Saturday, February 28, 2009


Cathy has nominated me for a Lemonade Award:

This is the attitude / gratitude award for Bloggers who show great attitude/gratitude:
Here are the rules:

1. Post the picture
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show Great Attitude and/or Gratitude.
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link this post to the person from who you received your award.

One of the first blogs I would nominate would be Cathy's, but am not sure about tag backs.

Generally, if I keep coming back to read a blog, that blogger has an attitude that appeals to me. Cathy has already tagged a lot of the blogs I read, so let me see if I can make it to 10:

1. Cyndy at Riverrim always makes me smile in addition to teaching me a thing or two (or three).

2. Sharon and I trade thoughts on all things fiber and books.

3. I mostly lurk on Leslie's blog. But I do want to make those cookies she has up there now. They'd be great to take to yoga class!

4. Mary is a flesh and blood friend, not just a cyber friend. She is also a great baker, which you'll see at her current post.

5. Wooly Headed, Ruth's blog, is another place where I mostly lurk. She writes about life's details so well....and I can laugh at the kids' antics now that I'm a parent of an adult.

6. How can you not like a blog with the title: Yes I Made That?

7. Jessie says it all in her blog title: What Housework?. And she dyes nice yarn too!

8. Jackie over at One Thread Two Thread gets an incredible amount of art accomplished while raising her children and shoveling out from under an insane amount of snow.

Uhm.....all the rest of you. You're invited to jump in and take a sip of lemonade!

Meanwhile I have to dash. Must pick up one of the other wives as we meet "the guys" for dinner out tonight. (Not at the nice restaurant I picked out...instead a tavern. Bah!)

Friday, February 27, 2009


After spending so much time posting about Advent this past year, I decided that I wasn't going to do Lenten posts. However, I have been so surprised by the Lenten theme that is popping up in my life that it's worth writing about.

Usually as we head into Lent, the words that symbolize the season are things like: repentance, humility, and sacrifice.

At the beginning of this week, I started to think about what shape my personal Lenten observation would take. I looked through several different readings and devotional formats and the one word that seemed to keep coming up was courage. Hmmm?

Then I went to the Ash Wednesday service and one of our pastors did a very moving dramatic interpretation of Mark 5:1-20 about the healing of the demon possessed man named Legion. The pastor went on to tell a personal story of being victimized in middle school in the time before our current campaign against bullying among this age group. As the story progressed there was forgiveness and mercy, the usual words we expect in a Christian service, but ultimately there came that word again: Courage.

So my word for contemplation this Lenten season is......Courage.

I looked it up in my dictionary:
Courage: 1. the ability to do something that frightens one. 2. strength in the face of pain and grief. Origin: Middle English, denoting the heart as the seat of feelings; from Old French corage, from Latin, cor 'heart'.

In some ways that's kind of scary. But then as we look at the current state of the world economy, and especially the Michigan economy, courage is not a bad thing to be focused on.

The association of courage and the heart transcends cultural traditions:
  • I do like the association with the heart, which reminds me of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz in a secular tradition.
  • Wikipedia tells us the Tao Te Ching says that courage is derived from love.
  • In a Hasidic tale, a disciple asks the rebbe: "Why are we to 'place these holy words on our hearts' and not in our hearts?" The rebbe replied, "Because as we are, our hearts are closed and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks and the words fall in." (1)
  • From a Sufi tradition: "God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open." (2)
It cannot be ignored that the word courage is the root word for both encourage and discourage.....the results of our words and deeds on other persons.

If I am honest in self reflection, I can see courage and cowardice in pretty much equal measure.

As I look at people around me, I see broken hearts.....lost jobs, lost homes, lost hopes. In some I see incredible courage. In others I see despair.

And so it seems that courage is a very appropriate word for this time and this place.

My wish for you today is: "take courage for whatever this day may bring."

(1) & (2) are from Parker Palmer's writing in the current issue of Weavings

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Despite my best efforts.....

I spent yesterday playing with some llama roving that's been in the stash for a couple years. The fiber is really soft and wonderful. The roving is kind of meh. There's vegetable matter, and neps, and it just doesn't spin into my kind of yarn.

I was thinking that the tone of this fiber would work well with this Noro sock (with silk) yarn for weaving.
Trying to make the fiber better for spinning, I employed my Forsyth mini-combs for the yarn sample on the lower left. The smaller skein in the middle of the picture was combed on 5 pitch viking combs. I like the smaller skein better for a weaving yarn.

Either way, there is a lot of waste with the combs. So I tried running the waste through the drum carder and spun a little of that. It worked. The yarn looks very "homespun" and I'm not sure what I think about that.

After all that work: with two sets of combs, the drum carder, running back and forth to the spinning wheel, plying, and washing yarn......I remembered that I have a 2/8's Australian merino yarn in a natural color that would work perfectly with the Noro yarn for weaving. So I will tuck the llama yarn and roving away and let my thoughts percolate for awhile.

One of the first thoughts that perked up was: "Wonder how the llama would dye?" Which made me realize I am really tired of looking at blah colors right now, what with it being February in Michigan and all.

So when it was time to settle down with dh for the evening, I remembered this lovely top that I got when we went up north last fall. This is merino top from Stonehedge Fiber Mill:

The picture doesn't show how the spun yarn becomes a deep, delicious blue purple. I was trying to think of something to post for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent....and here it is: Purple....the color for Lenten observance.

Sometimes things just work out when we're busy doing something else.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


My Moo cards came yesterday!!

I used images from my Flickr account. On the back is printed "Handmade by Valerie"
"Care Instructions:"

Now I have little hangtags for my woven and knitted items.

I was thinking about having a friend who is a graphic designer make up a logo and hang tags for me. But for now, the Moo cards fit my need perfectly.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Didn't see that coming....

We'll call this the "Trifecta Scarf" based on Cyndy's comment from a previous post. All of the yarn is handspun, the blue yarn is hand dyed, and the scarf is handwoven, hence "Trifecta".

Here you see the scarf, off the loom, fringe twisted, and ready for wet finishing:
If you click on the picture, you will see all of the yarn is relatively smooth and firmly twisted. The fiber in both yarns is a fine Romney from Kirsten Holbo at Ironwater Ranch. I spun this a good while ago for a natural colored fair isle sweater. Long time readers may remember the sweater. It was posted at my previous blog home.

The yarn was spun from mini-combed locks using a semi-worsted draw.

Below is the scarf after wet finishing. I put it in the gentle cycle of the washer with synthropol and a couple of bath towels and monitored it carefully. Click the picture for big to see what happened:

The dark chocolate brown yarn behaved itself. The blue yarn boucle'd out....all over the place!? This is truly puzzling since I used this yarn in the fair isle sweater which has been washed (gently, but still washed) many times and the yarns have not done this. And why the blue and not the brown?

Look closer: (BTW....that diagonal break in the pattern on the left third of the picture is the selvedge.)

There are a couple things I can think of:
  • The blue yarn was a silver grey wool and slightly more coarse than the brown.
  • The blue was spun first and my mini-combs were relatively new to me. (Like I said, I spun this a long time ago.)
  • I"m pretty sure I spun this right off the combs rather than pull it off into top. In doing so, it's possible that I was fighting the combs a bit and stretched the fibers as the twist was going into the yarn. (But then, why hasn't the sweater yarn "boucle'd"?)
  • Another possible factor is that I used the electric bobbin winder to wind the bobbins from center pull balls. I'm pretty sure that this put more twist into the yarn as it was going onto the bobbins. Both yarns were wet finished after spinning earlier. So maybe this contributed in some way. (But why the blue and not the brown? However, the weft is a bit more boucle'd than the warp.) took a few days, but I have come to like the scarf just the way it is. In fact it's really more interesting this way than what I had planned. People at weaver's guild yesterday paid more attention to that scarf than the Noro one, wanting to know how I got that boucle effect in handspun. (I couldn't reproduce it if I tried! Ack!) I'm just grateful that it did it uniformly through out the scarf.

And here's another "didn't see that coming":

Last night I was plying spindle spun cotton/silk on the wheel while watching CSI. The singles yarn was on 6" shuttle bobbins, mounted on the Schacth lazy kate. The kate was on the sewing box just behind me to the left. Jazzy was in my lap for a good part of the time with the plyed yarn feeding into the wheel over her head. She batted at the yarn a few times then I thought we came to an understanding, and she left it alone. After awhile she left my lap and I just forgot about her.

Within 10 minutes, she came racing up behind the kate, snatched both singles in her mouth and ran across the room until they broke. Grrrrr.....

I lost a bit of handspun and missed part of CSI while cleaning up the mess and trying to preserve yarn.

Doesn't the look on her face say, "Whatttt?! It was yarn. I'm a cat. Get over it."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Random Things

Sharon asked if I would consider doing the 25 Random Things meme that's been going around. With some hesitation and many reservations, I'll begin:

1. I sometimes have dreams that are auditory only, no visuals. Upon waking, these are more realistic and disorienting than regular dreams. Ask dh about the January night that I sent him out to the driveway at 2 AM because I heard someone out there who needed help.

2. I have a very accute sense of smell. It's the first thing I notice when entering a space. At home this sometimes leads to rampaging searches for "that smell".

3. There are two things I can say to make both my husband and son twitch:
  • What's that sound?
  • What's that smell?
4. I have a largish flesh colored mole below the right corner of my mouth which has been there for years and years. It does not have a hair coming out of it.

5. I have decided that I will have it removed if/when I become a grandmother. Who wants to be the grandmother with a wart on her chin?

6. I might change my mind about #5 if the other grandmother has a mole with a hair in it.

7. For me, planning meals for flavor and color combinations is a creative act. I really enjoy thinking about and putting some effort and planning into what flavors go together and what the presentation will look like on the plate.

8. The importance of # 7 came to my attention the night I made a supper of whitefish, cauliflower, and rice.

9. My dinnerware is white. (see #8)

10. I saw my first 3D movie in 1960. It was 13 Ghosts. I couldn't see that the movie was any different with or without the stupid cardboard glasses.

11. I saw my next 3D movie yesterday. It was Coraline. 3D technology has improved a great deal in 49 years.

12. I've worn corrective lenses since 1965. Perhaps I should have worn glasses since 1960? (see #10)

13. I read approximately a book per week not counting fiber/technical books. This started in 10th grade when my social studies teacher, Mr. Maestro, pointed out that if we read for an hour a day, that would be about 60 pages. At the end of the week, we would have completed about 420 pages which is slightly more than an average book.

14. I taught my husband to read in bed. (Seriously, it's something he never even thought of doing before I came along!)

15. I am not registered to any political party, instead I am registered "independent" and have been for 30+ years.

16. The 2008 presidential election marked the first time in my voting life that I actually voted for a candidate rather than against the least desirable option. We won!

17. In 30+ years of voting life, I've observed that Republicans are sore losers and are often rabid winners. On the other hand, Democrats are bumbling losers, but tend to produce great states persons.

18. I am married to a registered Republican (who even contributes to the party!). He's the exception that proves the rule (see # 17)

19. As a result of #18, we get solicitation calls from various branches of the Republican Party. I like to "mess with" those callers. I consider it paid entertainment.

20. I would not have publicly admitted #19 during the last administration. (Let's face it, they were a scary lot!)

21. One of my fondest memories is scuba diving with the manatees in Crystal River, Fla. on my 25th birthday. It's sad that others have used this privilege to harass these gentle giants.

22. Another of my favorite vacations was backpacking on the Continental Divide in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area of Montana. We were out for 8 days/7 nights and saw a double rainbow ending right in the lake by our campsite the first night out. It was magic...even without the leprechaun and his pot o' gold.

23. I love backpacking. I hate camping (the kind with a trailer or big tent and a cooler). I would much rather eat dried, reconstituted food that I carried on my back and purify my water with iodine tablets, than eat food that has been slogging around in half melted ice for a day.

24. I've been taking yoga classes for about 15 years. Currently I go to classes 3 times per week.

25. I thought yoga had helped my Monkey Mind. This list suggests otherwise.

26. Bonus Item: I've been told that I have a very twisted sense of humor, and suspect that I am somewhat challenging to live with.

Okay...that's my list. I won't tag anyone...but if you want to play along, please make sure you let me know. I'd love to read your list.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Do you see a pattern here?

Here's the newest warp on the 4 harness loom:

The yarn is 2 ply Romney wool at 14 wpi. Both yarns were spun semi-worsted from mini-combed washed locks. The dark color is a really dark brown, almost charcoal. The lighter color was Kool Aid dyed over natural silver colored wool.

The weave structure is from Anne Dixon's book, Handweavers Pattern Directory. It's called Syncopated threading: Rosepath on p. 217 of the book.

The sett is 9 epi, and the beat is 9 ppi.

The project is a scarf to meet my goal of having a handspun, handwoven garment.

The pattern is kind of hard to see looking at the web straight on. Try looking at it from one of the side angles. The yarn will full into place to visually produce the pattern once it's off the loom.

In other news: Tonight's forecast is for high winds and T'storms again. The last time we had that, we were without power for 4 days. Keep a good thought that it doesn't happen again.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Can't Take My Eyes Off You....

I finally finished and cut this warp off the loom:

I liked this fabric on the loom. I like it even better off the loom. The color and the movement of the pattern are mesmerizing to me. That said, I would never put such a loud fabric on my body...well maybe as a scarf or a small accent. But this fabric has way too stiff a hand for that. It's more appropriate for table runners, small bags, glasses case, or journal cover.

The history of the project is here

Also this weekend I pieced another one of these quilt tops. It's the time of year when our church assembles these quilts in anticipation of our high school graduates in May.

This afternoon I'll be winding two more warps that are planned for the floor looms. It seems I'm finally "on a roll" here.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

My Word!

I'd say this is pretty accurate. It's not uncommon for people to look at me and say, "what even made you think of that?" It comes from living inside my head (sometimes too much).

Your Word is "Think"

You see life as an amazing mix of possibilities, ideas, and fascinations.

And sometimes you feel like you don't have enough time to take it all in.

You love learning. Whether you're in school or not, you're probably immersed in several subjects right now.

When you're not learning, you're busy reflecting. You think a lot about the people you know and the things you've experienced.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Finish Line

Just in time for the next deep freeze dip in temperatures....a new scarf:

(This is the best picture I can get inside, and I'm not going out in 4 degree temps. just to get better lighting. Even if it would show you the whole scarf and the color gradations.)

Warp and Weft: Alternating plain weave stripes of:
  • 1" stripes of Noro Sock yarn, color S40. Sett at 8 epi/ppi. One ball of 460 yds.
  • 1/2" stripes of 2 ply shetland wool at 2240 ypp, color cyan. Sett at 10 epi/ppi. Used about 300 yds.
Width on loom: 11"
Finished width: 8.25"

Length on loom: ~100"
Finished length: 84" (not including fringe)

Finishing: Washed in the machine on gentle cycle with towels. Hot water wash, cold water rinse. Removed before the final spin cycle that sprays the wash with cold water. Steam press to finish.

Inspiration: Stef's shawl in the winter issue of Handwoven.

I picked up the Noro Sock yarn at the LYS Superbowl sale at 25% off. Didn't pay close attention and this color way is not the yarn with the silk in it. I thought I might still get differential shrinkage since it is washable sock yarn....but as you can see, there is no differential shrinkage.

I did pick up two other colors that do have the silk in them. So look for them in future projects.

BTW...I can't imagine using the Noro yarn for socks. It's a singles yarn, with very uneven spinning, and somewhat fragile. I kept the tension and beat very light on this web. And as you can see from the finished project, it shrinks and fulls pretty much like shetland wool that has no nylon in it and is not superwash.

PS: Okay, it's now 10 degrees and sunny. So here's a picture with a very appropriate pin for the day (click for bigger):

Monday, February 02, 2009

Shuttle Race

There's a new warp on the 4 harness loom. As you can see, it's a two shuttle weave, and it's full of pretty colors.

I feel a bit of a hypocrite showing you a picture of a boat shuttle and ski shuttle after touting the glories of the end feed shuttle (sorry, Sharon). But these yarns are a little heavy for the pirns, IMO.

Details later, I want to be at the loom, not at the computer.

No Surprise Here....

Punxsutawney Phil has been a legend to me since I was a little girl growing up about 40 miles outside of Pittsburgh, Pa.

You can see his take on the next six week's weather here

I think Phil deserves a website upgrade. Then maybe he wouldn't feel like crawling back in that hole. Just sayin'