Monday, November 14, 2011

Back again

 I had my Saturday at Fiber in the 'Boro and I thoroughly enjoyed my day.  The day was a success and will be back next year (YES!).

I was the first at the spinner's circle and others came and left during the day.  I only stopped once to wander, buy some fibery things and a bottle of water.  I haven't taken pictures of all the stash enhancement but here come a few:
This is 10 lbs of Rambouillet fleece which was a first prize winner.  It was used for a class on selecting a fleece.  I hope to get between 6-7 lbs of cleaned fiber to spin - but we'll see.  Some people asked to see what I do, so I'll refer them here to see the whole thing.

I measured out 8 oz of dirty fleece - about all that would fit in my 5 qt dutch oven.  Heated water and a dollop of Orvus (enough to make the water feel slimy) to 140°F.  Added the fiber and let it soak for about 30 min.  Then I lifted it out of the water, and fixed new water for rinsing.  It tdirty ook 3 rinses before the water was pretty clean.  The next photo shows the fleece close up.  See that crimp?  That is awesome!  Yep, the lady is off her rocker going on about crimp in dirty smelly fleece.  Oh ye of little faith - just wait until you see what this will turn in to!
 The photo below shows the clean fiber, the 8 oz (now 5.75 oz) and then a lock of the fiber so white and soft and pretty.  Next to get photos when I spin this up.  

I'm still cleaning merino lamb's fleece for my "frog hair" spinning.  Since I doubt you have seen the hair on a frog, imagine just how fine that stuff is.  We are talking just about sewing thread here.  I have 3 lbs of fiber in the grease - so about 1 1/2 lbs when all is cleaned.
 I did get some fiber you don't have to clean first but still have to take photos.  I also got some cashmere but have to dehair it - will take pictures to explain that.  Tussah silk, a honey colored "wild" silk, came home with me along with a gorgeous merino/silk blend that just about makes my mouth water.  Two skeins of yarn came home - one is a superwash (machine washable) wool with cashmere in it and the other, a purple with some sparkle - those for socks for the younger granddaughter who loves the hand knit socks. 

The final purchase was a Tibetan style support spindle.  Support spindles have been used for thousands of years.  It sits on the ground, on a piece of wood, rock, whatever.  I'm using a custard cup.  The spinner sets the spindle spinning and drafts the fiber out.

Just imagine - until about the 1300-1500's (not sure of the dates right now) every bit of cloth was spun on a spindle then woven by hand or knit.  All your clothes, ship sails, blankets, bedding, curtains or draperies, rugs, outer wear - everything.  The spinning wheels came next in industrialized areas but the spindles were still used in many areas - and still are today.  Finally with the Industrial Revolution commercial production of fiber began to happen.  Then synthetic fibers - the nylons, polyesters and so forth until you come to today.

Time frames?  Well say I spun about 4 hours in the spinner's circle.  I was able to spin about 4 oz of singles.  I just plied those yesterday and have about 150 yards of a heavier weight yarn.  That's enough for a simple cap, wrist warmers to cover the space between jacket end and mitten beginning, or a skinny scarf.  Imagine how much is needed to weave a set of sheets, a pillowcase, even a towel to dry yourself.  An adult sweater can take 1200 to 1800 yards of yarn.  Socks are about 425 yards.  Plus the time to raise the crop (linen, cotton, hemp and those types of fibers) or animal - takes about a year to grow a fleece.

So with that I will close for now.  I'm going to double check my dates and get some other info together along with additional photos.  I'll be back after Thanksgiving in the US.

For those who celebrate - have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the blessings of family and friends.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


One of my original thoughts about this blog was to help me finish my UFO's (unfinished objects) in the various crafts I do.  Knitting, spinning, counted cross stitch, embroidery and quilting.  I also do crochet but don't have any UFO's there.  There are some hardanger projects too.  Anyway, my oldest is a project of embroidery - placemats and napkins to embroider and then finish the edges.  That is still the oldest.  #2 is a quilt.  I bought the kit for the Lone Star (star pieces only) when traveling through Colorado in the late 70's.  We went to Quilts and Other Comforts in Lakeland.  This is hand pieced with a little machine work attaching the filler pieces and border.  I'm hand quilting this in one of those pvc frames.  So here's where I am:
 What you may not be able to see is how far I am.  The diamond pointing upper left is about half quilted, going around clockwise  to the one on the bottom right - all of that has to be quilted and then the blue border.  I can only work on this during the winter/colder months as it is too warm to have this draped on my lap the rest of the year.
DH is going to his kayaking group's final blast today and camping overnight (well that's the plan).  That means I can sit and quilt all day long and see what I can finish on this.  
I do want to mention that this is very well traveled.  Colorado through Yellowstone to Washington then AR, TN, AR, TN plus moves within those places.  During all that time, 2 diamond pieces were lost and they have been replaced with a pale yellow.  You might be able to see them on that upper left diamond, on the left side.  One replaced a dark blue piece and the other replaced the wedgewood colored block.
When the quilting is done, I'll have to get some material to make the bias binding then sew it on - by machine on the front side, hand on the back.  I'll get it cleaned and it will be finished.

I'm watching DH getting stuff out to his truck - you'd think he was going away for months rather than overnight - about 15 miles from here.  I was amazed that he has never been camping.  I thought someone raised in a rural setting would have done something like that.  I was in Brownies and Girl Scouts and our troop leader was a very outdoors person.  We canoed and camped - even in winter when we ended up being snowed in.  Today's equipment is so much nicer than what we used.

 In other fiber news, I finished some more yarn and got it all washed.  I took photos of it outside.  To the left is ASU colorway Enchanted.  It's alpaca, merino and silk.  The sparkle is the silk.  This is a 2-ply.
Below is the Down To Earth colorway - also ASU.  It's a 3-ply and is all wool.
Next one down is a shot of all the fiber I washed and dried.  The one on the very left is 100% Polwarth (wool) and is Navajo plied or chain plied.  To do that, you start with a loop and pull the free end through then ply those three strands to make one.  It sounds strange but is a nice way to preserve the color changes.

 The greenish is also one with a lot of silk in it.  That is also a 2-ply.  It's a lace weight so can be a small shawl or something like that.
Another shot showing the chain plied yarns.

Next Saturday is Fiber in the Boro in Murfreesboro.  I'm so going to enjoy myself.  I plan to stay all day and spin.  I'll also have a chance to visit with a friend from Chattanooga, Craftygirl83, who owns Unwind Yarns.  She'll have a booth and it will be nice to see what she has now.  I've knit with one of her hand-dyed yarns before and it was great.  She's had to change suppliers so I'll probably get a skein to try out the new bases.  I hope to get some silk bricks as I love spinning them.  I hope to take photos too and will post those afterwards.
Until then, enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Polecat Passing

The title comes from a suggestion from my son.  We have now had 2 skunks decide that our totally fenced back yard is the perfect place to kick up their feet and die.  While I do love my back yard - I wish the skunks would not.

What we do have in our backyard are migrating butterflies.  They seem to love our zinnias.
I counted six of them while I was out this morning.  That's a tomato plant in the background and salvia is the plant with the red flowers.  Also found a big garden spider on her web, her bottom side was facing me so didn't take a photo.

Knitting continues.  I'm making a pair of socks for my sister, the one I visited in July.  She had chosen the yarn which is called a Crazy Zauberball.  One knits from the outside in and new colors appear.  


Second Try

Frequently my computer and I don't get along.  I don't know if it is a human vs machine thing, artifical intelligence as a reality or some sort of time/space issue.  The result is I shut the thing down in some form or fashion and walk away.  This is what happened during my last blog entry.  The saved draft did not survive the trauma.

I will try to recreate some of what I had previously done and add some new things - maybe this time will work.

One thing we noticed here is that the Monarch butterflies came through about 2 weeks early.  Normally they migrate so that Labor Day weekend is full of the Monarchs flying through.  Not this year - they were all gone by then.   We had about 8 on our zinnias when I took this photo - the most I could get in one frame were these two.
The summer heat has done a number on the veggies.  The tomatoes have about quit and the cucumbers have cooked away.  Now the peppers are a totally different story.  They do love this heat and are bearing well.  We have about 6 or 7 different types this year and all are doing well.  Some of the 30" tall plants are now over 6' tall!  

On the knitting front - I made a pair of socks for my sister K.  She had picked out the yarn when I was visiting her in NJ.  Just have to wash and block and then mail them off to her.  At least one pair I have knit for her have her podiatrist's seal of approval - so I'm happy about that.  K has been diagnosed as a type II diabetic now and is dealing with the diet changes and all the other stuff that go with this.  So I'll keep on knitting for her.

The pattern is a free one from Wendy Knits (  It's called Sunrise Socks.  It is toe-up and very easy to do.  The yarn is a Zauberball and I don't know what the colorway is called - can't find it - just numbers. 
 Now I've started a pair for me.  These are out of Lorna's Laces sock yarn in a colorway called Bittersweet.  These are knit from the cuff down and the pattern is called 9-to-5 socks.  
 In the photo at right, the top of the cuff is at the bottom.  I'll try for better photos when it's not cloudy out and I can use more natural light.  These are being knit 2 at a time on 2 circular needles.  It's easier to get both socks done at the same time, but I can do them either way.  

I've also pulled the Nora's Sweater by Pamela Powers back out and just have the right yoke/sleeve to do then block, assemble and add the collar/front edge unit.  I had forgotten just how soft this alpaca blend is - I do love how it feels.

I've also been spinning - both on spindles and the wheel.  A Russian-style spindle in Curly Maple has come into the house.  I don't have photos right now but will take some to show off next time.  I'm still working on the gradient top copper to verdigris for 2-ply lace yarn which will be (hopefully) a Swallowtail shawl.  This is using both the Bosworth and Kundert suspended (or drop) spindles.

Cotton has also appeared and I'm re-learning how to spin it.  My first go-around mumble mumble years ago was a complete and total failure.  This time is going a bit better but I want to also try spinning it with the wheel as well as a takli support spindle. So far my progress is probably measured in inches rather than yards.  The problem is getting enough twist into the yarn for it to hold together.  For those who don't know much about cotton other than old songs about picking a bale of cotton, it has very short fibers - like 1/2 to 1 1/2" length - but mostly the shorter stuff.  In order to have these fibers hold together, the spinner has to put in a LOT of twist.  If you don't have enough twist, the yarn falls apart.  I'm still finding out how much is enough.

Photos of the finished skeins of fibers from All Spun Up will be taken after they get their wash and thwack.  There are 2 skeins done right now - a two ply of alpaca, merino and silk and a 3-ply of merino and silk.  I'm about to chain ply a Merino/Bamboo top which will make it look like a 3-ply but it's made from a single yarn which is chained and twisted.  I'm doing this because I don't think the colors will look as good mixed and this method will allow the individual colors to stay together more.  That's the story I've been told at any rate.

So that's all for now and the computer has not pitched a hissy fit at me yet.  I'm going to post this now before my luck changes. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

I think I'm going to cry

I started some new socks while on vacation.  The pattern is called Inlay and was found at, here.

Well in the middle of a brain storm, I tried the first one on a few minutes ago - and they are too small.  Well the leg section is too small.  The 1.5 sized needles and my gauge must be off.  Normally I knit right on with gauge.  AND this pattern called for size 1, and I deliberately went up to 1.5 to make them a bit loose.  

So now all this will be ripped/frogged back to the beginning.

I do love the pattern but will go up at least one needle size and try them on as I go.
Sometimes I dislike new learning opportunities.  I will blame it on the heat.  Since my return from New Hampshire, it has been in the mid 90's every day with miserable humidity to go with it.  I don't like this heat and don't do well with it.  DH suggested I become a snowbird.  Nope - not an option either.  Well not unless I win one of the lotteries - and you have to play to win.

The vacation was spent in NJ with DD and her crew.  I had a blast with the grandkiddles (and their parents).  Each has such a different personality and has changed so much since I last saw them.  Most of our time was spent hanging out together but we did go down to the Shore and saw some birds.

 There is an Ibis above and terns plus the missing skimmer to the right. 
The photo quality isn't the best as we had to take the photos through windows.  There are some large green-eyed, blood-sucking monster flies that can go up to 20 mph and there is a 15 mph speed limit.  Windows were up!

After two weeks there I headed further north to NH, the Lakes region, to bother my sister.  That was also lots of fun.  It is so nice to have warm weather during the day (mid 80's) and then cool (50's to 60's) at night.  The best of both worlds.  Warm enough for me for summer but cool enough for great sleeping weather.  I o.d'd in Portsmouth on lobster with a fantastic lobster roll and sweet potato fries for lunch and then lobster dinner that night.  My only problem is that refills of tea are not offered at all.  For this transplanted southern girl, that is not a good thing.

One thing I do love in New England are the old homes that have been or are being restored.  Then there are the sad or hopeful cases of the ones waiting for someone with love, patience and money.  K, if you remember the towns these were in, please comment.

Back on the home front, DH's garden is doing well!  We are eating lots of squash, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.  I'm going to roast some peppers today and probably make some gazpacho.  The birds have discovered the tomatoes and are wounding quite a few.  Looks like bird netting goes on the list of things to get for next year.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A time to remember

This is Memorial Day Weekend in the US.  It is a time to honor those who have served, possibly giving their lives so we may enjoy the freedoms we have.
That said:
DH  US Navy 1969 - 1979 active duty.  2 additional years reserve time.

My Uncle P.  US Army

My computer and I are not playing well together so I will just list others and add photos when the rules of the game are defined a bit better.

My father served in the Army in World War II and was a prisoner of war held by the Germans.  He also served in the Korean War/Conflict.

My maternal Grandfather served with the US Army in World War I.

DH and I also have other relatives who have served in most of the wars the US has been involved in back to the Revolutionary War.  Some died in battle, some of injuries received and some came home alive but forever changed.
So wherever you are and whatever country you call home, please remember those who have fought for you and your families and theirs through the years.  They deserve your thanks and gratitude.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

One Down, One to Go

Cataract surgery, that is.  I've had the right eye done and the left one will be done this coming Wednesday.  This is about the easiest surgery I have ever had.  Don't change clothes, get an IV and 2 extra strength Tylenol and about 30 minutes.  Meds in the Valium family to make you less nervous but not asleep.  Wow.  The worst part was the three drops in each eye every 2 hours afterward.  5 minutes between each drop.  Now I have a chart showing me what drops go in when for the next 4 weeks. 

So today DH and I went to the Nashville Lawn & Garden show.  We were about half way there and DH asked if it was in a covered area at the State Fairgrounds.  I said if not, we would not stay.  It's been raining since last night, off and on - mostly on.  The show was nice - not great but I did take some photos. 

I've never seen a green Antirrhinum but they were used in an arrangement which looked great:

 And for my daughter - a unique chicken coop setup.  And it can be moved.  2 photos so the chickens can be seen:

The upper area is where they can roost or lay their eggs.  There are handles for lifting and moving so they can have fresh grass. 

One thing I love are orchids.  The Lady Slipper ones are favorites.  There were many orchids at the show but not too many of the slipper type.  Here's one I liked:  Well make that two:

Now on the Knitting/Spinning front - I'm making some socks for one granddaughter.  I made the hat but she was shocked when she took it off and touched something.  Autism often includes sensory issues so the hat is not a favorite.  According to her mom, this young lady took her mother's handknit socks right off mom's feet so I think socks will go well for her.    No photos yet but I will take some.  First sock is done and I'm starting the heel on the second.  These are knit cuff down.

The photos are of my finished socks - for me!  The pattern is Hermione's Everyday Socks and were a fun knit.  These will be knit again!

 I've also started the Evensong Shawl by Susan Pandorf
If you scroll down the page, it is on the right side and is GORGEOUS.  I'm using yarn from The Woolen Rabbit in a color originally purchased to knit Moroccan Days, Arabian Nights, also one of Susan's patterns.   The link takes you to the yarn & color I'm using. 

I need to take photos of the yarn on the wheel and a spindle.  The wheel has a blend of alpaca, merino and silk.  The colorway is Enchanted I believe and it is the Feb/Mar spin along from AllSpunUp. 

The Bosworth Spindle has a merino/silk blend in a graduated colorway - from a copper to the deep green that copper turns as it ages in the weather.  I'm going to spin each color - either 4 or 5 - on its own as a two ply and then knit a shawl from it.  That way I preserve the colors and it should be great.  I think I will do the Aeolian Shawl with the yarn when it is done.  More details when I post photos.

So that's all for now. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New hopes

Happy 2011 one and all.  2010 was both good and bad - probably the same for everyone.

On this first day of 2011, people usually look forward - making resolutions for things they want to accomplish, goals to set - and for some, nursing the mother of all hangovers.  

My goals are simple I think.  First and foremost to get my depression/anxiety under control again as I am sliding back downhill.  Publicly, I have a wonderful face and no one knows the despair and blackness I am in.  It is a major effort to do anything.  My previous therapist suggested I keep a journal of thoughts and feelings.  When I was living alone, it was easier - now it is not.  On this not-so-private forum I can put the surface thoughts - maybe that is the first step.

My other goal is to do more with my fibers - spinning, knitting, crochet (maybe) and maybe back to weaving.  I also want to record more of what I do so I can feel that I have accomplished something when I look back.  This past year I did finish a fair amount - but the unfinished list is still daunting.

Obviously I want to finish those things in progress.  I'm working on spinning with a support spindle - mine is a Russian style - and I want to complete the four ounces of silk/merino that I have started.  I've decided on a 2-ply yarn - hopefully lace-weight - and then I can decide what to make with the yarn.

I have a polypay fleece that has been washed.  Now I need to finish processing it into batts, rolags or something to spin.  The Winter issue of Spin-Off has an article on polypay with samples and photos from Lael at Maplewood North.  The fleece is wonderful and I'm very happy with it but want to do it justice.

I've also committed to two ______-alongs.  One is a two-color knitting sock club - but I'm just getting the patterns, not the fibers - and will have six pair of socks when I'm done.  The other is to spin and knit a project from the book A Fine Fleece by Lisa Lloyd.  There is a sweater called October Frost that I'm spinning some gray Corriedale from Crown Mountain Farms.  I'm almost done with the first bobbin and I will sample with it.  First a two-ply then maybe a 3-ply if needed to make gauge.  The sweater is a cardigan that was originally spun with a Rambouillet crossbred/mohair mix.  Mohair and I don't get along well and I didn't have any Rambouillet so thought I would try the Corriedale. The purchased yarn version is of Classic Elite Montera - llama/wool blend.  There are a lot of cables on this sweater so will be something warm and snuggle-y when done.  I also think I will get some pewter buttons for this as well.  I think Nordic Needle will have some - have to go check.    Photos of samples will be posted when I get them done.

On the needles now - socks for #3 grandson, socks for me, and the sleeve/yoke of the Nora Sweater.  Once that is done, I'll block and start assembly and add the front/collar part.    The photo isn't very good but this yarn is hard to take a photo of.  It's basically a navy blue wool with alpaca.  There are bits of a lighter blue and a pinkish red added. 


Seed catalogs have arrived and DH and I are sorting through trying to decide what to try for this coming year.  We are still harvesting lettuce, spinach, baby bok choi, tatsoi (Chinese green similar to spinach) and another Chinese green that looks like little bits of broccoli. I am super impressed with how the garden produced this year and what a difference it has made in our grocery bills.  We started with this:
and then ended up with this:
which was our last big harvest on 11/1/2010. Those mini-bell peppers (yellow and orange) are fantastic peppers.  We will be doing those again this year.  

I also want to be able to replace at least the 3 kitchen windows that face south with low-e windows.  The kitchen becomes both the hottest room in summer and the coldest in winter.  I'd like to moderate that a bit.  Then the 3 in the north bedroom which leak terribly - with cold air just blasting right now.  That room is my "studio" so it will then be more comfortable to work in.

DH is working on my plan for the fireplace.  The brickwork is horrid so we will cover that with sheetrock and hang the flat-screen TV on that.  The two cubby holes will have smoked glass fronts and one will hold DVD player and other components and the lower will hold the DVD collection we have.  This is what it looked like:

It has had a mantle added where the bricks jut out and I have to stain it.  Will add bits and pieces to cover the lower layer of bricks and it should look quite good.  The hearth area will be covered with marble or granite tile and then we'll have to plunk out about $300.00 to install gas logs which were not here when we bought the house. 


I also hope to get an assortment of perennial herbs in the front flower bed.  Currently there are 2-3 roses (one may not survive the winter), 4 lavender plants and some Stella d'Oro lilies.  I plan to add chives, thyme, rosemary, and sage for perennials then pop in parsley and some basil varieties for annuals.  There is also one very shady area by the front door which will probably have some sort of Hosta planted there.

So now I have published the home goals for 2011 and a portion of my personal goals and let's see how I manage with them.

Wishing all of you the best for 2011 and may you achieve your goals, whatever they may be.