Jan 31

Friday night, Sandy and I arrived at Lindenwood around 5:30 and we unpacked the car, checked in, unpacked our belongings, ate and were seated and spinning by 7:00.

Let me show you first the place.


Lindenwood is a convent for the Poor Handmaidens of Jesus Christ, a retirement center for nuns, a college (Ancilla College), and a retreat and conference center. It is in the very northern part of Indiana, not too far from South Bend, in Donaldson.  The area around it is farmland.

During the past year or so, they added onto the conference center part of the campus, and it opened up for business on January 1st.  This is the room we had.


It was absolutely beautiful with one wall of windows over looking the frozen lake.


And it was at least twice the size of the room we have had in the past – brightly lit and comfortable.


And the view we had.  Really, it was the most lovely sight – even if it is all snow covered.  One day I’m going to go up there and see the place in the summer with all the flowers in bloom.

And the reason for being there:


Comparing notes, friendship, teaching, eating, …


…relaxing, trying new fibers, spinning wool,…


…spinning flax into linen,…


…a bit of fiber yoga (well, she was resting her cards, and it sure LOOKS like yoga),…


… and a LOT of fiber therapy.  Peg and Patricia had a blast dumping different tubs of roving looking for just the right colors.  Reminds me of kids and a toy box in more ways than one.


And Shauna with “Lizard” growing within her, and Kate, one of the best spinners in these parts sharing a meal.  Lizard is Shauna’s nickname for her little boy, and she is the most nonchalant, laid-back pregnant person I have ever met.  And this is her first!

We had a fashion show Saturday night, and I took the indigo-cochineal dyed fabric that I spun, dyed and wove, and both of the sweater vests I knitted out of naturally dyed Shetland.  There were lots of beautiful items like hand-spun and hand-knitted fair-isle vests, intricate cabled sweaters, a hand-spun and knitted jacket, knitted vests, gloves, shawls, scarves, etc.  This time, though, they decided to have three people judge it and present a prize to the winner.

After much deliberation, the judges came in and said they couldn’t decide between two people for the winner and decided to call it a tie – between Kate, pictured above and her wonderful hand-spun and hand knitted Estonian shawl and scarf, and her handspun and knitted vest (from her own Border Leister sheep) and ME!!!  Kate and I were thrilled and we each got 4 ounces of fiber of our choice.  I chose a braid of Blue-Faced Leister that I had admired.

The best part of the weekend was reconnecting with people from from all over – one person driving all the way up from Tennessee just ahead of the storm that passed through that region.  I love all of these ladies, and there were lots of hugs and laughter and bragging over new grandkids, childrens’ accomplishments and awards won.

It seems like we were there only a couple of hours rather than two days.

This was my 5th year there and I am already signed up with my deposit in for next year.  I finished up the Emerald Garden bobbin (8 ounces) Friday night and started in with this lovely, navy blue merino.  Because it is so fine, I spun all day yesterday and until 2:00 this afternoon on it and I’m only about half-way done.


When this is done, I’m going to ply it with the Emerald Garden.

And now you are wanting to know if I bought anything.  Well…  I went with a set amount of money and I did not go over it at all, so I’m very proud of myself.  But I did come home with two fleeces all to myself and two fleeces to be shared with Sandy.  So, I have LOTS of fleeces to wash and my weekends are going to be steamy, smelly and fun!

When I went to bed Friday night, I took off my pedometer and this is what I saw.


Now, that doesn’t happen every day!  And I got in nearly 11,000 steps on Saturday.  Today, I rested and didn’t get up early enough to hit the treadmill, but I will be back on it at 5 in the morning.

Jan 29

Well, this is the weekend for the Spinning Retreat at Lindenwood Retreat Center in Donaldson, Indiana.  Just 30 of us spinners sitting around doing what we love best – making yarn, eating, and solving all the problems of the world.

I’m taking 8 ounces of a navy blue wool to spin and ply with the green, and one other 4 ounce bit to spin if I actually get all of that done.  I can’t wait to show you the new yarn when I get back.

You should see how full my car is!  I’ll try to get a picture of it before we unload it.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had Bettie this full, and that’s saying something.  Susan, my LYS owner, has about half of the back of Bettie full of tubs and boxes of roving and top for sale and I’m transporting it up there for her.

Until then, take care, be creative and bring joy to all those around you.

And in case you were wondering, my steps count for this week so far is as follows:  Monday 10,152; Tuesday 10,137; Wednesday 10,676; and Thursday 11,105.

Jan 27
10,000 Step Club is Official!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Diet and Fitness | icon4 01 27th, 2010| icon33 Comments »


For those of you interested in joining us in this club, especially with the aim to become healthier and more physically fit, Scott and I have created a logo for you to put on your website.  But, before you can become a member, you have to show that you have walked 10,000 steps in one day.  How?  Take a picture of your pedometer at the end of the day showing at least 10,000 steps and email it to me at basicallybenitaATyahooDOTcom (obviously replace the AT with @ and DOT with .).  At that time, I’ll add you to the list of members and you are off and running. 

Also, I have created some Excel spreadsheets to help you keep track of your daily steps and a cool graph to see how you are faring.  Just let me know if you want a copy of the Excel file, and I’ll email it to you.  At the beginning of each month, we’d love to hear what your average steps for the month are, how many miles you walked and how many days did you reach or pass 10,000 steps.  If you know of anyone else who would be interested in joining, pass the word on to them.

Wouldn’t it be neat if we got enough people interested in this that we have annual 10,000 Step-A-Thons to help raise money to fight obesity and if lots of people lost weight and became physically fit because they started off building their steps up to 10,000 per day?  Let’s promote health, energy, strength and fitness!!!

I’ll have T-shirts available sometime in the next couple of months with this logo on it if you are interested.  I know I’m going to wear one!!!

Jan 26
A fiber story
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Diet and Fitness, Work-in-progress | icon4 01 26th, 2010| icon34 Comments »

I finished washing the charcoal Corriedale fleece for my friend, Sandy, on Sunday and it finally finished drying by the time I got home late last night after work.  I weighed both bags of wool (two fleeces total) and it came to just under 9 pounds.

Now, nine pounds of clean, uncombed wool is a lot.  In fact, it filled two 33 gallon trash bags.  I brought them to work today and Sandy and I filled out the form for the processing mill and waited (im)patiently for 5:00 to come around so we could take it to the UPS store around the corner from our office and get them shipped out.  The processing mill we are sending it to is having a 25% discount if you get it there before the end of the month, so you can see we were scrambling a bit.  (UPS has promised to get the box there by Thursday.)

Well, now, UPS doesn’t charge by the weight as much as they charge by the dimensions of the box.  So, what could Sandy and I do with these two HUGE bags of fiber?  Yup!  We sat on them and squooshed all the excess air out of them.  While Sandy sat on hers, I pushed at it from all angles and let me tell you, those were two flat bags when we got done.

Sandy and I were laughing when we left wondering what the guy behind the counter was thinking of these two middle-aged women sitting on trashbags together.  Sandy said it was too bad we didn’t get pictures.  Then I thought about it and commented, “Oh, I’ll bet we’re on film somewhere.”  Don’t these places have security cameras?  If so, I hope the person watching that one isn’t taking a sip of coffee or anything because he’s gonna spew it across his console laughing at us.

But one batch is off and I’ve got to wash mine and get it off for processing.  Needless to say, we’ll be watching for the UPS man to bring a box of goodies in the next few weeks.  It’s like being a kid and waiting for Christmas!

On the 10,000 Step Club front – Scott nearly has the logo done and I should have it up on the site in the next day or so for those joining us to copy and place on their site.  Cheryl from Acorn to Oak is joining in, a former weaving student of mine is joining, there are a couple of others thinking about it and we hope you will, too.  I’d love for this club to become something special to help people get active, lose weight and get fit.  This means me, too!  And if misery loves company, so does laughter and fun – but even more so!

Jan 25

I walked 10,000 or more steps five days in a row this week Tuesday through Saturday (11,000 on Saturday)).  I am very proud of this accomplishment and want to see if I can do five days in a row again this week (today through Friday).  This being said, I walked 24.65 miles this past week, and am well on my way of hitting 100 miles for the month.

So, of all my blogging friends who are also trying to lose weight, are you interested in joining me in a 10,000 Step Club?  I’m thinking of seeing how soon someone can reach 10,000 steps in one day (and if I can do it, ANYone can do it).  Then once you have reached 10,000 steps, how many days in a row can you keep it up?

I’d like to try to walk 10,000 steps a day for the entire month of February.  I don’t know if I can really do it, but I sure would like to give it a try.  If you want to join me in this, I’ll come up with a banner/logo for the 10,000 Step Club to put on your website.  Maybe some prizes for the person who can hit 10,000 steps the most days out of 6 months – like T-shirts, yarn, etc.  In fact, I’m thinking the person who wins will get a half-pound of fingering weight Shetland yarn dyed in a natural indigo gradation colorway from me.  And if the winner is not a fiber person, I’m sure I can come up with something suitable.

Anyone interested?

This past week, I lost 2.2 pounds bringing my weight down to 165.2.  Not bad, considering I did cheat once.  I lost what I had gained the week before plus an extra .2 pound.  I’m satisfied.

I have a great recipe to share with you.  This is easy and mighty tasty!

Bar-B-Q Pork Medallions

1 pound Pork tenderloin medallions cut 1/2 inch thick

1 T oil

1 Large onion

1 green pepper

Cajun seasoning (I use the one from Penzey’s Spices, but you can use your favorite)

Stubbs Mesquite Smoked Barbeque Sauce (I like Stubbs because it doesn’t have High Fructose Corn Syrup in it and so many others do).  I get it at my local Meijer store.

Add oil to large skillet and heat on medium high.  Coarsely chop the onion and green pepper and layer over the bottom of the skillet.  Layer the pork over the veggies and sprinkle liberally with Cajun seasoning.  Pour a bit of Stubbs sauce over the pork, but not too much – this stuff has a LOT of flavor.  Let cook, turning the pork frequently, until the pork is done or until the juices have thickened into a carmelized sauce.

Serve hot with vegetables (we like this with sauteed carrots and asparagus).  About 6 servings.

And now for what you have been waiting for – who won the T-shirts?  The winners are Cindy of Delighted Hands and Leigh of 5 Acres and a Dream.  Can you two email me with your snail mail address and T-shirt size (Men’s sizes) so I can get your T-shirts to you?

Thank you for all the fun with this.  I will have to do this again with another design later.

Jan 24
A fun-busy weekend
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 01 24th, 2010| icon34 Comments »

Yesterday, I walked on the treadmill, bought groceries, paid the mortgage at the bank, finished the second of a pair of socks and started a new pair, caught up my laundry and washed half a fleece.  Very busy, but the kind of busy I find a pleasure.

Today, I am washing the second half of the last “Ukulele” fleece owned by my friend, Sandy.  Ukulele is a Corriedale sheep, charcoal gray with a white spot, and was coated and Sandy has two years’ worth of fleeces from him.  Easiest fleeces I have ever washed!

I made the comment last night that I was enjoying washing these fleeces, and Scott look at me with surprise.  “You LIKE washing fleeces?”

“Yes, I do, now that I’ve come up with an easier way to do it.”

He shook his head and replied, “Looks like a lot of hard work to me.”

And it might look like hard work to some people, but I know these fleeces are going to be sent off to be processed into roving or top (Sandy is still undecided), and then the enjoyment of spinning these and making something out of them will bring Sandy lots of hours of fun, relaxation and creativity.  I guess I am thinking of that as I dump out dirty or sudsy water and refill the tubs with hot clean water to let the fleece parts soak.  I just doesn’t feel like hard work to me.

I finished the blue striped socks last night, and this is the closest I have ever come to making identical socks out of self striping yarn.  And I am soooo close, too!


The different between the two comes at the pickup of the gusset stitches and knitting.  One sock has three rows of the medium blue and the other has one row.  ARRRGGGGHHH!!!!!!  So close!

So, I pulled another ball of self-striping yarn out and am going to try getting identical socks again.  I will get this perfect if I have to knit a thousand pairs of socks to get there.  Darn!  🙂


Opal created a series of sock yarns based on the Harry Potter Half-Blood Prince movie and I have the Lupin one and the Tonks one.  Shown here is the Lupin.  My friend Sandy owns them all and has a nice set of socks to make, too.

At first, I thought these were going to be the ugliest socks I have ever knitted because what I was getting looked nothing like what I thought they would look like going by the colors in the ball.  But then, as I continued, the pattern started appearing and now I love them.

Again, I am using a pattern out of Nancy Bush’s “Knitting Vintage Socks” book, and this one is first pattern in the book “Madder Ribbed Sock.”  The blue striped socks above are the “Yarrow Ribbed Sock” pattern out of the same book.  I love the German heel of that pattern with it’s purled detail on the sides of the heel flap.

Well, I’m off to do a couple of weeks’ worth of cooking and freezing.  Next weekend I’ll be at a spinning retreat and I want to make sure Scott doesn’t go hungry while I’m gone.  With what I have planned, he won’t.

Don’t forget to post a comment on the post for the 21st so you can be in the drawing for one of two T-shirts with the new graphic on it.  The contest ends at midnight tonight and I’ll let you know who the winners are tomorrow.

Jan 23

How can you not love this lady?  Through her site, she has help raise nearly $1,000,000 for Doctors Without  Borders – over $313,000 since the January 12th Haitian earthquake.  She has a heart as big as all of Canada!

I love following her Twitter posts and this last one just cracks me up.  “When I rule the world, things are going to be less expensive. I will start with the essentials. Coffee, beer cookies and yarn.”  Not only does she have a huge heart, she has her priorities in the right place – although, for me, exchange the “beer” for “strawberry milkshakes” and her “coffee” for “hot tea.”  But you get the idea.

I really think all those male politicians need to step down and let the women rule the world for a while.  Together we would wipe out famine, poverty, intolerance, global warming, the shrinking rainforests, and everyone would be well-clothed – mostly with natural fibers.

If you haven’t donated to Doctors Without Borders (or any other service working to help those in Haiti affected by the earthquakes (I’m sorry, some of those “aftershocks” are just as big as most earthquakes anywhere else)), please do so.  There are people needing food, water, clothes and medical supplies and these things ain’t free.

Jan 21
T-shirt design and contest!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 01 21st, 2010| icon310 Comments »

Scott and I have been working together on several T-shirt designs.  This is the first one geared specifically for the fiber community.  These T-shirts will eventually be for sale (in the next couple of months – once we get more done), but I just had to show this one to you and get your opinion on it.

salute you

Scott came up with the quote, I did the preliminary sketch for the look, Scott drew and inked the cartoon, and I colored and lettered it.

To celebrate this first design, I would like to give away two T-shirts (white) to you guys.  All you have to do, between now and midnight Sunday, January 24, 2010, is to put a comment on this post telling me what you think of it, if you are a dyer, and, if so, natural or synthetic dyes.  I will randomly draw two names Monday morning and let you know who won.

I love giving things away and I love being creative – what better way to do both?  Have fun!!!

Jan 20

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, once again it is that dreaded time of year for accountants and bookkeepers – TAX SEASON!!!  So, guess what I’m doing, some nights until 7 o’clock?  Yep!  You guessed correctly.  I’m up to my nose in stacks of general ledger printouts and the paper dust is causing me sneezing fits.

BUT – I am not letting this affect my diet.  I am getting up at 5 and walking on the treadmill and I’ve gotten in over 10,000 steps the past two days.  How’s that!  I’ve gone back to meditating and my eating is much better, control-wise, too.

And, I have been writing ideas on scraps of paper here and there and have my first weaving project of the year all figured out.  This Sunday, while I have a fleece soaking, I’m going to get the first warp all ready to put on the loom, and if I’m feeing especially energetic, I may even go ahead and get the second warp ready. 

Then, I’m going to finish the Emerald Garden spinning, clean my wheel and get it all nice and shiny to take to the spinning retreat the last weekend of this month.  And dive through all the pretty fiber and plan and replan what to take with me.  Sunday is going to be Funday for little ol’ Niter!

And, I have something special in the works for you, too!  As soon as I get all the details worked out, I’ll spring it on you – probably in the first week of February.  I am so excited about this!

Jan 18
Taking it to the next level
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Diet and Fitness | icon4 01 18th, 2010| icon37 Comments »

So, I’ve completed two weeks of Phase I and one week of Phase II on the South Beach diet.  I’m walking on the treadmill, skipping a day here and the there first two weeks because my legs were burning, but everyday for the all last week.  In fact, I’ve added a minute a day and today I walked 41 minutes.  By Friday, I’ll reach my goal of 45 minutes.  At that point, I’ll slowly start increasing the speed until I reach 4 mph.  I’m averaging about 3.2 mph right now.

Now, it’s time to work on portion control and the right combination of proteins, vegetables, fruits (I added a fruit a day on Saturday), and good carbs.  For this, I am using an on-line program that is free and very comprehensive.  It is My Calorie Counter and I really like it.  I used it before for a few week last year, then fell away from it.  It’s time to take this diet up to the next level and begin keeping a food diary, and this food diary gives you a lot of information in return.

So, starting today, I am recording everything I eat and seeing how well it fits into the scheme of things.  I read that those people who keep a food diary lose twice as much as those who don’t.  Besides, I am hoping it will keep me from doing what I did on Friday.  I ATE EVERYTHING I COULD GET MY HANDS ON!!!  Including Peanut M&M’s, Moose Munch, Fazoli’s, and all the stuff I knew I shouldn’t eat.

And I paid for it, too.  All that sugar on Friday (and into Saturday morning because we were at some friends’ house for a D&D game and it lasted until after 1 in the morning – we didn’t get to bed until nearly 3 AM) and we crashed all day Saturday.  And I mean crashed!  We slept until late  morning (10 for me and nearly noon for Scott), went out to meet a friend of mine with some heddles and rag shuttles that have been added to my studio, then came home and slept until 7 last night.  I was back asleep by 9:00 and slept like a log until 6 this morning.

So, not only did I completely blow my eating plan, but I lost a much needed day as well.  I am very frustrated with myself right now, and the calorie counting program will help to keep me from doing that again.  It’s too easy to ignore how much and what you are eating if you don’t hold yourself accountable for it.  So, starting today, I am making myself pay attention to what I eat because I will be recording it.

Okay, now for the update.  I weighed 167.4 this morning.  That’s up two pounds, so, obviously, I can do much better.  The food diary should help me keep what I’m eating between 1200-1400 calories per day for now, and I’ll lower this as I lose weight.  I read somewhere else that, for moderately active people, you need to eat 10 calories for every pound of weight you want to weigh.  I want to weigh 120, eventually, so that is 1200 calories.  But since I weigh in the 160’s, I thought I’d aim for 140 as my first goal line and keep the calories closer toward 1400 for the time being.  If my weight loss slows down too much before I reach 140, then I’ll up the exercise.

I’m so glad I have gotten so much encouragement from you guys.  And you letting me talk about this each week is a huge help to me.  I feel bad about doing something stupid and going public with it brings me lots of shame.  So, I will do everything I can to not bring this type of shame down on myself again.

Wish me luck this next week.  I’d really like the scales to read 166 or less next Monday.

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