Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The fiber front ... and a cello update ...

Aahh. Nice week fiber-wise. The stole took a patriotic turn today:

Italy has also made an appearance in it.

The scarf of alpaca, hand spun by the 12-year-old neighbor, is finished. Tomorrow I will show it to her. At the moment it is keeping the pheasant's head warm. :) The yarn was a bit over-plied and/or under-plied in places. To even it all out, I steamed it when the knitting was finished. Years ago I purchased a steamer for the purpose of cleaning the walls in the bird room. Turns out it was really not necessary but it is very handy for relaxing wool or other fibers after spinning. I used it to relax the rainbow skein I'm currently knitting up. I like this scarf quite a lot and it is good and warm. There is enough yarn left to maybe make a pair of mittens.

With the scarf off the needles I thought I'd start a hat. I'm utilizing my own hand spun wool. This hat has not just one, but two provisional cast-ons! I don't yet know why... will find out when it comes time to attach the pieces together. There are also a handful of stitches I've never employed before. I really like the way these 2 color ways are working together and I really like the pattern. It's called "Traveling Rib Hat" and can be purchased on Ravelry.

Not sure if I ever mentioned it, but I continue to take a cello lesson with my teacher in Brooklyn when I go down for my monthly trip. In the meantime I take lessons from him via Skype--over the internet. A video lesson. It has worked out amazingly well after we made just a few adjustments in the structure of the lesson. For instance, we cannot play duets so I work on them here and we play them when I'm down there in person.

Today was a Skype lesson day and I played the Sarabande from Bach's Suite #1 in C Major. I will continue to work on it--and the Prelude--while starting the Allemande. The marked up music should arrive via email in the next day or so. A few weeks ago I started scales in 3 octaves--what a wonderful range the cello has. They're a bit toughie once the notes get up high on the neck. We also touched on what is called "thumb positions" today--more work way up the neck of the cello. Lot's going on! Very exciting. :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Collaboration ...

Well, this is exciting! Last month, visiting the Plymouth farmer's market, I spied a skein of yarn that had been handspun by a 12-year old girl from nearby. Her family own alpacas, make soap, sell bread, eggs, etc. Last Thursday, on my 2nd visit to the market, I spied the same skein of yarn... and snatched it up! I didn't have much cash with me the first time I saw it or I would have bought it then. Better late than never, no?

So I'm knitting her yarn into a scarf which I plan to take to the market Thursday to show her the fruits of her labors all knit up. Sweet fun.

I will also mention that she and her sisters sell pies and cookies at the General Store in Rumney. !!! Smile.

Too, in fiber news, I'm weaving on the handspun stole. Loving it...

I was a bit ticked off to find a smidge of moth damage in some of my handspun. Grrr. I need to find the right herbal recipe to ward them off. At the moment I'm using a cedar spray made for refreshing cedar wood blocks. I think it's working because I'm not seeing the little winged wool munchers much these days. However, the piano tuner was here Saturday morning (finally!) and he found moth damage on some felts. I will need to have those attended to in the near future. I suspect this damage happened before I moved as I did have a few bouts with moths while in NY. I'm resigned to they being a fact of life, I just need to find a way to keep them off the grass so to speak!

Critters! I love 'em but can't they just leave my wool alone? Is that too much to ask in exchange for roaming privileges?

Land of fairy tales...

Some of the surrounding towns certainly have that characteristic about them. They are so very picturesque, quaint and charming. Hebron is one such town. I went to it's village fair on Saturday--which I almost missed until a sales clerk in Plymouth reminded me about it Saturday morning. A wonderful affair: Dozens of craft booths and food in a fairy tale setting. I picked up some more hand made soaps and also brought home a new oil painting for the dining room. The drive to and fro was beautiful also.
(As always, click pictures to enlarge.)

The Groton Historical Society had a booth there and the display was totally fascinating! The part of town I'm in is officially known as North Groton. These days North Groton is a forested residential area (with plenty of space between residences). What I found out on Saturday is that North Groton used to have a town center, complete with general store and church, and it was not forested as it is now. I found a picture of the old church online in the form of a postcard: North Groton Church. So very New England in appearance.
The area was a mining center, something I was already aware of, but the pictures on display in the Historical Society's booth made it clear how important mica was to the area. One of the big ones was Palermo No. 1 mine which is just a few miles from my place. There is an impressive list of minerals found at the mine: Palermo No. 1
I obtained the phone number of the woman who maintains the Historical Society's museum which is housed in the old one-room school house down the road. Can't wait to make an appointment to spend some time there perusing the fascinating history of this area.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

In my dreams...

Oh what a beautiful day it was today! The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and the humidity at bay. A splendid day all around! It was the kind of day I could only dream about in NY... Knitting on the porch in the peace and quiet, spinning--which took an exciting turn today, and weaving on a totally make-shift backstrap loom. Besides, I finally got my patio table set up; it had been in pieces beside the kitchen entry since I arrived in late April. The patio is missing, of course, but that too shall be attended to in the near future.

The knitting which brought me such bliss this morning is the rainbow yarn I spun up last winter. I'm finally getting around to knitting it up into a spectrum of a scarf.

Now that the color transitions are starting to manifest themselves, it's a pretty exciting knit. Constantly thinking of Judy Garland when I work on this! -- for some reason.

So what, you may ask, could make my spinning suddenly more exciting than ever? Walking! I started walking with my spindle. And it's just fabulous! The "mongrel top" I bought at the NH Sheep and Wool festival this spring is what I'm spindling at the moment, and early this afternoon I embarked on foot for a bit of exercise with wool in hand. For one thing, it doubles the pleasure of spinning knowing I'm getting some--much needed--exercise, and it doubles the pleasure of walking knowing I'm getting something productive done! Yippee!

This yarn is for a new winter hat which I will much need come November or December.

For some time I've enjoyed pictures of some awesome Andean pebble weaving on a few of the Ravelry forums. The exquisite beauty of the fabrics lured me into obtaining a copy of Laverne Waddington's book "Andean Pebble Weave"--which I downloaded as an eBook. It's a treasure of a book, very clearly written with instructions starting at square zero. So this afternoon I trekked out back and found some right-sized branches from fallen limbs and fashioned myself a primitive backstrap loom. Following Laverne's wonderful instructions I proceeded to wind a warp and get weaving. Oooh, it's satisfying. I think something to do with the fact that the loom is simple and can be constructed with readily found material strikes a deep chord within. I haven't woven much yet, and I've already made a few mistakes! But, hey, that's what learning's for!

No, it's not a good quality photo. When I get a bit more woven I'll take a close-up of the weaving.

ETA: The small table pictured above is not my patio table, it's a small cast-aluminum outdoor cafe table and chairs. My patio table...

Monday, July 8, 2013


The afghan is done. It was a delightful experience. The one I made as a teenager was joined in white, this one is deep heathered brown. As I recall the early one was full of color also.

This evening sees the loom's reed sleyed with the stole warp. I'm hoping to thread the heddles tomorrow.

Also, I've started knitting the spun silk hankies into the beginnings of a scarf. This is a very pretty stitch called "woven stitch". So far so good, very pretty, shiny, and soft.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

TdF... I missed it...

I missed Tour de Fleece this year! Bummer. A few weeks ago I was reminded of it and thought I might manage it, but the starting date came and I had forgotten. A few days into it I thought of making a mad dash and hopping in, but the truth is I have SO much to do what with the new house, etc., etc., so I decided to sit this one out. I'll be all the more gung-ho and raring to go next year.

The list of projects-to-start-and-finish is rather lengthy at the moment. I'm currently absorbed in re-doing the bathroom at the top of the stairs. I like it better than the one downstairs because it has a shower stall instead of a tub, and seeing how I never take baths (don't quote me out of context!!) it suits me better. Besides that it seems bigger. It's disadvantage is it has no windows. I'm thinking of getting a ventless fan for it, should help a little. Anyhoo, I can't do a remodel at this time--$$--so I decided simply to do a make-over.

It was 100% panelling in there and not just ugly panelling: UGLY panelling. So with ~$60 worth of supplies I locked myself in for 5 hours a few Saturdays ago and painted and papered.

Before (I almost forgot to take 'before' pics as you can see that I'd already started painting):

After the paint and paper:

As you can see, I need to finish painting over the shower stall.

I had planned to have some ceramic tiles installed for the floor. There were some nice blue ones in the bargain bin at less than $3 a tile (12" sq.) so I thought that would be nice and had them come over to give me an estimate. The room is not very large so we're not talking about a slew of tiles. Nonetheless I was shocked at the estimate for installing them. Cannot see myself forking over that much money for such a small space for a make-over. I have yet to get other estimates and may even wait. I've taken a fancy to painting a faux rug on the floor and I spent a couple hours today doing just that. It's not finished so I won't have pics until tomorrow.

I haven't even started on the out-of-doors yet! So till next year, TdF. It's OK, I'm spinning anyway!! Today I wound the warp for my new hand-spun stole and got some more time in on the Great One.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Just Great! ...

I could no longer resist. What can I say? I succumbed. Can you blame me? I'd seen it sitting there every time I visited the shop since arriving here two months ago. The longer it sat the more it's price dropped--down, down, down. So for $99 I have obtained a Great Wheel... and it's BIG, coming up to my nose and 7 feet long at least. Here it is out in the entry room--the only place I have room for it!
It wasn't in perfect shape: The accelerator is missing, as is one of the small posts that would hold it in place. No matter--the wheel can still be set up in direct drive mode which is what I've done. On my future junk store, thrift store, antique store jaunts I'll be keeping an eye out for an accelerator. The accelerator is simply an intermediate pulley system that makes the spindle twirl even faster than it does now. Given the huge ratio between the wheel and spindle it zips right along even on direct drive.
It's pretty exciting and a little intimidating seeing how I've never spun on one of these until today. I put clothes line bearings on to hold the spindle. Will continue to experiment with braided corn husks for this function but I gave up on that for today. The small nails that should hold the braids weren't doing a secure enough job. I've since picked up a few more tips on this from Ravelry and will try them. I'd rather use corn husks, seems more authentic.
The drive band is simply cotton string that I coated with some of my cello rosin. I tried to use raffia and also twine. Neither were suitable enough, though I wouldn't mind more experiments with the raffia.
This wheel may be the answer to my exercise dilemma! One stands at this wheel and there is a constant shuffle backward and forward. Better than sitting, even if only a little!
I spun on it for about half an hour this evening. Really quite loads of fun. It makes a wonderful purring noise and the spinning goes fast.
Golly! Who'd a thought it?
I brought it into the living room when I arrived home with it, not yet knowing where to put it. Here it is in that room to give you an idea of it's size.
You can see on the floor in front of it is the granny square afghan. It is done! At this hour it is out on the chair in the entry room drying from it's bath this afternoon. Finished pics in the next day or so. :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sharing with the turkey ...

The turkey has been spending time in the back yard and for good reason: wild strawberries. Strawberries that I thought I'd pick for myself, but after careful consideration decided not to make bones about it seeing how I have other resources and s/he probably doesn't. I'm happy the turkey can enjoy such a wonderful treat.

This afternoon I took a stroll to see if there were any spoils left and lo! I picked enough for a single shortcake. Lovely. Free for the picking and a hundred mosquito bites. Worth it though. There's more flavor in one of these 1/4" lovelies than in a whole pint of those cardboard-tasting things sold in the supermarket. Oh, happy, happy. I will go out again later this week to see if there's more.
The act of picking these tiny berries has some commonality with crafting. After the first few berries a thought crosses the mind, "This is going to take forever!" But with perserverence, a place I call the "zone" arrives and time melts away. Pleasantness reigns and the process becomes fulfilling. It can even be difficult to pull oneself away from this natural high. Such it was this afternoon.