Thursday, April 29, 2010

National Poetry Month

I have always claimed to be a poetry agnostic, however, several years ago Valerie posted a poem that absolutely knocked my socks off. She supplied me with a list with recommended poets, starting with Mary Oliver and Billy Collins. Being in a library, I had endless choices and even found the trendy Charles Bukowski to be delightful. I'm happy to know there is more to poetry than The New Yorker and Robert Pinsky. I have fallen completely in love the poetry of Ted Kooser and hated to let this month get by without sharing a poem.

In an Old Apple Orchard

The wind's an old man
to this orchard; these trees
have been feeling
the soft tug of his gloves
for a hundred years.
Now it's April again,
and again that old fool
thinks he's young.
He's combed the dead leaves
out of his beard; he's put on
perfume. He's gone off
late in the day
toward the town, and come back
slow in the morning,
reeling with bees.
As late as noon, if you look
in the long grass
you can see him
still rolling about in his sleep.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Colors of April

Sue has put up the call for colors of the month, and I don't have much color to offer. We woke up to snow this morning, but it pretty well melted during the day. It's nearly May, there's still not much growing and we're running low on firewood. It's snowing now again and sticking, but the promise of spring is in the air and the wildflowers next month are going to be spectacular. The best part of all of this is that I get to live here full time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Morning After

This is the roving that Lindsey dyed on Saturday. She came with a photo and wanted to create those same colors. You can see more about it at Sara's blog here. Sue called this color pathway "squadgy" but I think it needs a nicer name.

I was in a hardcore crowd. Lindsey moved onto sampling and when she had enough on three bobbins, she tossed them into a bucket and started plying. When one bobbin ran out, then it was two-ply. You could hear her plying from the barn. I completely missed the squadgey train but I want on board.
Yesterday, I spent the day reading a book, resting up from dye day. This morning I stumbled into the kitchen to see this box on the counter. Ian takes the dogs to pick up the yesterday's mail. He asked me if I knew it was coming and I said no.
It was from Kathy. Ian was ticked because Kathy had messaged him on Facebook for our address. Co-conspirators! I didn't realize how much I had blathered on about needing a black fleece, until I opened the box. Sheep fleece can't get much blacker than this. I've started sampling - waiting for the rest of the locks to dry. It's from her wether Sven who was mauled in the marauding dogs attack. She apologized that one shoulder of the fleece was missing. I am speechless, and that doesn't happen very often.
These are my results from the dye day. I am yet and still stuck in the purple, green and gold mindset. Since they're close and combined are 12 ounces, I'll probably try to spin them into a single result. Next year.

As for the book I read yesterday, I don't often recommend chic lit, but I have come to appreciate Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs, now a movie. I didn't see the movie, but I have read all her books, actually to my surprise. Yesterday I read Wildwater Walking Club. The author walked 10,000 steps a day while writing this book, but more importantly, she asked the question - Who are you? and do not spout your resume. Oh, and she's very funny.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dye Day

Sara, Sue, Eileen and Lindsey - looks like a visit, maybe a spin-in? Other than the steamer to Sara's left, there's not much to say "dye day" is there. We're at Sue's, overwhelming her life and house - and yes it is a dye day.
I wandered onto a conversa-
tion and learned about pickling, That's what I'm doing here. I'm pickling a pound of Blue-faced Leicester in a bath of Dawn, vinegar and gold dye for an hour. All the colors I paint onto my wool will be on this base, with no white blank spaces.
These are the dyes that we're using. Sara instituted the dye days about five years ago as a fund raiser for the guild, and in spite of her heavy teaching schedule, she has continued these sessions. Allison and I drove over from Reno for the second one and Sue's garage was packed to the gills - we kept tripping the fuses and tripping over each other. It was March so we were freezing and the garage door had to be closed. April is much better.

Sara brought all her sample books with the ratios and the informa-
tion we needed to replicate each color. I started with the books, then lost discipline and started mixing. Let me say - if you ever get a chance to take a class from Sara Lamb, you really need to sign up. You snooze, you lose.
And while everything was going on, Sue's handyman Seth was painting house trim, and found this nest made from hay twine. I wanted a picture of the nest high up in Sue's entry, but we were a bit much for mom, who was nervous and skittish. It was endearing though to see Seth with his bird book, checking her out.
This is Lindsay's car, with the first of her dye baths drying. I fell in love the colors of the roving on her windshield and spent my time trying to replicate her results, but fell wildly short. This is my second dye day with Lindsay. I wish I could communicate how much fiber she ends up dying in the course of a day. This was just the first round. She is a legend.
It was a Lendrum-
heavy crowd. The empty wheel is Sara's - her husband picked her up to shop for a new heater - but mine, had I thought to bring it, would have upped the percentage. We're chatting and waiting for packets to steam. I simply cannot think of a richer experience. Really.
I was done, cleaning up, feeling sad that the day was drawing to close, when Lindsay put these Nancy Roberts knitting machine blanks in my hands. Here, she says, pulling them out of her soak water. My results I think are genuine dope-smoking, hippy Nevada County tie-dye. Socks to follow. Some pix from Sue's place~

Sorry. I get lost here because this where I thought I would live the rest of my life and when I'm here, I feel like my mom is having a romp too. I sometimes get carried away. She would have totally loved this day.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stuff, Stuff and Stuff

When I posted recently about the 100 grams of silk I had won, wondering what to ply it with, Benita came right back and said brown. Oh, and by the way, I have just the ticket, and if you'll wait a minute, I'll send it to you. Ian brought the package back from the mailbox this morning, and Benita nailed it, right out of the ballpark.
I picked this up on my last trip to Jimmy Beans. I try to keep those trips to a minimum, because things seem to come home with me. However, I was really impressed with this book because the patterns are so applicable to handspun yarns. The gauges are gauges that I spin. The downside is that they don't give yardage, only weights of Noro that you need to purchase.

This is the pattern that I'm eying for my finished yarn. There will be more of the brown merino than silk, so I'll use it for bands. By the time this is done and I can wear it in a year, you'll forget I ever talked about it. Just the same, this have just gone into my queue.
I had to be in town today at noon for Sandy's book club, where we met to talk over The Rose of Sebastopol by Katherine McMahon. It wasn't my cup of tea and when the discussion wasn't exactly going anywhere, I asked how many stars they'd give it. Jill gave it 2 1/2. I said I'm giving it 2 in My Library Thing. And then we trashed it soundly. I don't understand how editors send books like this through for publication.

Afterward, I went the Friends of the Library big sale and came home with nine books (for $9) that caught my eye as ones I've meant to read, but haven't yet. I met another reader in the process and when we saw that we were picking up and putting down similar books, we teamed up to narrow down refine our purchases. She's the one who put Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts in my bag. We had so much fun - I was sad to part ways. I stopped at the library on the way home - I know, I'm an addict. I called Ian to see if he needed anything before I left town, and he said that the party we were going to tonight had actually started 5 minutes ago - Miss Communication.
It was called a Bench Warming Party, the occasion being the dedication of the bench that Harry bought and had installed for Carol's birthday. We came an hour after the party started but we weren't late. Carol and Harry's daughter Emily is in the foreground and is headed to art school in San Francisco the end of June. If we get to go to Black Sheep Gathering, it's because Emily somehow juggled her schedule to house sit for us.
This is the view due north from the bench. Their driveway is a bit of an adventure in the winter, but they live up in the clouds. Harry works at the ranch below - isn't that the commute from hell?
I am literally tottering on the edge of the bank, getting teased about stepping back for a better perspective. Carol and Harry are in the middle of the bench. There is a lot of ranching history here in this photograph, hard-working, break even, skin-of-the-teeth stories that keep me riveted to my seat.

Ranchers don't party late because they don't get to sleep in. We were home by 8:00 and I've got all my stuff ready to go, to hit the road tomorrow morning. I'm going back over the Sierras for a dye day with the Foothill Fiber Guild. We each get to dye one pound of fiber. It will be fun - it always is.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

High Drama Sorta

I arrived early to grand-
daughter Alexia's classroom so caught the tail end of the creative ballet session. She is so fortunate. Her parents pay through the nose to have her here - worth it.

Here's the application for my knitted produce. And it's also the last photo from my camera, which announced heart failure, i.e, dead battery. I came to Alexia's kindergarten to show the class how a sheep's fleece becomes yarn, becomes a garment. Without pictures, I can tell you that I read a couple of picture books, pulled things from my bags, let boys play with my wheel and drummed up a whole lot of enthusiasm.
I took chunks of fleece from these, our three wethers. I also took my carders and let the kids have at it. They were the best pickers ever. I showed them a picture of our little sheep and what their coats look like.

The reaper cometh - three bags full. Added to the many other bags full.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goofy Day

That hint of spring quickly flitted away, taking away any hint with her. I love the Nevada City Inn, and when I heard the rain start in earnest last night before midnight I got worried. It showed serious intent toward snow by breakfast. It was hard to "throw in the towel" since I was there with towels for show-
and-tell for the weave study group, but I respect the Sierra weather. It doesn't negotiate.

This is my April show-and-tell. I'm disappointed to have missed the meeting but after all these years living here, I'm happy we beat the storm. It was fun to have a day out, nice to get away, even as bizarre it ended up. I like being safe in the end.
I knitted every bit I could. Tomorrow is my daughter's significant birthday. I couldn't finish the loom project I wanted to give her so finished this instead - it's a pair. Squint

DIL Missy called this evening to thank me for the rag placemats - she loves them. Even better - they are happy with their new home in Oregon. I could not wish for better. It just has been the best goofy day.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Hint of Spring

Ian and I babysat Alexia last night so DD Chris could celebrate her birthday with two other friends. She said it was a fun party but the others had babies to get home to, so she and DH went to a late movie. We were happy they could. Lexie Lu and I took a walk after breakfast. She loves Papa's trail.
When she started to clamor down this bank, I said - "Alexia, this is not a good time to go exploring." She called back - "Don't worry Gramma. I have six years of experience. " "You're only five." "Oh!"

This is the "stepping on my shadow" game. Charlie had been very contrary to her this morning and took a swipe at her twice. When I commented on what a beautiful morning it was, she said, yes - but Charlie scratched me on two of my legs. ??
Christina loves it that when Alexia rides her bicycle, she self-talks - be careful not to fall, be careful not to fall. Alexia wanted to collect chert chips today, hoping to find an arrowhead - it actually could happen. I could hear her saying to herself - be careful not to slip, be careful not to slip. I think there's a lesson there.
I could hear her singing, while carefully working her way back down the bank - "hush little baby, don't you cry," but I couldn't make out the rest. "Momma's going to buy you a wrist band-aid" she told me because she had banged her hand.

The worst part about living so far out is that we don't get to babysit more often. I love it. Every single time - even watching her Scooby-Doo movie this morning. It's that latest one and the worst one. I thought it would never end and was glad and sad then it finally did. It's a 35 minute drive to take her home and she talked all of it.

Ian and I are headed for Sacramento in the morning. I have an order of soap oils to pick up and then we're headed up the foothills to Nevada City. We're spending the night there and the next day I get to finally attend the Foothill Fiber Guild weave study group. Snow is forecasted and I had an earlier email that the meeting might be canceled. We're going anyway. Ian wants to shop at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply and if the meeting is canceled, then we'll track over the Sierras early. Eleanor, our trusty Forrester, will get us home - she always does.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Or Not, Mostly Not

Sammie gets agitated while we do our morning absolu-
tions and got over zealous with this ball of yarn that I had earmarked for Alexia's hat. Before I can begin to knit, I need to fix this. Sammie doesn't mean to be naughty....

She tossed and chewed so I ended up with three small balls, but with the other solid color, I've weighed and have enough for one hat for Alexia. I have to finish the second ear flap for grandson Logan before I can start on this hat. After those three hats are done, I can get back to knitting produce - can't wait.
I won this 100 gram ball of dyed silk at our guild raffle last Saturday, thereby ending my run of "never winning anything." The colors are pretty bizarre but I have some hogget grey Merino that might be just the ticket to ply this with and give me close to 5 ounces for a project. That's respectable.
I thought you might like to see what gardening looks like at 5,000 feet in the high desert. Each box has a buried layer of chicken wire so the ground squirrels can't burrow in and steal. The T-posts and high fence are to keep out the deer (we hope) and Ian will line the inside of of the field fence with rabbit guard, an ingenious wire to keep those adorable cottontails out.
Our shearing date has been resche-
duled, but that pretty much means these fleeces won't be usable. I'm not too upset since we have at least another dozen in the garage to skirt and process. I've relegated my sore back to the deck and the weather surprisingly was cooperative.

I finished The Executor by Jesse Kellerman, son of Jonathan and Faye. The apple does not fall far from that tree. This would be a killer book club book - a Harvard graduate student with an abusive background who is majoring in philosophy strives to get his PhD dissertation completed on the subject of existentialism. The whole book screams existentialism - it begs discussion.

I'm close to the end of Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch, which falls into the Chick Lit end the literary spectrum. I loved the cover and needed something light. Her first book was okay and this one is okay too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finishing Things

I finally finished Kiernan's hat. I ended up purling the first two rows of the cable cast-on. The ribbing behaves well when it's on a normal sized head. One friend suggestion that I think about Elizabeth Zimmerman's recommendation to reduce garter stitch ribbing by 10% of the body of work. I would have done that next, were this not successful. I used alpaca this time - a first for a hat. Now I can no longer say I don't like to knit with alpaca, because it makes an awesome hat that will also be very warm.
I'm using a technique that Sara Lamb suggested in her SpinOff article on the falling leaves shawl. She said that you get a nice cable effect on the edge if you slip the first stitch of every row and purl the last stitch of every row. I think it gives it a nice finish.
This sweater was actually finished during NCAA March Madness but I didn't care for it and had decided to donate it to the guild while elephant sale. However, I find myself wearing it quite a lot, so I've decided it must mean I like it after all. I used the Vogue Knitting instructions for a sweater-in-the-round but just made the neckline bigger. I've come to realize that I don't like tight necks or long sleeves.
We are beginning to get a little sun in between the clouds and I couldn't resist this shot last night.

I'm disappointed that I won't be able to finish my daughter's dish towels in time for her birthday next week. I hurt my back yesterday, moving tables and getting the room ready for the library book club. We had 15 people, which is the largest group we have ever had. The book was A Prayer for Owen Meany and I suspect a number of people came because of that. Since it is a library program, we seem to get new people all the time. I don't know if a group can be effective and satisfying if it stays at this size, and it's pretty difficult to facilitate.

I recently finished While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty. I read her first book twice but skipped her second due to mixed reviews. I loved this one, a story of how tenuous our security is and how quickly a change in circumstances can take away our safety net. Veronica is a dorm resident assistant in Kansas, in love with her boyfriend and with a supportive family living nearby. Divorce suddenly turns the family upside down, and when her boyfriend asks her to move in with him, she declines because if the relationship fails, she'll have nowhere to live. She no longer knows what she wants, her happiness seems to be slipping away, and her mother appears to be cracking up. Moriarty doesn't suddenly tie up the story with a happy ending but it ends well nevertheless. I always love a character-driven story and especially one that has a plot. This book met my expectations.