Monday, December 26, 2011

Spelsau - a primitive sheep breed from Norway

First, a week's-worth of workouts...

Monday: nada; rest day
Tuesday: 4.5 mi on the dreadmill in 55:32
Wednesday: 4.5 dreadmiles in 56:46
Thursday: nada; rest day
Friday: Garmin says 5.25 mi in 1:02:24 (hit 5 mi at 59:03)
Saturday: Garmin says 5.5 mi in 1:03:50 (hit 5 mi at 58:04)
Sunday: Garmin says 5.25 mi in 1:01:24 (hit 5 mi at 59:13)

Last week's total: 25 mi. Yay!

Today/Monday: seriously? nada - errand day

On to the Spelsau...

On Christmas eve, I got Anna, the 1860 wheel, out to spin. I worked on a sample of adult Spelsau fiber I got earlier this fall. Spelsau, or Spælsau, hail from Norway originally,  and may be the "original" Norwegian sheep breed (if one can be called that). It is from the Northern European short-tailed sheep group, which also includes the better-known Finnsheep, Gotland, Shetland and Icelandic breeds, among others.

Here's the raw fiber - a bit of Spel lamb on the left, and the adult Spel fiber on the right:

Spelsau fiber
Since there was under an ounce of adult fiber, I just spun it on to one bobbin. I'd flicked and picked it, but then decided that was all the prep I was doing. I would grab a handful, and spin from a lock formation when I could, but otherwise... it just did what it wanted.

Spelsau is a primitive double-coated breed, like Icelandic and many Shetlands. It has a very soft - and very short - undercoat, then a coarse, much longer outer coat. I didn't bother to separate the two. I wanted to see what happened when I just spun it all together.

I did the singles on Saturday, then Christmas afternoon, I Navajo-plied it (also on Anna). I ended up with 36 yds of 3-ply in 20.5gm. The dime is there for reference.

I absolutely love the color. I expected more of a gray 'impression' overall, but there's a lot of tan and some black in there. It's definitely not the softest stuff... it feels more like jute twine. But it would make something REALLY durable. I suspect it would be more suited to weaving (both warp and weft) over knitting or crochet, as the finished yarn is quite strong.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On the Road to Recovery

Thursday's run/walk: 4.25 mi on the dreadmill
Friday: nada; had to drop Grover off for surgery before work
Saturday: Garmin says 5.5 mi in 1:06:20 (hit 5m right as it rolled over from 59:59 to 1 hr)
Sunday: Garmin says 5.25 mi in 1:03:22 (hit 5 mi at 58:50; walked the last .25 as cool-down)

Mileage last week: 24.5 mi

Grover-boy went in for surgery on Friday. The originally thought, based on x-ray and ultrasound, that there was a large mass around his spleen and it had to come out. Reading up on it, there's a risk of potentially fatal arrhythmia after the spleen is removed, so we were a bit nervous about the surgery and outcome. (Seriously - Google needs to have something pop up saying STOP FREAKING YOURSELF OUT if you search on medical stuff for more than 15 minutes.)

(Speaking of, if you are all all squeamish, don't scroll all the way to the bottom.)

Once he got into surgery, it turned out that the growth was on a lobe of his liver, not his spleen. Interesting. So, the surgeon removed that lobe. This was actually better news - the liver is the one organ that has the potential to bounce back a bit, so what's left should take over normal liver-duties nicely. They checked out his other organs (including the spleen), and they looked pretty good.

While he was under, they also removed some kind of growth next to one dew claw, another from the top of that same foot, and a bigger one off one knee. The knee incision was much bigger than I expected, but I'm sure they got all of whatever it was. We still need to hear back from pathology on what all this stuff is, but in the meantime, Grover is home and back sleeping in his usual spot by the front door.

Not as bad as a poodle cut. It will grow back fast.
He looks a bit thinner now, even with the bruising developing on his abdomen. The liver growth was definitely not small.

That really needed to come out.
Now he's on antibiotics and pain meds, and will go back in about 10 days to have his sutures removed. He's supposed to take it easy for a while - hopefully most of the holiday deliveries are done, so he won't be jumping up and barking every hour.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All The Pretty Colors

Wow, I suck at updating this month.

Last Thursday: pfft. Rest day.
Friday's run/walk: 5 dreadmiles in 1:05
Saturday's walk: Garmin says 5.25mi in 1:13:45, which ain't a bad pace for walking in the cold
Sunday: walked the dogs for about 1.4mi since it was such a pretty morning and Paul had to work
Monday:  nada
Tuesday: 4.5 dreadmiles in 56:37
Wednesday: nice enough outside for 5mi in 1:01:55

Last week's mileage total: 20.65mi

Catching up on some spinning... over the weekend, I finished plying some BFL. This is a Mountain Colors BFL top in the 'Northern Lights' colorway. I got 353 yds of 2-ply in about 3.8oz. Pretty, no? Spun on the Lendrum DT.

BFL Handspun - on the Lendrum
A while back, I also finished spinning and plying a pound of Bond fleece. Well, there was a pound raw, and after scouring, drum-carding into batts, spinning and plying, I ended up with a grand total of 1409 yards of 3-ply (all Navajo-plied) in 10.4 oz. Spun on the CPW Gisèle; plied on the Lendrum DT.

Natural-colored Bond, from 'Poppy' at Gleason's Fine Woolies
And, when I was getting the little 1860s wheel going, I spun a bit of spare fiber on to two bobbins. I went to ply, and... the rods on all my kates are too big. I ended up using some US 5 straight needles to rig a quick (yet tensioned!) shoebox kate to ply. I'm working on a longer-term solution using my regular kates, some dowels, and little wood balls. It'll be cute - really.

Tensioned shoebox kate - slick, eh?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Experiments in the Kitchen

Monday: rest day
Tuesday run/walk: 4.5mi on the dreadmill in 58:21
Wednesday run/walk: 4.5mi on the dreadmill in 57:53

It's that time of year again when I want to cook and bake things. Partly because they taste good, and partly because it warms up the kitchen nicely.

Tonight's experiment: salted caramel apple-pear butter. There's a kind of magic in taking a pot full of sliced fruit, and condensing it down to four half-filled pint containers. That's a lot of concentrated fruit.

I wish I could tell you exactly what I did, but... it's a five big pears, seven medium tart apples, apple juice to cook it all in, then after pureeing , some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. And a dash of vintage merlot sea salt right at the end.

That gives us this yummy topping for toast - or a great mix-in for plain or vanilla yogurt:

Salted caramel apple-pear butter

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Old New Again

Monday: rest day
Tuesday run/walk: 4.5mi on the dreadmill in 57:39
Wednesday run/walk: 4.25mi on the dreadmill in 55:05
Thursday: rest day
Friday run/walk: 5.3mi in1:04:21 (hit 5mi in 59:53 - woot!)
Saturday run/walk: 5.25mi in 1:01:49 (hit 5mi in 57:53 - bigger woot!)
Sunday: blew off running in the rain to spin

Total for last week: 19.3 mi (yeah, lame)

Back to spinning wheels. Back in September, I picked up two small wheels out at an auction in Washington, MO. I posted about the Frank Fell/Mayville wheel. I also got this little thing...

Small 'gypsy' wheel
On the bottom was the name Anna Schmidt, and 'den 30 juni 1860'... or June 30, 1860. The card attached to the wheel said that Anna was a friend of the family, and never married or had children.

The flyer was a bit of a disaster... the hooks were bent or missing, and the nut embedded in the whorl was stripped, so it snugged up too high on the flyer shaft, in effect locking the bobbin in place so it could not move freely.

Little 1860-wheel flyer and bobbins, in rough shape. And - note the itty-bitty tiny flyer hook attached to one of the maidens.
I got in touch with Fred Hatton, and he agreed to take a look at the flyer and bobbins, so I sent them on. I got them back last week - in amazing shape! The hooks had been replaced, the nut reseated, new brass bearings put into two of the original bobbins (the third wasn't in any condition to be saved), and Fred made a third bobbin for me. He also said all this was walnut.

Being quite motivated, I took advantage of yesterday's decent weather (for this time of year), and scrubbed down the little wheel. Once it was dry, I rubbed in a coat of Howard's butcher block oil. What a difference it made:

All cleaned up and ready to go.
And best of all, she spins like a champ! I expect a lot of enjoyable spinning time with this little wheel.

She may be at least 150 years old, but she still works perfectly.