Sep 26

After spinning, knitting, weaving and fulling so many different types of wool, I decided I wanted to try something different, so I spun up the bombyx silk hankies from the Fiber Binder Club.  The spinning part went rather well and I got it all done while I was demonstrating spinning at the Indiana State Fair back in August.  It was nice to have real silk to show to people since we were spinning soy silk, too.

With all of the other knitted swatches, I had used size 3 (US) needles to be consistent.  The bottom swatch on the silk was also knitted with a size 3, but I hated how it came out.  The silk was just to finely spun for that large of a needle, so I got out the smallest set of needles I own – 00000.  The top knitted swatch was knit on these and it came out much better.  Both swatches are 20 stitches wide, but the difference in the look, feel and final size were completely different.

Because my Weavette doesn’t allow for closer setts, I wove only one swatch just to have it in here.  I wish I could have woven something with the sett much closer.  Also, because silk does not shrink or full, I saw no reason to weave a second one.  As for the two spun samples, the first one was spun as finely as I felt comfortable doing.  I really like how it came out.  The second one was spun at about twice the diameter and is what I knitted and wove with for this book.

I found that spinning the silk wasn’t as enjoyable as spinning the wool.  In fact, I ended up with a blister on my left hand from it, but knitting that wee swatch with 00000 needles was rather fun.  I wouldn’t want to knit an entire sweater with that gauge, but I can see making dolly socks out of it or something equally as miniature.

Of course, I need to spin up the Eri silk to compare with the Bombyx silk.  And as for dyeing, the silk should take up the dye very well, but I am curious how the different fiber will affect the color.  Before, when I’ve dyed wool and silk in the same pot of cochineal at the same time, the silk came out lavender and the wool came out pink.  For example, look at this page on the Dyed in the Wool site.  The Wiegela worsted weight wool at the top of the page was dyed in the same pot and at the same time as the Lilac silk at the bottom of the page.  Fascinating!!

Sep 25

While little creative-wise has been accomplished in the month of September, I have been able to work here and there on different fibers and uses of fiber in the Fiber Binder Club.

With the East Fresian, I managed to get the woven samples done, the left being unwashed and the right one being washed and fulled.  You know, for rug and tapestry weavers out there, this is awesome wool.  The black Fresian fleece we have has a good, true black, which is hard to get by dying.  Using the white to get other colors, I would love to see this fiber in a rug.  Since the wool is traditionally used in carpet, it should be long wearing.  I may have to try making a small rug for my bedside or something and see what I think.

While I didn’t enjoy spinning the Suffolk as much as some of the others, it knitted and wove up beautifully.  This would be great as a lined jacket.  When I fulled the woven sample, it meshed nicely and evenly.  I can’t wait to see how this dyes up.

I loved spinning and using the Polypay.  For one, it washed up to a nice white.  It spun like a dream and I loved how it wove and fulled.  This is one fiber I will have to make into something.  With the lovely stitch definition in the knitting, I’m thinking a three-ply for a sweater. Again, I can’t wait to dye a sample.

I’ll admit that Shetland has long been a favorite fiber of mine.  I’ve dyed Shetland using natural dyes for many years, I knitted with it and woven with it, and I just love it.  I didn’t want this sample to end.

The Dorset surprised me.  I may have a new favorite.  It spun up easily, I loved how it fulled in the woven sample, and it knits up like a charm.  I can see why our pioneer ancestors brought this sheep with them.  It is very versatile.  I believe this is the sheep raised at Conner Prairie and what they make all their wool costumes from like mittens, scarves, shawls, etc.  I definitely want to work with more of this fiber.

So, Dye Day is coming up in a couple of weeks (October 8th to be exact – click here and here for more information).  Obviously this would be a great time to dye some of the samples I have prepared and will get prepared between now and then.  Figuring out how to tag the samples as to the fiber type is going to be a challenge, but I have a couple of ideas I’m kicking around.

If you have any questions about Dye Day or the Fiber Binder club, please feel free to ask.  Both are fun!

Sep 24

Had Mom lived, today would have been her 67th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!!

My third bit of good luck that I mentioned Friday are Mom’s travel journals.  For Christmas 1995, right after Mom and Dad sold the campground and went “full-time” as travelers, I bought Mom a blank book and told her that she could use it to record everything she saw, did, heard as well as tickets, pictures, whatever she wanted in order to be able to read them again when she was old and remember everything.  She looked at the blank book in her hands and you could see the light bulb go off.  “I can, can’t I?”  And she did.

Beginning January 1, 1996 through May 31st, 2001, she wrote nearly every day and filled six volumes of blank books.  Like with Mammaw, I replaced each book when it was full with a new one.  She quit the first time she got cancer and started going through all the chemo, surgeries and radiation.  She said she just couldn’t write about that.  Even when she went into remission and she and Dad started traveling again, her energy level and the constant pain from the chemo treatments left her with no desire to write again.  We are so lucky for the 4 and a half years she did write though.

As you can see, she included pictures, maps, brochures, cards and letters from her grandkids, everything she could think of to make these memories as complete as possible.  The further she went, the more stuff she found to include in her journals to the point they were a hybrid journal/scrapbook.

This is how thick the 6th book is.  I think there is more extra stuff than original pages in it.  Each page is like opening another present from Mom as underneath all of the extra stuff is a full, written page describing the events and experiences.  I am so sorry that she didn’t get the chance to relive this time by reading these journals in her old age.  I would have loved to sit with her and discuss her experiences with her when the time came.

On Saturday, I began transcribing Mammaw’s diaries.  The first volume has 1954 at the top of the page and 1955 at the bottom, so I an transcribing both years at once with each year in a different Word document.  It took a couple of hours, but I have both Januarys done.  Reading them as I go along is fun.  There are daily trips to a neighbors for a few weeks because that neighbor was due with a baby “anytime” and they didn’t want her to be alone when she was in labor.  There were worries about paying bills due to winter lay-offs at the factory, there were chores, visits, broken bones, basketball games, laughter and heart aches.

It was such a different time.  Someone in the area getting a new telephone and people visiting so they can call friends and family who also have phones so they can hear what they sound like.  Also, television was relatively new and people would invited friends and family over to watch a show together. At that time, baby showers happened during the week rather than on the weekend because women having a job outside of the home was the exception rather than the norm it is today.  In order to make extra money, Mammaw crocheted “chair sets” which consisted of a cover for the back and arms of a chair and sold them for $10 for 2 sets.  Also, more times than not, hair cuts were given by a neighbor rather than a barber or a beautician.  No one had the money in rural southern Indiana for extras such as that.  In fact, running out of coal and having to burn scrap lumber happened far more often than was comfortable.

I grew up hearing these stories firsthand and have read these diaries a couple of times before.  What an eye opener it will be to the generation after me who are used to computers, cell phones and ipods.  I can hardly wait to get this done so I can discuss it with them.  I’d love to hear their comments.

Sep 21

I have been doing genealogical research since I was given my great-grandmother’s notes at the age of 16 – that’s 32 years I have working on my family history.  My college roommate and I have traveled all over Indiana, and have spent many, many hours researching online, at the Indiana Historical Society and at the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  This library houses the second largest genealogical library in the United States and we are very lucky to live an hour and a half away.

Doing this kind of research, as well as visiting cemeteries and county courthouses, is great for the names, dates and places part of the research, but it is the stories of the peoples’ lives that interest me the most.  In that, I have had one piece of bad luck, but three pieces of good luck.

The bad luck is that my great-grandmother’s diaries burned when our house burned down when I was 13.  They were in a box in the top of my parent’s closet and I was to be given them on my 16th birthday along with the family history notes that my mom’s mom still had.  I have regretted not getting to read those diaries ever since I found out about them.

The good luck I have had, starts with these:

These are my maternal grandmother’s diaries and journals and a few of the family picture albums I have inherited that were Mammaw’s.  The second piece of good luck is that 95% of the pictures are either labeled on the front or are written on on the back, most with dates, too.  I owe Mammaw a huge thanks for that.

It looks like Mammaw’s diaries start in 1954.  I believe she had some that were older, but they have been lost over time.  Still starting in 1954 and going through the year 2000 gives me a lot of her history.

Vada was the great-grandmother who’s diaries burned, Opal is her daughter, my grandmother, and Helen is Opal’s daughter, my Mom.  Three generations of diary and journal keepers, with me making the 4th that I know of.  These pictures were taken in 1955, when Mom was about 10 years old.

My winter’s project is to start transcribing Mammaw’s diaries and scan in pictures from the times and places and of people that are mentioned in the diaries as I go and add them into the document.  This is very important to me, not only to make sure they are available for future generations along with my genealogical program data, but to be able to give each of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren living today a copy of them for their own chance to get to know a part of their family’s history in the words of the person who lived through them.

First hand experiences and words are important to me.  These more than represent a person’s life, they record thoughts, deeds, experiences, and in this case, will show images from that life as well.

I am so lucky to have these and have the opportunity to share them with the rest of my family.

And the third piece of good luck?  I’ll show you on Monday.

Sep 19

While Scott and I were in southern Indiana last week, we decided to take a tour of the renovated and restored West Baden Springs Hotel.  It was Northwood Institute most of the time I was growing up, but then it fell into disrepair and was in danger of collapsing all together.  Then it was resurrected from it’s own rubble and lovingly restored.  I’ll show you a few of the photos I took of the place.

This is the entrance into the grounds from Highway 56.

It is nice having a bank on the premises for all those gangsters and gamblers of the 20’s.

A comfortable way to rest and relax and to look over the garden.

This really does not give the scope of how large the dome is or how beautiful.  When you step inside, it takes your breath away and you feel like you have landed into a different era.

The top of the dome.  They used bridge technology to build this dome.

The details of the place were wonderful.  I can just see an Edwardian lady gracefully lounging on the chase fanning herself.

This is the lobby of the hotel and where most guests are greeted.  The tile floor is amazing.

The grounds have been restored as well, although the outbuildings are still empty.

The garden, fountain and another unused building.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to West Baden, do so.  The drive through this part of southern Indiana is lovely, especially in the fall and spring times of the year.  After seeing it derelict so many years, I am so happy to see her restored to all of her glory.  We were there for about an hour and a half, and we want to go back because we ran out of time to see it all.

Sep 18
Thank you!!
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Since I have been out of touch for the past week or so, I have not had the chance to answer all the emails and lovely messages all of you have sent.  I’d like to take this time, right here and now, to thank each and every one of you.  All your love and support during this past couple of weeks have been very much appreciated and you all have made me feel loved and lifted up.

While nothing will be anything like the “old norm,” we as a family feel the importance of getting on with life and getting back to something as close to normal as we can get.  We will never stop missing Mom and Lori, but they would be the first to tell us to get back to the real world and keep on keeping on.

All of us are back to work and school (except Dad who is retired and he’s doing what he needs to be doing).  Thank you for your prayers and thoughts.  They helped get us through.

Before today is over, please take the time to give all your loved ones extra hugs, telephone calls, tweats or Facebook nudges.  However you keep in contact, do so and tell them that you love them.

Sep 17
Home Again
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Scott and I drove down to Tennessee yesterday to attend Lori’s funeral and came back home today.

I have never attended such a large funeral.  The night before, at the viewing at the funeral home, it was estimated that between 1600 and 1700 people came through.  The funeral itself was at their church, which I was told holds 1200 people.  It was completely packed, the lobby was packed, the hallways were packed and there were people waiting outside.  It was estimated that over 2,000 people were there to say their good-byes to Lori.  The funeral director said that he sometimes has trouble getting one police officer to volunteer for traffic control, and there were at least 6 officers controlling traffic at Lori’s.  He said he had been to smaller funerals for dignitaries.

The outpouring of love and support from their community was overwhelming.  The cards, money, food, services provided and offered were beyond amazing.  It stunned my brother, who had no idea how their community felt about them.  Lori would have been shocked.  We all know she had no idea how much she was loved.  Clinton had people he had never met come up to him and tell him how “Miss Lori” had touched them or their family or their children.

It took 15-20 minutes for everyone to get parked at the cemetery.  I thought Mom’s was large at 200+, but Lori had that beat 10 times over.

The number of people who are still feeling the effects of her life and death keep becoming known.  At least 6 people have come to accept Christ, including one of the air-lift pilots.  Lori’s life and death were like a stone dropping in a large lake.  The ripples will reach the shore and be felt all over.

Lori is looking down from heaven, shaking her head and smiling that shy smile of hers.  She is going to be sorely missed, but her life will be a blessing and an inspiration to all of us who have been touched by her.

Sep 13

My sister-in-law, Lori Crowder, went to be with God on Monday night, September 10th.  Please pray for my brother, Clinton Crowder, who not only just lost a mother, but lost his wife.  Pray for the kids as they have lost both a beloved grandmother and mother within less than 4 days of one another.


Once again, I stole these from my niece’s Facebook page.  I don’t know who created this one, but I want to thank them.

If you want to see how well loved Lori was, just go to her Facebook page and read all the messages left on there.

Sep 10

I am taking a short break from blogging.  We had another tragedy in this month (so far) of nightmares.  My brother’s wife had a heart attack Saturday night.  Lori is still alive, but it is very touch and go right now.  The type of heart attack she had is called the “Widow Maker.” and very few people survive it.  Clinton was on his way back from Texas when it happened and a friend of a friend flew his small plane down and flew my brother back to Nashville to be with Lori and the rest of the family.

Dad is driving the rest of the way back to Indiana by himself and should be up here sometime today.  I will be spending the rest of the week with him as we finalize everything for Mom’s funeral and lay her to rest.

Please keep all of our family in your prayers.

Sep 7

Mom died at about 3:30 this morning in Weslaco, Texas.

Mom was the second and last child in her family, her brother being 7 years older.  In fact, her mom and dad didn’t think they would be able to have any more children after their first, but they did.  Mom was a huge baby and it put her mom in bed with blood clots for several months after the birth.  Both her and her brother were born at home as were their parents and grandparents before them.

She grew up in the 1950’s and loved being a child of the 50’s.  She loved Gene Autry, Dale Evans and Chubby Checker.  She was a tomboy, and her dad’s shadow.  Wherever her dad went, there was little Helen.

While growing up, the family had very little money, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying life.  They raised most of their own food, and the 22-acre farm they finally settled on had woods, a spring and plenty of space to play and explore.  Mom enjoyed being outdoors and would swing from wild grape vines, climb trees, ride horses and play with the family dog.

Like most of the rest of the family, Mom was a reader.  She, her brother and their mom would read almost any book that came their way.  Mom also loved music and loved to go to the high school dances whenever she could.  Her and her two best friends, Marilyn and Juanita, would pool their money together for gas and would borrow a car and go driving around.

Juanita was my Dad’s sister and Marilyn was Dad’s cousin.  Through them Mom met Dad.  At first she thought of Dad as Juanita’s pesky older brother, but they eventually fell in love and two months after Mom graduated high school, Mom and Dad were married in Mom’s family home.  Mom’s dad told my dad that if he ever got tired of Mom, he knew where to take her.  It was hard on my grandfather losing his shadow and companion.

Dad got a job as an upholsterer at the Paoli Chair Factory (now Paoli, Inc.) and Mom took up housekeeping in a tiny house just a few blocks from the factory.  There I was born.  Three weeks before my brother’s birth a couple of years later, Mom and Dad moved a few miles outside of Paoli to a two-story house with about an acre of land.  They lived there until 1972 when they bought a 7-acre farm just outside Livonia for $16,000.  That farm was paradise to my brother and me.

Dad bought half of the dairy farm that he had grown up on.  A brother bought the other half.  This and working at the factory full time comprised a good deal of their time along with camping every other weekend and a two-week vacation each summer.  That was how Dad and his brother split the chores of the dairy farm.  His brother would milk each morning, Dad, with our help, would milk at night, and each brother got every other weekend as a break from the farm as well as a vacation each summer.  Still, it was very hard work, and it wasn’t too many years before Dad sold his half to another brother.

Mom ended up having to go to work in order to help pay for the farm and pay the bills.  First she worked at a factory in Orleans, and then moved to Bata Shoe Factory in Salem.  Rumors of Bata closing that factory had Mom looking for a new job, and she began working at Paoli Chair Factory as a tufter.  By this time, Dad had been promoted to foreman over the upholstery department and Mom and Dad had the joy of being able to drive to and from work together and have their lunches together.

Mom and Dad’s marriage has been very loving and they were very close as a couple.  They were best friends and partners as well as man and wife.

Once my brother and I were out of college and married, Mom and Dad sold the little farm and bought a KOA Kampground in Tennessee.  They owned it for four years, putting in lots of work and improvements.  When they sold it, they made enough money to be able to live their dream – traveling all over the US.  They worked at Escapee campgrounds all over, a few months here and there in different places while they explored the area.  Dad’s love for bluegrass music blossomed and between the keyboards and the 5-string banjo, he helped form music jams in Florida, Tennessee, Arizona and finally in Texas.

While in her mid-50’s, Mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  Months of chemo beat it and she was in remission for 9 years.  During those 9 years, Mom and Dad stopped working for campgrounds and became “full-timers.”  They traveled all over, Dad playing music wherever he could and Mom enjoying life with him.  They eventually settled near Harlingen, Texas, for what would be the rest of Mom’s life.  She loved it there.

Mom’s life was surrounded by friends and family.  Her four grandchildren were very important to her and she loved visiting them in Tennessee and having them spend the night with her and Dad.  She and Dad attended basketball games and band contests to see their grandchildren at their best, and they encouraged each child to be individuals.

This picture was taken right after Scott and I built our house 18 years ago.  See that smile on Mom’s face?  That was how she looked most of the time.  That wee girly on her shoulders is my niece, Kayla, who is a sophomore in college now, and the wee girly on my shoulders is Kim, who is out of college and is working.  The twins, Kurtis and Kristina weren’t even in the works, yet, at this point.  You can tell Mom and Dad are laughing.  There was always laughter in the family.

Last year, after the death of her own mother, Mom found out that the cancer had come back.  This time, there were tumors on her larynx and aorta.  The one on her aorta was so large that it pushed her wind-pipe 2” to the side making it difficult for her to breathe, eat and drink.  The first rounds of chemo shrunk the tumors, but she became allergic to a component of that chemo so the doctors had to find something else that would work.  Nothing else did.  Mom became weaker and weaker until she was hospitalized in July of this year.  She had a short reprieve and enjoyed visits with friends and family for a few weeks, but it was not to last.  A different chemo drug was tried, but it soon took its toll and she was put into the hospital again the first of this month.  Soon, she was not responding and was moved to hospice to be made as comfortable as possible until the end.

For over 20 years, Mom and Dad have been able to live out their dream.  They have a tight family who loved one another very much.  Not too many people are as blessed as this and Mom never took it for granted.  She made friends wherever she went and we used to joke with her that the only time her wrinkles didn’t show was when she was sad.  The wrinkles on her face were all smile wrinkles and she could always be found laughing and smiling and helping people.  Many hundreds of people are mourning her all over the US along with her family.  She will be sorely missed.

New Picture – and what an awesome one:

This is a recent one of Mom and my oldest niece Kim.  I stole it from Kim’s Facebook page, but I don’t think she will mind.  See Mom’s smile wrinkles?  Weren’t they beautiful?

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