Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing everyone a bright and beautiful new year, full of joy and happiness. May all your dreams come true and may you be blessed with health and fortune in the coming months!

This final post for 2012 brings my tally for the year to 100. Not bad! :)

See you in 2013. It was pointed out to me this evening that 2013 is the first year since 1987 that does not contain a repeated digit. How about that!

Weaving wise... the best laid plans...

Oh dear. You'll recall that I set myself to using the lease sticks while mounting this warp. I posted a pic showing my 8 bouts all lined up around the sticks which were taped to the breast beam of my loom.

I spent a large part of yesterday sleying the reed. It felt good and I enjoyed a warm security in knowing that the winding on would be smoother than last time, in large measure because the lease sticks would keep the threads in order as they fed through the reed and heddles. After I sleyed my very last thread (there are 480 of them) I looked down to discover that in total oblivion I'd followed my usual practice of picking up each thread--in correct order thanks to the lease sticks--pulling them out of the sticks and through the reeds. Out of the sticks!! The threads were no longer poised to have their order preserved because I had pulled each one out of the porrey cross. Well hello!

"Oh dear!" I thought. "Well, it's not the end of the world, I'll just struggle with this one like I did the last, and hope for little breakage."

I proceeded to start threading and got less than a quarter way done when I opted for some spinning. By the time I stopped treadling I was a little tired so I set all aside and put a British comedy in the DVD player (the British are so good at comedy aren't they?).

I'm glad I did not get far with the threading because when I was lying in bed this morning I came up with an idea to rescue my warp from the horrors of winding on criss-crossed. I implemented my solution: I threaded a narrow rod (a slat--lease stick--would work) just in front of the heddles... over one, under one, etc. of the threads I'd already threaded (which was less than a quarter of them). Then I suspended the rod in place and proceeded to thread with the extra step of ensuring that one thread goes under the rod and the next goes over. This is effectively creating a cross that will keep the threads in order as they feed through the heddles. That's where they'll break if they are crossed up. In fact, I can transfer the new cross to in front of the reeds and what will happen is that all the criss-crossing (as a result of removing the original porrey cross) will be pushed to the very end of the warp where it won't matter. It's going well, I'm a little over half done with the threading and I think my solution is going to work OK.

It often pays to sleep on a problem. I notice this often with my work. Even those times when, near the end of a day, I'll come up with a solution to a problem, I find it best to sleep on it at least one night before barging ahead with implementation.

Here are 2 pictures of my impromptu rod, one from the front and one from the back. If you look close you can see how the threads are alternating one over, one under.

Here is the rod suspended just in front of the heddles--you can see the green thread I used to suspend it over on the right. This was as far as I'd got in threading last night.

Here is what it looks like from the back where I'm working. (It may appear that the 2 rightmost threads are both going under the rod, but it's an illusion: there's a thread in between them that goes over.):

At least my threads will be going through the heddles straight and that will alleviate most of the problems that can occur. Yay!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fiber wise... ringing out the old, ringing in the new...

Ringing out the old...
It looks like I'll be finished spinning the rainbow pencil roving by the end of this year. I decided to spin it thinner than it's prepared thickness and let me tell you, it hasn't been easy drafting! But I like the results. Planning to keep it as singles. I will steam it right on the niddy-noddy after it's wound on. This will relax the fibers and straighten it out some as it is quite twisty. I do believe it will then be knit into a rainbow scarf using large needles. I am going to knit length instead of width so I will end up with a true rainbow scarf. On large needles, and after a good blocking it should look a bit misty like--a rainbow scarf!

Here's current spinning progress. The blues and purples and violets are under the green which shows on the outer layers of the bobbin resting on the table. Yellows and oranges are filling up the bobbin on the wheel. Deep orange and red still to go. The remaining roving can be seen on the table:

Ringing in the new...
I have wound 8 "bouts"--they are called--on the warping board and they are now mounted on "lease sticks" taped to the breast beam of my loom, waiting for me to sley them through the reed and thread them through the heddles. I am planning on keeping the lease sticks in place until the warp is fully wound on as I believe I will get a better result this way. The lease sticks are inserted on both sides of the "porrey cross" which I wound into the bouts. The porrey cross keeps the threads in order. (Isn't this weaving vocabulary just wonderful!?) I will need to sley 3 threads per slot in the 10-dent reed to achieve 30 threads per inch. Should be able to start weaving on, or shortly after, the new year. It is hard to see that the big spool of thicker blue cotton in this picture is darker than the thinner blue thread of the bouts, but it is. The darker blue will be the pattern threads:

Speaking of vocabulary, I picked up a book published in 1956 (how convenient considering that's my birth year!) at The Strand bookstore this summer entitled "A Short Dictionary of Weaving" by M.E. Pritchard. It caused me to chuckle when I stumbled upon an entry for "Mistakes in Weaving". She begins the definition thusly:
"Blunders made, usually, during the mounting of the warp, which upset both the pattern and the weaver. ..." HaHa! I think it is funny she thought to have an entry for mistakes at all, and this start of her definition is just too good! :)

Wishing everyone a most Happy New Year! May peace and joy be yours in the coming months, and may your every wish come true!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Subway knitting... has been on hold...

The Wave Stole has been temporarily stalled. I haven't worked on it for about two months. It's because I've wanted to do some reading. I will pick up the stole again after the holidays. It will be one of my resolutions. There will be two resolutions this year, I'll divulge the other one next week. ;)

Here is how far I got with edging the stole:

Reading. It started with Shambala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa. I've had the book for several years. I tried reading it back when I was taking piano lessons from a teacher who happened to be a Shambala Bhuddist. It didn't work for me at the time. I picked it up 2 or 3 different times over the course of a few years but never got anywhere with it. So it has sat on the shelf for the past 5 years. Somehow I picked it up again 'round about October and it clicked--I finished it. It was good, but I can't say I'm quite ready for this school. It did, however, point me to the Eastern philosophy section at the bookstore where I picked up a few books by Thich Nhat Hanh.

I came home with Being Peace, and Touching Peace. I really liked them a lot so I went back and picked up Understanding the Mind. Understanding the Mind is not such an easy read but it's worth getting through. I'm almost finished with it. At the moment, my reading list is comprised entirely of Thich Nhat Hanh. In waiting are:

Our Appointment with Life
Walking Meditation
Creating True Peace
Living Buddha, Living Christ

I'm looking forward to them all, so subway knitting will be on hold a little longer.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk who currently lives in Plum Village, a meditation center he founded in France. I hope you'll consider picking up a few of his books. Well worth it.

Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism... Mahayana is one of the two main Buddhist traditions, the other being Theravada Buddhism. The main difference between them is that Mahayana (meaning "Greater Vehicle") is geared towards a general population, whereas Theravada is geared towards monastic life... The difference is very beautifully and lovingly explained in this video. It's a whole hour long, but it will be an hour well spent. The monk is Lama Choedak Rinpoche. Stay with him at least 20 minutes as he warms up and he is truly charming and delightful...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weaving wise... the naked loom...

But first... The mats are out the door. Shipped them via priority this afternoon so they should arrive in time for Christmas. Sigh of relief.

So now my loom is naked again. I'm finding that finishing a woven project is a double faceted experience. There is, of course, exhilaration and all the good feelings that accompany an accomplishment. A wonderful euphoria--gentle drug this craft. But the other part of the experience is being left with a naked loom. The source of many hours of enjoyment is gone and what's left are thrums dangling off the warp beam. Gone is the warp which beckoned and welcomed me into it's web on so many days, for so many wonderful hours. It's a little bit of a let down.

But not for long! Last night I found my next project. Hurray! It will be a runner for the dining table in my new house. It's this beautiful overshot pattern: Table Runner. Overshot was very popular during colonial times. It will be my first overshot pattern. Light blue instead of white, with dark blue. There is a new technique I will learn to do overshot: It requires two shuttles. One shuttle carries what is called a "tabby" thread which, with the warp, creates a background fabric of plain weave. The other shuttle carries the pattern weft and it--surprise!--creates the pattern by floating over x,y,z number of warp threads, hence the name overshot. I ordered some cotton last evening and I'm roaring to go! Hurray!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weaving wise... cutting it close...

Whew! That was close! Sweatin' the end of placemat #8! I just barely had enough warp left and had to anxiously eek out the last few inches.

It is difficult to weave so close to the heddles as shown in the photo below. I took the picture after the last pick was thrown and you can see how close to the reed I came. (A pick is a weft thread.) About 8" from the end of this mat I had to switch to a smaller shuttle, and when I got within 4" of the end I had to switch to a stick shuttle. The stick shuttle is flat and has little height so I was able to squeeze it through the narrow shed I was getting at that point.

The heddles are changed on each pick (a throw of the weft) and for the last few inches I had to press the pedal to lift the appropriate heddles and also had to use my free hand to press down on the heddles that shouldn't lift for that pick. When the warp becomes short the idle heddles have a tendency to rise when they shouldn't. This technique plus the stick shuttle allowed me to get up real close to the reed.

Just barely made it. But I did and that's what matters now! The weaving is done. The question that remains is whether I can get them seaparated, wet finished, dried, ironed and shipped in time for Christmas? We'll soon find out. Tomorrow won't see much done because I have my cello lesson and will be going in to the office from there. Well, fingers crossed.

Here they are, all eight of them, still attached at the fringe:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cello... an anniversary...

I let November pass without mentioning that it's been 2 years since I started cello. Taking up this gorgeous instrument has been a life-altering experience. One of the best things I've ever done for myself. I liken it to the first time I had a full-body massage. At the time, one of the best things I'd ever done for myself.

Funny thing is I can't remember what prompted me to actually look up a teacher and start lessons! I always wanted to play cello--the sound of the instrument is so beautiful, but why I started when I did? I can't recall. Nope, just don't remember. Maybe it was a whim, spur of the moment decision--they're often the best.

I'm currently working on some dances, a bouree and a gigue, in preparation--I hope--for starting in on one of the Bach cello suites. Oh, I hope so. It's a dream of mine to work on them. They're divine. Many times I put them on while I'm weaving or spinning. Absolute bliss.

On the subject of playing an instrument, piano is going splendidly as well. The cello work--as I've mentioned before--has helped tremendously. At the moment I'm working away at some Scarlatti Sonatas. They look deceptively simple, but they're an absolute bugger!! There's some tough stuff in them. It's been good to work on them.

I'm also taking time for Debussy's Ballade every day. Oh how heavenly!! Sheer delight! I am finding 2 against 5 and 3 against 5 rhythms a challenge, but it's coming along. The sheer beauty of this music is total motivation to keep working at it. Here is a recording by the master interpreter of Debussy, Walter Gieseking:

Friday, December 14, 2012

A poem ...

For the horrific tragedy that unfolded in Connecticut this morning.

On the Death of My Child

by Joseph Von Eichendorff
translated from the German by Kate Flores

Far off the clouds are striking,
The night is growing late,
The lamp is burning low now,
Your little bed is made.

Only the wind is wailing
Round about the house
While we sit here lonely,
Listening without.

It is as if you were softly
Going to knock on the door,
Tired after straying,
And come back once more.

Foolish, foolish people!
We are the ones who roam
Still lost in dread of the darkness--
You have long since been home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lord of the manor...

That's me! Haaaaaaaaaa!

Signed the papers--several of them--last Friday. The house is officially mine. I am a homeowner for the first time in my life... who would have thought!

I really am excited about this. Saw it again Friday morning for a walk-through and my impressions are even better on second sight. My brother and I took a spin over for a drive-by on Sunday and we scouted the neighborhood a little. I'm thrilled. There is lot's of New England charm round about the place. Miniature chapels, old schoolhouses, quaint cafes, artisans, and lots of beautiful scenery. You get the picture. I'll have pics to show as time moves along.

It was also the weekend of our family holiday party. My brother hosts it at his place early in the month to avoid the inevitable scheduling conflicts that arise amongst my siblings (all 8 of them) at this busy time of year--several of whom have their own families. It's a lovely potluck affair. Indulge me a little brag: there are some very good cooks in my family! Yum, yum, yum!

While pausing for a breather early on Saturday afternoon, I took a short walk up the road where I grew up. It was a pleasant, not-too-cold afternoon clad in winter grey. A refreshing and misty grey. The sort of grey which often portends a blanket of white (which I love). There was only a dusting of snow while I was there, but it was enough to stir in me a happiness at the beauty of it all. A misty fog was down for a visit, and oh! it was grand for walking. I didn't go far, just up to where my Mémé's house used to be. The big old house still exists but is no longer in the family. It has been relocated from it's original position to a place a little further from the road and re-oriented just a bit. With it's new color and big barn, it's quite spectacular.

I snapped a few pics while on my walk. Pics of nature...

"Leaning Birches"

"Winter Fog"

"Wanting To Be Close"

"My Brother's House"

"Mémé's Old House"

"Angel's Wings" (I have got to find out what these trees are called so I can get some for my new property! Love 'em!)

"All Decked Out"

"Slight Recollection of Summer"

"Woodpecker Camouflage" (Try as I may, I couldn't get a clear shot of him/her. It's in the red circled area.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'Tis the season...

The holidays are upon us--already! again! I love it. A fun time of year. I'm ringing them in with plenty of weaving, including much hemstitching. Each placemat is hemstiched on both ends as I plod along. I dare say I'm getting kinda good at it--going much quicker now--and I really enjoy the break that the hemstitching brings.

I finished the 4th placemat this morning and started my 5th this evening. There will be 8 in all. The loom sits there so welcoming with this warp on it, beckoning me in my spare moments.

This is what the back of the loom looks like with all my replacements threads resting on top of the back beam when I'm not weaving (I release the tension on the threads when not weaving).

Since it's impossible to replace a warp thread back to the beginning, each replacement needs to be measured out, wound on a spool, and hung with enough weight to match the tension of the other threads. Here is what they look like while I'm weaving, except that in this picture the tension on the warp is slack because I was finished weaving for the while:

I'm celebrating with a real tree again this year. I downsized a bit and I'm simply in love with my 5' tabletop tree. Love it, love it, love it!

Need some special gift for someone? Handmade? Full of warmth, character, and charm? Then by all means visit Handmade By Maegan for sweeeeeet penny rugs and crocheted apparel. You'll be helping young artists while you're at it! (I should disclose that she is my nephew's girlfriend so I'm not totally unbiased in this recommendation! ;) ) See the pretty, pretty penny rug table mat I bought from Handmade by Maegan. It is sweet!!:

I hope this holiday season will bring you peace, love, and happiness in abundance.

Friday, November 23, 2012

All wise... a bit of catching up... three

Spinning. I've been spinning almost every day for a while now. Late in the evening after the day's chores are done. A wonderful way to unwind. Light a little incense, pour a little wine, spin a little wool, and take a few deep breaths. Ah.

I mentioned wanting to weave another throw. It looks like the palette for this new throw is going to be pretty much as follows, possibly with the addition of a very pale green:

Those are recently finished skeins, except for the ball of Wellington Fibres at the top. I put that in the picture because its yarn is still on the wheel! (see next picture) I should be finished with the Wellington's by the end of the weekend. This gorgeous fiber is a lovely gift from a dear friend in Canada. Much thanks, jak.

I'm pretty sure the new throw will be a plaid, and most probably a twill. I love twill.

I'll be posting updates about this project as it proceeds.

(Just a little post-note: I received word today that my bank is ready to close on my house purchase and we'll be scheduling the closing date on Monday. It's happening! :) )

All wise... a bit of catching up... two

Crochet. I've been making steady progress on the sunflower lap blanket. I really, really like this pattern.

It's quite fun to sit down at the end of a long day and knock off a square. Doesn't take long, maybe half an hour. I only need to make 3 more squares and I'll be ready to connect all together. Being a lap blanket, it isn't very big.

I started this blanky before Harrisville Designs updated their palette and can no longer obtain the blue I began with. So I decided to make half the squares using a new blue and I think it still looks pretty good. However, in order to get a pleasing arrangement of the different shades I need 2 more squares in the original blue--which I can't get--so I've made 2 squares in a completely different shade: a greenish-blue, to fill 2 key positions. I say it still looks pretty good!

Won't be too long before this is finished:

All wise... a bit of catching up... one...

Well... November is turning out to be one of the slowest months for me in terms of posts written. Unless I get a lot written in the next few days, it's going to be a rather sorry showing.

This is the first of three posts I'm making in an effort to bring this place up-to-date.

Weaving. I started some placemats using a draft I found online. It's a freebie from the Leclerc company of Canada. I had figured out the instructions from the French version of the pattern before realizing there was an English version. It makes me feel pretty good to have been able to understand the French. I wish I were fluent. Alas. Non.

Here is the warp as I was threading it:

The pattern is warp-faced meaning the warp threads are so close to each other they completely cover the weft. This creates a certain type of fabric. If the weft is thick, one obtains a mat-like material. Good for placemats. I'm using 3 threads at a time to create a thicker weft and the fabric is turning out very nice. Not too thick, not too thin. Won't take forever to dry after washing, but thick enough to protect a table top.

Lot's of learning from experience on this. The warp is the longest I've ever wound at 6.5 yards. That's enough for 8 placemats. I did not tie the warp chains in enough places which caused some trouble when I went to wind the warp onto the beam. Some threads were criss-crossed and loose and folded over on themselves when entering the heddles. I ended up with 5 broken warp threads due to this (there are 514 all together). It was all a bit iffy for about 15 minutes, but I persevered and tied on some replacement threads and it's now proceeding nicely.

I have completed one mat and am just starting another. Half way through the first I noticed a threading error but decided to finish the mat and fix the mistake in between mats--in the area that becomes fringe. The mis-threading caused a glitch in the pattern that is pretty hard to see, one must know there is a mistake and further more, know where to look.

This shows the weaving at the end of the 1st mat, just after I fixed the threading error and proceeded to start the 2nd mat. You can see the knots where I had to re-tie the miscreant thread after fixing the mistake. I had to cut the thread in order to remove it from a heddle on frame #2 and move it to frame #3.

Pretty, aren't they? :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weaving Wise... Anniversary gift finished

Probably the biggest project I've ever undertaken seeing how I spun all the yarn myself. The African Adventure blanket was big, but it was commercial yarn. I cannot adequately convey the deep sense of satisfaction I enjoy in completing this project. There is nothing like making something out of one's own handspun.

I could not possibly be more pleased with this fiber, nor can I recommend it highly enough. It is Wellington Fibres' mystery roving, in 4 different colors. For this throw, it is perfect: warm, soft and beautiful (contains wool, alpaca, and mohair). It's also a fun spin. The shades of gray common to each of the 4 colorways gives the finished piece a smokey, washed out look that I find very appealing.

I spun it a thin-ish 2-ply, mimicking the grist of Harrisville's New England Shetland (the African Adventure blanket is knit in Harrisville's New England Highland). Plenty of twist but not so much that it feels like cord. I did not wash the yarn before weaving with it, believing I would obtain a better 'fulling' if I left it unwashed. It fulled beautifully.

The weave is twill with 10 ends per inch with a balanced sett (well, as balanced as I can manage at this stage in my learning process!).

The excitment of unwinding it from the cloth beam was just too much and I plum forgot to measure the before-fulling size. Oh well. The excitement of getting it ready to ship was just too much and I plum forgot to measure the finished size!! The finished size is no problem: I'll take measurements next time I visit. As for pre-finished size, I warped it at 43.5" wide and the warp was 96" long. There were a couple feet of waste so I'd guess it was close to 72" long pre-finishing.

The throw is a gift for my brother and sister-in-law who celebrated a milestone anniversary last year (yes, they knew it was going to be late :) ).

Here it is as I unwound it from the cloth beam. I have to admit having been a bit beside myself in disbelief that I'd actually made this. Yes, it was emotional:
(click to enlarge)

Here it is finished, "in situ". I can't wait to make one for myself!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Crochet...digging out a UFO...

I am having a bit of apartment time this week what with the aftermath of Sandy. Although I never lost electricity--internet service was down for one night--the office where I work is not yet fully functional. But I do have a problem getting anywhere... I waited an hour today for a bus that never showed up, and spoke with some people who said wait times were up to 2 hours! That, I suspect, is due to the unbearable traffic on the major thoroughfares. With a large portion of the subway system down, people with cars are clogging the highways.

So I've spent the week here in the apartment. I'm not complaining. Those in lower Manhattan who are without power have it so much worse. Quite a storm, Sandy.

I puttered around the living room this afternoon, straightening up. Organizing my unspun wool--much of it from the Sheep & Wool Festival a few weeks ago--and putting yarn away in paper bags (I've been told moths won't chew through brown paper bags. ?), and generally just trying to make some sense of the disarray that has been occupying the room for some time.

In the process of tidying up I came across some yarn for a lap blanket I started well over 12 months ago and never finished. I think I'll finish it now. It's a lovely pattern of crocheted granny squares in the colors of sunflowers. And they do end up looking like sunflowers:

Speaking of wool from the festival, I started in on some 2 nights ago. Over the course of 2 evenings I spun 130 yards destined for a new weaving project. (I finished a big weaving project earlier this week and will have pics soon, must wait until it reaches it's recipient.) This wool is wonderful to spin because it still contains some lanolin. Not enough to be really greasy, but just enough the make the hands feel all smooth and wonderful:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weaving wise... a thrilling video...

I discovered this video recently and it had me completely spell bound. I think it's an absolute thrill to watch, and I continue to be mesmerized by it--just wish it were an hour long documentary instead of a 2:45 minute clip!

I was at Versailles around the mid '90s for a day trip from Paris where I was spending a week's vacation. It was a glorious trip, one I will never forget and hope to perhaps repeat some day. I was completely taken in with the textiles in Versailles. The fabrics in the King's and Queen's bedrooms were astonishingly beautiful--let's face it, the fabrics throughout the palace were mind boggling. Such riches.

So stumbling upon this video was special. Getting a glimpse of how those glorious fabrics are created is quite special. I would like to investigate further into this type of weaving. I also like the shots of the woman and man using a flying shuttle to weave velvet--it comes towards the end of the clip.

To leave no doubt I was actually at Versailles, I will post 3 pics (of several I took while there:

Post note: Apart from the trip to and fro--I'm not that keen on flying--the trip to Paris was a dream. I stayed at a small hotel on Ile de la Cité named Hotel Henri IV. It was post-season so it wasn't terribly crowded and the weather was cooler. The hotel rooms were dirt cheap (~$50/night) but didn't include tv (I wasn't there to watch tely!), ac (it was September and didn't need it!), and the shower was shared (as I was usually later to rise, it didn't matter!). The location of this hotel can't be beat, it's just down from Notre Dame snuggled inside a quaint little square (triangle, really) on Place de la Dauphine, gobsmack in the middle of Paris! Ah.... lovely memories.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NY Sheep & Wool Festival... 2012

What does one say about their fourth visit to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival? For starters, it's as great as it's always been! ...

The experience that comes from multiple visits gives me an edge in planning my day. I had a pretty good idea how long it would take to stroll through each of the buildings so I didn't feel at all hurried. I arrived right at opening time and left at closing time and that gave me plenty of time to see everything I wanted and more...

This year I stopped to watch the fashion show billed as "NYS Make It With Wool". All entries had to be designed and hand sewed, and most were worn and modeled by the crafters themselves. The participants ranged in age from 6 or 7 years old (sewing dresses already!) to adult. There were some very lovely garments. It was fun to watch and the craft involved was awe inspiring.

I also made time to watch a sheep dog demonstration. It was sheer delight to witness the dog's eagerness in working the sheep. Those dogs really do love their job don't they?

There's a pic of the fashion show and a few of the sheep dog demo below.

At 4pm I had arranged to meet up with a couple I met online last year. What fun! It is wonderful to have real bodies to replace the imaginary pixel images I had of them. We traded show-and-tell of our day's purchases then headed into downtown Rhinebeck for a lovely dinner. It was a bit of a miracle that we made it to the restaurant given the bumper-to-bumper traffic leaving the fair grounds, but we persevered and dinner was devoured over great conversation. I was subsequently--and generously--chauffered to the train station where I caught the 8:01 Amtrak back to NY. I was pretty tired when I got into my apartment shortly before 11pm, having arisen at 5am to catch the 7:15 train to Rhinebeck. But worth it, ever so worth it!

Yes, I did manage quite a haul! Two of the items: the teal/grey colored top and the handspun, handknit fingerless mittens were gifts from my friends from Canada. I picked up some top for spinning, lots of silk hankies for spinning, a CD of recorder music (it's lovely!), hand made soap, a soap dish, and a tahkli...