Aug 20

Because I took so many pictures that are just too interesting not to share, I am splitting this into two posts like usual.  Today is the set up, and tomorrow will be the win portion.

Let’s start with the teams:

Youth teams – there were four of them, and they all were from Conner Prairie.  Once again, Sue Payne’s mentorship paid dividends, but in more ways than one as you will see later.

Team 1:

Silent Spinners team

The Silent Spinners.  Each member of the team chose a silent screen actress to become and their costumes were amazing.  Two of the costumes have a real history behind them as they originally belonged to Sue Payne’s grandmother.  One I failed to get a good picture of (the green satin PJs worn by the weaver), but the other…

Sues dress

Isn’t this dress stunning?  Printed crepe with black Spanish lace.  The young lady wearing it loved it and I can tell she was going to hate giving it up at the end of the event.  And it fits her like it was made for her.

Wonder Wheels Team

The second team was the Wonder Wheels based on characters from Alice in Wonderland.  And yes, the Red Queen was wearing a real hoop skirt while spinning.  Awesome!

Lady Bugs Team

The third team was the Lady-Bugs of the Wheel and, even though you can’t see it, one of the spinners even had a Ladybug spinning wheel from Schacht.

Lady Bugs Sample Scarves

I really loved their practice scarves, especially the one on the far right, which they used as the basis for their competition scarf as you will see.

Pirates Team

Of course, no competition would be complete without the infamous Pirates of the Treadle, the all boys team.

Pirates Sample Scarves

And their sample scarves.  I really like that right one with its indigo stripe down the middle.

Now, I’ll introduce the two adult teams.  The first team is a very special one and everyone was so glad they were there.  This is where Sue Payne’s previous mentorship comes in – all of the team members are former Conner Prairie Youth Team members.

Dream Team team

The Dream Team.  The young man is a former Pirate, so the girls obviously managed to civilize him. :)

Serendipity team

The other adult team was Serendipity with John Salamone as the weaver.

Serendipity yarn1

I loved that they brought skeins of hand-spun yarns to show off.

Serendipity yarn3

They were all so beautiful, but…

Serendipity yarn2

… I really love that left-hand skein spun by Mary Van Hook.  She said she had three total.  Hmmm…

Just to give you a teaser of what is coming tomorrow, I’ll give you a sneak peek of their scarves/shawls.

Silent Spinner 1st glance

The Silent Spinners – you can see a glimpse of the green, satin PJ’s that once belonged to Sue Payne’s grandmother here.

Wonder Wheels 1st glance

Wonder Wheels

Lady Bugs 1st Glance

Lady-Bugs – Isn’t that pattern with its colors just delightful?

Pirates 1st glance

Pirates – a nice and masculine scarf.

Dream Team 1st glance

The Dream Team from underneath.  She had just advanced the loom and there wasn’t enough on top to give you a good look at it.

Serendipity 1st glance

And Serendipity’s.

Tomorrow, I’ll pick up where the team take them from the looms through the auction process.  Same bat time, same bat channel.

Aug 18

I can tell that, over time, my focus on what I look at and purchase at fiber fairs has changed. Until a couple of years ago, I was all about yarn, books and spinning fiber for myself. Now? It’s all about the animals and their fleeces.

We had reserved three fleeces from Moonshadow Farm, and ended up purchasing another CVM from them because it was just too pretty to pass up (Thank you Sandy for spotting it). These were dropped off at Ohio Valley for processing:


Romney/Corriedale cross.  It has a really nice luster to it.


Pure CVM



I had taken up four other fleeces (2 Clun Forest to be processed separately and 2 Cheviot/Perendale crosses to be processed together) and those had already been dropped off when we picked up seven bags of processed fiber to take back home. Those that we picked up were: a sweet gray alpaca, Cotswold, BFL, Babydoll Southdowns. White Horned Dorset (2 bags) and a very rare black Horned Dorset.

Why is the black Horned Dorset so rare? Well, technically, there are no colored Horned Dorsets. This ewe, named Marley, was born to a mother who was white, a father who was white and whose twin sister was white. Either sometime way back in the past a sneaky ram got into the flock who was not a Horned Dorset, or there is a color mutation that developed to produce Marley. Either way, while Marley is registered, none of her lambs can be even if they are born white. Too bad, because, as a hand spinner, I much prefer natural colored fleeces. I’ll get pictures of these fibers taken tonight and up into the shop in the next couple of days.

So, while we were there, we looked a fleeces and animals searching for just the right ones to add to our selection of those for sale. We did purchase other fleeces, but the animals were too much for my camera. Take a look!

sweet shetland ram

The closest one to the camera and I became good friends.  I reached through and gently rubbed him under his chin and on the side of his face and his tail went 90 mph.  He was such a sweetie and look at those lovely horns and his pretty face.

another shetland ram

Another nice looking Shetland ram.  Doesn’t it look like he had just finished some chocolate ice cream?

icelandic ram

This Icelandic ram has a wonderful fleece on him.  Really, I would love to have his next shearing – and I have a picture of the farm sign he is from, too, so I might get my wish.

magnificent horns

And doesn’t he have such a noble head?

two pretty pygoras

When we got to the tents where the fiber animals were, the Pygora show was going on.  I apologize for the yellowy tint to these shots, but it was a yellow-striped tent over head.  I loved these two and they posed so nicely for me.

pygora goat1

Another sweet, light-gray Pygora.  Just look at the fiber!

pygora kid

And this kid was just as pretty.

sweet pygora

This one was getting ready to go into the show ring.  Sandy fell in love with its upright, tufty tail.  It almost looks like someone pinned a feather to its butt.

Type C Pygors

The very first Type C Pygora I have ever seen.  The owner and I talked for several minutes and she told me that this goat tested as cashmere.  It was so soft!!

big scary world

And, folks, it’s a scary world out there for a wee kid.

So, we had a wonderful time at the Michigan Fiber Festival this year. Keep your fingers crossed and say a few prayers that we will be selected to vend there next year. That would be wonderful!

Aug 15
Upright Flatfoot
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 08 15th, 2014| icon31 Comment »

I think it is because of the Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel and the 2-2 rib that this sock can do this.

upright flatfoot

Cool, huh?

I’m on the cuff of this first sock and, on the way back from Michigan Fiber Festival, Sandy is going to drive so I can get the heel done and onto the leg with the second sock.  It ended up being a bit long for my foot, but I am really happy with both the toe and the heel on this.  I’ll just make the foot of the next pair about an inch shorter.

Wait until you see how different the 2nd sock looks – and all I did was start knitting on the outside of the ball whereas the first one was knit from the inside.

Aug 14

Sorry I’ve taken so long to get this written, but between work, teaching and a bad stretch of insomnia, I just haven’t been able to do anything extra.


This first thing we did upon arriving at the fair Saturday morning was head to the sheep barn to watch a couple of favorite kids show their Shetlands – they would be the middle two kids in this picture.  The one is red (E) won 2nd place, and the one to her left (our right) is her sister (L) and she got 4th even though the judge wanted to give her 3rd.  She made two rather critical errors, though, and got nicked for them.  She’s young, though, and she will know better next time.  Her sheep, Elsie, has a fleece to love.  They are going to show it next year at the state fair, and they know I now have dibs on it if L decides she wants to sell it.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


Then we walked around to check out some of the sheep there.  This lovely Tunis Ewe was waiting with her sisters before they were to go into the show ring for the Showmanship competition.  I love spinning Tunis.

After that, we watched some college girls’ pole vaulting until the Home and Family Arts Building opened.  While Scott was checking out the art downstairs, I got to see what people have been creating.

GC costume

This won exactly what it deserved.  There were other beautiful costumes there, but this one easily beat them all.  The work on the hat alone was enough to make me drool, but the pleating on the spencer was lovely.

textile display

I really loved the display cabinet next to where SWIFT (Spinners and Weavers of Indiana – Fiber and Textiles) demonstrated spinning and weaving.  I think they pretty much covered it all here.


Rug hooking is one thing I have yet to learn (and, yes, I probably will one day just to say I’ve done it), and I admire all of the designs and colors in these.  Starstruck Cat Studios in Greenwood has classes on this and, one day, I’m going to give in and take a class.

celtic knot quilt

Of course, there were lots and lots of quilts hanging from the second floor railing and this one really caught my eye.  You can’t really see it in the photo, but the knot design really goes over and under where the intersections are.  Beautiful!!


This lovely secretary got first place for a reason.  My, my, it was sweet.  It’s bigger than the antique one I have at home and I love all those little drawers and cubby holes.


I adore pottery and these antique ones had me drooling.  Goodness, I love to have ones like these (but newer so I can actually use them and not be afraid of breaking one).

SM GC single

Susan Markle of The Trading Post for Fiber Arts in Pendleton, Indiana, received Grand Champion on her hand spun singles and she deserved it.  They are fine, consistent and just the right amount of twist.  I wonder what she is going to make with it.

silage cutting

Over on the other side of the fair ground is the Pioneer Village, and Scott and I always spend a lot of time here.  This is a silage cutter driven by a belt from the Farmall tractor (BTW, my maternal grandfather had a tractor just like this one).

corn sheller

Next was a corn sheller driven by machinery mounted on an old pick-up truck.  It sure beat the way we did it when I was a kid – hated those thumb blisters.  I wish we had had one like this.

steam tractor

This steam engine was a favorite with Scott and I.  Scott has an alcohol fuel model of one very similar to this that his grandfather bought for him when he was a kid.  Scott still has the box and everything for it.  This one had a belt running to a…


…sawmill.  It was fun watching the bed slide back and forth so that the blade cut the log into planks.


Isn’t this wee tractor cute?

scroll saw

Inside the Pioneer Village building were several craftsmen and women working.  This man was using a beautifully made scroll saw and was cutting out puzzle pieces.

puzzle front

This is the front of one such puzzle.  It was about 6 X 8 inches.

puzzle back

And this is the back of that same puzzle.  Look at the shape of the pieces as they followed the details of the picture on the front.  He even did these types of puzzles the size of large postage stamps and they were just as intricately cut out.  He showed me a blade he used to cut the postage size puzzle pieces with and said it was 80/10,000ths of an inch.  It was so fine and so tiny that I could not see the teeth on it, although I could feel them when I ran my finger along the edge.  Wow!

yarn winder

Another man was making these yarn winders and was tickled pink when I knew what they were.  Most people thought they were spinning wheels.  Sigh…  We still have a long ways to go in educating the population on what is really important.  :)

corn row width

And, I learned something while I was there.  I did not know this.  I would love to be able to discuss this with Pappy, my maternal grandfather.  He loved telling stories about farming with horse drawn implements back before and during WWII.  I miss him.

pb quilt

Lovely quilts, don’t you think?


This man was knapping flints into arrowheads, knife blades, axe heads and such, and had several for sale there.  We drooled over them, but, in the end, decided it was a want and not a need and left them for others to buy.

That pretty much sums up what all we did at the state fair on Saturday.  I can’t wait to go back this Sunday for the Sheep to Shawl competition.


Aug 13

I have added two classes and one workshop to my teaching schedule at Starstruck Cat Studio in Greenwood, Indiana.

Beginning sock knitting class – Three Monday nights in a row, September 8, 15 and 22nd.

Beginning 4-Harness Weaving Workshop – October 10-12.

How to Buy a Fleece and What to do with it once you get it home class – Saturday, November 1st.

All three have limited space, so if you are interested in them, please contact Starstruck Cat Studio as soon as possible to make sure you can get into them.




Aug 11

I’m having issues with my laptop.  First, it got stuck downloading my pictures from my camera, then it wouldn’t let me process anything in Photoshop without the computer locking up.  So, I did a disk clean-up and a defrag (which took almost 10 hours to do its thing).  I am hoping that tonight it will behave and let me get the pictures processed and uploaded.

One thing of which I didn’t get pictures, so I can talk about it separately, was my trip to the Wool Room at the sheep barn (Blue Ribbon Pavilion).  I have been able to find some great fleeces to purchase there in the past and I wanted to see what was for sale there this year.  Most of the fleeces I looked at had way too much VM for me to even consider.  One had a bad case of scurf, which made it completely unacceptable.  One was a deep black, Shetland lamb fleece with no VM in it.  I pulled a lock off to strength test it and it snapped in two with hardly a tug.  I dug through it and tested another lock.  Same thing.  I have never seen such a brittle fleece.  It was too bad because there wasn’t a white bit in it and it was a good, true black.  I was heart-broken for the owners of it because it was good only for mulch.

So, I bought no fleeces there this year.  Too bad, too, as I really like giving local shepherds first dibs on my fleece budget.  I guess I’ll have to see what MFF has for us.

Aug 6
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Support Your Local... | icon4 08 6th, 2014| icon32 Comments »

You know that I told people that if they bought a spindle at the fair that I would teach them how to spin. Well, most of those people who brought a spindle back had purchased them from David Shepherd at Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking, who was across the aisle and a couple booths to the left of us. I have no idea how many people bought from him because of this, but it must have been several because David gave me this as a thank you.


This is one of his mini’s and it weighs only .6 of an ounce, perfect for spinning lace weight. I love it that he puts the year it was made on the shaft.  I’ll be giving this a whirl!

Also, David and I got to talking about some of his needle stands, and between the two of us doing measurements and looking over the best way to set them up, he is going to create a lazy-kate for spindles. I asked for a cherry one, so when he gets it done, I’ll test out the prototype and we’ll see where we can go from there. This is pretty exciting.

I love fiber fairs and festivals. The people there love what they do so much and are always looking for a better, more efficient way to do what we love doing.

Aug 4

While not a busy show, Sandy and I did have fun at the Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair. There were no other vendors who sold what we sell, and we sold a lot of fiber.

One thing I noticed was the number of people who would walk by our booth, touch the fiber and say they wanted to learn how to spin, but didn’t know where to start. And I got an idea! I told them that if they bought a spindle at the show, I would get them started spinning on it. And several people took me up on it. I lost count how many people I sat with for about 15 minutes, and when I was done, they were off and spinning their first single. They also had my business card for when they have questions, and I do hope they ask me when they get stuck.  And they bought fiber from us to practice with. We have several lovely Corriedales that are perfect for beginning spinners. They all draft beautifully and are just the right amount of crimp to spin easily. I really hope I have started several people onto a life time’s pleasure of spinning their own yarn.


This is not all of the fiber we took.


This was behind the table, too.


We had this taped to the table next to our menu board, and it got a lot of laughs.  People like knowing they are free to pet the wool, and I love the comments of “I’d like a bed made out of that,” or “Ooo!  That’s soft!!”

On Saturday night, several vendors met at a local Tumbleweeds restaurant (Tex-Mex) and we had supper together. Lots and lots of laughter, information exchanged and friends made during that delightful meal. I wish more fiber events did this.

Half a block from our hotel was an Econo-Lodge and the poor vendors who stayed there had some interesting stories to tell of things that did not work and the amount of beer cans left in the hallways each morning. Sandy and I stayed at Holiday Inn Express and we compared notes with them. I will say that the Holiday Inn Express in Heath, Ohio, while an older hotel, was clean, everything worked perfectly, and the staff were very nice. I think those staying at the Econo-Lodge this year are going to be staying at the Holiday Inn Express next year, especially when they found out a full, hot breakfast was included in the price.


Our booth. We were pleased with our location, and having three sides exposed to people walking by made it very nice.

And here are some shots of the rest of the vendors taken before the fair opened Sunday morning.




I love, it – wool Christmas Ornaments!













Almost looks good enough to eat, don’t they?


Now, that’s a lot of talent!


Sandy’s all ready!


Jul 31

Right now, about the only time I get to knit is on my lunch hours, but I eat fast and can knit quite a bit for the rest of the hour.

making progress

I didn’t get to knit yesterday, but on Tuesday, I added about 1.5″ to my sock.  We’ll see after today’s lunch.

I have one questions for those of you who knit toe-up socks.  When do you start the heel?  I’m doing the Sweet Tomato Heel for this sock, but I have no idea when I need to begin it.  Help!!!

Don’t forget that Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair is this weekend in Newark, Ohio.  Dyed in the Wool will be there and Sandy and I’d love to meet those who live in that area or who drive over for a day of fibery fun.

2014 MOFF postcard

Have a great day!!

Jul 29

Several years ago, I tried to knit a sock from the toe up, but the “wrap & turn” technique just left holes along side the toe and I gave up long before I reached the heel.  I hated it!  Last night, I got onto Youtube and tried Judy’s Magic Cast On and used the “knit one in the front and back of the same stitch” technique of increasing to give it another try.  Why?  Because I’d like to knit socks with more of my handspun without risking running out of yarn and toe up is the best chance for this.

Gynx Fairy

I am really pleased with how this turned out.  There are no holes along the toe increases and I am now on the foot portion with a 2-2 rib on the top.  When I get to the heel, I plan to use Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel.

By the way, the yarn I am using is from Gynx Yarns and it is her Fairy colorway on her Strong Sock base. And if you like podcasts, Gynx’s are really good!!

gynx label

I fell in love with this color in her shop a year or so ago, and am just now getting around to knitting it into socks.  Just for information’s sake, I cast on 6 on each of two needles using Judy’s Magic Cast On and increased up to 64 stitches using size 2 needles.  I’ve tried them on and they fit pretty good over the toe and onto the foot.  I like having ribbing on the top of the foot to give it a snugger fit without having to drop to smaller needles, but if I do plain old stockinette feet, I drop down to a size 1 or 1.5.

One thing Scott and I share is a passion for learning.  We’ve watched nearly all of the Time Team episodes on YouTube and have gotten a real education on British archaeology.  Also, I have been watching documentaries on cooking, dressing and the lives of real people from Tudor times up through WWII. I’ll gather up the links of the documentaries I have been watching and get them posted.  I just wish the US was as good at things types of things as the British are.

There are a lot more things I want to learn how to do.  Now just to find the time. :)

« Previous Entries