Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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All over again?

Remember last year, when I had all the trouble and anxiety and, well, angst over paring down my 900+ book library to the 100 or so that I really really wanted?

OK. Now imagine that kind of angst, only the books in question are over 100 years old, some priceless, and I haven’t read any of them.

See, I have taken on the task of cataloguing the books in my grandmother’s house, for purposes of estimating their value, and providing some kind of inventory to the auctioneer. Meanwhile, my dad and stepmom periodically ask me if there are any of the books I want or just can’t live without, because my dad is willing to take a few in his share of the inherited goods and pass them along to me.

“Yes,” I replied last night. “I want all of them. I can’t live without any of them. They’re books.”

My stepmother doesn’t entirely understand, but my father does, completely (so does my uncle, by the way, and grandma would understand, too). I remember doing this when my other grandmother died– perhaps this is how I grieve? I go through the deceased’s library? Certainly, one of my favorite things to do is snoop through a person’s bookshelves to see what they like to read. You can learn a lot about a person by the company they keep, and of course, to a book-addict, the company of fictional characters counts just as much as any other riff-raff you might pick up.

In any case, I’m still trying to figure out how I can convert Steggy into a rolling antique book library. I doubt it’s going to happen. Something about me already claiming more than my share of storage in the RV as it is may come up. I will have to let go and say “ah, how wonderful that these books are given to the world instead of being locked away in the attic again!”

Did I tell you about the wheel? Grandma left me a spinning wheel. Just the wheel, though. No frame, no spindles, no flyer head…. just the wheel (it’s a great wheel– you spin while standing or walking beside it). I’m thinking of making a PVC pipe stand for it and having a go.

Tuesday night, John and I played Scrabble with my dad and stepmom using Grandma’s Scrabble set, but not her wacky rules. In her set, several pieces are missing, and she replaced them with pieces from another game. Since you can’t tell from looking at the new pieces what the value of the letters are, those pieces have the values printed on the Scrabble board (you know, the chart with the letter distribution?) That means there’s at least one 12-point “E” and a 1-point “Z” in her set.

We played with standard rules (and values), and I kicked everyone’s ass.

More Meta Stuff:

For friendly LJ-crossposters and others following my blog and being confused by some of the posts in the RV category: they’re being syndicated from my blog, and I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet– feel free to ignore them, although Monday and Tuesday’s posts were amusing in the “fun and games” category (I needed something light and quick to write, given the fact that Monday and Tuesday were visitation and funeral days). In an ideal world, you’ll be able to click a link and go straight to the rest of the entry on the correct site. I have that feed set up to send only excerpts right now, and I’m working out the kinks of having it cross-post here, then over to LJ…. and I’m sure you understand why that’s complicated, right? The cross-poster I was using (WP-o-matic) completely failed to do anything it’s supposed to. It would cross-post, but in doing so it cross-posted duplicates, did not pick up feeds automatically, and generally sucked. So I took it down and am trying a different feed plugin, one that unfortunately doesn’t have any “add the source to the bottom of your feed” options. Ah, well.

Edited to add: I’ve now added a “Syndicated” category (and LJ tag) so if the post is coming off of one of my feeds, you’ll know.

Also: I’m happy to entertain genuine, non-spammy comments in response to my sponsored post the other day. Did you hate it? Did you shrug and say “oh, well; at least it’s not total crap.” LJers didn’t see it, I know– that was deliberate, since my LJ is non-commercial, and the sponsored post was definitely ad-oriented. I think I’d entertain a great sponsorship for one of my blogs, but let’s be serious: who would want to sponsor this navel-gazing dreck?

Maryland Sheep & Wool

I am going to have to draw out the Maryland Sheep & Wool amazement a bit, but I wanted to share this, because it is just about one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

This is a nice, heavy, supported (i.e.: non-dropping) spindle for spinning yarn. You turn the big wheel at the base with your hand, just kind of set it in motion, and the twist comes off the end. There’s no hook or anything on the end to help capture the yarn, but if you sit perpendicular to it, it works.


Brilliant! Don’t you just love cleverness in tools?

I saw this and gushed. I already have a wheel and I’ve long since claimed storage space for it, but if I hadn’t, I would be looking for something like this. Drop spindles, after a while, get tiring. They are, despite the beautiful spindles and spindlers I saw yesterday, a very physical activity for me, and they are not very fast. Also, when you’re learning, they can be difficult to learn, and are prone to, well, dropping. The advantage of wheels is that you can keep them in perpetual motion with your feet, but they cost quite a lot and take up a large space in the RV.

This spindle is heavy and spins for a nice, long time once set in motion. It’s not as versatile or portable as a drop spindle (but, again, no drop-and-roll!), nor is it quite so fast as a wheel. But man, what a terrific way to spin on the road. It costs $110, which is considerably less than a wheel or a charkha, and considerably more than a drop spindle.

They’re made and sold by Whispering Pines, in Colrain, MA. Carole says the website is wonky, but her phone number and email address are right there on the website, if you want to drop her a line and ask about these lovelies.

Another tatted thing

In mid-January, I tackled some silk hankies:


which I bought in December at Pam’s store. Hankies are single silkworm cocoons that have been prepped and “spread out” into squares that are about the same size and shape as handkerchiefs.

I spun them on my drop spindle, into this lovely laceweight yarn:


There’s all of 2 grams there, but silk is super lightweight, so there’s actually a lot of yardage for its weight.

Last night, after tatting through the Superbowl, I decided to start another “Small Round Medallion” from the Priscilla Tatting Book #3. I made one of these before, as you might remember, but I wanted to make a second one. This time for me, but also because I wanted to use a familiar pattern when working with such an unfamiliar thread:


I think it’s pretty, don’t you? What’s exciting about using handspun is that it’s not evenly consistent. There are parts where the thread is very fine, and parts where it’s downright slubby, but I just tatted them along as best as I could. I think the only place it looks a bit weird is the last cloverleaf, which is shown in the picture in the upper left– it looks like two of the “leaves” have overlapped. That’s really just a positioning problem on my part. When I push them into the right places, they stay, and if I block this firmly, I am sure it will come out very nicely.


1: 2′ long edging

2: Small round medallion, in peach

3: ATC with medallion motif piece.

4: Hippo from Tat it and See

5: Small round medallion, in handspun blue, shown above.


Remember this?

I decided to get it off my spools, so I Navajo plied it the other day and made a mini-skein with it:



What do you do when you’re not spending money?

Three weeks ago, I joined The Compact, which is a commitment not to buy any new products for a year.

Well, I can’t quite commit to a year. Seriously– it’s just not in me to do anything for a whole year. But for 100 days? Sure– and if I’m going to develop a good habit, it takes me about 100 days to do it in.

Like a diet, I sometimes fall off the wagon, and I did so last week when I ordered Fluxx Español from Looney Labs. Fluxx is our favorite game around here– my Fluxx deck is so big from adding custom cards, I had to buy a special box for it (not to worry, though– there’s a whole line of card boxes for gamers, thanks to the popularity of Magic: The Gathering and other collectible card games).

But aside from the card game, which was bought from an eco-friendly, independent hippie game publisher, John and I haven’t bought many new things since starting the Compact. This becomes challenging when we head out on a Sunday afternoon, presumably to go do our weekly shopping trips. Things like mouthwash, which isn’t available at the local grocery store, are particularly bothersome, because the drug store is like, well, a drug. But a store. Last week I entered the drug store for packing tape and video tapes, and had to exert a lot of willpower to stay away from the office supplies!

So, some of the things I’ve done to help keep myself from going out and spending money:

  • Declutter the house and getting ready for a yard sale
  • Cross-stitch (made a cute Jeep-related thing for someone in the Jeep club last month)
  • Spin yarn: Sunday I went to the local spinning group for a few hours and spun with other spinners– much fun.
  • Sewing — I made a cat toy for Alladin last week.
  • Reading: I’ve read 21 books since January 1.
  • Cooking — the new diet takes time to cook dinners.
  • Practicing my speeches for Toastmasters
  • Going to RV shows– cheap entry fees, and there’s no way I’m buying a rig on-the-spot.
  • Working
  • Packing up books to send to BookMooch‘ers
  • Homework for Spanish class (class and homework fill about 8-10 hours per week)
  • Walking dogs
  • Training and playing with my cat
  • Playing card games
  • Watching TV (but only if I can skip the commercials)
  • Watching my fish (the livebearers had babies!)
  • Cleaning the house (laundry, dishes, etc.)
  • Scanning and filing for the paperless office, including old archives

So, tell me. What are your non-spending-money activities and ideas?

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