Sunday, April 30, 2006

it's not what you see

It's what you don't see.

What you do see here is the way cool result of an indigo dyeing demo at the CT Sheep, Wool, and Fiber Festival yesterday. Folks brought their own fiber/yarn for some time in the dye pot. The best part about dyeing with indigo is that the fiber comes out of the pot sort of a greenish-yellow, as on the left in the pic above, but then reacts with oxygen to turn the most gorgeous shades of blue. We put in some yet-to-be-spun fiber that will be the main part of a knit or felted hat, and the novelty yarn that Scott and Leah spun, which will be the folded up brim of the hat.

What you don't see is Scott and Leah in their glory among other spinners, participating in a demo of spinning novelty yarns, and pawing the luscious alpaca and angora and other ultra-soft and beautifully dyed (or natural) fibers. You don't see Jesse enjoying the dog trials or helping folks set up their booths or romping with Colin. You don't see the ox cart rides and kid activities, or the fantastically entertaining musical performers, or the steady stream of friends that we ran into during the day. You don't see us camped out for the afternoon in the sunshine, listening to the live music and tales, visiting with old and new friends, spinning and knitting and oh so content. It's impossible to catch that kind of day in a snapshot, so I didn't even try, but it was Good. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 28, 2006


I never thought I'd say this...

I'm using spiffy beady stitch markers and I love them. Leah made some from Scott's lampwork beads in the past week or so and encouraged me to give them a try while working on her sweater made of Scott's handspun. To my surprise, I like 'em a lot.

Here's another set Leah made from Scott's dichroic beads.

I thought they'd be heavy. They're not.

I thought they'd get tangled. They don't.

I thought they were just foofy and pointless when a scrap of yarn, tied in a circle, serves the purpose just as well. This may be true, but stockinette can get a little dull and we all get our kicks where we can.

Meanwhile, the sweater is coming along nicely. I cobbled together the pattern using Jackie Fee's Sweater Workshop book. In the pattern panel, I changed the K2togB directions to SSK and think the stitches are cleaner and more symmetrical that way. Only 4 more inches to underarm level, where I'll attach the sleeves. Three cheers for speedy knitting for small humans!
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Sunday, April 23, 2006

spring cleaning, beadmaker style

This morning we cleaned out our big stash of beads and made a whopping 93 sets to donate to the HOPE Bracelet Project of Project Mercy. Whew, that's a lotta beads!

p.s. Somebody asked exactly how many beads, so we added them up and it's a grand total of 663 beads! Man, it takes a lot of practice beads to become a decent beadmaker! Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 21, 2006

sourdough ohhh!

Yes, this is a picture of bread, but not just any bread. These are loaves of sourdough and 7-grain bread, baked in our wood-fired earth oven on this fantastic spring day. The crusts are thick and chewy. The inside of the sourdough is light and holey. The grainy bread is incredible, with a toasted, smokey flavor. This is the first time that we've loaded the oven multiple times to bake breads on one firing and had success with each bake!

And yes, I arranged the loaves in this basket and took them outside for a photo shoot in the sunshine. Because I'm just that queer and this bread is that good! Posted by Picasa

beads up, spirits up

What a great day yesterday was. I realized early on that if I pushed hard in the morning, I could have most of the day free to soak up the sunshine with my munchkins. We finished some little projects around the house, read a lot under the grape arbor, made flower crowns, weeded the flower garden, and knit a bit. Leah was at a friend's for the evening. Jesse and Scott went fly fishing at our favorite pond. I put together a package for my Gram and put some new beads up on Glastonbury Glassworks. Still can't get Blogger to play nice with Paypal, so there are no Buy buttons. I don't think that's a big deal, but I'll keep looking for a
solution. I did start a Bead Archive, though, because even though some things are no longer available, I think it's worthwhile to still have their pictures up for browsing. Also got us set up with Bloglines and Blogarithm, and will work on figuring out the RSS/XML feed stuff next. But first, there's darn good potential for another day of sunshine and simple pleasures...
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

bearfoot buddies

On this glorious spring day, Leah put the finishing touches on the stuffed bear she knit for the Mother Bear Project. She followed the simple pattern to knit this toy herself. He's a cuddly, happy guy. She realizes, though, that the hats she knits and crochets for the Dulaan Project might be a bit more practical, so she has decided to get back to knitting hats and wants to learn how to knit mittens for the people of Mongolia. The Dulaan Project has lots of easy patterns, so I think we'll start tonight and learn together how to knit mittens! Posted by Picasa

random is as random does

You just never know what sorts of goings-on are in motion here. Often it seems mellow on the surface, as in the case of this relatively leisurely week, but upon a little reflection, lots of random, but memorable, things seem to bubble up.

Like the two pairs of socks that were given as gifts and a third pair, knit from the toe up with a short row heel (new techniques for me) nearly finished.

And the experiments in making a phonograph out of a straight pin and cardboard cone.

And the water bottle carrier that was knit in checkerboard pattern and gifted before I could snap a picture of it.

And entertainment from the Time Warp Trio, Artemis Fowl, and Brothers Grimm.

And the beginnings of a sweater (see below) for Leah, using Scott's homespun yarn, with a "pattern" calculated from Jackie Fee's Sweater Workshop book.

And speaking of random, my work topics in the past week or so have included Kansas State and Colorado college football, origins of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, Bluecoats drum corps, methamphetamine, Pat Tillman, and the Aventure Sports Institute.

And yesterday there was some prep work for adventures in solar-powered natural dyeing.

And identification of minerals that included use of a black light and assorted tests.

And I'm not quite sure when this event took place in the past couple of days, but below you see one of the pictures that popped up when I uploaded pics from the camera. Apparently Jesse joined the mob and Leah had her first communion...or they got married...or something.
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Monday, April 17, 2006

eggs and beans and fish

Scott left Friday to meet up with his buddies for the annual camping trip in celebration of opening day of trout season. Jesse and Leah and Zach dyed eggs together and made some beauties -- drizzled dye delights, masking tape masterpieces, hatching dinosaur egg, and even some that looked like watercolors.

We were out bright and early on Saturday to do the downtown Boston portion of the Freedom Trail. Much, much walking, but we've always meant to do this and I'm psyched that we finally did. The trees were in bloom and the weather was perfect. Surprisingly, the Granary Burying Ground, a mosaic and drawing at the site of the first public school, and the Old South Meeting House were the most interesting locations for us all. Will definitely need to return to Beantown to do the Charlestown portion of the trail.

As always, the kids love-love-loved the eagerly anticipated egg hunt at my mom's on Sunday morning. That Easter Bunny gets more clever every year -- they were busy hunting eggs for well over an hour! Home again to quickly gather up some warm clothes for the kids, then Scott swung by to pick them up. Scott and two of the other guys came back to the campground with their kids to continue camping and fishing and riding bikes and having a BLAST together. They all came home today -- dirty and smelling like campfire and smiling nonstop. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 13, 2006

insert imagination here

Today you will need to use your imagination. Imagine pretty beads. Lots of them. Really super pretty ones. Florals and dichroics and foils, focals and sets. You need to imagine them because that's what we had, a big bunch fresh out of the kiln, strung up this morning with plans to snap their pics and post later today. But while Scott was out, he swung by Beads East, as requested by the owner. He had sold some beads to her store back when he was a fairly new beadmaker, and she recognized him when he was there recently to buy some findings. Upon showing her what he has to offer now, she bought just about every set that got put in the box this morning...and a few more too. So the beadmakerbaker is very happy and psyched to get back to the torch to replenish his stock, and the bead photographer promises to snap pictures faster next time! Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 10, 2006

a multifaceted art adventure

Yesterday's jaunt included a repeat visit to the Boott Cotton Mills and Lowell National Park. We went there a couple of years ago and didn't have nearly enough time to see all the things we wanted to see. Since Scott was headed through that area anyway, we joined him for the ride and he made a short detour to drop us off in the morning and pick us up again on his way home. This place has something to please everyone. For Jesse, there's the water power, canals, trolleys, trains, and rows of clackety-clacking weaving looms powered by many axles and belts running overhead. For Leah, there's the fiber aspect, the big carding/spinning/weaving machines and resultant fabrics, many of which were used in elaborate and elegant dresses of the time. For both of them, there's a tabletop loom that could've kept them busy for hours. They started out taking turns (as above). True to form, it became clear that Leah's interest was in the woven fabric produced and Jesse's was in the mechanics of the loom, so eventually they settled in to their "specialized" functions, her doing the weaving, him controlling the levers that determine the weave pattern. (What are those things called, anyway? Sheesh, we have much to learn!) Luckily for us, it was not busy at the exhibits, so they got to weave as a team until their growling stomachs helped them realize it was picnic-time. Picnic in a park along the canals was a pure delight on this beautiful spring day, followed by a short tour through a boarding house for the mill workers, which tied in nicely with Lyddie, a story we read recently, based on life at the Lowell Mills. Trolley ride back across town and we rounded the afternoon out with a visit to the very cool Revolving Museum.

Scott, meanwhile, was enjoying an afternoon in New Hampshire with fellow glass artists. As always, he came out of there totally pumped about lampwork and new things he'd like to try.

Then, while listening to Cast-On podcast in the evening, we got a kick out of hearing a promo for Spindlicity, the online spinning magazine for which Leah is writing a series of Farm to Fabric articles! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Heart-stopping moment last night, but first I must say that all 4 members of this family had a thoroughly enjoyable time yesterday, as evidenced by Jesse's proclamation that "this is turning out to be one of the best days ever!"

The heart-stopping moment came at what should have been a relaxing time in the evening. I'm up to armhole level on my Philosopher's Wool cardigan sweater, toodling along with knitting the body tube over the past couple of months, knowing that eventually I have to do something called a steek. I've never done a steek before, but I was confident that I'd figure it out when the time came. So, I came to the armhole level yesterday and didn't quite understand the instructions that came with the kit, so I decided to read in more detail in the Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified book. La la la la la... Gasp! I knew I needed to steek/cut the center front for a cardigan, but what's this about a single purl stitch that should have been made on every round, all along?! Okay, okay,, I guess I could drop a stitch, let it run all the way down, and then painstakingly purl it back up to make my steek line...right? Please?! guidance...ooh, a whole section on how to fix mistakes...
Oh, thank FSM! No purl row needed! Okay, onward and upward into the land of armhole steeks! No fear! :-)

But first, a family romp with textiles and pyromaniacs. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 08, 2006

and they're off!

After oodles of preparation and much anticipation, Leah and Scott are on their way to sell wool, glass, and soap goodies at the La Leche League conference in Cromwell today. I wonder how many other vendors will have a spinning wheel behind their table to keep them occupied during quiet moments. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 07, 2006

bead blizzard

Lots of beady (and other) activity here lately. It took me a while to tweak it, but I've pretty much accomplished what I wanted to with the revamped Glastonbury Glassworks, using blog format to make it waaayyy easier to update frequently. More to come there, but it's off to a solid start.

We made a bunch of soap and wool goodies for the La Leche League conference tomorrow, especially mamabead pendants, which will be sold as a fundraiser for United Families for Midwifery Care.

We've also been stringing up some of the newest sets of beads to get them ready for the Glass Bead Extravaganza. Some truly gorgeous sets coming up. It's fun to see them all together and roll them around in my hands!

We decided to make a little "What Is Lampwork?" display for the LLL conference because it seems that the most difficult thing to convey is that Scott actually melts the glass and makes the beads themselves. Hopefully our small display, with a written definition of lampwork and a vase of glass rods, will help people to understand.
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Thursday, April 06, 2006

meet Woolter

5 straight days of romping with friends cannot be summed up in a picture or two, so you'll just have to trust me that there has been much fun of late. The lack of knitting that results does not feed the blog, though, so luckily the crafty family continues to provide blog fodder.

First, in this house we're firm believers in happy accidents, a la Bob Ross, so when a green wool ball-in-progress accidentally became a multi-appendaged mutant, we decided to turn it into something fun. We're also fans of Insubordiknit's Monster Hats, so it seemed only natural that when I was on my way out the door for beverages with buddies last weekend, I suggested the family amuse themselves by making this ball into a "googly-eyed thing with big freaky mouth." Came home that evening to find this lovely being on the counter, with a note introducing himself as Woolter. :-) Yes, we know it's weird and we like it that way, thank you very much.

The sign language class I'm taking with Paige has the whole family in on the fun, in accordance with my evil plan. The ASL book from a similar class that I took in 1979 (yowza!) has become our constant companion so we can look up signs as we need them. We're also having a blast browsing through this awesome site.

Scott started plying the tencel/merino that we bought at Pixie Sticks and it's absolutely luscious! He still says the tencel is a bit slippery to spin, but after feeling and seeing this perfectly balanced skein of yarn, he agrees it's worth the effort. Yeah!!

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

cosmic curriculum or coincidence?

Is it just a funny coincidence that yesterday we made these:

And today another site dropped this link into our lives?

I think not. :-) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 01, 2006

ode to Leo

All this talk about Leonardo daVinci's contribution to the modern spinning wheel and the next thing you know, Scott decided to give some of our fiber a whirl...whorl. Heh heh. Oh, never mind.

Scroll down to the March 4 entry of this blog to see the loose fiber, bought at Pixie Sticks, that Scott is blending at random intervals to make this yarn. The tencel gives it a beautiful sheen. Scott's down now with the illness that's making its way through our family, and he's finding the slippery tencel to be a bit of a challenge for him, but even he is tickled with the way it's turning out.

While I've been sick this week, all I could muster was the energy to knit on some socks. Couldn't think clearly enough to trust myself with the stranding on my Philosopher's Wool sweater, but socks I could handle. Somewhere in the haze that was this week, I helped Leah cast on for her first pair of socks too, in an awesome purple-green Socks that Rock colorway. And Jesse, in his own creative way and inspired by an Edison bio read earlier this week, is working on a concoction in his laboratory (er, treehouse) that he hopes will eventually become a new power source. He's also working on becoming a golfer and guitarist this week. :-)

Off to pick the Goob up from a sleepover and then to Nutmeg Spinners Guild. Whee !!! Posted by Picasa