Monday, November 26, 2012

More Weaving

Dear Mom,
Donna Reed and I had some time to spend together this past week and will ya look at what we finished?!

the small bits of sparkly stuff I blended into the batt before spinning looks like a touch of frost
This scarf used up some leftover Silky Wool and the yarn I spun from this experiment. I selected a weave pattern from my Handweaver's Pattern Directory, did some math, and ended up with a long, warm scarf. It just happens to go well with My Hero's winter coat, which he quickly pointed out, so I guess I know who will be using it. He's gonna have to wait for Christmas, though.
Okay, and because I can't leave without pointing out the flaws....yes, I need to perfect my selvage edges. I used a floating warp but didn't foresee how the weave pattern would look on the edges. Nor do I quite know how to correct that in the future. But I will learn!
And, as you can see from that middle photo, I will NOT be weaving this week, but will be raking leaves instead. (We are those people who wait till all the leaves have fallen before we rake them up.) While I rake (and call it exercise), taking in the fresh air and sunshine, I have no doubts that my mind will be wandering and planning my next projects.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks

Dear Mom,
The next few days will probably be too busy with pies baking, turkey roasting, and everyone home, so I am seizing what may be my last quiet moment to share a deliciously simple recipe.
This one came from our favorite, and now, very sadly, closed, gift and tea room, Helio's.
Helio's was the scene of countless birthday lunches, just because lunches, and the traditional day after Thanksgiving mother/sister lunch. It is the place my Young Lady called "The Tea Party Store". It was a place filled with the sound of happy female chatter and laughter. And many good memories.

Helio's was the place where, for us, everyone knew our names.

Here we are celebrating her 10th birthday!

The basic menu never changed - which is a good thing, because I walked in knowing what I would be eating- my chicken salad croissant lunch and hot, spiced tea was all part of my Helio's experience! But the desserts did vary, with special offerings during the holidays. This recipe is one of those holiday offerings, which they also graciously shared with their customers.

Pumpkin Spice Crunch
from Helio's Tea Room
Carmel, IN

1 (30 oz) can Pumpkin pie filling
1 (130z) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 box spice cake mix
2 sticks of butter, melted ( I used Smart Balance butter blend)

Combine the first 3 ingredients and spread into a greased 9X13 pan. 
Sprinkle dry cake mix over the top and drizzle this with the melted butter.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Knitting Class

Dear Mom,
This fall I've been teaching lots of knitting classes and have been blessed with full classes, adventurous knitters and new friends. My favorites are the sweater design classes.  I enjoy challenging and enabling the knitters in my classes. Their successes are particularly satisfying, and in the past two months I've witnessed some heartwarming triumphs.

My last scheduled class for 2012 finished up this morning. Over the past 5 weeks, the ladies in my class designed and knit fair isle sweaters. For some of these ladies, it was their first attempt at fair isle and one lady told me today that it was her first sweater! I took lots of photos of the finished (or nearly finished) projects today and want to share these lovely images with you. I am so proud of what these ladies accomplished!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Where I learn that Pretty Yarn is Reason Enough

Dear Mom,

I will back track to explain how I got here, but let me just start at the end, because it is the end result that makes this a worthy blog post...

Beautiful yarn, dyed by me, with natural dye stock produced by plants from your garden!

Now, back to the beginning.

It started back in January, with my purchase of the book The Dyer's Garden .  My decision to buy the book was sealed when I saw that Purple Loosestrife was included. You and I both have Purple Loosestrife growing in our gardens, carefully transplanted from house to house, the original parent plant having grown in Grandma's garden.
The instructions say to harvest the whole plant tops when the flowers begin to fade. I asked you to save your plant cuttings for me, and between us I think I have 3 garbage bags full of cuttings. I used one of those bags in my first batch of dye stock, which yielded about 2 1/2 gallons of rich, dark coffee brown dye broth. As soon as I have containers to hold it, I will brew up some more with the rest of my plants.

I didn't have a specific project in mind, just knew that there is plenty of roving to dye on hand when I am ready to use it. I'd been tossing different ideas back and forth in my brain, wondering whether to dye roving and then spin it, or spin and dye later....

And Then.

On Sunday, at spinning, MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit presented me with a cone of yarn, gifted to the two of us to share by MyWeavingBuddyCynthia. Cynthia told me in an email that the wool is from her very own North Country Cheviot sheep which she had commercially spun by Ohio Valley.
In other words, this is a very special cone of yarn.

I took the cone home, weighed it, and wound my half of it into a rather tight ball.

I then heated up enough of the Purple Loosestrife dye in one of my smaller dye crockpots to submerge the ball of yarn about 1/2 way. I did not pre-mordant the yarn, and the ball of yarn was dry. I wanted the dye to wick up into the wool, hopefully giving me a gradient effect.

The yarn simmered in the crockpot for an hour, then sat in the juice, cooling off and soaking until the next morning.

When I pulled it out, it looked like this:

 So far so good!

I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed until the rinse water was clear, then put the ball into a mesh lingerie bag, securing it very tightly at each end with rubber bands so the ball could not become unwound, and put it into my front loader to spin out the extra water. I then wound the ball into a skein to speed up the drying process (and to let me get a good look at how it turned out!). The result? A rich, warm, honey brown.

I was so pleased and proud of that yarn, you might think I had given birth to it. I took about as many photos of it as someone would a newborn baby.
And for document's sake, I took a close up of the dyed fibers next to the original undyed wool, just to show off the color and how nicely the wool fibers bloomed in the dye bath.

I have no plans for this yarn. Yet. For now I am happy to walk past it, admire it, fondle it, and smile at it. Which totally justifies MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit's reason for spinning and dyeing, but not knitting or weaving..... It just feels good to make pretty yarn!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Creative Pursuits

Dear Mom,
Wayyyy back in April, I purchased a Quilters Jelly Roll with the idea in mind to use it in a weaving project. I thought that having the coordinating fabrics already picked out would give me a head start for what I wanted to do.
The plan......placemats. But not just your normal sort of place mats. I wanted placemats that would extend across the width of the table, shared by the two people seated across from each other. I wanted them to have a rag rug look.
With good advice and patience from Linda at Tabby Tree Weaver, I chose 3 colors of rug warp to coordinate with my fabrics. I learned that using 3 warp colors ( the warp is the up and down threads in weaving) helps the warp to disappear into the background, where one warp color kinda stands out on its own.
I chose brick red, natural and olive green warp colors. 
I cut the jelly roll strips in half ( 1.25 inch width) and then realized that one jelly roll's worth of strips was not nearly enough for what I had planned. Off to the quilt store for supplemental fabrics. I learned that next time I will not bother with the jelly roll. It was just as easy to pick out fabrics, get a yard or whatever of each and cut that into strips.
I took my strips and folded them in half and pressed them so they would stay that way- no wrong sides showing when I wove them. I then put the strips in piles according to color family - reds, blues, greens and creams. I wanted the strips to be randomly woven into the placemats, but at the same time I wanted the colors somewhat evenly distributed. I then made smaller bundles of 20 strips per bundle, each bundle having a fairly equal number of strips from each color family. I did not worry about the prints on the fabrics being evenly dispersed.
So as I wove, I grabbed a bundle, randomly selected a strip from that bundle, wove it in, selected the next strip, etc.
I finished the weaving last night and the hemming today. The placemats are not perfect- one is longer than the other- but I am happy with the result.  They are just as I imagined them. Well, almost. I imagined them to be exactly the same length! But I learned a lot, and can think of several things I  might like to try doing next time......


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

When Two Blogs Collide

Dear Mom,
Knowing she is new to Hamilton County, Indiana, I invited Christine, of Front Porch Indiana to join the happy group of spinners on Sunday's monthly Spin-In at Tabby Tree Weaver. Christine blogs about it here, and her photo is much more flattering (in other words, my double chin is less doubled than any photos I have)- so go look there before and after you look at this next picture because I am swallowing what little pride I have left in order to post it.....

I may never wear a turtle neck sweater again.
 And Such is my Horror that I actually EXERCISED today.

As testament to the power of blogging, meeting Christine for the first time was like seeing a friend you just haven't seen in awhile and picking right up where you left off. She is every bit as nice and funny in real life as she is in blog life, and even more so.

Hopefully, it was the first of many more happy get togethers.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Friendly Reminder

Dear Mom,
Tomorrow is the big day!
Hopefully you will have a great turn out at what may be the First Annual Craft Bazaar.
Anyone interested in getting a jump start on holiday gifts will find a nice variety of hand crafted items.
The bazaar is off Allisonville Road, in Fishers, across from Conner Prairie. Just follow the signs!