Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fleecey 4th!

DH & I ventured out to the "wilds"of West Virginia and spent the 4th of July at his brother's river "cabin", although I think we're now calling it a "lodge".
River sign

Yep, it was pretty lazy out on the river.
down river

But not inside, as Merry and I began the process of spinning up my newly carded Jacob batts. After two afternoons of spinning, I ended up with two pretty evenly weighted bobbins of singles.
Two bobbins of Jaocb

Then my dear m-i-l presented me with a little bag of black fluff, the sheddings of her little dog, Buddy.

Since I was already in spinning mode, I spun him up, too. Look! He's almost blue!
Buddy's fur
Prior to our long weekend away, two new additions were added to my spindle addiction, I mean collection.

They are Bosworth Minis in 1. Cedar, and 2. Purpleheart/Tulipwood. Love-love-love those minis!
Cedar and Purpleheart/Tulipwood Minis

This week there will be more spinning, more knitting, and some time visiting with dear friends. Goodness, but I love summer break!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Break: Week 2 - Fleecey Progress

So....this week I made a little progress with the Jacob fleece. Dear Friend Janice loaned me her drum carder, and I began the process of turning the locks of washed fleece into fluffy batts. Here are a few photos:
First, I spread apart the lock onto flat surface of the carder. Then, being very careful to keep hands, fingers, & kittens clear,
Bella Ballerina

I cranked the handle and watched as the locks were straightened and combed onto the drum barrel of the carder.
Carding begins

When I was done, I used a brush to smooth out the batt. Once removed this is what it looked like.
Firts batts

Then I gently divided the batt into fourths and put it through again. I currently have a pile that looks like this:
Pile o' batts
I'z excited!
The stuff I'm carding now is really short - second cuts I guess. Looking ahead, this is going to be hard to spin. I already know that I'm going to spin this on my wheel.
Loaded Merry
Problem is - I haven't spun on my wheel in a bit (been a little preoccupied with spindle prettiness!) so this week, I'll spend some time getting reacquainted with Merry. That way we'll both be ready when it's time to start spinning!

Pottery update: At last Monday's class, I learned how to trim the pots I'd made in previous classes and practice sessions. Trimming involves placing the "leather hard" pot upside down on a wheel and using a tool to trim away the excess clay. If you have a bowl, you can carve a base, or foot into the bottom to give it a more finished look. Even though I have not yet actually made bowls, some of my "cylinders" had a more bowl-like appearance, therefore, I learned to carve feet! By Thursday's practice session, I finally got a little height on my cylinders, and a more evenly distributed bottom.
Wednesday practice week 2
Thursday practice -week 2

Other fun happenings last week, Week 2 of Summer Break:
  • Got to have dinner w/ J & K not once, but TWICE! Lucky me!
  • I got a new toe ring....lol.
  • On Saturday, I attended the wedding of a wonderful school friend/colleague and got to spend the afternoon with some of my very favorite people-the folks I teach with! Love them so much!
  • This Regal Moth chose to wait out a rain shower under our ferns. Lucky me again! Gorgeous!!!
What's on tap for Week 3? Stay tuned to find out!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

First Fleece

DS#3 texted me on Friday night. He was visiting our neighbors who own a petting farm. His text said, "Barb wants to know if you want a fleece." Me: "What kind?" Him: "Jacob." Me: "YEEEESSS PLEEAASE!" So Saturday morning I went by and met Barb and she gave me a recently cut fleece.

After consulting the process as found in "Start Spinning", I decided that I should proceed.
Step 1 - Dumping the fleece out of the bag and skirting.
Big pile of yuck

The parts of the fleece were a little jumbled, making the skirting process a little more difficult.
Separating the good & Bad
Right or wrong, I went through the fleece in sections, taking away the dirty lumps, and leaving the soft, cleaner stuff in a separate pile.
Some of the Good

Step 2: Washing the darned stuff.

There were two hot water & detergent washes, followed by a hot water and white vinegar rinse, followed by a plain old hot water rinse. I was nervous, afraid that the fleece might felt.....that would've been very sad. :(
Bath time

Step 3: Putting it out to dry.

After the final rinse, I tipped the clothes basket up on its end to drain our as much water as possible.
All done
I found some old towels, and rolled the fleece up inside, gently pressing the excess water out. There was not a lot left.

Next, I spread it out on our screened porch table and turned on the ceiling fan.

Maybe it will be dry by Tuesday. Janice has reminded me that she has a drum carder, so I'll beg to borrow it, and after a quick tutorial, will begin the process of turning the fleece into roving, all ready to be spun up! Excitement! Kind of! ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer So Far

We're one week into summer vacation and I'm having fun so far. That's no surprise, I know! Here's how I've been keeping myself occupied:
  • catching up on reading for pleasure via my ColorNook. I've read The Help, The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, Home to Holly Springs, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so far. I am currently giving Smila's Sense of Snow a try.
  • I started a pottery class with Nan Rothwell, a friend and very talented local potter.
Nan's class space

I've made seven cylinder-like object so far. (mine are the fat ones on the right)
First fruits
It feels both weird and good to be learning how to use my hands in a new way. After playing the piano since age 9, and knitting and spinning all these years, shouldn't my hands just automatically do what I want them to do? Ummm no, they should not and DO NOT!
  • Cindy La. & I were invited to lunch with Cynthia H. in the southern parts of our fair county.
Cynthia's Hollyhocks.
We toured her Dad's art studio and enjoyed the river views. Nice!
  • The first week of vacation was blessedly cool. There was a good deal of porch sitting going on here. Thanks to our MiFi, I could take my Ravelry friends out on the porch too.
Friends on the porch
I also worked on spinning up the Coopworth I bought at MDSW - only 6 more ounces to go!
Coopworth on Dogwood
This process was slowed because Miss Priss, Bella, wanted to "help"
Bella June 2011.

  • At night, I've been working on my Moonfleet shawl.
Moonfleet updated
It involves lots of beads, so is not very portable, :( , but it's still pretty and a fairly easy knit. It's been zzzz-ing for exactly one year. Bad Cindy.
  • DH & I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary at a Washington Nationals' baseball game. Our DS#1 and his lovely gf, along with many of DH's siblings were there, too. Nice night!
Time for week 2 to begin - I already know there will be more pottery practice. And early morning walking. And dinner with friends, and a wedding. Goodness, but I LOVE SUMMER VACATION!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Newly Finished Shawlette

I just finished knitting the Clover Bud Shawlette found in the book Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders. I like the pattern because I could easily keep my place and there wasn't too much garter stitch.
Blocking shawl

The pattern called for 5 repeats of the lace pattern, but I did 6 because I still had a lot of yarn after I finished 5. I used Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga - love that stuff! The colorway is Stitticus Jumping Spider.
Clover Bud Shawl lace detail

I love how the color moves from dark red, to purple/pink, to almost tan/browny bits. I added triangular glass beads on the bind- off edge. This pattern would be a great quick knit for gift-giving!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Knitting/Spinning and All the Rest

Sooooo - this is my new knitting project -
New mohair project

- the kid/silk mohair was purchased at MDSW & actually started there. It will make a nice light-weight scarf when the weather turns chilly again.

There's also a stealth gift project in the works. I'm thinking of using this:
Stiticus Jumping Spider - Skinny Bugga!

and making a quick shawlette pattern for end-of-school gift giving.

I've been spinning more than knitting. This Coopsworth and Bossie were both purchased at MDSW. I love the subtle coloring in the roving, and also in the Bossie Mini - Dogwood with a Bloodwood shaft. Minis are my faves!
Bossie Mini-Dogwood/Bloodwood

Today, despite the rain, DS#2 & I finished a garden project. About 5-6 years ago DS#1 helped me install a small pond. Over the years, it brought us lots of enjoyment, but in recent years, especially as the boys have grown older, it's become a pain to care for. About two months ago, I asked DS#2 to remove the pond liner. (if you are local, and are interested in a 65 gallon pond, please call me!) Today, in the drizzle and then thunder, we replaced it with a fountain. This took lots of attempts at leveling and even getting DH involved - but at last - success...
New garden fountain

-just as the harder rain started and the thunder was echoing off the hills.

It's not quite finished. I have to move around some more rocks, re-mulch, and replant my Creeping Jenny and a few hostas, but I really like it so far!

Now on to the stealth decisions!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cat Units & Stash Enhancement

Bella LeCat has been part of our family since March 16.
Bella Tricks LeCat
She was itty-bitty when she came home, so has been living in the "nursery', (master bathroom) and only coming out for supervised visits/playtime with big brother Gunston.
Ever alert Gunston
I think they can be together full-time now, don't you? Gunston has also taken to cleaning her ears and other routine grooming. I'm glad they're getting along so well! Whew!
Gunston & Bellas
In yarny news, here are a few recent stash enhancements:
3 skeins of Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! in the much sought after Dragonfly Tattoo (thanks to TLE email notices, I looked right away for once!)
Bugga in Dragon Tatoo
Wollmeise Twin grab bag - looking like a green Versuch.(does it have a name now?) and Lavendel to me.
Green Versuch & Lavendel Twin - WD

Now back to rainy day activities of closet organizing, spinning, & knitting - and hoping the rain will bring more pretty springy flowers and less pollen - a least for a little while!
Lilly of the Valley

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jenkins Jay/Lark Love

Last week I posted that I had adopted three Jenkins' Turkish spindles: a Kuchulu, a Jay/Lark, and a Standard. After recovering from my crazy weekend, I've had a chance to watch Wanda Jenkins' YouTube video and have been pretty successful at getting started on the Lark.
Lilac Jay/Lark - in progress

Please keep in mind that I am not an expert spinner. When spinning with my top whorl spindles, even the turbo Bosworth Moosie and Minis, I still mostly park and draft. I have been able to move past that, however, with the Jenkins' spindles. The Jay/Lark spins like crazy, plus the Lilac wood grain is very pleasing to behold. Win-win, I am totally sold on Turkish spindles!
Lilac Jal/Lark bottom

Gunston says, "So am I, Mom!"
My man Gunston

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mailbox Marvels!

This has been a crazy weekend! It started on Saturday morning with a 5k race at our elementary school, followed by a 12:30 - 3:30 rehearsal in C'ville, followed by a 6:30 concert call in Staunton. Today, Sunday, is equally busy: Holy Cross this morning; 12:30 concert call in C'ville, followed by a 3:30 concert and then a farewell reception for our director. :(

This weekend craziness has left little time for playing with the goodies from Saturday's mail delivery.
Jenkins' arrivals!

I'm jumping on the Turkish spindle bandwagon, having ordered three from Jenkin's Woodworking. They are so lovely - I can hardly wait to give them all a spin!

1. Kuchulu in Mora/Ebony
Mora Spindle

2. Lark/Jay option in Lilac
Lilac Jay'Lark

3. Standard in Canarywood
Canarywood Standard

Size comparison
Mora Kuchulu; Lilac Jay/Lark; Canarywood Standard

I'm looking forward to Spring Break and lot of spinning time!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Changes, Bad and Good

Since my last post, our family had to say good-bye to our precious Halloween. Halloween would have been 17 in April, and spent many happy years providing head-bonks and cuddles to our family. When Nick was little, Halloween would follow John back to help tuck Nick in for the night. He'd leap up onto the dresser, then up onto the top bunk, bonk Nick's head, purr loudly, then head back down the hall. He was a lover. He was my "baby". We'll miss him very much. Rest In Peace, dear friend.

Halloween's passing left Gunston, now 1, bored and a little moody. After a couple of weeks, our family began the search for a new family member. We found her Augusta Regional SPCA. She's about 10 weeks old now and her name is Bella Tricks LeCat, called Bella or Monkey when she's being naughty, which is quite often. She's a small, we've set up a nursery of sorts in our bathroom. Gunston comes in to visit and get use to her under supervision. She's a feisty little thing! Here are some photos of their interaction. There's only one good photo of Bella, as she will not sit still long enough to get one!
Baby Bella
Toy Killing
Gunnie in Bella's pink kitty condo - very silly.
Gunston being pushy