Monday, April 28, 2008

Transplant fever and dyeing

One of the advantages to having a year to move is that we can transplant all our favorite flowers and shrubs beforehand and make sure they thrive at the new house. So, in an effort to beat the incoming rains, we dug up the black raspberries and elderberries on Sunday and took them over to the new house. Poor little things were so droopy by the time they were back in the ground!

But we also found an area that was covered with violets! I'd never seen these at my Mom's house before, so I suppose they've popped up in the last year or so. I love violets, second only to lilacs on my list of all-time favorite flowers.

I also found the time to create some sock rovings for dyeing. This is my most recent effort drying in the breeze, inspired by all the forsythias and redbuds that are blooming right now.

Problem is, I want to spin this one myself and not sell it. I did some rainbow colored roving this morning and want to keep THAT for myself also. But a girl can only use so many socks, so I suppose they'll go on etsy in the next few days....sigh.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ack! It's been a while....

Wow! I knew I'd been away from the blog for a bit, but I didn't realize it was almost 2 weeks. I've been busy coordinating work on our new house. It's the house I grew up in and it hasn't had any real work (or much upkeep for that matter) in years. This is what it looks like now. We're adding AC, finishing the attic as my new studio, putting in new windows, etc, etc, etc. And that's on the inside of the house--the lawn has been left to grow unmown for almost 2 years, and needs major TLC. We did manage to put in several fruit trees, tho and now just have to wait for them to make fruit. Remodeling never seems to be finished, there's always SOMETHING that needs redone.

In the meantime, as a stress-reliever I've spun up some of my Posy Toes sock batts and made socks. I used the first method on my instruction sheet so that there would be subtle stripes of color. Then I Navaho-plied so the striping would be maintained, and knit the socks toe-up on US #2 needles. They're a bit difficult to photograph because of the fine glitter blended into the wool, but they are soft, warm and very comfortable. And, as you can see, the wild violets are blooming in my yard!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I have a new camera!!

I finally finished researching digicams and found what I wanted for the price I was willing to pay. Drove over to the local big-box electronics store and picked one up, in addition to buying a new PDA. Just have to knuckle down and read over the camera brochure before I'm up and clicking--so exciting to have a new toy.

I've also been carding more sock batts and putting them up on Etsy. Long hours standing at the drum carder, but it's fun to see the colors develop. I've saved one Lunaria colorway for myself as I need some black/cream dress socks and these will certainly fill the bill. BTW, I've been blessed with a good fiber friend who now carries my fiber and sock yarns in her store. If you're in the Pittsburgh area, stop in to Natural Stitches and pick up my stuff without having to pay S&H charges.

Off to play with the new gadgets.....

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hills and valleys

We took a break today and went to our favorite honey farm down in WV. It's a lovely drive, especially when the Ohio River is high and looks like liquid glass in the spring sunshine. It's also on the top of one of the many ridges in the area, and it's quite a bit of fun to drive those roads in my little red sportscoupe. And I remembered how different it was living in the Netherlands where everything is flat, flat, flat with endless horizons--sort of like our American Midwest. I also remembered how I felt slightly nervous in that environment, a bit insecure and 'out in the open'. Someone from Ft. Wayne, IN once told me that she'd found that folks from flatlands didn't feel uncomfortable in mountains, but folks raised in the mountains tended to miss them when in flatlands. It recalled for me phrases like, "nestled in the valley" and "tucked into a hollow". I wonder if we 'hill people' feel comforted by the idea of being nestled and tucked, a little like being held in the palm of a very large and safe hand--if there is danger, we are protected from it by the big surrounding hills. Is that why I'm a bit nervous when out I find myself in a flat landscape? Or are my eyes/brain feeling bored by the unrelieved flatness? (I don't think so, as there's plenty of houses/trees/wildlife to see). Just an interesting train of thought, ruminating on our internal programming.....

Someday I'll buy a replacement camera (I've been using the hubster's when I can steal it away) and get more photos up here. But for now, we'll have to settle for verbal imagery.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Carder-dependant batts? Minor rant follows....

Maggie asks me what type of carder I use to create my batts, and I've been asked this question several times this week. I looked carefully at carders when I was ready to buy, as I'd been using an old Clemes & Clemes (anybody around here that remembers them back in the 80s?). The C&C was built for the days when we didn't have fine fleece or exotics available to us non-commercial processors. However, I needed a machine that would handle fine fibers and novelty stuff, and there are many carders out there that would do the job I wanted. I choose my carder out of several I considered because.....the shipping was fastest and cheapest on this one! And I gotta say, "Folks, it's not the carder that makes the batts, it's the operator." Any carder that will handle finer fibers/exotics will make nice batts, but you gotta know how to choose and prepare the fiber beforehand. True, you need to look for the features you want (motorized, large capacity, changeable drums, etc), BUT if you're looking for the carder to do all the work it just ain't gonna happen. Clean wool, nicely opened out, blended several times with whatever if you're blending, will yield nice batts.

Methinks that maybe I should add a carding class to my repertoire?

Edited on April 10: Ouch! Must have been a bad day if I started ranting about inanimate machines. Sorry about that...