Tuesday, April 30, 2013

TaTa April

I had another pupil Saturday and this time we made the class three hours.  It was three hours last time but I only got paid for two.  Her name was Melissa and it was her 63rd birthday.  She treated herself to the class in celebration, her husband bought her this Ashford Flip Loom some time ago, and since she wants to retire in two years, she decided to see if this is a hobby for her.  Over beating is such a temptation but by the time we wrapped up, she was starting to get it and I think she did great.  I just hope she'll work on it again and relax a bit. 

I can't imagine teaching a large class.  One pupil exhausts me.  I spent a good part of Sunday sewing.  About 4:00 I decided it was time to take my book and knitting basket onto the deck, put up my feet and enjoy what was left of the afternoon, when two nekkid sheep wandered into my view, looking confused and bewildered.  I know I was.  This is Mickey Mouth and he's talking to me.

I came back in and asked Ian if he knew that Devon was coming and that he had been here.  Is he still here?  Well now, that was a very good question.  I hadn't thought of that, and yes he was.  Our guys are so small and used to him that he easily does it by himself.  He was just putting his stuff away so I offered him a beer and we kibitzed on the deck for a while and then he was off to the next stop.  He's like the scriptural wind - he blows whither he will.
 This is what I sewed.  It's the Schoolhouse Tunic by Sew Liberated.  The fabric is from Jimmy Beans and it washes up like a dream.  It's the second one I've made and plan to use it for when I'm a substitute librarian.  Two of them are two outfits in my wardrobe that I didn't have before.

Speaking of wardrobe, I recently purchased The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your guide to looking fabulous at any age."  I know - odd thing to buy in retirement, but I've thinned down my closet a lot and was looking for some tips to make everything count.  My favorite tip so far is to sort all clothes by color.  I can't believe how effective that is - I found a lot of things I had forgotten I had.  Man, do I have a lot of black tops. 

I finally finished my sweater.  I decided I wouldn't start the new sweater from Diane Soucy's pattern until I knitted this one from her stash sale about 15 years ago.  I'm glad I went back and reknit the tops and fixed the problems.  I like the look of the black line separating the two colors.  I haven't decided about the collar.  It's kinda high and I have a feeling won't be comfortable.  So it's still not totally done.  I'm pondering for a day or two.
I had to drive in this morning to deliver some soap.  I sold a couple dozen bars to a potter I know who wants to put them on soap dishes and sell them together at his open studio show this weekend.  We ended up chatting way too long - we always seem to do that.  I wanted to get up to the storage unit where DS Matty, girlfriend Julia and middle-school friend Dave were loading up a U-haul.

When I got there they were down to trying to fit in the last weird pieces.  Out of my purse came the trusty tape measure that Amy gave me years ago.  They hammed it up with their dirty hands, but tomorrow is the big day.  They'll be on the road, Matt towing his truck behind this rig and Julia driving her car with their pets.  They've made the decision to relocate to Bend, Oregon where his brother already lives.  I'll miss them but I know that Bend is a very good place to build their future.  Sigh.

To get my mind on something else after I came home, I decided to card up some mixed batts.  I brought down a lot of miscellaneous stuff last week and have been looking at it for days. 
Here are the first batts and I'll start spinning them in the morning - merino, llama, silk and Angelina.  I omitted the Angelia so had to go back, add it and card a second time.  These are over blended for my taste, but this is only 2 ounces of fiber.  I'm just getting started.  Now I just need to perfect my art yarn spinning techniques.  I'm signed up to learned that at the conference next month but I want to know now.

Books Read in April:

The Night Circus,  Erin Morganstern
The Messenger, Daniel Silva
When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead (Newbery Award)
Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (Newbery Award)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Fibers

The first weft I tried was the purple from the small stripe.  Let me say that I've just learned I'm not a fan of little stripes.  The purple didn't work for me so I unwove it.
So then I tried the green, and I tried it in a twill which was way to fiddly for my taste.  I unwove it.  Tencel isn't all that forgiving and the weaving was hard on it.
Then I decided to weave it in simple plain weave.  I figure if Sara Lamb has made a weaving reputation as the Queen of Plain Weave, that's good enough for me.  The selvedges are out of control.  I had floating selvedges since I started  in twill and decided to lose them both.

I fought with the green selvedges and then realized that I need a sample of handwoven fabric for a class I'm taking at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers next month.  Guess what I'm taking for a fabric sample.  Moving on to the next scarf, I went to the pink and I think the predominant color in the warp makes a much nicer weft.
Again, the selvedges weren't playing nice.  The left side is perfect, but the right.  Oy!  It wasn't until I changed my beat that it began to resolve.  I know you're supposed to beat on a closed shed so I was trying to follow the instructions.  Finally I decided to beat on an open shed, which is what I do for towels.  Problem solved.  The last two inches here look pretty good to me.  Ignore the color.  My camera is a liar and is going to go to camera hell very soon.
I finished my skein of art yarn and I'm more interested than ever in learning how to make my own batts.  I realized that the book Rae Stuart loaned me several months ago on spinning art yarns is by Lexi Boeger and last night I discovered that she's an instructor at the weaving conference I'm attending next month.  I was able to make a class switch today and will be attending one of her sessions. 
This is the commercially prepared batt I spun made by Cottage Creations.  I'm sure I can make up something equally messy from all the stuff I've managed to acquire over the years.  I'm taking a bag full over to Mim's tomorrow after lunch and get her take on this whole thing.  She took a class from Lexi last summer. 
I've knitted a hat from the yarn which is tame compared to the stuff in Lexi's book.  Still it leaves me wanting to make my own batts and see what I can come up with.  There's always something else to learn.  I'm trying to get my head around how I would weave with this.  Obviously I can weave with it, but I guess what I'm looking for is how to weave to the highest and best use of the yarn. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Back to the Future

Christina and I were amazed by the size of houses as Karen showed us around the area.  She explained that the farmhouse addition is common.  The original house became too small as the family grew, so an addition was built onto the back.  In time that became a third addition, then fourth and so on. 

It's so different here in the wide open, disposable land West where properties were abandoned and people moved on.  We were impressed by how well these houses have withstood the elements and time.  The West wasn't even a mote in their father's eye.
I got home to a gimpy-backed husband.  He damaged it years ago moving stone and has tried to make peace with it ever since.  I suggested a new mattress a couple years ago when we bought new living room furniture - one delivery price.  He wasn't interested.
He was very interested when I got home.  Our mattress, which I loved, was over ten years old and he had been limping along with this piece of plywood on his side.  By the time I got home, he had researched mattresses and was ready to buy.  Pain is a powerful motivator.
Out of the box, onto the bed.  That's our new mattress.  That's the last picture I got because once we sliced off the plastic, it grew up into a 14" mattress and we were busy.  I was skeptical but now I'm a believer.  Sleep just got better.  I'm a great sleeper and now I'm an ultra uber sleeper.  Who knew?!
Almost all of my Webs order has arrived.  This the 8/2 tencel that I've gotten from them - the four cones on the right are what I ordered and the four cones on the left are what I bought in the store.  I see I have an affinity for green - two of the cones are the same.

Wednesday I got my hair cut in the morning and had a doctor appointment in the afternoon, so I treated myself to a visit to Jimmy Beans.  I got both yarn and fabric.  I was just getting ready to leave when I heard - Sharon?!  It was Diane Soucy and we haven't seen each other in a couple of years.  I laughed because I had just bought yarn to knit one of her patterns.  On top of that, I was just finishing a sweater from yarn I bought from her stash sale about 15 years ago.  Irony!  Much of my stash is second hand.
This is said sweater, however after returning home with yarn for the next new exciting sweater adventure, I realized that I had major major problems - one was a pattern omission that I was aware of, two was my tight two-stranded knitting and three was the dreadful raglan decreases I had invented in the absence of instructions from the pattern.  Frogging and reknitting is in progress.
As for weaving, I got a warp on and started my venture into the world of scarves.  I'm terrible at it and it was not a gratifying experience.
I learned a lot and I tore out a lot.  I hate being a beginner but I'm afraid there's no cure for that, other than to keep at it until something makes sense.
Thank goodness I've returned to spinning art yarn.  My 30 minutes of morning spinning with my "happy' light and coffee were the most productive of the day. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Long Story Short

This is John's little brother Tim, his wife Carolyn and their son Jack, who is actually John David, named for his uncle John, but who wants to deal with two Johns?  They'd end up like Little Sharon and me, and we confuse ourselves. 

I cooked my favorite meatloaf recipe on Sunday - doubled it and added oven baked potatoes and carrots.  We had a family dinner.  We're family!  These are the moms, Carolyn and Shannon, and cousins, Jack and Olivia.  Tim was adopted a couple years after John.  John says Tim was so cute, he was a "chick magnet" and so he always wanted to hang with him.
A energetic game of something went on for a long time in the backyard.  It involved no rules and two yellow balls, lots of running and general nuttiness.
It was followed by some indoor cooking.  They were working hard here while I was working hard in the kitchen.  Kidding.  I had mixed up the meatloaf that morning and was enjoying the evening with everyone else.

After dinner we celebrated Christina's birthday, which is actually today, but Karen is awesome and that's just the way she does stuff.  We were chatting one evening and she mentioned that someone, after learning that her boys were adopted said, oh - you did it the easy way.  I am the queen of speaking before I think, but I'm still trying to digest that insensitive remark. 

I can't in this short space digest all the things that have transpired over the past 26 years, but there is no way John's parents chose the easy way.  They were the only adoptive parents Chrissie considered and they have been more than perfect.  Easy way?  I still reel at that.
I am so proud of Christina and now her granddaughter.  Her decisions as a pregnant 15-year-old teenager made this event possible.  She didn't care what anybody else thought of her and she did her best to be healthy for her baby.  My mother was behind her all the way and Chrissie never looked back.  We come from a line of strong women.
We tried to get a four-generation picture but Alexia was wired.  This is the best it got with a picture including John, because she was so obsessed with him - her brother. Obsession - serious obsession.

This photo touches me deeply - four generations of women from the Craine/Wilson/McPherson side of my family.  I have a genealogy map that predates my family to the Revolution.  I don't aspire to membership to the DAR.  The map was made so my uncle could be admitted to the SAR.  When we flew home, I left behind family more akin to me than anyone on a genealogy map.

The flight home Monday was unforgettable.  We got stuck with six hours in the air due to a strong headwind and a late push-off time while they calibrated weight and jettisoned standby passengers.  I didn't pay for the onflight WiFi connection so was stunned to be playing a game on my iPad and receive a one-line news blip that two were confirmed dead and hundreds injured in Boston.  A message popped through from my son - "get out of there, Boston has been bombed.  Not kidding."

Because of our delay, we landed and sprinted to the next gate to make our connecting flight and so were out of touch for hours.  Monday will be etched in our minds as for most of Americans.  I think for my generation it will be much like, where were you when John Kennedy was shot.  I'm sorry to have that cloud hanging over our reunion. 

The flight was painfully long - cramped seats, cramped knees.  After the first hour, Alexia entertained herself by going to the bathroom.  Mommy took her first, I took her second, and then after that she was confident enough to go on her own.  Mostly she was visiting with the stewards.  She apparently told them her whole history because when we deplaned they all called to her and said - goodbye Auntie. 

Cutest six-week-old baby picture in the world.
Or maybe this one.  I know how rich I am- rich where it matters.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Historic Deerfield

It rained hard all day Friday.  Paul and Karen had flown to Illinois for a graduation so we stayed in our pajamas and played cards all day.  And ate junk food.  We had hoped to attend the Revolutionary War reenactment at historical Deerfield on Saturday and the forecast for sun was right on.  It was a fantastic day.  John came with us but Shannon and Olivia stayed home as both were still recovering from their colds.  This young "boy" explains to Lu the difference in weapons and what they size munitions they fired.  
The program was meant to be authentic and instructional.  I was impressed by the skill these kids had as they demonstrated loading this small cannon.
They fired off a cannon - very loud.
Paul Revere came.

 The drum and fife corps led the rabble out of the muster area.
They were asking for volunteers who would willing to join the militia and fight for freedom.  Christina and Alexia signed on.  The British are coming!!!   The structures are part of this living museum with costumed docents, including a tavern and silversmith that we visited and more that we didn't.
The volunteers are getting trained by a scout and a drummer.  The drummer explained that the drum beat is what they need to listen for instruction - it's the sound that gets through all the cacophony of war.  They are drilling with sticks in lieu of rifles.
Ready to muster - and, march!
We got a very special ride back to our car.  We were all tiring and still wanted to make some headstone rubbings. 
We had visited the graveyard behind the prestigious Deerfield Academy earlier in the week when Karen was showing us the sites.  We were armed with paper and crayons and had been looking forward to this for days.  We had seen this plaque at the entrance and thought it was to label the headstones that were too worn to read otherwise.
We learned that the plaque actually identified the people buried in this mass grave.  The inscription simply says "For the dead of 1704."  I have never had much interest in American history but that has just changed.  I know about French and Indian war, but when I realized that I was walking on the site of a skirmish, I was instantly fascinated.  The French took women and children captive, back to Canada.  I realized that had they won, we would all be speaking French.
We whipped out the paper and crayons and went to work.  I think we might have set up our work station on top of a grave of sorts - not sure.  John wasn't interested at first, but he succumbed to our enthusiasm before long.
They worked on this headstone together.  Alexia did very well but John moved his paper while rubbing and it's pretty much a blob.  She adores John and he's very patient with her.
She also adores her little niece.  I can't believe how busy this week has been - I've wanted to post more about our trip each day but it's not happening.

I subbed today for the first time in an elementary school and it was a blast, though I am exhausted tonight.  I had eight classes for library visits and finally had the opportunity to read to and interact with the pupils - lots of pupils.  I'll want to sub there again.  In the meantime someone needs to do my laundry, but tomorrow is CERT traffic control training.  Good grief.