Monday, December 31, 2007

Early breaking birthday news....

I haven't blown out any candles yet, but I got my wish: tickets for this so I can get to see and hear her in person.

I own all of her US released cd's and I can pick her playing out over other violin soloists almost immediately (I have no other musical talent). IMO, Josh Bell is cute, but Hilary has a better sound.

Think about it violin music.....strings making sounds. Just another form of fiber play!

Thank you Leigh and Jackie for the birthday comments. Jackie is right...stuff does creep in on little cat's feet...but also on the not so little size 11's and 12's of my dh and ds!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I survived Christmas of '07

No pictures...it wasn't very pretty. But the chest cold, creeping crud took over as we made an 800 mile round trip through Pa. and the homes of various family members. We arrived home in time for Christmas Eve, where I slept on the couch while dh and ds assembled and decorated the tree. I continued to sleep while they went to Christmas Eve candlelight service. Woke up for Christmas morning and presents, then back to sleep.

If you thought you should have gotten a Christmas card from me and didn't....well, better luck next year. Some things just didn't happen this year.

Right now I have considerably more energy but little endurance. And there's still the cough, less often but still annoying.

So here we are contemplating the end of another year. As always, for me it is a double dose of such contemplation since my birthday is 12/31.

Once again I am sorting through papers, weeding things out, tossing, shredding and putting together piles of things to donate to charity. It seems that I blog more about weeding out closets, drawers, and whole rooms more than I do about fiber. Where does all this stuff come from??!! (I am not a shopper...I do not shop online, I have not set foot in a mall for anything more than lunch or to pick up my glasses in at least a year!)

Knitting continues on the "cozy vest" that I've logged in Ravelry. Somehow, I have not experienced the enthusiasm for Ravelry that some others have. It's a cool way to keep track of projects and stuff (see "stuff" above), but so far I've taken the minimalist approach to the use of Ravelry (where I am vmusselm if you want to stop in).

The "cozy vest" is plain brown knitting, in a sort of brioche stitch rib. Very slow going and not much sensory stimulation in looking at plain dark brown fabric. There are also some socks and charity knitting on the needles which I have not yet documented.

So, perhaps 2008 is going to be about "stuff"......culling, using, and organizing that which is worthy of remaining. And maybe a moratorium on acquiring, at least for awhile....if I can figure out where the acquiring happens.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A personal Christmas ritual.....

I own the vhs copy of this, and have done since 1993.



I am not of the generation, nor am I the sort of person, who watches movies over and over again....except for this one. Each year I make a point of sitting down to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol. Everything that I need for entertainment is in here.

My favorite lines:
Scrooge: "You're a little absent minded, Spirit."
Spirit of Christmas: "No, I'm a LARGE absent minded Spirit!"

This morning I woke up with a cold so perhaps this may be the "Muppet Christmas Carol day" this year. And maybe for next year I'll have the dvd version.

Hope it loads smoothly for you to enjoy.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Soon and Very Soon....



Eight inches of snow on the ground,it's still coming down, and the wind is picking up. Ds was scheduled to drive home today but they have 10" of snow on the ground at Purdue. We've talked him into "staying put" until tomorrow which is supposed to be a clear day. He didn't fail to remind me that it was me who told him to empty his fridge before coming home. Oh well, there will be plenty of Christmas gluttony once he gets home.

If you're wondering where the title of this post comes from, it's origins are here:
here
A great advent hymn!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sit back, turn up the sound....



and let Christmas begin in your heart.....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In response to comments....

To Stef and Lee: Yes the picture was taken on Wednesday evening. I was closing the blinds and drapes to keep out the cold and the moon winked at me through the pines. So I grabbed the tripod, camera, and coat and ran outside for a photo op.

Upon first viewing the photo, I was entranced by the stars.....but then there appears to be a star right in the middle of a tree trunk. So now, I'm not so sure about those "stars".

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December Moon:


The days continue to get shorter. But here in Michigan who would notice since the last few days have been dark the whole day long. Today was the break in the weather and we had glorious sunshine. This was taken about 6:00 PM . Not the sun, but we can also enjoy the 'moonshine'!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Not so Oblique and a book....

After knitting 4" in pattern on the back of Oblique I did not like the fabric made by this combination of yarn and pattern. So into the frog pond we went.

I've had this Blue Faced Leicester yarn by Berroco in my stash for awhile. They don't make it anymore and it is truly a delicious yarn deserving of the perfect pattern.

Problem is, I have a lot of delicious yarns waiting for the perfect pattern. Some of those yarns have been with me quite awhile. I had a dream the other night that my yarn stash turned into the knitters version of a petrified forest. Beautiful yarns destined to remain yarns, never realizing their potential to become a garment or other useful item.

However, the Cozy Vest continues apace, urged on by the cold, snowy weather that seems to be here to stay.

Good news came from Library Thing this week. A few weeks ago, I followed the links to the Early Reviewer section of LT and signed up to be an early reviewer. They emailed me this week to tell me that a free copy of Mary Doria Russell's new book Dreamers of the Day. I'm excited by this because I've enjoyed this author's previous books and the topic interests me.

In other book news, tomorrow I have a 25% off coupon at Borders. I intend to get myself over there and purchase a copy of Opium Season: A Year on the Afghan Frontier.

And with all this lust for acquisition going on, one might wonder how my Christmas shopping is going. It's going very well, thank you. But you must recall that early December is also "Frummie Toomie" season here in Fiberewetopia. (Frummie Toomie was established at my previous blog home and can best be described as: one for them and one for me. The one for me is "from: me" "to: me".)

Onward....

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Cat Ate My Homework and Startitis:

Well, Christina got the teaching contract. She is now installed as teacher of the 5th grade. Perhaps her Christmas will be her first instance of the "the cat ate my homework". Here is the perpetrator once again:

However, I own my share of responsibility. The yarn is Kidsilk Haze, the cat was apparently sleeping in my lap and pulled the edge of the scarf to herself and "cuddled" it in her sleep. Sharp teeth + rough kitty tongue = torn edge of scarf:


Fortunately, I was able to thread a knitting needle through the next garter stitch row, cut off the damaged part, then knit on another beginning border. Two pattern repeats were lost which was about an hour of knitting. Here's the scarf waiting to be blocked later today:


Cold weather has descended upon Michigan and today we are awaiting the arrival of our first winter storm. Winter chill inspires wardrobe additions:

This is Oblique being knitted in Berroco Wensleydale Longwool from the stash. I'll probably modify the pattern a bit to suit my own sensibility, but such a cardigan is just what the weather forecaster has ordered right now.

And I like to wear warm vests around the house in winter. This Cozy Vest pattern from The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book has been on my to do list for a long time. Joann's had Patons Classic Merino Wool on sale at 2 skeins for $6, so I've started a new vest too:

I have plenty of knitting to keep me busy for now. Meanwhile I am finishing Warm Windows for my son to take back to his college apartment. Once those are done, the path to the looms will be clear. Who knows, I may finish the year by weaving off the two aging warps on the floor looms!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Traditions....

For a lot of years I've tried very hard not to have holiday "traditions". When I was growing up, traditions always seemed stifling and obligatory. The tradition became the holiday and then you are stuck. If something happened that derailed the tradition, then everyone mourned the tradition, which got in the way of simply celebrating the holiday in another way. It turns out all of my efforts failed. In this house it appears we do indeed have Thanksgiving traditions.

At noon on Thanksgiving Day, it would not be Thanksgiving if we didn't invite Arlo Guthrie in to sing Alice's restaurant. Something like this. Our 21 year old son loves this tradition, knows all the words, and we all wait expectantly for the line of "this is a difficult case of American blind justice!"

Another tradition is sharing Thanksgiving dinner with some dear friends, Mary, Len, and the kids. This year was particularly special because it's the first time their son was able to join us since 2001. His intervening years have been spent in the military, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

The food was wonderful and it was great to have the 'kids' (young twenties) at the table laughing and reminiscing. Lots of laughter and lots of love.

Thanks for having us Mary everything was great!

Happy Thanksgiving to the U.S. readers and anyone else who happens by.
Now, off to knit on Christmas presents, which would be...... another Thanksgiving tradition.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New WIP:

This is a Christmas present for my husband's niece. The pattern is Wisp. The yarn is Kidsilk Haze.
We draw names on his side of the family and this pattern reminds me of her. She's 24 years old and this year she is a permanent substitute teacher in a 4th grade classroom. It would be great if this would turn into a contract position for her.

While I was at the yarn store a couple other things jumped into the bag:
Some Kid Seta which may turn into a Wisp of my very own.

And since brown has returned as a fashion color, some plain brown sock yarn.

All small, portable projects which increases the chances they'll be completed in a reasonable time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Diagonal Knit Vest:

Diagonal knit vest
Originally uploaded by vmusselm.
At last a finished project!

This was a simple knit that spent too much time waiting in the knitting bag. I wore it yesterday over a black mock turtleneck and black knit slacks. Many compliments ensued. I am happy with this project.


The yarn is Plymouth Yarn's Suri Merino. All of the details are posted on Ravelry where my name is "vmusselm".

I took some time yesterday to catch some photo's of the remaining autumn color. It is totally amazing to still have this color on November 12 in Michigan.















Enjoy them now....they surely won't be here much longer! Snow and sleet are forecast for Thursday.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

tagged again.....

On Halloween I was tagged by Stef for the "seven tidbits of information about me that I haven’t divulged previously in this blog."
Hmmm...it's been busy the past week or so, and I've kept a blog for a long time. Perhaps I've divulged everything that's worth putting in print? Then again, the old blog no longer exists, so perhaps some things might be repeated. Only long time readers with good memories will know.

1. On the very first day that I went to school, the teacher had "Indian head dresses" made of construction paper for us to wear with our names printed right over the forehead (this was 1957, before political correctness). When the teacher left the room for a few moments, I took the cue from the head dress and started to march around the room doing that whoo-whoo thing, tapping the hand over the mouth. Pretty soon everyone was lined up behind me as we went in circles around the room doing our friendly war dance. When Miss Johnson came back into the room, Tommy Brantlinger ratted me out as the instigator. She was very nice about it, but my seat got moved up to the front shortly thereafter.

2. Sometimes it feels like I've been leading "the Indians" or more appropriately, herding cats, ever since. And sometimes I wonder if it's just that I'm not a very good follower which causes me to often end up as the reluctant leader. The only cure has been to quit work, and quit joining any sort of organization.

3. On occasion I have dreams that are auditory only. There is no visual part to them and they are usually pretty disturbing. When I've told anyone about this, I've never gotten the response "me too"!! Surely someone else out there has "sound" dreams?

4. My very first job out of highschool was teacher's aide in a summer Headstart program. One of the first things I learned on the job was: Do not let every kid in the room take a puzzle out of the rack. The teacher I worked for didn't teach me that. It was an experiential thing.

5. My next job between my freshman and sophomore year of college was at Idlewild Park in the food service division. It was years before I could get past the smell of a hotdog let alone eat one. There was no "Soak Zone" back then....at least not officially.

6. After that, my college money came from being a clerk at the A&P and a member of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union. The worst thing about that is I still remember 1972-3 prices for staple goods when I send my groceries through the check out. However, it did pay well for a college student at that time.

7. Lately I've noticed that the skin on my face is beginning to fit like an old, cheap pair of pantyhose. Everything seems fine when I'm putting on my minimal makeup in the morning. Later in the day, I'll catch a glimpse of a reflection in a window, rear view mirror, etc....and sure enough that "pantyhose skin" is bagging around my jaw, neck, or eyelid....sometimes all three!!

Well...that's my 7....I'll not pass along the tag. But if you want to pick up the thread, join in! Just let us know so we can visit and read your deep dark secrets.

Coming up tomorrow: Finished things!! The family room is back together and there's a completed handknit item which I wore today.


Monday, October 29, 2007

So, What do Beth of Three Sheeps to the Wind and Robert Fulghum
have in common?

Well...together they have inspired me to share something on the blog that I wasn't going to share.

As one gets on in life, it gets harder and harder to try something new. First of all...if you've lived awhile, you've tried a lot of things and have pretty much figured out your preferences.

Then, if you've become reasonably proficient in some things, there's a risk in trying things in which you have no proficiency at all. So, why subject yourself to that risk? But Robert Fulghum's essay about "dancing all the dances as long as you can" was a good reminder to me. (Please click on the link and listen to it, not just read it.) So I hope this will be an inspiration to you.

Well...last Wednesday AM, I plunged in and took the risk. At the gym they've begun offering a new class right after my PiYo class. So I was rolling up my mat after PiYo, getting ready to head to the park for a walk when an acquaintance from PiYo said, "Come on, stay with me for the Cuban Dance class. It'll be fun and you'll get your cardio workout done."

So I did...and I'm proud to say I could even get out of bed the next morning. If you're wondering how it went...this video has about the right level of activity. We didn't get down to our knees, and we didn't wear the Cuban garb (particularly the high heels), but we went at it for 50 minutes. The "real thing" was not as pretty as this, but it was every bit as much fun. I'll be taking my "dancing shoes" to PiYo again next week:


Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!


Now, what about you? Get out there and try something new!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wake up call....

For all the cat people. And there are many of you in the fiber community...



This is the reason our cat sleeps in the basement and doesn't come up until we come downstairs for the day. Believe me, she makes up for it between 4PM and 6PM (6PM is her dinner time).

Still painting.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thinking about Art & Creativity.....

And it's importance in everyday life. Working on this redecorating project has pretty much brought my fiber life to a halt. The looms sit behind the family room furniture which has been moved to the dining room for the duration. The spinning wheels are also inaccessible. And much of my time has been spent painting or trying to put things together in a way that is pleasing to the eye.

Over the past couple weeks I've been so grateful for the art education I received through public school education in the 60's. And for all the color and design theory I've learned as a byproduct of weaving workshops and guild participation. None of this was my primary educational objective. I'm not a professional artist, nor do I aspire to be. But this supplemental education has enriched my life beyond measure.

Sad to say that when funds are tight in education (when are they not?!) the arts are the first thing to go. If a person doesn't show a special artistic talent, they may never learn that the secret to drawing is as much about training the eye as in training the hand. Or they never learn the language of color to help them get dressed, let alone create a comfortable environment for themselves.

It's been a great exercise for me to assemble paint chips, fabrics, window treatments, etc. to put together this room. All the more so, because I'm not starting from scratch but am challenged to make a new look while keeping some basic furnishings.

As mentioned earlier, the Mary Warshaw print arrived this week, which meant it needs to be matted and framed. I knew what I wanted to pull out in the picture, so thought a 'quick and dirty' run to Joann's with my 50% off coupon would do the trick. I spent 2.5 hours trying to communicate with the person behind the counter who seemed to have no background in color theory or design. I should have walked away when she started with: "What colors are in your room?" Instead I walked away, print in hands (it's a big print!) with very tired eyes.

The next day I headed to a place where I knew the woman had more art training. We put together exactly what I wanted in 20 minutes. We spoke the same language and putting it all together was a joy. And they too had a 50% off coupon.

Now I must head back to the paintbrush. The walls in this room are board and batten cedar, which means all brush painting, no rollers to make it go quick. Maybe standing on a step stool doing trim work with a one inch paintbrush is affecting my perception, but this video speaks to me right now. It's certainly a counterpoint to the way I am meticulously agonizing about the right shade of the inner border of the picture mat, or should the window treatments match or harmonize. Skip the jingoism, get sucked into his process:



PS: (later that same day) This afternoon it became evident that the walls are going to need a second coat of paint. With a brush. NOW I feel like imitating Michael Israel.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Book Me-Me:
I've been tagged for the book me-me by Cathy. Hmm, this will take some thought to avoid regretting my answers once the publish button is clicked.

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?

Trade paperback when possible. They are sturdy, economical, recyclable, and easy to handle. It's just one way to be good between the covers .

2. If I were to own a book shop, I would call it…

There used to be a book store in the area which had a coffee shop, at least a decade and a half before B&N and Borders caught the idea. The name of that store: Eye Browse. I could never top that name.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
"Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise." Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye (1988)

3a. My favorite quote from a blogger
"But we persist. We knit and spin and dye and weave, and sometimes fling beads on everything, and call it good.

It has to be for the love of it. " Sara Lamb


4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be…

I'll pick two:
Alive: Margaret Atwood
Deceased: Wallace Stegner

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be…

Again, I would try to wheedle my way into taking two. One would be the Bible (either NIV or Revised Standard version)....there's every kind of story in there and some great poetry as well. The second would be Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins .

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that…

They already have and you can see it here.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of…

browsing around used book stores.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…

phew boy...the only ones I can think of are pretty tragic. Let's see there's the unnamed narrator in Rebecca (as in.."Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.") It would be intriguing but stressful to be that character.

I've got it: Bathsheba Everdene ! That's the character for me!


9. The most overestimated book of all times is…

No thinking required on this one: The DaVinci Code. (Notice I didn't even put a link.)

10. I hate it when a book…

Has a lot of graphic violence that isn't necessary to the plot or story line. Patricia Cornwell has gone down this path since her earliest books.

And now for the tagging part - if they are so inclined:

I would be interested in seeing what Lee and Sharon would write. Mary and I attend book group together, and we talk books, but I don't know what her answers would be. And I'd love to read Catherine's responses, but I don't know if she'll do a Me-Me.

And any of you reading this...feel free to do the Me-Me, but let me know so I can see too!


Friday, October 12, 2007

Making Progress...

Things have gone more smoothly this past week and I've made some progress without sliding backward. Progress highlights:
  • Paint color has been chosen and the fireplace wall of the family room is painted.
  • With one wall painted, I was able to make a color selection on the window treatments. They have been ordered with promised arrival next week.
  • A new print has been ordered for over the fireplace. I've been kicking myself for leaving an enchanting print in the gallery when we were at the NC shore last summer (2006). So I searched online and was able to find the print and have it shipped to me. It too should be here early next week. It's here in the Aug. 11 post if you'd like to take a look.
  • And at last some fiber progress!! I finished a prayer shawl to turn in to the prayer shawl ministry. I've hemmed two pairs of slacks, sewn a loose button onto a fall suit jacket, stitched shoulder pads into another suit jacket, and shortened the sleeves on yet another jacket.
This weekend I'll be painting. In fact I may be painting into the next week or two since the halls and stairways are on the "to paint" list.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about why October is one of my favorite months:
  • There's the obvious autumn color that's part of our geography.
  • The Supreme Court goes into session early in October, which always makes listening to the news more interesting. (Not necessarily good news with this largely conservative court, but I do love to hear Nina Totenberg's reports.
  • The Nobel Prize announcements begin in October and often continue through to early December. I love the stories associated with the prizes. The history of the Nobel prizes is also something worth noting. If you're not familiar with it, go read War and Peace in the Thinking of Alfred Nobel.
  • October also means fresh apple cider, trips to the cider mill and a cinnamon donut or two slipped into the month.
  • And it means that the flowers which have been dying from my neglect for the past 3 months will now finally die of natural causes. My guilt will be assuaged!
  • The month wraps up with Halloween, which is the dh's birthday. Even tho' I'm annoyed with him today, he is still one of my favorite people.
All in all, October is a pretty good month. There should be more months like this.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

(caution, old rock titles and dark humor ahead) Eva Destruction.....

Yep, still cleaning and organizing with my own particular form of vengeance.

This past week found me tearing apart my clothes closet, trying everything on to see: what fit, what needs repairs, what goes with what, and what needs to go. After almost 3 hours of costume changing, I ended up with a pile of clothes on the bed that took almost as long to sort and put away. My fiber work for now is incrementally working on a large pile of mending and hemming. (I still have to sort through the shoes.)

Yesterday was particularly messy:
First, the washing machine overflowed the laundry tub, right before my very eyes. It was one of those experiences where I was walking into the laundry room and what I was seeing was so unexpected it took a moment to register before reacting. Then it took another half hour to clean up the mess.

From that mess I went to chipping a huge chunk off the surface of one of the doors in the family room with the vacuum cleaner. That too took time and a little wood glue to repair....and will need paint in the near future. (Good thing we'll be painting in there in the next week or two.)

Next on the ever destructive housecleaning list were the baseboard heating units. While taking those apart to wash and vacuum all the dust and cat hair before heating season, I got a huge gash in one of my fingers from the sheet metal. That's what I get for thinking about turning on the heat on a 90 degree day in October in Michigan.

However there was one humorous SNAFU to the day: I clean to rock music......loud rock music. Our telephone number is only one digit different than the township police. In the past 29 years our number has been printed as the police number one time (that I know of for certain), and depending on the print quality of the phone book, their 3 will look like our 8. So, it's not that unusual for us to get police calls. They seem to come in spurts. It's been awhile since we've had any of those calls.

About 4 PM yesterday the phone rang, the rock music was playing, I looked at the caller ID and the name sounded familiar so I picked up. The phone was just out of reach of the music intercom and the refrain from When the Bullet Hits the Bone was playing loud and clear. On the other end of the phone a young man asked incredulously, "Is this the police department?!" When I said, "No, you have the wrong number", he sounded so relieved.

Dark comedy to wrap up the day.

Now to wrap up this post: I clearly remember seeing this on tv when it first aired in 1965.

The message is as relevant today as it was in 1965. It's a tune that is often in my head.

Ever wonder what happened to Barry McGuire? Google him....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Still Mucking in the Dust...

I've tentatively picked the paint color for the family room and will get a small sample can from Home Depot today. You see, I've recently made the mistake of not doing that. DH is painting the outside of the house.

The paint was on sale before we went on vacation and was not the brand that we have used in the past, so he couldn't just pick up the same color it's been for 15 years (which I happen to like).


Time was short with packing and all, so he stuck some paint chips under my nose and said pick one. I took them outside and compared to the existing and picked one. We came home from vacation and started painting. I went out on the patio with my cup of tea last Sat. AM and stared real hard, trying to find something I liked about the new paint color.
It looked white. Our house is decidedly not a candidate for white.

So I said, "How much more of that paint to you have?" His reply, "6 gallons". I was thinking, "ouch!!", but I said, "Do you think we could take it back to Home Depot and see if they'll add some pigment?"


We spent most of last Saturday morning in Home Depot adding pigment to the paint. They'd put in a few drops, shake the can in their shaker machine, put a daub on a paint stick, dry it with a hot air gun, and I would run outside to look at the color in the sunlight. They had to quit when they ran out of room in the can, and got it down to a nice medium grey with slight blue tones in it.

It'll do. DH was pretty gracious about having to repaint the gallon's worth that he had already painted, but I am not going through this with the interior painting. I want the color that is seen in my mind's eye and will not settle this time!
But I really wanted to post about this:



Apparently I did the impossible. I washed the Silhouette blind in our bedroom. This blind is several years old and the dust in it was really getting to me. They are not cheap and the manufacturer says they can only be cleaned ultrasonically. I looked online and in the phone book for US blind cleaners....it was going to be very expensive to clean this one blind. Let's just say, the same money would have purchased a whole lot of Eucalon Wool Wash.
So I googled "washing silhouettes" and the only thing that came up was some weenies saying they were going to try it, but they never posted the results (or perhaps Hunter Douglas blocked it?)

Anyway, the thing is no longer under warranty and the dust was really getting to me. So I filled the bathtub with tepid water and Wool Wash then carefully dunked the blinds in the water, bending them so they were totally immersed but not creased anywhere. Oiy! the dirt in the water!!!

It took three tubs full to get a clean rinse water, with no agitation beyond gently swishing them around with my hands.
After the last rinse, I held them up, allowing the water to drain from them (good thing I've been going to the gym!). Then I draped them over a tension shower curtain rod suspended over the middle of the tub to allow them to drain more. The trick is not to allow the slats that rotate to get creased or wrinkled. I put a big fan in the bathroom to speed drying and changed the position of the blinds several times. They were ready to hang before bedtime.

NOTE: these blinds are a very light color, so there was not color to run. If you're considering doing this with color Silhouettes, check and make sure the color won't run onto the vertical slats. Also, remember that the manufacturer does not recommend washing. In my case it was either wash or replace. (If it had been replace, Bali and some other manufacturers now have options that are easier to clean.)

Oh...did you want to see the floors?
And no fiberwork to show.....too much other work right now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return"....

That phrase has begun to take on a whole new meaning around here. We returned from vacation at 5 am Monday. At 9 am, the flooring contracter arrived to begin installing hardwood floors in our family room.

I just finished cleaning the wood flooring in the kitchen and hallway, so they can freshen that up a bit when they put the finish on the new stuff.

There is dust everywhere!

As a matter of fact, dh is in his ninth month of retirement and there has been dust everywhere since the day he retired: Painting and sanding in the laundry room, repairing the ceiling in the family room, pulling out 3 patio doors and installing new sills...the list goes on.

I was going to pull everything out of the kitchen cupboards and clean them out...but not until the floors are finished. Oh...and the drapes I've taken down to have cleaned? They're not going up until the dust is settled, unless I decide to replace them.

Yet, when the floors are finished, the family room needs to be painted before we move the furniture back into it.

This is unusual for us. We're pretty good and picking one project and seeing it through to the finish. But this time around it seems like one thing leads to another. The end is not yet in sight.

Monday, September 17, 2007

There's an explanation for the lack of blog posts:



I've been traveling. For a quick summary of my trip take a look HERE. More later as I get settled.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

More random thinking.....

This


is a prime example of why I can't bring myself to keep a personal journal. Click on the link to read the article. I read it...can't say I learned anything in particular about faith by doing so. Unless one counts on the misplaced trust in the human ability to keep confidences. I find it despicable that her confessors did not honor her wishes to destroy her correspondence...let alone make them public.

I'm the youngest in a family of 5. One of the lessons learned very early in life is that if you write it down, be prepared to be held accountable for it somewhere down the road. I speak not only as the victim, but also the perpetrator.

The antidote to the dear diary aversion: a journal posted for the whole wide world to read. Brilliant!

Consider yourself warned on those tidy little books you might keep under your mattress. However, if anyone dares to broadcast your deepest, most private thoughts, it won't be me. It has something to do with that "do unto others..." rule.


Now for some fiber updates:

Bought a new book this week: Modular Knits by Iris Schreier. Mary posted a scarf from this book. We are long time friends...so I went to the library and checked out the book. There are some interesting techniques for some scarves and a vest in there and I had an Amazon gift certificate that was about to expire. Now I have no gift certificate, but a brand new book!

Mystery stole 3: I've decided that that asymmetry is not for me....nor is the suggested technique for a symmetrical shawl. So, I'm thinking of starting the other half from the beginning and joining the two ends in the middle with a completely different beaded stitch. However, it's going to be a couple weeks until I get around to that.

Meanwhile...have a great Labor Day weekend if you're in the US and Canada!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Threads of thought....

Thinking about Play and the serious topic of my last post along with all the frog eating noted in earlier posts.

If you read Krista's Journal she makes the observation: "At one end of the play spectrum in animals, there are labrador retrievers; at the other, there are wolves. Human beings act like labs in childhood and wolves in adulthood. But all we are learning about the human brain and body suggest that we are in fact hard-wired to learn and grow, by way of play and pleasure, across our life span."

Hmmm....that statement has a sense of optimism to it for all of us. And yet it makes my last post about human trafficking feel even more grim.

I could write more, but it would me mostly "navel gazing" sort of stuff. Fiber is often my play. Reading definitely feeds my fantasy.

There has been more fantasy than fiber in my life lately. I highly recommend my recent reads: The Book of Lost Things and Moral Disorder (see My Library Thing at right) .

There's a certain irony that Margaret Atwood finds her way into this post. Human trafficking was a sub-plot in her book Oryx & Crake and I've heard her say in interview: "In the end, all stories are about wolves."

There are a few unfinished knitting projects that have been lingering. I don't love them and don't know what I was thinking when I started them. They will be raveled and returned to the state of a "center pull ball". I must stop chasing after the "tennis balls" that the knitting blogosphere tosses and start knitting only the things that I truly love. (There must be more labrador retriever in me than I thought!)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Perhaps you don't know......

about human trafficking. It's everywhere, not just on some distant shore. And the reason it's possible for the problem to be so pervasive is because it's a topic that is outside of our comfort zone. I wrote a couple entries about this sometime ago and can't find them now, so it must have been at my previous blog site.

So instead of apologizing for no fiber related blog entries (which it seems I do in about 20% of my entries) this post is about something I've been working with my church to find a way to respond.

September 28-30, the Salvation Army is sponsoring the Second Annual International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting for the Victims of Human Trafficking .

There's a wealth of information out there, the problem is we have to care enough to become informed and use that information to act. Here are some background information and initiatives to get you started. And then take a moment to watch the videos. They're each about 4 minutes long, but I couldn't choose between them for the quality of the message.






Now you know. Begin......

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Well....I just did a long post with links and everything. Then the blogger server vanished from my ISP's radar.

The green font means I'm still eating frogs. Though I sometimes switch to the metaphor of eating elephants, which is done one bite at a time.

Gotta go, there are a few bites waiting for me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Eating Frogs:

I haven't dropped of the planet. Life has just been very busy and low in fiber content. Let's just say I've been busy Eating Frogs.

A quick summary: The key concept of the book is that we procrastinate because we put off doing things that have to be done, but are not appealing. Hence, if you have to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning and it's the worst thing you will do all day. If you have two frogs to eat, eat the ugliest one first.

There's a smorgasbord of frogs at our house right now:
  • Ripping out and repairing 3 sliding glass patio doors. (lots of fun to have plastic sheeting between oneself and outdoors in 90+ degree temps w/ severe T'storms.) ribbit
  • Getting ds to jump through hoops as he wraps up an internship and returns to school. ribbit
  • Ripping out carpet and having wood floors installed in the family room. ribbit
  • Cleaning up all of the dust and mess (inside and out) that all of the ripping out stuff generates ribbit
  • Organizing a farewell reception for one of our pastors who is moving to Colorado. ribbit
  • Working with church leadership and remaining pastor to maintain stability and form guiding coalition to determine best pastoral model before putting out a call for a new pastor. ribbit
  • Attending weddings and funerals. ribbit
  • Preparing for a nice treat for dh and myself. ribbit ribbit!!
It may be mid-Sept. before fiber-y postings resume. Meanwhile, back to the frogs......

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Overwhelmed....

Yesterday (or was it the day before?) after reading Franklin's blog post, I started to wonder....did I sign up for Ravelry? I think I did...wonder where I am in line?

So I went to check...turns out they sent me an email a week or so before which was blocked by the spam filter. So I made them a "safe contact"...and lo and behold, I'm now on Ravelry.

This is not a good thing for someone who is currently accomplishing so little....I feel like I have fiber A.D.D. Otherwise known as FADD....
As in:
  • How many knitters does it take to change a light bulb?
  • I dunno, how many?
  • Wanna go buy yarn?
So here I sit.....clicking back and forth between this blog entry and my Ravelry profile page, where in the upper right corner it says:
  • Projects: 0
  • Queued: 0
  • Books: 0
  • Stashed: 0
  • Faves: 0
  • Friends: 0
Ouch...that last one stings a bit and tosses me right back to 7th grade outcast status.

I think it's going to take me awhile to get adjusted and integrated. Right after I get through the new Interweave Knits that arrived in today's mail.

How many knitters does it take to change a light bulb?

And do they get it done any faster if they also spin and weave (and otherwise have a life)?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Farewell July....

Summer has been a blur.....and I still have no finished objects to show you. Nor do I have works in progress that I care to show.

However, there has been progress of sorts.

Vision: I abandoned the Vision Quest with the aggressive optometry practice after neither my ophthalmologist nor the optometrist in my yoga class had ever heard of it. Instead I opted for new glasses with feather weight progressive lenses. It seems the featherweight lenses give a much wider "sweet spot" for reading (and distance) portions of the lens. I know this because the prescription sunglasses ordered at the same time did not have the featherweight lenses. I couldn't see well enough to drive home with them and returned them immediately.

So far, I am very happy with my new everyday glasses and am waiting for the replacement sunglasses to arrive.

Fiber: Spinning and knitting continue on Mystery Stole 3. Dishtowel warp is languishing, waiting for me to return from my wanton fiber ways. There's new warp on the tapestry loom. And the Diagonal Vest continues. The back is finished and the left front is about half complete.

Last Wednesday, Nan and I went here. The exhibit was interesting. I liked looking at the older textiles from other cultures more than I liked some of the current fiber art. Maybe it was the shelf and wall of nothing but white, folded napkins stacked in huge linear piles (can you say OCD?). Or perhaps the wall full of nothing but gray felt with a few cones protruding from it. But there is a whole class of fiber art out there that just leaves me cold. If it's not inviting to look at, not well executed, and it's not functional...then I'm just not interested. You can call it fiber art until the second Tuesday of next week, but to me it's just nothing.

There were some interesting commercial fabrics designed by some of the Cranbrook grads as well as a few interesting current pieces. But chairs with stuffing spilling out of them....meh.

Speaking of fiber art: Nan brought along the most exquisite necklace and bracelet that began with semi-precious stones in a robin's egg blue, some really neat bead embroidery, and wonderful design. They are completely lovely. She does such nice work and I covet most anything she shows me....sigh.

Perhaps August will be a more productive month for me. But I know the schedule and somehow doubt it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I've got nothing.....

too many works in progress and too little progress is about the extent of it.

Add to that too much time sitting at the computer, looking at what other people are doing and the situation begins to feel insurmountable.

This little book has been moved from pile to pile over the past few months. It's time to get it out as well as consult Julie Morgenstern once again to see of order can be imposed on chaos.

So, while I do that in my fiber room (studio is too generous a term right now) , you can take a look at this ingenious List Vicki has put together. It might be helpful in destashing. (As if lace weight yarn is what creates the bulk in that stash, right?)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It all comes back to me now....

as I spin and knit w/ the handspun merino tencel (see previous post), the handle of this yarn keeps reminding me of something. I finally figured out what.... Woolray yarn, which used to be distributed by Plymouth Yarns.

I wove a baby blanket with this yarn ~24 years ago so I pulled my records and took a close look at the yarn sample. It's a cabled yarn made up of 2 two plied yarns, 4 yarns total. The 2 ply yarn going into the cable ply is one strand of fine wool and a fine boucle' rayon thread plied S. Then the two yarns are plied together Z twist. The boucle' appearance of the rayon thread is lost in the yarn construction except for the uneven optical effect of it's shine.

The yarn has the same "crunchy" feel as my handspun.

Berroco made a heavier version of this yarn a few years ago that you can see here.

Now I'm curious about other's experience kniiting with handspun merino/tencel blends.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pure Speculation...

I started knitting MS3 for a short period last night and it became apparent that there is something different about this yarn:


Look at those YO's....the swatch is lying flat, not under tension. Those YO's just pop open and stand at attention. The last swatch knit from this fiber (which was spun slightly finer and w/ more twist) is rather open also, but that stitch was knitted lace with no solid purl or knit row between pattern rows.

The yarn itself has a little bit of a "crunchy" feel to it....which I attributed to the tencel. It is a balanced 2 ply yarn after wet finishing. I intentionally made it a relatively high twist yarn in order for it to be lively in the stole.

So, I decided to look into things more closely:

The photo's below are taken with my camera looking through the lens of a Radio Shack 30x pocket microscope. (Hmm...I notice they've upgraded to a 60-100x power...perhaps I need a new toy?)


Here is the wet-finished yarn magnified. I'm assuming that the rose colored fiber is the merino and the clear is tencel. Notice how the rose colored fibers tend to wrap around the shiny, clear fibers in each of the plies? That means that even though I spun the singles semi-worsted fashion, the interaction of the fibers have created a yarn that is approaching something more like a 'core spun' yarn. The tencel fibers are bending less and providing a 'core' for the merino to wrap around. (Please note: I know this isn't a true core spun yarn. But it's the best term I have to describe the interaction of the fibers.)

This fiber was purchased early in the life of tencel when not many colors were available and wool being easier to dye are the reasons for my assumption. The blend is 70% merino/30% tencel.



Above is a magnification of the unspun fiber, not held under tension. Notice that the clear, shiny fibers lie straight...almost ramrod straight. The rose fibers have a bit of a loop to them, but not as much as I'd expect for merino.

At 30x magnification, I've never been able to see the scales on the surface of wool, so can't make any assumptions from that about whether this is superwash wool. However, from experience washing this yarn, my guess is that it is superwash though the label doesn't say that. For comparison, here's a photo of some undyed merino top which I know is superwash.


This photo is taken under the same conditions, no tension applied to the fiber. Notice fibers are inherently bending and looping.

It would be interesting to play with this fiber and see if I can spin it so that it doesn't become like a core spun yarn. There will be a few ounces left over once I'm done with the MS3 yarn. Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Late To The Party:



Above please note ~400 yds./1.9 oz. of handspun merino tencel yarn with coordinating beads for Mystery Stole 3.

I became intrigued with the idea first at Sue's then at Judy's blogs. However, I loathed the idea of going out and purchasing yet more lace weight yarn for another project.

Since I had been sampling with this, it seemed like the ideal project to use up this fiber from the stash to spin and knit "into the mystery".

I'll start knitting with this 400 yards and will spin and knit as I go.

This is weird for me...I not a KAL person, nor am I one of the "in crowd" of the blogging world. In fact I almost gave it up when the popularity soared after this post appeared.

The term "mystery stole" amuses me. My mind wants to twist it to stolen mystery....sounds very gothic, doesn't it?

I switched my subscription at the Yahoo group to "special messages" only when the mail box filled with digest messages in minutes. I don't have any intention of reading the all mail on that list...and I don't intend to post. Spinning, knitting, and weaving time are too precious to spend so much time kibbutzing online.

And speaking of kibbutzing online...time for me to go knit!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Report from the Tapestry Workshop:

It's taken me a little while to get a post together, but the workshop was wonderful. Ann is an encouraging, and inspiring teacher. You can see some of her work HERE. There were 11 of us in the class, with a good mix of experience and abilities in fiber and art. But the one ability that everyone seemed to have was the ability to encourage and inspire others.

Those of us who were new to tapestry did samplers:


This piece measures 5" x 11". Ann had us mount and label our work so we'd have a reference piece for future work. The colors for this picture are pretty true on my monitor. Sorry I didn't take the time to be exact in cutting out and aligning the labels...I can see where they may make your eyes go kittywompus as you look at the photo.

Most of the yarn in the sampler was Paternayan Persian wool from cones supplied by Ann. There is a smattering of Ann's hand dyed yarn and some Harrisville 2 ply wool in the mix. The warp is 12/9 siene cotton.

There was also a pretty good representation of portable tapestry looms from Mirrix tapestry looms, to Archie Brennan pipe looms, to wooden frame looms purchased through Ann. Mine was the only 'hybrid' loom and I am very pleased with it.

Those who had more experience with tapestry techniques started out with projects of their own, most from photographs. I didn't notice that anyone was working from a cartoon.

After the sampler, there was still warp remaining on my loom. I had brought a good selection of my handspun yarns because they've been calling out to me from the stash closet. I decided to do a small piece using natural colors romney wool left over from a sweater project several years ago. My plan was to use it as a color blending and color value study:



The colors here are a little yellowed from the incandescent light....and no I didn't switch to black and white photography. Those are the natural colors of the wool.

The woven piece is 3"x5". You can see the yarns that went into the piece on the right. Here's a close up of the weaving:
These two pieces are 3 days of work.

The best part of the class was at the end where we assembled around a table with our work and talked about our work and what we learned through the workshop. Most of us agreed that there is a quiet meditative aspect to the actual process. There's a place where your mind and heart go as you select the next color and the next method of interlacement.

Some of the group were definitely "in to" creating pictoral images with their work. Others were interested in the interaction between line and color in the fiber medium. I'd have to place myself in the latter group.

I found myself to be stretched by weaving in this way. The entire first morning of weaving, I kept looking for something to count and had a terrible time manually lifting the correct threads for plain weave. Not what I'd expected after 27 years of weaving!

Once the picking of the warp and handling the butterflies became second nature, I did well with the linear, angular, and even curvilinear (oval) aspects of the weaving. When it came to the "eccentric weft" weaving, I was once again challenged. It became very clear that I'm a person who often works "on the grid" and it would do me well to step off the grid and be a little more free in creating shapes and unexpected lines.

So what's next? More tapestry weaving. More use of my handspun wools. More color blending. And more eccentric weft weaving! (oh my!)

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Command of the Language and a Sense of Style....

It is said that we admire in others those characteristics that we desire for ourselves or are lacking in someway. It is also said that we can learn a lot from our children. Sharon has a wonderful blogiversary post today which includes the saying "Where came this?", a perfect expression of wonder gifted to that family when her son was a toddler.

Our family was given a similar, yet less universal saying with my son's first complete sentence: "go back, buy more chocolate now!"

Language is such a wonderful gift to the human race. A command of the language serves one well through out a life time. That's why I walked away just a little sad after a brief conversation in a check out line yesterday.

Just ahead of me were grandparents with their little grandaughter. The clerk took the time to talk to the child and ask her, "How old are you? Are you four?" The little girl laughed a bubbley laugh and said, "Two!"

The atmosphere was friendly, so I commented to the little girl, "Wow, you are really tall for two years!" and she kind of giggled and babbled.

Then the grandparents kicked in: "Tell the lady: 'hello, how are you?'" Which she did, so I played along: "I'm fine, thank you. How are you?"

She responded with a lovely laugh before her grandad prodded, "Tell her you're good." So she did....but the giggles and bubbles had waned....and she allowed a string of beautiful babbling syllables at the end.

And we all moved on from there. I understand the grandparents' interest in teaching the little girl social conventions of language and courtesy, but it makes me sad to see adults treat children as Charlie McCarthy puppets. My prayer for that little girl is that there is a space, a big space, in her little life where she is free to express the thoughts going through that lovely head. That she too can say to some adult: "Where came this?" as an expression of wonder and get an answer rather than syntactical correction. Or "Go back, buy more chocolate (or whatever she loves) now!" as a command to fulfill her needs and desires.

So...I admire a command of the language and desire it for others. That's probably a selfish desire because when others speak or write well, my life is enriched. (Thank you Sharon.)

However, I also truly admire a sense of style. Even tho' I'm a weaver, spinner, knitter, and seamstress I tend to dress "uniform fashion". I find T's, tops, slacks, and skirts that fit...and I buy or sew several of the same thing in different colors. I own tons of shoes....I wear 3 pair regularly. You get the idea.

Not everyone in my family is like that. My Mom was a costume jewelry queen. My sister has a great sense of style. And yesterday I recieved confirmation that the style gene is being passed down through the family. Witness my great niece, Gracie on her 2nd birthday:



Matching sunglasses, boots, and sundress! I love it. No wonder Liz Claiborne could go to her rest this week. It has been demonstrated that others will carry on that true sense of style and fashion! And a little child shall lead them!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How (not) to pack for a fiber workshop:

Tomorrow afternoon I pack up the car and head over to Hope College in Holland, Mi. for the aforementioned tapestry weaving workshop. So today finds me busily packing and making preparations:

First there must be knitting to take along:

The pattern is the "Diagonal-Knit Vest" from Knitted Sweaters for Every Season by Nancie Wiseman. The yarn is Suri Merino from Plymouth Yarns. The pattern is very simple knitting to take along while traveling. Since I had to go gas up the car this morning in preparation for the trip, there was also a stop at Joann's to see if they had square silver buttons for the vest, just in case I finished it over the next 3 days. (Note: you are looking at the back of the vest. More accurately: half of the back of the vest.) In order to need those buttons, the rest of the back and both of the fronts must be completed. But clearly I needed to stop at Joann's.

They didn't have the buttons that I have in my head, but they did have the latest addition of Quilting Arts with a cover article titled "Textile Sketchbooks Made Easy"



I don't consider myself to be a quilter, but the technical and design articles in this magazine are consistently top notch and relevant to other fiber pursuits. I no longer subscribe or read knitting magazines, except for one. But this magazine is a 'must have' for me.


And wonder of wonders, Lesson V in the Art Design Primer series is "Space, Motion, and Rhythm"! Clearly I must read this before heading into a tapestry workshop! (As if these aren't the very things Ann excels at and will cover in our workshop.) Still, I sit and read.

Then there are the unfinished projects that haven't been touched in weeks because of gardening and other outdoor pursuits. Yet clearly before leaving, I must sit down and spin a few yards and take the time to consider transferring yarn to a storage bobbin before leaving:



What is this sickness that compels me to think of these things as essential to "getting ready to go" to the extent that they take priority over assembling clothing, tapestry loom, tools, camera, and personal hygient items...the things that really will be essential over the next few days? And the greatest irony of all......why am I sitting here blogging when so much remains to be done?!

It's crazy I tell you! Am I the only one?

RE: Comments on "Vision Quest" - I knew there had to be more of you out there. Thanks for the encouraging comments. Jean: nope, no cataracts. I got a clean bill on the health of the eye. I did make an appointment with the optometrist, making it clear that I only wanted to discuss this iZone system. It seemed to be an unusual request by the way the receptionist dealt with me on the phone. I'm skeptical, but will keep you up to date as to my impressions of this system. Maybe Wendy's approach is the best one.

PS: I just flipped to the back page article of Quilting Arts. The title is: "The Goddess of the Last Minute". Enough with the irony already!!