Tuesday, May 23, 2006

party dress

While Scott was at pheresis and Jesse was rollerblading yesterday evening, Leah and I sewed a dress. She's been wanting to do this for a while and has been working up to it with doll clothes for Lucy, the Magic Cabin doll I made for her when she was a toddler. For a pattern, we used the handmade dress sent to her by a woman we met in Alaska last summer. The fabric is from my stash. It was slippery to work with, so we used lots of pins and the seams aren't quite what they should be. I'm sure we broke all the sewing rules and did a lot of things the "wrong" way, but I'm also sure she learned a lot along the way and is thrilled with the results (see spontaneous bathroom dancing above), so mission accomplished. Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 22, 2006

weekend meanderings

No, we didn't make the doo-dad above, but it seems to illustrate the past few days quite nicely. We have gone in all directions, together, in pairs, and as individuals, to try a little of this, experience a little of that, visit with this person and those folks, intermittently checking back in at home and focusing on things here too.

It all started Thursday, when a 36" floor loom, much like this, came into our lives as part of a visit to the beautiful northwest corner of Connecticut.

Then there was the sewing. The Goob has used the sewing machine off and on over the past few years, but is lately consumed with making clothes for herself and her dolls. So there have been small skirts and shirts, working up to her plan of making herself a dress very soon.

I have no idea what prompted them all, but Saturday morning there was a string of calls from old friends. Leah and I were on our way to Vermont, so we missed them, but Scott got to chat with everybody and passed along their news later in the day. Meanwhile, Leah and I spent the day at the Jamaica VT Fiber Festival and Webs for their tent sale, running into friends and acquaintances at both destinations. Hoo boy, did we come home with some fun goodies!

Scott and Jesse had an outstanding time at Armed Forces Day, Three Centuries of Soldiers and Their Weapons at the Springfield Armory in Mass. Jesse finds this place fascinating even when there's nothing special going on, so he was absolutely in his element for this big event and told me all about it, with such enthusiasm, when we were together again in the evening. If you know Jesse, read the itinerary at the link above and I'm sure you can imagine his delight. :-)

Leah was away for a sleepover on Saturday night. Scott and I bumbled our way through putting the new loom together on Sunday morning. Anybody with half a clue about weaving would've laughed at us -- the blind leading the blind -- but with the help of the internet and some library books, we think both looms are put together properly and ready to warp with the yarn from Webs.

In between all this was painting of a bathroom, installing some refinished doors, fixing basement stair treads, clearing out the fridge by making many lasagnas, that pesky work thing, getting new tires on the Jeep, and winning a $100 gift card! The second sleeve of my sweater has also been lengthened and I spent some time with an awesome weaver doing a demo on a 300-year-old loom (kids were busy with a geography puzzle/game, so they chose to stay home).

A forecast of thunderstorms and hail caused us to cancel a picnic and fishing jaunt with friends Sunday evening, so we instead fetched a triangle loom and figured out how to use it. Clever, clever, clever! At bedtime, Leah was weaving in her room and Jesse was working on a Lego safe and plans for something that involved plumbing valves and the shop vac as an air compressor, so I can't wait to see what they pop up with this morning. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

doesn't get any better than that

I mentioned yesterday that I thought we'd take advantage of the first nice day in a while by having a picnic and maybe some rollerblading. Some friends were up for a spur-of-the-moment get-together, so it ended up even better, with a picnic together at our favorite pond, kids playing on the beach and sometimes rollerblading, a bit of knitting, and a lot of fishing. The evening was beautiful and we had the pond almost to ourselves.

If you're the owner of a nearby yarn store and also happen to be newly preggers and ecstatic about it, DO NOT CLICK, but the rest of you can click the pic above to see one of the projects I'm working on lately. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

sweater update

Slowly but surely, I'm inching toward completion of my Philosopher's Wool sweater. Both sleeves are sewn on, and I picked up the stitches for the collar and knit that. At that point I decided to try it on. I was really doubtful that it would be big enough around. It is, in fact, snug, but I think opening it up into a cardigan, as planned, and adding a couple of inches on each side for the button bands will take care of that! Yeah!! I did notice, though, that the sleeves and body are a little bit shorter than I'd like them to be, so I'm taking a little detour in this process. I picked up 2 rows of stitches, snipped and picked the row in between, and separated one sleeve into upper and lower pieces. I then knit an additional pattern band onto the lower piece and grafted it back in place with the upper piece, so the sleeve is about 2" longer now.

I realized this also gives me an opportunity to easily fix my first-2-handed-fair-isle-band boo-boos when I do the other sleeve! I didn't mind the mistakes enough to fix them before, but since I need to take the sleeve apart to lengthen it anyway, I'll pick up one row of stitches above the mistakes and one row below that band, then rip out that diamond band and knit in the lengthening band and re-do the diamond band. Easy peasy now that I'm more comfortable with 2-handed knitting. Will then graft it back onto the sleeve, repeat lengthening process for body and be ready to knit the button band. Psyched! Posted by Picasa

tales from the ark

It's been raining for 40 days and 40 nights, but our ark has proven waterproof, top to bottom. Those of you who remember when we bought this ol' bomb of a house will understand when I say, "We've come a long way, baby." :-)

Along the way, there have been celebrations of Leah's 8th birthday and Mother's Day. There have been visits to the Bushnell for Lion King and Higgins Armory for a Viking Warrior demonstration. There has been reading and Carmen Sandiego geography puzzles and chess and word games and old Time magazines and flight simulator with historic planes and Time Machine book-on-tape and sign language and Nova Scotia information. There has been spinning by Scott...

and spinning by Leah...
and building of multi-featured creations by Jesse.
And now there is a loom. It obviously still needs to be cleaned up (as do the walls of the room), but it's as put together as 4 non-weavers could manage without reference material or Claire. ;-) I stopped at the library last night and picked up some weaving books, so hopefully we can get it working soon. It's funny because all 4 of us seem equally excited about this contraption, for different reasons. For Scott, it's marveling at the complexity, yet simplicity, of this homemade project. For Leah, it's the allure of creating textiles and playing with fibers in a new way. For Jesse, it's all about the knobs and levers and clackety-clack mechanical aspects of weaving. For me, it's all of the above, plus the thrill of having stumbled into this for free and launching us all into an entirely new art/history/skill to explore.

But today there's a big yellow ball in the sky and there will undoubtedly be rollerblading and a picnic! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 13, 2006

me so steeky

The kids went to Lion King with my mom last night (and loved it -- I can't wait to hear more from them when they wake up), so I took advantage of the evening to concentrate on my sweater. Believe it or not, I was not the slightest bit nervous about cutting the armhole steeks. At this point, one sleeve is just about fully sewn in place and the neckline curve has been marked out and machine sewn. Hopefully at some point today I'll get the second sleeve sewn on and then it'll be time to pick up stitches to knit the neckline ribbing! I have my doubts about whether it's going to fit, but I am enjoying this process so much that I'm fine with that and would just give it away and start myself another Philosopher's Wool sweater.

You see those boo-boos in the diamond band at the bottom of the sleeve? When I first noticed them, I decided to leave them there because 2-handed knitting was new to me and I couldn't bear to tear out my work. And now I still don't mind the errors because I figure they're a reminder of how far my knitting has come during this project. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hallmark is full of ka-ka

Here's what lies beneath the surface of a Mother's Day gift.

Need more proof? Read my blog entry from yesterday.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Sibling Spinnery

Heh heh...look what I just saw going on downstairs. Stealth pic taken after I overheard these clues:

"Leah, here's a tip on a better way to do it."
"Jesse, I have been spinning longer than you have."
"Yeah, but I'm better at it already."
"Oh no you're not. You might spin in a different way, but not a better way."
"No. It's better."
"I don't want to know your tips."

Sibling rivalry played out on spinning wheels! They might not be making peace, but at least they're making yarn. ;-) Posted by Picasa

inventor boy spins

I came downstairs this morning and noticed this new bobbin of yarn-in-progress. There's a central area of barely spun fiber wound on from the end of the session, but mostly it's an overspun-but-yes-indeed-carefully-drafted bobbin. Scott informed me that Jesse did this while listening to a book on tape yesterday! Wonders never cease. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Honey, can you pick up some laundry detergent?

I have used this detergent in Austria and Portugal and am absolutely crazy about its scent. Both times, I've brought home the leftovers from our trips and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d them out to last as long as possible and still have that fragrance on my clothes. But, see, eventually I ran out of detergent and the fragrance faded and, well, Top 20 Travel Deals dropped into my emailbox today with a decent offer for a flight to Paris, and Leah's always wanted to go to Paris and it's her birthday this week, and we didn't have anything else planned for this fall, so click click click we went and the next thing you know, we're booked for a flight to Paris with plans to then bop up to Belgium and Amsterdam!

Hey, it was either that or head back to Alaska to replenish the salmon stash, but Scott and Jesse are taking good care of us with many trout dinners lately and we're already going to Nova Scotia in June, so hopefully they'll get a good fishing fix in while we're there.

I just hope they sell Dixan in France or Belgium or Amsterdam, or else we might have a heckuva detour along the way. And that's how we ended up in Venice the first time. All those teensy little countries, so close, so tempting! :-) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Welcome to the Spinlab

Here you see our Chief Spin Tech experimenting with assorted Ashford wheel components in an attempt to prove the hypothesis that the flyer of Audrey's Joy (center wheel above -- the very cool, very compact, foldable one) sustained an injury recently. We figured parts is parts, so we'd be able to take the flyers and bearing thingamabobs off our wheels to help figure out exactly what the problem is. It took a little finagling because each of these wheels has a different configuration with slightly different features. I reviewed the lab results for confirmation of the study's validity and concurred with Chief Spin Tech's conclusion that the bearing thingamabob is fine, but the flyer's a little wonky. (Yes, we employ official technical terminology here at Spinlab.) Chief Spin Tech ran some further tests on the Joy to assess effect of wonkiness on subject's activities of daily living. Preliminary results indicate that the subject has only a minimal loss of function and does not meet criteria for disability. In other words, the Joy still spins like a dream and draws onto the bobbin fine.

In other glassy and fibery news:
- Knit nite at Pixie Sticks on Friday was fun, as always.
- Scott had a great time at the Glass Bead Extravaganza on Saturday, sold much of his work (but came home with what I think are some of his best sets -- go figure), and came home jazzed about the compliments he received and many new techniques he'd like to try.
- An excellent visit to the Quadrangle on Saturday (complete with private tour of observatory and long discussion with astronomers) was capped off by a stop at Webs.
- The body of my Philosopher's Wool sweater is finished and ready for me to cut the steeks!

 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

clearing out, gathering up

The Dulaan Project is winding down, so we gathered together the extra hats we've made lately. We were surprised to find 9 more hats, so we added their finishing touches and they're ready to go! Helps to clear out my office closet and it's a good deed done, with a total of 17 hats donated so far. Can't help but feel good about that. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

barrels R us

Scott is apparently on a barrel bead kick lately. He just emptied the kiln and every bead that was in there was a barrel! Must be because they feel so good to roll around in your hands and are so very wearable. I put a few fresh sets up on Glastonbury Glassworks this morning.

I'm fairly happy with the way the pics are coming out. The last set shown here, Garnet, was the most difficult to photograph because the color changes are very rich and subtle. It's a little frustrating because these beads are really gorgeous, but it's difficult to capture the detail and depth.

 Posted by Picasa

never know where we'll show up

Beads 2006 has just been published. We're happy to be listed in it.

This morning we got a message that Leah's bear was received by the Mother Bear Project and her picture is now on their Photos page under the Volunteer Knitters section.

 Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 01, 2006

black hot

The second day of this amazing weekend was spent at the Danbury Railway Museum for their Metalworking Hammer-In. The blacksmiths were already in action when we arrived, so Jesse hooked right up with one and was proclaimed an apprentice. Together, they made slow but steady progress on creating a hook. While waiting for the steel to reheat at one point, the very-enthusiastic-and-eager-to-be-helpful apprentice rushed to pick up a piece of metal that had dropped to the ground from another blacksmith's anvil. It was at this point that our aspiring blacksmith learned about "black hot." This is when steel is no longer red hot and glowing, but is still way too hot to be touched safely. As Jesse soaked his finger in the water bucket, the guys immediately pulled out their ice packs, vitamin E capsules, and favorite burn creams and all started to share their own first-burn/worst-burn stories. At first Jesse was obviously embarrassed and in some pain, but after a few minutes of good-natured support from the blacksmiths, I think he realized that he was just initiated into their club, in a way. :-)

Since the burned fingertip made it difficult to hold a hammer, we spent the rest of our time exploring the many train cars, watching the blacksmiths in action, speaking with a guy who was demonstrating pewter casting, exploring the train museum, and taking a short ride through the train yard, including getting off the train and standing on the last working train turntable in Connecticut as it turned 360 degrees.

We stopped at Brookfield Craft Center on the way home, to browse the many works of art in the store and especially to see Passing the Torch, an exhibit of lampwork art. We took a break by the Still River and then headed home, listening to a powerful book on tape and marveling at what a great weekend it was. Posted by Picasa