Friday, March 31, 2006


This is a followup to post earlier today (see below).

That daVinci info had me poking through our old pictures to see if the spinning wheel was part of the exhibit we saw in Venice or the time we saw it again in Florence. I don't have a picture of it, but here's one of Jesse enjoying the working models at The daVinci Experience in Florence in 2004.

And this, which has nothing to do with anything...I flip through People magazine about once every 5 years. I have no idea what possessed me to pick up a recent issue at one of my clients' offices yesterday. I randomly flipped open to a page and there was a pic of Sharon Stone (who dat, anyway?) standing with this same gladiator guy in front of these same Spanish Steps in Rome. :-)

And if that's all not random enough, I'll add this little tidbit: I believe that this shot was taken only a few hours before Bren's Birkenstock went on its own little trip, all by itself, on the Rome subway train. It's amazing they let people like us leave the safety of our own homes. ha! Posted by Picasa

the daVinci connection

My favorite tinkerer, Jesse, was reading about his favorite tinkerer, Leonardo daVinci, in a book we bought at a daVinci exhibit in Venice a few years ago. He noticed something that looks like a spinning wheel among the illustrations and pointed it out to his favorite spinners, Leah and Scott. So we let our fingers do the walking and, sure enough, ol' Leo is generally credited with coming up with the first flyer mechanism and treadles for spinning wheels! Like many of his ideas, these didn't actually come to life until many years later, but they're recorded in his sketches. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Yesterday we spent a delightful sunny springtime morning with the Woolybuns angora rabbits who will be the topic of Leah's second Spindlicity article. Chris answered all our questions, let us watch the shearing process and snuggle with her oh-so-soft babies, and sent us on our merry way with a big bag of spinnable angora fluff (blended with shetland wool) that's indescribably soft. Leah and Scott are both looking forward to spinning it up and knitting it into something -- Leah says a scarf and Scott says a liner for his winter hat -- maybe both! Jesse got to carefully snuggle one of the littlest babies, only a couple of weeks old, and then decided he was just as happy romping with Chris' dog, whose boundless energy was a good match for an 11-year-old boy. The forsythia surrounding Chris' yard are on the verge of blooming and we had fun peering at the woods along the highway to spot the teensiest traces of buds on the trees, while listening to a book on cd about Australian Aborigines.

Kids then headed off for a sleepover with friends. I'm not sure who was more excited -- us or them! ;-) Scott spent the evening melting glass and I relaxed with my knitting, in between bronchitic coughing spells and sniffles. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 27, 2006

simply weaving

Leah was watching over my shoulder as I clicked through some blogs last night. The picture of a triangular loom here caught her attention, so we read the post together, then headed off for bed. A little while later, I heard her scurry to my office, open and close a desk drawer, then skedaddle back to her room.

She popped up bright and early this morning with these. First try was obviously too loose, but a mighty fine woven piece on second try.

Amazing what a creative kiddo can do with yarn, thumb tacks, a removable wooden shelf, and the time to experiment. :-) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 26, 2006

status report

Here's how my Philosopher's Wool sweater looks now. 2 sleeves done. Body about halfway done. I'm lovin' it.

And here's how the reincarnated Glastonbury Glassworks looks today. Still lots of tweaking to be done, but this should make it easier for me to update. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

bargello and batik

After a couple of days where no glass would go his way, yesterday Scott came up with these: Beads of copper green and cobalt, with some shimmery silvery-gray devitrification in batik lentil and bargello vessel styles. These were worth the wait. :-) Posted by Picasa

recipe for synergy

Biography of a struggling inventor.
Capsela waterproof motorized components.
Rechargeable batteries.
Straightened paper clips.
Trigger power mechanism from some other toy.

Mix ingredients thoroughly after an enormously fun day of romping in the sunshine and woods with friends.

Add a healthy dose of longstanding interest in all things steam-powered.

Simmer ideas at a low boil for a couple of hours.

Serve up one incredibly jazzed young man, garnished with a big smile with imaginative plans and enthusiasm.

Inventor synergy: The whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. Posted by Picasa

"Mom, I want to die tonight."


Oh, dye! You want to dye some handspun yarn tonight?

Okay, that we can do. :-) Posted by Picasa


Lately we've had a squirrely housemate whose late night parties are in conflict with our early to bed, early to rise lifestyle. If he was paying rent, we might have allowed him to stay and continue to build his nut mountain empire in the corner of the attic, but he's a freeloader, so Wednesday was eviction day.

Since we don't own a ladder tall enough to reach what we think is Mr. Scurry's front door from the outside, we decided to tackle the issue from inside. And since I'm apparently not the only one in this house who is unable to leave well enough alone, it was determined that this was the time to do something we've been thinking about doing for a long time -- cutting a doorway between the original attic and the attic that's over the addition on the back end of our house. Ooh, power tools, filth, and the faintly perilous challenges of trotting around on unsecured plywood without misstepping through a ceiling -- the men in this house were ecstatic.

Did you know that taking a reciprocating saw to a beam in the attic of an old house causes the whole structure to vibrate in a way that makes life quite interesting for inhabitants trying to eke out a living by focusing on a computer screen? Did you also know that it poses a challenge for inhabitants recovering from a cold and laryngitis by quietly working on a cross stitch project while listening to Black Beauty as a book on cd?

Anyway, Mr. Scurry's access has been blocked, much filth was had by all who enjoy such things, we again captured an image of sawdust snow squall, and there's only a teensy new crack in the ceiling of my bedroom where a certain somebody's foot just barely missed the plywood.

It's all good. Except for the persistent rapping on the windows at night from some fuzzy dude whispering, "Hey, roomies, I forgot my key. Let me in!" Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

beauty and the beast

Still having a good time with photoshop and some new beads. I put together a couple of new necklaces the other night -- fun to play with stringing the random style.

I'm all moved back into my spiffy fresh office and oh so happy about it. And, you know, since I can't just leave well enough alone, I decided it was time to make a mighty big mess of a perfectly good chair, in the hope that someday soon I would be able to say that I know how to do reupholstery. At this point all I know is how to make a mighty big mess. :-) Reminds me of when we first moved into this crazy ol' house and I came home from a trip to Pittsburgh with just a little bit of pent up energy after all that time in the car and decided right then and there to destroy our hideous upstairs bathroom. When that was done, I was tired and went to bed. And when I woke up in the morning I realized that I had no idea how to reconstruct a bathroom. We've come a long way in our renovation self-education, baby! Fingers crossed that someday soon I'll be able to say the same about upholstery because I sure do...well, this chair!

 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 18, 2006

fun with photoshop

 Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 17, 2006

keep it clean

My soapmaking buddy, Jesse, and I were busy Wednesday evening, mixing up the first batches of soap with springtime fragrances. I was interested in soapmaking for years before I actually learned how (thanks, Diane C!), but I held off because of the oh-so-scary lye and the presence of a toddler in the household. Now, of course, I know that the Big Bad Lye warnings are a little overblown and I think it's cool that the little boy has become a young man who is an experienced and enthusiastic soapmaker. All that mixing is definitely more fun with a partner. Mmmm...the fragrances! Posted by Picasa

on the flip side

This is the inside of a sweater I made for Jesse a few years ago. The stranding was done in the best way I knew how at the time, just picking up whichever color I needed to use and letting the rest float along behind until it was needed. Made for some tangled skeins of yarn, but I was lucky and the floats weren't too long on this pattern.

Then I learned two-handed Fair Isle technique from a free video on the Philosopher's Wool website. No long floats, no tangled skeins, much faster and neater technique, and a nicely woven knit fabric as a result.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Sometimes he's an inventor,

Sometimes he's an engineer,

and he's always ALL boy!

a designing girl

The designer herself is modeling these lovely water bottle carriers, knit in the round on 2 circular needles, with a crocheted strap. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 09, 2006

finished objects

Handknit socks -- Opal 6-ply, Socks That Rock, and Opal.

Shiny upstairs floors -- sanded, patched, stained, faux finished (in areas), and polyurethaned. Posted by Picasa

the treasure bins strike again

A brand new tie-dye kit has emerged from Nora's Magical Hand-Me-Down Treasure Bins,

so now we have 4 "new" shirts and rainbow dyed handspun yarn! Wow, is that fun -- messy, but fun!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Saturday spin-out

Yesterday marked the end of something very special. It was the last Saturday spin-in to be hosted by Adams Farm. We’ve been to about six of these events since the beginning of our spinning adventure back in December and have loved every second we’ve spent there. The ride up is even enjoyable, once we get past Springfield, although it does get a little dangerous at about exit 18, where Webs is, since our car mysteriously pulls in that direction and causes us to veer off the highway at that point. A little yarn-fortified tune-up (yesterday’s in the form of Silky Wool and Misti Alpaca) and we’re able to continue northward.

Yesterday’s ride was enhanced by a Narnia book on tape. Jesse was especially looking forward to playing with his favorite feather-footed chickens and milking the goats again. Scott was tickled by the response to his Autumn Maples yarn and Leah was equally happy to show off her Purple Cloud handspun (above). The workshop was on how to spin chunky yarns, but segued into different plying techniques, dehairing fibers, upcoming spinning events elsewhere, and drawing from the fold.

Leah got a kick out of seeing her Spindlicity article, in full color, posted on the wall of the fiber area (to the right of the Dionis dyes). As always, we delighted in Elizabeth’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and support. We’ll miss her and Jenna, and spin-in regulars Cindy and Sue too, but will look forward to crossing paths with them all again!

Friday knit in

Morning romp with pals in Willimantic, evening romp with more pals in Tolland at a thoroughly pleasant Pixie Sticks knit nite. There was much dancing and eating and laughing and pawing of fibers. I came home with this luscious combination of merino and tencel, which Scott will spin into something shimmery and heavenly, to eventually maybe be knit into a sweater for me. :-) Audrey has a great description of the evening at her blog. Posted by Picasa

shoulder relocation surgery

My mom knit this poncho for Bren last Christmas, but the shoulders were too wide, so I was asked to fix it. Since it’s knit top down, I certainly didn’t want to take it apart all the way up to the shoulders and then have to re-knit the whole thing, so I pondered a while. Finally came up with a plan.

Threaded lifeline yarn above and below the row where I was planning to cut, then snipped a thread of the in-between row and un-knit that row. This was more time-consuming than I expected because the wool had somewhat felted together since originally being knit. So then I had an upper piece and a lower piece. Set lower piece aside.

Took apart the upper piece to the place where the shoulders should be, tearing out about 8" of knitting. Inserted needle at that row and began knitting down, shaping the shoulders in a narrower position and continuing down, increasing every other row until the numbers of stitches on the lowermost row of the top portion matched the number of stitches on the lifelined row of the bottom portion. (My mom actually re-knit most of these rows because the chunky needles and weight of the project made my hands hurt.)

Grafted the top portion to the bottom portion. Repositioned dichroic bead “buttons” and gave Bren back her poncho with relocated shoulders!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Spring Spindlicity's up and Leah's in it!

Leah's first article for Spindlicity came out today! I can't do a direct link to her page, but go to Spindlicity, click on Table of Contents, scroll down to Kidspin, and her article is Farm to Fabric - Merino Sheep.

She's not up yet this morning, but I know she'll squeal with delight when she sees it. By bedtime last night, she had almost finished the water bottle carrier she started earlier in the day. She was trying an I-cord strap, but she had trouble doing that consistently, so I'm going to show her how to do a crocheted spiral strap instead. This is actually a big deal because it's the first time she has agreed that a bit of her knitting wasn't going quite right and that it should be ripped out. In the past, she's always just plowed through with the boo-boos intact, but now I think she's comfortable enough with her knitting to know when something's not up to par. I remember one episode of Cast-On mentioned that the biggest difference between new knitters and more experienced knitters is willingness to have a re-do, and it's cool to see Leah moving to that next level.

Meanwhile, in a mind-boggling moment yesterday, Jesse asked me to show him how to knit! He did a few stitches before dinnertime and wasn't too thrilled with how awkward it was, but said that he'd like to try crocheting today instead. :-)

In the lampwork department, Scott's jewelry and bead listings are all now up at The Collective. We confirmed yesterday that he'll also be an exhibitor at the Glass Bead Extravaganza and the Connecticut La Leche League Conference, where he'll sell his mamabeads as a fundraiser for CT midwives.