Sep 30

I managed to get the camera chip to be read by one of the computers last night, but I hated most of the pictures because this old camera wants to take blurry pictures.  Still, here are a few views of my walk yesterday at lunch.

I haven’t participated in the Colors of the Month that Life Looms Large does in a while, so these pictures are great examples of the Colors of September around here.


Here is the first tree-lined path in the cemetery I like to walk though.  It is still pretty green here in central Indiana.  I love walking here among the trees and tombstones, looking at people’s names (am I weird to think it’s funny that someone named Brown is buried next to someone named Hershey?), and watching the chipmunks and squirrels busily running around with cheeks buldging.

Yesterday, I had the place to myself, except for the chipmunks, squirrels and a few geese headed toward the river.  The air had that soft autumn feel and there were just a few clouds in the sky.


I thought this tree looked like it had recently had a frosting job done at the salon.  I have the feeling, since it has been so dry here, that we aren’t going to see the brilliant colors we normally see this fall.  Too bad, because I think this season to be the most beautiful and it is by far my favorite.

There are still a few flowers in bloom here and there,…


But most of the colors are coming from berries like these poke berries.  I came this close to gathering up a bucket full for dye day, but this makes such a fugitive day that I didn’t bother.  It looks great for a little while, but within a few weeks, the color fades to a blah beige.  Too bad, too.  It starts out as a wonderful magenta, but I can get that with Brazilwood and copper and it is a much more stable dye.


One day, I want to live in a place surrounded by forest and have a split rail fence.  I love this little corner of the cemetery.  It reminds me of Spring Mill State Park in southern Indiana as well as the woods behind both my grandparents’ places.  I feel safe and at home in the woods, hills and hollers and that is the one thing I miss about southern Indiana. 

And the good news it – I am going to get a new camera tonight!!!  Woohoo!!!

Sep 29

I took another walk yesterday at lunch, took my camera along with me, took LOTS of shots to dig through to show you how pretty it was… and cannot download them.

My camera is on its last legs and I’m about to chuck it.  It’s an old camera that Scott used to use and it wasn’t a very good one even then.  When my own camera died a few months ago, I took this one out of storage, dusted it off, and put it to work as much as it can work.  

I’ve gone so far as to price a new camera to see where I can get the best deal.  I wish I could get an SLR, but that will have to wait down the line.  It’s going to be another point and shoot.  Oh well. 

So, until I can coax my camera to give up its treasures or until I can get a new camera, my blogs are going to be less than illustrative.

Good news, though, is that Scott and I have found a local screen printer willing to print on my shirts for a reasonable price.  Scott is taking the tie-dye shirts for The Trading Post for Fiber Arts and some black T-shirts for Johnny Saturn on Friday.  We are so thrilled about this!

And, today, Sandy and I got a pound each of carbonized rayon from bamboo fiber to spin.  We’ve hear that it spins like a dream, but it’s a bear to ply because it has great memory.  So…  I was wondering if this would be best used as singles for weaving or for knitting a shawl.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  I’d love to show it to you…

Between Sandy and I, we have 5 DVD’s of different techniques to watch – from Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont, to How I Spin by Rita Buchanan, to more tie-dye patterns, to The Gentle Art of Plying by Judith McKenzie.  I’ve started watching Rita’s DVD and I was amazed at what I learned.  She’s funny, too!  I love the pig puppet!

I hope you are having a good week so far.  I am!

Sep 26

This weekend, at The Trading Post for Fiber Arts, Abby Franquemont taught several classes on the spindle.  Because Sandy and I were busy yesterday, we were able to go to today only, and that only the morning class.  This morning’s class was how to spin on the spindle and while I have played around with spinning this way, I still an quite a newbie on it. 

Abby herself is a very interesting person and an excellent storyteller.  Her stories of her family living in Peru when she was a kid were fascinating and I would have loved to have heard more.

She started us off with timing how fast we could spin by having us spin as much as we could in five minutes and measure it off.  We went from one wrap around elbow and thumb to 11 wraps.  Me?  I was at 2.5.  We did this three times in a row and was up to three wraps and about 4 inches by the end of the third time – pathetic!

Then Abby took us through several techniques for everything from how to start a leader with the wool you are spinning to how to hold your hands for the best drafting zone, to how to do a half-hitch at the top for spindles without notches or hooks, to how to spin top, carded wool, long fibers and, EEK! cotton!  I will have to do a lot of practicing before I can spin cotton – it’s so short!

I went from being able to spin 3 wraps and about 4 inches to 4.5 wraps by the time we did the second set of time trials.  But I have to admit, spinning as quickly as I can, i.e. production spinning, is not something I am interested in, especially on a spindle.  I’d rather take my time, enjoy it and relax with it.  I get enough of hurrying during the normal work day.

You can tell by all the concentration you see here that she gave all of us information to process and new skills to perfect.  I am going to be taking my spindle to work with me starting tomorrow to work on during lunch hours.  If I can get in about 45 minutes per day with this, in a few weeks I ought to show quite a bit of improvement.

And I have to show you Abby’s spindle bag.  It is handspun, naturally dyed and handwoven – and absolutely drool-worthy.  Everyone knows that I love natural dyes and that I’m a weaver and I had it pointed out to me by several people.  I am glad they did, too, because I would have hated not seeing it.

And when I got home?  I crashed for three hours and slept hard.  Now I’m washing out the shirts from yesterday.  It certainly has been a busy weekend.

Sep 25
Filling a Large Order
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 09 25th, 2010| icon33 Comments »

Sandy and I got together today to dye 25 T-shirts, three bags, two pairs of socks and two pairs of shoe strings.  Most of the shirts are destined for The Trading Post for Fiber Arts and will be delivered to her as soon as I can get her logo screen printed onto them.

But first, I drew the winner of the Story Studio 5th Anniversary Tie-Dye T-shirt Giveway – Dum De Dum Dum!

Who Will it Be?

Kathy C!  You are the winner!  I’ll send you an email letting you know and if you’ll look later on in the little video at the bottom, you will see your shirt in the newly dyed stage – It’s the long folded one at the end.  Sandy and I did double pinwheels all day, so you are getting a V fold because we were pretty tired of doing the double pinwheel by the time we got to your shirt.

Between Scott and I, we took enough pictures to create a 60 second video of what Sandy and I did today.  The weather could not have been more perfect, so we set everything up outside and did all our work surrounded by sunshine and the sounds of birds and the wind rustling the corn stalks.  It made the day very pleasant, and gave us plenty of room to try a new idea – dyeing in an assembly line.  See how it went.

The cheese-eating grin at the last is Scott’s signature for his portion of the pictures, which was most of the ones with Sandy and I dyeing. And, yes that is Sandy taking a swig of Grand Marnier (I think I spelled that right). Sandy does a much better job with anything creative after she has been “loosened” up a bit.  She was a hoot all afternoon and I laughed and laughed at her having fun with the dyes.  She declared the colors to look like candy corn before we added the Aqua Marine dye to the first side.  She was right.

Doing it the way we did sure helped as did raising the table up onto concrete blocks.  It’s amazing how much better our backs handled it without having to stoop over all day.  We went through two complete batches of dye, all diluted to 50% strength before squirting onto the shirts.

After we were done for the day, we came inside to watch a movie.  Sandy had never seen Babe, and Scott and I had to rectify that situation.  She loved it, of course.  How could you not?

That’s not all we did today, but I’ll discuss the second half of it later.  Right now I am very tired and I have a book and a comfy bed calling me.

Sep 24

For years, Scott has mentioned how cool it would be to have guitar straps that say Johnny Saturn on them – named for our comic book.  For years I have wondered when I was ever going to have the time to learn how to inkle weave letters.

Annie MacHale of A Spinner Weaver came to my rescue.  She has been weaving inkle bands for over 30 years and is a pro at it.  On her site, she posted pictures of some custom guitar straps she wove for someone, and that gave me the idea to have her weave them for me to surprise Scott.   So, about a month ago, I contacted her, told her what I had in mind, and got a quote from her to weave two guitar straps for Scott – one for his electric and one for his Ovation acoustic guitar. 

I was a very lucky girl.  I wanted something for Scott to celebrate the 5th anniversary of our company in style, and lo and behold the finished straps arrived in today’s mail at the office.  I called Scott and told him to meet me at the office at closing time and to bring his electric guitar.  He questioned me as to why, but I remained mute (which has been very hard to do over the last few weeks because I am NOT good at keeping secrets from Scott).

When 5:00 came around, Sandy and I got out the cameras, Scott got out his electric guitar, and I handed him the first strap wrapped in tissue paper.

You got me a present?

What’s this?

Oh. My. Gosh!

I love it!  Thank you!!!!!

Got to take off the old strap.  Got to put the new Johnny Saturn strap on the guitar.  This is so cool! 

How cool is this?  I mean do I look great or what?

What do you mean I have another present?

What did I do to deserve this?  I am the luckiest husband in the whole world.  I’m a little overwhelmed.

And there it is in all its glory.  I don’t know if you can tell, but Scott’s electric guitar is a pale yellow, which goes well with the strap colors.  Didn’t Annie do a magnificent job with these?  Now Scott can’t wait to show them off to all this music buddies.  And after this was done?

We went to one of our favorite celebration spots for supper.  Happy 5th Birthday Story Studios!  I can’t wait to see where the next five years takes us.

Sep 23

Way back when Ravelry first started, I signed up.  But I never did anything with it.  That has changed – at last.

I am on Ravely under the name of basicallybenita, so send me a friend invitation.  Also, I have uploaded the Happy Blankey as a free pattern mostly to see how it worked since you can get this for free off this site as well – in fact, I think it leads you here.

As things progress, I will add more things to it.  I know I want to add my fiber books to the library (EEKS!) to Ravelry, and, perhaps my yarn inventory (double EEKS!)  Also, I know I want to rewrite the vest patterns I made out of my naturally dyed yarns so I can upload those as well.

If you have any suggestions how I can use Ravlery better, let me know.  I am very new to all it has to offer.  And does anyone know of any Indianapolis area groups that would be fun to be a part of? 

Don’t forget to go to yesterday’s post and add a comment saying you want a free shirt and what size you want it in to be part of the Story Studios 5th Anniversary Tie-Dye Shirt Give-Away.

Sep 22

Five years ago yesterday, Scott and I started our own business (officially) when we launched Story Studios, LLC.  This company oversees all our creative properties from art, to writing, to fiber arts, to our teaching, to everything we do creatively.

In order to celebrate our making it FIVE WHOLE YEARS, we are going to give away a Tie-Dyed Shirt in the winner’s size.  All you have to do is put a comment on this post telling me you want an original tie-dyed shirt by Sandy and I and what size you wear (Men’s S-XXL available).  The deadline for this contest is midnight Eastern Daylight Savings Time (US), Friday, September 24, 2010.  I will ship this shirt anywhere in the world, so you people outside the US who read this blog, this contest is open to you, too!

On Saturday morning, Sandy and I will randomly chose a winner from those posting comments to this blog post and we will make that shirt during our dyeing session that day (and take pictures of the shirt being made so you can see it).  We will email the winner to get their mailing address and the shirt will be on its way in Monday’s mail if we get the address in time.  How’s that for turn around service.

Tell all your friends to post a comment here.  You must include the size you want in order to qualify for the shirt.

Sep 21

I took a walk at lunch today.  Sandy and I usually eat lunch together, but she had to leave early today, so she worked through lunch to make up for the time.

South of our office building is a cemetery in two parts, a newer part that is long and flat and nearly treeless, and an older part that is on a slope with large, mature trees and older tombstones.  This older part is next to White River and you can see the river below through some of the gaps in the trees lining the eastern edge of the property. 

I hadn’t walked through this cemetery for nearly a year – the last time being last autumn when all the trees were in full color, the air was crisp and the sounds of the geese flying overhead on their way to sunnier lands kept me company.  Today, there were a few other people there, a middle-aged jogger, a young man sitting on a bench talking on his cell phone and an older gentleman taking his time as he walked the paths.

I was between the jogger and the older man in speed, but I still stopped here and there to take in the sights, the sounds, and the scents of the scene around me.  I am lucky enough to have a very good sense of smell and the perfume of pine needles, dying leaves and that pungent smell of a river all wafted past me as I walked.

There was a slight breeze that helped because before I was done, I wished I had taken a water bottle with me as it was 86 degrees.  Another thing I seriously regretted not having was my camera, even as crappy of a camera as it is.  I would have loved to have shared the scenes around me – the old man sauntering along, the man on the bench, the tree-lined lanes and especially the river.

I stood for a few minutes before walking back to the office and watched a crane as he hunted for his lunch.  He stood straight and tall in the river’s edge, then SNAP! his head dove down into the water.  When he brought it up, there was a large fish flapping in his beak.  The crane stood straight and tall for a few more seconds either making sure he had the fish caught tightly or as a silent gesture to his fellow cranes that he was a successful hunter.  Then he bent down slightly and launched himself into the air, flying low over the river away from me.  His wing-spread form mingled with the sun’s reflection off the water’s surface and he disappeared from sight into the trees on the opposite bank.

I came away from my walk a bit thirsty, warm, tired and knowing it would not be another year before I took that walk again on my lunch hour.  And next time, though, I’ll have my camera along for the trip.

Sep 19

First off, I want to start out by bragging – and you’ll see I am in my rights to do so.  Yesterday, I walked 16,012 steps and none of it was on the treadmill.  That’s a record for me.

Now what was I doing that allowed me to get in that many steps?  Yesterday was the Noblesville Historic Home Tour and my old former college, Sandy D., (not to be comfused with Sandy Ferguson who I work with) who lives in Noblesville and I have a tradition of walking it each year.  Well, each year that we can as sometimes we have to drive to some of the house because they are out in the country.

This year we got to walk, though.  I didn’t take a picture of any of the houses because I want to help them maintain some privacy on the web, but I did take some pictures inside the Presbysterian Church because it’s a public place and beautiful.

Look at the those beautiful pipes from the pipe organ.  I’ll bet it can ring the rafters during the service.

And speaking of ringing…

They were letting people pull the rope to ring the chuch bell.  It took several very hard pulls to get that thing going, but I was thrilled to death.  I always wanted to ring the church bell as a kid but was never allowed to do so.  Now I have!  BONG!

Here is a picture of a picture of the bell that I got to ring.  Cool, eh?

Down in the basement of the church is a tunnel leading from the older part of the basement to the newer part.  And why do you think they painted it all happy with children?  I was told it was because the tunnel scared the parents of the children whose classes were in the basement.  The kids love the tunnel and love running through it and making sounds echo and have never been afraid of it even when it wasn’t painted to make the parents happy.

And outside of the church was this cool Austin Healey car.  I loved it!

The Presbyterian Church also had a hog roast going on yesterday to help raise money for one of their mission programs, and for $6 each, Sandy D. and I got pulled pork barbeque on a bun, baked beans (which I bypassed), your choice of two kinds of potato salad, your choice of two kinds of slaw, peach cobbler and a drink.  And it was very tasty!

Scott was away at a comic book show in Cincinnati yesterday, so I had the day to play.  After the tour, I went back to Sandy D’s house with her to see the treehouse her husband and son have been building.  Her son, Joey, even got out a ladder for me to climb so I could go up in it as I am just plain too fat to to through the narrow hatch in the floor like he can.  It is a pretty cool tree house and it’s big enough he could put a blow-up mattress and sleeping bag up there to spend the night.  It still needs a little work on it, but it’s close to being done and they have had a blast designing and building it.

Last Tuesday night, I was asked to talk about natural dyes at the Indianapolis Knitting Guild meeting, so I took a few things and, basically, discussed the upcoming Dye Day with samples of what they can expect.  Also, I took the two sweater vests I have knitted out of naturally dyed Shetland and the madder gradation shawl to show them.  It was a lot of fun and one of them took a picture of me goofing off with the shawl.

Alms for the poor person in the lovely shawl? 

During “Show and Share” one of the ladies, Sarah, showed off this afghan.  And, yes, she’s a Michigan State Fan.  Get this –  She knit the entire thing in 14 days!  She said it was because she doesn’t have children, but neither do I and it took me three months to knit Scott’s Happy Blanket!  We were all stunned when she said that and several people asked, “Did you say 14 DAYS?”  I think she said she has to knit a Butler University one next in order to keep peace in her family.  🙂

Well, you’ve heard this before and you’ll keep hearing it until I can beat it into my skull and make it come true.  I confess that I’ve gained back 8 of the 13 pounds I had lost.  Summer time is hard on me and ice cream is a major weakness.  I know, excuses, excuses, but there it is.  Starting today, I am back on my diet and exercise program and I am going to do everything I can to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps each day as well as watch what I eat.  I intend to lose the 47 pounds I need to lose by next summer so I can do all the fiber shows in comfort rather than huff and puff my way though setting up and talking.  I can tell my heart is back to being a bit strained, and that’s not good, either.  I am going back to being accountable to you for my weight each week.  Today I weighed…167 pounds.  Gosh it hurt to admit that.  I am very ashamed of it.  Thank you for listening and now back to our regularly scheduled blog-post.

Okay, I am a bit bored with knitting lately.  Now for those of you knitters who are still reading this and haven’t gone away from shear disgust, I am taking a workshop taught by Abby Franquemont next Sunday so I can figure out what I need to do to get better yarn with my drop spindle.  Spindling is something I can do at lunch instead of knitting for a while, and the yarn I spin can be set aside for something to knit later when I’m back in the mood.  I’ll continue to knit this week at work, but after the workshop, it’s spindling time for me.

T-t-that’s it folks!  You are now caught up with me.  Now on to a new week.

Sep 17
Scott’s New Scarf
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 09 17th, 2010| icon39 Comments »

Wednesday night, I sat down and finished weaving the autumn scarf that was on my Nilus table top loom.  I did this because the reed on that loom was needed by a friend of mine for a workshop she is attending this weekend.  It was a good motivator to just get this done (rather than sit and admire the colors).

Scott scanned it into the computer in sections just as it came off of the loom, so these haven’t been washed yet. 

He did this because he uses our own art items in his comic book art.  For example, look at the carpet in this scene.  It is the scanned in, desaturated fabric I wove for last year’s Weaver’s Swap.  Cool huh?  Well, he liked the pattern in this scarf before it was fulled and is planning to use it as the texture on a chair in an upcoming scene.

Last night, I sat down with my ruler, scissors and fringe-twister and did the fringes before throwing it into the washing machine half-full of hot water.  I cut each fringe to 7” in length, twisted them in groups of three per twist (6 per fringe twist), tied the knots in the end and let them untwist on themselves.

After agitating in the washer for 2.5 minutes, I decided it had fulled enough, spun out the washer and took it out of the machine.  My, oh, my!  The softness of this fulled scarf was amazing compared to the yarn I wove it with.  It went from a bit stiff and scratchy to soft and fluffy.  Still not something I’d wear against my skin, but as a scarf over turtlenecks and sweaters it will be perfect.

And last night I got to initiate one of the new drying racks.  It dried the scarf within a very short time and I was quite pleased with it.

Before I stuck it into the washer for fulling, the scarf measured 91.5 X 11.5.  After fulling and drying, it measured 84 X 10.75.  It shrank a lot less than I thought it would.  But here’s the odd part.  The yarn that had been dyed lighter colors shrank more than the yarn that had been dyed darker. 

With the scarf laid flat on the scanner, you can see the pull in on the lighter warp compared to the darker warp.

The yarn for the warp was from a single ball of yarn with another one being used for the weft.  In both directions this happened.  Even the fringe in the lighter colors is shorter than the fringe in the darker colors.  Has this ever happened to anyone else before? 

And here is the finished scarf.  I am very happy with the colors, although I thought the color shifting would be more noticeable.  Maybe this is because the colors are all too similar to one another.

And Scott wearing his new treasure.  The lucky thing is that I have quite a bit of the weft yarn left over.  I am hoping there is enough to knit a matching hat for Scott.

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