Oct 29
Blanket Update
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 10 29th, 2013| icon31 Comment »

Several people have been asking how the new blanket is coming along, so I thought I’d show you a progress photo.


I am on the last section for the width, so once it is done, I will stop knitting on two opposite sides and continue knitting on two opposite sides until it is long enough.  Once I am at that point, it ought to go a bit faster since I will no longer be increasing 8 stitches every other row and will be knitting back and forth on two sides rather than that long way around each time.  Of course, each side will be mirror images to keep the symmetry of it going. I’m just glad this is going to be for a twin sized bed and not a king sized one.

Oct 28


Can you see why doctors, nurses and the Indiana Blood Center loves Sandy so much?  Instead of “X marks the spot,” It’s “V is for Vein. Poke here”


Oct 27
Hug A Sheep (Or Several)
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Support Your Local... | icon4 10 27th, 2013| icon31 Comment »

Yesterday was Hug A Sheep Day at Equinox Farm, aka Punkin’s Patch, and Scott and I were there for the fun.


Sara and her husband, Tim, have the most beautiful farm with sheep, horses, chickens, dogs and cats.  This was Scott’s first trip there and I think he could have just moved in to the barn and stayed.


Besides, how many barns do you know have their own swings inside?  This was a huge hit with the kids throughout the day.


And Scott looked the wool house over very well, inside and out and he’s already making plans to build something like this for me.  Goodness, wouldn’t that be a dream come true!


As you can see, I was well bundled up for the day.  It was cool and breezy (and that breeze knocked off my hat at every opportunity).  Yes, that is one of my Harris Tweed jackets that I have collected.  It did a great job keeping me warm.  20 was there as ambassador and he did a great job and gave great hugs.

But there were other ambassadors there as well, but these demanded vanilla wafers and Cheerios as tribute rather than just a hug.


Henrietta the sweet Jacob sheep.


Graham who managed to smear more than one camera lens during the day.  His spring fleece is at Ohio Valley being processed and will be in the Dyed in the Wool booth next year.  I have dibs on his 2014 fleece, but I think I’ll buy it myself and have some fun spinning it and dyeing it for a colorwork sweater for me.


Keebler with his “I’ve had enough, get me out of here” face.


Sara (thecrazysheeplady), her camera slung at her back keeping an eye on everything and answering tons of questions.  The sheep are from left to right B. Willard (Sara’s sweater if from his fleece), Budreaux, I think Keebler, and Maisie is hiding behind Sara.  Maisie really didn’t want to be petted or loved on yesterday and did a lot of tossing her head and prancing about.  What a funny little diva she is!


Don’t think those in the pasture were forgotten. Chocula and Hershey were getting lots of hugs and cookies as was Hank.


This shot just cracks me up.  Doesn’t Ewen McTeagle look like a sheep on stilts?


“This is my”I’m a good boy” face, so hand over those crackers, lady!”

Chocula got more than his fair share of cookies and crackers.  When I tried to give some cookies to Hershey earlier, Chocula managed to get his mouth between the cookie and Hershey every time, sometimes at the very last second.  And, as you can see here, he is enjoying the attention and treats very much.


Scott’s brother and family came by as well, since they don’t live that far away.  This is our youngest niece, Miriam giving Petunia some loving.


This is Sarah with Budreaux.  She and Budreaux became fast friends and she really hated to leave when it was time to go.

I wish I had gotten a picture of Maddie with the sheep.  Next year, Maddie, you will get to go first and I will get a shot of you with the sheep.

black BL fleece

There were some fleeces for sale there as well.  I fell in love with this black Border Leicester fleece, but someone else beat me to it, so it didn’t get to come home with me.  But it was a lovely fleece!

Scott likes to take pictures of interesting textures to use in his art and spent quite a bit of time taking pictures while there.


And, he managed to photo bomb himself in one of them.  Too funny!!!

Sara, thank you for a lovely day and I look forward to coming back next year.  The 2014 calendar I bought from you will be hung up where I can see the pictures every day.

Oct 25
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 A Little of This, A Little of That | icon4 10 25th, 2013| icon3No Comments »

The Ultimate, Unsung, Unique Umbrella Tree – Bumpershootus umbrelli.


Notice that this tree is in the middle of its blooming cycle with an unopened bud, an umbrella in full bloom and one that is past its prime and ready to fall from the tree.

These trees usually bloom in the wetter times of the year with spring and autumn being the heights of its season.  At their peak, the flowers from this tree can be dried and used for many years.

If you can find a seed to this rare tree, you, too, can grow it and harvest your own umbrellas.

Oct 24

Guess where I’m going Saturday?

Hug-A-Sheep Day with The Crazy Sheep Lady and all of the gang.  Bring your spinning wheel, your knitting or crocheting and let’s play with some sheep!

Oct 23

Okay, so the past few weeks have been busy.  How busy?  Let’s just say very busy and be done with it.  That busy.

So, my S and T photographs are pretty thin, but here goes.


Scott being Silly at the Kokomo Comic Con.


Skiff of Snow on the cars this morning.  Our first snow of the Season.  This was on the cars only, not the grass, not the road, just on the cars.


My Temporary Dock Pass reflected in the windshield of my car.  This is from the Cincinnati Comic Expo and, yes, it is still on my dash.  Did I mention that it has been busy lately?

I have a cool idea for U, but I need to gather a few supplies in order to do it.

I hope you are having a great week so far.  Happy Humpday!!!

Oct 21

This past Saturday was the 2013 Kokomo Comic Con and Scott and I were there along with a lot of other people.

JS booth

Here is Scott in the Johnny Saturn booth.  Dragon posters, again, were the top sellers and we sold out of several prints once again.  See the two dragon posters on the left on the table cloth overhang?  Those are really hot posters!  That far left one sold out before noon!

I didn’t take my spinning wheel this time.  Well, I did, but I left it in the car.  While Scott did his thing, I ran over to Groovy Girl Yarn and had some fun there talking with owner, Amanda, about my teaching classes and how we can get Kokomo out of the Red Heart rut.  Seriously, she sells some really nice yarn and her prices were very competitive.  I can’t wait to get to work there.


The One and Only Scott Bachmann was there – you need to check out his Super Mom comic book.

Many Dr Who

So was Paul McCall.  If you love Dr. Who and want a print of your favorite doctor, then check out Paul’s work.  These are so cool!

There were a lot of people in costume, but I only took a few pictures of my favorite ones.


Best. Hellboy. Costume. Ever!!!


Scott found out about a steampunk group in Indianapolis.  I have the feeling Scott might have to go and see what they are doing.


And, of course, what comic con would be complete without the Batmobile.

It was a fun day and we will be back there next year.

Oct 18

Sandy received a box yesterday, and you would not believe what was in it.


This sheep throw, sheep sheets, sheep pillow cases and a sheep bedspread.  The place she got them is called Cuddledown and they have sheep towels, too, and I think Sandy said they have a sheep duvet.  The quality of the items she received were top notch.  They carried these last year, too, and they sold out of the sheep items pretty quickly, so if you are interested, I’d act fast.


So, on top of counting sheep to go to sleep, the sheep themselves will make sure she is comfortable and keep her warm.

Oct 17

Tuesday, I was pretty much shot from Dye Day, but that was to be expected.

Yesterday, though, was another long day starting at 7 AM and ending at 9 PM.  I drove 2.5 hours up to MoonTree Studios ostensibly to make three 3-minute commercials for classes I am teaching there next year.  It took 3 hours to make one commercial (for the weaving workshop), and, as I had to be in Greenwood by 6 PM last night (a 3.5 hour drive) to teach my intermediate spinning class, we will have to tape the other two commercials sometime after the beginning of the new year.  But, boy, was it an interesting process.  The three hours flew by.

Last night, in the spinning class, it was “Get out of your comfort zone” night.  For example, if your default spinning is lace or fingering weight, then the assignment was to spin worsted or chunky weight yarn.  If you spin worsted or chunky yarn, then it was time to spin sock weight, and if you were really loving your woolen long-draw, it was time to spin worsted.  Everyone did a great job with their challenges and they all have homework to complete for the next class in a month.

Because we are approaching Halloween, there was some fun crochet work going on at the store.

Heather crocheted a brain!


Isn’t that so cool?  It even has a brain stem with nerves and blood vessels!


You have to love a person who can make a brain.

squished spider

And what about a squished spider coaster?


Then we got silly last night.  I don’t know which person added which part, but we have eyeball coasters, a candy corn mouse for a nose, a knitting needle mouth and, of course, a brain on top.  Actually, this reminds me of Lyle Lovett’s face if you were to look at the brain as hair.


Can you see the resemblance?

I hope you all have a great day!

Oct 15

The day began when the alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. Very dark, about 40 degrees, so cold, but it is rare that I’m out of my bed that quickly and ready to start my day.  In 15 minutes, I was dressed and downstairs. I woke Scott at 4:45 (which is getting to sleep in a whole extra hour for him), then I made scrambled eggs with toast and hot tea to tide us over for a few hours of hard work.  Scott fed the cats and gave Dylan his morning medicine while I finished packing a snack and got everything moved out to the back steps ready to load the car.  By 5:30, we were on our way.

starting fires

The first thing we did when we got to the Hart/Markle farm just east of Pendleton, Indiana, was get the fires going.  We had had a small bout of rain come through in the small hours Sunday morning, but we found enough small dry wood that, together with the fire starter logs and Sunday Indianapolis Star, we got the fires going.  It took us about an hour and a half though to get the rain and dew damp wood to take.  After many, many, many trips to and from the wood pile, the flames were beginning to create hot coals deep within the beds of wood.

heart of the flames

At that point, all Scott and I could do was keep the fires going long enough to ensure they stayed going.  By the time the sun started to appear over the eastern horizon, Scott’s only chore was to get the fires as hot as he could so that the pots of dye liquor could get up to boiling temperature.  My job was to get the dye pots filled, mordants added, and to make sure their stirring sticks were properly labeled.

The dyes available for this year’s Dye Day were


Annatto seeds with washing soda and alum.  This was a cold dye and was still giving so much color at the end of the day, that I brought the rest home.

fustic copper  turmeric

Fustic with alum and iron – the most beautiful deep greens and olives.  Everyone loved this pot and I definitely will repeat this one next year.

Copper – just plain Blue Vitrol heated up for some nice light, minty greens.

Turmeric with alum and iron – this pot gave some really nice rich brassy colors.

brazilwood juniper berries

Brazilwood with copper – mostly deep, rich magentas and purples.  Always a favorite, but this one is getting rarer and rarer due to its harvesting in Brazil.

Brazilwood with alum – nice bright salmony reds.

Juniper berries – good rich browns down to tans to over dye with indigo for tealy greens.

turmeric weld

Turmeric with alum for bright orangy yellows.

Weld – this was supposed to  be bright yellow, but ended up rich browns.

cochineal juniper berries and osage orange

Cochineal with copper – really nice purples.

Cochineal with tin – bright scarlet reds.

Black oak bark – really, really good yellows.

Osage Orange – Really good greenish yellows.  This one was still giving lots of color, too, so I brought home to rest to play with.

And I had two indigo pots, one for blues and one for over dyeing, but I forgot to take pictures of them.

Both Scott and I were so thankful of the day God gave us. The sky was clear and sunny, there was just enough of a breeze that no matter where you were around the fires, the breeze would switch direction and chase you out again.  Mom always said that smoke follows beauty.  Well, if that is true, then we were a beautiful group today.

And then, the cars began to arrive and the people brought their chairs, baskets, bags, food to share and their questions about what they should do. I took them around and showed them the dyes available to them, and gave suggestions for some fun and varied skeins of wool, pieces of cotton fabric and bags of roving.

Just before we decided it was time for lunch, I showed them how to create an indigo vat.

how to mix indigo vat 1

how to mix indigo vat 2

Everyone took great notes and I do hope some of those there attempt their own indigo pots.

how to mix indigo vat 3

This one cracks me up – Me and me on Heather’s ipad.  Stereo Benita!

Of course, the hardest part of the process of making a good indigo vat is the waiting, so while they waited, they ate, knitted, spun, chatted and played in the dye pots.

people enjoying themselves

Just listening to the chatter and laughter makes this day so special for me.  Yes I love the colors, but I love the feeling of community and sharing what I know to those who don’t and opening a whole new world up to them.

But what colors we got!

Pat's brazilwood with copper

Pat’s handspun dyed in the Brazilwood with copper pot.

Pat's black oak bark

Pat’s two-toned handspun dyed in the black oak bark pot.  Love this one!!!

netting color

Jo's cotton

Heather's Haul

This looks like a painter’s palette and they make me want to design something.

Kaitlin's cotton

There were several people there this year who were new to dyeing, but every one of them told me that they’d be back next year and that they already knew what they could do to make the day even more special for them.

Of course, having my students there made it very special for me.  I love the chance to see the colors they were getting and to know that they were thinking about what they were going to create from them.

As we got to the end of the event, everyone pitched in and helped clean everything up, dump dye pots, washed out cloths containing the dye material, putting away food and getting all packed up.  Thank you everyone who helped, because you sure made it much easier for Scott and me.

And thank you everyone for the donations you made.  I have it all ear-marked for next year’s dyes, and I am looking for some different ones.  As some become unavailable due to ecological reasons or because the prices have climbed so high as to make small time dyers like me think two or three times before we order even the smallest amount, I will see what I can do to introduce new ones.  I like keeping this event fresh and fun.

When Scott and I got home, we badly needed our showers, and the cats let us know that they were not thrilled that we hadn’t been there to feed them lunch.  Once we were clean, and fed, we rested.  We were completely tuckered out.

And you know what?  I look forward to next Columbus Day and doing this all over again.



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