Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I'm knocked down with a cold that could take out a giant.  I finally feel well enough today to do a little knitting.  I'm working on my mystery shawl knit along with the yarn I spun up form Somemores's fleece.

Hopefully I'm on the upside of the mending hill.  I hope to be able to share progress with you later this week.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Few Things

It has been a busy week.  My summer school schedule has altered.  It turns out that I'm not taking classes this summer.  They have been canceled due to lack of enrollment.  The school just put through a really dumb rule that classes needed at least fifteen students or they would be canceled. I was told this has created a horrible headache for the advising department, visiting students and resident students.  Many art classes are small to begin with so this has greatly impacted things at my local community college.  My schedule was made in March and since I'm attending two different schools, it is very challenging to make the schedule work.  It also means I'm going to be very busy in the fall, making up classes that I should have already had.

On the tail end of the classes debacle, Mister and I have a trip that just presented itself.  We will be going to Seattle for a weekend next month.  Mister used to live there and still has friends and contacts up that way.  So we're jumping on plane and scouting around.  I'm looking forward to being near mountains and the sea!  I might have to try to find a fibery place as well.  Know any?

Knitting News

I finally finished poor Mister's socks.  He is very happy with them.  It has been in the 90s this week with a million percent humidity.  Perhaps he'll get to wear them someday....

I've also been knitting away on my Cassidy cardigan.  It is a lovely knit, but my gosh the pattern has A LOT to be desired.  I feel like I've done more writing than knitting.  In many parts there are multiple things going on a once - three cable charts, increases and decreases, etc.  To keep them all straight, I've been making notes to keep myself advised.  I finished the back and the left front sections.  I'm working on the right front, and the pattern just glibly tells me to reverse all the information from the left front.  Um, you couldn't write it out yourself?  The left front's instructions for shaping the armhole, shoulder and neckline were laughable.  I love the sweater, but I'm not sure I'll buy another pattern from this designer.

A Favorite Thing

While I've been knitting and spinning away, I've gotten hooked into a TV program from Canada (thank you Canada!).  Heartland takes place on an Alberta ranch and centers around teenager Amy, her older sister Lou, grandfather Jack and a host of other great characters.

Amy works with problem horses using methods made famous by the so called horse whisperers.  In working with various horse problems, the show also incorporates veterinary medicine along with alternative medicine.  Just like many real life situations, viewers will note that often horse problems are really people problems.  The show isn't heavy handed or preachy - they just go about their business and present everything.  

I also like the fact that not all the characters get along or are perfect.  The relationships ebb and flow and don't feel forced.  They are flawed, doing the best they can and finding away to make things work.  My only complaint is the young character, Mallory, the neighbor's daughter.  Mallory is annoying and constantly underfoot.  Why do TV shows feel the need to have this character (Full House - Kimmy)?  Mallory's character constantly gets in the way, messes things up, but in some episodes seems redeemable.  Perhaps it is uneven writing problem and a resistance to let the character evolve from just the annoying kid?

Heartland also delivers plenty of gratuitous horse glamour shots to make any barn-heart happy.  As a lifelong horse lover,  Heartland scratches multiple itches - good story lines, breathtaking landscape, and did I mention lovely horse cinema photography?

There are three seasons on Netflix, so what are you waiting for?!  Go!  I'm hoping Netflix adds more episodes soon - I'm almost out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Quintet of Wheels

So if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll already have a sneak peek about what I’m going to share.  Last Friday, Mister and I road tripped it up to Northern Illinois to pick up a wheel.

Yes, another wheel.

This is a special wheel, one that was on my to get someday list.  The opportunity presented itself and I jumped on it.

Meet Elsie, the Frank Fell/Mayville spinning wheel. 

These wheels were made in Mayville, Wisconsin between mid 1800s until 1935.  There is no way of telling when my wheel is made.  What I do know is that the Mayville Furniture company started making these wheels.  When they stopped, Frank Fell purchased the lathe and continued making them until his death in 1935.

Last fall, I told Tracey a member of my local spinning group about an auction that had four wheels up for sale.  I couldn’t go to the auction that day as I had an art history exam and a critique.  Tracey went and bought two wheels one of which she found out was a Frank Fell wheel.  She cleaned it up and brought it to a spinning group.  I was there with my camera and an assignment for my photography class.  I took pictures of the wheel and just fell in love with it.  The wheel is so lovely with beautiful turnings and gorgeous glow.  There are many people on Ravelry’s various groups that have Frank Fell wheels so I kept my eyes open. 

These wheels are known to be good spinners. I wanted something that looks like a traditional wheel, which would be easy to take to markets and craft fairs.  Elsie is all of these things.  She needs some attention.  Her flyer has an old break that I’d like a wheelwright to look to make sure it is a stable fix.  She needs a spa day with a cleaning and I’d like to remove her old finishes.  Her bobbin & whorl are chipped.  The chips don’t interfere with spinning.  I’d also like to see about getting a few extra bobbins made.

I named her Elsie to honor my maternal grandmother who lived in Wisconsin.  I thought this would be a fitting way to remember her.

The woman that I bought Elsie from is a beginning spinner.  Learning to spin on an antique wheel is problematic.  Spinning has many skills going on at the same time. 

Treadling the wheel in the proper direction
Maintaining a steady treadle
Handling the wool
Drafting the wool
Drafting consistently without the wool getting away from you
Monitoring the tension and adjusting

Older wheels have their quirks and an experienced spinner knows the subtle changes that occur and how to quickly tweak them.  I brought my Schacht Ladybug wheel on the trip to allow the new spinner to try and gave her a mini-lesson.  She loved the Ladybug and was very able to make the kind of yarn that eluded her on Elsie.  Given practice and experience, she will certainly be able to use older wheels.  But to learn a new skill, why make it hard? 

So now I have a family, a flock, a herd of spinning wheels.  I love each and every one of them.  Each has a unique history, use and eye appeal.  They make a lovely group don’t they?

 Roll Call:
Diana – Schacht Ladybug, 2010
Julia – Canada Production Wheel, made sometime between 1850-1920
Trinket – Dutch Gelders Wheel imported from the Netherlands, perhaps 1980s
Saffron – Hallcraft Wheel kit, 1974
Elsie – Frank Fell/Mayville Wheel, made sometime between 1830-1935

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer School

I start class for six weeks tomorrow. It has been a little hectic around here with Mister's schedule and my schedule.   I have a lot to report on, but it will have to wait for a bit.  Stay tuned this week and I'll share all the doings around here.

Until then, enjoy this basket of lovely Somemore Fleece buns!  Yummy!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Waterlogged Plans

I meant to blog earlier.  I wanted to share what has been happening around here.  Like the handspun scarf that I finished, the art yarn, and the silk yarn that I finished the other day.  

I wanted to share how much I was enjoying working with Somemore's fleece and how it is just a glorious color.

Instead, I've been dealing with a horrendous mess.  Late last night I heard water running and in my sleepy state figured it was our neighbors.  Then I realized that I've never heard their water before.  Down in the kitchen pouring from under the sink water was spilling all over.  It took a bit to figure out where, and we shut off the master valve.  Today we are drying out, and trying to fix a ruptured dishwasher hose.  It has been a multiple trip to the store kinda day.  Blah.

Hope your Friday has been a lot more damp than mine and filled with handspun, knitting and spinning.

Next week, I'm back in the dye kitchen and gearing up or Tour de Fleece.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spinning Wheel Flock

Please meet Saffron.

Saffron is joining my flock of wheels.  She was purchased from a grandparents' house clean out and is in remarkable condition.  She is a 1974 Hallcraft 2710 spinning wheel from a kit.  She arrived with manual, color brochure and a nice booklet on spinning.  These wheels were made in Ohio and sold by a furniture company.  They arrived in pieces and needed sanding, assembling and finishing. 
Her finish is a nice 1970s orange glow over maple.  I was wondering about stripping it out and refinishing her.  But after a day, her orange-ness is becoming charming.  The wood is in good condition and the finish is pretty intact.  The grandparents did a fine job protecting the wheel from their now grown grandchildren.

I've seen kit wheels at my spinning group before and grabbed her.  We had some time together tweaking and making her spin.  I had to find a drive band she liked and replace some of her leathers.  A little oil and away she went.  Her orfice is quite small and her flyer hooks are too.  She spins quite nicely and I'm impressed with her.  

So the wheel flock now numbers at four.  I'm still on the lookout for my Scandinavian dream wheels (Finnish wheel with arched uprights & a slanty Swedish wheel) to honor family heritage.  I'd also like a Frank Fell/Mayfield wheel.  I know that one day the family will grow to include these wheels.  I hope by then Mister and I have a little more space.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Weekend Plans

I have a few plans for this weekend and most of them I'll be flying solo on.  Mister is getting pretty busy with music gigs and prepping for the summer semester.  The life of a musician and mathematician can be pretty interesting.  While Mister is away, I plan to use the yarn that I spun this week (remember the mohair/silk blend from Tuesday?) to weave a scarf with some hand dyed yarn as the warp.

Handspun worsted weight yarn 180 yards

Next is I'm FINALLY casting on my Cassidy cardigan.  I ordered the yarn in January and it arrived in March.  I sat it my desk and looked at it for a while.  Three weeks ago I began to swatch and then set the partial swatch aside for other projects.  Yesterday I finally sat down and finished it, washed and block the swatch.  Today I measured for gauge and cast on.  Hopefully the sweater won't continue to be a black hole of time.  I guess it depends on how fast I knit and if other projects begin to flirt with me.  So far the biggest competitors for time will be the fleece.

Lastly, I plan on heading out for the Rendezvous at Fort De Chartres.  I went last year and it was a lot of fun.  We've had a cool snap here and I'm really hoping it holds for the weekend.  Last year it was beastly hot, especially for the reenactors in period clothing.  Yikes!