Saturday, January 31, 2009

Last Day of January

It's the last day of January and this is all the weather we have to show for it. The hammock post is mocking me as I take this picture, as well as our fenced garden. We had a busy day in town. We needed to get upgraded phones and go to a retirement party for a friend. I used to try to jam birthday parties and baby showers into a week. The changes of stages - this week we went to a wake and a retirement party.

By the time I got to the end of the first towel this morning, the tension was clearly wonky. I tried to wind it forward, fix the lose larks heads and rewind, but it just was bad. I decided to cut this towel off and tie up again. I've decided that for towels, I need to explore learning to warp from the back. Maybe I'll get a tighter and more even tension if I'm not winding though the heddles. I have no idea how to do this at all you know.
Here's my one and only towel from the warp I wound for three towels. I'll only get one more out of this warp and it will be twill. It's *supposed* to a learning lesson and it has been that all right, but not the lesson that Handwoven had envisioned in their article. Their plan was for seven towels. They didn't factor me into their lesson.

Ian told me this morning that we're going to be seeing his godson Chris the end of February. His son is one month old and I've see pictures on Facebook, but I didn't expect to see him this soon. We stopped at Jimmy Beans today and I got this to knit for him. His name is Solomon.

Friday, January 30, 2009

spinning and spinning to be

These two skeins represent my attempt to spin dyed roving into color runs, bottom skein, and to delib-
erately mix to the colors to eliminate color runs, top skein. As you can see, there is no appreciable difference, which means I don't know that the heck I'm talking about. I've decided that to really scramble the colors, I'd have to break the skein into short color segments and alternate them, as though I were spinning from dyed locks. That doesn't seem fun and I'd rather scramble colors when I'm dyeing them.
What you're looking at here is five bags full of processed roving. This has been donated to our guild to help us raise the balance in our treasury. I haven't been through the bags yet, as the natural light was waning when I got home with them. I did a bit of peeking and can see that I'm going to be spending quite a bit of money in support of our guild.

I promise to report on what I've read about getting even selvedges, but now I'm going to watch the classic, Better Off Dead.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Whadda Day

Remember these skeins? You wondered what they would become. Well, I'll tell you. Oh, doesn't that sound like Monty Python & the Holy Grail. I want to sing. Sorry, I got sidetracked.

The purple is in both hats and the cerise is the pattern of the right hat. The left skein I am knitting into a bag. I have a whole mess of tiny scraps that I've tried to lay out in some sort of color order and see if they'll make a bag. We shall see. What is your favorite color? African or European Swallow?? Sorry, sorry - I got the Python sidetrack again.

Today has been a little odd. Ian and I just got home from the wake for my ex-husband. Ian is a recovering alcoholic and Mike just died of the disease. The wake was at his favorite bar, and as a geologist, he had a plenty of drinking company. The wake was announced in his obituary and the bar was packed. Both of us ex-wives and kids were there. I visited with one of his girlfriends that he dated after his second divorce, whom he had brought over to our house one Christmas eve. Ian and I both liked her, but she said she had to break up with him because he was always drunk by 8:00. Life is not a 30-minute TV show and some cures don't happen. The kids took care of all the details in the end. He was a good guy. Alcoholism is, as Ian always reminds me, a baffling and cunning disease.

So. Had to get that off my chest.

So. I got the answer to my request for early retiremen. It's almost funny in a way since they asked me if I wanted to retire early in the first place. Our director called me today and told me he had to turn my request down - they felt that the expense of my early retirement buyout didn't match my value an employee and so he couldn't approve it. That's the nicest denial I've ever had.

Since I'm going to be working and drawing a full paycheck, and after your comments on shuttles in my last post, I've decided to reward myself for being the diligent valuable employee that I am and buy end-feed shuttles. However, after looking on the Internet today, I realize that there are quite a few to chose from, I sure would like to hear from any end-feed shuttle lovers. I need some advice. These puppies don't come cheap.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


This is my dishtowel project. My selvadges discourage me, so I got the idea of looking to YouTube for some weaving demonstrations. I remember Laura Frey saying that you get your selvadges when you get your rhythm. I watched those videos yesterday morning before work, and then tried to apply some of what I saw.

This morning was yet another late work-day schedule, so while eating my breakfast, I browsed through an old weaving magazine. The article I flipped open was by Madeline and addressed none other than selvedges. I about fainted. I don't know that I was eating - article or granola.

I washed up my breakfast dishes and went upstairs to see if what she said worked, and you know what? It pretty much did. I wove for a half hour before the race to work routine kicked in. I am so much closer to an acceptible selvedge. My shoulders ached for quite a while today, but my heart was happy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Buster's New Bed

Papa Bear (Eddie)

Mama Bear (Sammy)

Baby Bear (Buster), and it fits just right.

The Grand Poobah.

Oops Addendum - I see by the comments that my sarcasm wasn't delivered very well. There's only one walled bed. It's Buster's. The other dog beds are pads, back in our room which is where the other dogs prefer to sleep, unless they think they it will bother Buster and then they'll steal into his bed. It doesn't last long because it's too uncomfortable but they're marked his territory. The dynamics of these four animals are pretty convoluted.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Day Off

I've spun half of Mim's roving, using the tech-
nique that Sara suggested in her January 6th post. At least I tried to follow her instructions. I'm don't think my color runs are as successful as hers. I'm going to spin the other 2 ounces, deliberately mixing the colors and then I'll use both in hats to see if I like one method better than the other.

This is now I spent some of my afternoon. I had to fix some errors and in the end, ran out of steam. I had to hoped to finish the threading. I need to weave more often so my back doesn't tired as quickly.

I've started doing some exercises that our potter neighbor showed me. He says he's always working in front of him so the muscles in his back doesn't develop at the same rate and leave him vulnerable to injury. I figure that applies to what I do as well.
This is my view from where I'm sitting behind my loom. A month ago retirement hadn't even entered my vocabulary and now I think about it every day.

Charlie is bird-
watching. I think he's dreaming big.

Look what came in the mail today!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Weather

Finally! We have had no moisture for weeks and it's winter - this is when we get our water. It's rained over the past two days and is supposed to continue for several more. Desert plants draw from humid air and even though nothing is growing yet, the rain has made the plants appear brighter. I counted at least a dozen different shades.

You can see the potential green at the base of the sage plants. I think it's because the desert palette is restricted that the spring wild flowers are so spectacular. I just wish I were able to mix dyes predictably enough to emulate these shades. This would be a great "squadgie" color pathway - swamp colors Suefleen calls them. I'm spinning this pathway right now, but it's from Mim. She said when she was dyeing this roving, that she thought of me.
The dogs and I had a dampish walk this morning and it was absolutely wonderful. They only needed a quick towel-down and were house ready. How lucky for me that this beautiful day is also my day off.

Eddie elected to take Ian's path. Alexia always takes it because it's "cute" - besides, she says, it's "shortew." I take the long way because, doggone it, if I'm out for a walk, I want it to count for exercise. Cute paths don't count as exercise.

The bags are done. The two on the left are natural dyes and the two on the right are acid dyes, except the light top of the right bag. That's white border leicester that I blended with snippets of sari silk. Click for big to see how well it felted. I'm very disappointed that the cochineal and rabbitbrush bag looks like something from the Marine Corps. I think it would have worked had I not added the cochineal band on top. Very disappointing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK Holiday - the Best One

We bought this LCD TV so we can watch movies in the daytime, presuming we will get to retire and be home in the daytime. It sat in the box in the hall, and sat and sat. We pondered and pondered, then decided that this is why we have kids, right? Okay, not really. No arm twisting was required. Son Josh and family came out and he had it working in literally minutes.

DIL Missy has turned into uber-knitter - remember that she had only been knitting since September. We were looking through projects that were her grandmother's that she thought might be her legacy to finish. They were from cheap yarn and I disavowed that. Missy said her mother had already said the same thing but Missy is sentimental.

This is the baby blanket she is knitting for a friend and it's perfectly gorgeous. She gave her first one at a baby shower just last weekend. The receiving mom thought it was commercial and when she realized that Missy had knit every stitch, she was completely overwhelmed. Handwork matters.
When they got here this afternoon, I had just started to full the bags that I had finished knitting, so they got to see the fulling process from start to finish. All bags are knit the same in the beginning, but depending on the wool, they shape up differently. Grandson Logan, also a beginning knitter, was absolutely taken by the difference in the results. Before fulling, every one of these bags is the same. The surprise at the end is part of my fun.
The sunset was spec-
tacular tonight. It's so often like this that sometimes I forget to stop and appreciate it. Josh was standing in the window and called me to come and see. Our move out here was spontaneous and a seeming gamble. It worries me, so it always pleases me when our family enjoys our digs. Our family is scattered but thankfully, we are all on the West Coast. I can't imagine families spread across the continent.

Liquid sky.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

January Update

We babysat grandkids last night and gave our kids a chance to have a fun night out. They've had a lot to deal with these past five weeks and we all have our fingers crossed for a might fine 2009.
Ian walked up to greet us as we were just finishing our walk. The black dog is our neighbors' dog though she does seem to be living with us. We don't see the neighbors much because they don't seem be here much. It's a bit weird.
It has been unsea-
sonably warm so I decided to take advantage of it and spend the afternoon knitting on the deck. It's January 17th and we should be buried in snow.

How warm was it? Too warm for shoes and socks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Color Tune-Up

These are the skeins I decided to give a color tune up. The right one is Corriedale, center is BFL and the left is Brown Sheep white top, leftover from another project from a couple years ago. It doesn't fit with any skeins I have. As you can see, they're pretty unappealing skeins.

And so much better now. I used a quick bath in Cornflower blue for the left one and just gave the other two some more color conviction. They're ready to become more hats. Mim asked me how I can stand to make the same things over and over. You need to understand that I cannot sit still. Projects like these just keep me from ripping my cuticles off when I watch TV. I knit them in self defense.

Book group was great tonight. Our book was Wallace Stegner's, Crossing to Safety. He is such a wonderful writer and as founder of the writing program at Stanford, he had students like Ken Kesey, Edward Abbey and Ernest Gaines. The discussion turned personal at the end, and it seems that everyone could identify with one of the four characters, most noteably the controlling, aggravating yet likeable protagonist, Charity. She was so powerful that her character over-shadowed the first person narrator, Larry. It seems that everyone has had a Charity in their lives.

From the first chapter, you realize that everyone has gathered because Charity is terminally ill. It's like Titanic. You know the ending - the ship sinks. The story is one of complex relationships and expectations. It's not about Charity's end but her living. She lives with such passion that she faces her demise with the same energy. I finished the book last night and couldn't help but reflect that the father of my kids passed away yesterday morning. He was everything that Charity wasn't. He didn't love himself or his life, and though he was enjoyed his friends, had no hobbies and no passions. He actually stopped living a couple years ago and his body just caught up to his mind yesterday. At 61, he lost his battle with congestive heart failure, a product of a lifetime of smoking. I'm not sure I've ever read a book that was so timely.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Guild Meeting Day

I signed up for an inkle weaving class today at our guild meeting. It won't be until the end of February, but I think it's time that I put my inkle loom to a better use than this, a glorified cone holder.

I have too many hobbies already, but our union meets on Monday because our county is broke and is offering early retirement incentives to reduce the outlay in payroll. We'll know on Tuesday what the union has agreed to and must sign an agreement by Friday if we're going to accept early retirement. Tuesdays feels like a month away.

I got this from Mim today - more Blue-faced Leicester. She said when she was dyeing it that she thought it looked like my colors. I traded her soap - love the barter economy. It was her turn to drive to the guild meeting so I got lots of knitting done. I'm using the BFL for hats - the Brewery emailed me that they need more inventory and I'm trying hard to knit "inventory." My little sales here and there go into a special savings account, and while they don't add up to a lot, they did just pay for a new LCD TV that Ian ordered online. It's being delivered on Tuesday.
Late this afternoon, Tom called to say that he had made strawberry margar-
itas. He and Carol had already had two, so if I wanted to walk up to the gate, he'd drive down and bring me one. That's what I call being neighborly.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Petting Charlie

Kiernan was most anxious that I would post pictures of him petting Charlie. Charlie isn't fond of most everyone and trust is hard earned. He was rescued from the wheel well of a truck, covered in grease and half starved. He may be little but he doesn't forget.

Kiernan always asks me if I've shared these pictures. He's very proud to be the only child that Charlie has presented himself to. That goes for adults too actually. I'd love to have one of those affectionate cats that everyone seems to have, but we don't. Charlie is a calicivirus carrier which means we can have no more cats. He seems to know this and bosses the dogs.

With apologies, this post is for Kiernan - he's so proud to be the only one to win over a scaredy cat.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

And so

Maybe this isn't the crack of dawn, but the sun comes up from behind Porcupine Mountain and it hides the morning from us when the rest of our valley is already seeing day light.

Always, I am in awe of our skies. When it seems that everything is for sale, let me tell you that these skies are not. We live in Big Sky Country, dry skin, peeling cuticles and all. We're at 5,000 feet elevation, and the advantage is that we don't have ticks and fleas. I wouldn't trade it for all the unknown critters and insects in the world, thank you very much, Okay, some exceptions, like very big bugs including cochroaches are inserted here. This is a cockroach-free zone.
This is a skein from the Blue-Faced Leicester roving, and it appears to be in the need a dye bath tune up. I love working this fiber, and in answer to an earlier question it's spongey and soft. It feels like Merino, but has the sheen of a luster longwool. It's my second favorite to spin, after Shetland and that's what I'm spinning now.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas Over

It seems to happen so quickly. The day after Thanks-
giving we cut a tree and decorated it. Six weeks have passed already and it's time to put everything away.
Everything gets boxed up for the next twelve months. I'll miss these guys, their creative faces - okay just eyes - and their beards made from mohair.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. Oh wait. Too late? It all flew by so quickly, but isn't that what Santa does - fly over? Well, he certainly did here. Here's wishing that this year will deliver promised hopes.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Still Spinning

This is a pound of black Corriedale that I needed to spin up for another lab robe.

This is how much space it takes up as yarn. Part of my motive for weaving with handspun is to reduce my fleece stash. I can't start weaving this until I rainbow dye the grey yarn for the other color.

I bought this Blue-faced Leicester at the Guild Christmas party from Mim and have already spun one bobbin. I love BFL but the color is turning out to be a little too pink for my taste. I think it's going to see a dye pot. In fact, I do believe there's a dye day in my near future.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Ian and I went on a date today. The Campbell tradition is to go to the theater on New Years day and see a just released movie. It is a tradition that Neil kept but when he died, Ian didn't want to see his brother's tradition go by the wayside.

We weren't able to get annual leave this year to spend with our Southern California family, so Ian and I went to the theater on our own today a day late, since we worked yesterday. He researches all this and has the best of suggestions for movies - really. The only dog was last year - Sweeny Todd, the worst movie I have ever had the displeasure of sitting through. Ian has redeemed himself with this movie. Slumdog Millionaire is awesome. I hate to be tortured by a wrenching story. This should have been wrenching and it wasn't and it even managed to have a happy ending. Um, it's got some Global Globe nominations, or something.

After the movie we went out to eat. Indian Garden - what did you expect? Um, did I mention that the cimamatography is killers and that I've downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes? You know what's totally cool? You can get your theater passes online, print them and just walk by the ticket booth. You get scanned right in. You knew that - my bad.