Wednesday, December 31, 2003

New Year's Eve

Yesterday was our anniversary - 31 years! We went to ROTK and then out for dinner. I loved the movie, but it reinforced my preference for watching movies at home. The sound was SO LOUD that even my husband thought it was too loud. (if you were a fly on the wall in my house you would know why that is a good indicator of loud noises!) Even the volume level couldn't deter from the beauty of the film. I loved the close-ups of the clothing. The green shawls were beautiful and Gandalf's white cape was gorgeous, with a quilted undercape. I don't know the weave structure, but it was breathtaking.

I've been playing with my new electric bobbin winder. I think I'll be using one of my leather garden gloves when I'm winding fine threads. Let me tell you that thing rocks. After a little fiddling I got the feel for how much pressure I needed for different speeds. I'm about half way through a scarf for Laura. It's a mohair/acrylic blend from WEBS that I picked up at Stitches last year - one's a variegated peach and the warp is variegated brown.

Usually I'm grumpy on New Year's Eve because I didn't get enough done over the vacation, but this year I've got an additional three days. Yippee!

Monday, December 29, 2003

Just Give Me A Little Time..

No, not the song, although it does bring back memories. Seems like this vacation thing could really grow on me. However I realize now that spinning ALL day may not be the best thing. Ouch!

I spent yesterday at spinning group, last evening, and most of today spinning up the springiest chocolate brown romney/merino cross that I bought from Humble Hills several years ago. Then I spun a small amount of the border leicester/mohair multi-colored bump I bought at Creative Strands. I'm going to ply my sample with the brown and see what happens. I want something for the shoulders but I don't want it to really stand out. I'm planning on this sweater being one that I can keep in my closet at school and put on when needed, so it needs to be rather neutral.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Bead Lemming!

Yes, Claudia, I'm back with another entry! I forgot to mention my beading presents - I was waiting for the sun to come up so I could take a picture.

Sarah gave me a set of tools and some stuff to get me started. I'm not sure what everything is. I know that there are earring wires, spacers, and wire. I don't know what the things that look like big straight pins are, but I'm planning to find out. I've got a few magazines, any ideas on a good beginner's book? Hopefully Dodie will be at tomorrow's spinning group so we can plan a visit to her bead store.

What to pick up next? (ha! you think I'm going to finish anything?) My new Oxford punch needle is calling me, along with the needlefelting tools I bought last May at MDS&W. I don't think this vacation is going to be long enough!

Friday, December 26, 2003


It was a three day family celebration, but I made it! My extended family has been celebrating on the 26th for the last 17 years, since my brother found it difficult to travel on Christmas Day. My sisters and I live within a few miles of my mother, so one, if not all of us, have also had dinner with her. My nephew married in October and he and his wife had an open house Christmas Eve.

Now that our children are older it's been increasingly difficult to schedule this day-after celebration (what with work schedules, etc) so we've decided to consider alternatives - but we put it off to our Memorial Day picnic so we'd have time to figure it out. My family is so functional!

I got some nice fiber gifts. An electric bobbin winder from Robin & Russ, along with some inserted eye wire heddles, some repair heddles, and these really cool flexible metal strips for adding and removing heddles. They have one of those brass spreading clips at each end so that you can slide on heddles and transfer them safely. I don't know if I was blogging when I went through the fiasco of moving heddles in the middle of a project - not something I'd ever like to relive.

I also got a gift certificate for The Mannings. If the weather is as nice as it's supposed to be early in the week, I may just take a drive. Why waste it on postage when I can go pick it out myself??

Now for a cup of coffee and the real start to my vacation! I'm up earlier than I usually am in anticipation of an all fiber day, oh, and spinning group tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Spinning Chair

I've been mulling over this for a few months and today I took my saw to an old chair I had in the basement. Voila! A spinning chair. I could tell you I'm going to sand the raw edges on the chair back, but unless I do damage to myself or my fibers you can be rest assured that I'll just put it off. I am going to cover some 1" foam to make a seat pad and make a small rectangular pillow to put behind me. It was so comfortable. A nice wide seat to accomodate mine and the ability to pull back without contorting AND still having some support for my back adds up to a winner.

Now off for an appearance at my nephew's then back home to wrap a few presents and drink some eggnog.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Tackling that UFO Hall of Shame

As you might know, back in Sept. 2002 Claudia threw down the gauntlet and invited everyone to share their UFO's. I dutifully complied (see Sept. 16th entry) and came up with a huge list. Now just a measily 15 months later I've taken another look and noticed that I actually have finished some things.

My biggest (and smallest) accomplishment is that I've finally finished a pair of socks. I think it was the switch to 1's that did me in. I made dozens of bulkier socks, the smallest needle size was 3. Tonight I finally finished the Regia socks.

I also took apart that alpaca sweater and made it into a Pi Shawl and finished the autumn colored handspun. I took the Coup d'Etat cardigan to school and finished the first sleeve in study hall. Who knows, maybe I can finish the sage mohair and the Bendigo cardigan this week (yeah, right!)


In 9 hours I will be home for 11 glorious days. Now let's go see how many students actually show up today......

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Something New

Whenever I'm overwhelmed with work I feel the need to start something new. In keeping with that I started a new cardigan today. I'm going for something thick and cozy. This was my swatch and the gauge was good enough that I kept going on the sleeve. The reds are not as bright as the picture and the green is really a forest green. Can't figure out why the colors aren't true as I took it in direct sunlight. I'm not sure what I want to do with the ribbing, so I used a provisional cast-on. Here's what I've got done so far.

The plan (at least for now!) is to keep going with green for the rest of the sleeve. Use the same combinations for the body, but instead of 3, 4, and 5 row peeries I'll use a couple of 13 row borders too. When I put the body and sleeves together I'll repeat the patterns in the yoke. After pouring through books the last few days I ended up using graphs from Starmore's article in Threads. I was really inspired by the graphs in Zilboorg's Fancy Feet too. I hadn't picked that one up in ages. I really think it's the planning process that I need when I'm stressed. Everything is in the realm of possibilities and you get so caught up in colors and patterns that you can forget 150 students - oh, crap, I just reminded myself - better get back to work!

New Project

Whenever I'm overwhelmed with work I feel the need to start something new. In keeping with that I started a new cardigan today. I'm going for something thick and cozy. This was my swatch and the gauge was good enough that I kept going on the sleeve. The reds are not as bright as the picture and the green is really a forest green. Can't figure out why the colors aren't true as I took it in direct sunlight. I'm not sure what I want to do with the ribbing, so I used a provisional cast-on. Here's what I've got done so far.

Here's the plan (at least for now!) - keep going with green for the rest of the sleeve. Use the same combinations but instead of 3, 4, and 5 row peeries I'll use a couple of 13 row borders too. After pouring through books I ended up using graphs from Starmore's article in Threads. I was really inspired by the graphs in Zilboorg's sock book too. I hadn't picked that one up in ages.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Stuck in Brown

I finished the brown handspun a few days ago, but I'm not sure if it's too short. I don't think it is, but it's just shorter than I usually wear. Maybe I'll wear it for a day and see how I feel. I could always rip out the bottom and add a longer garter stitch hem or put in 3" of ribbing like I have at the cuffs.

I'm trying to finish a hat that I'm making for my nephew out of 50/50 brown corriedale and greyish mohair. I want to have it in the mail by Tuesday. If I send it Priority mail it should get to Iowa on Friday. That's when we're having our extended family gift-giving party so it won't technically be late. Stephan wasn't able to come back this Christmas, but at least I got to see him at his brother's wedding in October. I know I'll get the hat done tonight, but what are my chances of making a quick scarf by Tuesday???

As you can imagine the kids are hyped to the max at school. They did get together and decorate the homeroom door this year, although I worried that conflicting artistic ideas were going to end in fisticuffs smile.gif

Monday, December 15, 2003

Finished another one

I finished another handspun sweater yesterday - well, my interpretation of finished (which means I still have the side seams to sew up)! My camera is in Florida with Josh, he's at the Eagles/Dolphins game as I type, so pictures will have to wait. Hopefully I'll be able to sew it up and block it tomorrow night. I just got home - I'm taking a Vegas class (tonight and Wed) and the thought of focusing on those seams doesn't sound too inviting.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Snow Day (sort of)

The snow started on my way to school yesterday. The kids (those that showed up) were so wound up that we couldn't get anything done. We ended up with an early dismissal at 12:50. After tapdancing all day to keep the kids entertained, I plopped in a chair and knitted.

This morning I got up at 5:15 (why do I even bother to turn off the alarm on Friday night?) and started dyeing. The sea blue (teal, aquamarine, whatever) on the top rungs is the 2 lbs of corriedale I finished a few months ago. I used one package of Dark Green Cushings and 2 tsps. turqoise Sabraset. It was still a little too bright so I glubbed in some navy Sabraset I had leftover. This is going to be a hooded sweatshirt type pullover.

The dark plum on the bottom is one pound of the Cardinal Red romney I dyed last December. I did two pounds before I realized that using equal weights and equal dye doesn't necessarily mean the same shade :-) I used the same dyepot from the corriedale and just added more navy. After mixing with the red already in there it turned a really deep plum.

In the middle is another pound of the same romney. I used the Dark Green Cushings for that too. The red, plum, and green are going to be a heavy barn sweater. I'm mulling around ideas for borders, probably zig zags or some other geometric design going around the bottom of the body and sleeves.

While the dye was cooking I was able to wind a 4 yard warp for a scarf for Laura. I used the mohair/acrylic blend that I bought from WEBS during Stitches last year (2002). I threaded a point twill and got about 4 inches woven. Now, back to my chair, my knitting, and a drink!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Fun Little Tool

I remembered this nifty little tool I bookedmarked this summer. Although it's not really for acid dyes, I think it will give me a good starting point for mixing. I'm thinking about a teal or sea green so I think I'll start with 2:2:1 mix of royal blue 483, turquoise 480, and yellow 180 (Sabraset numbers). Maybe we'll have a snow day tomorrow (wishful thinking mode)

Monday, December 01, 2003

Ta Da!

I finished my first handspun sweater. I bought the fiber from the Woodchuck's wife (don't remember if she had a business name, but she sold fiber in his booth at MDS&W for a couple of years). It was so loud in the bag that I don't think I would have even considered it without seeing the sample she had knitted up. I had only been spinning for a year or two, so I didn't realize how much the colors mute and blend when they are spun and plied.

It's a little big through the shoulders, but overall I'm happy with it. I'm also psyched that I figured out how to take my own picture. Using the self-timer and putting the camera on top of my monitor is just the ticket. Of course, now I'll have to remember to close the closet door behind me :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Look at What I Got in the Mail!

I love an exchange, especially when everyone stays in until the end :-) I posted more pictures and descriptions of the SOS exchange if you want to look a little more closely.

I've spent the last three days spinning and knitting. I did finish weaving the purple silk for the back of my warp painted vest, but didn't feel like putting up the sewing machine and starting to put it together. Oh, yeah, I still have to dye the cotton for the lining - guess I better get to that.

The autumn handspun sweater is finished and blocked. I need buttons though. They'll need to really blend in - I think anything other than a neutral button will be too busy.

Back to school tomorrow - hope this cold I've been fighting has gotten the message!

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving to All

The holiday begins! As soon as my nephew wakes up I'll be carting 4-5 boxes of fiber stuff down to the storage/guest room. I'm cutting him a break since he drove all the way from Northwestern yesterday. Most of it is stuff from the living room and dining room that was meant to go downstairs anyway, but with school and my class it was sort of dawdling :-)

I got up early and watched the first LOTR while working on the autumn handspun sweater. I've seen it before, but I wanted to watch it right before I watch Two Towers. Josh brough Bowling for Columbine home for me too, so I don't think I'll have any problem finishing the last sleeve tonight.

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I Finished Something!

Okay, pat me on the back. I actually finished Sarah's tote last week but forgot to post a picture. I'll give it to her on Thursday.

Here's the third shade for the sweater I'm designing. I've already carded the silver gray green and the nugget gold. I'm debating whether I should dye the rest khaki - these are all Cushing's Perfection dyes - or keep it natural. It's going to be a cardigan, knit in the round, with a patterned yoke and some patterning above the wrists too. I have equal amounts and enough of all 4 that any one could be the main color. Haven't decided that yet either!

Mmmmm, my husband is baking pies. Pumpkin and apple are finished. Now to chop up everything for the stuffing and cook the yams. We're going to roast the two turkeys tomorrow. It's just too crazy to try and carve and make the gravy on the spot when you're having close to 40 for dinner. I've got two of the big roaster ovens and a couple of crock pots and everything will be done before the guests arrive. I think the stress factor will be lowered substantially!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Almost a Match?

What do you think? The vest material is on top. I think it looks a little darker, but it's been washed so the fabric is a little denser and the pattern is pinned to the other side. I think (I hope) that when the vest is lined the back will blend in nicely with the two fronts. I'm going to dye muslin with Sabracon violet to use as the lining.

Felt good to weave again - the first time since school started - but cutting back perennials yesterday did a job on my elbow and shoulder :-(

Saturday, November 22, 2003


The morning sun that I was trying to block with my new curtains was welcome this morning as I threaded the loom with my dyed raw silk. The sun felt so good on my back and came over my shoulder at just the right angle to illuminate the heddles. Such a simple task feels so refreshing after the week I had at school.

I got about 2/3 done before the hunger pains got to me. I should be able to finish up in another hour. It's already in the mid-50s --when I finish I'm heading outside for some much-needed garden cleanup.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

They're Up!

I rinsed out the fabric last night and got the curtains made and put up today. I'm not sure if I like the lighter spots. I'll keep it up a bit, but I may overdye with another color. There's a another one to the right of the tv stand, it's the standard high basement window. I love the view out my window but early in the morning the sun shines right over the loom and into my eyes. Now I can go down there on weekend mornings with my coffee and weave - uh, as soon as I warp it, that is! But it won't be long - I dyed the raw silk warp and it's dry already, but I have a big project for my hypermedia class so I don't know if I'll get it warped tomorrow or not.

I found this warp chain in with the stuff I got when I bought my loom. Most of what she gave me was linen and wool, I'm not sure how I overlooked this. I can't tell what it is, but I think perle cotton. It's pretty thick, maybe 5/2 or even 3/2, it's 22wpi. There's about 80 ends and I haven't unchained it, but I'm thinking 2.5 - 3 yds. So, what can I do with it?

Thursday, November 13, 2003

It's Amazing

what you can accomplish when you don't have to be at school until noon (parent/teacher conferences from 12:00-7:30) and the high winds rip off your gutter and slam it against your house all night! By 5:00 I knew there wasn't going to be anymore sleep. That's when I usually get up anyway, but I stayed up late last night dyeing the material for the curtains and knitting - thinking that I could sleep a little later.

So far I've wound the warp for the back of my silk vest. I painted the warp at Claudia's last summer, but didn't wind it long enough (doh!). Luckily I used straight Sabraset colors, violet, golden yellow, and magenta, so I don't have to worry about intricate mixing. I'm just going to use violet for the back.

I also finished the third pass of carding for the silver-gray-green Finn. I need one more color and then decide whether I want to dye the main color or keep it white.

Last night I started the sleeve for one of my longtime UFO's. See My Wall of Shame on my old blog. I'm about 2/3 through this sleeve and hope to have both finished by the end of conferences. It will be my first handspun sweater and the first finished project from that sorry list.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Slow Progress

Despite the low profile I have been making some progress on my fiber projects. School is consuming most of my time, but whenever I can I head to the basement, card a little and listen to a book. I just finished Life of Pi. What a great story. I was hooked right from the start. Now to figure out what to listen to next. I have six more books I've downloaded but haven't had time to listen to yet.

I also finished up my fish and got them sent out for the ST Fish Exchange. Got my mini-skeins labeled and sent out too. Can't wait to see what everyone else sent it. Why do I always worry that mine won't measure up? Gotta build up that self-esteem!

Josh came by today and we were able to get the the big chair moved out of the basement. Hopefully tomorrow I can get the the studio cleaned up and warp my loom. It's been a long time since I've woven. I guess since school started. I wanted to dye some muslin for curtains for the studio, but I realized I didn't have any soda ash. I'm going to see if the pool supply store has any. Paula Burch had something on her website about getting it there. I want it now and if I can skip the shipping charges from Pro Chem so much the better!

My husband is visiting his brother in Alabama for a few days. Laura is working part time at the bank again and she babysits overnight. (hope she's not taking on too much, but her second year of law school seems to be less hectic for her) That means I've had the house to myself for the last two nights. It's been really weird. I haven't been alone, at home, for 28 years (to the day actually - since Dan turned 28 today)

I finished the Fibertrends tote for Sarah. I made it a little longer than it called for and it was a good thing, because it seemed to shrink much more in length than width. I did give it a few good vertical pulls, like the directions said. I also was surprised at the fuzziness of the BS Naturespun. I usually use Lambs Pride and the mohair gives quite a halo, but I didn't expect it with this yarn. You can barely see the novelty yarn around the top couple of inches. I think she'll like it though. No pictures - left my camera at school.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

A New Project

It really is invigorating to be planning something new. Check out Carolyn's musing over her Viking cables and Claudia's dye experiments if you need a little inspiration.

I'm not sure if this is going to be too bulky. The gauge is about 3.5sts/inch, 6r/inch on size 9's. It will be a cardigan so the bulkiness won't be too much of a problem. Maybe I'll try to go a little thinner this weekend and see how that works up.

Back to grading - what stupid person decided to test in all of her classes today, which means about 130 tests to grade? Oh, that would be me. I usually have the grades back the next day, but I told the kids I might need the weekend for the bigger classes.

Sunday, October 26, 2003


nugget-batts.jpgI need a new, wider, motorized carder. I do really like my Louet roving carder, but when you do a pile like this it's little hard on the wrist and elbow. This was after the second pass. I don't think it would have needed three, except it really needed to be teased and I didn't want to bother. So I put it through the first time just to open it up. I'd like to make a cardigan with a ski-type yoke. I have the silver gray green ready to card. Then I could card up some of the natural. I'll have to play with the browns and grays I have to see which would be better for the main color. I was thinking about overdyeing the light gray with Cushing's khaki. Or not! Time to dig through the stash. But first I need ice!

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

What <i>is</i> that on my counter?

Yikes! It's a mole. I don't even remember learning about a mole or Avagadro, but apparently is a big thing in Chemistry now :-) Maybe Chemistry teachers are just trying to lighten it up a bit. My niece Kori needed a little help, so this is what I created for her.

Finally got one of the two straps done for the tote. That's about all the fiber related news this week. Hopefully this weekend will be more productive. I bought 15 yards of muslin last weekend with hopes of getting it dyed this week and made into curtains for for the sliding door and window in the studio. I do get an extra hour Sunday, so maybe I stand a chance of getting it done.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Not much time for spinning

but I was able to finish up some more of the roving that I dyed at Claudia's this summer. I was particularly happy with this one as the roving didn't really do much for me. It's the second one from the left in this picture. I thought it was going to be too pale, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Work is progressing on the textile project for school. I bought all of the dowels, grommets, and cup hooks and we should be ready to make the spindles next week. I have one of my psychology students lined up to take pictures. She's in a photography class that meets the same period and I have her on loan!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I Found Grommets!

Finally, I found the right size grommet to make a CD spindle and it was right there in Home Depot. I know they didn't have them last year when I was looking. I am truly amazed at how nice it spins.

The ceramics teacher and I are going to work together with our 9th period classes (this is a World Cultures class - not psych!). I've been toying with a hands-on idea for the last couple of years. I've brought in my spinning wheel and last year a rigid heddle loom but it was more of a demonstration with a few kids trying it out.

Throughout this year we are going to try to incorporate several units. The first one is spinning which I am going to teach while my students are studying The Formation of Europe. Then she'll do a unit on clay bowls and pots which will fit into African Trading Kingdoms. Then we'll let them weave - probably around the Indian Independence unit. It will fit in well with Gandhi's boycott of British textiles. I'm going to bring in the rigid heddle, table loom, and inkle loom (if it ever gets here!). She also found heavy cardboard frames that are precut at 1/4". What I'm hoping for is that each student will have at least a few yards of handspun that they can use in their weaving.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Cover Your Eyes!

2003_1006_094020AA.JPGAfter spending the night outside, I emptied the dyepots and brought in the fiber to rinse and spin out.

I thought I would allow you to click on the Nugget Gold as it would give you a little time to shield your eyes. Have you regained your sight? Now for something to soothe those eyes - check out the Silver Gray Green. Doesn't it remind you of the penny in the ammonia solution. Lots of greenish, bronzy, even blue shades.

My original intention was to mix the two colors together and randomly grab handfuls and run through the carder once. Then I was going to strip them lengthwise and mix them up and card again. That's when I though the gold would be, shall we say - not so bright! Now I think I'll card them separately. I have another bag of this Finn/Dorset cross so I can still try out some other colors. I think I'll use the Cushing's Khaki for the main color and dye at least one more accent color.

I was dreaming about the Romney/Jacob last night. I was wearing an EZ Ski Sweater I made out of Candide years ago. It has made its way to Laura's room and is not coming back! The sample yarn I made reminds me of that Candide, but not as harsh feeling. So she can keep the old one - I'm making another one for me. This time it will be a cardigan as I no longer have to sit outside and shiver my way through football and baseball. I probably will still have enough for a shawl and scarf/hat set.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Faster than a speeding bullet...

My computer is singing now. I had a memory chip for months and finally decided to put it in tonight. Amazing what another 256 ram can do. I also added a 40GB hard drive for additional storage. I was quite pleased with myself. I did have one small problem. You know those ribbon things that connect the drives? Well, I have a zip drive that was in the intermediate plug between the original hard drive and the board. I couldn't find any other place to plug it, so I just unplugged the zip. I'll have to run to Best Buy tomorrow. I'm sure there must be one of those things with two intermediate pins, but what do I ask for without sounding inordinately stupid?

Speeding up my computer is not the only thing I did today, no siree! I washed a wonderful Romney/Jacob cross. I've already spun a little sample and it's really nice. It looks like it would be scratchy, got a bit of a halo, but it's quite soft. I got all five pounds washed, but I had to bring the rack into the basement for the last batch.

Then I dyed some of the fleece I brought home from Marie's in August. I used Cushing's Perfection this time, no mix, no mess. This pot is Nugget Gold and this one is Silver Gray Green. I didn't get started on that until later in the afternoon, and it was already getting cool. I had to take one of the pots off the auxiliary burner of the Coleman stove and use the hot plate. I think the Coleman is only going to be good for steaming, as it doesn't really keep the water at a simmer when it's cold outside. It took so long that I had to leave them to cool down over night.

Oh, and along with all of this, I tried to clean the kitchen. All I seemed to get done there was make a bigger mess. Well, I did get the cabinets and appliances clean and shiny. Good thing I have the day off tomorrow. It'll take me all day to finish what I started today.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Sarah's New Home

My younger daughter Sarah celebrated buying her first house by hosting us all for a party. I meant to take lots of pictures, but as usual I stashed the camera after the first couple of minutes and promptly forgot to take more. I did get one of Laura with our friend Debbi.

Sarah's new house is in the East Falls neighbor in Philadelphia. It's basically one room per floor, with an addition on the first floor where the kitchen is. She has an office on the second floor, along with a bathroom, and her bedroom is on the third floor. The stairs are very steep and spiraled and Sarah was worried about the grandmothers having to use the stairs to get to the bathroom, but they both were able to manuever, with help. It is just so cute, with exposed brick on one side and a cute fenced in patio in the back. She doesn't have any lawn, but there is a garden about 3' by 10' across the front of the house. We're going to plan out some perennials for there - she already has a shad bush the previous owners put in. For the back, she'll be doing all containers, so I'm going to help her plan it out, but we won't plant anything until next spring.

Dan, Laura, and Josh all helped her paint and helped her with the moving. She is so happy to have something all of her own (including the mortgage!) As the third child I think it also made her happy to be the first to be able to take this big step.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Creative Strands Again

I just found out the Creative Strands is going to be held again this summer - July 7 - 11. I went to their website to see if there was any new information. There wasn't, but I found two great pictures from the Patsy Z workshop that Kate and I went to. Here's a close up. Don't you love that cast!

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Wow! You can do that for me!

In my comment box yesterday I was offered the chance of a lifetime. Of course, I don't have that particular organ, but if I did, by golly, I would have responded in a heartbeat. As it happened, in my haste to delete the comment I must have deleted the whole entry. Not to worry - it wasn't exactly Pulitizer worthy.

School is taking up most of my time right now. I have over thirty kids in each of my three psych classes. At least my World Cultures class is smaller. I'm also creating another class on the fly. I'm teaching an advanced psychology class. Along with having three preperations we have very few substitutes in the district, so I've been losing my planning period to cover for other teachers. I'm also taking a Video and Hypermedia class so I've been busy learning how to edit. For one of my projects I have to do an instructional video and stream it. Sounds just right for spinning or weaving.

I did get the lighting in the studio up, so when I do get some free time lighting won't hold me back. I also finished my second fulled fish for the ST exchange. The Fibertrends tote is really a quick knit. Just have to do the strap and sew the bottom - oh, yeah, and full it! Hopefully I'll have it finished by next Saturday when I go see Sarah's new house.

I was hoping to get to the Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival in Salem NJ but work got in the way. Hope Linda has a good weekend there.

Friday, September 19, 2003

An Unexpected Day Off

Isabel has come and (looks to me) almost gone. She did leave me a present though - no school! Even Villanova's law school is closed. Up until Laura started last year, they prided themselves on never being close! It doesn't seem to have caused much havoc around here. Some power outages - my lights only dimmed periodically throughout the evening. I think it was the high winds that worried the school officials.

My lawn is covered with shredded leaves, but there aren't very many large branches. We took precautions and brought patio furniture into the garage, the shed, and even some right into my studio (jeez, it's not even finished and it's cluttered!).

What will I do with my new found time? Go to school! Our first few weeks have been crammed with meetings and paperwork, so I think I'll just take some coffee in and have the room to myself for a couple of hours. I used to spend quite a few days before school started organizing, cleaning, etc. but last summer was just too short.

This afternoon I'll start listening to The Secret Life of Bees with my wireless headphones and start warping my loom.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Remember when

your mother told you that your eyes were bigger than your stomach? (Ha, I should be so lucky!) Well I guess my eyes were bigger than my energy and time constraints this weekend. I did, however, get the wall painted and the bathroom steam cleaned (you do remember it was a very messy son that moved out??) so I guess that counts for something. Hopefully I'll get something on my loom soon. In the meantime I think I'll try and get the Fibertrends tote finished and fulled this week. Sarah will be here next week for a shower and I'd love to have it ready by then.

My nephew is getting married October 18th. Where did the time go? Dan is going to be in the wedding - his first time being a groomsman. Laura and I had to break it to him that he was paying for his tux and other expenses, not Mike! Mike's the first of the grandchildren to get married and my mom finally has a dress for the wedding. She doesn't really have the stamina to go out and try on dresses, so my sisters have been bringing dresses home for her. They finally hit the jackpot yesterday. I have to do a few alterations on it, but it looks great on her. You know, finding a nice dress for an 87 year old woman is quite the challenge.

Friday, September 12, 2003

People to See and

places to go. I mean, I'm not really an unsociable person, but with the start of school, and another new course to teach, and another course to take, I'm just not into spending my weekends going places. However family obligations call, so off I go. That leaves very little time to relax with my fiber pursuits. I have finished another fish - so I'll be able to full that this weekend. I'm hoping that I'll get a chance to at least get a warp wound, maybe even sleyed, so that I'll be able to get downstairs and weave a little. But now I remember that I really should just get that last wall painted so the bookcases can go back where they belong and I can get the other light hung. THEN maybe I can start weaving.....

In the meantime, I should be jotting down the brilliant ideas that come to me in the middle of lesson preperation or when I'm stuck in traffic (mind you, my school is all of 5 miles from my house, but if you hit just wrong time - there you sit).

Monday, September 01, 2003

A Little Fishy

Sometimes you just have to play! I finished the first of my fish, using the fleece I dyed over the summer. All of it was handspun, either by spindle or wheel. I have enough spun to do maybe 3 more, but I still have some of the dyed locks left. I'm going to try and make the next one have two colors spiraling around his body. Here's what it looked like before felting. Now all he needs is some eyes and to be stuffed! Okay, back to lesson plans.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Back in School

I had the most wonderful day on Monday. It was a little too windy to spin outside, so Marie and I took a tour of her farm and then we settled inside to spin and talk. I started back to school on Thursday - I won't see students until Tuesday though. I also started another class through Penn State's World Campus. This one is Video and Hypermedia in the Classroom - sounds like fun. I've also been updating my school pages and have my psychology calendar completed through Oct. 10th, so that's encouraging.

I went to cut out my vest and realized that my piece wasn't long enough. (unless I wanted some rib-tickling bolero type thing) Thankfully I hadn't started cutting anything yet. So my plan is to dye some more silk a solid purple and use that for the back of the vest. It's not really a big deal, especially considering how much I learned about weaving for garments from this process. I always thought I'd need 44" wide fabric and just weave it as long as the pattern called for. Duh! Now I see how I can lay out the pattern, and weave just what I need with a minimum of waste. With any luck I can get the silk dyed this weekend. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to try out the Dorothy, which has been languishing since her arrival.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Summer Ends

What a beautiful weekend! I'm heading out in a few minutes for a drive into the Poconos to visit a friend and sit by her pond and spin. The wheel is still in the car from my spinning group's meeting yesterday, where I spun the blue with purple and teal mohair batt. It's really quite beautiful. I'm excited about the way the blending turned out. In fact, all of it was the result of a swap switch we made a one of our meetings a few months ago. I'm also going to take up my spindle and the batts for the tropical fish. The humidity and temps have dropped the last few days around here and it's always cooler in the mountains, so I'm looking forward to a wonderful day.

I finished Alive Guy for Josh. He wanted a negative image that was about 4 feet high and 5.5 feet wide and he left the rest to me. After listening to your suggestions, I went with painting it on black fabric. I stitched the sides about 1" in from the side and am allowing it to fray. The top has a casing where we stuck in a piece of screen door molding to hang it with. The bottom is the selvedge so there is no finishing. I bought some fabric paint but then I looked at that squeeze bottle and knew I wasn't going to squeeze the whole thing! Right at my feet was an almost finished can of ceiling paint from my previous painting (sometimes not putting things away is a plus!) and pulled out a little stencil brush and started to scrub the paint into the fabric. I wanted to a get an open, uneven look and that was super easy to do :-) After it dried I went around and outlined it about .5" in from the edge with an opalescent white that has a little dimension to it. He's thrilled and promptly took it over to West Chester to hang it up. If I ever get lonely for the little guy, Alive - not Josh! - I have this to remind me of him! Now I remember why I have all those ugly vinyl tablecloths! Actually I can scrap it off with a fingernail so I'll just scrub it off with a little nylon scrub pad.

Off to the mountains!

Saturday, August 23, 2003

My Mistake...

I wasn't recovering from a sinus headache I was just getting into a sinus infection! That put a dent into my flurry of "before-school-starts" activities. But yesterday I was able to do a little carding. I carded the wild shades of corrie I dyed at Claudia's dye day. I'm spinning some up to use for felted fish in Knitter's Stash and the rest I want to use for needle felting. I bought all the supplies at MDS&W this spring for summer experimentation and have yet to use it. Well, even though school is starting I guess it's still officially summer for a few more weeks.

The batts on the left are a blend of blues, teal, and a few purple locks. The center isn't as pretty in this picture as it is in real life - it's a mostly a deep green and blue mix, but with some undyed parts of the locks coming through as a glow of paler color. On the monitor it looks duller with more neps (you just have to take my word for it!). On the right are the clear bright colors that I got from the fiber reactive dye (Sabracon).

My Mistake...

I wasn't recovering from a sinus headache I was just getting into a sinus infection! That put a dent into my flurry of "before-school-starts" activities. But yesterday I was able to do a little carding. I carded the wild shades of corrie I dyed at Claudia's dye day. I'm spinning some up to use for felted fish in Knitter's Stash and the rest I want to use for needle felting. I bought all the supplies at MDS&W this spring for summer experimentation and have yet to use it. Well, even though school is starting I guess it's still officially summer for a few more weeks.

The batts on the left are a blend of blues, teal, and a few purple locks. The center isn't as pretty in this picture as it is in real life - it's a mostly a deep green and blue mix, but with some undyed parts of the locks coming through as a glow of paler color. On the monitor it looks duller with more neps (you just have to take my word for it!). On the right are the clear bright colors that I got from the fiber reactive dye (Sabracon).

Monday, August 18, 2003

Playing Catch Up

I'm just about recovered from a killer sinus headache. We went to a wedding Saturday and there were these greens in the centerpiece that I could just tell were going to do a number on me. I'm not sure how it got through the Flonase and Clarinex, but I spent most of yesterday with heat packs on my face. I got a little spinning done last night while I watched Sex in the City, but that was about all the fiber production I did since I ran out of thread on my silk weaving on Friday.

Laura picked up another spool of thread for me on Saturday and back down I went today to finish it up. In case you're ever wondering, one spool of thread will weave 62.5"! I took it off the loom and washed it today. It was 12" in the reed, 30 epi. It ended up 11" by 80". I'm going to make a vest with it. I was planning on dyeing the lining fabric purple, I don't think it would be a problem if it's cotton, do you? It's not like it has sleeves that will have to slip over the fabric.

I'm in a fulled tropical fish exchange, so I carded up some purple and blue dyed corrie. I threw in a little Firestar too. I never used that before, but I just tried to mix it in as best I could. There's not really too much in it, but the camera flash sure picked it up! Actually it's a little pastel for tropical fish. Guess I'd better card up the hot pink and yellow tomorrow.

10 more days until I go back to school. Instead of my usual whine that I didn't get anything done this summer, I'll concentrate on what I was able to do. Maybe that will be my blog entry for tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Alive Guy Needs Help

How would you turn Alive Guy into a 4' by 5' wall hanging? It's a Pearl Jam logo and Josh and I were playing with ideas tonight. He thought I could weave it. I told him my loom was only 40" but he said he could live with it slightly smaller. How would you do something like that -- pick up? rep weave? Then I was thinking about latchet hook or knotted pile or rya, but I think that would be way too much of a investment in time. After he left tonight I had an idea. I could use fiber reactive dye, thickened with this paste I got from ProChem and applied directly to bleached muslin. Then I could machine quilt around it. I could probably finish that in a weekend. Any other ideas?

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Dyed Silk Warp

I got started this morning on the new warp. I tried mercerized cotton sewing thread for the first inch or so, then some No. 10 mercerized crochet cotton. I like the sewing thread better. This is sett at 30 epi (it's raw silk 24 wpi) so it's meant to be warp dominant. I thought I liked the thread at first, but when I saw the picture I was sure. It basically disappeared. I'll have to take pictures when I'm in doubt - it's like stepping back 6 feet, which you really can't do with it still on the loom. I see I have a missing thread, so I think I'll take out the crochet cotton, correct the mistake and then continue on. My spool of thread actually fits in one of my bobbins, so I don't even have to bother winding. Cool, huh?

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

What I've Been Doing

Not much fiber stuff to report, unless you're talking about carpet rehab! I used Ruth in Houston's suggestion to get Damp Rid. That helped enough that I was able to put the new padding down today and unfold the carpet. I'm letting it rest overnight and then I'll attach it to the tack strips. I did find a few telltale sign that Skids was not quite continent his last days with us :-( but it was one of the first times I found something that reminded me of him and I didn't cry (actually was quite grossed out!) I guess the moisture reactivated the smell, so I'm thinking maybe using some white vinegar in the Oreck to neutralize it then clean it with the regular shampoo. Masonry guy came today. He said we were actually lucky, that usually people loose their wallboard too. I guess the bricks soaked up the mosture enough to keep it from soaking up the wallboard. So, two grand to fix the chimney. Don't you just hate spending money on stuff that you really never see? Furniture, a nice painting, but chimney repair????

I just finished my last project for my class. I have one short (2-4 page) paper and a peer review on Friday and then I'm DONE! That'll give me one week until school starts again. I did get the silk warp sleyed, threaded, and beamed so hopefully tomorrow I can get it tied on and start weaving. I still need to paint two more walls down there so I can finish putting things away, but that can wait until next week.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Warping Pictures

Last spring, as I was warping for yet another doubleweave blanket, I took a series of pictures. After I got the loom reassembled I realized I hadn't warped it since April, so I needed to take another look at my notes. I was supposed to be creating an instructional website for my InSys class, but decided to do this instead! Does it look like Reinforcement vs Punishment? Nah, I don't think I can get credit for it, but take a look. Remember I'm only a weaving newbie, but I like keeping track of what works for me and seeing how others do it too.

I sleyed half the painted silk warp from Claudia's Dye Day. One part of me wants to go right down and finish, but the other side says "do your assignment". We'll see which side of me wins! (can you tell I'm a Gemini?)

Friday, August 08, 2003

I'm hot, I'm cold

I had a brainstorm - not always a good thing for me but in this case it worked thumb.gif I turned on our gas fireplace/heater for a couple of hours and it really helped dry out the bricks. Of course, I felt a little stupid with the heater AND the air conditioning going. It was getting pretty warm in here, so I'll do it again tomorrow morning and maybe Sunday if it still needs it. In the meantime the fans are blowing like crazy - at this rate we may be able to lay the new padding by on Wednesday.

While I'm still on this hot/cold thing, back in December I posted a picture of one of the squirrels that I kept fed for the winter. Look who thinks my deck is Club Med!


The bad news.....The water problem is way worse than I thought. The family room stinks (literally)! I had to shove furniture across the room, rip about 1/3 of the carpet from the tack strips and cut out the soaked foam padding. (the family room is on a slab) I've got two heavy duty fans going in there but I think it's going to take a week at least before I can put new padding down. We have central air, so I put the fan to constant on to keep the dehumidifying at full tilt. I've got the slate covered with plastic and the chimney repair guy has been called. I'm a little leary of taking off the slate and trying to fix it myself - rain is predicted for the next week and I don't really feel confident about the masonry stuff.

But there is good news! After taking off the harnesses, beater, breast beam, and both of the warp beams to reduce weight Laura and I were able to move the loom ourselves. It looked like monsoon time again and I didn't want to wait for the boys to get here. We shuffled our way through the dining room, kitchen, family room (right before I pulled the carpet up!), out the patio door, down curving gardens steps and through a sliding door into the basement. YEAH, it fits :-) although I changed my original orientation - I'm going to keep my back to the wall and face the glass doors. It slides out over the carpet easily (it's industrial carpeting with no pad) so I can pull it out when I warp it. I got everything put back on last night so hopefully this weekend I can get it warped.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Studio's Getting Closer

It seems like I'm not supposed to get this studio finished. We've had rain for the last week, some days coming down in torrents. It turns out the slate and some stucco on the side of our chimney has loosened up and a clogged drainspout allowed rain to flow from the gutter right into the cracked chimney and into our fireplace. The carpet is soaked, the bricks on half of the fireplace are soaked and darker than the rest. I used my Oreck Carpet Cleaner and sucked up 6 tanks of water. yuck

BUT -- I finished painting Dan's old room, the new fiber/equipment/guest room. We moved in Laura's sofa bed from Ikea. (She only had it for a couple of months before she moved home) I still need to make a slipcover for the sofa and curtains. I put together the storage shelves (also from Ikea) for the warping reel, carder, weaving equipment, etc. The table loom will fit perfectly on the top shelf of the shorter side, I just didn't bring it down yet. I have my reeds lying flat on the bottom shelf. I did have them leaning up against a wall for the last year, but I heard they were supposed to be supported and flat. I'm actually thinking of putting some type of bracket on the bottom of the second shelf and then running them through that.

I still have an old bureau that Sarah wants, so as soon as she gets moved in (settlement is Aug. 15th - I'll actually have a homeowning child!) she'll take that. Then I'm bringing down two old dressers that I'm painting white and stacking on top of each other. They have rather small drawers, which made them great for little kids but even greater for fiber and sewing storage. I have shelves on the wall and space underneath for my Louet and rigid heddle loom. (yes, those are weeds outside the window - should get rid of those so more light comes in)

On the other wall I have a closet (a couple of leftovers from Dan) that will hold plastic storage bins. On the right of the closet I can keep more bins stacked up until I need to move them to fold out the bed. My family thinks it will be too scary to have guests sleeping in a room full of equipment and fiber. It seems like a perfect guest room to me.

Wish me luck tomorrow. I'm taking the harnesses, beater, back beam and front beam off my Macomber and then bringing it down. I was moving things around, but Laura thought I better get the loom down there first as I have a tendency to think I have more room than I really do. This is its new home. About four feet to the left is a big I also have to move two chair (in desperate need for slip covers, but very comfortable) up to the living room. Both boys are working but have promised to be here by 6:00. Guess I better make them dinner and bake them some cookies.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

The Studio

During lulls in my classwork I'm trying to get my studio together downstairs. I think I'm going to have to resort to threatening emails and voice messages to get Dan over here and do something about all of his clothes and other crap. But - I'm not letting a few piles (actually mountains) of clothes and CDs get in my way. I've started to paint. Laura and I went to HD today and bought 2 gal of their OOPS paint. We got premium grade paint for $5.00/gal. All we could see was a dot the size of a dime on the lid to tell what color it was. I think we made good choices. The pumpkin is going on the two walls that get all the sun. The studio is in the basement but I have patio doors facing south and a window facing west so I get a lot of sun. The lighter color is going on the wall with the patio door. That wall extends for the width of the house back to under the stairs where the furnace lives. The colors go together much better than the pictures show.

I painted each color on an index card so I can get fabric for curtains and JoMar (local fabric outlet) is having a 50% off sale including their drapery and upholstry fabrics. Most of the time they'll be open, but I need something to close up if we are trying on our new creations, or if company is going to use the guest room (Dan's old bedroom, which is really going to be fiber and equipment storage, but with a sofa bed in there, just in case.) Laura and I are setting the space up for both of our sewing machines and my serger too. So it will be like our own little sweatshop!

Transforming a rec room to a studio! Let me tell you that my method would drive an anal painter mad, but it's working for me. My method: Move everything away from two walls, giving just enough room to squeeze in with a paint brush or roller. Vacuum up spiders and yucky things. Spackle the gizillion holes from wannabe dart players. Paint. Let dry. Paint second coat. Let dry. Move things back and tackle next wall. Laura and I finished the first coat tonight. Oh, did I tell you Dan borrowed my roller trays and my handy dandy 5-in-1 when he was painting his new place? Didn't remember that until after I started! Luckily Josh was around and ran to HD for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Look Who's One!

Birthday Cupcake

It's been one year of blogging about my fiber exploits. I don't think I knew how much I would enjoy putting my thoughts out there to share with everyone. Thanks for listening and thanks Claudia for planting the seed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Schacht Tapestry

This link came on ST today. Isn't it great?

Somthing to Show

I finally got the binding sewn on and the piece hemmed for Josh's room. This is the one I twisted diagonally and poured three different colors over. A technique which worked great on a 1 yard piece did not do as well on a 6' by 9' piece of fabric. The dye didn't get into the center so there were lots of bare spots. I was going to paint on more dye, but didn't know how that would turn out, so I decided to over dye the whole thing. I wet it and spun it out in the washer. Then I smooshed it into a dishpan, poured the remaining blue over it, poured soda ash after about 30 minutes, then put the whole thing in a trash bag and waited about 8 hours. I was really pleased, because I worried that the yellow would turn green, but all was well. Josh really loves it, it's the desert colors he wanted. He came home from the shore today for a visit and he'll be taking it to his college apartment tonight.

I flicked some of the locks I dyed at Claudia's last weekend and spun it up. I was going for a really rough look since I want some texture in my felted fish. The color sure is tropical and the corrie is so soft. It should felt well.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Here are the results

Check out the gorgeous colors. The darker blues and burgundy are Sabraset and the brighter reds, yellows and turquoise are Sabracon F. I finally got the really bright yellow I needed for my felted fish.

This is the raw silk I bought from R & M last spring. I wound a three yard warp, 120 ends per bout, for a scarf. I'm going to wind another 60 ends and dye that solid violet. Then I'll place that between sections of the painted warp. I'm going to set it at 32 epi (it's 24 wpi) and use sewing thread for the weft - a la Sara Lamb.

These rovings are from the pound of Brown Sheep I bought at Maryland. The wind was starting to really kick up so I had to loop it through the drying rack. I was really pleased with these. I used a stencil brush to get a little more control, but it also helped to push the dye into the center. When I used a squirt bottle or syringe it seemed to roll off the surface a little.

I gotta get these gardens weeded, but with all of this dyed fiber and the inspiration I got from Creative Strands - well, maybe we'll get those thunder storms tomorrow thumb.gif

Sunday, July 20, 2003

What a Weekend!

Just back from a whirlwind trip to the Boston area for Claudia's Dye Day. It was a beautiful day, lots of great people, beautiful fiber, and buckets of color! We had a blast. See for yourself. I dyed a pound of Brown Sheep roving that I picked up at Maryland, about 12 ounces of corrie fleece, and a raw silk warp. I just finished rinsing everything, so I'll take some pictures of the finished fiber tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Oh, Good Lord!

This class is driving me absolutely crazy. No, I take that back, I'm driving myself crazy. What happened to that cavalier attitude I had 30 years ago?? Now it's write, rewrite, rewrite, write, repeat..... you get the picture.

Now, back to icing my wrists, so I can type some more. And all that beautiful stuff I just acquired is taunting me.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Pictures Are Up

As promised, here are the pictures from Creative Strands.

On the left are 20 cones of Tubular Spectrum yarn from Lunatic Fringe for a color gamp. The middle has Summer Meadow, a 75% Border Leicester 25% kid mohair blend, from Maple Row Stock Farm in Michigan. On the right is some cotton from New World. Don't ask me why I bought cotton - I'll never be able to spin it and I don't like to knit it.

I got some really pretty tussah top from Shadeyside Farms in NY. The picture doesn't do it justice. After Sara's class I should have the skills to do a decent job on it. The pretty green bump is CVM naturally dyed with fustic and indigo. That was from Stefania. On the right is a 70% wool 30% hemp blend from Gurdy Run Farm. I think the hemp will give a nice texture to the yarn.

Some more from Gurdy Farm. It's 75% wool 25% mohair. I'm thinking both of these yarns for a patterned yoke with the brown corrie I'm spinning now. The inkle woven band in the center is pretty dorky, but I think I'd like it for decorative trim in perle cotton or some tightly twisted silk. The two samples are from Sara Lamb's silk class. That's tussah on the left - it includes the part where I was swearing mightily so it's not real even. The bombyx is on the right - that will just soak up the dye.

I also stocked up on some back issues of Weavers and bought Madelyn van der Hoogt's Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers.

Oh, and after I've told about how Kate has been waxing poetic over her sample card I thought I share this picture of her lusting over her spinning samples. She must have 25 cards filled with samples and all dutifully noted.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Creative Strands

What a great conference. I'm exhausted, but I'm so energized by everything I learned this past week. First was the 12 hour preconference class. With Patsy Z's help, I finally experienced the long draw. I'm not saying I'm an expert after just a few days, but I understand the technique and am now able to do it. One of her suggestions for troublesome techniques was to set a timer for 10 minutes and really focus on the new method. When the timer goes off, take off the bobbin, put it away until the next day and go back to your familiar spinning. I'm going to try that in my quest for a softly spun, thick yarn. Ask Kate to see her sample cards. She was in Virgo heaven. Oh, and also ask her about that heart shaped hole punch :-)

I took a 3 hour class with Daryl Lancaster on the inkle loom. She showed samples of her work. Remember the Sept/Oct 02 Handwoven with her article about weaving from your stash? She should us the duster she made with the inkle woven trim down the front. It was really beautiful. I'm not sure how much I'll use it, but I can see possibilities.

Saturday morning I took a rep weave class with Bettes Silver-Schack. For the first fifteen or twenty minutes my head was spinning. Then she used markers and colored in her diagram. duh, NOW I get it. It didn't hurt that Carolyn had just given Kate and me a mini lesson in profile drafts and blocks the night before. Nothing like setting the stage for the lesson. I will definetely be using rep weave for placemats or rugs.

I didn't have a class Saturday afternoon, so I got to spend some time shopping. I'll take pictures and go into more detail tomorrow. One of the vendors had a used picker and supercarder. Oy vey, such decisions! I went back and forth, back and forth, but I finally decided I couldn't really justify it right now. (not that I wouldn't WANT it)

Sunday was Silk Spinning with Sara Lamb. She showed us the gorgeous warp-faced scarves she wove. Many of them are in Handwoven's Design Collection 19. Her kimonos were magnificent and the painted warps inspiring. I had borrowed three high speed whorls (I only have the two that came with the wheel) and two high speed bobbins for the class. No luck, the whorls would not fit my flyer. I had to use the fast whorl (15.5:1) but after about 30 minutes of swearing and tussah silk being either kinked up or ripped out of my hands, it began to make sense. I was able to spin a consistent yarn, not quite as fine as I had hoped (4400 ypp) but considering my rocky start I was happy. The bombyx was much easier, Sara says that's why she made us spin the tussah first. I think with practice and a faster whorl I should be able to spin silk successfully.

Phew, that was a long-winded report - pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Spinning away

Patsy Z's class is great! So far we've gone over the basics, like how to evaluate a fleece and how to wash it. She told about her visit to a commercial wool mill - Patsy can really tell a story. It must be the kindergarten teacher in her. I felt like I saw those pitch fork conveyor belts, moving the fleece down the line without agitating it!

I've tried old skills, but with a new twist, like using my super mini-combs on my lap, instead of clamping them on a table, then spinning right off the comb. I liked doing it that way - just hope I don't pierce my breast (but I guess I could just get a ring and I'd be right in style) She also showed us her way of holding the cards to keep your wrists on a even line. It seemd so effortless. I could really get used to carding and combing myself (but that doesn't mean I don't still lust over a supercarder).

I've taken some pictures, but can't download them. Check Kate's blog. She brought a laptop and card reader.

This afternoon - the long draw. Maybe this will be the time it takes. There's always hope........

Sunday, July 06, 2003

All My Bags Are Packed,

I'm ready to go. Well, more like my lists are made, I'll be packed when Dan returns my suitcases. I need to pick up a luggage cart and some bungee cords tomorrow. One of my classmates at Rita's workshop in MD had a plastic container with all of her tools, accessories, etc. and her wheel on top, all bungeed together on a cart and it looked so convenient. Another woman put her wheel inside a new wheeled plastic trash can. Then she put all her bags around it. Cool idea, but I might fall in if something dropped to the bottom. Can you picture stubby legs flailing above a dull grey can? I thought so, that's why I'm going for the former setup.

I wanted to get everything off my bobbins so I could take them all to Creative Strands. I've got a 12 hour workshop with Patsy Z. and a six hour silk spinning class with Sara Lamb, so I need all the bobbins empty. Plyed up about 700 yds of the brown romney/merino cross. It's a nice springy, soft yarn, but just plain brown. When I get back I'll spin up two more bobbins - that will give me another 700 yds. then I'll play with blending some colors with the brown. Maybe a patterned yoke would be enough to perk up the brown.

Thursday, July 03, 2003


I've always been fascinated by Sarah Swett's work. Zoom in on the details - just hover your mouse over the tapestry until the cursor changes to a finger pointing. How many frogs can you find? Why do I suddenly want to play Carole King?

New Fleece

I washed up the new Mary Pratt romney yesterday. Who knew it was going to rain all day? So here it is propped up and drying in the family room. Tomorrow is supposed to be really hot, so it should finish up outside - gee, I hope it doesn't end up smelling like barbequed ribs! I combed a lock with a dog comb and spun it from the fold. It's lusterous, but with a nice bloom. I was thinking of a rug, but I was looking at one of my tapestry books this morning and I'm thinking of trying a small one. I have a rigid heddle loom and one of those Schacht school looms which would be good for a tapestry. I have Nancy Harvey's book and I was looking at some of her work. Her flowers are sensational.

Oh yeah, those bags on the fireplace? That's my youngest son's job. He cuts samples for Benner's Gardens, they make deer fencing. It also makes great fleece dryers!

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Late Bloomers

Thanks to our cool, wet spring my daylilies are very late in blooming. That's fine with me, because it's giving me time to get the garden cleaned up and weeded before they are in their prime. I finished this week's class assignments and can get into the garden tomorrow with a clear conscience.