Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Knee high by the 4th of July

Dear Mom,

My corn is definitely knee high- well before the 4th of July!

And the tomato plants I started from seed are healthy and filled with blossoms.

My cabbage is coming along nicely.

And we have romaine lettuce to eat, the bean plants look healthy.

Can't wait to start harvesting some home grown veggies!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Heddles and shafts and tie-ups, Oh my!

Dear Mom,

I (hopefully) put my loom together.
There were lots of pieces.
800 of these things call heddles.
I have an 8 shaft loom. The heddles go in the shafts. So there are 100 heddles in each shaft.
Heddles are thin rather uncooperative metal bits. Even keeping them all lined up properly on their string didn't guarantee that they would stay that way- there were a few that twisted around each other, or one or two completely getting missed which meant backing off everybody else in line to straighten out the rogue heddle.

Then I attached all the tie-ups.
There are 90.
They will be used to coordinate which shafts are raised and lowered when I step on the treadles.

(Don't I just sound like I know what I am talking about?)
(Really, I don't even have half a clue.)

When I was messing with all the tie-ups and they were dangling down and brushing against my arms, they reminded me of Bo Derek's hair in the movie 10. I might name the loom Bo. I'm still thinking about it.
Even though I've had my hands on all the parts, I still feel that we need more time together before I name it.

By the time I was done tying up the apron bars, dealing with the heddles and crawling on the floor looping those tie-ups through all those holes, my back ached, my shoulders were stiff and I was covered in dewy layer of perspiration. In my ignorance, I am choosing to believe that I won't have to do this again and that everything else involved in weaving will be easier. And not so sweaty.

I have classes the first week in July, so soon* (!?) I'll have something on the loom to share.


*I will not be defining 'soon'.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

He still has spunk

Dear Mom,
An interesting event occurred the other day.  Our leaking ice maker was being repaired- replaced, actually- and Patsy was safely isolated in her crate while Tony removed the iceberg from the freezer and installed the new part.
Bumper, sensing safety and feeling younger than his 12 years, decided to live on the edge for a few moments. He grabbed Patsy's rawhide bone, did a parade lap around the family room in full view of the crated one, trotted through the kitchen and into the diningsewingweaving room.
Pardon the blurry photo here, I had to move fast to snap this shot.
See? I still have it in me!
Bumper was feeling pretty proud of himself and the Young Man and I did some serious gushing over him. He dropped the bone and went back to napping as soon as I finished taking his picture. We figured Bumper probably hasn't had his lips around a rawhide chew since the fateful day that Patsy came to live here.

Happily, he suffered no repercussions when Patsy was freed.


Monday, June 20, 2011

It's HERE!!

Dear Mom,
My loom arrived this afternoon, one day earlier than the expected delivery date, but fortunately after I had made a place for it in the dining room. (To be accurate, it probably should be called something else, because more sewing, spinning and now hopefully, weaving, is done in there than actual dining.)
Getting the box off the truck, up the driveway and into the house required the help of the Young Man and a next door neighbor who thankfully drove up right when we needed her to come hold the front door open. The box was a tiny bit heavy, but it was the size that made things a bit topsy turvy as we negotiated the front steps.
Here it is with the box just opened. About now I am still excited, but beginning to wonder what I've done.
When I slid it out this far I started to get just a tiny bit scared.

But I persevered, carefully slid it into close proximity of its new home and started to read through the instruction booklet that came with it, checking off the parts list which was a bit of a joke when parts are listed that I don't even know what they are called or what they are for. Some of them I just went by the count- yep, 3 of those things, so those must be apron bars....and that thing is brass colored so it must be the brass reed hook, and so on. I am taking their word for it that there are 800 heddles.
After removing all the plastic wraps and reading through the booklet, I did manage to get the thing unfolded and attached a crank handle before getting overwhelmed and calling it quits before I break something. I'll take my classes and get the whole thing figured out. I almost feel like I'll be learning how to drive all over again.
Here is is all unfolded.
The loom won't be given a name until we get more intimately acquainted.
I am also reminding myself that there have been weavers for centuries and that I am up to the task.


Thursday, June 16, 2011


Dear Mom,
The past days here have been perfect. Warm, not hot, days. Cool evenings. Gentle breezes. Plenty of sunshine and just enough rain.
My perennials are beautiful this year and my photos do not do them justice. Plus, my camera is malfunctioning and this may be the last good pictures I can get. This really bums me out. Seems an impending vacation always jinxes my cameras. I've got an email into Nikon's support center and I am hoping for a magic fix.
Anyway- here are some of my pretty flowers.
When shopping for marigolds on Mother's Day, I found an Orange coneflower and did not hesitate to put it in my wagon.
My garden is a haphazard mix of easy care perennials, and mostly I let things grow where they want to. I love perennials that will re-seed themselves and spread out- naturalizing themselves in the garden. I could never plan out their locations as ideally as they end up when they've planted themselves. Whenever I can, I take the seeds from favorites and scatter them in new spots, hoping for the best.
The blue delphiniums are blooming for the first time - I think I planted them 2 years ago, but they were trampled over last summer when we had new siding put on the house and never got a chance to bloom. The hot pink flowers are unknown to me, I admired them in my neighbor's yard and she gave me several seed pods. These have a fuzzy sage green leaf and have managed to grow in the best spots. Also mixed in there is some pink/purple yarrow which is really taking over, and way in the back there you can see Stella Day Lilies- another gift from another neighbor when she was dividing up hers.

I realized yesterday that if June's socks were going to get done I'd better get started on them. I've had this sock yarn in my stash for a very long time. Maybe 10 years! These will be man-sized socks.

Hopefully my camera issues will be resolved and I'll be able to post pictures of finished socks and knitting and vegetable gardens soon.  Until then I'll either be forced to blog without adding photos or resort to old pictures to make it interesting.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

and another and another...

Dear Mom.
More t-shirts. Last summer it was bucket hats.
Now I'm decorating my t-shirts to coordinate with last summer's hats.
Don't worry. I'll run out of t-shirts or ideas soon.
I've also been motoring through a shawl. I keep waiting for the polish to wear off of my excitement over knitting this shawl, but it hasn't happened yet. The pattern is the Dragon Wing Shawl, which I picked up at Earth Guild 3 years ago when My Hero and I took a trip to Asheville for our 25th anniversary. The yarn is from Marr Haven, and I purchased it last summer on vacation. So it's like two vacations knitted together. I suppose I could take it on this year's vacation and really be wrapped up in happy memories when I wear this.
On the bobbin in that picture is 4 oz of yarn I've spun.  It is River's Edge Fiber Arts "Wild Screaming Monkeys" in the On Golden Pond colorway. This stuff is a dream to spin. I treated myself to another 4 oz when we were at Hoosier Hills so I'll spin that, ply them together and have some decent yardage to knit. Don't know what, but I'll figure that out later.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Two more t-shirts and a baby gift

Dear Mom,
I decorated two more t-shirts.
This one is a no sew project- I just used my button hole cutter to cut openings wide enough to thread the ribbon through. I marked the locations with straight pins first, making sure they were relatively evenly spaced and that I had the right number of openings so the ribbon would come out and meet together.

And this next one might be my favorite.
I cut 1-inch strips of fabric, sewed a loose basting line down the center to use for gathering up the fabric, and pinned the gathered strips in place, basically letting the fabric tell me where it wanted to go. This is one of those things I have to turn part of my brain off when I am doing it so I don't over think it. I then used a wide zig-zag stitch to stitch down the middle of the gathers around and around until the fabric was attached to the t-shirt. I purposely left the edges raw so they will be slightly frayed. I just might make more shirts like this one.
The only thing I am unsure of is whether I should carry the gathered fabric across the back of the neck. Right now all I've done is what you see here. Any opinions?

One of the nice women I spin with at Tabby Tree is expecting her first baby- a boy- at the end of the month. Since our monthly spin in last Sunday is the last time most of us will see her before her son is born, a baby shower was in order. I made one of my favorite Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns- the Tomten. I modified the design just a bit to add stitches on each side of the fronts to create a double breasted jacket, and used toggle buttons. This isn't the best photo, but I didn't get a better one before it was wrapped and given.

Despite the heat, wool is my fiber of choice. I have a beautimous lace shawl on my needles right now, and a smaller silk shawl/wrap thingy going too, but no pictures of either to show you. I'll do something about that and show some knitting in progress in the next day or two.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Supporting the Arts

Dear Mom,
Last Friday we set out for Franklin, Indiana- an easy hour's drive south- for the Hoosier Hills Fiberarts Festival, and I came home with more fiber to spin, some shawl pins, happy memories, and most importantly, Inspiration.
The fiber came from River's Edge and the shawl pins from Wool's End.
These shawl pins were priced such that it felt like stealing. I did my best to convince their creator to raise her prices. I've never seen anything like these and they were priced at a SINGLE DIGIT. Low single digit. I honestly would have expected these pins to cost 10 times as much and assured the gentle artist that she should at least put a 1 in front of that single digit.

I didn't take any photos of the lambs that stole my heart, but I took several of this sweet little baby, which I am most thankful was already sold- making it impossible for the Young Lady (or YOU) to bring her home.

Soft. Sweet. Picture perfect little angora bunny.
Those ears just make my heart melt.

Like I said, good thing it was already sold....


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

That first bag of wool

Dear Mom,
Remember that first bag of wool?

Well, a year and a half later it is now this:

Almost all spun- just a little bit of roving left to spin and approximately 1000 yards of yarn! WOW.
Not quite enough for a sweater. Definitely enough for a vest or a shawl.

Since receiving that first bag from my Brother-in-law, I've been given two more, have purchased countless pounds of roving from various sources, have another gifted bag of wool from MelissaWhoHooksRugs and some wool that I need to attend to that is destined for the Sheep To Shawl Contest at the State Fair. (Okay, yes. I am publicly acknowledging that I've been invited to be a Sheep to Shawl team member. Not sure what my team mates are thinking exactly, but I've been assured that I am up to the task. They most likely are desperate. More on Sheep to Shawl another day.)

Little did I know where that That First Bag of Wool would lead me.To be honest, when I took that "free" bag of wool I took it intending to send it off as dirty wool and have it come back to me as yarn. I was NOT going to become a spinner! Rather, it has been spinning classes, a spinning wheel, dye workshops, fiber fairs. A loom.   And even better- learning something new, being creative, spending happy hours and making new friends. Free bag of wool? Priceless.