Jul 31

This has been a harrowing month all around.  First Mom’s extended stay in the hospital, then Sandy’s mom needing not one, but two surgeries each one week apart, then my getting sick for nearly a week, plus the AC going out, the drought, the heat, etc.  Today, on the way to work, I blew out a tire.  I am thankful it was on a side road and not the interstate and that it was only a 15 minute walk to work from where I left the car.  Also, I am thankful that I have AAA to take care of getting it to the place I get my car worked on.

There was some good this month, mostly in the spinning area with my working on the Fiber Binder Club samples.

For the first six samples (and we are preparing Month 20 for shipping, so I have a ways to go yet) are through the woven swatch phase and all I lack is the test dyeing part.  Still, I love looking at these pages.

The Indiana State Fair begins this Friday.  Again, this year, I am judging the Sheep to Shawl competition on Sunday, August 12th, so if you are going to be at the state fair that day, come by the big, red Opry barn and cheer on the teams as the card, spin, ply and weave their way through the competition.

Jul 30
Getting Closer
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 07 30th, 2012| icon35 Comments »

This past weekend went a million ways better that the one before.  For starters, I was not sick, which was a huge improvement right there.  Second, Scott’s brother and family were in town and we had a wonderful visit with them.  Nice, relaxing and with lots of laughter.

Second, I had time to work on the Harrisville loom getting it several steps closer to getting warped.  One thing I had to do was fix the apron cloth.

When I put it on there a few years ago, I had not thought it would need more than half a dozen tacks to hold it in place.  I was wrong, and it started to come back off.

Well, I fixed that issue.  There is now a tack about every inch and a half all across the entire cloth beam.  Let’s see if it comes loose now!

One other issue that needed addressing was the fact that I did not have enough heddles for this project.  I needed 600 in total and with heddles of this size spread over several other looms, I decided it was time to purchase more.  So I ordered 500 twisted wire heddles, which I really like.

Are they pretty and shiny?  I ended up needed 250 of the new 500 for this project.  It took a while to get them all on, but I enjoyed sliding them into place and getting to admire their newness.

So, now the warp is tied onto the breast beam and I am ready to start threading.  It’s rather hard to tell, but the warp is a variegated purple, teal and light pink.  There are 10 yards to wind on once it is threaded, but before I can wind it on, I need to retack the apron cloth onto the warp beam.

Jul 27
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 07 27th, 2012| icon34 Comments »

I apologize for being so quiet this week.  The main reason is that I have been sick.  I woke up last Saturday with enough sinus pressure to give me a nasty headache (although no stuffiness or runny nose) and what my mom calls “the backyard trots.”  Saturday, I slept most of the day when I wasn’t in the bathroom.  Sunday was a bit better as in I got to read some.  Monday was just the sinus issue and feeling really light-headed and weak in the knees.  Tuesday afternoon I felt much better and decided I was well enough to go back to work.

Big.  Mistake.  I got to work Wednesday and promptly got so sick that Scott had to come and get me and take me home.  I don’t ever remember feeling that bad except for the whole potassium deficiency episode that ended up with a trip to the hospital at the beginning  of last year.

Yesterday, Sandy came by my house and picked me up for work – with Bettie trapped at the office I needed a ride in.  Today, I feel myself again.

Very little has been done on the creative front, except for these.

Last week I mentioned wanting to find a wee 2” loom to weave sample squares from and Cindy mentioned that there was a 2” Weavette for sale on someone else’s website, so I bought it.  It is soooo cute!!!

A wee loom that fits in my hand – and I have small hands.

So, I have woven up two squares each of what I have spun from the Fiber Binder Club so far and Sandy and I have fulled one square from each fiber to see how they would change.  Each was washed and rubbed for about a minute each.

The llama (brown) and the two Lincolns (black lamb fleece and gray adult fleece) fulled but didn’t shrink.  The hand on the llama really changed though.  It went from stiff to soft and pliable.

The Corriedale fulled beautifully and shrank a little.  I have the feeling that the shrinkage would show up much more in a larger piece of cloth.  It is nice and soft.

The Cormo though…  Wow!  It felted and shrank a lot.  In fact, I think I am going to weave up another square and full it for about 30 seconds to see what it does with a shorter time.  Mind you, it is soft, soft, soft!  Seriously, I’d like a pillow out of this.  I just want to cuddle it.

And last is the Fresian.  Still coarse, but it would make such a lovely coat for the winter.  It would be tough, long wearing and warm!

I can’t wait to see how they take dyes.  Before I do that, though, I need to spin up the rest of the samples so far.

Jul 20

Actually, we have had three dark and story nights in a row.  Another series of storms came through our area last night about 8 with more strong winds and more rain.

This morning we woke to hazy skies and a moistness in the air like we have not had in many weeks.  And do you see what I see?

Some of the grass is coming back, nice and green once again.  We still have a long ways to go.  Parts of our state are still brown and look horrible, a lot of crops are lost causes for this year and the effects of this drought that has hit over 50% of our country will be felt for a long time.  I dread food costs this next year.

But I do have some good news!!  Mom went home from the hospital yesterday.  She said she weighed 110 pounds now and I could tell from the way she was talking that she felt better.  She is still very weak and tires easily, but getting her back to her own bed and familiar surroundings is a great step for her.  And it came with perfect timing.  Yesterday was Mom’s and Dad’s 49th wedding anniversary.  What a wonderful anniversary gift for them.

Mom asked me to ask you to keep the prayers coming.  They mean so much to her and she believes they are what is keeping her going and getting stronger.  Thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts you are sending her way.

Jul 19

Finally, finally, finally!  We had tied a century old record for the most days of less than a 10th of an inch of rain on Monday and Tuesday, we got rain.  At least my area did.  Tuesday night, the clouds rolled in, we heard thunder in the distance, which we promptly ignored.  We have been teased before.  But all of a sudden the clouds opened up and it poured!  And kept that up for nearly half an hour before easing off and eventually tuckering out.

Then yesterday early afternoon, our area got hit again with wind, rain and hail this time.  Scott said the hail was so thick on the ground that it looked like it had snowed.  I do know the winds were strong enough to take down part of a tree and lay it across the road about 3/4 mile from our house.  They were still cleaning it up when I got drove through on my way home.  When I stopped and asked if the wind had done it or had it gotten hit by lightening, they told me the wind.  Wow!  That must have been some wind.  The part of the tree that came down had to be at least 15″ in diameter.

Then at about 7 last night, we had another strong storm come through.  More wind and more hard rain.  I could do without the strong winds, but that rain sounded like music.  I can already see a difference in the soybeans and my spirea bushes looked so happy this morning when I left for work.

Now if the areas that the rain missed would get a share of this, we’d all breathe much easier.

Jul 18

I know that the Tour de Fleece is going on, and I guess this spinning I am doing is coinciding with it a little, but I did not begin at the beginning of the Tour de France bike race, nor can I watch it as it is going because I cannot watch TV.  But the idea behind the TdF is the same as what I am trying to accomplish.  My goal is to spin up all of the Fiber Binder Club samples and get my binder all up to date.  Here are the latest results:

Sandy brought in a Corriedale sheet for me to attach my spun sample and the knitted swatch.  This fleece is a joy to spin and the color is very pretty.  In fact, I first chose this animal’s fleeces based on the color.  I have enough to dunk into a dye pot, so as soon as I can get them going, I’ll get a dyed sample in here.

While I loved spinning up this Lincoln lamb fleece, I thought that Lincoln knitted up a bit wirey.  I do know that Lincoln is a long wool, and I can definitely see this as gloves, mittens, and they would make loooong lasting socks plied with something soft like Merino.  The color really captured me, though.  I loved this black color.  I can’t wait to see how it weaves up.  I have the feeling this would make a great warp because of its long staple and strength.  Coat?  Jacket?  Hmmm…

This Lincoln adult fleece had more crimp in it than did the lamb fleece and I liked it much better.  I think I would love to put the black on as warp and this adult fleece on as weft and see how they would weave up.

The llama was interesting.  I enjoyed spinning and plying it.  It was a bit slippery to knit, and I was glad I had wooden needles, but I love the hand of the knitted swatch.  Since llama has no natural elasticity to it, I would love to weave it up and want to see how it works on the loom.

Right now I am working on the bombyx silk.  5 grams of hankies is a lot of silk, so I have decided that I am going to spin it up several ways.  Right now I am trying to get as thin a thread as I can.  Next, I’ll spin it up a bit thicker, then thicker and so on.  The yarn I want to knit with I want to be about DK weight, so I have my work cut out for me.  This might take the rest of the week.

I have to admit I am really enjoying the opportunity to spin and knit all the different types of fiber.  And going to the sample bags is like being in a fibery candy store – which one do I want to try next?

Jul 17

Dave Daniels of Designed by Hand has been showing off some of the lovely items he makes from leather on his site for a while now.  I have one of his little cases (a tarot case, but I use it for other things), and I love the craftmanship he puts into his work.  So I contacted Dave and asked him to make a leather case to fit Scott’s sketchbooks and something for pencils and other tools.  He agreed, we came to terms and I shipped him a sketchbook so he could make it the right size.

Dave sent me teaser pictures as he made them, and the more I saw, the more excited I got.  Finally, they were done, and Dave shipped them out in Saturday’s mail.

Don’t let anyone bad-mouth the US Postal Service to me.  That box got from Boston, Massachusetts, to Indianapolis, Indiana, in two days – and one of those days was a  Sunday.  Folks, it arrived in today’s mail at my office.

Of course, I had to open it and check it out.  Sandy and Colette both drooled over it and were amazed at the work it had taken to make them.  In order to sew the pieces up, poor Dave had to punch all the tiny holes first.  That looks tedious.

I could hardly wait to get home.  As soon as I did, I drug Scott back up to his studio so he could open it.

Christmas in July has nothing on this.

And I quote Scott, “This is butt-freakin’ awesome!!”

He had to read Dave’s note to him.  I think that was a nice touch and Scott really appreciated getting a note from the maker, himself.

And he quickly figured out how to use the buckled straps to attached the pencil/tool carrier to the front of the sketchbook cover.  If you look on the bottom corner of the cover, there are Scott’s initials – SAS (Scott Angus Story).  And that grin is about as genuine as you get, folks.

Thank you Dave for your hard work in creating this.  Oh, and the sample of your handspun yarn you had it tied up with?  I kept that.  🙂

Jul 16

After the chaos of the past two weeks, I needed a quiet weekend, but I didn’t feel like reading, so I continued spinning samples from the Fiber Binder Club.  And I learned a lot about some of these fibers, too.

For one, there is nothing bad I can say about Cormo.  It spins easily into a fine, smooth yarn, then it knits like a dream.  I can see baby clothes being made from this.  In fact, I can see any nice, wearable item being made from this.  After knitting the swatch and putting my sample yarn in my book, I still have plenty to play in dye pots with.  And I have an idea to see how well these yarns weave up, too.

Another one I got finished was the East Fresian – This is Spooner.  I spun a short piece woolen style and the rest semi-worsted (worsted technique with carded wool).  I like how it spun, and since I am one who likes wool with a bit of a bite to it, I really liked how this knitted up.  I can definitely see this wool as mittens or as a thick jacket.  We’ll see how it takes dye as well since I have enough left of it to test out.

This is the Corriedale, Ulf.  It spun up easily and plied up into a lovely yarn.  I have the swatch knitted, but for some reason, my FBC binder is missing the Corriedale sheet (memory is telling me I gave it to someone), so as soon as I get a replacement sheet, I can get the samples stapled in.  Again, I have plenty left to dye.  With it being a light gray, it is going to be very interesting to see how it mutes down the colors.

Also spun up is Chocolate, the adult Lincoln fleece.  I love spinning Lincoln!!!  It went fast, spun up fine and it was so easy!  I have another Lincoln fleece that I split with Sandy.  This is going to go on my list of “have to spins” in the near future.  Just wait until you see this plied and knitted up.  And I can’t wait to see how it dyes.

This is Shirley, Chocolate’s daughter and a lamb fleece.  This fleece won the International champion for colored fleeces.  I liked spinning it even better than Chocolate, and I didn’t think anything would top the fun and ease of spinning Chocolate.  I’m staring at it and wondering if it is even worth trying to dye it.  It is so black that I don’t think any color is going to show on it.

I have spun alpaca before and I didn’t care much for it because it is so slippery.  This is llama, though, which isn’t as slippery or fine as alpaca and I enjoyed spinning this up.  It is plied now, so we’ll see how it knits up.  Again, I will have enough left over to test dye.

That, in a nut shell is what I did this weekend.   Oh, yes, I mowed part of the yard, too, if you can call it mowing.  More like knocking down some weeds.  The only thing growing was the plantain, chickory and Queen Ann’s lace.

I can stand a few more weekends like this last one.

Jul 13
Sampling – Cormo
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 07 13th, 2012| icon35 Comments »

I have started spinning the samples from the Fiber Binder Club.  This first one I grabbed was Month 5, Cormo.  Monty, the ram whose fleece this is, won the 2010 Indiana State Fair Reserve Grand Champion with this fleece and it is like spinning butter.  It spun up as very fine singles and, last night, it took an hour just to ply the 1/2 ounce.

You can see how fine this yarn was when first plied and wound off.  I forgot my niddy-noddy in the car and I was too lazy to go out and get it, so I used my foldable lazy Kate to wind it off.

I soaked it for about 1/2 an hour before squeezing out the water, winding it in a towel and stomping all over it to get out any excess water. Then I slapped it against the edge of the tub a bit to get the fibers to bloom and meld against one another.  By that time, it was barely more than damp, so I hung it beneath the ceiling fan in my bedroom to finish drying.

It’s it lovely?  I’ll get it wound into a center pull ball tonight and take a page out of Cindy’s book.  Once I have my sample yarn attached to the page in the binder, I’ll take a portion and knit a swatch.  I am hoping to have enough left over to test dye it.  Once these are done, I’ll attach them to the page as well.

And, let me tell you, this is very soft yarn.  This is against baby skin soft.  Even the princess in The Princess and the Pea couldn’t call this stuff itchy.

The next single to ply is the Corriedale from the very first month of the Fiber Binder Club.  Ulf will always be a favorite of mine and I will miss getting his annual fleece.  To the gentleman who bought all of Ulf’s next fleece, I hope you are enjoying spinning it as much as I have.  He will make lovely matching sweaters for you and your wife.

Jul 9

Well, a couple of people have contacted me about a towel exchange so I think I’m going to go ahead and get it going.

Towels need to be a minimum of 16″ wide and 20″ long (after being washed and hemmed).  This should allow those people with smaller looms like Wolf Pups to join.  The sign up deadline date is Friday, July 13th at midnight.  If you want to be apart of this exchange, please email me at basicallybenita at yahoo dot com and put “towel exchange” in the subject line. To keep this doable, I’d like to limit this to 8 people.  I will send out emails to everyone who signs up on Saturday the 14th so you will know how many towels to weave.

Once we have everyone set up, I will email an info sheet master to everyone to fill in with patterns, sample threads, etc. that will be submitted with the towels.  In order to be a part of the exchange, you need to be willing to weave one towel for each participant.  If we get 8 people, you will need to weave 7 towels, since you won’t need to have one mailed back to yourself.    Think of all those patterns you’ve been wanting to try out – here’s your chance.  Just pick one and go!

The deadline for weaving the towels and getting them to me will be Monday August 27th.  This will give you 6 weeks to weave the towels.  Also, this will make sure I have them by that weekend and it will give me the three-day weekend to get everything sorted out, packaged up and ready for the mail on the day after Labor Day.  Because of the cost to mail them, I am going to limit this exchange to the US.

So, if you want to be a part of this towel exchange, let me know.  The clock is ticking!  🙂


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