Aug 22

With all the activity around here and rain we have been getting, my yard has been getting taller and taller.  Last night was the first chance I have had to tackle the yard.  I mowed for an hour and a half and managed to get the first go around on the front yard with the mower deck at the highest level, and then about 2/3rds of the same area remowed at the deck level I like it to be.

This has left quite a bit of cut grass piled up in the front yard.  If I had a bagger attachment on the tractor, I would have had to empty it every 15 minutes or so.  As it is, I wish I had time to rake it.  Tonight I’ll tackle the south half of the yard and see it I can get caught up on the double mowing.  Then Thursday night I should be able to finish it up.  What normally takes less than 2 hours to mow is going to take me three nights at and hour and a half each – nearly three times as long.

While I was mowing, I was looking at all the different plants growing in my yard.  I do not have a lawn, but a vibrant eco-system with plants and grasses of all types.  One flower growing there got mowed around because if it is what I think it is, it’s going to be transplanted to someplace safe because it is a dye plant.  It’d be nice to let it go to seed and reseed itself for a couple of years until I have enough to dye some wool and silk with.

Another thought about my yard is this – it’d be a tasty smorgasbord for a goat or a cow.

The weather has felt more like September than August.  The temps have been in the mid 70’s to low 80’s, the humidity low and the night have been deliciously cool.  The soy beans in the field around our house are beginning to turn yellow and soon it will be time to combine them.  It seems that everything has been a month ahead this year.

With school starting again, and Labor Day only a couple of weeks away, summer is winding down.  This year has gone by so quickly and I feel I have very little to show for it.  Does anyone else feel this way?

Aug 20

Saturday, Sandy and I drove up to the Michigan Fiber Festival (4 hours each direction) to walk around and do some shopping.  It was a lovely day, weather-wise, starting out at 49 degrees when we left at 6:30 AM and topping out at about 75.  The sun was out, there was a slight breeze…  Ahhh…

When we got there, the place was packed.  We made a first tour mostly just seeing who and what was there.  We did stop at one booth to make purchases, though.

I ended up with a beautiful boat shuttle and belt shuttle.  I love tools made from wood, and the boat shuttle was smooth and felt good in my hands.  This booth was packed and it was hard to get around in.  It could have easily been twice the size, which would have made it easier to shop in.  Sandy and I learned our lesson in Kentucky, which is why we are getting a booth twice the size as we had last year.

As you can see, there was a lot to see and buy.

One of the reasons we went up there was to purchase and pick up some Type A and Type B Pygora fleeces that we bought for the Fiber Binder Club.

One of the Type A fleeces we bought won Reserve Champion awards for both the colored fleeces and Pygora categories.  How much better can you get than that!

Here is a close up of a Type-A fleece we purchased.

And here is a pic of one of the Type B fleeces.  Those of you who are in the Fiber Binder Club have something special coming in the next several months.

While were there, we also bought another lovely fleece for the Fiber Binder Club.

We both fell in love with this CVM fleece, and are excited about it going to the club members.

Besides fiber, there was a herding dog demonstration, and

…some good music being played.  I’d liked to have seen and listened to more of these, but we were on a tight schedule and there wasn’t enough time to take more than a glance of these in.

Sandy and I wish we could set up a booth to sell our stuff at this festival, but it is a Friday, Saturday, Sunday show, and there is no way we can get off work at the same time to be there and open on Friday.  It’s too bad, too.  This looked like a good show.

Aug 17

The second half of the 2012 Indiana State Fair Sheep to Shawl competition starts with each of the team cutting their scarf off of their loom.  I managed to get pictures of the first three, but not the last one because I was in the middle of judging the first scarf at that time.

The first scarf turned into us was from the Legends of the Loom and they were done at 3 hours and about 23 minutes, I’m not exactly sure on the minutes at this point.  Anyway, none were down to the wire like last year, so that made for less stress all the way around.

Mindy, the other judge, and I dove in and began checking the scarves out, measuring, trying them on, and writing down comments and points for each section.  The following pictures are in the order they were turned in to us.

Once we were done examining each scarf, we conferred, added up the scores, checked each other’s math and finished up our part.

And here are the four scarves from this year’s competition.

They are: The Pirates of the Treadle, The Neverlanders, Spinning Through Time and Legends of the Loom.

Close up of the Neverlanders’ scarf.

Close up of The Pirates of the Treadle’s scarf.

Close up of Spinning Through Time’s scarf

And a close up of the Legends of the Loom’s scarf.

Anticipation is so hard!

And the winners were, in reverse order:

4th place went to The Pirates of the Treadle!

3rd place went to Legends of the Loom!

2nd place went to The Neverlanders!

And the Grand Champions were Spinning Through Time!!

They all did terrific jobs, and the differences between the 2nd and 1st place winners were very small.  It was a tough choice for Mindy and I.  The only thing that kept The Neverlanders from winning was the fact their sett was too tight and their weaving was too tight.  It looked like a wet finished scarf straight from the loom.  I explained this to the weaver and to the person who ultimately purchased it in the auction.  I recommended washing it in cold water very gently to keep it from fulling any more and becoming too stiff.

After the ribbons were passed out, the auction began.

The auctioneer was good and funny.  He did a great job cajoling more money from the audience.

The first place scarf sold for $300.

The second place scarf sold for $275.

The 3rd place scarf sold for $400!

And the 4th place scarf sold for $375.  And it this pirate looks like he’s a character, you’d be right.  Watching him “model” the scarf was a hoot!

The total amount raised came to $1,350 and will be used for the youth program at Conner Prairie, which is where all four teams came from.

And here is everyone showing off their ribbons.  The lady at the far right in the blue shirt is Sue Payne, who taught and guided these teams to where they are today.  And you can tell ell the kids love her.  When her name was announced, they cheered so loud they could have been heard at the Midway.

And the little pin that Mindy and I were wearing?

They proclaimed us as judges.  I am keeping my pin in my little Lane cedar chest with all my other treasures.

I have already let them know that I would be happy to judge again next year.  I love being a part of this and getting to see firsthand how well these youth teams spin, weave and hold up under pressure.  I can’t wait until next year.

Aug 16

This brings us up to Sunday, the day of the Sheep to shawl competition.  For starters, we could not have asked for nicer weather – partly cloudy and temps in the low 80’s.  Today, I am going to introduce the teams and show you a bit of what they did.  Tomorrow, we’ll go through the judging portion and show the winners.

This was a completely new team called the Neverlanders.  Theirs was the most detailed and elaborate poster and table I have ever seen.  They even had a miniature Neverland island.

The team characters consisted of Peter Pan, team captain and weaver, Tinkerbell, Smee, Tootles, Princess Tigerlily and Wendy.  Their costumes were very well thought-out and designed.

So was their scarf design.  The handspun warp was naturally dyed with a dark indigo to represent the ocean, a lovely green with Osage Orange/Indigo to represent the island, and lavender with cochineal to represent the mountains.  The weft was white and their pattern was a chevron stripe.

The next team was called Spinning Through Time.

They really outdid themselves bringing in a weaving and spinning through time theme and the information on the poster was very educational.  I thought it was very well done.

And their costumes carried through on the history idea.  Represented here was Navajo, Egyptian, Japanese, Irish, Renaissance and, I think, modern.  This team went an extra distance with their costumes.

Their scarf was a lovely one of a soft grayish-brown wool with light pink (cochineal) accent stripes.  They used a spaced and crammed threading for an awesome undulating twill pattern.  And I hope I don’t embarrass the weaver here, but don’t you agree with me that she is a beautiful young lady?

The third team was the returning team of The Pirates of the Treadle.

In past years, they have been an all-boy team, but this year they have a hostage who wove their scarf for them.  I’m sure it was tough on a girl of genteel upbringing to have to work with the rough and tumble pirates.

Again, the pirates’ costumes were quite authentic in their shabbiness and use of color.  A couple of the pirates lacked proper footwear, which probably added to their hostage’s distress at having to associate with them.

I was impressed that their scarf colors included natural wool in white and brown, a section dyed with Queen Anne’s Lace (the tarnished goldy color) and I loved their use of the indigo and cochineal stripes.  The brown in the middle was to represent the ship as it sails through the waters.  I can’t remember what pattern they used to weave the scarf with.

The fourth and final team was the Legends of the Loom.

The characters from this team represented weavers and spinners in myth and legend, including Penelope (the weaver) and the three Fates.

Is it my imagination, or did the youngest member of the team play the part of the old crone?  Too funny!

Now this team did something completely different with their scarf design.

See these stencils?  They used cochineal and cochineal with copper to create a painted warp.  I was told that this was the first time that any youth team had done a painted warp.

Here is what the warp looked like on the loom.  How clever is this?

They decided to use a broken twill pattern to enhance the warp pattern.

And here are our teams taken from the stage above them.

Spinning Through Time in the foreground and The Neverlanders behind them, and…

Spinning Through Time again in the foreground, The Pirates of the Treadle to the left and The Legends of the loom to the left.

I can hardly wait to show you what their finished scarves looked like.

And what did Sandy do while the competition was going on?

Yes, Dyed in the Wool had a booth there selling all things colorful.

And she did quite well, too!  Go Sandy!!!

Aug 15

Saturday morning, I picked Sandy up at 6:00 AM (no the sun was not up, yet) and we headed down to the fairgrounds to watch the balloon launch.  Out of 16 balloonists who signed up, only three balloons opted to risk the flight due to the weather.

Nonetheless, it was fantastic to watch them fill up and take off.

After that, we headed to the sheep barn to see who and what we could see.

This wee lamby was born on August 1st.  He probably thinks the whole fair is just for him.

These had no time to come and visit with us.  It was breakfast time and their buckets were being filled.  They reminded me of Pete and Dylan every morning when I am slopping their food into their plate.

Isn’t she pretty?  I loved her profile and the color of her face.

And this fellow.  Look at those lovely, curling horns.

This young lady was waiting her turn in the show ring.  Her fleece was lovely and a deep, rich black.  I hope she did well and won a ribbon.

This 4-month-old Shetland ewe lamb was named Tootsie Roll.  I have dibs on her fleece.  Seriously!

Once again Westfield Woolies won!  This time they got both

Grand Champion and

Reserve Grand Champion on their Cormo fleeces.  And, yes, Sandy and I have our dibs in on these.  One person is before us, but we get what she doesn’t take.  We are so thrilled!!!

We stopped and watched the pole vaulters warming up.  This looked like fun.

By this time we were ready for lunch.  Actually, I had been ready for lunch for a couple of hours, but we had things to see first.  Since I cannot eat wheat, finding something at the fair was a bit of a challenge for me, but I did it.

Rotisserie  chicken, mashed potatoes (no gravy) and cole slaw.  Later on, I had a pineapple smoothie just because I was at the state fair.

After lunch and before we had to go to the Home and Family Arts building for our 4-hour stint at demonstrating spinning and answering lots of questions from the public, we headed over to the Pioneer Village.

The volunteers were taking shifts at eating a much better looking lunch than I had had.  The baked pork chops smelled especially good.

While we were there I talked with a lady who was weaving on an 1860 rug loom.

She said they had put 40 yards on it and she planned to weave it all off during the state fair.  I liked the colors of the rug she was currently working on.

Above her was this framed.  I really liked it.  Samplers have always appealed to me.

By then, it was time to head over to work.  During a break, I took some pictures of non-spinning and weaving related items.

I really love traditional, patch-work type of quilts.

You should have seen the workmanship on this dress.  The detail was wonderful and it was the prettiest dress there in my opinion.

This deserved to win.  I wonder how many hours it took to complete.

And this that looks like a painting?  It’s cross stitch!  I had to look really close at the stitches they were so fine.  I’ve done cross stitch, but those who can do it this tiny are beyond my ken.  Wow!

Look at the details in this!  Incredible!

And I about killed poor Sandy that day.  I am used to working out and walking on the treadmill.  She is still recovering from hernia surgery, so I let her set the pace for the walking at the fair.  By noon, she was worn out.  When I checked my pedometer, I found out we had walked over 10,000 steps already and had in 14,546 for the day.  No wonder she was so tired.  I apologized to her because I had no idea that we had walked that much.

Still, it was a fun day.


Aug 14

This was a great and busy weekend.  Friday at about 1:00, I arrived at the state fairgrounds and hauled my spinning wheel to the Home and Family Arts building.  The only irritating thing that happened the entire weekend was that I had a parking pass for the Home and Family Arts Building parking lot, but none of the parking attendants paid any attention to it and I ended up being parked in a muddy lot about as diametrically opposite of my destination as you can get – and these are huge fairgrounds.  Thank heavens for the tractor pulled shuttles.

I failed to get any pictures Friday because I forgot to take my camera.  Normally, I am never without my camera, but that time I was.  As soon as I dumped my spinning wheel off, I ran into some wonderful friends of mine and Sandy’s, Anita, Alaina and Sabrina Richert of Richert Ranch – if you are a member of The Fiber Binder Club, it is their Lincoln, Suffolk and Polypay fleeces we sent you.  It was great seeing them, and they brought us more of the Lincoln adult fleece, which is great since we didn’t have enough for the full member of the club.  Also, they had with them a fleece from one of their Lincoln/Suffolk crosses that was bright white, wonderfully curly and was second in the largest class at the Great Lakes Fiber Festival at Wooster, Ohio- which this year was the Medium White class.  I drooled over it.

We have two other of their Lincoln/Suffolk crosses, a beautiful dark gray (Truffle) and a sweet medium gray (S’More) and we know how nice they spin up.  I asked if it was for sale, and Sabrina told me that she wanted to keep it, so I told her that Sandy and I want next spring’s fleece if they would sell it to us.  At that point, I had to head off to do my stint of spinning demonstration at the SWIFT (Spinners and Weavers of Indiana – Fibers and Textiles) booth.  Since it is the year of the dairy cow, the booth coordinator was able to get some milk fiber for us to spin.  It is soft and shiny like silk.  Also, we were able to get some soy silk to try out.  I already was spinning the silk from the Fiber Binder Club sample, so Kathy Peoples begun spinning the soy silk and it was nice to be able to compare how the two looked.

At 6:00, when our booth closed for the night I ran into the Richerts again and guess what!  Sabrina told me she’d keep next year’s fleece and she offered to sell us the one they had in the truck!  Anita later wrote me and said she and Alaina agonized over whether to sell it to us or not and decided that we’d be able to put it to use sooner than they would so agreed to sell it.  Seriously folks, if you want some wonderful, top of the line Lincoln and Lincoln/Suffolk cross fleeces, these are the people to buy them from.  They are all luscious!

Here is a picture of that fleece:


Aug 13

The Indiana State Fair was wonderful this weekend.  I have a camera full of pictures and I’ll get them processed and a blog post up tomorrow about it.  I’ll give you one item, though.  I walked 14,546 steps on Saturday.

Aug 10

Here’s a hint.

And here is what I’ll be doing today and tomorrow:

Let the fun begin!!!

Aug 8

It’s that time again!  This Sunday beginning at 10:00 at the Opry Barn is the Indiana State Fair Sheep to Shawl competition.

If you are planning to be at the Indiana State Fair on Sunday, please stop by and cheer on the teams as they card, spin, ply and weave shawls in 4 hours.  I am one of the judges for this again this year and I am really looking forward to seeing what these hard-working teams come up with this year.  Also, Sandy will have a Dyed in the Wool booth set up there selling all of the Tie-Dye stuff we have made.  Stop by and say hi!!

Aug 6
Commencing threading
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 08 6th, 2012| icon34 Comments »

This weekend I began threading the Harrisville loom for the towels I want to weave.

Getting the space set up was important.  The easel holding my plans and tools and the short ottoman for the ease of my back make it a lot easier.  Don’t look to closely at my chicken scratches on the paper.  I didn’t use the computer program for this and there are all kinds of calculations all over it.

Having lots of light is a big help, too.  Because I sley the reed and thread the heddles at the same time using an extra long heddle hook, I have a light over my shoulder to help me see the threads in the cross and another light at the back of the look to help me see through the dents in the reed.

I am threading this at 26 threads per inch (using 10/2 cotton), so with a 12 dent reed, I am threading 2/dent for 5 dents, the 3/dent on the sixth.  Using a pink thread through the 6th dent helps me keep track of my count as I go.

Once I have a section of thread done (100 ends in this project), I am stopping and making sure there are no threading errors.  it is so much easier to fix them at this point rather than waiting until all the loom is threaded.

Then, when I am sure that all is good, I tie off that section to keep it from getting pulled back out or messed up.

I did not get the entire loom threaded, but I hope to have it done before the end of the week.  At 600 ends, this is going to take several hours to do.

Goodness, it feels good to be threading a loom that I actually get to use.  I cannot wait to get to the weaving part.