Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Picture of March

I haven't posted twice in one day before but I just read Birdsong's blog and remembered that we agreed to post a picture the last day of each month to represent the whole month. I looked through my pictures and couldn't find anything that I hadn't already used. Then Ian called me outside to look at the wind clouds. Saved!! The pictures from my camera were kinda soggy. I decided to take the pictures with his DSLR and what a difference. He bought the same camera that Amy uses and not for the first time. We both have Nikons and I get better results indoors. I'm glad we have both cameras!

The pictures from my camera are on the left - his on the right. Mine aren't bad - his are better. I keep him for his camera.

Quest for Squawdge

These are my dye day mop-ups, and I'm sure they don't hold a candle to Lindsey's mop-ups. That woman needs a blog! The fact that I don't know if these locks are Bluefaced Leicester or Coopworth/Salish is a loud and clear message to me that I've lost control of my fiber stash. Until recently, all fiber bins in the garage were clearly labeled - I don't know what went wrong.

I had thought about separating the locks into colors, running each one through the drum carder, then holding them together when I spin. But I opened a couple of locks and I fell in love with them, so I guess I will probably just have to it the slow way, one flicked lock at a time. I can't believe how much work I put into my yarn, then sell the hats for commercial yarn prices. I'm just glad I can sell the hats so I can have an excuse to make more yarn.

These are the two skeins of brown and white Brown Sheep wool/mohair that I took to dye. I think the skein on the right is pretty close to what I like and always shoot for. I think the one on the left actually might be Squawdge - it's not as easy to get as you might think. We're watching the NCAA semi-finals and I'm knitting so should have a hat to submit for a vote very soon. Squawdge or no - you will get to vote.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dye Day Results

I took 12 ounces of Brown Sheep combed top to the dye day. I tore it into four sections and the one on the right is the one Birdsong showed in her blog. She took a lot of pictures while she was deciding what she wanted to do. I had a hard time breaking away from my favorite colors of purple and green, and the first bump I did was in those predictable colors. The bump on the left is in Sara's primary colors of turquoise, violet and gold. I was surprised that Sara had them in her base colors, but they sure do look good.

I told Sue Flynn that I was struggling to break out of my color habit and she said I was leaning to Sara's favorites. I asked her what her's were -Swamp, she said. Swamp?! Algae, ooze and frog - so the bump on the right was my stab at Swamp. The frog got lost in the algae and afterwards I realized that, while I had underlined and starred a part of Deb Menz's book Colorworks, I hadn't internalized the information. She wrote, "Observe that the values of the cool colors are darker than those of the warm colors. The color on the color wheel with the lightest value is yellow. In a design, light values tend to jump out more than dark values do. A little yellow goes a long way because yellow at its most intense is the lightest color in value, and it is also a warm color." And that's why the algae ate my frog.

I also took two skeins of yarn that I spun from Brown Sheep mill end roving from Encampment, Wyoming. I had purchased the brown and white combed top that's wool and mohair. It's a little peculiar to spin because the ends are blunt from being cut from the mill, but it makes great yarn. The top skein again is the pure gold, turquoise and violet. The second skein is just gold and violet.

Here's a closeup so you can see how rich the colors are with the brown and white roving taking up the dye colors at different values. I'm going to try to do something like this with our Shetland fleeces. They're really little sheep but after a couple of years, their fleeces add up.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


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I don't mean this as an advertisement, but the dyes I'll order after our Foothills Fiber Fiber Guild dye day are these Lanaset dyes: Navy (485), Blue (483), Scarlet (380), Magenta (385), Yellow (180), Mustard (182), Violet (880), Turquoise 480), Black (680) and WFR (338). WFR stands for Color Fast Red, and I'm not sure why I need that in addition to scarlet, but for the price of shipping and my confidence in Sara, I'm ordering them all. I love the mustard/gold - it turned out to be one of my favorites.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Forecast was for Snow

Look what we woke up to. It was forecasted to snow, and for once, the weather actually did what the forecast said it would. This is the southern end of Peterson Mountain, our view to the west. Typical of the basin and range topography that John McPhee wrote about in his book, "Basin and Range," the north-south mountain ranges appear like "an army of caterpillars marching south to Mexico." Our valley is higher than Long Valley and Hwy 395 to the west of us, but if it's a school day, the County road crew will have plowed and sanded our country road and that makes it a safer bet than the highway.

But today, because it's my day to close the library at 8:00, I decided to go in through California and take the highway. I'm such a big chicken. The best pictures of Peterson were from the west side of the highway, but there have been so many deaths on this stretch, I am very respectful of the road and chose the one dedicated pull-out. You can hardly see Peterson from here. I was very sad. So to make up for the fact that I had stopped to take the picture and would probably be late for work because I did, I turned around and shot the Shoe Tree.

Because of the snow, you can only see one shoe! Last year, California did some major work here, widening the lanes and shoulders. Throughout the work, they put up orange barrier tape to protect this tree. Peterson looks a little more respectable here. I love being a part of Big Sky Country. I can't post about my dye day results - my results aren't dry yet. Can't wait to share!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Foothill Fiber Guild's Dye Day

This is Sue's two-car garage. Inside are three large tables, twenty women, two sets of eight tubs of dye at a 1% stock solution - one set for protein and one set for celulose, lots of fiber, brushes, plastic wrap, buckets, water, water, water, and enthusiasm.

Birdsong and Allison are admiring my skein. I'm admiring the machine-knit blank that Allison is dying. She purchased two of them from Nancy Roberts (available on her website), is dying them exactly the same, then will unravel them and reknit the yarn as socks.

This is my skein that they're marveling over - hah! I spun it from Brown Sheep wool/mohair combed top, which was brown and white. I hope the colors are as rich after the colors set. This is one of eight dye projects that I did today. We started dyeing at 9:30 and Allison and I were done and back on the road home by 3:00 with a leisurely lunch in the middle. The day was so nice that we were able to eat outside - tomorrow it's forecasted to storm.

I took this picture after clearing out my work area for the next project. Note the partial cups of color. Lindsey had a creative use for them. See the fiber in the center of the table. Those are mop-ups. She had at least a dozen of them going on the tables. I had a couple of handfuls of clean raw fleece. I hope they turn out as cool as her skeins.

More crazy Lindsey stuff. She had just poured an abandoned cup of dye into a skein she had soaked in vinegar water, and now she's applying syringe-fulls of various colors. She filled an electric cooker with fiber which tripped a breaker, but it was time for us to leave, so we didn't get to see how that fiber came out - there was a lot of it so hope it turned out well.

This is the first packets of our finished work. I'll bet Sue's power box was absolutely sizzling with all the cooking we did. Because we did trip her circuit breakers, Sara suggested that we steam our packets again when we got home. All eight of mine are re-steamed and cooling in a laundry hamper in the garage. It is taking a huge amount of will power to leave them out there and not peek!!!

What a great day - what a great group of women. What makes fiber women so wonderful to be with?! Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to knit when I was nine. She was one of us too, you know.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Own Socks

In all of my knitting years, I've never had the experience I did with these socks. I picked an all-over lace pattern from my Harmony Guide and even though I knew the gauge was right, it just didn't look right. I felt unsettled all the time I was knitting. I mean, look at this. It's ugly. With socks, you finish one - then you get to do it again. And ugly twice, is one too many.

But it did work and now I'm hot to try it again. I have literally pounds of this sock yarn. I am anticipating the fun of two projects - dyeing and knitting. Does anyone else have an entire drawer of their dresser dedicated to socks - besides me??

Two days and counting before the dye day in Grass Valley with the Foothill Fiber Guild - with the one and only Sara Lamb. I'm pretty much stopped on dyeing until after that, because I've used up my dyes and I'm waiting until after this session before I order more. Than lookout. I have so many things that are just waiting for me to buy dye. Weekends are too short - work weeks are too long~

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bad News Day

Bad News: This is where we employees park and right behind is the charred remains of the fire that someone set last night about 10:00. I became testy by late afternoon with the clever quips about unexcused fines, charging for damaged books, etc. I don't think arson is funny. Why does everyone want to make it into a joke.

I took this shot from the staff room - the fire was close. I am so not ready for another season of fire arson. Ask the families of the twenty homes damaged by kids "playing with matches" last week. We all left tonight with sore throats, blah, blah, blah - whining is never attractive.

Serious bad news on my favorite alcoholic drink front: One bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is 200 calories, one bottle of Dogfish Head 60-Minute India Pale Ale is 206 calories. Sierra Nevada now has a spanking-brand-new IPA - I am so-in-trouble.

And sparing you photos though I will show them if infestations recur , this the news from today on the insect front - you have no idea how disgusting they are:

Mormon crickets have begun hatching in northern Nevada, marking what state agriculture officials say is the longest infestation in recent memory. Officials say Mormon cricket infestations generally last two or three years. This is the seventh the large insects that munch their way across the landscape have invaded northern Nevada. Made famous by nearly destroying the crops of Utah's Mormon settlers in 1848, the insects eat lawns, gardens and crops. When starved for protein and salt, they eagerly gobble up one another. At the infestation's peak in 2005, 12 million acres of Nevada, stretching from the California to Utah state lines, were covered with crickets. Officials estimate 8 million to 10 million acres were infected last year.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wind Clouds

The forecast is for rain tomorrow. This morning that didn't seem likely at all, but look at the wind clouds all stacked up. It is possible. I love to see wind clouds - it means weather, or the possibility thereof.

These are the same wind clouds, but I stopped the car at the Bedell Flats overlook. I couldn't resist the colors.

Okay, okay - it's overkill, but I thought the clouds looked really pretty as I started into our valley. I pulled over just before the cattle guard and I'm sure the car that drove past me wondered about my sanity. It was quite blowy by then and I'm learning to deal with a new problem. My short hair blows into my eyes. It's really windy now, but that can work against us and blow the storm right over us and on to Margene.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Where I've Been

This is where I've been.

I am a SoCal transplant to Nevada and it's always nice to tag up to my roots. The black dots in the waves are surfers. Please note that I hadn't eaten breakfast yet, and had only consumed two cups of coffee, but there they are.

I stayed with my sister-in-law and her mother at the beach house for the event that we would attend together on Saturday - the bridal shower of Ian's youngest son's intended. Is there anything that trumps family? We are so excited to welcome this newest member of the Campbell Clan.How did this happy couple meet? They were both tending bar at the Islands restaurant in between semesters. Now he's a SD DA and she an educational psychology candidate. Isn 't life crazy?!

This is the bridal party, with our beautiful Esther on the left - clue, the bridal veil and her bridal party trailing behind her. This outdoor bridal shower was on Mission Bay in San Diego, with lots of Victoria's Secret packages on the gift table. We had great fun.

I am back home now, wearing sweats and looking at the kindling that Ian has set in the wood stove. My head is swimming just a little from the past two days. I fell asleep to the hypnotic sound of waves crashing last night, and tonight...can't open the windows. I'll fall asleep to the sound of snoring dogs.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Weaving Assistant

Have I mentioned that I have a weaving assistant?

His name is Charlie. He's very helpful.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

One Done

I finished the first sock from my handdyed sock yarn and the Harmony Guides pattern, Double Eyelet Rib. It looked terrible all the time I was knitting and I was sure it wouldn't fit. I tried it on after I had washed and blocked it, and it's quite a handsome sock. The lace looks just right. I'm so pleased that I'm knitting the second sock with quite a different attitude.

In spite on the fleece purchase on Saturday, this year continues to be the year of stash reduction, which is challenge when each year we add four more fleeces to the stash.
I'm spinning to weave a lap robe and have decided to do it in three of our Shetlands' colors: brown, oatmeal and white. My loom has a 42" weaving width so I can weave 2" stripes of each color, then repeat this in the weft. I used the McMorran yarn balance this morning to see what kind of yardage I'm going to need, and I'm going to need to spin a lot more than I already have. Driving home tonight, I realized that I can substantially reduce loom waste by using a dummy warp so I need to recalculate my yardage with that in mind. Even so, I have a lot of spinning left - lucky me. I love to spin Shetland.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fresh Fleece

Look at these coats. Last year we sheared in May, but it's just March and they need these off. Earlier in the week, Mim emailed me to say that she couldn't go to the Guild meeting on Saturday because Devon was coming to shear. I got on the phone and called Devon to see if he could do our four boys since he'd already be in our valley and he said sure. He drives over from Yreka so got started after lunch on her 36 sheep. It was almost dark yesterday when he got here, but he had those coats off in no time. Mickey Mouth, on the left, was the Reserve Grand Champion last year at the Nevada State Fair. Devon said sheep don't ordinarily have repeat fleeces of that caliber, but Mickey's fleece is just as nice as last year.

I was driving out of the yard this morning when the boys caught my eye. Buster was visiting them - he and George rub noses through the fence. I was surprised at how small they look without their fleeces compared to the dog. They look so bare and they probably feel the same, I'm sure to their relief.

Mim brought these skeins over on Friday to show me how many colors she is getting from her sheep. There are seven separate colors here. Shetlands and Alpacas have the most color range of fleeces, and since Alpacas aren't in my future, I'm glad our sheep are Shetlands. I have four bagged fleeces upstairs in my workroom - black, white, brown and oatmeal. They are lovely.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My first transgression of 2007

I bought this Merino fleece from Wayne today. I just couldn't capture all the colors, no matter what I did. I've never seen so many colors in a Merino fleece - it ranges from white to black. I swore I wouldn't buy anything this year - this is my year of stash reduction. But Wayne came to the Guild meeting today with fleeces and also the announcement that he is moving to Oklahoma this summer to begin teaching high school agriculture in the fall. I am so thrilled for him, but at the same time, it's hard to believe that our Wool Pimp will be gone. He has been such a huge part of our wooliness and the Nevada State Fair program. I am so excited for him because he gets to go home. He came here to go to school and never left.

These are the hats that Wayne commissioned for his nieces and nephews last Christmas. He's really excited that he will living so near to them and his parents at the same time. He told me today that the hat on the bottom right was worn my his nephew in the McLean County Fair last month. His nephew wore the hat and led his other brother's Shropshire ewe in the Wool Lead parade (like the Shepherd's Lead at Black Sheep Gathering) and he won first place. I'm not sure how that works but I'm pretty happy anyway. I spun the yarn from Wayne's sheep and he told me today that he has ordered special bloodline ewes (the specifics are lost one me) for his nieces and nephews as presents so they can develop their own bloodlines. As for fleeces - he says he ships.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Socks and Yarns: tales that is

And now there are two. Amy asked me yesterday at our KIP lunch on campus if I would use the same lace pattern for another pair of socks and I said no. But now that I’m done, I think I will, but in a solid color. The pattern is called Little Arrowheard in volume 2 of the Harmony Guides. I swatched this yarn about four ways, and this is the only thing that didn’t produce diagonal clumps or stripes. I think I’m done with variegated sock yarn for a while. The toes are drawstring. When Margene asked everyone to share a secret for her contest, I should have said, “I don’t know how to Kitchener.”

This is some sock yarn that I dyed – badly. I didn’t catch on to the need for vinegar at first - the first four years or so. I belonged to the Robin and Russ yarn club and purchased about four pounds of undyed 80/20 wool/nylon sock yarn a number of years ago. It came in four ounce skeins. I tried to rainbow dye this but it’s more of a heather and quite blah. I have another four ounces upstairs that turned out downright ugly and will have to be overdyed. I went back to my volume of The Harmony Guides and after several swatches, chose Double Eyelet Rib. I think it’s going to be a good sock pattern.

On a different note, I posted yesterday about a debut novel that I enjoyed. I’ve read several debut novels that I’ve enjoyed, so thought that I'd pass some on to you.

Cotton Queen by Pamela Morsi - picked up at a bookstore in the Ontario airport.
Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty - from an independent bookstore in Davis when Amy, Eileen and I went to Lambtown USA.
Three Junes by Julia Glass - from the author at the Public Library Association conference in Boston last year.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali - from the library used book sale.
My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki - my niece put it in my hands at a Barnes and Noble in New York, saying that it was one her favorite books so I bought it.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahri - my niece had given me her collection of short stories for Christmas.
Crossing California by Adam Langer - Christmas present from Ian.
Life of Pi by Yan Martel - Christmas present from Ian.
Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - Christmas present from Ian.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Book for a Snowy Day

I read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield when I was home on my snow day. It came to my attention on a couple of book sites, and part of what caught my attention was the cover. It turns out to have been the perfect book for the day. It reminded me of a Du Maurier's Rebecca meets Jane Austen - keeps you turning pages. There’s a great minor character, Mrs. Love, who knits socks and is vexed by a couple of occasions of turning her heels twice. “The second time I turned a heel twice, I was beginning to get old. Kitty and me were sitting by the fireside here, together. It was a year since her husband had died, nearly a year since she’d come to live with me. She was getting so much better, I thought. She’d been smiling more. Taking an interest in things. She could hear his name without welling up. We sat here and I was knitting – a nice pair of bed socks it was, for Kitty, softest lambs’ wool, pink to go with her dressing gown – and she had a book in her lap. She can’t have been looking at it, though, because she said, “Joan, you’ve turned that heel twice.” I was more than half way through the book before I realized the significance of the title. Surely, you will be quicker than I.

Publishers Weekly Review: Former academic Setterfield pays tribute in her debut to Brontë and du Maurier heroines: a plain girl gets wrapped up in a dark, haunted ruin of a house, which guards family secrets that are not hers and that she must discover at her peril. Margaret Lea, a London bookseller's daughter, has written an obscure biography that suggests deep understanding of siblings. She is contacted by renowned aging author Vida Winter, who finally wishes to tell her own, long-hidden, life story. Margaret travels to Yorkshire, where she interviews the dying writer, walks the remains of her estate at Angelfield and tries to verify the old woman's tale of a governess, a ghost and more than one abandoned baby. With the aid of colorful Aurelius Love, Margaret puzzles out generations of Angelfield: destructive Uncle Charlie; his elusive sister, Isabelle; their unhappy parents; Isabelle's twin daughters, Adeline and Emmeline; and the children's caretakers. Contending with ghosts and with a (mostly) scary bunch of living people, Setterfield's sensible heroine is, like Jane Eyre, full of repressed feeling—and is unprepared for both heartache and romance. And like Jane, she's a real reader and makes a terrific narrator. That's where the comparisons end, but Setterfield, who lives in Yorkshire, offers graceful storytelling that has its own pleasures