Monday, December 6, 2010

There have been some beautiful snowfalls coming down the past few days, while I've been recovering from a bout of bronchitus the past few days.  To keep myself occupied during endless bouts of coughing, I had three new books and two magazines to read or browse through.  I had ordered "Woven Shibori for Textural Effects" by Stacey Harvey-Brown and "So Warped: Warping a Loom for Weaving Tapestry" by Kathe Todd-Hooker with Pat Spark, and they arrived, giving me a way to keep fibers in my days, even if only in print.  But, DOING NOTHING was starting to make me crazy. 

I wasn't feeling up to a couple more complicated knitting projects I have to finish, but thought carding wool was something I could do sitting there, ginger ale, meds, kleenix at hand, head feeling a bit "foggy," and feel like I was accomplishing something.  I went through two bags of washed fleece, pulling out and carding the locks that had held nicely together. 

There are now 88 white rolags and 126 cream rolags waiting to be spun up into yarn.  I still have perhaps another half-day of handcarding the remaining white fleece.  Both colors came from the same box of fleece.  At the moment, I do not recall the breed, but it is medium+ in length, perhaps a Romney X.   

There are also two clear blue trash bags fairly full of more fleece that did not stay in such nice locks while being washed, waiting to be drum carded. First, though, the drum carder needs a thorough cleaning to remove bits of rather bright colors of Merino, having been loaned out to a family wanting to learn and do some wet-felting.  

Knowing it had been awhile since I had done any maintenance on my beautiful Michael Wilson cherry spinning wheel, I decided Sunday afternoon to dis-assemble it, oil the wood, treat the leathers, and oil the moving parts when re-assembled.  It's a pleasant, meditative process, and nice to know I am taking good care of a beautiful spinning wheel.  This would also make for easier spinning and treadling as well. 

Now, I will enjoy turning these rolags into 2 ply yarn for knitting.  

As sometimes happens in life, things don't go as planned, and this was certainly true for November.  I had finished staining the house, sheets were washed and ready to slice & dice, and I was feeling optimistic about getting a lot done over the next few weeks.  

On Nov. 14th, Mokey, 18, diabetic for 2-3 years, suddenly went downhill, in the morning could hardly stand, then began having seizures.  I called the vet to say I was bringing him in to finally have his life ended.  He had seemed fine four days beforehand, walking his "chickie" (a small chicken Beany Baby) around three times that day, meowing loudly, and having a great time.  Though I knew the end was coming, it was still a bit of a shock at the suddenness of his decline over less than 24 hours. 

Mokey was very special to me.  When he was younger, anytime I was working with paper, he'd come up and lay right in the middle of things.  If I was ill, he'd lay closer and closer until he was up against my side, until I was feeling better.  Now, another pet friend has moved on, and is missed daily.

I waited about a week and a half before visiting the animal shelter.  I was not looking for another Mokey, that cannot be done, but there are always more cats needing home, and I decided I could take in one more.  Now, it's not like there are no other pets at home, Keesha, 10 is still with me, as are four other cats, Muffin, 18; Mitzi, 16; and Mycah and Moses, 5.  Explaining that I was looking for a cat that could easily live with a dog and four other cats, I was told which cats would be good, and which would not.  I watched the various cats and kittens, then left, having decided not to do this in a hurry. 

Though I was quite determined not to get another orange/white cat anytime soon, I noticed "Henry," who, of course, was orange and white, and begging to be let out and petted.  Just then, a woman came in who was very interested in him, brought him out to hold him, and clearly he enjoys being held and petted.  I went back to observing the other cats.  Then for a little fun, I turned the seven kittens loose in the room, my goodness, all that energy!  Knowing I would not want to be quite so watchful 24/7 with a kitten getting into everything (fiber and otherwise), I put them away after enjoying their playful antics.  I spent a couple days considering another cat, but on a third visit, she had quite a different temperament from the previous visit which didn't bode well for the cats at home. 

At that third visit, I noticed Henry (above) was still there, asked at the desk, and was told the woman who wanted him had chosen another cat.  Out came Henry, for some petting and cuddling.  Putting him down, I watched him go from door to door watching other cats, alert and curious, but not aggressive or even assertive.  Then he'd jump back into my lap for more cuddling and petting, then cruise around the room again.  Before leaving I filled out an application and said I was interested in Henry.  I was told the board would be looking at apps again Monday AM and they would call.  Early this afternoon I received the news that they were given a very positive report from the animal hospital, and could adopt any cat or kitten I would like.

Henry, now "Milo," will be picked up early tomorrow afternoon and taken to the animal hospital to be tested for FIV/FIP, and if negative I'll bring him home.  He is scheduled for front de-claw on Thursday AM, and come home for good on Friday morning.  I'm hopeful that with his bit more laid back temperament, he will fit in well here with the pet family I have.  I'm looking forward to getting to know another feline personality.  Now, back to my spinning!  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back in the Studio Again!

Today, I am back in my weaving studio!  I began with a bit of rearranging and dusting, followed by tensioning the rug warp on the Glimakra Standard.
Checking through sheet strips already cut and sewn, colors were pulled that
will work for this rug, now piled on the warp beam (away from my cats).
Then I searched through my considerable sheet stash, pulling more of the colors needed.  The first rug had a teal emphasis, this one will focus on wine/navy/green, with lesser amounts of other colors used in the striped warp to pull the whole thing together. 

I've set up a table in the Studio Annex (my upstairs living room) where I can cut and sew strips, work on quilts, along with other uses.  I'm cutting these sheets now and later will set up my sewing machine and stitch them together.  Then, folding the joined strips in half, I'll fill three or four ski shuttles so I can begin weaving this rug tomorrow.  

After weeks of working on the exterior of my home, I am happy to report I was able to finish staining my log home.  Why is there snow fence next to the house?  The porch floor isn't dry yet, and I need to keep Keesha (and myself) from walking through wet stain! 

There are a few areas where I'll need someone, in the spring, to go much higher on a ladder than I am willing to go, but for the most part, it is done.  It took three 5 gallon pails of stain, and there is a fourth one waiting for spring.  Now, it's time to begin sanding, staining, and finishing the storm windows!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

I finished the eyelet cowl (photo soon), "in the snood," learned to knit I-cord, and have begun another in a different yarn and pattern, this time a pattern found on Ravelry as I needed to fit the yarn and circular needle size to a pattern.  The new cowl is brown tweed, but not the same exact yarn as the previously knitted hat.  

I am so looking forward to life getting back to "normal" again, but I'm not quite there yet.  Work was continuing on the outside of my home, weather/rain permitting, then several days ago, while in town, walking to my car, something in my left knee went "pop" and I nearly fell to the ground.  Walking was quite painful, but I managed to get into my car and drive home.    

You've heard the expression "when it rains, it pours?"  In this case, it was 35 mph wind with 35-50 mph gusts.  The midwest had a big WIND storm starting that night.  We were fortunate, with limbs and some trees blown down, but it was worse further downstate.  

At 4:15 AM the next morning, my power went out which means no phone (that's the downside to the new ones that plug into electricity as well as phone jack).  Midway through the day a neighbor came over to bring wood in for me so Jim and I (now with three Ibuprophin in me so I could get around) brought wood into my kitchen so I could get a fire going and warm the house up.  My five cats were very pleased with that development!  That evening, with no power yet, I read a book by oil lamplight.  Finally, after approximately sixteen hours, the power came back on.  Most of my newly purchased groceries had to be tossed.

The next morning I was able to call for an appointment with an orthopoedic doctor, scheduled for early this week.  It turns out I have a "Meniscus Tear" and may need arthroscopic surgery, not something I want to do now with the holidays approaching.  Meanwhile, I have exercises to do, the knee pain is slowly lessening and is now quite tolerable unless I'm walking or standing too long.

For now, I'm planning ahead what I'll need to do to get ready if I need the surgery.  Stock up on very easy-to-fix food, wood on the porch, ask my neighbor to move a bed down to main floor, along with TV and computer, and so on.  In other words, arrange things so I can stay on the main floor and not need to go upstairs for anything for a week or two.  Using crutches on a wood circular stairway, with a dog and five cats underfoot, is not something I even want to contemplate! 

Meanwhile, tomorrow and Monday are supposed to be in low 50's, and if I can manage it, I will very carefully try to stain the east side of the house and get it finished, as after that temps will drop again and likely stay that way until spring. 

I have cut and split wood to move into the woodshed to keep it dry and easier to access after we have snow.  Storm windows all need to be removed, one at a time, sanded, stained, finished, and put back on.  While that is being done, I'll be working on the inside of the house, scrubbing and oiling the wood ceilings and walls.  This isn't just log home maintenance, I'm getting the house ready to put it up for sale in the spring, and after 18+ years, move away from the WI Northwoods.

And while all this is going on, for my sanity, WEAVING and other fiber related activities MUST be going on, on a daily or near-daily basis.  I appreciate everyone's patience.  I WILL be writing about weaving again very soon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keeping Fiber in My Life

Cowl, "in the snood," in progress.
The urge to knit always seems to hit me in autumn, and this year has been no exception.  None have been large, complicated patterns, instead they are small, easily finished pieces.  I'm still busy staining my log home, and weather is about to turn against me.  I haven't had the time or energy for weaving, though I will be back at that soon.  As a way to keep fibers in my life, I turned to knitting pieces easily picked up and put down

The photo above is a cowl in progress, "in the snood,"  pp. 88-89 in "Cowlgirls."  It's an easy pattern, repeating six rows on size 9 needles.  It can be worn as a cowl, or pulled up over your head.  I'll be learning to knit I-Cord, a good excuse to pull the Elizabeth Zimmerman books off my shelves again.

Handspun wool, plied with a fine 2 ply wool.
I'm loving the idea of cowls since the older I get, the more I notice my neck seems cold!  I ran across this handspun I'd done awhile back, thinking I might try it in my sock machine some day when feeling brave.  Now, though, I'm hoping there will be enough yarn for a handspun, handknit cowl.  I have no idea how many yards there are here, or what size needles I'll need, so sampling is in order.

Handspun, handknit pillow, nearing completion.
Awhile back on this blog there was a photo of this pillow, still in progress but nearing completion.  This is knit with handspun, and was created in the moment, random blocks of garter and stockinette stitch.  I had seen a photo of a pillow closed with buttons, so I extended the back enough to fold over, and crocheted front and back together.  Handmade, "textured" pottery buttons were ordered from an artist in Austrailia.  The pillow definitely needs blocking, and I've been considering trying to felt it just a bit.  Then I will somehow add the buttons and hopefully have a pillow form this will fit.  Otherwise, I'll be making a muslin pillow for the inside.  I haven't yet been terribly successful in getting a photo to show the texture and blocks, but will try again when it is finished.

Winter hat, nearing completion.
I'll be spending more time outdoors this winter, hauling wood from the woodshed to the porch, for my woodburning range in the kitchen.  Naturally, I need a handknit hat to wear, and as my winter jacket is a chocolate brown, I picked up this slightly tweedy yarn and a basic hat pattern.  It's ready to take off the needles and make a yarn pom-pom or some kind of finish.

Handcarded wool rolags, ready to spin.
Occasionally during the evening, while watching a movie or program, I'll handcard more fleece that was washed this past summer.  I set these handcarded rolags high up on a shelf to keep the cats out of them, and have more on a shelf down in the weaving studio.  I am SO looking forward to spinning this up, but there is a lot more carding to do first.

Clearly, when the staining of my log home ends, because I am finished or forced to stop because of weather, I need to take a day or two and finish up these knitting projects.  There are at three sweaters, in various stages, awaiting my attention.  Good winter knitting!          

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Library Additions

As I wrote at the end of the prevous post, I'm feeling more than a little fiber deprived at this point, while working on staining my home.  After spending a good deal of each day outside working on the house, I'm tending to fall asleep the moment I sit down. 

I solved my need for a fiber fix by checking out KnitPicks most recent book sale and ordering a DVD and two knitting books, the better to enjoy the upcoming winter.

I love Rita Buchanan's "How I Spin" (2 DVD set), learned a number of new things from it, and being more than a little visual, appreciated the wool comb demonstration along with everything else on it.  They left me wanting MORE, much more, and I hope Rita and Interweave Press will bring us more of Rita and her work.

I've been noticing cowls in a couple of recent knitting magazines along with a free pattern courtesy of a Takhi ad that came to my Inbox.  My winter jacket has a short stand-up collar, which I like, but my neck is often cold, so when I saw the book "Cowlgirls," I had to order it.  There are several I hope to knit, and now need to look into specific yarns, though I'm thinking a couple of them in handspun would be especially nice.

The third book, "Norwegian Patterns for Knitting," was a must have due to my Norwegian heritage and memories of Mungnal, mother of one of my dad's cousins, who told me long ago that she had knit over 100 Norwegian sweaters.  How I wish she were here now to teach me.  This book is likely beyond my current knitting skills, but when the time is right, and the urge becomes an obsession, I'll try one of these beautiful sweaters.  Meanwhile, I can dream!

Necessary Time Off

My log home, last stained Summer 2007.
My log home was last washed and stained during Summer 2007.  Wind, rain, and snow take their toll on logs, and means temporarily settng fibers aside again, and taking care of my home, not only because it is needed, but in preparation of putting it up for sale in the spring.

Lakeside porch, time to clean out between boards.
 First, I needed to clean dust, seeds, pine needles, leaves out from between the porch boards, using a putty knife and whisk broom.  50 boards meant 48 spaces to clean out which took some time in September.  Yes, that is my wool washing area further down.

Before cleaning,...
Dirt, pollen, pine needles, leaves, and birdseed caught in the gaps between boards, and needing to be cleaned out before stain is applied.

and after cleaning!

A rental "lift" was used...  
to reach the second story areas, both because I refuse to go that high on a shaky ladder, and to save time.

                 Second story area newly stained.
I'm very thankful for the help of Lanny, husband of a friend Nancy, for his bringing the lift over and giving up nearly three days of his time off so we could stain the east, north, and west sides of my home.   Thank you, Lanny, you were a blessing!

Before & After
Prior to staining, every log was scrubbed, one at a time using a bucket, cleaner, and brush, then rinsed three times, then allowed to dry at least three days before staining began.  Above, the lower log cleaned, upper log freshly stained. 

On October 13, 2009,...

we had snow,...
hence the sense of urgency to get this big project finished, as I'm doing the rest of the house alone.  It is exhausting, and it seems I am either working on it or sleeping.  

At this point, I am feeling VERY FIBER DEPRIVED, so stay tuned, hopefully, it won't be too much longer and I'll be back in the weaving studio.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lake Country Weavers

The Lake Country Weavers had their biennial Sale & Demonstration this past Saturday, October 2nd, held at the UCC Church in Eagle River, WI, during Cranberry Fest weekend.  I managed to snap some photos before the first shuttle bus arrived.  Members had their work for sale and various fiber arts were demonstrated.

Carol Stone, of Presque Isle, WI, weaving on a 4 shaft table loom.

Vicki Reuling, of Three Lakes, WI, demonstrating on a rigid heddle loom.

Navajo weaving demonstration.

Mary Jackl, of Phelps, WI, spent the day spinning.

The church pews were completely covered with Mary Jackl's rag rugs.

More of Mary Jackl's rag rugs.
Mary Jackl, What-a-View Farm, Phelps, WI, is a very productive rag rug weaver, having over 300 of her rugs for sale at her home studio/shop.  She also spins beautiful beaded yarns and makes felted hats.

Cassandra Nass preparing for a needle-felting demonstration.
Cassandra and Norm Nass, of Land O'Lakes, WI, raise angora goats.  Cassandra's specializes in spinning and needle-felting.  Her needle-felted sheep are very popular.

Ellie Lapp, of Land O'Lakes, WI, does beautiful rug-hooking.

Ellie brought a display of her work.

Janice Zindel, Shuttle Works Studio, at the 1908 Gearhart sock machine.

I was demo'ing the sock machine, but was so intent on getting photographs of the other guild members, I never got a photo of my setup.  This is a sock machine demo from last September.  A lot of people did enjoy watching the sock machine and asking questions.  It was a very enjoyable day!  

Monday, September 27, 2010

In Anticipation of Winter

Handcarding for winter.

By evening, I'm ready to relax a bit, watch a little TV, and browse through weaving books and magazines.  Many nights, though, I want to keep my hands busy.  Knitting comes to mind, and recently, I've been hardcarding the fleece I washed a few weeks ago, in anticipation of spinning it this winter.  It is carding up like a dream! 


Stone Sculpture left of entrance.
Earlier this summer, when I turned off the highway, I noticed Pat Indermuehle had built some stone "sculptures," so I stopped last Wednesday and too, these photos to, with Pat's permission, share with you.  I think they are great!

Stone Man

Stone Woman

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Colors

Maple Ablaze
Autumn officially began at 10:09 PM (CST) last night.  The calendar finally caught up with the Northwoods autumn weather,... cool days, cold nights, and after eight years of drought, we have gotten 1-3" of rain in the area, and expecting another 1-2" tonight.   

Exterior logs being washed, preparation for staining.
Yesterday, a beautiful sunny day, I was scrubbing and rinsing the exterior logs of my home.  When I needed a break, I'd grab my camera, take a short walk and once drove down the road in search of brilliant fall color.  

View of Torch Lake from my porch.

Fall color in the WI Northwoods.

Oak, at the edge of the yard, just starting to change color.

After living up here for 18 years, I still haven't gotten used to autumn coming a month earlier here than in southern Wisconsin.  We've already had frost, though some hardy mosquitos continue to survive.  Spring is the same, only in reverse, with frost possible through the first two weeks of June.
On rainy days, like today, I can spend some time in the weaving studio.  I had taken a good share of this year off from weaving and cranking items to sell.  I needed time to think about what direction I want to go.  I'm thankful for that time, have some good ideas, but am also now going "back into business," weaving and making socks for a new online shop on (coming soon), as well as preparing for next summer.  The challenge now will be finding time for both "want to weave" and "need to weave," and starting to merge the two. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Journey Continues

If you have been following my journey of getting my drawloom up and working after 18 or so years, you may recall I was re-threading the loom from 8 shaft satin to 5 shaft satin, as I was having trouble with the counterweights not pulling the ground shafts back to neutral.

More than one drawloom weaver advised me to change from an 8 shaft satin to something using 4 or 5 shafts, so the decision was made to change to a 5 shaft satin.

After pulling 1,024 threads of 20/2 cotton out of the long-eye heddles (ground shafts) and maillons (pattern shafts), I was back at the lease sticks to again thread the the loom.

All was going well until I found a maillon with no threads. Disaster! I thought I had been watching so carefully, and now this meant having to yet again re-thread 1/4 of the maillons, then the long-eye heddles, approximately 256 threads. I tried to think if there was a way of moving the pattern heddles around on the pattern shaft bars, but as each pattern heddle was already tied to a drawcord, that would have meant untieing 1/4 of the drawcords, too. I decided against that.

Also unwilling to remove loom parts at this point, it meant bending over the side of the long back extension to re-thread those tiny holes. I should have owned stock in an ibuprophin manufacturing company over the past month! My aching back meant I could only work on this for short stretches at a time.

Above, you can see the size of a maillon and those tiny holes.

Yesterday, I finally finished re-threading the left side of the loom, left of the
center cords. Today, I've been threading the long-eye heddles on the right half of the loom, a job which goes fairly fast, and thankfully, went without incident.

No threading hook is needed, just reach through that large eye with your fingers and pull your warp thread through.

There are 75 threads to go, and as I write this post and load in the photos, I'm on a stepstool moving heddles to the three shafts where I ran short. The re-threading will be completed in just a bit.

Yes, it has taken me quite awhile to reach this point (for the second time!). Yes, I want to weave on this loom sooner than later, but the more important goal is to understand the loom, the processes, what is happening and why (or why not), and figuring out what to do when things don't go as planned. It's been an interesting journey, and I'm looking forward to learning so much more.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Working in the Outdoor Studio

I've been seeing a hummingbird visiting the fuchsia frequently so thought I'd get a few photos of the blooms before they fade. While taking these pics, to my amazement, I was buzzed all the way around by the hummer! Ah,... I'm wearing a bright red shirt working out here today!

The blooms are just amazing!

My dwarf apple tree has a few apples on it this year. I don't recall the variety, but it is one bred to survive the subzero temps of Zone 4. I've yet to eat an apple off this tree, the kids always got to them first. They like green apples so they were eaten before I considered them ripe. This year, they were "warned" to leave the apples alone! I'm hoping there will be enough for an Apple Pie or a pan of Apple Crisp.

While out on the porch this afternoon, I thought I'd get some wool soaking. Oh No! I'd forgotten everything on my "outdoor studio," (lakeside porch, just outside my weaving studio door) was covered with tree pollen. Then thinking about the predictions for rain, decided I'd clean-up today and wash wool tomorrow. After wiping down the plastic sheeting on the table, and washing some of my enamel pots (canners) and enamel basins, the sun was peaking out, so decided I'd set wool to soak in two pots, a manageable amount as it was late afternoon.

Nicely crimped wool, possibly Romney, from Humble Hills Farm (McMurray).

Drying racks are set up and standing by.

It's been a multi-tasking afternoon. A little photography, threading a loom, cleaning up part of the porch and washing wool, several sheets washed, dried, and waiting to be "sliced & diced" for a rug, and updating my blog.

Right now, back to the outdoor studio to rinse wool and lay it out to dry.