Aug 31
Not So Labor Day
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Yesterday, Scott and I spent about 4 hours cleaning out the garage, and tomorrow we are planning to spend some time cleaning Studio A, but that is all the work I have planned for this Labor Day holiday. The rest of my time has been spent plying two 8 ounce bobbins together (it is taking forever!), spinning (3 lovely hours of it at the Indianapolis Art Center today), more plying, and warping a loom (tomorrow afternoon).

Indianapolis Art Center is an absolutely beautiful facility along White River, just off of College Avenue at 67th Street in Indianapolis. The grounds consist of lovely, flower bed lined walkways, a deck that extends out over the river bed, lots of shade from large, mature trees and beauty for the mind and soul.


This was taken today from below the deck and looks west along White River toward the College Avenue bridge. The weather was wonderful today and you can see how blue the sky was. Scott is planning to try a water color of this scene in the near future.

Don’t you just love this picture? I am fascinated with the way the shadow of the flower he is feeding from can be seen through his wings.

I fell in love with the colors of these flowers against the green of the leaves. I will have to weave something from this colorway – which is the reason I took the picture. I think the Green-Purple-Orange triad is my favorite colorway, and the touches of red, pink and yellow in this really enhance the vibrancy of this flower. I don’t know what it is, but it will be woven into something one day.

This also has a color scheme that I really love and that I will use to weave fabric from or, perhaps, make a quilt with these colors. The possibilities are wonderfully endless when it comes to using the colors found in the world around us.

And this view was just too cool not to take. I’ve always been fascinated with doorways, windows into other places and tunnels. This is the “View Through the Crooked House” and gets my overactive imagination going. Again, this picture, both in color and theme, suggests ideas to me and may one day end up in something I make. For now, though, I am enjoying the whimsey of it.

And, then, there is the reason we were at the Indianpolis Art Center in the first place. Scott rarely misses one of these sessions and the effect they have had on his art has been amazing!

The feeling I get from weekends like this is nothing short of sheer contentment. If I were a cat, you’d be able to hear me purr from across the room.

Aug 29
It’s done!
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I was very tired when I got home from work yesterday, so I opted to finish knitting on the Happy Blanket instead of finishing the newsletter. My brain was beyond the fatigue level and I was afraid I’d just mess up what I had done on the newsletter so far and I’d rather not risk that.

So, the Happy Blanket is finished. I’ve even started to weave in the ends. This weekend, I’ll finish that and get it blocked. Then I’ll take a picture or two of it and let you see it in all its glory. And, best yet, it fits Scott! He covered up with it last night and it goes from his chin to over his feet.

Scott and I have much planned this weekend, and one of my plans is to get the Harrisville loom warped with one of the painted warps and start weaving, again. I really am missing throwing the ol’ shuttle around and watching the pattern of the fabric I am creating grow on the loom. I may even begin warping it tomorrow evening.

Also, I am going to ply all the bobbins of the Sandlewood merino to free the bobbins up for other top I want to spin. I can’t wait to show you some of these! I have been collecting several colorful tops and rovings in a variety of wool-types and blends to play with. I’m not tired of the Sandlewood merino in the least, but I want to keep it that way, so a break now and again will keep me fresh at it.

I hope you have a lovely Labor Day weekend (at least for those of you here in the US). It’s supposed to be great weather here and I’m glad. Scott and I have new side mirrors on our bikes, and I want to test them out on a few short trips.

Aug 28
Time out
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I’m sorry for not writing more right now, but this has been an exceptionally busy week, both at work and after. I should be able to get the SWIFT Newsletter ready for the printer tonight and I still have a couple of items for the Johnny Saturn site to write tonight and tomorrow night.

One positive item, though! I volunteered to help edit and proofread Syne Mitchell’s WeaveZine and she has contacted me to help with the upcoming issue. One more item to my list of things to do before Saturday, but I am going to enjoy this very much. I love this magazine and if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend checking it out. And if you don’t weave, she had a knitting pattern in the summer issue that matches something woven, so you knitters will find this interesting as well. Not to mention the wonderful, creative ideas in it!

Another managine I read from cover to cover is Wild Fibers. This is exotic fiber from all over the world reported from its own location. I’d love to have her travel budget, but she works hard for it and it shows. First class writing, photography and wonderful stories!

Aug 26
Weaving Class and Saturnday
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I have a very busy autumn ahead of me this year, but it is the type of busy I enjoy to no end.

For starters, I have Dye Day on October 13th that I’m hosting and I will be spending the last couple of weeks of September preparing for it. I always look forward to Dye Day. It is a tremendous amount of work, but I love watching people experience first hand the colors that can be obtained by nature.

Then beginning Saturday, October 18th, and running for the next 5 Saturdays (6 total), I am teaching another Beginning Weaving Class at The Trading Post for Fiber Artists in Pendleton. This time, though, I have a brand new classroom facility to use with lots of room and natural light. I am so excited I can hardly wait! The last Beginning Weaving Class I taught this past winter was such fun. If you are interesting in taking this class, this look to the right under Events and you will see a link to the information on this class. I probably will be teaching another one this winter as well.

Currently, I am putting together the August issue of the SWIFT Newsletter and I hope to have it to the printer on Friday. This issue is about the State Fair, mostly, and will contain a list of those who won ribbons on their various fiber-related entries. It is always interesting to see that my friends have won.

On another note, beginning this Saturday, August 30, 2008, background stories behind the Johnny Saturn Saga will be serialized weekly. The first story, “Being Johnny Saturn” was written by me and Scott is providing an illustration for each installation of the stories. There have been several background stories written by both Scott and I and these answer some of the questions from the comic book itself. Eventually, these short stories will be gathered together and printed in an anthology to go with the Johnny Saturn Trilogy in graphic novel format.

I hope you enjoy the stories and if you are in the area on October 13th, I’d love to see you at Dye Day.

Aug 24
Resurfacing
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After about 4.5 hours of sleep Friday night, I got up and drove to Indianapolis and boarded a bus for Chicago that was sponsored by Mass Ave Yarn Shop here in Indy. The bus wasn’t even on the road, yet, when the knitting needles were out and various projects in various stages of completeness were being worked on. I always find it interesting what other people are creating, in what materials, and for whom or for what reason – everything from sweet and precious baby sweaters to funky and eclectic scarves and from the softest wool to the wildest synthetic blends.

This year, Stitches Midwest had moved from the Rosemont Convention Center to the Renaissance Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. I like the facilities better as they were less warehouse styled and more hotel styled. I believe the room for the vendors was larger, too, and the food available was a HUGE improvement over the fair available at Rosemont.

Back to the vendors’ room. My friend Sandy and I had stated that we’d like to see the whole place one time before buying anything, but barring that, we’d like to make it longer that the first aisle, at least. We’ll, we did make it past the first aisle, but barely. On the second aisle, I broke down and purchased 8 ounces of 64’s merino top in eight different colors (one ounce per color) in lovely greens, browns with a deep purple and black in it as well from the Village Spinning and Weaving Shop. I immediately saw the four two-ply skeins that are to come out of it. I cannot wait to get out the spinning wheel for these lovelies!

Sandy made it a little longer than me, but not by much.

I really was proud of myself. With the economy being as tight as it is and with my gasoline, propane gas, and grocery bills climbing to areas that make me cringe just thinking about, I took an amount of cash and stayed within my budget. I spent less than $100 and I believe I got my money’s worth. Besides the merino top, I bought a DVD on advanced spinning (I’m ready to take my spinning to the next level) and which was nearly half my budget, 5 Picture Jasper buttons (a semi-precious stone) from Color in Stitches for a vest fabric I want to weave (the buttons remind me of the cave drawings found in France), an itty bitty sheep figure that will have the top of my desk at work to wander over each day (okay, I’ve never said I was all grown up!) some Pony wool needles (with a loop at the top instead of and eye – great for weaving in ends and tapestry weaving), the 2009 Never Not Knitting calendar from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,

At the Windy Valley Muskox booth, Sandy and I fell into conversation with a gentleman named Ron, who immediately plunked a 100% qiviut scarf in my hands. I have to say, it was light as a feather and soft as a cloud. But $90 for a one ounce ball is a bit out of my range at the moment. Of course, $90 is a LOT less than the $325 it was four years ago. They had some wonderful blends there, but I had spent most of my budget already, and they were outside the amount I had remaining. Then, my friend, Sandy bought me a one ounce ball of a 15% qiviuk/80% extrafine merino/5% silk blend in a heavenly green color. This booth also had some one ounce balls of Vicuna yarn for $300 each – lovely, soft, but way outside my budget at this time. One day though…

Later, after we had looked the place over, I was down to $5 and Sandy decided she wanted to go back to the second aisle to purchase some laceweight yarn she had seen earlier, we ran into the same salesman, Ron, with whom we had spoken at the Windy Valley Muskox booth and he told us about and showed us some buffalo yarn that his company, 2hl Buffalo Ranch & Co., produces – they actually own the bison the fiber comes from! He ended up talking Sandy into a skein of this yarn in a lovely color. He then noticed my shirt that proclaimed I was a weaver, and we made a deal that I will tell you more about later when things come together and everything is organized. Let’s just say, it’s is a wonderful opportunity for me as a weaver and a great opportunity for him as a bison fiber producer and seller.

As a dyer, I took this trip as the opportunity to see what colors were most in dominance. I would say colors in what I would call the High Autumn theme. Lots of deep oranges, deep reds, dark purples, golds, greens, and some of the most beautiful shades of brown I have ever seen – a very warm color way. I saw very little pastels and VERY little neon and brights that have been predominate these last few years. I am excited about the colors coming up and these are my favorites of them all.

The styles, too, were more classic than I’ve seen in a year or so. Sure there were some interesting patterns in unusual styles, but, for the most part, I saw classic sweaters, cardigans, shawls, scarves and jackets, with beautiful cables, lace and colors. These are items that will be in style and be staples of anyone’s wardrobe for years to come. This is good for as much work as these garments contain. These are the items destined to become heirlooms.

On the bus trip home, most of the people slept, but I purposely made myself stay awake and knit on the Happy Blanket – I am so close to being done, I am getting anxious to finish it. Needless to say, though, I was happy to see my bed last night.

I wish I could have brought you pictures, but Stitches has a very strict “No Photographs” policy and I, for one, did not want to get kicked out of the place. I do not blame them for this policy in the least, but it is still sad that I couldn’t show those who cannot attend these events just how lovely they are.

I understand that next year, Stitches Midwest will be in September, which is good for me as Wizard World Chicago is in August again. Two trips to Chicago in one month is a bit much even for me. And I highly recommend taking the bus. Then you can knit and/or sleep and leave the driving and traffic to someone else.

Aug 22
Alice Cooper and Stitches Midwest
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Once again, I have a rather busy schedule ahead of me this weekend. Tomorrow night, at the White River State Park, Scott and I and a couple of friends are going to the Alice Cooper concert. While I’m not a fan of Alice Cooper, really, Scott is and the ticket prices were very reasonable. I will be taking my sock to work on before the show starts and before it gets too dark to see to knit.

Then, Saturday… My friend, Sandy, and I are taking a bus to Chicago (along with LOTS of others) to attend Stitches Midwest. I am seriously looking forward to this! A whole, HUGE room full of yarns, roving, tools, books, DVD’s, wonderful knitted samples, patterns, buttons, and all things knitterly and fibery, and all day to spend in it. It rarely gets better than this!

I will be wearing a darkish orange shirt with a woven pattern embroidered on the front and the Word “Weave” on it about 4 times (the same shirt I was wearing in the picture with Jennette Fulda at the State Fair a couple of weeks ago). If you see me, stop me and introduce yourself! I look forward to meeting everyone. If you see some especially scrumptious top for spinning, please be so kind as to point me in the right direction.

I’ll let you know how it all went when I resurface on Sunday.

Aug 21
Dye Day 2008
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This year will mark my third year as hosting the annual Dye Day event here in central Indiana. Over 25 years ago, a wonderful lady named, Marsha Mussman, began hosting Dye Days annually on Columbus Day on her beautiful farm near Danville, Indiana. Where the Dye Day event was actually held was back on her property where she had restored a log cabin and log barn, and which was conveniently situated beside a larg pond. It seems the days were cooler then, and I can remember starting the fires and hauling water with gloves and a coat on.

After all those years of giving back to the fiber community these wonderful and educational experiences, Marsha decided that she was ready to retire from hosting it. During the last four years of her rein, I acted as her apprentice, learning all I could and helping her prepare for it. The last two years she hosted it, she left the entire set up to me while she fed her flock of sheep and herd of cattle. Before she announced her retirement, she had offered me the opportunity to continue these events. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.

I had no place to host them, though, and was looking around for a good location. I had settled on having to hold them at Mounds State Park in Anderson, Indiana, when Susan Markle offered me her farm for them. I remember looking around at her wonderful farm with its HUGE historic bank barn, its llamas and alpacas in the front pasture, its tree shaded spaces, its shelterhouse and the ideal area to build the fires. Humbled, I said I would love to have them at her farm.

And history has been made. 2006 marked the first year, and we had absolutely lovely weather. Then, last year, we prayed for sunny skies as well, and God complied. He also gave us a high that day of 91 degrees. Thank Heavens I had purchased awnings in case we needed to shelter the fire area from any rain we might get. This year, I have instructed everyone to pray for sunny skies–and cool weather. Highs in the 60’s would be perfect!

I have added Dye Day information under the Events page and I added under Dye Day in the Galleries section pictures of the previous two Dye Day events. As you can tell, we enjoyed ourselves very much and got some great colors.

If you live near enough to Pendleton, Indiana, or are going to be in the area on Monday, October 13, 2008, you are cordially invited to join us for a day of fiber, color and friendship…And some good food as well! This is a FREE event! Please read through the instructions for preparing for the day, as well as the rules and regulations. Mordants will be added to the dye pots, so if you just want to bring fiber, yarn or fabric, that will work just fine. Small samples will be allowed in the dye pots at first until everyone has had a chance to play, then it will be a free for all. If you are bringing roving, please sew it loosely into some netting before entering it into the pots. And, please, use some form of tag to indicate which skein is yours. The Dye Day instructions will help you with that.

If you have any questions about Dye Day, I have an email address set aside for just that purpose. It is dyedayindiana aT yAhOo dOT CoM. I think you should understand this email address. I’m just trying to keep the spambot from picking it up and slamming me with offers of various products and services I do not need.

I hope you can come!

Aug 19
What am I doing?
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Let’s see, I have a painted warp…

No, wait! I also have a painted half warp! OooooKay!

I have yarn for the weft of the painted warp…

I have yarn for the rest of the warp for the painted half one. The blue is also the weft.

I have a loom (Harrisville 22” 4 harness)…

I have a warping board…

I have a nice end feed shuttle and empty pirns…

What am I missing? Oh, yes!

TIME!

This week, weekend and the next week will not see me doing anything with these fun and wonderful items. Since I have a three day weekend coming up the last weekend of the month, I will set time aside to warp the loom with one of these warps – I don’t know which, yet – and I will weave it all in one week. Then I will warp the loom again with the other and weave it all in one week. These are three yard warps only, so weaving them off should take only about 3 hours each. I will then finish these into towels and two towels will be going to someone as a thank you gift. I can’t say whom, because I believe she reads this blog, and I want to surprise this person.

Then, I have to start preparing looms for the class I will begin teaching in October. It’s a good thing I really don’t mind warping looms.

Aug 18
Busy Weekend in Retrospect
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The weekend was as busy as I thought it would be, but what a fun kind of busy!

Gen Con was VERY crowded and most of it seemed to be rooms and rooms of gaming tables. These we ignored. What Scott and I wanted to see was the Exhibition Hall and how they had it set up. We had heard rumors, but we wanted to see for ourselves before deciding whether or not to rent a table at future events here.

The rumors we heard were true. Comic book sellers were scattered in among the dealers area and Artists Alley was specifically for those who sold art and art only. It was set up like a small gallery – not at all what we are interested in doing. For us to be among the dealers with any comic book that might be of interest to gamers would cost us $600 for the table – twice what it costs for a table in Artists Alley at Wizard World Chicago, and that is high enough. Also, what we produce and sell would be of very little interest to those who attend Gen Con. It’s a gamers’ marketplace and superhero comics would garner barely a glance.

That being said, both Scott and I wore our Johnny Saturn T-shirts (making us walking billboards for our comic) and we got a lot of attention for them – more than we had expected. In fact, the T-shirt caused one game retailer to ask us about our comic, whereby we pulled a graphic novel out of my bag and handed it to him. He glanced through it, asked a couple of questions, then asked “How much?” Yes-siree-Bob, we sold a graphic novel to someone trying to sell us a roll-playing game. Those T-shirts just keep paying for themselves!!!

Saturday night, we went to a local artist’s house where we met several other local artists, ate a wonderful supper of grilled chicken and fresh, garden grown vegetables, then gathered together in the living room for a night of figure drawing. The model, Marla, is not only one of the best models in the City, but one of the sweetest people you’d ever want to meet. I sat to one side and spun on the merino wool and enjoyed the creative ambience and conversation. We left about 11:00 and got to bed at about midnight.

Sunday, we drove to a small, wide spot-in-the-road called Millersburg, close to Paoli, Indiana, where we met for the Wininger Family Reunion. Lots of food, great music with Larry Wininger, Troy Qualkinbush, my Dad (Clinton Crowder) and Branden Crowder playing Bluegrass and old Gospel music for us after a huge meal. All of this under a huge beech tree on top of a ridge in southern Indiana. The weather could not have been more pleasant.

I brought out my spinning wheel, and a lot of my relatives had to come over and check out what I was doing and ask tons of questions. I guarantee they went home having learned something. Also, Scott took out his sketchbook and began sketching people and the beech tree, and before we knew it, younger cousins of mine had hunted out paper and pencils and were following his example, all the while keeping an eye on what Scott was drawing. It was good for the parents to hear that one could make a living at art, even if the way is a bit rough going. One cousin in particular borrowed his grandmother’s video camera, video taped me spinning for several minutes, then parked himself behind Scott and videotaped him drawing. He was one of those who found paper and pencil and drew while listening to the music. I noticed he stuck pretty close to Scott the rest of the afternoon.

Then, on the way home last night, we stopped at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub and met with the Indy Webcomics Guild. There was a lot of networking, note sharing and ideas being shunted back and forth in a near cacophony of voices. I sat, listened, knitted on a sock, and, occasionally put my two-cents worth in, but for the most part let those around me talk. It broke up about 9:00 with the younger crowd going on to listen to some music somewhere and Scott and I going home.

I am proud of Scott and me. It has been a long road toward our socializing more and the whole comic book thing has really brought Scott out of his shell. We enjoyed it so much, we will be doing more of it, but I am a tired lady this morning as I head back to the work week. An educational weekend, to be sure, but we did have lots of fun. I managed to nearly fill another 8 oz bobbin (honestly, that’s what these Lendrum Woolie-Winder bobbins hold with the finess that this merino wants to spin) and I got quite a bit of knitting done on my sock. Not bad for someone who spent nearly 6 hours driving yesterday and most of Saturday walking around a convention.

Aug 15
Busy Weekend
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Well, it has gone from a potentially relaxed weekend of working on the studios to a very jam-packed weekend of not being at home.

Some friends of ours were give four tickets to Gen Con this weekend, and they passed two of the tickets our way, so tomorrow, we are going to Gen Con. Now, this is a show we’ve wanted to check out to see if we want to get a table to sell some of Scott’s fantasy art and the new, upcoming fantasy comic book we have in the works. Here is our golden opportunity to check it out. The last time Scott was at Gen Con, it was still in Wisconsin and we were barely married.

Then tomorrow night, we have been invited to go to a local artist’s house for a cookout and some art. She has hired one of the best models in the city to model for them and the weather is to be absolutely perfect for it. I’ll take my spinning wheel and get in a couple of hours of much needed spinning while we are there.

Sunday, we are driving about 3 hours south of our house to a family reunion on my side of the family. This particular family reunion is attended by several family member musicians and there will be an afternoon of Bluegrass and Gospel music. I’ll take my spinning wheel there and spin and talk to the rhythm of the music. AND this is the German side of the family, so the amount of food will be enormous – litterally groaning tables here.

Then, on the way home Sunday night, we’ll be stopping at a pub in Indianapolis for an Indy Webcomics Guild meeting.

Our cat is really going to miss us, but I should have some of the spinning on the merino done. Next week, I’ll ply up all I have spun, then set it aside while I spin up some yarn to sell. I have been asked about my selling my homespun so many times, that I need to get some inventory in storage to show people and put up in my store here of the website.

So, I’ll be talking to you again on Monday and report on all the fun from the weekend!

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