Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Let us pause in lifes pleasures

and take sup with the poor"
Not much has changed since Steven Foster wrote this song, as we celebrate, let us not forget those who are having a much harder time than we are, and do more than remember them.
Let us stand up and fight for them, even if it means we all have to give up some small quarter of our privileged belongings.

Mavis sings this old song the best.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The hat maker has no hat (and Christmas deadline for ordering)

The deadline for ordering a spindolyn as an “on time” Christmas gift has come.

I am very much enjoying the rush and the day and night work in my newly rearranged shop and using my newly oiled tools and new dust mask and headphones with seasonal music on them, but I can only work so fast.

So remember that big wind? It blew the roof off of the goat shed. The silly goats stood huddled in it without a roof.

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The sheep don’t use a shed, they prefer their fleece to be frosted.

frosty fleece

We got the roof back on without too much arguing, but my ears were very cold during the process because I lost my hat. I got out my old hat pattern and when the rush is over, will be knitting me a new one, and I will design it with room for my hair clips inside. Maybe I will reissue the hat pattern in a better format…… things to think about while I sand and glue today.

Waving at all you frantic knitters!!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

pixie takes a hike (or, samplings of samplings)

I have a spindolyn sitting by almost every place I sit down in my cabin. I call them my little “head clearers”
They are “in progress” testing of two things, a sort of sampling and sampling. Some are sampling the spindolyn prototype itself, some are sampling the fleece or blend.

I like to make blends, blends of fiber even more than blends of color, and that is a lot. I am very blendy, I guess, and so could call my spindles “mind blenders” smile_teeth

Anyway, sometimes the samples become part of a big project, sometimes they become part of the little balls of fibery goodness sitting around in baskets, calling out wistfully as I pass my glance over them, “if there were only more of me, you could make a shawl or a sweater”.

And sometimes, I hear them singing in soulful voices “all of me, why not take all of me”


So when all of me is not very much, you have to think small. Pixie size small.

hiker pixie

So, here is a sampled blend of cotswold and jacob rump fleece for pixie hair and beard. A sampled blend of space dyed merino and nylon for the hat and a sampled blend of gray romney and overdyed gray romney for the little sweater.

This pixie himself is a hiker pixie, I carved his little face, and body (the body is cedar) and his arms and legs are a bendable wire armature and tennessee river cane. The problem is, he lost his hiking stick, so as time permits, I really need to take him out into the woods to find a new one.

hiker pixie

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Look what the stork brought!

Not really, but when you work on and work out a design that takes more time and revision than you expected, when it finally falls together it feels somewhat like a birth. Not all designs are like that. Some you say “yes, that is nice, that works, I like it” and some you say, “wow, this is precious” and you gaze fondly and proudly upon it like a newborn puppy. Ok, so that sounds a little extreme, but I love this new spindolyn design.


I had thought about calling it the “Rubato” staying with the musical theme, but then I reconsidered presenting it as a restricted “type” because I like this base the best and then it occured to me that it would be nice to offer all the bases and spindles mix and match. So I will be revising the website soon to reflect that…but back to the new spindle.

The base is called the cubio style, the spindolyn is the new “mezzo” it is a nice size and weight in between the tenor and the soprano, and spins lovely. They are seen here in walnut.

Unlike the other spindle base styles, which are lap only, and not table top. This new cube base allows you to use it on the table, at an angle. The angle is a trade off, it slows down the spin, but gives you a longer and more comfortable draft angle for your arm. This cube style allows you to draft out to the side, reducing arm fatigue and overhead clearance. The square base can be set at a variety of angles in the crook of your lap; straight up for faster spinning, at an angle for more leisurely spinning.



Friday, September 25, 2009

Work, the curse of the dyeing woman!

It happens every year at this time (at least for the last 30)

I start to notice all kinds of natural dye sources around the farm or wherever I be outdoors. The golden rod is in full bloom, the pokeberries are ripe, as are the elderberries. The morning glories are wound around every spent cornstalk and the marigolds are just flat out loaded.

I want to start collecting, and stuffing gallon jars, and mordanting wool, and generally making a mess of the tiny back porch and tiny kitchen. But this is also a busy time for getting ready for winter in more practical areas, firewood, hay, hoof trimming, manure spreading, garden bed clean up, row cover repair and so forth. Not to mention getting things ready for festivals, harvesting spindle making and trying to make a living.

But really, it makes sense that the color lust would peak just when the natural dye materials are ready to harvest, because there is a whole winter of spinning and knitting ahead and it would be nice to have our colors already dyed and ready at hand.

It strikes me so hard, that even when I am doing something else, like getting firewood, I think about it…as here


…this piece of bark that I peeled off of a black oak log, to save the inner bark for a bright yellow dye, or this shelf fungus growing on it…does it make a dye, too, I wonder?

But there is not really time to experiment with it, and these things will just pile up around the porch, little aborted projects to be swept off the porch come spring time.

This year, I have succumbed to the calling of color with a 5 minute dash around the yard clipboard and paper in hand, to get a quickie fix of natural color.


I visited the red cypress vine, dark purple morning glories, pokeberries, goldenrod, pink butterfly bush, marigolds and giant knotweed.

I grabbed a flower from each and rubbed a smudge of it on the paper, and this is what I got.


Now what I find interesting about this is that, it is kinda what you would expect. ‘Course, there is no mordant, no heating, etc, but see how the knotweed flowers, which where bright pink, yielded blue (indicating the indigo in this species) and the pink butterfly bush flowers, did not make pink, but made a green/yellow streak, which is what they would dye, and the orange marigold flowers made a bright yellow.

No, no time for wool, but it was a fun 5 minute color fix!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

autumn creeping in

Funny how fall is at once a really busy time, festivals, harvest, school starting back, and yet it has a kind of slow and lazy overtone to it.

I am trying to get my fall garden in and the last of my summer things put up, but on the side table are 3 almost full spindolyns with a different fiber on each (cotswold, gray angora, and brown alpaca.

When I come in for a rest and a glass of water, one or the other fiber calls to me and I spin a wee little while, just enjoying the process. It is like I am not in any particular hurry to get enough of one thing or another spun, but just enjoying the process in the gradually slanting sun.


The alpaca came from KY at a farmers swap meet. It is lovely and wonderful to spin…

Sunday, July 19, 2009

plying on the spindolyn (a little more about)

A customer recently sent me this email (thank you Judy for asking and prompting me to post)

“I am wondering if anyone has tried plying with two spindolyns. I'm thinking that I could spin singles on both spindolyns and then ply directly from them onto another spindle. That would eliminate winding the singles off the spindolyn. I would probably need to have beanbags for both spindolyns so that they wouldn't tip over. It seems so simple that I'm sure someone must have tried it. Do you know if this would work well? “


The answer is yes, it can be done and is a method I use often, but I have not talked about it much because I assume that most people don’t have 3 spindolyn bases and a beanbag for each (though many spinners do have one base and two or more extra spindles to go with it) Also, plying is one of those “best practices vs. whatever get’s it done” skills, and I don’t want to advocate a method that might get the “plying police” after me. So with disclaimers included (and following) here is one way that I ply off of the spindolyns.

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In the picture above, I have placed the spindles on a chair in front of me, so that you can see them in the photo, but normally, they would be on the floor in front or to the side of me. The more distance you have between your source of singles, and the plying spindle, the more you will be able to use your hands to control the twist of the yarns coming together. The bases are sitting propped in the beanbags so that they lean on an angle and the yarn can feed off of the cop without getting caught on the hook. Also, I normally spin in a kicked back position, with the spindle more stuck in the crook of my knee, but in order to juggle the camera in one hand and get everything else in the view finder, I have to sort of place things awkwardly.

Another disclaimer, yes, that is a high whorl spindolyn you see in the photo. It is a prototype that I have been testing, to be called the “Octavia” It does spin nicely, but it’s drawback is does not feed off as nicely in this arrangement as the other spindolyn you see in the picture, which is also another prototype I am testing (possibly to be called the “piccolo”) But y’all aren’t supposed to notice those yet<g>

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Here you can see how I hold my hand when plying, with each strand tensioned as you see, to give me control of the angle and amount of twist in the ply.

Now for the other disclaimers: "best practices in plying" encourage you to wind off your singles so that you can rewind them in a tidy and consistent fashion to better prepare them for proper plying. Also, some even wind, then re-wind one again, so that the two sources have two different directions of end presentation imitate the "ply back upon itself" natural tendency of overspun.

But, sometimes, you are not after perfection, you are after the "git er done" satisfaction.

With that approach in mind, I also have been working on a lazy kate type base to put the spindles in for plying so that you don’t have to have multiple bases, sort of like this.

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But it still needs the following: for me to find an affordable and nearby source for wider wood. The wooden base has to compromise between stability and portability, as well as shipping weight. It needs more experimentation on the correct angle, and some sort of wire guide (which might not be as necessary, if i don’t release the high whorl spindolyn, it is the recalcitrant one that really needs a guide.)

And you thought I was just laying around on the beach idle this summer?

Meanwhile, all the R and D has been conducted with some old (maybe 9 years?) drum carded Romney fleece I found in a bag in the bottom of an antique trunk of mine. It is from my old favorite sheep of my long ago and misty past “Maggie” and I still like spinning her the best.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

pic-a-nic, spin-a-nic and a knit-a-nic surprise

So several weeks back (well before the independence holiday) we decided that what we badly needed was a getaway, a quick overnight vacation. Camping, on the Cumberland River, and a day of rest, relaxation and kayaking. We threw tent, food, bedding and the inflatable kayaks in the back of the station wagon, checked the availability of our chosen campground from the Army Corp of Engineers website and headed out.

I did not have any particular spinning or knitting project in progress that I was emotionally involved in, and didn’t know what to take, so spur of the moment, I distractedly tossed in some stuff off of the shelf of my office into the closest available vessel, which happened to be an insulated cooler/picnic tote and tossed it in with the lifejackets and snorkels.

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I won’t get in to the horrors of bureaucracy, ill mannered people and corrupted campground hosts, but the bottom line was that the hosts were illegally saving all the “good spots” for friends of theirs and even though we had chosen a “no reservation, walk in only, first come first serve day” to camp, we did not end up staying.

It was all for the best, as we spent a leisurely afternoon kayaking in an isolated cove, bird-watching, instead, and we were able to get back home and get up early to start back to work refreshed, which was the point, anyway.

Just as quickly as we packed, I tossed all of the camping gear back into the barn and the small stuff back into the corner of the cabin, and there sat the cooler with the fiber supplies in it, forgotten. Until yesterday. While looking for my tall, snake and chigger deterring rubber berry picking boots, I noticed the cooler and said to myself…hey, maybe I could pick blackberries into this, wonder if the stains would wash out…

Imagine my surprise upon opening the zipper only to find this great stash of fiber fun possibilities!

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I set the cooler beside my evening chair, and last night, I had this lovely toy box all ready to dive into.

Maybe I should hide my projects intentionally from myself (instead of accidentally) because I got a lot of “cheap thrill” mileage out of the re-discovery of the contents.

Friday, July 10, 2009

in the pink (or not)

Recently I was surprised at the mailbox when I opened a note from my sister Mary and nearly spilled the lovely pink contents out onto the gravel drive.


It turns out they were flowers from her orchid cactus, that she suspected (from a spill, I imagine) that they might contain a dye. Being ever inquisitive and generous, she saved them and mailed them on for my pleasure and experimentation.


They were so lovely, that I promptly dropped them in a jar of water for a “solar tea” type dye experiment. Immediately the water turned a nice shade of pink, like the color of red zinger tea.


My sister Mary is always full of surprises. She is not a fiber artist, but a “real” artist and story teller. Her newly spruced up website and blog at “Earththemes Studio” only reflect a fraction of her artistic skill in interpreting her love of nature and a good story, take a little peak and a little visit there and enjoy.

Meantime, back at the dye jar. I thought that I remember that hibisicus (a fugitive dye) might be mordanted to improve its fastness a tad by the use of alum. And I thought (without any information or research at all) that maybe because the color looked so similar that I could just pop a little fleece into some alum water and then into the magic red jar and voila!


I will spare you the sad photo of the moment that I put the mordanted fleece into the red liquid and it immediately turned an ugly, pale mustard yellow. Then it rinsed to white, which was probably a blessing.

Now I am wondering about hibisicus and hollyhock (not that this was either of those, or even remotely related, and not that my hollyhocks are going to have enough blooms to fiddle with this year) but curiosity is addictive.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Can’t remember when

I last posted or knit. But I have been spinning some every day, and taking long walks in the rain, when I am not moving pans and buckets around in the spindle shop to catch the roof leaks as I work. There is a wet weather creek that runs right beside the shop, and so all of this months spindles were made to the accompaniment of cascading water, rushing and gurgling.

The rain rain rain came down down down
In rushing, rising riv'lets,
'Til the river crept out of it's bed
And crept right into Piglet's!

-The Sherman Brothers for Disney Pooh film

And no, I did not get washed away, but thanks y’all for asking.

  I have been in a sort of quiet and dark place, waiting for the sun. The garden would be doing good if the rabbits weren’t eating it, and after the drought years am most appreciative for the rain.

I have been working on a couple of new spindle designs (interchangeable with the current models) and tinkering with a plying device.



This one might be a trick to identify, you most likely notice it in the fall, not usually now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blossom Base

Cherry Blossom Spindolyn Pouch…..Or some sort of title like that. I finished this early last week, but blogging time is hard to find between putting in taters and ducking thunderstorms.
The great thing about new tools and accessories is the way you get so excited about using them that you sometimes grab something nearby to try them out with, and it wasn’t necessarily a material you had planned to use at that time or in that way, and it turns you in a new and sometimes good direction…(or sometimes not!)

It was like this with this pink spray dyed handspun and as I mentioned in my previous post, to be more true to the cherry blossom, it should have been a pentagon base…but oh well
Anyway, below is a little pattern for this spiral hexagon base. …..(If you need to see a photo tutorial of spiral circular knitting, there is a great one shared here by Kyoko on her blog Cotton and Cloud.)


Spiral Hexagon Spindolyn Pouch

Yarn: light worsted weight (heavy dk weight) handspun
Gauge: 5.5 sts/inch on 4 double pointed needles (US 5) gauge not critical.
  • Cast on 6 stitches on one needle. K 1 row.
  • Divide these 6 stitches onto 3 needles.
(ok, now, the above is not the way other folks do this, but I did it this way to make it easier, because no one is going to be looking at the bottom of this pouch, if you are going to be looking at that bottom of your pouch, then you will probably want to do the traditional thing, which would be to cast onn6 stitches over 3 needles, and knit one round, making sure not to twist stitches on the needle.)
  • Now commence with the spiral as follows: YO, K1, repeat one round. You know have 12 sts on your three needles.
  • Second round: YO, K2
  • YO, K3, and so forth, you won’t have to count each row, if you watch for the YO on the previous row, and when it arrives, do your YO, on the stitch just before the YO on the previous row.
This makes a tight and fast spiral, and when you get it it as big as you would like for the bottom of your spindle pouch, you will stop the spiral increases. Mine is about 4-5 inches across.
  • Count the number of stitches you have between each of the YO’s you knit in the last row or your spiral increases, and call this stitch count N=________
  • On the next row, knit this N_____ stitches, YO, SSK
  • Knit 3 rows as above, but on each round, make the YO one stich before its location on the previous row (this makes the spiral continue to slant, even though it is still the same number of stitches)
Now we will begin the spiral decreases to narrow the pouch down to its little neck.
  • Knit N_________ stitches, SSK, YO, SSK
  • Knit N____minus 1 stitches, SSK, YO, SSK
  • Continue in this manner until our pouch neck is as narrow as you would like it (but big enough to still put your spindolyn inside!)
  • Knit straight for 6 rows
  • K1 P1 for 6 rows
  • Picot Bind Off (you can find illustrated instructions for a Picot Bind Off in this handy Knitty article by Theresa Vinson Stenersen)
Ok then, you have this spiral pouch, and if you put the bean bag beads right in it, they might fall through your yarn overs…so, I have found that a putting the beads/beans in a knee high stocking (pantyhose type) contains the beads. This little pouch held about 1/3 of a cup of beads dumped into a knee high nylon stocking, tied off at the top with a knot.


Getting this evasive snake shape of beads stuffed into the pouch can be done, you just have to be patient. Once it is in there, work it around to the outsides of the pouch in a donut shape, then shove your spindolyn base down inside and tada! kick back and spin!


Monday, March 30, 2009

Cherry Blossom Knitting


It was actually the cherry blossoms blooming that reminded me of the color of that spray dyed yarn, and made me hunt it up and start knitting on it..they way so one thing leads to another, when you are not knitting with a plan, but just “comfort knitting”

I started another spindolyn bean bag pouch, out of the cherry blossom colored yarn. It is a spiral hexagon, but to really match the cherry blossoms, it should have been a pentagon spiral..but as usual, I just picked up needles and started knitting and didn’t think it through first.


I am up the sides now, and it is a little poochy for a pouchy, yes, I should have made it a pentagon…next time.

But I love cherry blossom time, never-the-less.

Here is a picture a week back, before the tree was in full bloom, in the background you can see one of the hills that flank the holler, and my shop, before Saturdays storm blew the storm door clean off of it (silly pun, but kinda too bad, because a storm door is the only kinda door it had)


And of course, I had to try and get a lamb with cherry blossom picture, to go with the mule with cherry blossom and goat with cherry blossom….




Cherry blossoms last a full 2 weeks, the honey bees working them over while you work to get your taters and onions and sugar snap peas in the ground, if you are late with them.

Then the bees leave and they drift to the ground in showers of delicate petals, clinging to tools and wheelbarrows and car windows and by then, bright green baby tree leaves will be everywhere and then it will be really, truly, spring. But right now, the bees are still buzzing, and last night was pretty good frost.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An ungreen thing

It was an impulse buy, from a discount rack, at a discount craft store. I normally don’t succumb to impulse buys, because the thread I dangle from will not support them and groceries in the same week.

But, I was in the big city (Nashville) which is a rare thing, waiting in the parking lot of a musical instrument store for the boys to make their cable purchase (modern musicianship requires an amazing variety of cables) and there was this Hobby Lobby next door. Coming home from the big city without even a tiny souvenir seems a bit too spartan, but normally it is something like a box of stevia for sweetening, or something for the garden from Lowes that I can’t get locally.

I wandered through the entire store and as usual couldn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without, till I saw the “spray on” dye. Yep, it is in a spray can like paint, and you spray it on t-shirts and tote bags and such. How ungreen and wasteful is this? You can mix up dye and sponge it on the surface with the same results without the waste of the metal and manufacturing of the can…with a mixture of much guilt and much glee I brought it home.

It is intended for cotton, of course, but I threw down an old skein of worsted weight handspun romney lamb two ply onto a piece of newspaper and sprayed one side of it and one side of a matching sample square of knitting.

I let it dry a few days (got sidetracked on to something else) and then washed them both vigorously, fully expecting the dye to wash out, but it did not. Then I unraveled the knitting and compared it to the skein, the color repeats where about what you would expect, the knitted piece was short repeats of pink and white, the skein was long repeats. But the surprise was, it was nice! Soft hand, pretty, color (cranberry, I think it was) Could it be obtained in another way? sure, was this insanely quick and easy? sure. Kinda like the difference between a home cooked meal and going through the drive through. Not something you would normally confess or encourage, but it was interesting.


I balled them both up and took this photo to document the color, then set them aside, till now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

hops and hemp (and fiber, too)

Hey Beadnik! your hops guess was a good one, because that was going to be my next “guess this photo”


Here it is, coming up self seeded in the pots by my outdoor shower.

Now, I have always read that hops are difficult to get started, but that has not been my experience. These came from the Whitewater River in South Eastern Indiana. Hops grows wild all over the river banks there. Introduced by the early German settlers, I would imagine. This would be the rampant, wild type, not the fancy, highly sought after beer making varietal types. When I lived in Metamora, I had a large (and exclusively) container grown garden, having no yard to speak of. I had hops in a pot growing up the porch railing. When I brought some of the potted perennials back down to Tennessee with me, the hops seeds, prolific and hidden in the dirt, came along too.

Each year I train them up the posts of the outdoor shower and collect, dry and jar some of the hops (female flower cones, called strobiles) for tea for when you can’t sleep. I emphasize the training part, cause these rampant, weedy vines are very scratchy, and they can cut you, cut you bad, if they nod over onto your naked body while you are showering.

You are probably asking what this has to do with fiber. Well, hops and hemp are in the same family (Cannabaceae) and both are paper making candidates. Home scale paper making is is one of those arts that appeals to fiber people, but others get that little wrinkle in the middle of their forehead and have to wonder why…

Anyway, I am back on hemp and during research stumbled on this interesting page from the hemp museum on the chronology of paper making. I found the notes that “by the 1860’s America used more paper than france and england combined” really revealing as well as that in this time period 88% of the content of paper was still made from recycled rags. If you are like me and into chronologies, this is fascinating stuff…

Monday, March 16, 2009

buds and blooms

I was just about to post these three photos, all in one post…to give the extra hint to the extra credit question of “what is this spring bud”…

The first one posted with its hemp cowl,


the second one a week later, (notice I haven’t had time to knit the hemp yet)


and the last one, with its rain soaked flower buds..


But then Cyndy guessed it, without the the final photo hint! Yep, the common lilac.

Today, at 4.00 pm in the afternoon, the sun came out. First time in weeks and weeks. I stood awestruck like some alien on a newfound planet, stopped in my tracks by the colors that have been missing all winter. One minute of sunshine can bring a million colors out of a single gray, muddy and winter weary hillside. Sigh. I can make it through now.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More spring photos..

First, I would like to comment on the comments of my previous post regarding hemp.

Cyndy, thank you so much for the pertinent information!

Cyndy commented:

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 would finally allow North Dakota, and the other states that have passed pro-hemp legislation or resolutions (Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia), considered pro-hemp legislation or resolutions (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin), or where farm groups have advocated for a return to industrial hemp farming (Ohio and Pennsylvania), to choose whether or not to let farmers grow industrial hemp.
You can write congress and tell them to support this Legislation.

Regarding the bud photo for bonus points;

Sue guessed hydrangea (good guess, as they are also opposite, but they are still in tight bud, and I had to go look at them after your guess to find them very serrated along the bud edges, but a more hempy color, btw, should have hung the ball of hemp on the hydrangea, I guess)

No, not hellebore either, more common than that… the quiz is still open…here is today’s photo of the same buds, 7 days later.


This has been the gloomiest, grayest, chilliest winter I can ever remember in Tennessee, so any little spring glimmer is welcome. And what could be more cheerful than a baby goat or two? I am happy to report that we breezed through kidding with no trouble. Lambing will be next month.

These little girls are from my dairy does, but their daddy is a meat goat, and they look more like him.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hemp and the color of money and spring

Most people already know the history of Hemp in the US. The story of hemp and paper, of US paper and oil company greed, how hemp could save the forest, etc. We forget these fights in the midst of other problems, but boy, it sure comes back when you go to buy a couple of balls of hemp knitting yarn for a particular project (knitted hemp sprout bag, pattern coming soon)

It is hard to find, and expensive and I would love to grow it myself here in my garden, to experiment with processing and spinning it from scratch. But legalization ain't gonna happen in my lifetime, I am afraid.

I think it is a lovely color, and the grass is just starting to green here now, but this hemp sport weight is about the color of the winter bleached grass and weed stalks.

Bonus points for the identification of the promising spring buds acting like a hat hook here in this photo. I write this as pellets of sleet hit the window and I work on spindolyns close by the fire. Not many more days like this, I am sure, as the spring beauties and toothwort are already blooming in the woods, under the thin layer of ice.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The dog ate my homework

I swear to you that when I typed that title for this blogpost that it came out "the god ate my homework"
I mix up phone numbers, too.
I mix up alot of things. But I am deliberate and slow with the spindolyns, and still I make mistakes.
Some might say I am just a total loser, but I prefer to think of it as a handicap in the "absent minded professor" sort of way.
What does that have to do with dogs? I have a new rescue puppy Polly (german shepherd x red heeler) and am babysitting my son's rescued Jack Russle terrier (ever so creatively named "jack")
The place I was going with this is....Polly deliberately and slowly and gently goes into the bedroom and brings out balls of yarn, which she knows she is not supposed to get. As she walks by me to her pillow, she gets a very guilty look on her face and drops the balls of yarn at my feet.
Boy! I wish I had time to use this yarn, but I must make spindles. But longing for knitting is a good antidote to lack of creative inspiration, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all....
She is a "fairy god puppy of yarn inspiration"

Friday, February 20, 2009

The History of the Spindolyn

The History of the Spindolyn

Part 1 The Loom (where in little Cady May gets wild and wooly)

My Daddy was, like many rural Great Depression Era survivors, a resourceful, creative, do-it-yourself kind of guy. His response to those early life challenges developed in him a passion that went a little beyond most DIY'ers, and spilled over into inventing and tinkering. He loved farming and gardening and dabbling in creative ways of constructing things and approaching gardening challenges in the hopes of stumbling on something that might make farming both easier on the body and the earth, something that might lead us to a more sustainable future.

He passed his enthusiasm for an "endless list of projects" approach to life on to me, whether by example or genetics, I am not sure. His support of anything I was willing to try was unconditional and he gave all of us children free reign with his tools. Safety was approached a little different back then, you were told, "keep your fingers out of the table saw or you will not have fingers," and the rest was up to you. Personal responsibility develops more naturally if it is naturally expected of you, but I digress.

Anyway, Dad was also an auction hound, bargain hunter and packrat of tools and materials so that our garage and later barn, tumbled over full of every possible antiquated hand and power tool, scrap metal, parts, bolts and fasteners. A veritable disorganized hardware store of stuff that might equip one for any possible endeavor into woodworking, metalworking, maple syruping, organic gardening, welding, sandblasting, glass cutting....well, you get the idea.

It was Daddy who showed me how to bend wire, use a bandsaw, split firewood, make a dovetail join and so on, and it was Daddy who brought me home from a yard sale my first loom, for my 14th birthday (he also brought me home a plastic greenhouse for my 16th birthday, but that's another story) This floor loom was a two harness rug loom with a sectional beam and I flat out wore it out, not just with rag rugs and later handspun mohair rugs, but with wild wooly wall hangings, tapestries, bags and vests.

It was the wooly wall hangings that eventually led to spinning. In the 1970's there was a growing interest in handspun yarns, and they were wooly, lumpy, ropes of wild abandon and unfettered creativity (kind of like the times~insert a sigh of nostalgia) Those types of wall hangings just cried out for handspun, and big, chunky, bottom whorl spindles (or a potato on a stick) were used to create them.

I had learned to knit in Junior High, and Mom and Granny taught me to sew and crochet, but it was Daddy bringing home that loom that really started me toward exploring spinning as a whole fiber world in itself, a world of possibilities.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

looking to spring with a yarn desktop



It’s that time of year when the very faintest of blooms start to show on the maple trees, and cast a yellow purple haze on the mostly gray limbs covered hillsides. The daffodils are starting to peek out, and we have made it past the red and white winter yarns of valentine season. And no, I did not finish my valentine finger ringers in time…rats.  They woulda been cool though, red with white angora hearts.

But ever onward, I offer you this yarn mandala (click to view larger for a yarny meditation, or use as a desktop when the gray gets to you.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bean Bag Base or Pouch for Spindolyn

handspun pouch
The base is finally done, and already hard at work. It is amazing how much more flexibility it gives you in locating the spindle for spinning.

This is a pretty simple pattern. It can be found as a downloadable PDF here.
You may recall from previous posts that I had to spin additional mohair for the interior tube to sort of match the outside pouch, and in doing so, remembered why I love mohair so much and miss my goats. But somewhere, right now, is a goat-herdess watching with a careful eye as her angora goats approach kidding season, and I am now a ripe mark for her shearing season economic stimulus bonus.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winter Whites and Wool

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Soft, two ply sport weight, handspun targhee

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Note frost on Rose’s main, not exactly wool…

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It rained a lot before the snow, so the creek was rushing through white (click for a closer look)

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

one down

Tommorow I am taking down the bottle shaped base off of the website...I can't get quality control on that wooden piece, so off she goes and it will be two to tango.
Good news is, while I am there, I am going to fix the shopping cart so that you can add extra spindles to your, huh?

We started the morning with freezing rain, dripping ice from every branch. A pretty view to work with out the shop window. Worked on a machine knitting tool order, and the current spindolyn orders, until my fingers feel crackly in the unheated damp air.

Then I worked on the "new, improved" (yay!!!!) version of the instruction sheet that goes out with every spindolyn. I will proof read it tommorow (always sleep on it, I say) and post it on the web site as a pdf, too! You know what? spinning is way hard to describe to a newbie.
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