tour de fleece 2011

A couple weeks ago I took a jump and signed up for two Tour de Fleece teams for this upcoming season. My friends from Hanks finally have time to play along with the Tour this year, so they’ve got a team (Team Procrastinating Peddlers), and there’s a Nerd Wars team too, naturally.

For those of you who are unfamiliar (and I include myself in that group), the Tour de Fleece is a celebration of spinning that runs simultaneously with the Tour de France. The guidelines (not rules) are to roughly parallel le Tour: spin every day le Tour rides, do something challenging the day of the most challenging Tour stage (July 22nd), and wear yellow on July 24th to celebrate victory. I’ve heard of the Tour de Fleece before, but have never participated, not having been a spinner and all.

Which leads me to this: have I mentioned that I’m learning to spin? I am! I finally set foot down that slippery slope a few weeks ago and have been really enjoying it. I thought I probably would and, yeah. I was right. I’ve been playing with a drop spindle and a BFL roving in some lovely blues and purples and am having lots of fun.

A few weeks ago a friend had a KIP event and I took my spindle. Evidence of me spinning (and looking fat and haggard):

Spinning in Public

As I’ve been spinning along, I’ve wrapped my new-spun yarn around a very classy former-paper-towel-roll bobbin. I need to figure out how to get it off of there, next, and do all that set-the-twist thing. I showed this to Diana at the shop last Friday and she was impressed. She said I had a “natural affinity” for spinning, which made me pretty proud. I think it’s all the time I’ve spent with Lorena, Sharon, and Ginger — their spinning awesomeness must have just rubbed off on me.


For the Tour de Fleece, my goal is to try as many different fibers as I can. I’m not going to do production spinning at this point in my career, but experimenting seems like a reasonable goal.

Future Spinning Goodness

Clockwise from the top left, we have:
1. Some Wensleydale a customer at the shop gave me to try. I’ve seen this spun up and it is exactly the kind of thing I want to do, so this will be a little later in the Tour, when I know more of what I’m doing.
2. Some Corriedale from the same customer.
3. I’m not entirely sure what this was, from the same customer. I think it’s alpaca, but I’m not 100% certain.
4. A 75/25 BFL/silk blend from Abstract Fibers. I want to eat it up. Om nom nom.
5. A Corriedale cross from Inspiration Fibers, in the lovely Outer Rim Planets colorway. Eee!
6. Merino wool combed top. Who doesn’t love merino wool? Other than those with allergies, I guess. I love this colorway, too…it looks like cinnamon to me.
Not pictured: about an ounce and a half of the blue and purple BFL that I started spinning with.

I need to get some drafting going so I’m ready to kick off the Tour on the second. Hurray for new hobbies!


Some news hit the world last night (and, by “world”, I really mean me and my friends and those of you reading this probably already know this news) that my favorite formerly-local-now-online yarn store, Hanks Yarn and Fiber, is becoming a formerly-local-formerly-online shop. It’s been a year since the brick-and-mortar store closed and while I’m certainly sad that the online shop is closing, I’m not terribly surprised (given how thin I’ve seen the margins to be, working retail yarn sales for the past nine months, and I know how little I’ve bought from them, despite being one of their biggest fans) and am proud of my friends that they made what must have been an excruciating decision to make.

I said this all a year ago, but it bears repeating. These three women — Lorena, Sharon, and Ginger — and the regulars at Hanks changed my life and opened my eyes to a much bigger, more beautiful world than I knew before. It sounds cliche, I realize, but that’s how cliches happen, right? You meet someone and your world is never quite the same? You’ve read the book, seen the movie, watched the TV series, but…yeah. That’s this.

Lorena is a creative genius. Seriously. Have you seen the things she makes? They’re just wonderful. She’s also going to keep dyeing some of the amazing colorways and have them for sale on her etsy site and I’m hopeful that she’s going to continue the sock club in some fashion. Because I need more sock yarn, obviously.

I think (and hope) this will relieve some stress in her life. While HaldeCraft seems to be doing really well, she blogged a little while ago about feeling guilty for how little she was doing for Hanks, relatively. And that must have been tearing at her, subconsciously at least, being caught between two masters, both of which you love. Hopefully this will let her relax and just be creative, which is where I think she really shines. That’s not to diminish her other skills, but she might be the most creative person I know.

Ginger is a fucking rock. I didn’t get to know her as well as the other two, since she always had a day job while the shop was open, but I’m so glad I’ve met her. She really helped put my decision to leave grad school and move to Chattanooga in perspective. She and another Hanks regular have a fiber-dyeing business which will continue producing and selling some of the most beautiful rovings this side of the Rocky Mountains. Or the other side, for all I know, honestly.

And Sharon? Sharon’s my hero, my muse. She’s challenged me to be myself more than she probably realizes, and helped me feel more comfortable in my skin. I’ve felt almost all of my life an internal pressure to moderate myself, to control just how nerdy or silly or whatever I am, and the last few years I feel like I’ve really become more me. Or more the me I’ve always wanted to be. Something like that. All that secret inner dorkiness that I had but wouldn’t share with the outside world? Sharon’s helped me realize that it’s okay. The thing I still miss deeply about the physical shop closing are the Sunday mornings when Emma was in Chattanooga and I’d go hang out at the shop with Sharon for a few hours, before other people started trickling in.

That’s probably enough gushing, huh? I need to go finish moving stuff out of the apartment and into the house. And do some laundry. And…yeah. Type to y’all later.

Emma and I spent the weekend working around the house and it’s really starting to look like a home. Less living-out-of-boxes, more art-on-the-wall. It’s a significant improvement, let me tell you. We also got our new living room furniture, which prompted this frenzy of decorating, and it looks better than I had anticipated. But, enough words. Here are some pictures!

First, the living room area! Since we don’t have a distinct living room, just the great room combining kitchen, dining room, and living room, we set up the sectional so that there is some division in the space. We still need to hang art on the long wall, but I really like how Emma’s painting and my Lego portrait of Emma look. You can also see Emma’s new toy in this picture, her rigid heddle loom! It’s even got a bag of some tasty yarn from our favorite local Chattanooga yarn shop, Three Black Sheep.

Living Room Area

Continuing around to the right is our front door and the stairway leading up to the office overlooking the great room. I’m still a little nervous that the shelves are going to come crashing down, but we’re pressing 48 hours now so maybe we’re okay.

Front Stairway

Further to the right is the kitchen, below the office overlook. We hung the great Persian rug a friend of ours brought back from the Middle East for us years ago to fill that space nicely, I think. We’re still contemplating adding something on either side of the rug but there’s no hurry.

Above the Kitchen

The kitchen itself is still a work in progress. We’ve fleshed out the window above the sink, though, which is most of the space available for art in the kitchen.

Kitchen Window

We’ve put the bar and china hutch on the back wall of the great room. I’m really liking the bookshelves Emma found somewhere — Target, maybe? — for the great room. We’re using one to store our booze and fancy glasses and a second for the cookbooks.

Dining Room BarChina Hutch

Lastly, for now, is one of Emma’s most clever ideas. We’re using the windowsills on the great room windows to display a few of our most colorful things. The light catching off of the vases and the menorah are fantastic and I’m really delighted about the end result.

Great Room Windows

Okay, enough for now. I’m off to the basement to try to assemble our new exercise bike. Later I’m going to try to hook up our dryer, doing my best not to asplode the house in the process. Happy Tuesday, me droogs.

post-moving priorities

Emma and I spent all of Sunday moving boxes and furniture to the new house. We rented a small-ish U-Haul, Emma’s friend Christy rounded up four teenaged boys, and we put a serious hurt on the stuff that we have to move.

moving-related tweet

In fact, most of what’s left are my clothes, some dishes, pots, and pans, and stuff from the craft room. All of the big things are now situated in the house. Emma’s priorities after moving all of our stuff was to be able to eat and sleep in the house. Me? I wanted to get the computer network up and running and get the TV on.

While we did manage to eat and drink last night, as well as sleep here, I also got the wireless part of the network running and have started to play with the new TV. Well, it’s not a new TV, but we’ve switched providers to our local power company who offer fiber optic connections, so we have new channels to learn.

The final piece of furniture to move from the apartment was the office desk and, because it can be easily disassembled, that was last on the triage list. I got it disassembled, moved, and partially reassembled yesterday, then finished the job today. I’m hoping my new view isn’t too distracting if I ever try to do any actual work at the computer.

New Computer Desk

More pictures to come as boxes are unpacked and things are put away!

such a great weekend

Emma and I have had a tremendous past few days and I want to share a little of our fun. Those of you who follow me on the tweeter and foursquare have seen some of this, but here’s the rest of the story.

Friday night, Em and I went to see the local minor-league baseball team, the Chattanooga Lookouts. We’ve gone a few times already this season and have had fun, but had yet to see the team win. They’re, um, not very good. And they’ve just been purchased by the Dodgers, so things aren’t looking too hopeful. However! The game is still fun and is a pretty great bargain for the evening. We both took our knitting — me my mint-chocolate sock, and Emma her new Prism yarn tee — and stayed for the fireworks after the game. And, to top off the evening, the Lookouts won!

Lookouts Game, 5/6/11: Mosaic

Saturday, Emma and I went to the Bluegrass Grill as is our wont for breakfast, then spend much of the day cleaning the apartment in preparation for my parents’ arrival. The folks are on their way to a small reunion of dad’s family in Stoughton, WI, later this week, and they decided to stop in Chattanooga for a few days. I don’t think the apartment has looked this good since we moved in, which is probably a sad state of affairs, but I’m really happy with how clean everything is. Mission for the future: keep it (and the house!) looking decent.

My folks got in late in the afternoon and made it to the apartment, despite my giving them bad directions. They made me chauffeur them around in dad’s car the rest of the weekend. Such a hardship, driving his new Mercedes around. We had some snacks and drinks and watched the Kentucky Derby. Emma’s horse even won! Why was it her horse? I don’t know, other than I think she liked the name. After the derby we had dinner at 212 Market downtown which was exceptional. I should have taken more pictures, but we were too busy eating and drinking and having a good time.

Sunday morning we tried to meet at their hotel for breakfast, but the hotel was so full that (a) we couldn’t find a table in the breakfast area and (b) they didn’t have any food ready. Fortunately, Em and I had bought some cinnamon rolls at Niedlov’s the day before and we brought those to share. Good stuff, those cinnamon rolls. Highly recommended.

Saturday/Sunday Morning

After breakfast we went to the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, the world’s steepest passenger train. It’s about a ten minute ride to the top and the last few minutes are worth the price of admission. The top of the train is clear glass (or plastic, I suppose), and you get a fantastic view of the valley below. There’s also an observation deck at the top terminal (and gift shop, naturally) and we spent a while just sitting around and enjoying the view.

We rode the train back down to the base of the mountain, then took the folks to our favorite pizza place in the area, Lupi’s. So tasty. If you’re in the area, come meet Emma and I there sometime. We’re usually there late Sunday morning/early afternoon for lunch, trying our best to stay out of the way of the church crowds.

Sunday night we went out on the River Gorge Explorer, a three-hour tour up the Tennessee River. Er, down, I guess. Well, downstream first, then back up. Whatever. It was great. The boat can apparently go ridiculously fast, but we had to keep slowing down to be polite to the other boaters on the river, so I don’t think the captain ever really opened up the engines. We — or at least I — even learned a lot about the area that I didn’t know; a bit about the history and the geography. We also saw a few cool birds and animals (Emma saw a beaver, but I missed it), and some beautiful scenery. Like a dope, I forgot to take my better camera, but I caught a few shots with my cell phone camera.

Tennessee River Cruise

This morning, I took mom and dad up to the yarn shop so they could see where I worked. We gave mom yarn and the pattern for a fairly simple shawl, so she brought that along and got it started while I sat at the table with her. She wanted to sit and work on the shawl for a little bit, so dad and I left to find Signal Point, whence Signal Mountain’s name. Having seen it from the river, we had a rough idea of which way to go, and there were occasional signs pointing us in the right direction. The views are great but the number of steps you have to walk down to get from the parking lot to the point is deceptive. I didn’t mean to try to kill dad, I promise. The views were, as you might expect, pretty spectacular, and there was a faint smell of honeysuckle in the air. So great. Most amusingly, as we were getting ready to leave, we looked down and saw the boat from the aquarium heading out on their morning cruise.

Signal Point

Tonight, we took mom and dad to The Terminal Brewhouse, another of our favorite restaurants in the area. Mom, dad, and I went early and sat and had a drink, then Emma came after work to join us for dinner. No pictures, so you’ll have to imagine the tasty burgers and Maibock for yourself. And they were both very tasty.

Tomorrow morning brings breakfast with the folks before they head off to Wisconsin, and a return to normalcy for me. Wonder what I’ll do with my time all day tomorrow.


I’ve been on a CPAP machine for the past six weeks to control my sleep apnea. I haven’t noticed a huge difference yet in how tired I feel in the mornings, but what I have noticed is a return of dreams. Or, at the very least, dreams that I remember.

Last night, I even had a dream within a dream. I think. In the first part of the dream, I saw a movie trailer for a movie titled “Dancing with Catherine,” about my grandfather’s sister’s battle with cancer when she was a little girl. (Reality note: So far as I know, my grandfather didn’t have a sister who battled cancer as a little girl.) I was so shocked and amazed, I went to the google to find out more about the movie and book it was based on, but couldn’t. Later in the dream, I was talking with my dad about it, and decided that it must have been a dream. It wasn’t until I woke up for real that I realized that that had been a dream. I woke up so confused.

Wow. Dreams really don’t translate when you write them down the next morning, do they? Oh well. Happy Friday, my friends. Don’t forget Mothers’ Day is Sunday.


In case you missed it on facebook or twitter, Emma and I are buying a house! The closing is the 28th, so there’s still time for stuff to go wrong, but…

We had the inspection yesterday, so I went over and took a bunch of pictures. Too many, probably, but here you go:

Well, apparently I can’t embed the slideshow. Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arne_heggestad/sets/72157626239761920/show/

Come visit us soon!

PS: We’re (well, really I am) taking suggestions for the foursquare name. I’m leaning towards The Tree House.