Aug 31
SOAR Bound!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 A Little of This, A Little of That | icon4 08 31st, 2010| icon37 Comments »

Oh. My. Goodness.  I am going to SOAR this year.  I was asked to replace a person in a group of my friends who are going because one of the group had to cancel.  I had never considered going because of the cost and taking the time off of work, but the deal was too good to turn down so, I’M GOING TO SOAR!!! 

I can hardly believe this.  Someone pinch me… On other hand, don’t because I tend to bruise easily.  I think this is going to take a few days to sink in.  I was asked a couple of weeks ago, but everything was finalized yesterday and now it is set in stone.

The Saturday Night Spin-In is on the night before Halloween and everyone is encouraged to be in costume.  I gotta think about that one.  Hmmm…   What could I go as?

Aug 30

Can you believe September will be here in just a couple of days?  I’m back to following school buses and my friends with kids in college all have quieter houses now.  It seems like summer just started a couple of weeks ago, and here we are the week before Labor Day.

Saturday, a friend of mine (named Sandy, but not to be confused with my co-worker and fiber partner Sandy) and I went to the Allen County Public Library to do some genealogical research.  When we got there, I sat up my laptop, decided on the family line I wanted to work on and took off to look at the library’s catalog of over 350,000 volumes – and that’s just in the genealogical department. 

Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that you can just go to a courthouse and ask for the information you need and bingo, there you are – back to some king from the Dark Ages.  Instead, this takes some serious time to do unless you have the $20+ per hour to hire someone else to do your research for you.  I don’t, besides I enjoy the scavenger-hunt feeling of looking for lost ancestors.

Many times when we do research together, neither of us find anything, sometimes we will find a date or confirm something we already suspected.  On very few occasions, one of us actually finds something that makes the hour and a half drive and 9 hours research worth it.  Saturday, I lucked out.  I found the maiden name of one of my female line ancestors as well as the names of her parents, their parents and the name of her paternal great-grandfather.  I got some dates, too, and found out they came from Switzerland.

Also, I found out the reason I couldn’t find further back on another line was because there was a spelling change in the surname.  I have been looking for years for Jacob Cotner in South Carolina.  What I found was that Cotner was originally Gortner and it was changed to fit how it sounded by someone whose spelling left a lot to be desired.  With that, I was able to go back two more generations, but ran into the problem of there being two men of about the same age, with the same name and I don’t know, yet, which one of these I belong to.  More research, but that’s okay.  At least I’m not staring at the same old names over and over again.

The Allen County Public Library was completely rebuilt a couple of years ago, and the new library is beautiful, well lit and well organized.  If you are interested in doing your genealogy and you live in the Midwest, I would recommend you coming to Fort. Wayne, Indiana.  Saturday, there were people there from many different states if you could go by the accents of the people.

Then, yesterday, I went to Kristy’s to help rewarp her loom.  We tried our best to do what took two days last month in one day, and we came very close, but we didn’t get it quite done.  I believe Kristy and her husband can finish it, but I like to finish what I start and I feel bad for not being able to get it done.  Her newest project of towels is in two shades of blue and white and is threaded 1-2-3-4-3-2.  If you have the book “The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory“, look on pages 72 and 72 and you’ll see what she’s planning to weave.  I think they will be very pretty.

I have a busy week ahead of me getting everything ready for Graphic Engagement at Purdue and the comic show in Lafayette.  Then Sandy and I’ll dye 20 shirts, and I plan to get at least two fleeces washed on Sunday and Monday.  People joke that I have to come to work to rest.  I laugh, too, but mostly the laugh is rueful.  I half-way agree with them.

Aug 27

It’s been two weeks since I was at the Indiana State Fair.  Since I sweltered through the Sheep to Shawl event, along with several thousand fellow fair-goers, the weather here in Indiana has changed for the better.  This week we’ve been waking to temps in the 50’s (ahhh……) and the highs in the 70’s.  It’ll be hot again over the weekend, then just in time for the work week to start again, it’ll be lovely again.

So what do I have to show for my two weeks?  Well, I’ve finished a sock…

…started its mate…

Warped a loom and wove a little.

I’ve gotten the laundry caught up – for now.

And I’ve gotten someone else to mow my yard that was quickly turning into a hay field.

But mostly, I have worked and slept.  For some reason, my energy level has been on the low side.  Knowing what I’ve got coming up in the next two and a half months, it’s just conserving energy, probably.

For example, tomorrow, a friend and I will be going to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to the second largest genealogical library in the United States for a day of research.  I have been researching my family’s history since I was 16 when my grandmother gave me her mother’s family history notes for a school project.  During this time, I have found out that I have nearly every western European country in my blood-line along with Jewish, African and Cherokee Indian.  Our wonderful president joked that he was a “mutt.”  Well, let me tell you, he ain’t got nuthin’ on me, folks.

Then, on Sunday, I’ll be heading back to Greensburg to help Kristy rewarp her loom for her next set of dishtowels as well as to check out her first batch in person.  I enjoy working with her and her husband, David, and it will be a fun day.

Of course, I’ll take pictures.

Then on Labor Day weekend, Scott and I will be at Graphic Engagement  at Purdue University on Friday as part of the round-table discussion from 3 until 4:30.  Saturday, we’ll be at Lexpo meeting all our Johnny Saturn fans, which is always fun.  Sunday, Sandy will be over for a T-shirt dyeing session, and Monday, Labor Day itself, I’ll be washing out those T-shirts and cleaning house.

And the weekend after that?  Sandy and I are going to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival!!!  We’ll drive up Friday night, shop ‘til we drop all day Saturday, then drive home on Sunday.  I cannot wait!  My LYS will have a booth there, so if you are at the Wisconsin fair that weekend, stop by The Trading Post for Fiber Arts’ booth.  Susan always has tons of the coolest spinning fibers and yarns around.

And, yes, I’ll take pictures.  🙂

Aug 24

I want to show off something really wonderful – and it’s nothing I did.

Remember last month when I went to a student’s house to give her private weaving lessons on her own loom?  Remember how we warped up her loom for her first real weaving project with 8/2 cotton for dishtowels?  Well, Kristy has been working diligently getting all of the towels woven up and she just sent me the pictures of them all washed and hemmed.

Now, tell me, does this look like the weaving of a newbie?  Look at how perfect the 45 degree angle is in the twill!  Look at how square her squares are!  I am so proud of this I could pop!

Here are all seven of the towels she wove.  I know that part, if not all, are destined to be a Christmas present for, I think, her daughter-in-law.  Lucky lady!

Kristy is all ready to rewarp her loom and I am going down there on Sunday to help her with it.  She is getting the warp all measured off so that we can dive right in with the sleying and threading when I get there.  Then, with her husband’s help, we’ll get it wound on, tied off and she’ll be ready to weave her next set.

Kristy told me that she must have been a weaver in a previous life because she loves it so much and is so comfortable doing it.  Her first project is worlds better than mine was and I am thrilled to have been a part in bringing this joy to her life.

Watch out world, Kristy is going to be a Weaver – with a capital W.

Aug 22
Weaving for Autumn
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 08 22nd, 2010| icon310 Comments »

The yarn I mentioned and showed you in this post is finally on the loom.

I love autumn colors and this range is particularly attractive to me.  My winter coat is close to the burgandy color in this, so it ought to go well with it this winter.  And if it doesn’t – too bad because it’s MINE!

Because this colorway gradually shifts from one color to the next in sequence, it was important that I keep track of the order I wound off the bobbins.

I am really looking forward to seeing how the colors shift while I am weaving it.  In some areas the patterns will show up very well and in then it should gradually sift until the pattern shows up in other areas while some all but disappear. 

This illustrates what I mean.  The weft color blends in very well on the right side of the loom, but shows up very well against the warp on the left side.  As I weave, these colors will shift, blend, and pop in different areas.  So far I am enjoying the weaving of this very much, even if it is just on my small 4-harness table-top loom. 

Actually, it is nice to be able to warp a loom and get to weave on it myself for once.  It has been over a year since I have had the chance to do this – since last year’s Weaver’s Swap fabric.  I’m a little rusty and since I have lots of weaving planned for this winter, this little scarf project is just what I need to get my weaving chops back in gear.

Other than getting this project started this morning, I have done little else this weekend.  Well, I am doing laundry, but since that seems to be a never-ending chore, it doesn’t count.  I am ALWAYS doing laundry.

This is my last free weekend until the middle of November, so I am taking full advantage of it.  We rewatched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Friday night, watched Shrek the Third last night and there has been mention of rewatching The Producers tonight.  Ahhh…  This is the life.  Now if I could get someone to mow my yard, cook my supper and finish my laundry for me.

Aug 19

You haven’t heard me mention my weight loss attempts lately.  This is mostly because, once again, I am stuck and have been for weeks.

So, a couple of weeks ago, Sandy and I attended a “gentle” yoga class as drop-ins to see if we would like it.  Since it was the first class, I had a hard time understanding parts of it, and the whole breathing thing threw me because I wanted to breathe in and out the opposite way than was instructed.  I found myself holding my breath a lot.

This class taught me that I need to take more of them.  The gentle stretching I need because flexible I am not (although I was quite flexible as a teenager and could put both ankles behind my neck and “walk” on my butt), and the core strength workouts will help my lower back troubles, but mostly I realize that my not knowing how to breathe properly while exercising means I could be getting more out of my other workouts.

So, last night I signed up for a 10 class package deal.  I can go only every other Wednesday night because BASK is on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday nights of the month and I will not miss them.  They are too important to me.  But on those nights I can go, I can take what I learn forward with me and keep practicing it each night so that the next time I go it will be easier for me.  Once I feel comfortable enough to move from the “gentle” class on into the Basic Yoga class I will.  I know several people who go to classes regularly and they love the benefits they get from it.

In this class (and I don’t know if this is with all yoga classes since I am so new at it), the last 15 minutes are dedicated to meditation with the teacher talking us through several steps.  I really enjoy these and feel that this time is important both to relax after the stretches and to relax the mind and center it on the body and spirit.

It always amazes me, though, how quickly some people fall to sleep during this.  I mean 5 minutes into the meditation and at least one person is snoring away.  I think it is sad in a way because they miss out on something special.

Do any of you practice yoga or take classes?  What do you get out of them?  What can I expect when I move up the level into the more difficult classes?  What have your experiences been?  Should I do the workouts daily or less often?

Aug 16

I think I have sweat more in one weekend that any human is supposed to.  The temperatures were in the 90’s all weekend, although we were supposed to get a break yesterday (but didn’t), and the humidity was truly unbearable.  Luckily, during the heat of the day on Saturday, Sandy and I were in the air conditioned Pioneer Our Land Pavilion, which helped some.  Yesterday, though, I was in the Opry Barn demonstrating spinning while the Sheep to Shawl competition was going on.  It must have been over 100 degrees in that barn and there was only the occassional breeze to give us any relief.

Let’s start with Saturday, though.  Sandy and I got to the fairgrounds around 9:30, unloaded her wheel in the SWIFT booth and stowed away the cart.  Next to our booth was the poultry association booth, and they had an egg chair.

So, can you tell me – which came first the Sandy or the egg?

Because the heat index was going to be well above 100, we decided to hit the animal barns first, then visit the air conditioned buildings after it got really hot.  Now, mind you, it was already over 80 degrees by the time we got there, so off we went to our favorite animal barn – the Sheep Barn.

There we saw a really lovely Columbia ewe,

and a really sweet Shetland whose fleece I wanted to take home then and there.  I mean, just look at that fleece!

Then we saw a few other sheep.

One of my favorites was this guy playing King of the Bucket.

I did take lots of other sheep pictures, but as most of them were meat breeds rather than fiber breeds, I won’t bore you with them.

From there, we went to the Hoosier Lottery stands where Sandy and I exchanged our ticket stub for free scratch-offs.  I didn’t win anything, but Sandy won $2 that she traded for two more tickets, but didn’t win anything on those.  Oh well.  We both wanted to win the $3000 because we have our eyes on some equipment that will make our fiber processing simpler.

The International Building this year was featuring Japan, and Sandy and I ended up spending an hour and a half in there. 

The dancers were high energy and fantasic!

And the drumming troup was fascinating to watch.  They had four different set ups and they worked hard and were great to watch.

While we were there, we ate a lunch of traditional Japanese food and it was much milder (and tastier in my opinion) than anything I’ve ever had in a Japanese restaurant. 

Then we went into the exposition hall and met a very nice local couple who run a screen printing business.  Lots of opportunities announced themselves in that meeting.  We were very excited to meet them and they us.  I’ll let you know more about this once we get some details worked out.

Then it was time to go and spin, which we did.  I always enjoy spinning at the state fair.  More and more people know what we are doing, and we only had a few people say that we  were sewing or weaving or called our wheels looms.  They were amazed when we showed them all the handspun and hand knitted or hand woven items that were on display around us.

The funniest things do happen with the crowd, though.  For instance, one little boy of about 7 or 8 came up to us and asked what we were doing.  We told him we were making yarn.  His eyes grew wide and he slowly backed away from us with a deer in the headlights look on his face.  Then he turned and took off.  We laughed for a long time over his reaction.

By the time 6:00 came around, we were tired and ready to go home. 

Sunday, dawned bright and very hot once again, and I was at the Opry Barn by 9:00, got my wheel set up and continued spinning on Ukulele.  Once the activity started, I managed to get some photos, then a few more times during the competition.

There were four youth teams this year, all competing to make a scarf of a certain length and width in four hours.  The looms were warped ahead of time with handspun yarn that they could dye using natural dyes if they wanted.  All of the teams did choose to dye some (or all) of their warp yarns. 

During the four hours, they have to card, spin, ply and weave a scarf between 60 and 62 inches in length and between 8 and 10 inches in width.  Only one team came in under the length, which was too bad because they would have come in second place instead of third place because of the points docked for that.

Here were the teams.

First was the Ewe Crew and this is the sign they made for their team.  I especially like the sheep at the spinning wheel on the table.

The Ewe Crew busily doing their thing.

And the weaving of the Ewe Crew scarf.  This is the scarf that was too short and should have been second place.  Too bad, really, because they did a lovely job.

Then there was the Princesses of the Treadle.  Look at the crowns on the sheep at the bottom – so cute!!

And the busy princesses in their pretty crowns.  Who says royalty don’t know how to work.  I did not get a picture of them weaving because every one I took had the weaver’s arm in the way.  They chose a very striking weave pattern and would have fared much better if their spinning had been more consistent.  They came in fourth place.

The Pirates of the Treadle were an all boy team.  These fellows won last year’s competition and were back defending their title.

A bit of last minute strategy being worked out.

The Pirates working hard.

The pirates weaving on their scarf.  Again, it was the consistency of the spinning that counted against them, but they came in second place, which was really rather good.

And then there were the Traveling Gypsies.  They dyed their entire warp using chickory and something else that I don’t remember.

Don’t you just love their costumes?  The weaver in this group had only been weaving a couple of months and I believe theirs was the least experienced group.

And the weaving on the Gypsies scarf.  Isn’t their design lovely?  The only real trouble they had was the plying.

The judges, Kate and John, worked very hard and checked over each scarf in tremendous detail.  Nothing got by their notice.

And the Traveling Gypsies won!  Don’t they look so proud!  They ought to be considering what they did.

And here are the finished scarves in order – Pirates of the Treadle, Princesses of the Treadle, The Traveling Gypsies and the Ewe Crew.

Next year I will be one of the two judges bring my knowledge of weaving in to replace professional weaver, John, who has been judging this for three years now.  I sat in with them as they reviewed each scarf this year to see what they look for and how they award the points for the different areas being judged.  I’m look forward to it.  I just hope to heaven it’s cooler next year.

Aug 13

It was another hot day in central Indiana today, and if the guys directing the parking at the state fair could have parked me further way from where I needed to be, I wouldn’t know how it could have been done.  You know, a Lendrum folding wheel is a wonderful thing, but it can get heavy after walking a mile in 93 degree weather.

The first thing I did was dump off the wheel at the SWIFT booth and head to the Home and Family Arts Building.  There, I wanted to check out how well my friends fared and what all people had done this year.

Ahhh… There they are – and such lovely things they are, too.

I think everyone outdid themselves this year.  There were lots of ribbons, wonderful skeins of handspun and the handspun/hand knit or hand woven items, and more beautiful sweaters than I could have dreamed about.  Several of the ribbons were won by my friends and the grand champion above was won by someone who deserved it.  I was very pleased with it all.

When I got back to the Pioneer Our Land Pavilion to start my stint at spinning and educating the public, I noticed two signs.

I thought, “That’s wonderful and how it should be.  Indiana’s farm should be family owned.”

And then I saw this one.

And this sign made me sad.  The average age of a farmer in Indiana should be closer to 40.  Too many of the younger generations are not growing up to be farmers and that is a scary proposition.

And here we are!  This building is air conditioned and it was very comfortable. 

On my way to my car in the northeast 40, it started to rain.  I did not carry my wheel out since I’ll be using it again tomorrow, so I just plowed on through the huge drops that fell quicker and heavier until I got to my car.  Too bad I didn’t have soap with me.

Aug 13

This afternoon, tomorrow and Sunday will find me at the Indiana State Fair.

From 2 PM until 6 PM today and tomorrow, I will be at the SWIFT booth in the Pioneer Our Land Pavilion with my spinning wheel.  I will be spinning some of the Corriedale roving called Ukulele that is in my store while there. 

Then on Sunday, I will be helping with the Sheep to Shawl from 10:00 until it is finished.  Besides being the resident correspondent and taking pictures, I will be helping to set up the equipment and assist in whatever way our wonderful chairman, Kate Larson, needs.  This will be my first time attending sheep to shawl and I am looking forward to it very much.

So, if you are coming to the Indiana State Fair, stop by the SWIFT booth in the Pioneer Our Land Pavilion this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon, or by the Sheep to Shawl in the Opry building in the pioneer village on the back side of the fairgrounds tomorrow and say hi.  I’d love to meet you!

Aug 10

Unfortunately this post is not about cooking food, but cooking people!  Goodness, gracious it’s HOT here in central Indiana.  The heat index is 99 degrees here and the humidity has dropped to 59% (from a high of 93% this morning at 6).  I usually walk each morning from 7 until 7:30 with another lady in my building at work, but not this morning.  There was a heat advisory out this morning and I heeded it.

So, what am I working at the moment?  Yup!  Wool! 

Here is where I am at on the newest pair of socks.  I love this colorway and am going to enjoy them this winter.

And here is the warp for a scarf I am getting ready to weave.  This yarn is Kauni and Susan, my LYS owner, picked it up while on a trip to Denmark.  Each ball is marked with a code for the color, but the balls don’t look alike because each is started at a different part of the color sequence.  While the yarn I am using as the warp started at a lovely copper color, the weft yarn starts at the oak-brown color, then goes through the color sequence from there.  This ought to be a very pretty and interesting scarf when I am done. 

And I have some lovely copper beads that I intend to use on the fringe to dress it up a bit.  If luck is on my side, I hope to get it woven off in the next week, then I’ll do the fringe, wet finish it, then steam press it with my press.  I think it will be perfect for the autumn, and I wear these colors quite a bit.

I’m hoping that working with these items for the cooler weather will either cool me off by thinking of crisp, cool autumn mornings, or will give ol’ Ma Nature a hint to give us a bit of a break.

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