Friday, April 24, 2009

What would you do? (for all the gardeners out there)

Last week I went to C*stc* know, that place you go to buy some specific thing which they carry at a good price if you can use it in large volumes?

In our case there are four specific things: raw almonds, Nonni's biscotti, frozen blueberries, and frozen three berry blend with no strawberries (I'm allergic).

However, there is some gravitational force in that place that sucks you to a display for something that you maybe had in the back of your mind, but weren't really serious about purchasing. There's the display....then there's the price...the same price you would pay for half the volume. The deal is too good to be true. Before you know it, the stuff jumps into your cart and hangs on while you make it the checkout counter. It fills up the trunk of your car where you don't have to look at it again until you get it home.

Upon arriving home, you open the trunk and it hits you, "What am I going to do with all this stuff?"

Last week it was flower bulbs. It started with lilies....Scheherzade ornamental lillies. I have some of these in the ground....they are getting old and not blooming like they used to (if at all). I know what I paid for the ones that are in the ground and I got 18 bulbs for less than I paid for 4 that are in the ground.

But the lilies aren't the problem. I have planted all 18 of those bulbs in just the spots where I want them.

And there were peony corms. Now I know that those peonies won't bloom this year. They probably won't even bloom next year or perhaps the year after. But I've had two lonely peony plants for the past 8-9 years. Every year, they are beautiful and they cry out to me that they would like some friends. See:
But the 6 peony corms are not the problem, they are in the ground already.

The problems are the 20 Caladium bulbs:

They like shade. I have shade. I usually plant impatiens in the particular shady spot I have in mind, but impatiens haven't done so well the past two years. So I bought the bag of bulbs, not knowing much about them.

Turns out they are tender. Recommendations are to wait until the soil has warmed and danger of frost damage is past, or start them in peat pots. That would be 20 four inch peat pots (!). Last year our last frost was Memorial Day weekend.

This weekend is supposed to be 80 degrees all weekend (and it is today already). What d'ya I dink around and put them all in peat pots (20 of them!) to nurse indoors for the next month? Or do I just take my chances and put them in the ground? This week? Or Mother's Day weekend?

Remind me to stay out of C*stc*.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Live and Let Dye

(right click here, select "open in new tab" for musical accompaniment to this post.)

Saturday was Dye Day for Michigan Weavers Guild. Our mission was to bring color to as many cellulose based fibers as possible for inclusion in future warps, baskets, and finished textiles.

The director of the mission was Jeanne Seitz:
Who is otherwise known as "M" on most of the "Bond Missions".

Curiously, "M" also acted as "Q" on this mission as she provided the tools and gadgets needed for a successful mission completion.

Sufficiently armed with urea water, Procion MX dyes, fixative, plastic wrap, gloves, and various means of dye application... Fourteen of us set out on our colorful mission.

Primary color combinations were often used:
Kiwi Green was probably the most used color of the vast selection available:
Though Kiwi Green is not my favorite color, I will admit to it's usefulness in helping other colors to harmonize. I too succumbed to "Kiwi Fever" as you will see below.

Some of us felt the need for an orchesteral arrangement of color:
Others were more circumspect:
All of us came home with little wrapped bundles of color that looked like this:
However, I don't think any of us drove home in an Aston Martin.
(I'm pretty sure I would have noticed that.)

The bundles required at least 4 hours of rest to set the color into the fiber. A few of us (at least one) allowed them to set for about 24 hours (ahem).

Mission Completion:
A supplemenatary warp of a rayon/cotton ribbon yarn.

A rainbow warp with complimentary weft. The fiber is a cotton/silk mill end acquired from Nan's stash, originally documented here.

And this is a double warp chain of the rayon/silk yarn that I obtained from Tim in the Pay it Forward Stash Exchange. Note that this fiber takes up dye very nicely. Also note that I succumbed to the Kiwi Green.

Next mission: Get those warps on the loom and woven!!

Friday, April 17, 2009


After months of feeling what this little bloodroot bud seems to be expressing, we have our first day over 60 degrees this year:

And all of the flowers below are proudly in attendance:

At last!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

the good news and the bad news....

From: Brain Test

I find this interesting and amusing. My family would likely scoff at the phrase "perfectly balanced".

They got the organization thing right, only the need to reorganize occurs within 5 to 10 minutes. Could explain the "monkey mind" I've complained about so much in the recent past.

"Valerie, you are one of those rare individuals who are perfectly "balanced" in both your hemispheric tendencies and your sensory learning preferences. However, there is both good news and bad news.

A problem with hemispheric balance is that you will tend to feel more conflict than someone who has a clearly established dominance. At times the conflict will be between what you feel and what you think but will also involve how you attack problems and how you perceive information. Details which will seem important to the right hemis- phere will be discounted by the left and vice versa, which can present a hindrance to learning efficiently.

In the same vein, you may have a problem with organization. You might organize your time and/or space only to feel the need to reorganize five to ten weeks later.

On the positive side, you bring resources to problem-solving that others may not have. You can perceive the "big picture" and the essential details simultaneously and maintain the cognitive perspective required. You possess sufficient verbal skills to translate your intuition into a form which can be understood by others while still being able to access ideas and concepts which do not lend themselves to language.

Your balanced nature might lead you to second-guess yourself in artistic endeavors, losing some of the fluidity, spontaneity and creativity that otherwise would be yours.

With your balanced sensory styles, you process data alternately, at times visually and other times auditorially. This usage of separate memories may cause you to require more time to integrate information or re-access it. When presented with situations which force purely visual or purely auditory learning, increased anxiety is likely and your learning efficiency will decrease.

Your greatest benefit is that you can succeed in multiple fields due to the great plasticity and flexibility you possess."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't judge a book by its cover...

It took me a long time to figure out the meaning of the adage: "Beauty is as beauty does."

Watch the video to see/hear some beautiful "doing".

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ample Samples - Happy Easter

I've been sampling with one of the yarns that Nan gave me. It's a slubby cotton at about 825 ypp. with short pastel color runs through it. The weave structure is a thick and thin with some 10/2 merc. cotton that I had on hand. I first blogged about this at the end of this post:

It looks very like Easter with it's pastel colors as in these Jordan almonds. What you see in this photo are the three different setts I've tried so far. The warp order is two 10/2 ends followed by one slubby end.

The warp in the top left corner is sett at 24 epi. Moving clockwise, the sett in the next sample is 30 epi. Note the blocks are smaller. The sample currently on the loom is sett at 12 epi. I've tried to treadle the blocks to square, but it's been more challenging to do so on the current open sett. I think I will try one more sett at 15 epi.

The fabric in each sample is very different, with different possible end uses. They haven't been wet finished yet, so I hesitate to draw any firm conclusions about them. I would like to make a fabric that would produce a nice shawl to use up this yarn and donate it to the prayer shawl ministry. It seems that a soft, washable cotton shawl would have it's uses in Michigan summer.

Wishing you a happy and blessed Easter.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


The socks....they're done. And they've inspired a haiku. Sock details here (Ravelry link).

Knitting Socks:

Silky loops of yarn
with rhythmic needle motion.
In ten days: two socks.

Also...please read Wanda's Mother-of-the-Bride Haiku in these Comments.

(Is poetry month starting to seem long to you, dear readers?)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


More Poetry Month.... The photo is the wood grain on the island in our kitchen. This creature watches over me as I eat my oatmeal in the morning. It's just one of many 'faces' in wood grain that I've encountered in my life (usually they are on the back of the bathroom door).


by Billy Collins

Hamlet noticed them in the shapes of clouds,
but I saw them in the furniture of childhood,
creatures trapped under surfaces of wood,

one submerged in a polished sideboard,
one frowning from a chair-back,
another howling from my mother’s silent bureau,
locked in the grain of maple, frozen in oak.

I would see these presences, too,
in a swirling pattern of wallpaper
or in the various greens of a porcelain lamp,
each looking so melancholy, so damned,
some peering out at me as if they knew
all the secrets of a secretive boy.

Many times I would be daydreaming
on the carpet and one would appear next to me,
the oversize nose, the hollow look.

So you will understand my reaction
this morning at the beach
when you opened your hand to show me
a stone you had picked up from the shoreline.

“Do you see the face?” you asked
as the cold surf circled our bare ankles.
“There’s the eye and the line of the mouth,
like it’s grimacing, like it’s in pain.”

“Well, maybe that’s because it has a fissure
running down the length of its forehead
not to mention a kind of twisted beak,” I said,

taking the thing from you and flinging it out
over the sparkle of blue waves
so it could live out its freakish existence
on the dark bottom of the sea

and stop bothering innocent beachgoers like us,
stop ruining everyone’s summer.

Billy Collins, “Creatures” from Nine Horses. Copyright © 2002 by Billy Collins.

If you like the poem...look into the book.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Close to You

a few days ago Sharon passed this award on to me, and I've been wondering what to say ever since.

First I had to look up proximity in the dictionary. You see, I asked for a rather expensive dictionary for Christmas a couple years ago. It sits proudly on the top of a table/bookshelf in our living room. Since it came into our lives, I've made a point of checking out the meanings and etymology of words. Especially those which I think I know what they mean, but perhaps I'm mistaken. Proximity....the definition in my head was "in the vicinity of.... ; or close to". So was Sharon giving me an award for coming close, but never hitting the target?! In my mind proximity was tied up with the definition of asymptotic. Click on the link if your dictionary is not nearby. (Must have something to do with my math teacher, Mr. Weber, in highschool...where we studied asymptotic curves and I often came close, but missed the mark.)

Ah...but the dictionary proved Sharon does mean nearness in space or time. Which is why she is such a good librarian! And I must keep a dictionary at my elbow.

So the award is to acknowledge the following qualities. "This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!”

Such a lovely compliment. Thanks so much, Sharon.

As I scan around the blogs, I see most whom I would name have already been tagged with this award. But there are a couple blogs where I hang out and you may not have yet discovered:

OzWeaver over at Argoknot - look through some earlier posts to see her amazing tapestries.

Cyndy's place over at River Rim is a good place to stop and see what's going on.

Susan over at Avalanche Looms - There has to be a great haiku in thinking about an avalanche of looms.

Tim's technical posts usually call for a cup of tea and some thought.

Jennifer at Finding the Real Me has inspired me to get back to that wedge weave warp.

Lee over at When She Was Knitting inspires me with her ventures in sewing. She's also a librarian with a love of statistics.

Distracted Muse is the blog home of Stef, who does beads, embroidery, and gaming when she's not weaving...or working.

So there you go..I think everyone else I would include has already been tagged. Have fun link surfing through a really neat blogger community.

PS: the title of this post is a link that should take you back a few years if you click on it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Uni-Verse Challenge

April is National Poetry Month:

If you've been reading this site for any length of time, you're aware that I love poetry. The probability is high that you are also a person who likes to make and create.

So instead of breaking copyright law by typing miles of someone else's verse, how about if we do a "make your own" poem?

A couple days ago in Complex Abundance some of you commented that having boundaries tends to improve creativity and the quality of the product. Haiku poems provide the boundaries of 3 lines of 5 - 7 - 5 syllables. The process is a little mental floss exercise, causing you to think a little differently about what you feel and how you would say it. Fiber art is full of Haiku possibilities. Here's mine for today:

Leftist Leanings
Slip one, knit one, psso
makes a left leaning decrease
or a two stitch hug. you try it. Or go to the How to Write a Haiku page (which has more rules than the first link), then write your own. I'll warn you... they are addictive, especially as you sit and knit, spin or weave.

If you write one, please let me know in the comments. I'd love to read it!!

Happy poetry month!!

PS: If you're more visual than verbal, go take a look at The Free Verse Project and its Flickr page.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Finish to Start (instead of start to finish); Stupid April Fool's Day

There are a few finished things to document here.

First the differential shrinkage scarf based on the samples shown in the previous post:
I love the ruched effect effect of the fabric brought about by the shrinking merino wool warp stripes against the non-shrinking Noro Silk sock yarn in the warp, and the raw silk in the weft.
I decided to serge the ends then do a blanket stitch by hand with the wool yarn. You can see that detail below. (Click both pictures for big....I think it's worth the view. But then again, I'm a fabric nerd.)

Next we have a finished prayer shawl (at last!). This the second one I've made from this yarn. It is Iceberg, a Hayfield yarn from a long time ago. I still have 3 balls of that yarn, which I think will be donated to the prayer shawl group when I hand in this shawl. I am so tired of working with no color.
Now, these socks have taken about two years to complete. (I'm too lazy to go back and check the blog archives right now.) They were started with too few stitches. Then they were started with too many stitches. Then they had red heels and they had to be ripped. Next they had red stripes at the cuff, and those had to be ripped. Honestly, the yarn almost made it into the "donate pile" so many times. The yarn is Opal sock yarn. I think some of my difficulty with these socks is that they just looked too much like a guy's hunting or work socks. Yet, neither of my guys wanted socks that looked like this ..... (do you think it had something to do with the red toes?)
Oh last they are done, and they are comfy, even if I'm not wild about the look of the yarn knitted up. And below is a shot with the cat, to once again prove that even at 5 years old, this animal is still only when she sleeps. She looks like one of those cartoons of a swiveling head in this shot.
Finishing projects allows one to begin new ones. These socks are ones that I am in love with. The yarn is Lang 'Woll Silk": 55% wool, 25% nylon, 20% silk. They have such a wonderful feel! The pattern is from Cat Bordhi's last book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One
I figure they will be finished when I watch CSI tomorrow night. Two weeks for these socks vs. two years for the previous ones....go figure.
And this is a new sample warp on the loom:
It's a thick and thin 4 harness weave based on the draft in The Best of Weaver's: Thick'n Thin. The thick yarn is a slubby pastel variegated cotton at 840 ypp. from the stash given to me by N. last week. The thin yarns are two different shades of green in 10/2 mercerized cotton.

I was thinking that this fabric would make a nice blanket for Project Linus. But it's not thick enough. Perhaps I will open up the sett a bit more after I weave a few more inches like this. Hard to tell what this will become until it's off the loom and wet finished. Stay tuned.

That's it. No new spinning projects because neither of the current spinning projects is complete.

I am so tired today......couldn't sleep last night until about 4:30 AM. Then the trash had to be put out by 7:00 AM. Came back and crawled back in bed and the phone rang. It was the dr.'s office to confirm my appt. for April 2nd. (was this some kind of April Fool's joke? My appt. is April 16. No joke, just mis-scheduled. ) We got that take care of. I am indeed scheduled for the 16th.

Went back to bed...the phone rang again. Ds calling from work: "Mom we have a message from IT regarding the conficker virus saying that for safety's sake our home computers should be offline as much as possible today." Okay...came downstairs and turned off the wireless router....then crawled back in bed.

Phone rang again:
Message for my dh, who is in California. The message said that our new car is in and ready for pick up. Uhmmmm.....we aren't expecting a new car (Again, no joke...the car is there). Called dh in Ca. where it was three hours earlier. What the heck, if I can't sleep, he can't either. He'll take care of it.

Got out of bed and put on my new yoga pants. The ones I always buy in the size I always buy them, so I took off and tossed the tags before putting them on the shelf last week. The pants were too in "pull them up and the fall back down" big. I still had the receipt and the was able to return them. Not a trip I had planned. And maybe I should be happy that the smaller size fits (shrug). Who knows why....

I'm going to bed early tonight. You know, maybe I should look around for a hidden camera before turning in....That is just too many coincidences.