Thursday, September 26, 2013

I have an article in the upcoming Yarnmaker Magazine, #16! and a mini-holiday in Upstate New York

Now that the magazine has gone to the printers, I can let it be known that I've written an article on making rolags on a blending board. I had a blast playing with my board and spinning up the results. It was so much fun spinning woolen yarn quickly that I also designed a set of warm fingerless mitts to accompany the article. I made the mitts in the Bleeding Hearts colorway but decided I liked the idea of using the four elements as color inspiration, so have four rolag colorways available--Earth, Air, Water and Fire. Taking it one step further, I have a matching earwarmer pattern in the shop, and it will shortly appear in my Ravelry shop. The Elemental Earwarmer takes about an ounce of rolags, and the Elemental Mitts require about 1-1/2 ounces. It's a quick spin and a quick knit for holiday gifts!

This past weekend we drove up to the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival. I like to hit this festival every 2-3 years because it's good to see old friends and new fibers and equipment. We also took the bikes and went riding from our historic B&B (Adams Basin Inn) to the next town to get a cup of coffee, just 5 miles each way into beautiful Brockport. On the way back to Pittsburgh, we stopped for two days in Letchworth Park--so peaceful to spend two days without wi-fi or phones. These are views of the Middle Falls:

Our second day, we decided to take one of the hikes. It starts at the Council grounds where Mary Jemeson's cabin is located and ends at the Upper Falls. Join me for the trip:

We stayed at the Wild Iris on the park property. It was the country home of William P. Letchworth (1823-1910) and much of the interior reflects his taste. The food in the restaurant attached to the Wild Iris was wonderful! Such a lovely mini-vacation, we're planning a return trip.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Another non-topical, quick post

A quick summation of the past week, no photos as I've been very busy running around:

1.  Grand Opening of the new handmade gift shop in Latrobe, Willow Mist Boutique, is tomorrow. I'll be there with some hot hot salsa and am excited to meet folks from the area.

2.  Trying to pull the last bits together for the handspun knitting kits I want to offer in my shop. Why doesn't yarn dry as quickly when you need it NOW?

3.  Waiting to get the asbestos report (it's negative for asbestos) from the asbestos company so we can close on the in-laws house without problems. Hopefully, it will come in tomorrow's mail and that's one thing off the To Do List.

4.  I've finally gotten everything straightened out with our water well. We have hard water (no surprise for this area) about which we decided to do nothing, but there's a good bit of manganese and TSDs in the water. So filters were installed on Wednesday, after I spent Tuesday evening moving all the stuff in the basement so we'd have access to the space for the filters.

5.  Electric fencing installed around the garden late last week. Since the groundhog can't dig down under the fencing (it extends 4" underground but the animal DID once find a corner of the cyclone fence that they managed to bend enough to squeeze in), he/she started squeezing through the 1" space between the gate and fence. When we blocked THAT entrance, he/she started climbing over the 10' fence, dining on my plants, then going into panic mode and trying to dig out under the fence before they figured out that they needed to climb over the fence again to exit. This uprooted and killed several plants near the fencing. I waited to see if the electric fence was effective, as the groundhog hits the garden about every 4 days, but I need a good rain to tamp down the surrounding dirt so I can see if there's new digging. We did see him on Sunday afternoon, dining on grass in the back yard, but he's learned to run like he's on fire when he sees us because we have been known to fire a paintball gun at him. After the rain storm this week there's been no evidence of digging, no evidence of any plants being "trimmed" by the rotten little devil. Apparently, 6,000 volts is enough to discourage him...

6.  The car is certified to be in good shape for the next year. I have come to the conclusion that being stuck in garage waiting rooms with a tv that has no remote nearby is some type of devious torture inflicted on customers by disgruntled mechanics. There are several morning shows that I hope to never see or hear about ever again.

7.  Lovely cool nights are headed our way! I love love love sleeping with the windows open and have been known to open them on the warmer winter nights. Spring and fall are my absolute favorite months.

And I'm off to the studio for the afternoon, making rolags for a shop update. Have a great week and may The Force be with you!      (Yeah, I know it's a dated saying, but I'M dated, so there!)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Walking with my family

I try to get out twice a week for a nice long walk with the neighbor. We chat, investigate peoples flowers and shrubs from the roadway to see what's blooming today, compare notes on their blooms vs. our blooms, notice new cars, boats, kids toys, and wish a good morning to several others who also walk in the morning. The neighbor, who has lived here for 40 years, knows that my family has been here for 170 years and she enjoys any comments I make on the way things were before the "new houses" were built in the l960s. Lately, my neighbor hasn't been able to accompany me since she's a bit under the weather, so I took my phone with me in case I would need assistance (ya just never know when a wild deer will jump into your path or a Canada geese will fly over and do what Canada geese do so well!). And I decided to document my walk as I have always considered it a privilege to walk the same roads that my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and all their friends--except the roads were farm paths between the fields back then.

Once we leave the housing development that was built around my family home, we walk out Wallace Road--named for the gentlemen farmer/holistic physician that operated a large greenhouse/farm complex on the land the development now occupies. We make a left and enter the territory once called Cabbage Hill because it was settled by German farmers who grew vegetables and fruit for the Pittsburgh market. Winding through the hilly streets, we come to the end of Meinert Street which overlooks the Allegheny River--across the river is Lawrenceville and a lot of those buildings down there used to be steel mills. And yes, I'm related to the Meinerts 3 generations back.

Moving along, we cross a road and are presented with the Newland house, right on the corner of Newland Lane (yes, I'm related to the Newlands too!). The house once had a lovely front porch and I remember spending hours playing games and dressing dollies with my cousin Judy. Personally, I don't think the current owners did the house any justice by removing the porch and inserting that silly window on the landing.

Across the road is the reservoir that was built in 1913 on land taken from several farmers, my family included. The City of Pittsburgh decided they needed a water supply, and that it should be on the less developed north side of town. So they grabbed the land by Eminent Domain and threw 3 farm families off their land with very little compensation. Somewhere, there's a Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph article on the less-than-honest deal with a photo of my grandmother in long skirt, puffy blouse and washerwoman hairdo, standing on her front porch surrounded by little kids. The tiniest boy is my 3-year-old father.

West side of reservoir, from Newland Lane
East side of reservoir in 1913, from Koehler Street

On the far left side of the 1913 photo is Friday Road (no idea who Mr. Friday was) and many of those houses are still there.

Because the folks on Cabbage Hill were close-knit, the Newlands offered a piece of land to my family and the house was placed on logs and rolled across the street to it's present location.

The Geist house, current location sans front porch

Where the Geist house used to sit. On the right is the
 north side of the reservoir

Leaving the older section of Cabbage Hill, we return to Wallace Lane where we find visitors to the condo that sits where my mailbox was located back in 1955. I love what this lady does with her flower pots each year--she always finds coordinating flowers for the pots and somehow avoids having the local deer mow them flat. FYI, those are not deer statues in the background but one of the does with this year's fawn. I have a doe that visits my yard with her twins. She's also bold as brass and won't leave when I yell at her, they've become accustomed to treating my yard as their private meadow.

So we retrace our steps, up the slow grade on what used to be a dirt farm road between the Wallace greenhouses and their mansion, to the second house that the Wallace family built in 1911 for a brother and his family. It looks a bit different than it did in 1955.....

So, that's my weekly walk circuit, through the old farmlands and visiting with the ghosts of long-gone relatives. But that legacy of farmers who are close to the land explains my need to dig in the dirt and raise my own fruits and vegetables. And my love of making yarn, designing my own garments and then making them come to life is a direct result of the many needlewomen who passed their skills down to me. Hopefully, I've made them proud.