Category Archives: spinning

July: Tour de Fleece, Blues Festival, Chicago

July means Tour de France, which means Tour de Fleece! I participated last year, but that’s pretty much the last time I picked up my spindle. I had started spinning this pretty BFL from Knitted Wit

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but when I picked it up on Saturday to start again, I was pretty confused! First I had to figure out which direction I was spinning (easy), and then I couldn’t get it drafting. Why not? I couldn’t remember which hand I used for drafting! That’s definitely a hint that it’s been way too long.

bfl spinning

I don’t think my poorly wound cop was helping at all (wobbly spinning), so I wound it on my niddy noddy (thank goodness I eventually remembered how to do that) and started over. Let’s see how much spinning I get done this time! And if I can get something fairly consistent. I want a fingering to sport weight singles, to use as a single ply yarn for a simple triangle shawl. I want the colors to be the star of this project.

What else? Oh, the beginning of July means it’s time for Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival. It’s been egregiously hot here (mid-90’s), so I wasn’t interested in spending much time listening to music outdoors, but I did go with DH on Saturday evening for a couple hours. Portland really knows how to throw a party.

blues festivalClick the picture for a closer look: Thousands in the park, the Hawthorne Bridge, and Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Ones on stage.

The weekend before, DH and I flew to Chicago to visit a friend who moved away last year. We were joined by two other friends who had also moved away from Portland. Reunion tour!

Lincoln Park group shot

We had a great time. 72 hours was enough to get a taste of Chicago, and make us want to go back. Here’s the whirlwind. We did an architecture tour by boat. Highly recommended.

chicago architecture

postmodern chicago

chicago architecture

Chicago has many beautiful parks, which feature free activities, including the zoo. Lots of public art:

chicago beanThe Bean in Millennium Park

Jaume Plensa Awilda

This is the back of “Looking into My Dreams, Awilda” in Millennium Park by Jaume Plensa, which is very similar to his “Echo” that I saw at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle in May.

daily bride and AwildaAwilda snuck into this picture, too.

At first I thought this was another bride at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park, but it was a fashion photo shoot.

Caldwell Lily Pool Chicago

lily pool photo shootGorgeous.

chagall mural chicago

This Marc Chagall mural is in the plaza at the Chase building (which is a cool looking building itself). I didn’t realize until I looked at this picture that there’s a Ferris wheel in it. I saw it as an echo of this, which I took to be a rose window from a cathedral.

chagall mural chicago 3

Chagall mural Chicago 2

Love this signature.

And I love that there’s a beach in this city! Lake Michigan is huge.

Chicago beach

We got around by trains, cabs, Uber, and Divvy.

Divvy

And ate and drank our way through town. Sometimes simple is best: This avocado toast at Le Pain Quotidien

avocado toast

inspired this when I got back home.

avocado toast breakfastToasted English muffin, avocado, sea salt, cumin, chia seeds. Simple and delicious.

lox and latke Diner food!

Eataly Chicago is two floors of fabulous shopping and eating. The cheese counter is impressive. They have the same for meat, and bread. And the pasta selection is out of this world. Or this country, at least.

eataly cheese counter

Of course I took my knitting, which seems to echo the antennae on the Sears Tower.

knitting sears tower

Good friends, good times. I wish you the same for your summer!

Music, knits, food, yarn: a quick Seattle trip

I made a quick trip to Seattle at the beginning of the week to meet up with the Piano Babes. We met (mostly) in 2000 at Sonata Piano Camp, and have been friends ever since.

We went to a very interesting concert by the Nord Trio at the Nordic Heritage Museum: Piano, violin, accordion. Yes, accordion. The concert opened with selections from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, and the accordion was beautifully expressive. This is not polka music!

Before the show, we briefly poked around in the Finnish design exhibit, and of course I went looking for fiber fun in the Norwegian folk art rooms. I was not disappointed.

spinning wheels and carding benchspinning wheels and a carding bench

drop spindlesdrop spindles, and a stone whorl from the Iron Age

Selbu mittensSelbu mittens

embroidered mittensembroidered mittens

bobbin lace bobbin lace

And my favorite thing: A man’s folk costume from the Setesdal region, 1920.

norwegian folk costume There is a very traditional sweater under the vest.

sleeve detailsleeve detail

norwegian steeked sleeve You know this sleeve is steeked! Beautiful.

The weeekend also included a beautiful full moonrise,

full moon rising

a windy walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park and along the shoreline of Elliott Bay (downtown Seattle)

EchoEcho

Elliott Bay

Elvis sighting at the PIElvis sighting (see him?)

windy!Windy!

and lots of beautiful food. I won’t post it all, but if you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen some of it. (I’m pdxknitterati over there, too.)

beet salad at lola

I’m lucky to know this group of very smart, talented women.

On my way home, I stopped at Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation. It is a beautiful shop.

Tolt Yarn

I came home with some souvenirs.

tolt yarn souvenirs

The white yarn is sourced locally in the Snoqualmie Valley and spun at Green Mountain Spinnery. The purple yarn is from Green Mountain Spinnery, so they’re cousins. It’s called Mewesic, so it fits the theme of the Piano Babes weekend. Both are DK weight. I don’t know what I’ll do with them yet, but they look and feel good together, a little rustic but wooly. I bought the mug for DH; he gets a souvenir, too.

So that was the weekend. Now knitting, knitting, knitting, trying to finish a design sample. Soon!

How was your weekend?

More Madrona

While classes are a central part of Madrona, they’re not the only reason to go. The market is full of yarn, fiber, books, and tools, and there are demonstrations going on in the rotunda. There is no admission charge for either of these things.

chicken boots knit project bag

I bought this very clever project bag from Saremy at Chicken Boots. The pocket shown here on the front is accessed from inside the bag, so your small items won’t fall out. Me? I’m using the pocket for my pattern, because the vinyl lets me see it, and it’s always accessible.

I met Henry and Roy Clemes through Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep. Clemes and Clemes make all sorts of wooden tools: Drum carders, combs, spinning wheels, looms, blending boards, even this Turkish spindle that Henry is demo-ing here.

Henry Clemes turkish spindle

Clemes and Clemes Turkish spindle

The cool thing about this particular spindle is that it comes with several arms, and you can use as many as you want to vary the weight from 2 to 4 ounces. They stack on the square shaft. It spins very nicely.

Clemes and Clemes blending board

Roy was in the rotunda doing demonstrations. Depending on how you feed the fiber into the drum carder, you can get fiber prepped for worsted or woolen spinning. I had no idea. He made these rolags (for woolen spinning) on the blending board. Meg from NW Handspun Yarns stopped by and showed me how she was spindling long draw from a rolag. I’ve only spun worsted yarns, so now I’m very curious. Luckily, Roy sent me home with these rolags. Thanks, Roy!

I had fun talking to people who have knit or are knitting my designs, and saw some of my designs in the wild.

Jami's Rosaria

Jami from Knitting Bee was wearing her Rosaria Shawlette.

Anne's Aloha shawlette

Anne was wearing one of the three(!) Aloha Shawlettes that she knit. (Anne was in my lace class, too.)

Laurinda, me, Sara

And it was great to connect with other knitters/spinners I know. I had lunch with Laurinda Reddig, designer of last year’s Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet Along, and Sarah of Bumblebirch Yarns. (photo by Laurinda)

I also spent time with Nadine Foster and Judy Becker (of Judy’s Magic Cast On) in the rotunda. They came up on the Traveling Ewe‘s luxury motor coach. What a great way to travel; all that knitting time while someone else does the driving! Although long solo drives are where I work on my harmony singing…

I had a great view out my hotel window. Mt. Rainier was just a tease on Thursday, but Friday’s sunrise featured a pink mountain

mt rainier sunrise

mt rainier

which made a grand appearance a little later, and then disappeared into the clouds again.

Did you miss my lace class review? It’s in the previous post, here.

Were you at Madrona? I hope you had as much fun as I did. I could only go overnight this year; too many things on the schedule. I’ll go again next year, and try to stay longer!

It’s a wrap! OFFF 2014

What a glorious weekend: Slightly chilly mornings (sweater weather!) giving way to sunny afternoons and smiling crowds. Perfect. I taught Blocking on Friday, and Tink Drop Frog (how to fix mistakes) on Saturday. My students were charming and eager to become the bosses of their knitting! We blocked my Snowy Woods KAL cowl, among other things.

Snowy Woods Cowlbefore blocking

imageafter blocking

Sunday was my play day. I headed for the barns first, and I was not disappointed. This is Amy with one of the angora goats from The Pines Farm. Mohair on the hoof! Amy is wearing a sweater knit with mohair, and it is the most decadently soft fabric, with a luminous halo.

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Can you even see where you’re going?

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Haircut day!

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The coat of an angora goat grows an inch per month. These goats are shorn every six months, now and in March, but they still won’t be cold this winter!

I was captivated by this display at Upstream Alpacas.

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naturals?

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or colors? I liked them both.

Natural colors are not boring.
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For me this year, the fiber and spinning supplies were most enticing. Maybe because I already have more yarn than I can knit. No matter. Look at these spindles. The gateway drug to spinning.

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Spindles at Carolina Homespun

I have several drop spindles, but haven’t yet heard the siren song of the wheel. Then I saw people trying the HansenCrafts miniSpinner. Look how portable this is. I had to try it, too. See my blue yarn?

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There’s always a fleece sale on Sunday. The woman who lured us in here said that the first time she went, she bought two fleeces. And she didn’t have a spinning wheel, just a drop spindle. Uh-oh.

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I bought a Kromski…

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Kromski niddy-noddy, not a wheel! I wanted an upgrade from my one yard niddy-noddy; this one is a two yard model.

I did buy one skein of yarn, from Huckleberry Knits.

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It’s Teri’s fault. I loved the glowing colors in her Glitz on the Ritz shawlette, so I had to check out this dyer, too. Oh, and see Sherece’s Hitofude? Teri knit that for her. What a great friend!

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All in all, a perfect weekend. I spent some time with Lorajean and the divine Miss F in the Knitted Wit booth.

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You have to start them young!

Did you go to OFFF? What tickled your fancy?

OFFF 2014 is this coming weekend

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it! I’m teaching on Friday and Saturday afternoons, and playing the rest of the time. The weather report is looking decent as of this moment, which would be great after last year’s monsoons.

Things I’m looking forward to:

booth

Knitted Wit’s booth. Always lovely things there, and this year she’s debuting her Cotton Candy yarn, 100% merino super bulky. You can see my Big Leaf Scarf and pattern in her booth this weekend.

Big Leaf Scarf

Hanging out with the Portland Spinnerati group. Always entertaining, and always inspiring!

spinners

I went to the group’s meet-up at the Oregon Historical Society for Worldwide Spin In Public Day last Saturday. I was the only drop spindler in a group of wheels, but it was all fun.

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I’m also looking forward to shopping, and visiting the animals. For a much more comprehensive list of things to do at OFFF, see Mary Mooney’s post on the OregonLive Knitting blog. If you see me, say hello!

Snowy Woods Cowl

What’s on my needles? I’m almost done with my Snowy Woods Cowl that I’m doing for the knitalong. This is the last official week of the KAL, so there’s one more prize to be drawn next week. This week’s prize? Stitch markers, made by me. These feature leaves, snowflakes, and the blue of the custom dyed Snowy Woods colorway from Knitted Wit.

pdxknitterati stitch markers

This cowl is coming with me to OFFF, where it will be part of my blocking class on Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. There’s still a little room in the class, and there’s no homework! Registration is onsite only at this point.

Are you going to OFFF, or another sheep and wool festival near you? Who’s going to Rhinebeck? (Someday, me…)

OFFF 2014 is just around the corner

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is coming right up! September 27-28, and there are workshops on Friday, September 26, too. I’m teaching two classes, Blocking on Friday afternoon and Tink Drop Frog: Fixing Mistakes on Saturday afternoon. These are expanded versions of classes I teach in yarn shops, and we’ll have three hours to go through even more fun and demonstration on both of these topics. I hope you’ll join me.

If you’ve already mastered these knitterly topics, there are a lot more fiber-related classes available; you can see the full list here. Taking classes at OFFF is fun, and encourages the organizers to keep offering them from year to year. If you want more knitting classes, sign up for knitting classes! The same goes for spinning, weaving, felting, livestock management…The early registration deadline requires a postmark by September 5. This is the make or break day; if a class doesn’t have the minimum number of students by the registration deadline, the class won’t be offered. You can sign up for classes at OFFF, but only if they make the minimum by the early deadline, so why wait?

What else is fun at OFFF? Well, there are the adorable animals.

shetland

baby

And the vendors! I love shopping the booths at OFFF. I’ve purchased spindles, yarn, fiber, books. There are vendors both outside on the lawn, and in the exhibition halls. (These pictures are from previous years.)

UntitledKnitted Wit on the lawn

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Sincere Sheep, on the lawn

StitchJones
StitchJones inside

And you can always find people to knit and spin with.

turkish

spinners

So mark your calendar, and I’ll see you there, either in class, or shopping, or on the lawn spinning or knitting, or?

And here’s a teaser for you: My Snowy Woods Cowl KAL casts on September 1. I’m extending the discount on the Snowy Woods pattern through Thursday September 4; use the discount code FROST when checking out to get $2 off your pattern. Here’s the link to the pattern page on Ravelry. You can join the KAL on my Ravelry page for chatter and support.

snowy woods cowl

Check back tomorrow, September 1, to learn how to avoid running out of tail for your long tail cast on!

Spinners, weigh in! #tourdefleece

So, spinners, do you have a yarn goal in your head before you start spinning? The reason I ask:

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This is my first real yarn. I’ve played with the spindle before, but this is 4 ounces of fiber, turned into about 75 yards of single ply. I spun this on my Jenkins Turkish spindle.

It appears that I have made two different yarns here. When I started, I was trying to make a heftier single than my default accidental laceweight. Some of this yarn does that; it’s kind of like Malabrigo Worsted in heft and twist.

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The later yarn from this spinning is thinner and twistier, because I was afraid my fat singles were underspun. This thinner yarn would be great plied because some of that twist would reverse in the plying, right?

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This was all a grand experiment. But it’s like I have two different yarns in the same skein. And the first fatter singles weren’t underspun after all. The twist is lovely after washing and drying.

I also played with the mystery fiber that was at my house (leftover from a kids’ felting experiment). I used my Kundert top whorl spindle because it can handle a much bigger cop. The single was twisty, and then I wound a two-strand plying ball with my ball winder so I could ply it on the spindle. It’s pretty, yes? It’s only about 16 yards, 2 ply worsted to Aran weight. But pretty consistent! I like the barberpole look in the skein, but I’m not sure I’d like it knit up.

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I think all of this means that I need to decide what I want this BFL from Knitted Wit to be, before I start spinning it.

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I think because it has so many colors and I don’t want barberpole, I should aim for either a fat single ply, or a skinny yarn I can chain ply to preserve the color runs. I’m not sure which one I’m more likely to be able to do successfully.

This is as much fun as planning a knitting project. Everything is possible, until you start and then doors start to close…

Spinners, help me out. Am I on the right track?

Tour de Fleece?

Lots of stuff in the works: Design project at test knitter and tech editor (mmmmm, Indochine), design project that’s in time out after two tries, design project that’s just fun fabric to knit, design idea that wants a drapey yarn that’s being dyed up (hello, Knitted Wit Shine!), design proposal that’s cooking in my head, and an upcoming pattern re-release that needs a sample and some math in an alternate yarn. So since I don’t have anything to show you from that list at this moment, what should I show you?

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Spinning. Of course.

It’s Tour de France season, and that mean’s it’s also Tour de Fleece. I don’t really spin, but all the pretty pictures in my Facebook and Instagram feeds got me inspired. I have a couple spindles, but I was frustrated that my singles get skinnier and skinnier as I spin. My aim for TdF is just to play with techniques and try to get fatter yarn.

I’m working with my lovely Jenkins Turkish spindle; I can control the speed more easily than with my Kundert top whorl spindle, which is really fast. My yarn looks better so far, but far from perfect.

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I chain plied the previous skinny single and a new fatter single. (I think it’s merino and silk. Label is long gone.) One feels like string, and the other feels like yarn. Happier with the new stuff! But a long way to go before I get any consistency.

I saw Lorajean (Knitted Wit) this morning and picked up yarn for the sample I need to knit up, and she sent me home with this:

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Corriedale pencil roving. So far, it’s easier to spin with (longer staple? already uniform width?); I’m drafting it it just a little bit, and experimenting between park and draft and draft as I spin. It’s all research, right?

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I like what I’m getting so far. I don’t know if I’ll keep it as a single or chain ply it. I’ll figure that out later.

If you’re wondering why I chain ply instead of two ply, it’s because I don’t have a lazy kate (although I could jerry-rig one; I have before), and also because chain plying keeps the space dyed colors intact instead of mixing them. My sense of order is pleased…

Are you doing Tour de Fleece? Any hints for me and my quest for fatter singles?

OFFF report, 2013

It was rainy! And windy! And fun.

My class was great. Thanks to the intrepid students who made it out to the fairgrounds. They all went home with little swatches of cast ons and bind offs. And now they have many to choose from when they start and end their next projects. Me? I’m kind of in love with the Chinese Waitress cast on. It makes a lovely chained edging on both right and wrong sides of the fabric. I want to use it to edge some fingerless gloves…

After class, I went upstairs in the main pavilion to find my peeps. In normal years, we knit and spin on the lawn. This year, groups moved inside.

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I didn’t bring my Turkish Delight spindle because I knew I couldn’t linger. But I should have brought it for a photo op! OFFF is the time the Turkish Delights get together. Leila, who tempted me into buying *my* spindle, has a tinker toy spindle here. And Rachel, whom I tempted into buying *her* spindle, has hers here.

At OFFF 2009, we were spinning on the lawn with our new spindles. Time flies!

rachel

Duffy had this awesome shirt:

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I chatted a bit with Ed and Wanda Jenkins. Ed makes these beautiful Turkish spindles. He remembered me and asked if I was spinning. Not much these days, unfortunately! Knitting away.

I spent a little time in the barn.

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Alpacas always make me grin.

Is it weird that I was munching a lamb sandwich while walking through? The lamb is from SuDan Farm. They raise sheep for both food and fiber.

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(Sorry about your bro, guys…gals? It was delicious.)

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I spent some time chatting with Susie from SuDan Farm about her hats. I want to make one! So I bought some green and yellow dyed locks to play with. I can’t quite capture the awesome kelly greenness, sorry. (Go Ducks!)

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I did a little shopping. I picked up a skein of Socks that Rock mediumweight from Tina at Blue Moon. This is her last year at OFFF (going to concentrate on wholesaling rather than shows), so she dyed this gorgeous commemorative colorway.

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I also bought a shawl pin from Michael and Sheila Ernst. They make glass pens, knitting needles, crochet hooks, buttons. I have admired their work at many shows over the years. Isn’t this lovely?

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How was your weekend?

Road trips, and swatching

The week has flown by! The weekend is here and I’m still on last weekend, which I began at Menucha Retreat Center in Corbett, in the Columbia Gorge. This is spring on my side of the mountains…damp and cool.

gorge

step

I always walk the labyrinth at Menucha. It helps me quiet my busy mind, and focus. A meditation and a revelation, perfect.

center

I don’t remember ever seeing this much color in the mosaic stones before. I guess all that moisture can have its advantages.

color

And Diane became a new spinner! I’ll pass along a spindle to her; I have more than I need.

newspin

I went home Saturday night, and on Sunday morning I headed to the other side of the Cascade Mountains with my friend Vickie. We went to Kahneeta to hang out with her mom in her mom’s new RV. Nice digs.

lemondrop

The landscape is completely different over there, sunny and dry.

rocks

trees

cattails

The cattails reminded me of spindles, with their loads of fluff.

cattails2

The cottonwoods were shedding their loads of fluff, too, and it made me think I should try to spin that…

cottonwood

With all that fluff going on, you may ask if there was any knitting. Yes, a bit.

swatch

I’m going to call this swatching, mostly because I’ve completely frogged it. I’ve started and ripped three times now, as I hone in on what I want from this piece. There have been a lot of “aha!” moments. I’m about to start my last (I hope) rip, because now I think I know exactly what this needs. This time. Real swatching would be smart, but I get so excited about getting started, I just jump right in. Oops. We’ll just call them “very large swatches.” At least this yarn can put up with repeated froggings. I may be impetuous and lazy, but I’m stubborn, too, and I will prevail…

stubborn

The original colors, below. It turned out that the pale green in the variegated didn’t pop against the gray, so I had to choose a new background. It’s Violetas, also in Malabrigo worsted.

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On our way back over the mountains, we stopped up at Timberline Lodge for the view. Here’s Mt. Jefferson from the parking lot:

jeff
(Love that sky!)

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And Mt. Hood out the back window of the lodge, near the bar.

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The bar window is pretty cool looking, too.

bar glass

And now mama bird is home, for a while.

mamabird

What’s up for you this weekend? I think the boys (young men) are going to help me whip the back yard into shape. It’s Mother’s Day, and that means they’ll do it, even if it’s not their favorite thing to do! Don’t worry; I’m making a fabulous dinner as their reward…