getting ready for the ball. The car was coming to get us at 5.30 so we need to prepare. I think we did pretty well

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The journey was about an hour picking up a few friends along the way. Just outside Stirling we passed these amazing statues, right beside the motorway. They are impressive enough just in daylight but at night they are lit up and are a wonderful sight. They are called Kelpies (water horses)

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There was a beautiful sunset when we arrived at the castle, which is set on a cliff edge high above its surroundings.

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All ready and waiting for the shuttles to take us up into the castle courtyard, once there we were greeted with a nice glass of champagne and a harpist playing in the background, these people know how to have fun

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Ooh did i mention it was a masked ball!

This was a charity ball in aid of Cancer care Scotland, there was a raffle for a unique Theo Fennel brooch and a silent auction for all sorts of interesting things. They were able to raise over 140K GBP which was a great achievement. Great dinner with copious amounts of champagne and plenty of dancing.

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Just after midnight we were treated to a full highland marching band complete with Scottish dancers outside in the quadrant.

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Will try and post the video later. We arrived back in Edinburgh just after 2am, We were staying in a flat around the corner as while we were out Caitlin and 3 of her friends from school had arrived for the weekend, Only problem was Kat had picked up the wrong keys, so we walked back got the right keys, without waking anyone up, and returned to our temporary home.

Next day off to see the girls then back to Caffeine drip for the usual 🙂 Apart from a trip to yarn store and over to Glasgow Saturday night to collect the girls from a concert the rest of the weekend was nice and restful.


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Scotland here I come 

Well it was a slightly rocky start to the trip, airplane number one was diagnosed with engine issues just before boarding. Which I guess could have been worse could have been after take off!

Any way I had an hour and ten minutes to change flights in Amsterdam and my flight eventually took off an hour late. Luckily we made up time en route and I made the connection with not a lot of spare time. Here is my first sight is Scotland as we were coming into land in Edinburgh.

  
Landed at 7am local time and I really had not slept on the flight, which is quite unusual for me. What was even more unusual given the lack of sleep was that I was wide awake! 

Cab to my sisters apartment, with a quick tour if the propery, then off to Princess street for a look around.  Kat was chairing a conference today so did the sight seeing on my own.

   
   
Back home for a nice lazy afternoon knitting socks and listening to the end of my audio book “The Memory Man” by  David Baldacci.

  
The flat is on the fourth floor with fantastic views across the city, here are the views out of some of the windows. They are very lucky to have such a great location.

   
   
When Kat came home we started to watch the Wales V Fiji rugby match being played in Cardiff on the TV then we watched the end of the match at the local pub where I also had veggie Hagis and neeps  for dinner. Quick stroll down to Afrogato for a little dark chocolate, chili and cinnamon ice cream, yum!

Rounding the day off with an episode of The Great British Bake Off before I head off to bed.

How difficult could it be? 

While in the Uk I will be attending a formal event with my sister and a long frock will be required. As usual I left everything to the last minute and found a dress I have not worn for at least 15 years, good news is that it still fit but……… It was a showing more of  ” the girls” than I really feel comfortable about these days.

No problem, I remembered seeing racks of them near the door in Dillard’s. So after 3 days at my spinning retreat and dressed in jeans, t shirt and hair in a ponytail, I headed to the store.

My first bad omen should have been the sizes, all odd numbers, but it was swiftly followed by the assistant asking if I was looking for my daughter. All these dresses were clearly designed for young ladies with no bust and legs that go on for miles. So a 5ft 2 inch woman had no chance. I was then directed to an area where there were a few options for the rest of us. There was one rack for petite but I would have needed to have been as wide as I am high to have them fit me. Sigh! 

There was a light at the end of this dark tunnel, I did find a dress to fit ( well as long as I wear some killer heels) and despite the lack of interest from the assistant who probably thought I was wasting her time. It is now in my possession. I shall go to the ball.

  

Retreat is not for cowards

I owe this title to Peyton’s daughter, when Peyton told her that we were going to a spinners retreat, she announced “you must all be cowards because you are always retreating” 🙂 

So Friday lunch was the start of our annual adventure, about a dozen of us met at a Mexican restaurant in Covington before driving onto the Charlie Elliott wild life center for 3 days of spinning and great company. The place is very nice but has zero TV, phone, and cell phone coverage, which I guess means you to to get to really de-stress after I managed to stop stressing about people not being able to get hold of me.

There were about 40 of us at the retreat, most of us staying at the center for the weekend but some that just came during the day. 

  
It is so much fun to just be able to sit, spin, knit and chat with such a friendly interesting group. Also the variety of wheels fibers and other equipment that people use means it is always eye opening to walk around and drool over  look at what they are doing.

We have some excellent cooks in the group so despite the 3 meals a day that we get at the center, we also had a fully laden snack table. My personal favorites this year were the chocolate brownies and Penny’s shortbread. 

  

I was sharing a room with my really good friend, Linda and that was nice. I enjoyed getting the time to just chat and relax with her. 

Brenda was learning to knit mittens Saturday night and was able to blend the advice from 4 of us and get the best of all worlds. Which I think is one of the hallmarks of the group. Everyone is so supportive of others efforts.

I was able to spin 4 ounces of Polworth and silk, the green on the left and 2 ounces of Yak and silk, the grey on the right. 

  
Then with some great support and encouragement from Leslie Bronson I was able to learn to spin cotton on my E-spinner .

  
What a great weekend. 

Salida –keep still my beating heart

Some months ago my friend Sally Ball from Rivendale Farms invited me to share a booth with her at the Salida fiber festival. So I sent my time busily knitting weaving and dying yarn in a mad dash to get everything ready for the show.

I flew in on the Thursday evening and was met at the airport by Rinah and for two people meeting for the first time, we certainly filled the journey up to Sally’s house with lots of chatter. Sally was further behind than me so we set to and helped with some of the labeling and packing. Then Sally drove me to Jill’s house to spend the night, another new friend that i had no problem chatting to.

Next morning under Sally’s expert guidance ( think Sargent Major) we were able to pack a phenomenal amount of   fiber and equipment into the cars for the drive from Conifer to Salida.

The scenery was amazing, it was about a 2 hour drive but the time passed so quickly. Salida is delightful. The town has so much character and is a magnet for tourists of all kinds with all the outdoor pursuits in easy reach.

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We quickly got down to business and started erecting booths, grids and a myriad of other display equipment that seemed to appear from the Tardis that resembled Sally’s car. by 6.30pm we were almost done but definitely tired and so we packed up, resolving to finish the remainder the following morning.

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We were really lucky that Jill has a friend with a stunning mountain lodge just 30 minutes away. Sally had offered to cook dinner for a group of us. So after all the hard work she had already done she was able to rustle up shrimp etouffee with rice and it was delicious.

Next morning we were greeted with some stunning views of the surrounding area. DSC00494

Off to the festival to finish the remaining tasks and start the show, we had a really good (busy) day and the weather was great. Plenty of sales and great people to talk to, I finally for to meet Pam Zip from Texas and long tine FB friend who is as fun in real life as she is online. After lunch, Michele arrived from CA ( Jill’s friend ) and our group was complete.

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We were so exhausted by the end of the day, we just walked across the road to the bar by the river had had a relaxing dinner before heading back to the lodge. Michele went out for a walk and spotted moose prints so we all trotted down by the river at twilight to see if we could at last see a moose.

No Moose, but as soon as the sun went down we were treated to a glorious night sky, I have never seen so many stars at one time and we were also able to see the Milky Way. It was so nice to sit around the table and just knit with such a great group, easy conversation and much laughter.

Next morning Jill, Michele and I decided to go moose hunting again at daybreak. It was really nice to see the sun rise and walk around the area but the closest we got to a moose was a footprints!

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Back to another full day at the show, then came the pack down. Which took half the time that the assembly took, and Miss Sally took charge of magically getting everything back into the Tardis.

Off to the bar for dinner and back to the lodge. Nice relaxing evening before the drive back to Sally’s next day and the flight home.

On the drive back next morning we stopped for an amazing breakfast burrito and then stopped at the lookout at the Collegiate Mountain range to enjoy both the view and the burrito.

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As we were driving along, I called Rob and told him I thought Moose was the american version of the Loch Ness Monster and did not really exist. I had hardly hung up the call when blow me I looked out of the window and there was a moose trotting alongside the road!

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At last after 7 years of visiting Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire I have finally seen a moose. When we got back to Sally’s farm the dogs and Alpacas were really pleased to see us.

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we helped a little with unloading and then Jill drove me back to her place and Michele gave me a lift back to the airport.

What a great weekend – new friends, plenty of sales, wonderful scenery and …….a moose !!

 

Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained

Just over 2 weeks ago, Mr Rob was working in the barn and when he went up to the hay loft to get some more hay down he found that the chickens had been hiding their eggs up there. There was about a dozen eggs all in the same nest and clearly from different chickens, although the Dominique was keeping them warm. The weather was too hot to consider eating them and so we decided to put them in the incubator and see what happens.

Surprise, surprise, last night 4 of them hatched. Given how soon this is, there is a chance that more of them may hatch during the week. We have had to get the chick tub back out and Mr Rob is off to tractor supply to buy chick food.

Sort of makes up for the 6 adult chickens that were taken by foxes, dogs, coyotes or what ever predator felt brave enough to come during the day and pick them off this past 2 weeks.  This also means we have stopped letting the original Chickens free range all over the garden and now have them in a large enclosed area attached to the back of their coop.

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Butterflies

We have a Budlea (butterfly bush) in the yard and every year it does what it is supposed to do attracts lots of butterflies.

The butterflies here are not only attractive but huge, almost a hand span. The bush is only 15 foot from one of the bee hives but they do not seem to take much notice of it

Here are some of our recent visitors.

   
   

Little Chickens

Our new chickens arrived the last week in May and a few days later we hatched 3 of our own eggs. Hard to believe that they came out of such a small egg. here they are probably no more than a week old

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So cute, but they grow like the weeds in Georgia ( another post sometime soon ) for the first few week we could still spot the three we hatched but they soon caught up. After 2 months we moved them to the tractor coop, where they have continued to grow by leaps and bounds.

Yesterday they were big enough to start to be allowed out for a few hours in the evening, They are so big now it is hard to tell the little chickens from the big chickens.

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Isn’t nature a wonderful thing.

Plying the Arts 2015

What a great weekend! Every few years my spinning guild organizes a crafting event. This year it was in Lyndon House in Athens.  It is a really great venue and the adjoining historic house is a must visit location if you are up in the area.

Traveled up there on Saturday morning ready to start my first class, cotton spinning with Leslie Bronson. Leslie took us through some of the history, resources she uses and items that she has created and then set us up to spin cotton on a spindle. It was very educational but still fun and we all managed to get the knack of it by the end of the class.

Leslie teaching Jan how to check your yarn

Leslie teaching Jan how to check your yarn

Celeste is doing a great job

Celeste is doing a great job

Leslie's samples

Leslie’s samples

My spun cotton sample

My spun cotton sample

After a great lunch and the first day of the raffle where I was lucky enough to win a handmade basket. I moved on to spinning lace with Lois, first she gave us some great tips on adjusting and setting up our machines and then we moved on to the fabulous samples that she had provided. First we started with the superfine merino, then moved on to rose fiber, where we learned to spin from the fold Phew! next cotton, oh my, i am spinning cotton on my wheel now!

We moved on to Alpaca which actually came from one of my boys, Tessaro, and it was great to spin into lace weight  just as I would expect from him. Next we tried Flax and at last I found a fiber that I REALLY do not like 🙂 which was interesting as a number of the ladies really liked it. Last but not least I spun some very slick but shiny Tussah silk.

Lois keeping an eye on us

Lois keeping an eye on us

Fun as well as hard work

Fun as well as hard work

From the left, merino, rose, cotton and alpaca

From the left, merino, rose, cotton and alpaca

Off to the hotel to check in and then out to dinner with Linda and Mary Jane. In bed by 9 totally worn out.

Next morning I helped to set up and then went to my first class, gradient dyeing with Gale from Gale’s Art . I partnered with a really nice lady who had driven all the way up from Florida for the event. First Gale went through the resources she uses and some good books on the subject and then we went through what gradient dyeing can mean. I could be shades of, or two colors blended in different amounts across the skeins or just 6 analogous colors.

We then got to pick our chosen method and color palette. Each skein went into a ziplock steamer bag and was microwaved . I brought home some sea breeze dye and some super wash yarn so I have enough to weave with,

Linda and Mary Jane getting ready to dye

Linda and Mary Jane getting ready to dye

This is an example of going from blue to berry crush

This is an example of going from blue to berry crush

Here is an example of tint dyeing

Here is an example of tint dyeing

Here is my sample - I went from sea breeze to brown

Here is my sample – I went from sea breeze to brown

Off to lunch again and I won three more raffle prizes, unfortunately I did not win the star prize which was a week in John C. Campbell craft college. If anyone thinks I am very lucky, well yes I am but…. I bought a boatload of raffle tickets and whilst most people put their tickets in the star prize jar, I spread mine around 🙂

Last but not least was a plying class with Lori Helmes, We learnt and practiced Andean, Navajo, 2 ply, chain and turkish knot. More importantly we had some great tips on sampling and how to re- energize the yarn.

Lori teaching us the right way to take off a center pull ball

Lori teaching us the right way to take off a center pull ball

Mary Jane concentrating on her plying

Mary Jane concentrating on her plying

Some of my plying samples

Some of my plying samples