Thursday, December 11, 2008

This One's For You, Marie!

Hey, Marie, bet you weren't thinking Freud would show up when you put out that directive!

I took Sigmund's picture two years ago when I was at the APA/Clark University Conference. I'm jumping in a little late on this so if you haven't been tagged, you are now!

Look who finally finished something!

Presenting - The Minimalist The stockinette front bands curl in nicely but I didn't take into account how much they would curl. If I were to knit this again I would add an inch to each side front, but I've worn it twice and it's a great sweater for school.

Despite his expression, Jackson is all about feeding himself. Check him out in his corduroys and flannel shirt.

Doesn't he have the most soulful look? "Please, sir, could someone just love me?"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Taking Care of the Flip

When last we left The Refined Aran Jacket there was the issue of a hem flip. No more, thanks to Claudia's sage advice.

Claudia took one look and said, "too many stitches, decrease by 10%, and since it's such a narrow hem you may still have problems .... so why don't you try a rolled hem instead?" (I always listen to Claudia!)

Modification: With smaller needles cast on 10% less than pattern states. Purl one row, knit one row, purl one row, knit one row increasing 10%. Continue with pattern (RS).

I'm teaching this weekend. My dining room looks like it does every November, just check the archives. Many people will be arriving on Thursday for a turkey dinner. Apparently experience isn't my teacher :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008


These pictures were languishing in a draft since early October, but I actually took the machine quilting course right before Labor Day.

Since my return to quilting I've had the chance to assemble several quilt tops but a finished quilt is alluding me. Hand quilting is going to have to wait until I quit my day job and set up my big quilt frame again. I could send them out to be quilted - and for the larger ones that's what I'm going to do - but I like doing all the steps myself. Enter machine quilting! I tried it right before I packed away the quilt fabrics close to twenty years ago. Harriet Hargreaves and others were recommending a smoke colored monofilament thread that I just could not get the hang of. It was stiff, it wore against the fabric, and if you had an end work loose and stick you - jeez, that little bugger can hurt!

I used the walking foot that came with my Janome (much nicer than the optional one for my old Viking) and quilted the 20" block into quarters with plain sewing thread.

Then I switched to my darning foot and began free motion, stippling, and meandering. While you can find a variety of definitions for those two terms, the instructor/owner of my local quilt shop defined stippling as close stitching that doesn't cross over a previous line and meandering as .... just that - freeform, go with the flow!

I found the free motion fun but I would probably chalk out a general design first. I spent too much time worrying that my stippling might cross over a line so I went right on to the meandering. Very cool! Once I get a little more time (and that will be coming up soon) look for a finished quilt.

This summer, Marie showed me her very organized needle collection. She used a canvas ziplock setup that's sold for fishing accessories. This appealed to my stressed out, overworked, when I get a chance to sit down and knit I can't find the right needle (even though I own 3 or 4 of that size) self. Unfortunately time once again alluded me and before I knew it school started. While pulling out things for the start of the school year I came upon this.

At the end of the school year we have to inspect all of our homeroom students' lockers. You would not believe the things kids leave in there. Some too disgusting for words, but others could fill a clothes bank (which is where we send them). I pulled this notebook out a few years ago and stuck it in my closet. Someone's mother thought they were starting their child out on a good foot with with a nice zipped organizer/binder. Except the kid never used it! So, remembering Marie's little book of needles I set out to see if I could make heavy, zip-lock freezer bags fit the bill. I may have to spring for another one for dpns.

I think I'll run a strip of heavy packing tape along the folded area before I punch the holes to give it even more reinforcement.

Thanks to Claudia's recommendation I picked up a great new cookbook - Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

Try this yummy soup! You won't be sorry.

Old-Fashioned Bean and Lentil Soup from a Mix

12-16 ozcommercial
dried bean soup mix, picked over and rinsed
8 cupswater or
chicken or vegetable broth
1 bouquet
4 sprigs
fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1 bay leaf, 1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 sprig
fresh tarragon, 10 black peppercorns, and 1 clove peeled garlic, wrapped
up in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine
2 TBSPolive oil
1 mediumyellow
onion, finely chopped
1 bunchkale, stems
removed and leaves chopped
white wine
pepper sauce
and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. Combine the bean mix,
    water, parsley, and bouquet garni bag in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on
    HIGH for 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium
    skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring a
    few times, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add to the cooker, cover,
    turn the cooker to LOW, and cook the soup 4 to 5 hours.

  3. Add the kale and stir
    to incorporate ((if you need to let the soup cook all day while you are gone,
    just add the kale at the beginning or substitute spinach and add at serving
    time). Cover and continue to cook on LOW until the beans are tender, another
    4 to 5 hours.

  4. Discard the bouquet garni.
    Stir in the wine, vinegar, and hot pepper sauce. Season with salt and plenty
    of fresh black pepper.

  5. My mods: The night before
    I rinsed a bag of Goya 16 bean soup mix and soaked them overnight, in about
    8 cups of water. I also cooked the onion and got the herbs ready to go. The
    next morning I drained and rinsed the beans and threw it all in. It cooked
    for about 9 hours on low. When I got home I cut up a pound of low-fat turkey
    kielbasa and tossed it a bit in a skillet before adding it to the beans. About
    15 minutes before serving I added a pound of thawed frozen spinach, along
    with the wine, vinegar, Frank's hot sauce, and ground pepper.

Monday, October 20, 2008


The rushing around and then sitting in traffic was so worth it!

Sara, me, and Marie

Seeing good friends, picking up yarn for my new-knitter daughter, and a crisp fall day made Rhinebeck a delight!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Going to the Funny Farm!

I'm heading to the Poconos after work tomorrow.

These were from my all-too-brief visit in August.

You can even get a peek at my new Forester.

Marie sure can stir up a crowd!

After Rhinebeck on to Countrywool! Can you think of a better way to spend the weekend? I didn't think so!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Playing a Little Catch Up

Here the Minimalist sits. For over a month! The plan was to put it together before Rhinebeck but that isn't going to happen. Putting it together, I mean. I WILL be at Rhinebeck!

The torquing easily blocked out.

I was going to take a picture of all three drying racks stacked up but then this little guy crushed the tower! Guess he thought it was set up just for him!

No weaving on the loom but I've started a new sweater - The Refined Aran.

I love the waist shaping and the baby cables.

ETA: Thanks, Marie, I corrected The Refined Aran link!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dyeing to Know

Where to start? Well, let's just jump right in! While my eye was recuperating I took the opportunity to wind some skeins and find some answers to my burning dye questions. While there were no real answers at the end I had a very pleasant journey.

I had two goals. One was to make what I think is termed a "semi-solid". Basically the same color but with subtle variations. The other was to make a yarn that had different colors but that blended together - there's that subtle again!

45% mustard, 15% violet, 20% blue, and 20% turquoise
So this was my starting point. I put water, citric acid, and dye solutions into my oven roaster and then added the presoaked skeins and moved them gently around to make sure the solution was getting through the skeins. Then I brought the roaster up to a simmer and left it for an hour or so. Then I turned it off and let it alone until it was cool. Pretty - but really subtle.

60% mustard, 20% blue, 20% turquoise

With these skeins I followed the previous plan but poured the dyes over separately and then stirred very gently to allow only some of the dyes to blend. I like the results but thought it was going to be a bit blotchy. I used enough yarn that either one of these could be knitted into a shawl. I thought this yarn would end up being warp but then Marie talked me into trying it out.

Good call! I love the way it is knitting up. Seraphim is the perfect pattern for lots of mindless knitting and then the big show-off border!

So then I decided to try more colors. I wound one two yard skein, 146 grams. I used the previous two recipes, along with dull orange, dull red orange, and dull mustard (adapted from Deb Menz's Color in Spinning) I thought I would soak one fifth of the skein and then I would get some blending, but for some reason I decided to spin out the presoaked skein in the washer. The yarn was a little too dry and didn't wick the dye.

I like it - the addition of the cream colored yarn to the mix adds a bit of kick. I'd still like to try the more blended style but this is going to make a pretty cool hat and gloves set.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Adjusting the Loom

Just about the time that my eye began to feel better it was time to head back to the classroom for three weeks. I've added another course this summer - a wellness class. The first day and a half are more traditional with lectures/reading/etc on nutrition, acid/alkaline levels, and such. After that I led them through a series of stress reducing exercises. First just a general unwinding script that I read with Dolphin Dreams softly playing as background, the next day I taught the basics of meditation and we did a guided relaxation exercise. It was even relaxing for me!

Throughout the week we added components of social wellness and time management along with a few poses from Svaroopa Yoga - the Magic Four. We spent time on exercises for strength and endurance for specific muscle groups. The last day one of the students brought in Wii Fit and we all had a chance to try that out. I'm sold! Josh has the system so now I'm on a mission to find one for me. Not an easy task, apparently. I've been told I can just camp out at Game Stop but I don't think that's where I want to spend my two weeks before school starts. The clerk at BestBuy said they will have them on Sunday but she doesn't know how many. Sarah said she'd go early with me. I need someone more aggressive in case the competition gets fierce :-)

I was working on this post when the stick met the eye. That was July 2nd and I've seemed to have lost my train of thought (along with a few other things) since then, so please ignore the choppiness...

While I was working on the twill baby blankets I was reminded of a problem I have noticed off and on. The bottom threads of my shed are sometimes so loose that despite a close sett the shuttle can find it's was through to the floor. I was using Peggy Osterkamp's Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps to help me visualize setting up the counterbalance loom. Oh, and that reminds me, I don't think that I mentioned that I'm almost positive that my loom is not handmade but is a Gallinger loom. It turns out that Woolflower's Leigh has one too and I found pictures on her blog. More about that later.

Back to the loose bottom shed - Peggy recommends raising the back beam to correct that problem. Of course, once I started googling for links for this post I found Leigh had investigated this when she bought her Glimakra. Ha, another example of that great mind of mine! I then remembered that Joanne Hall had mentioned raising the back beam for better sheds. Just to add insult to injury, I found I had printed out that article more than five years ago!

So here's what I did.

I strung a red thread from breast beam to back beam, going through the reed, and attaching a weight to each end. According to Osterkamp the warp should curve below the diagnostic string at the heddles. I'm not sure if you can see in this rather blurry picture but the warp is even with the string at the beater, dips about 1/4" below the string through the heddles and then rises to meet string going towards the back beam.

When opening harnesses 1-3 there isn't too much of a problem.

But you can see how there is almost a smaller, second shed when 2-4 are raised.

The suggestion is to raise the back beam and there are several approaches to this solution. However I remembered that my Macomber came with a second back beam attached. I left it there because the former owner did. I removed it recently when trying different approaches to threading back to front because I couldn't attach the raddle or angel wings with it on. So I slackened the warp slightly and put it back on. Voilá!

The thunking sound is me realizing that's why I didn't have this problem even when I put on a fifteen yard warp for my second weaving project! I will need to remove it for some tasks but it's going back on before I start weaving.

While browsing through Peggy Osterkamp's archives I found an tip for weaving twills and plain weaves together. Who knows if I'll actually remember that tip the next time?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Garden Accident (or that stick just Poked Me in the EYE)

Once the initial shock passed I couldn't help but think - but, Momma, I wasn't even running! Then the Flying Fish Sailors' Poke You in the Eye kept running through my head. Ouch!!

This happened Wednesday, early in the morning while I was dressed like a beekeeper so that I could rip out poison ivy. Instead of getting a lot cleaned out I had to get myself to the eye doctor. I'll spare you the gory details but the good news is there won't be any permanent damage. Since it was old, dirty, dead wood they couldn't patch it, so he cleaned it up and put a contact over the iris to act as a bandaid. I went back again yesterday and he'll see me again on Monday. My vision is starting to clear up but since this eye is still dilated and teary it's hard to do anything too detailed. I had planned on posting about my loom adjustment findings but that can wait.

So here's a little fireworks for those celebrating today!



Oh and if you like the Sailors you'll be happy to know that they are offering Remnant Stew as a free download!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Twill Baby Blankets Off the Loom

I finished up the blankets yesterday and after a few rows of stitching to stabilize each end I threw them in the washer and let it soak. 38" in the reed is now only about 33". The drape is really wonderful. The smooth warp spun yarn makes the blanket very soft right from the start, unlike some of my mill-end 8/2 blankets that needed a few trips through the wash/dry cycle.

Here's a close up of each of the four blankets.

Blue weft gives a zig-zag effect using this treadling.

One pick green, three picks blue with what I believe is called a straight draw.

This third blanket uses the alabaster (same as warp) for one pick and three blue picks. You probably don't need the draft but what the heck - I already uploaded it!

Finally, this uses one shuttle all the way through. While I'm not sure this is technically a "broken twill" it sure looks like it to me.

Tomorrow I'll cut them apart, hem them, wash them and give them a hard press. Wonder if they'll shrink any more?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

One Job Down ......

so many more to go!

I made this to go in back of a sofa, a primitive console table. I've rearranged the living room furniture and decided to recycle it into much needed shelving for the studio.

Here's the plan.

I'm not going to bother and stain the added shelving.

This just makes me smile! This is mostly 8/2 and some other mill ends.

I wish I could say the rest of the basement studio is looking as organized as this but ....... well, my weaving was calling me.

Hot damn! 912 ends and I didn't make one mistake. That's going down in the record books! I tried lashing on again. I'm not a big fan but I want to use my handspun for warp and I want to cut down on loom waste. I took a little more time (that's probably the reason I don't like it) and it worked out well. I probably won't use it for cotton warps but it doesn't hurt to have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I started and finished the first blanket today and I'm paying the price. How long has it been since I wove and here I was throwing the shuttle over 38". It wasn't a pretty picture. I don't know what I was doing with my right arm but I must have been pulling it back to far because I kept getting the thread caught on the edge of the breast beam and my right shoulder and wrist are a bit tender. I guess that's what I get for trying to cram so much into this week.

Here's a closer look at the twill. This is the second draft on the previous entry. I wove 1.5" in plain weave, 42" of twill, and another 1.5" plain weave.

Tomorrow I'm going with either the third draft or the hopsack, which is fabric woven with 2 ends up and 2 ends down.

I wonder if weaving wide warps will help tone up the triceps?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Twill Thoughts

I think that it's time to put the loom puzzle on the back burner and use this week to focus on some real weaving. The time spent weaving will should give me some insight on the workings of my handmade loom.

Here's the plan. 8/2 warp spun cotton from WEBS, Alabaster, sett at 24epi.

Each blanket will be a little different, changing weft colors and/or size.


I have some 3/2 that is the same color as the warp. I was thinking of using that for the one pick of cream and keep the three picks of green the same size as the warp OR have one pick of a thicker green and keep the three picks the same color and thickness as the warp.


I saw this in Dixon's book and I think it gives a sort of cobblestone effect.

I'll probably keep to the 8/2 for this weft but I put enough warp on to experiment at the end and I want to see how 5/2 or 3/2 would look with this draft. It might be a nice placemat weave.

I don't know about you, but I think it's time for a Jackson update!

Somebody turned one last week. He was thrilled with the Elmo cake Mommy baked and Daddy decorated but not so thrilled with the surrounding hordes of singing relatives. To keep from freaking him out completely I sang very quietly!

Since he never had cake or icing before it took him a minute or two to figure out what he was supposed to do. But it wasn't long before he looked like Elmo's twin. Luckily (?) the temperature as in the 90s so it was right into the kiddie pool for a quick clean up before opening presents.

The next day was spent relaxing and getting over the pressure of turning one.