Apr 30

This past Saturday and Sunday, Sandy De Master and Mary Germain came down from Wisconsin and taught an Ethnic Sock Knitting workshop at the Trading Post for Fiber Arts.  This was one of the most fun classes I have ever taken, and it was mostly because of the teachers.  These two ladies were personable, funny and knowledgeable.  They had stories from their trips to Latvia and Estonia as well as from their mentor in Latvian knitting, Irma.

Their array of samples was inspiring.  Most of them were knit by Sandy and Mary, but some were knit by Irma as she interpreted American Christmas stockings from her Latvian viewpoint.  Fascinating, really, to get this glimpse into the mind of Irma at that point in her life.

This sock kept calling me and I love the colors and the pattern.

And I love the colors in this one.  Also, for Ethnic socks, this one was very simple in design.

Look at how the pattern on the thumb continues onto the palm so that there is no interruption in the pattern.  The talent of the designer awes me.  I have so much to learn.

Look at the wee mitten knitted by Mary.  That is my finger wearing it.

And, look, she knitted her initials into the palm.  I want to knit a pair of these for Lizzie.

Mary said she just completed this hat, and we loved how the pattern looked like trees.  I wish I had taken a picture of the top because it was a lovely snowflake with how the pattern came in with the decreases.

And here we go.  The book and instructions as written by Mary and Sandy were concise and very easy to follow.  If you get the chance to buy any of their books, do so.

And to show you what we did in two days:

Debbie Squire’s sock

Pat Kreiling’s sock

Catherina Forbes and her sock – She came all the way from Toronto to attend this class.  Obviously, she chose to use sock-weight yarn for her sock.  Christmas stocking for her house Brownie?

Debbie Doggett and her sock.  I adore Debbie’s sock and the colors she used.

And Kathy Shewmaker’s nearly finished sock.  She did get it done, but my camera’s battery was threatening to die so I didn’t get a final shot of it.

Some weren’t able to finish their projects, but that wasn’t for lack of trying.  There was a lot going on around us as we worked.

Susan Markle’s sock – we all ooohed and ahhhed over the color choices on this.

Amanda Murray’s sock

This last sock has naturally dyed wool in it.  The purple is Logwood and the gray is the same pot at exhaust.  I loved how they looked in her sock pattern.

And here is what I did:

For size relationship purposes.

And a close up of the finished sock.

And, no, none of the ends are woven in, but that will come later.  In the meantime, I’m going to stick a bar of lavender soap in the toe to cure and do double duty of keeping moths away while it is hung in my studio.

At the end of Sunday, Mary and Sandy went over how to make socks that fit using much finer yarns than the worsted weight we used in class.  I usually don’t like “fussy” sock patterns because socks, typically, are my relaxing project or when I’m in a place where I don’t need to concentrate on what is in my hands.  These socks will not be part of that plan.  I do want to look at all the options and make myself some fussy socks.

And, last, but definitely not least, I want to give my sincerest thanks to Sandy and Catherina for fixing the hole in my madder gradation shawl.  They did such a great job, you can’t see that there had ever been a broken bit of yarn.

Apr 25

This week seems to be about getting caught up on things that have fallen behind in my life.  Weight loss took a back-seat during the final push of tax season, and I am back on track with it.  I have been working hard to get caught up with all the merchandising for the show in KY next month and getting everything set up for my students for the workshop I am teaching the weekend before the KY show.

One other area of my life that I had fallen behind on was my yard.  This was due to my tractor refusing to start at the end of the winter and while it was in the shop, the grass just kept on growing.  A kind neighbor mowed my front yard (about half an acre) for me, but the back parts weren’t touched until I got the tractor back.

This is the southwest corner of my yard and this is what it looked like before I mowed it.  You can tell the grass was pretty tall.

And this is what it looked like after I got it mowed last week.  Much nicer and it made me feel calm just looking at it.

But this part of the yard and all along the other side of the drive down to the road didn’t get mowed – until last night.  You can’t see it from this shot, but the grass on the other side of the drive is very thick and parts of it were about 15-16″ tall.  Also, this part has a lot of clover and ferny-type of weeds that made mowing slow going.

Now doesn’t that look much better?  The part on the other side of the drive (which extends behind the barn and 250 feet down to the road) really needs hit again, but I want the grass that was cut to dry out some because it really tried to clog up the mower.  Still, it feels really good to have all of the yard caught up to the weekly mowing schedule.

Let’s see what I can catch-up on next.

Apr 24

I did it!  I worked out for 45 minutes yesterday morning concentrating on cardio and 45 minutes right after work concentrating on strength training.  My shoulders hurt so bad last night I had to take ibuprophen to go to sleep, but I did it!

And, I put in 45 minutes on cardio this morning, again, this time pushing up the incline height and really making myself sweat it out.  Okay, I don’t sweat, but I did get very tired.  I wish I did sweat, because I think it would help cool me down since the treadmill I use is directly under a ceiling fan.  I just get very red in the face and drink lots of water.  🙂

Also, I priced and entered 44 more items into the inventory spreadsheet, which took me an hour and a half minutes last night.  I think I still have about 50-60 more items to enter, so I should reach my goal of getting it all caught up by the weekend.  Whew!

Over the weekend, my MIL asked me if I am ever going to slow down, meaning give up dyeing, teaching, going to shows, etc., and I told her “no.”  Then I explained to her that while I like my day job, it is there to pay the bills.  All these things I do away from the day job are what makes my life worth living.  I love teaching, I love dyeing, spinning, weaving, knitting, writing, and creating.  They are my life’s blood and without these activities, I’d be miserable.  I’m not sure she really understood, but it got me to thinking.  Do the rest of you feel the same about your activities outside of your job?  How many people are lucky enough that their “job” is getting to do the things you really love?

Apr 23

It was another productive weekend, but especially yesterday.  I now have all of the tie-dyed items washed out and pressed.  I stood at the steam press for hours yesterday, but everything looks nicely finished and ready to sell.  And I got about a third of everything priced and entered into the inventory spreadsheet.  Whew!  I hope to have everything priced and packed away by the end of the week so I can finish getting everything ready for the students at the natural dye workshop on the 12th.

And, now with tax season behind me and my morning walking partner off at her new job, I started arriving at Push for Women at 6:00 AM to get my cardio workout in.  By 7:00 this morning, I had in over 6,000 steps for the day already.  On Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, I will go back after work and concentrate on strength training.  I think that most days I will have my 10,000 steps in with little extra effort.

All-in-all, I weighed about the same this morning as at the first of the year, so, with my new schedule, I hope to see a minimum of a pound on average weight loss per week, although I’d like to see two pounds lost per week.  Let’s see how it works for me.  I weighed 161 this morning.  By next Monday, I would love to see the scales come in under 160.  Below 159 would be even better, but I’m not out to kill myself.

Here’s to the beginning of a new and busy week!

Apr 20

Yes, I have another workshop coming up, but this one is a basic weaving workshop and it is being hosted by MoonTree Studios, the same place I am teaching a natural dye workshop next month.

So, if you live in southwestern Michigan, northwestern Indiana or northeastern Illinois and want to learn how to weave, here is your chance.  And you need to sign up soon because there is a limit of 6 students in this workshop.  When you leave this workshop, you will have a sampler and a woven scarf to take home and show off, plus you will know all the basics of setting up a loom, calculating how much yarn you will need for a project and how to weave several patterns.  And, it’s a lot of fun!

Apr 17

My tractor is coming home!!!  My tractor is coming home!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to the barn, pulled the tractor out and prepped for mowing my grass that was starting to get out of hand a month earlier then usual.  The tractor would not start.  We and a sweet neighbor who stopped by to help did everything we could think of.  It wasn’t the battery because it tried to start, but it just couldn’t finish the process.

Last week, that same sweet neighbor offered to mow our front yard (about half an acre) because it was getting so high that you could lose small pets in it and it billowed in the wind like ocean waves.  I am so glad he did because at least half of my yard will be easy to mow tonight, whereas the other half…   Yeesh!  It’s going to be slow going, but at least I’ll be able to get it going tonight when I get home.

I never thought I’d look forward to mowing this much, but I am.  I cringe every night when I pull in the driveway because it grows at least an inch per day – at least it looks like it does.

I missed my tractor.  Her name is Helen.  Helen Husqvarna and she’s coming home tonight.  Life is good.

Apr 16

Saturday morning, I woke up at 7 intending to go to the grocery store, then come home and do the week’s cooking before diving into house cleaning, laundry and working on the preparation for the natural dye workshop I am teaching in May as well as the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Show in May.

At 7:30, I realized that I was barely awake and was just staggering around the house not accomplishing anything and decided to go back to bed for an hour.  Three hours later, I woke up feeling much more human, but with my day’s schedule thrown completely in disarray.  Scott and I decided to go to Bob Evans for breakfast and have a business meeting.

Most of you know me by my activities in the fiber community, but I have another side to me.  Together, my husband and I create, produce and publish a web comic/Graphic Novel series called Johnny Saturn.  We are nearing the end of the third graphic novel in the series and need to get going on the plot for the next one.  We pretty much know what is going to happen, but getting the details worked out is a whole another animal.  And, we made the decision to start writing for a spin-off book based on some of the characters in Johnny Saturn who deserve to have top-billing in their own book.

After two hours with that, we have a map and four lists of things we need to do, split up by who is responsible for which item on the list.  A very productive meeting if we do say so ourselves.

From there, we did go to the grocery store, but when we got home, I started right in pricing the items for the Dyed in the Wool booth until I ran out of price tags.  Then I spent the rest of the evening working on the natural dye workshop.

Yesterday morning, I got up at 5:30 and was at the stove by 6:00.  I cooked until 10:00 (Scott has enough meals for the next two weeks and I have a big old pot of chicken stew for my own lunches).  Sandy got there at about quarter after 10, and together she and I worked until about 7:45 dyeing 110 items for Dyed in the Wool.  Yes, I actually counted them this time.

By the time Sandy left, she and I were both limping (I need new dyeing shoes) and we were both really, really tuckered out.  Toward the end of the dye session, we’d stand and stare at the items to be dyed and blank out on what colors we wanted to use.  But there is nothing in the place that can be dyed left to be dyed except for some fabric yardage.  We dyed about 6 yards of 200-thread count, 50% cotton/50% bamboo, part for fat quarters and part for a customer who wanted it.

Needless to say, I have a lot of washing out to do this week, as well as pressing, pricing and workshop prepping.  Also, I have lots of writing to do on the Johnny Saturn script as well as other comic related things to do.  It’s gonna be another busy week.

Apr 12

Have you ever looked into the stats of your blog or website to see what searches people use to find you?  I do, and I think it is the coolest, most bizarre, and interesting thing out there – and out there describes some of the searches used.

Okay, search parameters like “cochineal,” “dye day Indiana,” or “Herald loom” I can completely understand.  Some like “green fabric,” any specific sheep breed, or “tie-dye shirts” are completely acceptable.  “Snow storm at night” now…  I’ve had one or two photos on my website since I started it in 2008, and that must get at least a dozen hits a week on my site – what is it about snow at night?  And then there are the searches “hookers” and “latin dress pattern.”  Uhhh…. Wow!

My favorite one, though, came yesterday – “Benita Turbo.”  Yeah!

Apr 11

She has taken two classes from John Malarky and is making some sweet tapes with this wee loom.  She brought it in yesterday and had me to warp a couple of cards on it and now I understand how it works.  She’s going to help me warp up my inkle loom when we get a free moment so I can try it for myself.

Update on Sandy’s hernia:  She has an appointment with a surgeon next Monday morning.  She’s been at work so far this week, but, please, continue to keep her in your prayers.


Apr 10

If you are in the Bowling Green, Kentucky, or Nashville, Tennessee, area and would like to learn about natural dyeing, I will be teaching a one-day workshop at River Cottage Farm on June 16th.

If you have any questions about what the workshop includes, please feel free to email me at basicallybenita AT yahoo DOT com.  For other questions or to register, please contact Debbie using her information on the above flyer.

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