Kid At Heart

I bought a bunch of kid's plastic building blocks from a store that was going out of business. I soaked 'em and scrubbed 'em and set 'em out on the kitchen counter to dry before packing them away for Addy or William's next visit.

Somebody found them irresistible.
Gary may be 2 months away from 18, but he's still a kid at heart.


Spinning And Weaving

Eleanor is finally up and running. I've had this wheel for almost a year and haven't done any spinning on her. I've tried several times, but something was always wrong - wrong drive band, broken spring, bouncing bobbin, something. I was seriously thinking of selling her but she's so beautiful with her cherry wood and purpleheart accents that I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Last night, Susie set her up for Scotch tension rather than double drive and we were off and spinning. I forgot to bring fiber to spin night, but fortunately Melinda was willing to share her Merino top. So not only did I get Eleanor working, I spun from the fold for the first time. Piece of cake! A couple of people in our spin group were looking covetously at Eleanor when they thought she needed a new home. Looks like I'll be keeping her after all.

I bought a pre-cut warp scarf kit last October with plans to make it for the spinning and weaving conference in March. That didn't work out - but I got the kit out today, warped the loom,
and wove a 5" wide, 96" long scarf. Or maybe it will be two scarves - I definitely have enough yardage for more than one. I'll finish the ends and cut it off the loom later tonight. I'm hoping to wear it to a fiber blogger meet-up on Sunday.


Are You Surprised?

Anyone surprised that I couldn't stand waiting overnight to finish the sampler pieces? Anyone? I wanted it badly enough to break out the dreaded sewing machine last night so I could stitch the ends. (Wenona, see what happens when you desert me to go on vacation?!? I have to do my own sewing!) The Fox cotton towel is my favorite - it's soft and beautiful, despite a couple of obvious mistakes. Shrinkage wasn't bad; it went from 10 1/4" x 21 1/2" to 9 1/4" x 20". Want to hear a funny story? I took this to lunch today to show a friend I've known for about 20 years. I didn't think she had any interest in fiber arts; I just knew she was a good friend and would admire my pretty weaving. Turns out she did a bit of weaving when she was in high school. And her sister, who just moved back to Ventura, has an unused floor loom sitting in her bedroom. At first, Terri thought I should buy the loom but we came up with an even better plan - entice her sister (who has a degree in fine/fiber arts) to join the Guild and start weaving again. I like it!
Fun Fiber Links

Lots going on fiberwise in Blogland.

  • Tour de France Knitalong is accepting sign-ups until July 7. I'm not a big Tour fan, but I'm hoping this will give me some needed incentive to work on my new knitting projects. I got a lot of spinning done last year when I joined the Tour de Fleece, so maybe it will work again this year. There are several levels (colors) to choose from. Anybody interested in starting a Team Ventura? Oh - and there are prizes!
  • Crochet Along - A blog to share crochet projects you're working on. I love seeing all the projects at the Granny Along, so I'm happy to see this new blog. Even if you don't want to share your projects, there's a lot of inspiration in seeing what others are working on.
  • We Love Annie - Knit and crochet designer Annie Modesitt is going through some hard times. Her husband Gerry is battling Mulitiple Myeloma, a terminal cancer that strikes plasma cells. Make a donation and become eligible for weekly prizes.
  • Granny Along and Ripple Along - these have been up for awhile. I especially love the Granny Along. Who knew you could do so much with granny squares? The projects and color choices are inspiring (and sometimes a little scary.) Happy Hooking!


Off The Loom

I'm so excited! The sampler is done and off the loom. I finished weaving just before dinner and AJ couldn't wait to check out the fabric. I'm just grateful she waited until it was off the loom. I put on a 3 yard warp but didn't get as much fabric as I'd hoped because a couple of the back ties broke as I neared the end. I was close enough to finished that it wasn't worth doing a real fix - I just tied the loose threads to the back beam and weighted them down so I could get in the last few picks.

This is green, light brown, and dark brown Fox Fiber organic cotton. The fiber isn't dyed, it's naturally grown that color. This section is about 10" wide by 22" long.
The dark brown is a tabby border, with the other 2 colors in an opposing 2/2 twill. (Greek to you? Basically, one section leans one way \\\\\\ and the next section leans the opposite direction ////// . Makes a neat pattern. ) The colors are supposed to get darker when I wash them. I'm looking forward to seeing that, along with how much shrinkage there is.

This one is the cotton/poly towel fiber. It feels very stiff, even off the loom. I hope it will soften up when it's washed.
Each stripe is a different 2" twill pattern with a 1" plain weave border. If it doesn't shrink too much, it should be an OK size for a towel. A little narrow at 10" but the length is good. Tomorrow I'll stitch each end, cut the sections apart, and wash the whole thing. Excitement!

Spin-Off Wants to Know

Spin-Off magazine wants to know how they can improve content. They've posted an online survey and would like your input. To make your feelings known, take the survey here. To read the original post, click here. Spin On!


Stash Is Good

Whenever I start a new hobby, I sometimes tend to go a tad overboard buying tools, books, and other things to support my new obsession. Such was the case when I took up weaving two years ago. I, um, collected some coned yarns that I thought I might use someday. I didn't realize how much I had until I tried to organize it today. I think this is all of it. And as with everything else I collect, it's a mixed bag. I have some beautiful black tencel, white single-ply silk, and purple wool. I have a box of cotton/poly spools that should make great towels. More carpet warp than anyone in their right mind would ever need. Some nice shiny stuff (polyester/rayon, I think) that I bought last year as weft for a pre-cut warp shawl. Some ACKrylic that's already coming unplied (what was I thinking?!?) And my favorite - cone after cone of organic cotton and cotton chenille from Fox Fibers. Lovely, soft stuff that I'm almost afraid to use because my weaving isn't "good enough". Well, it will never be good enough if I don't practice!

Alice and I spent four hours together today; it would have been more but Dick made me stop so I wouldn't overdo it. I did a couple of
sections with various fibers before starting a towel sampler with the cotton/poly on the same warp. I'm weaving one inch of tabby and two inches in various twills from Marguerite Davison's "A Handweaver's Pattern Book" to make a 30" red, blue and green towel. I've done just over 16" so far. If I have some warp left over, I want to weave a short sample in the Fox Fiber. I don't want to use too much of it for a sampler but I'm really excited to see how it weaves up.


Alice Can Stay

The loom is safe. The problems I was having were - surprise! - operator error. Deb showed me some tricks, like sitting on a very low chair when warping, and I had very few back issues today. Just some tiredness from sitting too long and a few twinges from previously unused muscles.

Yesterday's mess of thread resolved itself into a disciplined warp.
The workshop project was to make a sampler, experimenting with color, texture and basic weave patterns. For my weft, I chose a purple worsted weight yarn, a gold slub yarn, and the same brown cotton as the warp. I was most surprised by the gold yarn; it appeared to be much thicker when used in a twill pattern than in plain (tabby) weave and the twill pattern almost disappeared under the yarn's texture.

My favorite, though, was the brown on brown.
I love how it emphasizes the pattern. I thought my first project was going to be baby blankets. But I think I'll do tea towels instead; I want to do more tone-on-tone weaving.

Alice has her own space in the family room.
I have the bench I bought in a Guild silent auction, my Ott light, and a small table. I can watch TV with Dick while I weave or plug in my iPod for some tunes.
My main concern is how much damage the cats are going to do to my warp before they get used to Alice. Oreo has already been exploring the treadles. Anybody have a sure-fire way of keeping cats off a loom?


Controlled Chaos

It only looks like a mess. Honest. This was day one of a two-day weaving workshop taught by an artist in residence at Cal State University Channel Islands. So far, we've learned to make a warp chain and sley the reed. Tomorrow at 9:30 I'll start threading the heddles and, according to Deb, I should be ready to actually start weaving around noon. I really want to be able to weave. I love the texture of woven cloth, I love the possibilities of various fibers, I love the usefulness of the finished fabric. I've tried weaving over the past two years - even took a few lessons - but it's been an exercise in frustration and a major pain in the back, literally. I'm hoping Deb can figure out if the problem lies with me - something I'm doing wrong - or the loom. If it's the loom . . . . . well, I've already had two offers to buy her. Alice better behave herself tomorrow or she is so out of here. And I can start shopping for her replacement.


Why I Love Hefty Bags

Tomorrow is my spinning guild meeting, so today was clean out the stash day. I have a bunch of fleeces (fleeci?) that I know I'll never spin. Most were purchased when I was really new to spinning - and they reflect the fact that I was more interested in a good price than a great fleece. All are spin-able, somebody tomorrow will want them, the guild will make money when they're raffled off, so it's all win-win.

You know that sick feeling you get when you open a sealed bin and see something moving? The good news is that my first moth infestation was in only one bin out of about 20. And the better news is that the sealed 2.5 gallon Hefty bag the fiber was in completely contained the moths. They'd obviously been in there awhile, judging by the, um, debris. And none of the other bags showed any sign of contamination. Yeah! And yes, I separated them out and will watch them closely, but it looks like I only lost the one thing. The bad news? It was about a pound of the most beautiful
black alpaca. But it could have been a lot, lot worse.

I {heart} Hefty bags!


I Got Nothin'

Lots of relaxation and book reading going on here. Showed Wenona how to make the Sock Yarn Shawl (class coming this fall). Watched 'Oceans 13'. Previewed the Yarn By The Bag sale Lois is having on Saturday (there's some nice stuff in there). Nothing going on that's worth blogging about, but we're sure having fun.


Withdrawal Pains

I miss my (grand) baby!


Breaking In the Barbie

We invited everyone over for a pre-Father's Day bbq to inaugurate Dick's new grill and fireplace. This was the first time we've used the backyard since he remodeled it with brick pavers, a cement pad for the grill, and new lawn chairs.

John and Addy supervised lighting the burners. John is a master of the grill - his pork chops are wonderful - and gave Dick some tips.

This was also the first time Addy met Uncle Matt - and Matt's girlfriend, Chris, and her 6 year old daughter, Nai'a. Matt and Addy seemed to hit it off really well. Addy loves posing for the camera and is quite the little ham. It was great having most of the family all in one place. Matt and Rachel -
Gary and Dick - Marie is still in Colorado for her 2-week vacation; she'll be home tonight and back to work tomorrow.

Once it got dark, we lit the fireplace and sat around eating hamburgers and talking. Addy got comfortable on her 'daddy pillow' and conked out around 8, but woke up an hour later, bright eyed and ready to play.

I think we're going to get a lot of use out of the new backyard.

Outtake: Grandpa and Addy, reading together. Addy was fascinated with the book and had fun helping turn the pages.


More Addy

The gang - Dick, Gary, Rachel & John - took a glass blowing class today so I got the baby all to myself. I'd forgotten how much 'stuff' babies use. Between the diapers and wipes and bottles and formula and bibs and toys and books and everything else, our living room looked like a bomb went off, with a very small person at its epicenter.Yesterday, while I was looking for a floor covering, I found the frog blanket that I made for Rachel when she started preschool. This was the first thing I ever appliqu├ęd. I've always loved it; it's just so cheerful and silly. All four kids used this as their official 'nap blankie' when it was their turn for preschool. It's held up pretty well for as many washings as it's been through; I can only find one place where the fabric has separated from the top stitching. Now we'll use it as Addy's - and future grandchildren's (finger crossed!) - 'grandma's house' blankie.

Somebody was just a little jealous of all the attention Addy was getting. Oreo usually spends her days sitting in my lap or following me around the house. She couldn't get in my lap today - Addy was there - so she lay as close to me as she could get and still be out of baby-reach. Doesn't her expression just say 'put upon'? Hang in there, Oreo, things will return to normal soon. Bummer.

And the glass blowing adventure? Not a single picture. There were 4 cell phone cameras and one digital camera on the premises - and not one person remembered to take a photo. But they did come back with about 50 ornaments. Now I have to figure a way to ship them to Denver without them becoming 'crushed' glass.