Monday, January 26, 2004

square loom

I finished and popped off the first square of my new 12" loom. I have decided that I prefer the tri-loom over the square. The square does have some advantages, however, I enjoy working with the tri more than the square.
I let one of my friends borrow my small tri, and I think she is hooked! I tried to warn her that it could be addictive...she wound up finishing her first shawl in record time (footnote=she did not make dinner for the family that night!) What a bad influence I am!
Made four sets of the size 13 inch double point needles for a group that I meet with. They asked me to show them how to knit with multiple needles and make the holiday mitten pattern from Stasias page. When I told them the difficulty I had finding the dpns they agreed to pay me to make them a set. I got a blister on my thumb from the pencil sharpener! Next time I will send them with hubby to work, and use the electric shapener on them. I also used a grinder to sand them down initially. This was a great time saver.
Despite the fact that I have had a great deal of help trying to figure out the brioche stitch, it still evades me. I wish I knew what I was doing wrong. Somewhere, I am having trouble following directions.
I have been spinning angora the past few days. I started with some hand harvested, and switched over to some shorn when I ran out of the hand harvested. There is such a difference! The shorn is not nearly as easy to spin as hand plucked. I know this from past experience, but it is always a surprise to me just how much harder one is from the other. I wound up blending the shorn with some finn wool- just enough to make it easier. Approx a 25% blend. I did not pay close attention to weighing it out, as I intend to use this for myself. I am almost finished with the basket and hope to get to the rest of it later today.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

november shawl

The November shawl is ready to come off the loom. So I promised myself that I would take it off and full it before I start that square loom project. It is part of my FO (finished object) resoultion I made earlier this year. (OK, I admit that I started the square loom a LITTLE just to make sure I know how to do it.
The sun is shining and the temps are in the upper twenties today. Blue skies and a heat wave! My chickens are loving it! They went for a long walk over to the wood piles and the old truck. I saw them take a dust bath and roost in the sun. As far as they are concerned, all is right with the world today!
Hope this link works for the picture of the November Shawl. You have to copy + paste.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

riding the thermals

We had a bit of warm air today, and the eagles were loving it. I watched them ride the thermal updrafts until they were out of sight. A beautiful spiral of flight! They have been hanging around here because the river is mostly open water and makes for good fishing. They sure are beautiful.
I am still working on that Brioche stitch, but I have come to admit that I'm the one that is stupid (not the stitch)! Many thanks to CW over at yarnspinners tales for patience and instructions. I will keep trying.
Spent a little bit of time pounding nails into my new 12 square loom that Mark made for me this past weekend. I will be anxious to see how it works. Snow in the forecast tonight, so tomorrow might be the day to try it out.

Monday, January 19, 2004


I have been struggling with this stupid brioche stitch that I simply cannot understand how to do. I have the pattern for the Brioche Gaiter in Camelhair from interweave knits fall magazine. I have attempted it several times over and it keeps ending in nothing but frustration! How the heck do you yarn over the first stitch on the needle anyhow?? If anyone out there can come to my rescue-please tag me! I need help! I have some nice handspun angora in grey, that I would love to make into this gaiter....but it is not going to happen unless I get some help....sending out an s.o.s.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

my basket of goodies

color theory in winter

This latest snowfall combined with sub zero temps, has given me new awareness to the world of color around me. This snow is very powdery and frosty. You can see the 6 sides of the snowflakes, and the sunlight (when it shows itself) makes thousands of little prism's over the surface of the snow. In the sunlight the snow is a blinding yellow white, but once the sun went behind a cloud, the snow turned a light blue white color. Although the landscape is basically white, gray and green, it inspires me to want to work with rich, vibrant and warm colors!
So, while I was outside shoveling (whining to myself about how I would rather be indoors and spinning), I started to think about what kind of yarn I would like to make. Naturally, I considered what wool I had cleaned and dyed and was waiting in the wings to be spun. I had the wool from the butternut dye-bath, and the goldenrod and the marigolds, and the hopi sunflower...but the colors were not doing it for me. Why had these colors seemed so pleasing and subtle during the month of October, and now, they seemed drab and washed out. Did the color fade? OR WAS IT ALL ABOUT LIGHT?? All these thoughts about color and light refractions etc. start to dominate my thoughts.
When I went inside I perused my bookshelves looking for my old copy of A.H. Munsell's "A Color Notation", hoping to find my answer. I am aware that I could be asking for trouble, this could lead me down the path of frustration and "over analysis". Attempts in the past to "understand color" have not always been satisfactory. Here are a few tidbits from Munsell that I have been chewing on.
On color balance or visual comfort:
"Color balance soon leads to a study of optics in one direction, to aesthetics in another, and to mathematical proportions in a third, and any attempt at an easy solution of its problems is not likely to succeed."
On color Physiology:
"Back of the eye lies that function which discriminates various color sensations and proceeds to act upon them. This color judgment is swayed by several factors and is liable to deception...such as freshness or fatigue of the nervous system which may cause delusions, known as retinal fatigue."
On Color Arrangement:
"A colorist is keenly alive to feelings of satisfaction or annoyance, and consciously or unconsciously he rejects certain combinations of colors and accepts others. This effort to establish pleasing proportions may be unconscious in one temperament, while it becomes a matter of definite analysis in another."
So color remains a mystery, but it fascinates me. I might even spin up some plain white finn wool and break open a bottle of the RIT DYE!!!

Friday, January 09, 2004

pour it on Gran!

That is what you will hear everyone around here yelling to the person who is tending the stove. When my husband was a young man in his teens, whenever he had time away from school, he used to stay with a family and work on their farm. He once told me that the Grandmother used to stoke the coal stove early in the morning and late at night (when the boys were upstairs in bed). They used to yell out at her "Pour it on Gran!", whenever it was extremely cold. This was to encourage her to add MORE than the usual shovel or two of coal, and pour the bucket! So, that story stayed with us and usually surfaces when the tempatures drop. And drop they have! This morning it was 3 degrees on the "how low did it go" thermometer, and a reading of 7 degrees at the bus stop.

If I did not have to go to town after feed for the rabbits, I would have stayed close to the stove today. And if I stayed close to the stove, I would have missed the beautiful scenery along the river on the way to town. I counted seven bald eagles and 1 pheasant. The sky was a bright blue and all the waterfalls have frozen solid to the rocks along the cliffs. The river is starting to freeze over in the calm spots, and the ski areas are busy shooting show all over the slopes. Tonight we are expected to dip below zero...good thing I put the flannels on the beds!

Finally finished plying the dark shetland with the oatmeal color. This was a good exercise for me, because the contrast shows just how consistent the plying is. I used a method in Amos' book, combined with a method from Patty Z. I plied slower than usual, but it was worth it to take my time and do it right. The finished yarn reminds me of pine cones. It is a brown and oatmeal barber pole kind of twist, that when taken off the niddy noddy and turned into a skein resembles pine cones for some reason. I got 186 yards with a wpi of approx 12. I am happy with it and have decided that I will make more of the same.

As for those size 13 dpns ...I finished them. Price of dowels=35cents, time invested to sand them down and stain and wax=45 minutes. Knowing I saved myself almost $20.00=priceless! Lesson learned, if you need some wooden needles, make them yourself! When they were finished, I dug out the mitten pattern that started the whole project in the first place, and tried it out. It was definitely worth it. They were soooo much fun to make and went sooo fast. I found the pattern on Stasias Place of Grace. I will be making more of these, you can make a pair in hour or two! I used some Alpaca that I had spun last year around this time. I had spun it loose and lopi and had never used it for anything because it was rather heavy for anything large. IT was perfect for the mittens. They are very soft and cushy....and warm!

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

happy distaff day!

My friend Judy sent me this little fyi in an email today: DISTAFF DAY (JANUARY 7) The day after Epiphany was traditionally the one on which women went back to work after the 12-day Christmas celebration. A distaff is the wooden rod (staff) that holds the flax or wool on a spinning wheel. The word distaff came to refer to both women's work and the female branch (distaff side) of the family. The women's husbands did not go back to work until the following Monday, so they would mischievously try to set fire to the flax on their wives' distaffs, while the women, lying in wait, would douse them with buckets of water. The English poet Robert Herrick wrote:

If the maids a-spinning goe
Burn their flax and fire their tow.
Bring the pails of water then
Let the maids bewash the men.

So I guess this gives me a good excuse to do some spinning today! It is quite cold this morning. A reading of 9 degrees when I went out to feed the rabbits and chickens at 7:30am. I am so glad that I checked in the garden day before yesterday. The rain had finally melted all the snow off of everything, so I decided to take a walk around and check things out. I wandered over to the bed where the carrots and beets had been growing. I last picked the carrots just before Thanksgiving. I left a few in the ground for the rabbits (they were small and schmeily), but they must have been happy under all of the snow! I wound up harvesting a good gallon of purple and orange nantes. Some of the nantes were as big around as a door nob! They will be good in the stew!
I am looking forward to watching the PA Farm Shownext week. The Sheep to Shawl Contest is on Wed. The pa cable network will televise it again this year. I just heard from my friend that Greta Dise of Yorktown spinners and Persimmon Tree Farm, will be in the contest again this year. They have been the first place winners for the past few years! They do beautiful work...and I hope they win again.
Bundle up in your hats, mittens, and scarves and throw another log on the home fires!

Saturday, January 03, 2004

there is a porcupine in the hemlock

and he is doing damage nightly! It did not bother me too much before Christmas, as the daily chore of picking up hemlock branches and putting them in the barrel was a rather festive procedure...but now it is getting old. I have half a mind to sneak out there after o'dark hundred and shine the flashlight on old Erethizontidae, except I might shake him up and have him fall out of the tree (leaving more quills stuck in the ground to add to my collection). I suppose that I should be glad that he is not chewing on the porch door as he has done in years past.
I finished the November Triloom except for the fringe. I am happy with the finished product. I plan to start a new weaving as soon as I take this one off the loom. I am going to start a tartan plaid, so I will be researching the design. I think I will use the Graham Tartan if possible.
I have also finished the shetland hat and was not happy with the finished size. I had Mark bring home some dowels from work, so I will make some bigger needles to use. I had tried to purchase some size 13 dbl points at the Walmart, but they do not stock anything larger than a size ....if you want something around here, you best make it yourself. That is what I get for moving to the boonies.
I purchased my bunny yesterday. I have decided to call him Jack. He is black Jack rabbit seemed a fitting name. I cannot wait to go and get him. The weather has been extremely mild, but they say that the bitter cold is on the way. The river was high and misty all day, but it smelled like spring just the same. I think the January thaw has come early...happy new year!
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