Friday, November 30, 2007


If you look carefully, you can see all six of our fiber animals. One llama is just the head and you'll probably have to click for big.

This is what we woke to this morning and we're all doing the happy dance.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Drop Spindling

I've been spindling a little every day to keep myself fresh with the technique. Today I decided that I have enough on the whorl to ply it and see what kind of yarn I'm making.
I don't know how to Andean ply so I put it whorl end down into this pitcher and Navajo plied. It certainly was easy enough to do - until I pulled the yarn off the bobbin, and it was a complete mess of corkscrews. Then I remembered Amy telling me that on the spindle I would be spinning and plying the opposite as on my wheel. It was easy enough to fix. I just started feeding it back on the bobbin, the opposite direction.
Everything was going well until I unwound the rest of the yarn from the spindle. I didn't ply all of the yarn because I had started with something else. The whorl and the shaft simply came cleanly apart. My finished yarn is Shetland - it's very fun to spindle.

I went upstairs and got my first drop spindle. I bought it in 1997, a couple of months before I bought my first wheel. It's so heavy, you could use it for a door stop. It doesn't have a notch and the hook isn't twisted, but by wrapping around the hook twice, I was able to pick up where I left off. I felt like a champ. I'm sad my birthday spindle broke, but I wouldn't have pushed myself had it not. This one is way too heavy to use for long, so I will be shopping for a new spindle. Things like this are why I know better than to say always or never, because I never thought I'd truly enjoy drop spindling, and I do!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christmas Tree 2007

We met at Hallelujah Junction at 9:00 headed to Dixie Mountain in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, high above Frenchman's Lake where the silver tip fir trees grow. We have four vehicles and five passes. We haven't had snow yet this year so are able to zip right along. In the past, ice on the road in these shaded areas have required adept maneuvering.

The Littlest Wood-
cutter and his chain saw, ready for the perfect tree.

The hunt for the perfect Christmas tree has begun. It's about 30 degrees - I don't think we've ever hunted trees in colder weather.

Some our Redding family pose with the chainsaw, their hunt over and prey behind them. They got a big 'en.

My son and grandson Logan are trying to decide if the tree behind them is their tree. Logan found it, and it was. Josh just emailed me that they have it up, the lights are on and ornaments go next.

Even the Littlest Woodman needs to relieve himself in the woods.

And this is our Christmas tree. It was the first one cut - small house, small truck, small tree. It's in the garage soaking in water. I'm looking forward to bringing it in the house and decorating it next weekend.
Without having to slog through snow and with the kids acting as scouts, we had collected our trees and were back in Sierra Valley in no time, on our way to the Wood'n Rose in Chilcoot for a meal - all fourteen of us!

The Yule season has begun.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Aaaah, Thanks-
giving pies. This is my favorite of the all the holidays - no gifts, just family. Amy spent it with us this year and contributed these gorgeous berry pies, one crust marked "W" for with and the other without. With what? Licker, as my daughter said.
We had twenty seated at the table this year, plus unseated dogs. Alexia is explaining to me how she tried to climb up the jungle gym and let go of the rope to soon, then slid back - very traumatic. Sammy-dog is quite interested in the whole saga.

Dinner was followed by a rousing game of dice - the perfect end to a perfect meal. Who won?? Me! Beginner's luck, I say.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Library Book

This was in the library book drop today. What do you think happened to this book and why on earth would anyone drop it off like this?? Maureen pulled it out of the bin and was completely stunned. Whoever would return a book like this, like we wouldn't notice?

Actually, it's a cookbook and it was checked out by our collections development librarian, who has a very spunky Jack Russell Terrorist, who appears to be the culprit in the this story. She told our library manager about it, who goaded her to go back outside and toss it in the bookdrop. So now we 're having a staff contest for the best excuse. "But it was like that when I checked it out," is my favorite so far.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Tah-dah. The pullover is now a cardigan. I cannot begin to tell you the anguish I exper-
ienced when I cut up the center of my work. Even though I had machine stitched up both sides of the center stitch to secure the yarn, it was torture. It didn't help that the yarn is so dark. Allison's downstairs studio has a huge picture window and I sat right in front of it for the natural light and snipped just a couple of stitches at a time. One of the plies of this yarn was a llama blend and the sweater is hot. I know I'll wear it as a cardigan now, but I wouldn't want to do this again any time soon.

Here's a close-up of the buttons. I got to Jimmy Beans yesterday morning early enough that I was the only customer, so Jeanie was able to spend quite a bit of time helping me select buttons. It was hard because their buttons rock. I feel so lucky to finally have such an awesome LYS. We went through years of LYS drought. After all the work I have invested in this sweater, I didn't want fabric store buttons. You can also see my gorgeous heathered yarn. It's brown Targhee and grey llama. If I knew then what I know now, I would have omited the llama, but you have to admit that the colors, overdyed with hibiscus Gaywool Dye are pretty nice.

And another recycled item. Ian took the dogs for a ride out in nowheres-
ville, looking for deer and antelope. He said he saw the legs of this sticking out of the brush, so stopped the truck just out of curiosity. It had a pad that snaps onto the chair but it was disgusting. Don't you wonder how it came to be parked in the high desert sagebrush? It's a glider and works great. In fact, I sat in it to knit up the button banks and finish off my sweater - temps were in the 60s today. The wood is completely bleached from exposure.

I had to make yet another batch of soap today. I really wanted to read, but soap has to age four weeks so I really had no alternative. I bought a huge bag of sodium hydroxide from Sierra Chemicals when I first started making soap. I figured it would be cheaper then Red Devil, even if I never used it all. We I have just about used it all and was trying to determine how many more batches I can make before buying more. I was stunned to realize that it's a product of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. When have I ever bought anything from them??

That explains all the languages the warnings are printed in on the back side of the bag. In any language, don't mess with sodium hydroxide.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Belated Birthday

Last Saturday I had lunch at Allison's. She had a couple of us over in the downstairs apartment that used to belong to her MIL, but since her passing, has been rehabilitated to a fiber studio. It's going to be temporary dwelling for her married daughter when they move back to this area, but she is saving a part for a studio so she can offer lessons. She calls it her stable of spinning wheels. I am so excited. She is the only one here who has ever offered lessons, and when she took on the management of Jimmy Beans and couldn't do both, we lost our teacher.

It was the first time that I have seen Amy since my birthday last month. This is spindle is my birthday present. Amy is an accomplished spindler. I forgot the name of the man who made it - I need to write it down. I have never ever been able to spindle, but this isn't like anything I tried before. Even I was able to make yarn. It is lovely and it just wants to spin. I take back anything I ever said about a drop spindle.

She also gave me this roving. It's absolutely gorgeous and absolutely intimi-
dating. I actually liked the feel of the spindle so am curious to how this will play out.

Yesterday, the doctor injected my shoulder with cortisone. He bootlegged the syringes because they were equine in size. The first syringe was the painkiller. The second was actually the cortisone. Then he unscrewed it, and while he was getting the next vial, his nurse held the needle in position on my shoulder with a pair of needle-nose pliers, not that I was watching. He told me it was bad news in a good way. So I got three vials of cortisone in my shoulder and am supposed to experience relief in the next five days. In between, it's going to hurt, starting about tomorrow and I have Percocet for that. I look forward to shoulder pain-free sleep soon, but not yet.

One week from today we will cut our 2007 Christmas tree. Put the brakes on - this year is getting away!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


This is the place in the Sierras where we will be cutting Christmas trees, a week from tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving - already! So far, no snow but it's supposed to rain on Sunday. We've never cut trees without snow on the ground. The Forest Service permits are on the counter, ready to go.

I'm still spinning for Alexia's sofa blanket. I've finished the grey that I will overdye in three colors, maybe this weekend. I haven't decided what colors yet - whatever strikes me (and the wool -ha!) when the time comes.

Here are two finished skeins. I wasn't going to full them before weaving, but I realize that when I dye the grey, it will be fulled so will have to do that black too. I have trying to spin them the same size, but the black is turning out thicker - it's corriedale. The grey is corriedale/targhee and I haven't enjoyed spinning it at all - it's like working with drier lint. I bought both fleeces at Black Sheep, many years ago.
I have a problem before I can begin weaving - the state of my studio! Someone needs to clean it up!!
Today is D-day, as in doctor. I'm picking up my MRI films this afternoon for an appointment with my orthopod to see what the future will be for my shoulder. If it's surgery, I'd like it done before the end of the year. I met all my deductibles in January with my foot surgery and don't want to pay them again. I can't afford my body!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rehabilitated Yarn

This yarn is looking so much better in seed stitch. I have all the yarn from the ruined sweater pulled out, rinsed and reskeined. I was happy with my first rehabilitated yarn sweater in denim blue, and so have been I've been looking at all the sweaters I have and don't wear to see what I need to do to make them wearable.

This pullover I knit from a handspun blend of Targhee and llama and is far to warm to wear indoors. It's been unworn in my closet for at least three years. I've decided to take the plunge and cut it up the center for a cardigan. The thought gives me dry mouth.

I knit this oversized cotton sweater about a dozen years ago from yarn that I bought from a shop in Camino, California called Apple Nanny's. I was first introduced to spinning by the woman who owned the store. Ian and I were staying in a B&B next door during a visit to Apple Hill. I think I'll have enough yarn if I knit the rehabilitated yarn into a neck-down EZ pullover, doing sleeves first and then when I run out of yarn, that's how long the body will be. I'm feeling very virtuous.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bah Bah White Sheep, Three Bags Full

Will you look at the size of this box! FedEx delivery
men just toss our deliveries over the fence. Our dogs don't make it easy to come into the yard when we're not home. I'm always amazed at our propane delivery guy - he must have nerves of steel. This was waiting for me from Morro Fleeceworks. It's the last of the fleeces that I sent and is actually two fleeces, but processed and packaged as three. Last summer when we visit Anna Harvey's ranch in the Sierra's, Birdsong and I succumbed to temptation and purchased a hogget Rambouillet fleece, which we split.

This is Birdsong's part of the fleece. It is absolutely stunning. I'm a little jealous as I sent alpaca along to be blended with my half.

I had already sent it when Amy pointed out that my plan for a 70/30 split hadn't taken into consideration the grease and loss of weight in scouring that would occur with the wool. Birdsong's 3 pound portion came back finished at 2 pounds. And this is my "half" of the fleece. You can see there is a considerable increase in volume.

I figure it's nearly half and half, alpaca/wool. I don't know how how I feel about it right now, but I think I many have been too smart for my britches. I'm jealous when I look at the lively crimp in the half that's not mine.This is what I got. It doesn't have that spoing of wool with the alpaca added. You can click for big to compare. I've got a spinning project already in progress, so can't start on this yet. This gives me time to think and anticipate.

Last in the trio is our own Robbie the Ram. Even though Kiernan no longer speaks with a w-for-r substitution, I will always think of him as Wobbie the Wam - or as Mim laughingly corrects, Wobbie the Weatheu. I used up all of his last fleece in making the lap blanket for my brother. I know I could have processed this myself, but Shari does it so much better. Besides, I'd rather spin than process.

He's a double-coated Shetland, so his roving is already showing the hairs that will halo like mohair when spun into yarn. I absolutely love to spin his fleece. I love to spin most everything. I must because I do it every day.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's Already November

I had wanted to go back this morning and take pictures of the cotton-
wood trees in the sunlight, but several people were burning their slash piles and the valley was filled with smoke. This is the best I can do. I really wanted to show how glorious these trees are, an explosion of color against the blue sky, and there are very few days left before the leaves are gone for another year. Shoot.

Migrating birds enjoy this pond behind the trees, but most have gone on, though there are a couple of ducks, black specks on the right. Ross Creek is dammed to create three ponds, and this is the bottom one.

Speaking of shoot, don't do that here, or swim or fish, or anything else on the other side of this antisocial sign. This pond is leased by a fly fishing instructor and he's not sharing.

When the birds are migrating, they often stop over here but there are no birds today. On the USGS 15 minute map, this is called Renner's Artesian Well. We call it the marsh and many birds call it home. I love the mirror image. I'm not loving the smoke.
Time is flying by. I took this picture on an earlier morning walk with the dogs. Those mountains are the Sierras just above Frenchman's Lake and where we will be cutting our Christmas tree - in three weeks! A group of us drive our trucks up and cut trees with Forest Service permits, then drive back to the small community of Chilcoot for a meal. It's a tradition I have grown to love. It will snow before then and we will get wet, muddy and cold. It's Great!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Trip Souvenirs

This is Amy's idea, though she says it came from someone in her family. When you take a trip and want to bring back a memory token, buy a dish towel. This is my first one. I bought it in Auburn where Amy and I had stopped for breakfast in route to Lambtown USA. Ian had planned to go with us, but opted out because his back was hurting so much. We didn't know then that he had ruptured a disk.

And this is our most recent acquisi-
tion. Ian and I bought it when we were in Florence, Oregon. It's such a great little town. Amy said that she's been collecting so long that some of her towels are frayed and worn out, but just the same, I'm loving the way these towels bring back memories. I think it's a neat idea and just wanted to pass it on, thanks to someone I don't know.