Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Boring Post about Kitchen Towels

Dear Mom,
I finished weaving the kitchen towels.
If I fold them just so, and you don't look too closely, you might be fooled into thinking they are perfect.

They are not.

They are riddled with errors, which seem to only show up on the underside of the weaving, so I didn't notice them until the towels came off the loom. Before I start my next project (more towels) I am going to have to figure out what I am doing wrong. I know enough to figure out that this is not a treadling error- the mistake is not carried all the way across that "row". I think that somehow I am going under threads I should be going over and I need to figure out how/what I am doing to make this happen so I can figure out how NOT to make it happen. Gotta fall down a few times when you are learning to walk.

However, they are just kitchen towels, they will be quite functional whether they are error free or not, and I've been weaving for less than a month and should cut myself some slack. I guess these are the weaving version of all those wonky, pitiful, one-skein scarves I knit when I was 11. I just hope I end up with fewer wonky dishtowels in my kitchen than the closet held scarves back in the early 70's!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The story of FrankenThumb

Dear Mom,
It was the Classic "Mother presents to the ER with hand wrapped in a kitchen towel'. One has to wonder what the statistics are on that.
In a cleaning frenzy Tuesday evening, I forgot about the lid from a can that was tucked into the stuff in my hand that I was throwing away. Noticing that the trash can was getting full, I used the stuff in my hand to compact the trash in the can.... and forced the lid well into the meat of my thumb. What I'd done registered before I felt anything more than pressure. And boy was I mad at myself.
Thankfully, I have a high pain threshold, and no nerves of tendons were damaged. My thumb would be feeling a whole lot better right now if I could stop whacking it into things.The stitches come out next Thursday.

In the meantime, I have discovered that I am able to dress up Donna Reed without hurting my thumb, and last night I was able to gingerly and cautiously knit, being careful to use the side of my thumb when I needed it. It is also about the size of Fred Flintstones thumb with all the gauze and tape I have protecting it, but where there's a WILL there's a WAY and you can't keep a determined knitter away from her needles.

Before FrankenThumb, I wove another scarf with leftover bits of sock yarn as my warp and yellow cotton as the weft that was leftover from the placemats and table runner I made in class. My selvage edges are improving, but this scarf  isn't without its mistakes either. I've decided to stop playing around, and what you see on the loom up there is the beginnings of some dish towels. I'm following pattern instructions on this one. (In weaving, patterns are called "drafts".)

I'll let you know how the towels turn out. The cotton I am using is much finer, and I have over 400 warp threads to thread through the loom, so this is taking awhile. Exciting though!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is not part of the plan....


Dear Mom,

Seven Stitches.

This is definitely gonna slow down the knitting, spinning and weaving I had planned.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Off the LOOM!

Dear Mom,
It's not the first project off my loom, but the first project that is worthy of sharing on the blog. The placemats I made at home to reinforce what I learned in class aren't bad- we'll use them- but there are places where I made treadling mistakes and my edges...well, my edges can only improve.
Almost as soon as those placemats were finished I was planning the next project. A simple scarf. Very simple. One that would allow me to concentrate on improving those edges. I dug through my stash and found some sock yarn from a long ago sock-of-the-month club and some coordinating bits of leftover sock yarn. I did the math, warped Donna Reed and a-weaving I went.

My edges are better. Not perfect, but much improved. And let me just say this about weaving: It. is. FAST.
I started warping the loom on Saturday afternoon and finished the scarf on Sunday afternoon. And I didn't sit there weaving for 24 hours straight. I did other stuff, too.
Also, I figured out ANOTHER good thing about weaving: You have to finish the thing on your loom before you can start another. Unlike Knitting. And you don't have to look far or hard around here to find knitting projects that have been cast on at a whim.
Also, just the idea of putting all my leftover bits of yarn to use in weaving projects is maybe the best thing of all. Just thinking about it makes me want to stop writing this and go dig through my yarn and start a new weaving project.
It hasn't been all weaving around here. I've done a bit of spinning- no pictures to show- and July's socks are finished.

Here is a close up of the stitch detail I knit in to break up the stripe pattern.

Before it gets too much hotter I need to get out to the garden a pick beans and blackberries. For all I know, they may be cooked already!

Keep Cool.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bonnie Jo!

Dear Bonnie,

I hope...
    someone gives you a calico kitten
    you do whatever YOU want to do today and nothing you HAVE to do
    that you can take time to sip something cold and slushy on your back porch
    that your bees give you lots of honey
    that your chickens lay an extra egg or two today
    that we have many many more years to share.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Birds and The Bees

Dear Mom,
As you know, upon Bonnie Jo's request I reported bright and early Saturday morning to your backyard, camera at the ready. Bonnie Jo would be inspecting the beehive she recently set up there and wanted me to document the event for the blog. It is hard to take pictures when you are dressed like this:
Things seemed rather serious when I arrived because there was crouching down and leaning in involved.

As I understand it (and Bonnie Jo may have to jump in and correct any errors), the main purpose of the Hive Inspection was to search for Queen Amelia. When a Princess Bee comes to live in her new castle, it seems the first thing she does is fly away to go visit some bachelor bees before she can come home and be Queen. Sometimes the Princess Bees never come home. Maybe because they can't find their way back, or maybe they just really like the bachelor bees. Considering that this Princess Bee was named after the famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart, there was some concern that she may have lost her way somewhere over the reservoir never to return.
Thankfully, unlike the other Amelia, this Amelia's flight had a happy ending.
Bonnie Jo was pleased and proud to find Queen Amelia in the hive and laying little bee eggs like all Good Queen Bees are supposed to do.
In her official capacity as family beekeeper, Bonnie Jo declared that Amelia "IS A BEAUT!"

Where's Amelia?

All those jigsaw puzzles we did with Daddy when we were little must have been practice for finding bees later on. And if I remember correctly, Bonnie Jo was a gifted jigsaw puzzle piece finder.
Anyway, now that I know where Amelia is in that photo, I can find her, too. Let me give you a close up.

Queen Amelia

Before leaving, we took a peak at your nest of Barn Swallows.
It looks like these guys are running out of room and will be making flights of their own soon.

Especially this guy.
And let me just add here that the way "the Birds and the Bees" was explained to me all those years ago included NOTHING about spending time alone with a bunch of bachelor bees.....


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Dear Mom,
Yesterday's harvest-
a beautiful cabbage, some blackberries and green purple beans.
We ate the green beans for dinner last night and we're having coleslaw tonight. I've been snacking on the berries and will eat them with peaches and yogurt for breakfast. And the even better thing is- there are lots more of all of those things growing and ripening!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Green Beans Aren't Green

Dear Mom,
They're purple.

I've never seen purple green beans before. I can't even tell you what "kind" of beans I planted. The package that contained the seeds was probably especially organic and biodegradable because it fell apart practically before I could get the seeds in the ground. All I can tell you is I purchased them at a local nursery and I was taken in by the charming art on the package and the fact that the seeds were supposed to be heirloom/organic/tailored for midwest gardens.
The plants and beans -despite the pretty purple color- are thriving and healthy.
My Concern, however, is that GREEN beans are one of the few vegetables I can count on the Young Lady (our picky eater) to eat. We never have leftover green beans. But Purple beans?

I gave serious thought to pulling up all the purple bean plants and starting over. Before doing so, I cooked a handful of purple beans as a taste test, in hopes that I could somehow convince the Young Lady that the purple beans were as good or better than green beans.... if you close your eyes.

All my worry was for nothing, as magic happened in the pot of simmering water.
The purple beans turned GREEN! And they were delicious.

I should go out there and harvest some this morning before it gets hotter. Steamy hot doesn't begin to describe how it is out there. In fact, that purple bean picture up there was not taken with some fancy movie star wrinkle-erasing lens filter on my camera. I had trouble taking pictures before the lens fogged over!

My corn is as high as an elephant's eye and I see little ears of corn growing. We'll be having fresh corn on the cob soon.


Monday, July 11, 2011


Dear Mom,
I'd like you to meet Donna.
After spending two full days in weaving class and then coming home to repeat what I'd learned - or at least what I could remember!- on my loom, I knew her name had to be Donna. As in Reed. Because there is a part on the loom that the warp threads go through on the beater called a reed. And Donna is a good wholesome American name for my American made loom. And it makes me smile to know her name. We are already good friends.
In fact, I was beginning to be a little bit alarmed. I hadn't picked up knitting needles for almost a week and the last time that happened was because I'd had carpal tunnel surgery and had no choice. I've been spending all my knitting time either spinning or weaving. So last night I forced myself away from Donna and cast on for July's sock.
In weaving class we made a table runner to practice different types of weave- plain weave (good ole under/over), a twill and a basket weave. I am making coordinating placemats at home to practice and try out different patterns. This is the part that is addicting. I want to see how different things can look, and it is simply a matter of changing how I treadle my loom.
My head is also spinning with possibilities for scarves using sock yarn. And yes. I DO remember saying that I was "only going to weave placemats and dish towels". I have a way to go to get my edges neat, but that is one of the things I am hoping to accomplish on these placemats and I know I'll get there.

As you can imagine, being away weaving for that amount of time on the heels of vacation, and having left 2 dogs and 2 teens at home, things are pretty sketchy around here. My challenge for the next few days is to ignore the Call of the Fiber and tend to the house, shop for groceries, prepare healthy meals and try to get caught up on laundry.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about my garden.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Catching Up

Dear Mom,
After a week's vacation where we've touched our toes in the Atlantic and our fingers on a moon rock, sipped Butterbeers in Hogsmeade and mojitos on the beach, sent boys off shark fishing and girls 800 feet into the air on a parasail only to return home to house guests and the annual Cul-de-sac 4th of July celebration, I am slowly catching up and happy to home.
Despite having been  home since very late Saturday night- verging on the wee hours of Sunday morning- I didn't feel like I was truly able to relax and really Be Home until I brought Patsy home from the kennel yesterday. Now the family is all under one roof again and All is Well. (Bumper may feel differently. I think he enjoyed being Only Dog for two days.)
We planned our Florida vacation and the trip to Cocoa Beach in the hopes of seeing the last shuttle launch. As these things go, as soon as the condo was reserved and flight plans in the works the mission was delayed. And I heard this morning there is a good chance that rain will cause another delay and Atlantis may not launch on Friday. We may not be able to cross "Watch a Shuttle Launch" off our Bucket List, but we did tour Kennedy Space Center and got a peek at Atlantis on the launch pad.

Our trip was a very good one; the first family vacation we've taken where our kids brought friends with them, and despite being outnumbered by teens, all went very well and everyone had a buddy.
The buddy strategy allowed My Hero and I time to relax and read. And knit.
I finished June's socks.

And I knit this shawl with my very own handspun.

This is the result of that first bag of dirty wool I brought home. The Bag o'Wool that turned me into a spinner.

I've seen many of these To Eyre shawls on ravelry and Dianne made a beautiful one that you can see here. I wish mine were just a bit bigger. I prefer a shawl that I can really wrap up in, but this one will probably be just right for warming the back of my neck and shoulders while staying put and out of the way. The pattern instructions include directions for modifying length and width, and this was a soothing, quick project, so I may have to give it another go.

And before we left I finished this wrap.

I purchased this pattern and yarn on vacation last summer, so I guess it sort of fits to post it with stuff from this year's vacation. The pattern is Braided Glory, the yarn is Louisa Harding- a silk- I don't remember the name of the yarn and right now I am too lazy to get up and go looking for the ball band. The yarn was nice to work with but I think it may be too drape-y for this pattern. Also, I didn't do all the finishing on my wrap as the pattern suggests. I was ready to be Done With It and omitted some small edging details that didn't impress me. IF I ever make this again I will be making several modifications that, in my opinion, would neaten things up. However, with so many other things I want to make, I really don't see myself making another one of these.

I have weaving classes scheduled for the end of the week. The plan is to work on a loom in class and then come home and repeat the lesson on my loom at home to solidify what I've learned. I think we do placemats or table runners in class. So, whichever I do in class, I'll do the other at home. (I may appear calm, but my Insides are doing that happy dance kids do on Christmas Eve!)


Saturday, July 2, 2011

I Don't Even Know Where To Begin . . .

Dear Mom,
As a reminder to everyone reading, I have 3 children.  My oldest, The Teenager, is a 14 year old boy who thinks he could--and should be (!)--running the country.  My middle child, The Diva, is 11 and likes to think of herself as the next American Idol (think:  lots of singing to Disney music into a wooden sock darning-thing-turned -microphone!  My saving grace is that there is no Justin Bieber in the house.  Yet.)   My youngest, The Pipsqueak, is a nature-loving 8 year old girl who would rather sleep in a tree house than in our house.  They are all happy and healthy.  And --- in a term coined by other parents who are trying to be nice about my "active" children --- all three of mine are "spirited".

For seven years now, the kids have been on a summer swim team.  Every day during the summer, we all wake up at 7:15 to make an 8:00 swim practice.  They swim until 10:30.  For 6 years now, I have been asking, "Are you sure you really want to swim this year?!"  They beg to swim.  We have made friends with so many neat people; one of them being a family like ours.  The parents are our age and they have 4 (!!!) children, the oldest being a few years older than The Teenager and all of their other kids are my kids' ages.  Due to a very sad circumstance, I have been a part-time mom to these 4 children this summer.  (My friend was in a very serious car accident and was in ICU for about a week.  She broke a lot of bones, tore some internal organs . . . . she is FINE and she is home now but there will be about 8 weeks of rehabilitation and therapy.  She is in a wheelchair, sleeps in a hospital bed in her family room . . . . )  I have been taking her children to my house several days each week so that they can make it to swim practice and swim meets without too much disruption and worry.

When I haven't had children, I have been working.  Starbucks.  And I had a very large photo shoot--the annual swim team photo shoot--team and 190 individual swimmer photos to edit and process.

Yes, I think I am crazy.  The younger girls have washed the dog (several times.  Poor Keeper!), painted rocks, baked cookies, made glitter globes, did face paint and dress-up, rode bikes, picked vegetables and planted flowers with me --- sometimes in just 1 day :-)  The boys have played Risk for several days in a row, made bonfires and roasted marshmallows, mowed the grass (yes, even the boys that aren't mine!), and have played some occasional video games --- sometimes in just 1 day :-)

Anyway . . . . . . . all of that to say this:  we finally had a day yesterday where I didn't have to work and I didn't have anyone else's children.  We did nothing.  At one point I asked The Teenager when he last showered.  This was our conversation:
Me:  "When was the last time you showered?"
Teenager:  "I don't know, Mom.  I swim every day."
Me:  "That doesn't count.  And that's gross.  . . . . Really, when was the last time?"
Teenager:  "Really.  I don't know."
Me:  "Go.  Now."

And because that left me speechless, my little Pipsqueak decided to pipe up:
Pipsqueak:  "Um. . . . . . should I tell you that I lost my toothbrush?"
Me:  "Yes!  When did you lose it?  How have you been brushing your teeth?"
Pipsqueak:  "With my finger!"
Me:  "When. Did. You. Lose. Your. Toothbrush?"
Pipsqueak: "I don't know.  More than a week ago."  (Said in a tone that was meant to reassure me that since it has been more than a week and she has been using her finger to brush her teeth and she's just fine, I shouldn't fret over a lost toothbrush!)
Me:  Opens linen closet, pulls out new toothbrush.  Hands it to Pipsqueak. "Go.  Now."

I looked at The Diva.
Diva:  "Going.  Now."

Ahhhhhhhh, happy carefree summer :-)  I wouldn't want it any other way!!!  :-)