Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Walk With Me Wednesday

With due credit to Smatterings here's a post of my Wednesday walk.

I've mentioned before that I walk in our township park. In the summer I have to get up very early in order to have it mostly to myself. But this time of year I, and a few others like me, get to reclaim it for ourselves. In the same way, the wild nooks and crannies expand to reclaim the park once the sprayscape shuts down; the baseball diamonds lie fallow; and it's too cold, wet, and nasty for the playscape.

Here's the fishpond. The ducks and a family of muskrats have been busy in the pond on most of my walks, but they're keeping to themselves today. The weather is about to change, which probably explains their quiet.

A close up of spent featherbells:

The sledding hill is ready for the first accumulation of snow (which might be Friday!):

Reminds me of that song: "Signs, signs, everywhere signs....".

I ask you, what is sledding if not horseplay?!

Growing up in the Chestnut Ridge area of Pennsylvania, every alleyway around the perimeter of town became a sledding hill. And there were no rules, much to the chagrin of Mrs. Schaeffer whose house used to sit at base of the best sledding hill in West Derry. There wasn't a kid in that town who hadn't banged their sled into the stone foundation of that home....right next to her wooden back steps.

Here in SE Michigan, people drive (!?!) up to 15 miles to find a sledding hill. Only to arrive and find rules! And boundaries:

And while looking forward to the arrival of that first blanket of snow, we are reminded of picnics past:

Thanks for walking with me.

Monday, November 27, 2006


This morning I woke up with a weird case of vertigo which seems to be related to a bad combination of my inner ears and Michigan weather. My day has been divided into almost equal portions of sleeping and spinning. With these disturbing sensations of being disoriented in space, it seems best to stay close to the ground, so I've been spinning a my support spindle.

This is the day's accomplishment:

Last week Ted did a couple of blog entries on spindle spinning. I'm a fairly accomplished spinner on the wheel, but my introduction to spindle spinning was with pencil roving and a boat anchor drop spindle before quickly jumping to the wheel. As a result, my spindle spinning skills remained undeveloped.

For some reason, the time for spindle spinning has arrived in my life. Not in an acquisitive way, where one goes on ebay and buys every spindle that catches one's fancy. If there's any acquisition involved, it's more likely to be an acquisition of skill.

I like the technical aspect of spinning, even though I'm not a "treadle counter" and "length of draft" measurer. There's great pleasure to be found in selecting the right method for preparing the fiber. Then deciding which drafting style to use and deciding the diameter and twist of the yarn for it's intended use. Keeping notes and records and swatches all together for reference as the project progresses helps to keep me focused on the end product.

In both knitting and weaving, there is cross over from those involved in manufacturing to those involved in the handcraft. I've never come across that as a spinner. Surely there must be a textile engineer out there who has mastered the spindle or the wheel. But I've never come across one. Curious, isn't it?

This cotton/silk sliver has been in my stash for years. I've spun some of it on each of my 3 wheels. Some of that yarn became the pattern weft in a summer and winter woven sampler. But I've never really liked the yarn that came from the wheels.

Today those colors of a summer sunset were such a pleasure to slowly draft, insert twist, and wind onto the spindle in a quiet meditative way. The pace of life was slowed to something more manageable. Spindle spinning is not about production, it's about process. With no end product in mind, the quality of the thread spoke for itself as I wound it onto the spindle.

One could do worse than to live a strand of their life between the pinch of the twist and the wind onto the spindle.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Best Quote I've Heard all Week...

Listening to the Splendid Table this noon I heard this interview of Danny Meyer. He said the most striking thing:

"Hospitality consists of passing on the four things we recieve at birth: a smile, eye contact, a hug, and nourishing food."

What a simple and profound statement. Something to think about as we dig our heels in and head into the holiday season.

His focus of: "Your guests will seldom remember what you served, but they will remember the experience of the meal and how it made them feel." is similar to the words of my friend Mary, an elementary school teacher: "They won't always remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

I've already been to our library website and reserved his book. Now for the challenge of applying the sentiments.

Wishing all who read here a blessed Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just looking around...

Thanks for the encouraging comments on the last post. Nothing on the tube tonight so I decided to surf YouTube. Here are some clips you might enjoy.

First of all, if you use "handspinning" as your search term on YouTube you get some unexpected results. But there's some fun things there too. Take a look at Blood, Sweat & Wool. Then there's the strange and weird Wool Boy.

I thought I was a fast knitter until Fast Knitting.

While we're on the subject of speed take a look at: Speed Weaving. After seeing this I've decided that my technique needs some work.

And This Little Lamb would probably tell you that speed is not always a good thing.

Finishing with a bit of history, you can watch Mrs. Helen Madrell card and spin wool in a film clip from 1938 on the Isle of Man. When you look at this clip, think about it: in 1938 she had no idea that people around the world would be sitting watching her 68 years later. I've never been able to get the back of the cards to roll a rolag like that. Her style of handling the wool suggest she's spinning in the grease to me.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

why do I do this...and why would anyone care.

You can tell by my lack of entries over the last months that blogging has lost it's luster. Life had been busy and topsy-turvy which has been a distraction from the fiber, and I'm not one to put my personal life in a private journal let alone a world wide web blog.

Matters personal and public vary for different people. My last entry is as personal as I care to get with others....even in person. Yet, there have been times in the past couple weeks when people, whom I come close to considering enemies, have told me things I would find hard to tell my doctor.

Sometimes I feel like my personality has this big blindspot when it comes to other people. My perception is that I'm being open,accepting, and generous...then wham, someone shows up with a dumptruck and dumps a load on me, letting me know just how selfish, insensitive, arrogant, and clueless I really am. How do you respond to that? I've reached the stage of life where my response is: "Yep, you're probably right." and walk away.

But here's the kicker....these very same people come back and act like nothing has happened. The only explanation I can come up with is: they've dumped their load and now they feel better. So what if someone else is left standing in their pile of .......

Last week was one of the most interesting weeks of my life. It began with an Elder's meeting at church where we took 40 minutes to decide the best way to introduce the new worship books at church. But it only took about 16 seconds to determine that we were keeping the Lord's Prayer with the "thee's and thou's". I marveled on this as I walked away from that meeting. None of us speak with thee's and thou's in the rest of our language, but we are attached to that language from our earliest prayer.

Next came a discussion in another group I'm involved with about how to place two Chinese ladies, who barely speak English, in a women's group in order to be encouraging and inviting to them. Not coming from Chinese culture, we decided to keep them together and pair them with a woman who lived in China for 4 years on a corporate transfer. The feedback we got later is that the Chinese culture in general is very "relational" and this was probably the best way to handle the situation. So far so good on that decision.

Wednesday was the dump truck day referred to above.

Then on Thursday, I was invited to attend the Jewish Women's book and author luncheon which was fabulous. Before the luncheon, the two women who co-chaired the event said the blessing for the meal in Hebrew (I couldn't help but think of clinging to my "thee's and thou's" earlier in the week.) The authors were fabulous speakers (which is not often the case) and all had personal connections to the Holocaust. Sadly the date of this event was the 68th anniversary of Kristallknacht. The solemnity of that event I understood...but some (not all) of the Jewish humor went right past me.

Friday was a huge Synod event at our church to kick off the introduction of the new worship book (AKA hymnal) at our church. Now, our church is in a "white bread" sort of community. But the SE MI region was represented and about 30% of those in attendance were African American. Wow, what a service!! The homily was given by an African American man from Detroit based on the passage from Luke where Christ is telling the apostles, "the kingdom of heaven is like...." The title for the homily was "Songs in the Key of Life" (due credit to Stevie Wonder was given). The church was transformed. I remember at one point looking over at the choir while they were 'getting down', and there was one of our elderly, white haired, spinster choir ladies with high color in her cheeks as she swayed and clapped from side to side. It was like being on the set for Sister Act. There was an enormous sense of love and affection present. And when we said the Lord's prayer there were "Heavenly Father" and "Our Father" and "your and you" along with "thee and thou" and it was all good.

Jump to Monday night and an interfaith bible study as we looked at Joshua and Judges and tried to make sense of Holy War in Old Testament times and today. It was heartening to sit and listen to people wrestle with their faith and try to reconcile themselves with God and man and war. I believe that there is no true faith unless there is doesn't just simply have faith, one has to wrestle and come to terms with the meaning of their faith in a world that challenges it every step of the way. And there must be a surrender...a surrender of one's human will for the betterment of others and to the glory of God.

So, what have I learned this week?
- That heritage and culture run deep within our veins.
- We must learn to keep what is meaningful to us while respecting and trying to understand what is meaningful to others.
- That sharing is important.
- That we would do well to search for what unifies us rather than what divides us.
- That Wikipedia has no entry for Kristallknacht, so I requested one.
- That there's a great Peace History calendar which I bookmarked.
- That our church can hold a lot more sounds of joy than I ever imagined.
- That it's okay if I haven't been doing much knitting, spinning, or weaving.

And tomorrow I have a meeting with the lady with the dumptruck. Think I'll go get my shovel. (Maybe I get along better with people outside my culture?)

Friday, November 10, 2006

I Couldn't Make This Stuff UP, Part II.....

Last week I ordered this sweater online. It looked like a nice, modest sweater to get "cleaned up" in. Now we all know that the necklines this year have plunged to new depths, but look at the picture. Modest, no?

The sweater arrived via UPS. I tried it on. The fit is very good, but for a gal whom "Hidden Valley" means more than a salad dressing, it was too revealing. There's no way I could do anything but stand up ramrod straight and maintain my dignity in this sweater.

So I headed to the store to buy myself one of these:

I figured a nice little band of lace across the expanse would meet my requirements for modesty.

It was a warm sunny day (one of the few these past 6 weeks) so I headed out in a cotton long sleeve T-top. Upon arriving in the lingerie section all of the camisoles were hanging from these little posts sticking out from the wall....5 tiers of them. I browsed through the display at eye level and below, and these sizes were all for women who barely need a bra.

I need a bra. In fact, I need a relatively substantial bra, with underwires, for garments to fit well.

So I looked up. There on the tippy top two tiers were the 38+ camisoles. The store is somewhat lacking in customer service (aren't they all these days?) So I leaned forward on tippy toe to reach up and grasp a size that might fit.

As I was up on my toes, lifting and reaching, I felt something catch in my middle front. It was one of those display hooks at the lower level and it hooked front and center under the band of my underwire bra. Startled, I lowered my heels back to the floor which gave that hook a better purchase and it tugged my bra up over "the girls".

There I stood in the middle of the store at 10:00 AM looking like the four boobed monster under my T-shirt. The dressing room in lingerie is locked, with a sign telling me to go across the sales floor to Misses Wear.

Every other day in the past week I would have at least had a coat on. I just decided to stand facing the camisoles with my back to the sales floor and try to get everything back in proper position. It was then I noticed the little metal reacher they had tucked away in the corner of the display....grrr.

Shortly thereafter another woman, around my age and with similar fit problems came up to the camisoles and looked up at where her size would be. She looked at me and said, "Now why do they always put my size way out of reach." I looked at her and said, "For entertainment." I told her what happened and she laughed 'til tears came. I handed her the reacher.

BTW, a camisole works very nicely under the sweater. I wore it yesterday.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Selected Short Subjects:

There's been a certain lack of focus in my life lately, so I decided to take on a few quick and simple projects. There's nothing like a finished project to spur one on to the next finish line.

So here we have the Braided Cable Scarf designed by Miriam Felton. The yarn in use is handspun Icelandic spun (by me) from roving about a year ago. It's about halfway to completed length and will have fringe added:

In the "finished" category are these Fetching Fingerless Gloves from the summer issue of Knitty. The yarn is Galway. The color on my monitor is pretty accurate as a peachy-pink.

I'd like to design a hat to match the fingerless gloves. It wouldn't take much effort and would use up the rest of the yarn.

Another short subject is a completed skein of Cormo laceweight yarn: 2 ply, 32 WPI, 450 yd. skein. The yarn was spun from mini-combed locks with a semi-worsted drafting style. It was dyed with Pro-chem acid dye in 'dull red'. However it is hardly dull...and refused to photograph well with a digital camera. This yarn is destined to be the Swallowtail Shawl (scroll down the linked page) from the Fall Interweave Knits.

It occurs to me that these would be handy gift items for the holiday season. It also occurs to me that if approached that way, completion of these items would happen sometime in the middle of 2010.

Probably the best way to approach these things is to follow the message on this afternoon's Dark Chocolate Dove Promise wrapper: "Don't think about it so much."

I'm still working on the Print of the Wave Stole, the Lace Cardigan, the warp from Bonnie I's workshop. I've washed some more of the grey wool seen in the previous post. And am still thinking about the Wedding Ring Shawl (from Sharon Miller, author of Heirloom Knitting) and whether this is really a good time in my life to be thinking about spinning lots of gossamer yarn to knit something that would be more heirloom than functional in my life.

See?...focus....I need focus.....