Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wool Picker

Wool Picker

Due to the mountains of fleece that I feel the need to get through, I wanted a faster way of turning them into an even bigger mountain of clean fluff.

So I looked up how to do that & discovered a wonderful little (terrifying) machine called a Wool Picker.
You can buy a few different versions here:  http://www.woolery.com/store/pc/Wool-Pickers-c606.htm or you can get plans for a few dollars online (just google it).

BUT, the cheapskate in me couldn't see paying $200+ for what amounts to a wooden box with nails stuck in it when I have scrap lumber, nails, saws & screws here.  So I looked at a few different versions and picked the best one for me (the one I wasn't terrified of), and went to the basement with safety glasses on & power tools in hand.

Here is a very basic open ended box wool picker.
It's made from pine boards (that used to be the cellar stairs that broke), 1 1/2" wood screws, 3" finishing nails and a 1" dowel... 2 2" screws for the handle.
It works great, but if I ever do it again, I'll use hardwood & space the nails at 1/2" apart vs. 1" apart in each row, though I'll keep the 1" between rows.  I also wanted it to be 36" long, but the boards were only 32".

The teeth of the picker don't actually meet, they are > < this far apart so the machine moves freely. 
You aren't trying to rip the fibers between the nails, you are trying to catch & separate them.

I'm just going to upload the pictures & do the basic "how I did it" in captions.  So, Enjoy!

WARNING!!! This is NOT a toy!  Do not operate this machine around cats, dogs, children or other curious pets or people.  It WILL rip you apart.  I highly recommend wearing thin leather gloves, or failing that having an updated tetanus shot & band-aids on hand.  Also a wire tool to pull the wool out from between the nails is preferable to using your bare fingers. 
DO NOT operate this when drunk.  Not even one glass of wine.  Seriously.  It'll cut you.

Mark out nail hole placement on 3 spike boards
I used 3 so that I could change the direction of the board, not the drill.

Drilling holes on an angle. 
If you want to be particular, use a guide.
(You can also drill straight, it works just as well)
Drill into another board so you get a clean back.

Nails in from the back, so the pointy bits come out the front.

Nails coming out the front.

3 spike boards finished (3 more to go for the handle)

Baseboard, spike boards & sides.
2 more "feeder" boards go on either side of the spikes,
mostly to have something to screw the sides into.

Closeup of the angled nails.
IN, Center, OUT

Feeder boards & Sides screwed on

3 more spike boards for the top and the top runner board.
Close-up of the top unit

Base unit & top in all their spiky scariness

Top & Base unit together

Into the Maw of the Dragon
(the nails are too close, I had to add more to keep them from scraping)

Do NOT put your hands in here.

Intake side.

More scary.
Now with 1/4" molding so the nails are not touching!

The finished wool picker
Detail of the handle
I could have done a much better job, but honestly, I was tired & it works.

Wool locks.
You'll need to hand-pick these apart &
remove anything you don't want mixed in with your final product.

First pass through the picker.

After 3 passes through the picker.
The Finn took 5 passes, so not everything is this easy.

The wool doesn't come out 100% clean, but the picker removes most of the VM.  As with any wool you want to spin or felt, throw out anything with 50% or more VM in it.  It's just not worth it & it'll wreck your yarn.
You have to use clean wool for this... no spinning in the grease if you want to use this machine.  The lanolin will make a mess of the nails, so only clean, dry wool, OK?
You also have to do a bit of prep work, just like you would with hand-picking, flicking, combing, carding, etc.  Break the locks up & start to break them apart a little.  Run it through 3-5x until it looks like it'll card well.  Discard any stubborn bits.  Dump the dust out every 3rd batch or so.  
I suggest filling up your intake box because the picker likes to have enough wool to grab onto... but don't pack it in because then it won't work.  It's simple, you'll figure it out.

This was MUCH faster than hand picking.  Not for every yarn type, but for a nice woolen with a stubborn fleece, it was about perfect.

To my knowledge, this is not a copyright design and no infringement is intended (certainly no profit was made).  It's a scrap wood project, that I hope will make my spinning life easier & please feel free to use this, or modify the machine to fit your own needs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Emotionally Invested

This is going to be a little personal, but maybe more philosophical.

Today I got a FB "invite" to some Event on "why I should hate this blond lady for being a jerk at Arlington National Cemetery," or something like that.  Honestly, I didn't bother reading it, I just declined. 

The reason I declined was based on what I think of as Total Emotional Investment.  This is the amount of emotional energy that I have within myself to care about everything that I care about.  I care about many things, both real and conceptual; but in the last 2 years my focus has narrowed to the things that truly matter to me.  In the last 6 months it has narrowed even further, and I've had to give up caring about many things that were dear to me.

At the moment, my Emotional Reserve (the amount of energy I have which is set aside for random stuff) is rather low.  I'm tired.  I'm sad.  My blood pressure is screwed up.  (Cancer is gone!  Happy-face!)  But if it's not something that is directly impacting my life, I just don't have the uumph to put into it.  If it requires that I get angry, it needs to be worth me risking my life, or another stroke, or a heart attack, or at the very least another 3 days of Headache/Dizzy.

Some blond chick who has no manners or good sense?
Not worth a drop of my Emotional Reserve.

Some random obnoxious troll-chick who is horribly offended that I don't have the energy to care about some random rude stranger's 30 seconds of Rude Behavior immortalized in colored pixels?
So not my problem.

Before you scream at me, read on...

Yes, we have a sacred trust with the dead.  Culturally speaking, where we lay our dead to rest is sacred ground, and that should not be violated (never mind that it IS all the time, but that's another story).  It's why we are so horrified when punk-ass kids tip over tombstones.  It's why we are enraged when people steal bronze grave markers, especially from our veterans, our Honored Dead.  It's both a civil & moral crime that cuts to the heart of that sacred trust.  It's shameful.  It's disrespectful.  They are horrible people & deserve to go to jail for desecration.  Tombstones are also expensive.

But the dead don't care.
They don't care if a teenager tipped over their headstone or if it stands until time & rain wear it away.
They just don't.
If & when those trumpets sound, I promise they won't need a written reminder of their own name.

Those soldiers in Arlington... our great men & women who died fighting under our flag; they didn't hear her.
If by some strange twist of fate, some spirit or soul lingers there, I'm sure their shoulders are broad enough that they would not be wounded by the momentary actions of some vapid twit.
The people harmed here are the living; those who were there at the time grieving for their grandfathers, their lost loves, their brothers & sisters in arms. 

Now, who is served by hating this particular idiot on a social media site?
No one.
It certainly won't make her care or apologize.

What it will do is get a whole lot of people riled up about a person who will never change, and will likely brag to her friends that she got so many thousand people on FB pissed at her for less than 30 seconds of effort on her part.
She thoughtlessly made fun of a sign and showed her total lack of respect for that place and what it means to our nation.
That's it. 
Petty, yes.  Stupid, yup.  Disrespectful, oh yeah.
Worth my hate?  Nope.
She's not worth it.  You have to mean something to me to be worthy of my hatred.

Bandwagons have never exactly been my thing, and witch hunts even less.
Quite frankly, I just don't have the Emotional Reserve to be angry at that level of insensitivity & stupidity. 
If that makes me selfish, so be it.

I've already given both of these girls more than enough of my time; and yes, a few of my tears.

What I care about right this minute, right now in this week of Thanksgiving, is my family, my home, my job, this silly yellow waistcoat with ten million buttons, my cats, my friends - new, old, face-to-face and online, and I guess The Rosie Dog if I really have to.

I'm thankful that I'm alive, that my husband still loves me, that I'm recovering & improving every day, that the cancer is gone, that I'm warm, fed, loved... that I have people who I love.  I'm thankful that my boss can't fire me (haha).

I'm hopeful that we will have living children someday.  That I'll be able to drive again soon (without a babysitter), that things will go back to normal... that I'll find those IQ points I lost after surgery... maybe a few memories that I know are hiding in here somewhere...

My days are filled with sewing and cats, my parents & husband; spinning some days, photographs others.  A walk when I have the energy for it, history lessons when I don't.  (Rosie Dog, if I have to)...

Those things are simple and very personal.  They are also the truth.  It's what I have room for right now.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to Count Centuries

JMW Turner's "Stonehenge" was painted in the 19th c. (1828)

An important note on how to refer to the century you are talking about correctly:

Today's date is November 3, 2012. Which means we are in the 21st century.

If someone says "14th century" they are talking about the 1300's.

This is an easy concept once you understand how it works:
- The 1st century began in the year 1 AD (Anno Domini) /CE (common era). It ended in

the year 100 AD/CE.
- The 2nd century began in the year 101 AD/CE and ended in the year 200 AD/CE.
- The 3rd century began in the year 201 AD/CE and ended in the year 300 AD/CE

See how that works? You take the numerical date + 1 to get the century. 
Ex: "1776"  17 + 1 = 18... therefore "the year 1776 was in the 18th c."
Quick Reference for everyone:
1st century = 1-100 AD/CE
2nd c. = 101-200 AD/CE
3rd c. = 201-300 AD/CE
4th c. = 301-400 AD/CE
5th c. = 401-500 AD/CE
6th c. = 501-600 AD/CE
7th c. = 601-700 AD
8th c. = 701-800 AD
9th c. = 801-900 AD
10th c. = 901-1000 AD
11th c. = 1001-1100 AD
12th c. =  1101-1200 AD
13th c. = 1201-1300 AD
14th c. = 1301-1400 AD
15th c. = 1401-1500 AD
16th c. = 1501-1600 AD
17th c. = 1601-1700 AD
18th c. = 1701-1800 AD/CE
19th c. = 1801-1900 CE
20th c. = 1901-2000 CE
21st c. = 2001 - present... CE

Please, please, please... label your pictures correctly and when writing about and talking about a specific time frame, either "state the exact date" or "add one to the number." 
(If only to make my life easier when using Google Image Search.)