Saturday, August 31, 2013

Before the month gives way to September ...

I must share a fabulous trip I took a few weeks ago to Harrisville Designs in--wait for it--Harrisville (NH). I've used Harrisville yarns in a number of projects. Their New England Highland yarn makes up the African Adventure blanket shown at right. I wove 2 stoles with their New England Shetland yarn, a wonderful unfinished 2-ply in cones specifically for weaving. They also sell a finished version of NE Shetland for knitting and crochet.

What I love most about Harrisville yarns is the palette. Really beautiful colors, both before and after the re-do. (Their entire color palette was re-designed a few years ago.) The African Adventure blanket is in the old palette.

The real highlight of my trip, and wonderful treat, was meeting up with two friends from our neighbor up north who were down vacationing in VT. Spinners and knitters and all things fiber. They made a day trip of it and I made a day trip of it and we had a splendid time.

I wanted to come home with the entire contents of the store. Of course that's not practical. So what? It was a lovely dream. I did come home with some new fiber: 2 bags of Merino locks to card and spin. I have these destined for the great wheel for a project I know not of yet. Also, a book about tapestry weaving, a knitting pattern for a hat, and a pen.

The town of Harrisville is quaint and historic. Just wonderful that the mill is still in use by HD to make their yarns.

End of the week, end of the month ...

This was my 'trip to NYC' week.

As has been my monthly routine since arriving here, I drove down on Tuesday and drove back Wednesday evening-into-night. This was my fourth trip and fourth experiment in scheduling my drive. I left here at a little after noon, got to the interstate in White River Jct., Vt. a little after 1 pm--an hour that included a stop for some new CDs to keep me company on the way. At 5:15 I was in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn having driven I-91 all the way to New Haven, CT then I-95 the rest of the way. Unlike last month, I avoided rush hour in Hartford, CT and NYC. And praise be, I somehow managed to avoid construction hold ups!

It's not a bad drive really, and I discovered this week that Aretha Franklin and Earth, Wind, and Fire make great travelling companions.

Oh, oh, oh!!! I made an all important discovery passing through Massachusetts. Oh dear! A sign alongside the highway--which I'd missed on all previous trips--alerted me to the fact that WEBS was only .5 mile from the next exit, on the left. Ooooh my foot twitched on the accelerator, desperately wanting to let go and maybe switch over to the brake in order to make a "restroom stop". Indeed. But the desire to reach my destination was strong enough to keep me on track. Next month my commute will take a WEBS break into account. My wallet will protest, so I will mostly just look. Indeed.

I spent the night, Tuesday, at my dear friend's house. He is a composer; the person I bought my harpsichord from. He has lots of his music up on YouTube, do check it out! Along with a handful of other friends, we ran a group called "Brooklyn Accent" for some years a while back. It was an arts promotion/presentation organization in north Brooklyn. I designed many of the postcards and posters. Hm. Maybe I'll share some down the line. Fond memories. His apartment is very cool--full of books and wonderful art objects.

Here we are with another dear pianist friend:

Well, my view from the office is radically different than the one I enjoy just 24 hours before, and 24 hours after being there.

That's the new World Trade Center. As you can see I have to lean out a little to get it in the picture.

I'm finding it a relief to arrive home from these trips. I guess that says something about my having had my fill.

In order to avoid rush hour traffic coming out of the city I don't leave until 7 or 8 pm. By that time the freeways are actually free. Free of inch-by-inch crawling for miles on end. It gets dark but I don't mind that, and after Springfield, MA the highway is all but deserted. Just me, Aretha, Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A cake! ...

It looks that way. The hat is finished; now just waiting for it to dry out after it's bath. I'm blocking it with a piece of cardboard cut to the circumference of my head, all draped over a kitchen beaker.

Now you can see how the "scarf" part I'd shown in progress was joined to make a tube which became the body of the hat.

I was nervous knitting the top. For one, I was running short on the background color. Luckily, I found a ball of Navajo Churo wool that I spun and dyed years ago, and it just happened to be a good color match. That Churo is some I processed myself from fleece given to me by my high school friend (whom I am now geographically much closer to!). Even though there's a change of color in the hat, I think that's pretty typical in stranded work, and I think it still looks pretty good. Plus I'm happy that it remains 100% hand spun. Another reason I was getting nervous is because the Churo, although close in gauge to the other 2 yarns, was less resilient. It's stiffness was causing me to worry that the top would end up too big and puckered. In fact, I hurried the top decreases just a bit by combining 2 rows into 1 as I neared the finish line. Glad I did.

It looks like a cake!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

After pics ...

After the shed has been torn down:

After the Noro scarf is finished:

After the wood is stacked:

Just a tiny bit left to stack and I'll take care of that tomorrow.

After my book arrived:

I stumbled upon this book in my search for dyeing information. It was available on Amazon so I ordered it and it arrived yesterday. It's brilliant! Also LOL funny. Wonderfully written. Most fascinating!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The bird house is in business...

Good news today from the selectmen's office: My permit application to build a room for my birds was approved last night! Yippee! Quite a relief.

The wait had given me plenty of opportunity to practice mindfulness... I was catching myself having imaginary arguments with officials I've never met over a situation that had not occurred. The fear of having my application rejected created easy fodder for less-than-constructive imaginings. So when I caught myself sliding into these imagined scenarios I tried to focus on my breathing and mentally went over other possible options if my plans were not approved. It took repeated tries at times to still the angst but it was worth it. Practice.

Now to see when the contractor can start. Soon I hope.

I am predictably experiencing the let down of a naked loom. As I've written before, when there's a warp on the loom, the corner where the loom sits acts almost like a sanctuary. It beckons me when I need to slow down or simply when I want to enjoy the gentle waves of quiet being. So at the completion of a project, that source of contentment is temporarily removed. But not for long, usually.

The loom is already warped anew. I spent an hour this evening sleying and threading it with a skein of Noro's "The World of Nature", a wool/silk blend that I purchased for the simple reason that it was beautiful. I had no project in mind when I bought it. Since purchasing it I've wondered how I could employ it in such a way as to highlight it's beauty. I really want the yarn itself to be the focus of whatever I make with it. Believe me, if it would work, I'd simply wear the skein--as is--around my neck and call it a scarf! Ha! But that wouldn't work very well. I didn't want to knit it thinking that twisting it into stitches would diminish it's essence. So I'm using the yarn as warp and will make a plain weave scarf using a very thin wool for the weft. This, I hope, will allow the yarn to shine in all it's glory.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An interesting result ...

There it is hanging out to dry in what was gorgeous weather yesterday. (Not so gorgeous today as it's raining, but that has it's own beauty and joy--as long as it doesn't rain every day for a fortnight like it did this spring!)

I have learned a good lesson with this project about using different wools in the same cloth. Two of the wools were slightly greasier than the others causing them to behave differently in the wet finishing stage: They didn't shrink as much as the other wools. That in turn has left my stole with a little puckering. Not much, just a little, and seeing how it's for personal use I don't mind at all. In fact, I think it's a charming aspect of the cloth. But notes have been duly jotted down.

I'm very happy with the way the colors worked. It looks country.

Well now, I better get spinning because I want to make a scarf out of these two merino/silk blends:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

This and that ...

My neighbors (Mr. and Mrs.) have been over to work on tearing down the shed. I'm glad it's finally happening. The remnants should be gone by the end of next weekend. This evening we all enjoyed pizza and chips: Mr., Mrs., their four utterly delightful children, a good friend of theirs, and myself. Being around the young children reminded me that I miss my former students.

That was taken last evening which shows it gutted out. As of tonight, half the roof is gone. Won't be long now.

What's that in the extreme foreground, you ask? Why, that's my exercise regimen for the next week.

Two cords. Two more on order. I started stacking last night. This, to me, is good exercise. It has a purpose outside of myself and therefore is meaningful exercise. I have always found gym exercise to be very difficult. In fact I once bought a year-long membership in a gym in NYC at a hefty price only to end up going once. Yup. I went once! Lesson learned. I had much better luck with a stationary bike that I had in my apartment some years back. I used it religiously for a whole year, and with good results. The big problem with it was the seat--it made me sore! A folded towel, as I recall, did a lot to cushion the work out. No, for sure, these constructed exercises never did as much for me as something useful--like chopping, or stacking wood. As I recall, the stationary bike faded into the background after a disastrous and, as it turns out, whirlwind relationship. Funny that: relationships in their budding can be a great boost for physical activity but depending on the circumstances, less desirable endings can set up hurdles to overcome.

- * -

In my first few weeks here I purchased a lovely little fern and placed it on the sill above my kitchen sink. It's done well there and it's prominent location means I'm reminded to water it frequently. It's done so well that it's growth has caused it's leaves to press against the glass, resulting in constricted development on that side.

Inspired by a leaflet on macrame which I purchased at a thrift store a month ago, I decided to take time today to make a hanging holder for my sweet fern. A ball of jute and 4 beads--which I happen to have from a visit to a fantabulous store in NYC, Beads of Paradise--was just about all that was needed. Missing from my inventory was a 3" metal ring but I managed to fashion one out of a twig and some raffia. I must say I like this twig ring better than a metal one.

I'm happy that my fern is no longer restricted from growing freely on the window side of it's perch. (Recent work at the cello and piano have also opened up my left chest and shoulder area--the location of surgery several years ago--to a considerable degree so that I am no longer as restricted on that side. And, as one would expect, greater freedom on the left means greater freedom on the right. Happy developments.)
Constricted by the window pane:

Hanging happily unconstricted in it's new holder:

- * -

Happy news on the flora front: The canna lillies I brought up from NY, which were a gift from CT--although not growing as tall up here (which could be because they had a late start)--are beginning to blossom. Happy, happy.

- * -

Just this week decided to take one of the first articles I wove--when I had my rigid heddle loom--and add a cross-stitch embroidery to make it a Christmas scarf. Adding a Christmas tree to each end. Just starting:

- * -

Travelled to Hanover, NH Friday evening to hear Vladimir Feltsman in recital at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center. (Trivia: The Center was designed by the same architect that designed the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC.) What an inspiration. It was a real treat for him to come out after the program and converse with the audience. ... I literally laughed out loud when I went to pick up my car, which I'd left in the parking garage--in NY mode I expected to pay around $30 for the evening's parking. Total cost for the 4 hours turned out to be a whopping $1.00!!! :)

- * -

Made big progress on the handspun stole today, down to the final stretch. Continuing to make progress on the hat... and the scarf... and continue to come up with so many new projects. I'm thinking I may need to hold a private raffle to see which one I start next! Hee hee.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Not a fast knit, but not terribly slow either. There is enough going on with each row to stave off all possibility of becoming boring. Yes, it looks like a scarf but it really will be a hat when finished.

I was able to finally submit my application for a permit to build the bird's room, only to find out that the selectmen don't meet this week and I'll have to wait until next Wednesday to see if it's approved. (Fingers crossed.) Approval from the state energy code come last week shortly after the DES septic approval number was found in the state's archives. Yes, the permit application needs the DES septic approval number. Let me tell you: If there are any concerns about my septic system being adequate I'm going to be very emphatic with the officials that my birds do not use the toilet. Here's hoping I can call the contractor next week to give him the go ahead as soon as he's ready.

The oil tank in the basement is now full--it was completely empty for the last 2 months. Then I found out it was not a good idea to leave it empty because rust can form. So the oil tank is full, the wallet is empty. I also ordered 4 cords of seasoned hard wood the other day and I have a feeling I did so just in the nick of time. A number of places were all out of seasoned wood. I tell ya, my wallet will be light as a feather when all is said and done! But the house should be warm this winter and that's important.

I stumbled--really found it by accident--this video about my house. I was searching for images of the Groton windmills and there in among the photos was a link to this video. The woman being interviewed is the previous owner from whom I purchased the house. Seeing this video made me feel good because it gave me an idea of what I'm looking at for keeping the place warm this winter, and it doesn't sound bad. There's a quick shot of the exterior right at the beginning.

Also in the works: I've hired my neighbor to tear down the 'car port' and he has made a start on it. When it is gone I'll be able to start work on next year's garden areas. For reference, here's a 'before' picture.