Wednesday, January 30, 2008

phenological events January 2008

1st snow storm

3rd ring-billed gulls appear on the river

17th observed turkeys strutting near river

23rd hawk arrives

procrastination makes my day


About a week ago, Joanne kindly listed the riverrim as a blog that makes her day! I was humbled! And I was also obliged to pass it on to 10 other bloggers, according to the instructions:

"Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."

Oh my..I'll think about it, I thought. There are so many wonderful blogs out there.

Then, a few days later, I got a comment from Pat...she too had added me to a list that she compiled...I so appreciate that she thought of me...

OH my...I had better make my list, I thought...but first, let me check out a few of these links that Pat listed...

Before I could copy down all the blogs that I wanted to list and link to...I notice that Sue has the riverrim on her list....

Yikes, I think...I had better get busy on this, I had intended to link to her blog on my list, and she has beat me to it! Then blogger gave me trouble, and I gave up trying to post that day....

When I got a comment from Carrie that I had made her day, I started to think that perhaps I am guilty of procrastination...but I seem to be getting awards for it!

So without further delay......I will list a few of the blogs that make me feel happy about blogland..these are only just a few..there are so for whatever subject, mood or topic imaginable....I've lived in blogland since 2003. I've watched and read how it has grown~ it is a virtual kingdom now..... My list...

1. stasia one of the first blogs I ever discovered was her place of grace..she now lives here...and I have never once left a comment!

2. hazelroselooms..I always enjoy checking in and seeing what hazel is working on

3. renee weaves another interesting fiber artist...

4. mustardplaster always unique

5. maggies farm cause I like to see sheep

6. rivergeek cause I like to keep an eye on the watershed

7. moonmoss another wheel collector friend

8. lisa another gardener friend

9. sharon cause I like to see what is happening in the summer when it's winter here....

10. kath who is always up to something productive

11. riverknitter because any blog with the word river in it is ok by me...

Ok...time to stop...enjoy your visits!

Friday, January 25, 2008

great wheel plying continued


I'm finished, all that remains are the empty quills.

For the most part, the lazy kate I made for the Great Wheel is functional..but it is not without it's quirks. It needs tweaking. I ran into problems with removing and replacing the cops. It was humorous to me that my husband noticed this before I even started plying, and warned me that I should make adjustments to the kate, least I run into troubles. He is not a spinner, but I suspect that he watches me and observes what I am up to when I'm not looking. The kate will have to be modified before it works properly.


It was not just the lazy kate that gave me trouble, sometimes it was the original construction of the cops. Several of them would snarl on themselves as I would unwind. I expect that with more practice, I will perfect my cop construction. Now that I know the size and shape that is desirable for plying, I will know what to shoot for when I am spinning. Being self taught has many disadvantages and time is lost on trial and error activities, but there are always lessons learned.


Once I filled the spindle with the plyed yarn, I released the tension on the drive band from the wheel, and wound off directly to the nod. I then washed the skeins and blocked them to dry.


Stats... Romney wool roving from Two Wool Crazy Ladies, one pound purchased at Endless Mountains Fiber Festival September 2007 ($28.00)

approx 1250 yards per pound of a soft woolen spun yarn with a wpi of 12 to 14

It is impossible to figure an accurate plying is very inconsistent at this point in time (as is the overall yarn!)


Not sure where this yarn is going from here...I think it needs to marinate in my wool basket for a spell....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

walk with me wednesday hawk


Yesterday, a hawk came to visit. The blue jays announced his arrival. He was not hunting. He perched in the bushes.

I could not identify him/her. Sharp-shinned, or Cooper?...can you tell?


I took only two photographs...choosing instead to watch and listen. It is not every day that a hawk flies into my life, and I need to pay attention.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

finishing up


I've been plying, skeining and finishing the last of the bobbins from the pound of Romney that I spun on the Great Wheel.

I decided to block the yarn while drying. I use a pair of antique wire sock forms for this method....although there are a number of things you can use that will do the trick. Whenever I hang my skeins, I always remember what Katy Turner suggested....

A convenient blocking method from Katy Turner: "The skeins are suspended between two dowels or sticks. The upper dowel is hung from a clothesline, chairbacks or shower rod, and the lower one is weighted with plastic bottles containing water or jogging shoes. Not your own, somebody else's, because they get wet."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

wwmw as slow as molasses in january


I'm slow this week. I'm only just getting around to taking my Wed walk on a Thursday. But everything slows down in January...even the molasses. Is that because most of it is gone from the holiday cooking...leaving only the dregs in the bottom of the bottle to slowly make their way to the spout? Or is it due to the cold?...the cold is returning you know...


you can feel it on your fingers, and your face, it sets your cheeks to stinging. it can make a body shiver..... toes tingle.


The interval is over. I can see the cloud of my own breath again. It is January, and things are slow. Even as I walk, my pace is slow and deliberate. A slow deliberate walk through the rest of winter. I don't mind it. In fact, I'm pretty OK with it. The tide has turned, even though it does not feel like it today. We are gaining light daily. And that is good enough for me. It has to's going to get cold again.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

take 2, they're small

This past weekend, we had some old friends come to stay for a few days. It was great to see them and get caught up on what has been happening in their lives. They have 2 large dogs that they brought with them, and we enjoyed their company as well.

But, chickens and dogs don't mix and our chickens were not allowed to free range for a few days. They were all confined to the run and the henhouse. When I went to check on things late Sunday afternoon, I found that the Banty hen had started to lay! There were four nice green eggs! I always wondered if her eggs would be green or blue. Sometimes, you can tell from the color of the earlobes...see?


Banty hens are smaller than a standard size chicken. In the photo below, the larger chicken is a standard Cochin rooster, the two smaller chickens standing next to him are the banty rooster and banty hen. They are Aracuna's. Both breeds have feathered legs.


The banty's arrived here this summer, they were a gift from happyacres. I wasn't sure if they would get along with the bigger chickens....I was afraid they would be bullied. But everyone seems to have established a pecking order, and they are doing fine. In fact, I am enjoying the smaller size. They take up less space...make smaller less...but most of all I love the small size eggs! Two of them are equal to about 1 regular egg. Visually, one egg is about the size of a teaspoon.


I wanted to taste them. Very fresh eggs are good if you would like to have coddled eggs. I don't make them very often, but now and then, on a frosty morning, a coddled egg with toast and black coffee is comfort food. Coddled eggs are tricky to make. You have to make them "just right".


"Eggs are very much like small boys. If you overheat them or over beat them, they will turn on you and no amount of future love will right the wrong." Irena Chalmers.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ice Queen Version A


So it seems that my snowman was able to execute his duties to such perfection that it lead to his own demise....never fails.

And, as I suspected, with the January thaw, I was able to finish a knitting project. I give you Version A of the Ice Queen.


Try not to notice the placement of the beads...I was using artistic license and not following instructions to the letter..


.... (actually, I wasn't working in good light, and failed to notice that the pattern has 2 different colors for bead placement...and the small print instructs you as to which row to place which bead) matter....


I will pay closer attention while knitting version B. I have started working with Judy's Alpaca/ Silk yarn...and it is lovely.


Like water flowing through my hands. The beads are foil lined, and provide a nice contrast with the dark blue yarn. Version B includes many more beads than Version A. The beaded picot cast on took me the better portion of the evening, but once that was finished, the pattern takes off and speed picks if the weather will hold....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Great Wheel Plying

"The art of spinning was an honorable occupation for women as early as the ninth century; and it was so universal that it furnished a legal title by which an unmarried woman is known to this day. Spinster is the only one of all her various womanly titles that survives; webster, shepster, litster, brewster, and baxter are obsolete. The occupations are also obsolete save those indicated by shepster and baxter—that is, the cutting out of cloth and baking of bread; these are the only duties among them all that she still performs." written by Alice Morse Earle in the year MDCCCXCVIII

Yesterday was Rock Day...or Saint Distaff's Day, if you please.


I did return to my wheel. I finally made myself a Lazy Kate to hold the bobbins from the Great Wheel. I really needed something that would hold them, not only for storage, but for plying.

Up until now, I have been plying my Great Wheel spun yarns on the Ashford Traditional wheel. It took me a little time to find out how to do it correctly on the Great Wheel. For those non spinners reading along, a spinner should ply two single spun yarns together in the opposite direction from the way they were created. Spinners refer to the direction as Z-twist (or clockwise) and S-twist, (counterclockwise). It didn't seem right that I should spin my Great Wheel in the opposite direction to ply, although I have. This time around, I made an adjustment to the drive band, and now I can spin the wheel clockwise, whist the twist, and the spindle are going counterclockwise!

Great Wheel spinning and plying makes for a very woolen yarn....


I measured out a bobbin that was equivalent to 30 minutes of spinning. It measured 81 yards. I was pretty happy about that because most of my bobbins are about that size. It seems that if I make them any bigger, the tip of the cop is always ready to fall off or tangle. The reason that I am happy about this length is that it will be easy for me to produce these results again, and incidentally, 80 yards just happens to be equal to one lea. A lea is a "traditional unit of length for yarn, varying with the weight of the fibers in the yarn. Typically a lea of wool is 80 yards (73 meters); a lea of cotton or silk 120 yards (110 meters); and a lea of linen 300 yards (274 meters). For cotton and wool, a lea is equal to 1/7 hank. A lea is sometimes called a skein."

Now...I just have to make 7 of these to produce another traditional measure for a length of yarn...that would be called a hank!

The spun wool in the basket above represents one pound of Romney, that I purchased in the form of roving from Two Wool Crazy Ladies..both of whom I met at the Pennsylvania Endless Mountains Wool Festival in September of 2007.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Farm Show

The PA Farm show starts this week, the biggest indoor AG show in the nation. I like to watch the coverage on TV.

There are always many interesting facts and figures to learn. For example, right now --there are only 8,400 dairy farms left in the state of PA. Are these family farms, I wonder? As a people, we are several generations removed from family least 3 maybe 4. When I taught 7th & 8th graders about spinning, most of them didn't know that the wool from their sweaters came off of a sheep. Do people really care or wonder where stuff comes from anymore? When I asked the kids where their sweaters came from, they said, "the mall."


This morning when I pour the cream into my coffee, I find myself thinking about which one of the cows, from which one of the 8,400 dairy farms, gave me the product I need to keep the 206 bones in my body healthy....

On Wednesday, they will air the Sheep to Shawl contest...which is usually hosted by Tom Knisley from the Mannings Handweaving School in Adams County. He taught the workshop I took last summer. I have read that the Farm Show will be starting a Junior competition this year. I'm anxious to see how many participants they get!

Thursday, January 03, 2008



In light of the inclement weather we have been having, I decided to build a snowman to ward off the evil winter spirits. I placed a broom in his hand, and entrusted him with the task of keeping the cars and walkways swept clean of snow.

If the snowman takes care of his share of the sweeping, that will give me more time to knit.


Look what I am working with. A beautiful Alpaca and Silk blend from Ball and Skein. I have it wound into a center pull, ready to go for this project....


After I read over the pattern and realized that I was not familiar with the cast on and cast off methods, I decided to work up a test run in some stash yarn. That way I will work the bugs out and be ready to knit the Alpaca/Silk without risk of having to frog.

So far...


I really like this pattern! It is a fun knit, and I get a kick each time I come to beaded round. I'm putting the beads on with the threaded floss method, and it works nicely. It is nice to be working with a little sparkle at this time of year...for some reason, I keep noticing sparkling beads everywhere....


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