Sunday, December 26, 2010

new year a comin’

and now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….
I refuse to make the list of resolutions, instead, I am just going to start doing every little design thing that pops into my head I will sketch, no matter how silly.



Monday, December 13, 2010

What are you wearing?

To stay warm, that is. I was wondering that this morning when I was out feeding the rabbits, chickens, sheep and goats with the windchill at –3. I was actually pretty comfortable in my layered merino sweater under a pair of coveralls and a wool earflap hat and scarf, but I could use a wool vest for in the house and some angora boot liners.
I was wondering if other knitters are happy with their wool “warmies” or if they have given the best stuff away and still need certain warm things for themselves. So my question is, what are you wearing and what do you wish you had already knitted for yourself before this terrible cold descended?

                           Snow falling with the sun shining outside my kitchen window.

The snow is beautiful, but the  unseasonable cold is a little frustrating for me, I have Christmas spindolyns that need to be finished and shipped, but with temps in the single digits and teens, the little electric heater in my shop (aka: barn stall) will not cut it to bring the temp up high enough to run the power tools. I know this is not like being stuck on the interstate in a blizzard with nothing to eat or drink, but it is a problem that is hard to explain to anxious customers…we don’t normally have this kind of weather in TN. But weather is no longer “normal” so I really will have to do something about the shop before next winter.
But the view from my spinning wheel is nice!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

new spindolyn models! and what wood would I if I would…

I have been asked a few times about the woods that I use to make the spindolyns. Why I don’t use exotic woods, why I limit my production to certain woods. I do so, because I know that to some extent (as much as can be said, in this ruthless world that we live in) that these particular species can be harvested sustainably, that they are fairly common and resilient species, and that their harvest provides income for many people in the South Eastern US, parts of the Northwest and Canada. I can’t know this personally about imported woods, so I stick with what I know.
Wood for me is an emotional thing (it is, another form of fiber, after all)  So follows is a dissertation on why I use what I use, with more personal info than you probably want to know
I love wood, and I love trees. So much so that the minor for my degree in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan is in Forestry. At one time I was a park ranger, and then later in my life I was  passionately active in a lobbying the state Tennessee to adopt legislation to insure best management practices in logging to protect future stands of timber and stream quality in the state.(this effort failed, of course)
  This coincided with  a time in my life when I lived at a sawmill and it was a giant conflict for me, to see big dead tree bodies come in on trucks, and then to see fabulously beautiful walnut, oak or cherry come off the mill or out of the kiln. I couldn’t wait to get ahold of some of the scraps from the “real lumber” and run to the woodshop with it to get started making something, a spindle, a lap loom, furniture for pixies.  Contrary-wise I also couldn’t stand to see the empty places on the Upper Cumberland where the forests once stood. Life is about conflict.
I also knew plenty of loggers personally, and saw as the small scale sustainable loggers where pushed out of business by the large scale loggers using giant, immensely destructive logging equipment. But then over the years, I have watched as trees filled back in, slowly  and stunted and certainly not majestically, and missing much of the diversity of flora and fauna that the old ways of harvesting preserved. But at least I can see regrowth, and at least I know the enemy. I can’t say that about exotic lumbers or far off logging practices.
  The bases, mostly “ready fetched on” as Granny would have said, are either maple, Canadian birch or fir. These are also “somewhat sustainable” woods, grown in the US or Canada, and for the spindles, I stick with the wood I know, cherry, oak, walnut and poplar, wood grown in the forests I know.

I have added a new base (the Orbia) to the spindolyn lineup. I like the stability of the cubia base so much, that I added this one, with roundier corners, that let you tilt it easy for winding on.
Unlike the cubia, the tube sits in it straight upward, instead of at an angle…if you want the angle, you just tilt it..or not.
Also there is a new whorl model. I have named it the Melody, it is like the mezzo but just enough larger in diameter to give you more capacity and a wee bit slower spin, good for thicker yarns and plying.
And, ta da! I have finally opened my Etsy store, and have posted and sold some fancier spindolyns, out of cherry and walnut and oak..Etsy is fun Smile  I can’t wait to have some time to get some pixies up on Etsy, too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

this is what knitting does for me

You might have already seen this (the knitting part is at the end) but if not, and you like miniatures and stop motion animation, and sometimes you feel like life is chasing and terrorizing you, and knitting is the comfort food of choice, then you might understand why I shared it again here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A sorry sight

yep, those are cobwebs on my spinning wheel, and a layer of thick cabin dust that one could write letters in....sorry indeed.
First I was sick, then SAFF came and went and as of late, we have been having septic tank, toilet and plumbing problems that have taken up most of my fiber time.
The upside is that we have made sewer progress and I have made spinning progress, towards the winter knitting, if not on the wheel. I have been spinning on the spindolyn in the evenings, stretched out too tired to sit up to spin, and have some nice singles ready to ply.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

born in a barn

This is where I make spindolyns and knitting tools, in the shed type barn in the foreground. Someday, it will have a floor, and insulation, and actual windows instead of plastic and be warm in the winter.....but in the meantime, need to knit me a new work sweater (in all my spare time) because it is starting to get chilly when I drilly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting enough fiber

Fiber festivals are really the best place to get loaded up on fiber for maximum health and spinning nutrition.
I did get color overload a little bit, but SAFF was definitely fun and filled with inspiration and nice people.
I had orders pile up while I was gone, and am catching up now, so if you are waiting on a Spindolyn, I appreciate your patience, most gratefully!

This is our booth, and the lovely, talented, kind and encouraging Susannah of Harvest Moon farm at the helm of her spinning wheel. In the baskets- soft and spinnable roving from her sheep (Finn and BFL and various blends)
 Just so's you knows and you might be tempted to come next year to SAFF, it IS in the mountains of North Carolina, which you can see in the distance in this photo, beyond the trailers that brought sheep and llamas and goats and other fuzzy creatures to the festival...such a pretty, pretty place.
 I got the blues whiles I was there (not really) but I did bring home some oceany blueish green  roving from Susannah and some blue and turquoise mohair to blend with it--- a great combo for socks. The grayish in the background is colored mohair locks...ok. call me curious.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

SAFF (!!) Update

Our spot has been moved and we are now indoors at SAFF! (South Eastern Animal Fiber Forum)
 Yea! Come by for a visit, I will be in booth # 46, near the open spinning area.
I will be spinning and oogling fibers.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mod-duh!-ular knitting

In which Cady May discovers there are no rules to modular knitting.

     This is a jim-whammy kinda cold. I won't whine, but I will say that it has affected my ability to think clearly, even about knitting, which is my default "comfort" mental state. Some folks curl into a fetal position, some rock back and forth, I calculate stitches and rows..
I had started an off the cuff, no pattern-no plan keyhole scarf with an idea to make it have a pocket in it for aromatherapy, and then I had a brain lock down....

So, I was googling around in a coughing stupor, vaguely wondering if there are "rules" to modular knitting, specifically, if it matters if you have an odd or even number of stitches. Now, if I had not been sick, I probably would have been able to think that through, without googling..but it is what we do when we are miserable, I guess.

I was drawn into this post at The Girl From Auntie Blog, "So who invented modular Knitting" in which she talks about Virginia Woods Bellamy "invention" of the mathematical approach (and patenting there of!!) of modular knitting and I said to myself..."hey, wait a minute, I have this book!" and so I dusted it off  in excitement thinking that of all sources, this one would have a list of "rules" ((it was really, really dusty, I live in an old cabin, so actually, I wiped it off with dilute vinegar))

Shor nuff! it did, but she never said anything about odd or even numbers, nor does she even describe her decrease method (K2tog? sl1k1 psso? or what have you?) but I just love the models and the "look" of the '40s. I also like the subtitle "How to Knit Many Beautiful Articles Never Before Possible"
Doesn't that sound wonderful? and all from the wonders of math!

All the patterns in the book are with small yarn on large needles so they are very stretchy and airy. She really impresses the "all direction stretch" of this method...Like this triangle turban...

Which I got so excited about when I saw it modeled, and wondered just how you wrap that to look this cool, with the beads hanging down and all.........

But this is what she says about that
"To wear Drape on the head to suit. Photographed model starts with bead on the right angle at the right front of the head. Two corners brought up and over the head in soft fold. Beads crossed under at sides to hold in place."
hmmmm...It will have to be knitted and tried on to make sense of that...que.

Meanwhile, back at the sick farm...I have a square and a heart knit for my keyhole scarf, lack just a little of the pocket, then I will resort to hybrid knitting (that is, I will slap it on the LK 150) to finish up the scarf I am off to breath steam while trying to imagine how one "drapes to suit"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'm going to SAFF!

and am so excited!!!! Will be in booth 3 in the barn  in the building, booth 46, with Susannah of Harvest Moon Garden (hold me back, she has lovely fleeces I am told) and the countdown of days is shrinking rapidly.

Normally I would be running around like crazy polishing spindolyns and making fancy ones out of cherry...but everyone has the fall "it" and JB brought me a tainted Louisiana variety off the tour bus (and a tee shirt, too!)
I usually don't get stuff, or if I do it is mild, but I am stresssed because of the deadline of SAFF, the sudden cold weather (been frantically stapling up plastic walls for my shop, and picking the last of the tomatoes) and getting firewood, etc.

So to unstress and get well, I am taking off work from Knitting Any Way this afternoon, and am going to spend it wrapped in a blanket with hot tea, some time looking around at other peoples lovely work on ravelry and knitting on some soft and warm socks, toe up. More tea, more knitting, more zinc and I should be good to go soon!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Straight from the hip, angled spinning

One result of this summer's weather has been the growth of weeds on the farm of "Amazon proportion". The electric fence around the sheep pasture has disappeared under the growth. Dealing with this has left me with poison ivy on the wrists and arms, and shoulders so tired from running the weedeater that it is hard to lift an arm for drafting.
Enter...."hip spinning!"
That is setting the spindolyn on an angle and off to the side of your body so that you can spin across your lap and not have to lift your arm very high.The only problem I have with this is that my ample thigh needs a little more clearance room, so I am thinking of a sort of little pillow thingie to prop the spindolyn against...or maybe a bean bag base with extra side padding...
Anyway, it was a perfect sunday, my son and his lady came to visit, a nice, long, good old fashioned southern summer visit. Then when they left, I sat down in the fading afternoon light and spun from the hip for a while, then later in the evening, when "Nature" came on, I discovered that this angle of spinnning allows me to look straight through the drafting yarn, to the TV, so I don't have to miss any of the wonderful ocean photography.
I got this much done yesterday (!) in two short sittings, and owe it to the angle.

You can see from the photo that my spinning is sort of sloppy, this is hand carded, gnoppy fleece, and I would prefer to be relaxed and enjoying my fleece, rather than be too perfectionist about it. I am not worried about the pigtails, they will all come out in the ply!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Too Hot to Spin? I think not!!

I dug out the basket of naturally dyed fleece from last fall and started in on some bright yellowish green (marigold, alum mordant)

It is not too hot to spin, you just have to be strategic about it….

Sunday, June 13, 2010

magical power of the knit stitch

Like many people, I enter my internet world from a google homepage that I have jammed pack full of feeds; environmental news, knitting, photography, farm stuff, spinning blogs, and a smattering of politics and poetry.

Tellingly, I no longer feed my horoscope and never have cared about sports or pollen count. One feed I do watch and enjoy is the “how to of the day”. One day this week, the title was-

“Today is Magic Day...How to Make Smoke Come Out of Your Fingers”

Forgive me, but the first thought that came to the top of my head made me burst out laughing…it just seems to define the entire US attitude toward problem solving right now.

Anyway, I wanted to post this knitting mandala that reminds me of magic, I fiddled with it some more in Lightroom, it is a sock heel, “kaleidoscoped”of course. When I see a close up of a knit stitch it just magically makes me want to run knit something, now, right now,and damn the dishes!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

making the best of it

Sometimes it's hard to stay positive.
The critters help some, 'specially the antics of little critters at play.
Our bottle lamb, Celery, is a fruitcake, for sure. A bummer lamb in a bummer world, making the best of it.
I put together this little video to cheer me up, and maybe you, too.

(its in HD, if you have slow connection, once you hit the play arrow, you can use the drop down menu (it's actually an upward arrow) at the side of the video slider to make 360p instead of 720p and it will play smoother, or pause it to load fully if you want full resolution)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spinning Cotton; consistency vs. creativity (or, the focus of my focus)

I was noticing in some spinning workshop listing (SOAR perhaps, I can’t find it now) that one of the classes offered was titled something like “spinning for consistency”. At the time, the little “oh!” “finger on lip, isn’t that a coincidence!” reaction was instant.

Of late, I have been watching myself spinning very carefully, pondering why some of my spinning is consistent from start to finish and some of it starts out one diameter, and ends up something else.

At first take, one would think that inconsistency resulted from not paying attention.

In my case, I discovered that it comes from paying too much attention. Let me try and explain how you can pay too much attention.

Right now, I am spinning brown cotton on the mezzo spindolyn. As a singles, it is running a consistent 49 wraps per inch.


Here is what I have discovered is happening with me. I am fascinated with how cotton drafts.
It is so lovely, how those soft little fibers spread out as you draft, like little clouds blown by winds. I get sucked into how cotton drafts. I like to play with it, like you might play with your finger’s effect in the current of a little stream. I noticed that you can draft with your hands close to the cotton in a pinching/pulling motion and make the cotton so thin, or you can just draft using one hand, letting the the cotton tumble into the energy of the twist all on its own, keeping up your draft speed is the key to the consistency and thickness (or desired thinness)

Playing with your drafting styles because you are fascinated with the cotton’s ability to accept twist, even though the fibers are so thin and tiny compared to wool, is not a recipe for consistency…..but play is good, right?

So, to improve my consistency with cotton, I need to focus on my focus, not on my play. I need to decide on a drafting style and stick with it…this will be hard, but I think I have played enough, and will be able to do this in order to achieve my goal of a consistent cotton two ply for a lace item.

Enough rambling about my mental propensity for is an actual tip for spinning cotton on the spindolyn. Draft out your spun cotton to your desired length. Then, before you wind on, give your spindolyn one more twirl, and let this extra amount of twist run up into your spun length, then wind on that length of yarn.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Helping Middle Tennessee, thank you all for asking…

Now that the floodwaters are receding, and clean up is well underway, it is easy to see that it is going to be a long and expensive road to recovery for the area. I know that Nashville proper will quickly get back on its feet to get the tourist dollars flowing, but the more economically strained communities, which were the hardest hit, will need a lot of help.

There is also a fund for help for musicians, which for me is a particularly sympathetic cause. Many people don’t realize that if you are not a “Current Artist” or a “Star”, if you are just starting out or a “used to be”, or “just a sideman” you are making slim wages with most likely no insurance. It is this latter group that is the backbone of the music world, the foundation that brings you the “sound” that everyone loves to enjoy. Many of these folks have lost all their equipment and are now “washed up” without help. An average “rig” necessary to get gigs can reach 6,000 or more to replace. These folks give their hearts every night, so I put their cause on the top of the list to give back to them.

MusiCares (the Grammy organization's non-profit arm) has established a Nashville Flood Relief Fund. To donate, click here.

  • Middle Tennessee Red Cross (this site has a banner for each or the rural areas)
    Middle Tennessee Red Cross is continuing to garner financial support to continue providing relief to victims of local disaster flooding. For those who have been displaced or need help you can contact the Red Cross - there is also a listing of local shelters on their website. Folks wishing to donate can do so online at

  • Hands On Nashville focuses its efforts on providing volunteers to flood relief efforts. You can make a donation here.

    To donate to the flood relief efforts of the Nashville Area Salvation Army, click here.

    The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has established the "Metro Nashville Disaster Response Fund," with all donated funds to aid flood victims. Click here.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Spindolyn Capacity and flooding

    A spinner (thank you Deborah!) recently asked me exactly how much fiber the spindolyn will hold. I had intended to write her back immediately and tell her that the spindolyn is "built for comfort, not for speed" and it holds about half as much as a regular drop spindle, but then, that isn’t exactly the truth, the truth is, as with a lot of things is “it depends”.

    Because it is a support spindle, as it fills, the accumulating weight slows it down, so you do have to wind off much sooner than a high whorl drop spindle, the flip side of that is that it is so easy to use, wind on and wind off, that it is not a real big hardship to loose in capacity what you gain in convenience and control.

    The actual quantity an individual can spin and wind on to the spindolyn depends on the type of fiber, and the technique for winding on. I have a lot of experience (well, that sounds silly) but I tend to mindfully wind tight and evenly balanced, which keeps the center of gravity, well, centered, and I can get a lot more fiber on than someone who is just learning to use a spindolyn, but you will still reach a weight limit point.

    But then her question got me curious, and I decided that I would hold off on writing her until I could do some experiments and weighing of actual amounts. I currently have some heavier worsted weight targhee singles going on a tenor spindolyn, some sock weight jacob on a mezzo, and some organic cotton on a soprano spindle ..thinking that a rainy day was coming up and maybe I could finish these, spin up a second spindle for each one, ply them and weigh them up and give actual amounts.


    Here is a spindolyn full of worsted weight targhee singles (sloppily wound on, btw) about an ounce.

    And below the above spindle-full and another wound off and then plied back onto a spindolyn, to make a soft and squishy, bouncy targhee weighing in at approximately 2 oz.


    Boy, a leisurely weekend of spindolyn spinning and making spindolyns was not how the weekend went down.

    As you may be aware, the Middle Tennessee area experienced record rains, torrential downpours and severe flooding over the weekend. Between the power outages and the creek flooding the farm, moving the animals to higher ground, moving stuff out of the way of landslides, hiking out to get to a vehicle and so fourth, I have had little spinning time...Then when the water went down, there was so much clean up work to do, and repair of my driveway and incoming road (by hand) there just has not been much time.

    I do hope to finish this project and get the numbers up when the clean up is over. If you are curious about my creek (you can see a video and some pictures here.)

    One thing I don’t understand is why the media has not really mentioned much about the serious and widespread nature of this flood. Yes, Nashville was hit hard, but there are so many counties (50 something) in the entire middle Tennessee area where people lost homes and businesses, the roads have become impassable, people are stranded with bridges out. It will be months and months before many roads will be made passable, and the economic impact in the rural areas is being ignored, but it is just as devastating for all of middle Tennessee as it is for Nashville. I am so lucky that my house and barn both sit on little rises, and that I was able to dig my way out and build a water crossing.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Learning to Spin at an Early Age


    This is Celery, she is in the house because she was one of twins, and her mother just wanted to keep the boy (who is much bigger and handsomer, with really lovely markings)

    After several attempts at forcing sheep to lamb bonding, I brought her in and made her a place in the laundry room. She would prefer the run of the house.


    Bottle babies take up valuable spinning and knitting time, but they make up for it in cuteness factor.


    Celery is curious about everything, she enjoys bothering the dogs aand terrifying the cat. She can travel at very high speeds, jump down steps and is pretty proud of herself.

    She is also interested in learning to spin, in particular, jacob fleece.




    Monday, February 22, 2010

    there comes a time

    When you have to use up the wool you have, before you can aquire more….shearing season is fast approaching, so we better spin, spin, spin.


    This is Edwina, she is looking forward to spring.

    There comes a time, when you have to ~believe~ that no matter how crappy the weather is now, no matter how out of the ordinarily creepy the weather seems, on top of being damned inconvenient and hardship causing it is, you simply have to believe that spring will come.

    Edwina believes in spring.

    We had a teaser weekend. a 60 degree day, with partial sunshine. No wind, a good day to pluck bunnies. Wendy was here and helped me work a few of them over, and I asked her to pluck some greens from the yard to treat them, and that is when i realized that there is nothing green in the yard big enough to pull up. It is all smashed down from the ice and snow, all dormant still, crouching down, waiting, cowering, expecting the next big blow. That is so weird, thought I. Normally, by the third week of february, it is starting to green up, but somehow, the green knows that they are predicting nights in the teens this week.

    So it is a time to hold off on the gardening and keep a spinning, and believe in spring.

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    it’s not so bad out, if you are wearing wool..

    business first…if you are waiting for an order from me, be assured it will go out first of the week. there is just simply no way that my tools can operate in temperatures below 18. even if they could, our roads are treacherous with ice and snow and I could not go out to the post office, early next week I will be all caught up with shipments.

    Ok, back to the subject at hand…cold.

    IMG_9265 (640x480)

    Notice the stance on these two? the sort of hunched over, “gee I am cold, but this is cool” sort of body language?

    That is because they are wearing “fake” hats, people in my own family not wearing hand knit hats…blaspheme!

    Anyway, If they were wearing a hat like mine (which you will not see a photo of me in, because I am taking these pictures, and no one ever thinks to photograph me, thank goodness.)
    Anyway, if they were wearing wool…they would be much warmer.

    Wool socks! wool hats! wherever you wear it, wool rocks!

    IMG_9481 (2)

    Rosemary here is demonstrating how warm and toasty she looks this morning at 9 degrees.


    Ok, Back to the hat, this wind bonnet with the fold forward brim is the warmest hat I have ever worn, my wool version of it is all ratty and hay encrusted and not worthy of a photograph, but here is a picture of the original pattern, worn by my friend Lucinda on her farm in Indiana. It is a machine knit wind bonnet, that appeared in “Mid Gauge Hats on CD” but I have revised it and have re-released it as a pdf on my website. (yay for me, it is the little computer tasks, like figuring out how to get digital downloads in shopping carts that really slow me down )

    Anyway, Lucinda’s version is in woolease, which is, of course, not all wool, but it is better than all acrylic, and still quite warm!

    P2283394 (2) (640x457)

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    a puppy, a ball of yarn, and a raging wind…

    So, I often dry my wool up under the eave of the porch, up on top of the rainwater tank, where the animals can’t disturb it and it can take its merry sweet time, drying or airing out.

    A few weeks back, before the weather was ridiculously cold, it was ridiculously windy.

    This ball of yarn was airing out from a slight musty smell, before it went airborne. It happened on one of those days between the insanely unusual gust that ripped off the goat barn roof, and the day of gusting that blew over the chicken coops and allowed the roosters to unfortunately intermingle…but I digress.

    After going airborne, the ball unwound itself as it skittered across the yard, and Maddy, the teenage border collie cross was ecstatic at the heaven sent new toy.

    I leave it to your imagination what she did with it.

    The story would be over, but someone in my family saw the yarn, and carefully wound it back up for me…and handed to me apologetically and said, is there anything you can do with this??



    Welcome to Spindolyns At Cady May's Corner

    Frequently Asked Questions   Etsy Store