Aug 27
First Toe Up Socks done
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 08 27th, 2014| icon34 Comments »

1st toe up socks

This is Sandy wearing the first ever, toe-up socks I have ever knitted that I liked.  Look at them closely.  The one on the left was started with 6 cast on stitches and the one on the right with 8 cast on stitches.  Otherwise, both used size 2 needles.  Odd, really, how different the patterning on the foot looks.  Still, she can tell which is for which foot when she wears them. 🙂

The colors in this picture are pretty close to actual, and I love them.  I may have to get another skein from Gynx Yarn (her “Fairy” colorway on the strong sock base) since I had really wanted socks out of this color.  Next time, I won’t knit the foot so long so I can keep them.

Next time they will be worn by her will be in Alaska at the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer.  Cool!!

Aug 22

At Wednesday night’s spinning class, the advanced students concentrated on spinning from locks, both by just flicking open the ends and spinning straight from the lock, and spinning from the fold.

spinning multicolored locks

Here’s Pat’s results from spinning some multi-colored Romney locks, some white Teeswater locks and some colored mohair locks.  Fun!

brendas tails

Brenda did the same, but then wanted to add some tails to her plying.  Her wheel’s orifice is pretty small, so getting the tails to go through took some manipulation on our part while she plied, but she’s pretty happy with her first experiment.  The next time we do a spin-in at the shop, I’m going to loan her my Lendrum with the plying flyer and bobbin and she’s going to have a couple of singles prepared for more yarn of this type.  Her goal is to knit a hat with this yarn for fun.

washing 1st skein

Heather, a beginning student whose schedule doesn’t let her come to the Beginning class, learned to ply on the wheel last night.  Here is her first skein soaking.

And do you think she likes her new yarn?

heather's baby

I think so, too.

Aug 21

Before we go on, let me introduce you to my fellow judge.

2 judges

That’s me on the left and Jessica Madsen on the right.  It was a complete joy working with Jessica.  She and I fell into a quick rapport and we got the job done smoothly.  I hope I get to work with her again in the future.

Okay, back to the competition.  Rather than do each portion broken down by the order things happened, I am going to break this down by team until we get to the time to announce the winners and the auction.

silent spinners surgery

Here are the Silent Spinners with their scarf off of the loom and getting the finishing touches done to it before turning it in for judging.

finished silent spinners scarf

This is an up-close and personal look at their finished scarf.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Jessica with Silent Spinners scarf

And it looks wonderful worn as well.  These young ladies should be very proud of their scarf.

wonder wheels surgery

Next is the Wonder Wheels finishing their scarf.

finished wonder wheels scarf

And a close-up of their scarf.  I love the indigo warp on this.  Nice colors!

Jessica with wonder wheels scarf

And here is how it looks on.  Very pretty.

ladybugs surgery

And the Lady-Bugs finishing up their scarf.  This always reminds me of surgeons working on a patient.

finished ladybug scarf

And I think their patient came out very well, don’t you think?

Jessica with ladybugs scarf

This one is one of my favorites because of the colors.  Happy!

messy pirates

Next is the Pirates of the Treadle.  As they worked, their area got messier and messier.  One of the boys later told me that their wool for spinning was full of VM and was slightly felted from being washed and they were just tossing aside the stuff they couldn’t use so as not to waste time with it.  I did not get a picture of their scarf just off the loom as I was already into the judging process by the time they finished the weaving portion.

finished pirates scarf

This is their finished scarf, though.  A very nice, masculine design and I love the coreopsis-dyed stripe down the middle.

finished dream team shawl

Again, the Dream Team removed their shawl from their loom while we were judging, so I did not get that picture taken, but here it is all finished.

reformed pirate

I think our reformed Pirate is enjoying himself very much.

And the last, but not least Adult team:

serendipity removing from loom

Removing it from the loom.

serendipity surgery

Finishing it up.

finished serendipity shawl

And its close-up.  Absolutely beautiful!  John said the pattern is a 6-thread herringbone.

final scarves

All of the youth team scarves in a row, ready for the auction.

finished shawls

And the two adult team shawls ready for auction.

So who won?

winning silent spinners

For the youth teams, it was the Silent Spinners!  And this is a much better picture of the green satin PJ’s from Sue’s grandmother.  I’m sorry that not all of the team members are included in this picture because they were all very happy with their win.

owner serendipity shawl

And for the adult team – Serendipity.  By the way, the wool came from her sheep and she won the bidding at the auction, so it is all hers.  Lucky lady!

And how much did everything earn at the auction?

1st Place Youth Team – The Silent Spinners – $375.00

2nd Place Youth Team – The Lady-Bugs of the Wheel – $350.00

3rd Place Youth Team – Wonder Wheels – $300.00

4th Place Youth Team – Pirates of the Treadle – $150.00

All of the proceeds from the Youth Teams’ winnings goes back into the program at Conner Prairie for next year.

1st Place Adult Team – Serendipity – $550.00!  Awesome!!

2nd Place Adult Team – The Dream Team – $375.00

It was a wonderful day and I have enjoyed my last fours years judging this competition.  Everyone involved was just amazing.

Aug 20

Because I took so many pictures that are just too interesting not to share, I am splitting this into two posts like usual.  Today is the set up, and tomorrow will be the win portion.

Let’s start with the teams:

Youth teams – there were four of them, and they all were from Conner Prairie.  Once again, Sue Payne’s mentorship paid dividends, but in more ways than one as you will see later.

Team 1:

Silent Spinners team

The Silent Spinners.  Each member of the team chose a silent screen actress to become and their costumes were amazing.  Two of the costumes have a real history behind them as they originally belonged to Sue Payne’s grandmother.  One I failed to get a good picture of (the green satin PJs worn by the weaver), but the other…

Sues dress

Isn’t this dress stunning?  Printed crepe with black Spanish lace.  The young lady wearing it loved it and I can tell she was going to hate giving it up at the end of the event.  And it fits her like it was made for her.

Wonder Wheels Team

The second team was the Wonder Wheels based on characters from Alice in Wonderland.  And yes, the Red Queen was wearing a real hoop skirt while spinning.  Awesome!

Lady Bugs Team

The third team was the Lady-Bugs of the Wheel and, even though you can’t see it, one of the spinners even had a Ladybug spinning wheel from Schacht.

Lady Bugs Sample Scarves

I really loved their practice scarves, especially the one on the far right, which they used as the basis for their competition scarf as you will see.

Pirates Team

Of course, no competition would be complete without the infamous Pirates of the Treadle, the all boys team.

Pirates Sample Scarves

And their sample scarves.  I really like that right one with its indigo stripe down the middle.

Now, I’ll introduce the two adult teams.  The first team is a very special one and everyone was so glad they were there.  This is where Sue Payne’s previous mentorship comes in – all of the team members are former Conner Prairie Youth Team members.

Dream Team team

The Dream Team.  The young man is a former Pirate, so the girls obviously managed to civilize him. 🙂

Serendipity team

The other adult team was Serendipity with John Salamone as the weaver.

Serendipity yarn1

I loved that they brought skeins of hand-spun yarns to show off.

Serendipity yarn3

They were all so beautiful, but…

Serendipity yarn2

… I really love that left-hand skein spun by Mary Van Hook.  She said she had three total.  Hmmm…

Just to give you a teaser of what is coming tomorrow, I’ll give you a sneak peek of their scarves/shawls.

Silent Spinner 1st glance

The Silent Spinners – you can see a glimpse of the green, satin PJ’s that once belonged to Sue Payne’s grandmother here.

Wonder Wheels 1st glance

Wonder Wheels

Lady Bugs 1st Glance

Lady-Bugs – Isn’t that pattern with its colors just delightful?

Pirates 1st glance

Pirates – a nice and masculine scarf.

Dream Team 1st glance

The Dream Team from underneath.  She had just advanced the loom and there wasn’t enough on top to give you a good look at it.

Serendipity 1st glance

And Serendipity’s.

Tomorrow, I’ll pick up where the team take them from the looms through the auction process.  Same bat time, same bat channel.

Aug 18

I can tell that, over time, my focus on what I look at and purchase at fiber fairs has changed. Until a couple of years ago, I was all about yarn, books and spinning fiber for myself. Now? It’s all about the animals and their fleeces.

We had reserved three fleeces from Moonshadow Farm, and ended up purchasing another CVM from them because it was just too pretty to pass up (Thank you Sandy for spotting it). These were dropped off at Ohio Valley for processing:


Romney/Corriedale cross.  It has a really nice luster to it.


Pure CVM



I had taken up four other fleeces (2 Clun Forest to be processed separately and 2 Cheviot/Perendale crosses to be processed together) and those had already been dropped off when we picked up seven bags of processed fiber to take back home. Those that we picked up were: a sweet gray alpaca, Cotswold, BFL, Babydoll Southdowns. White Horned Dorset (2 bags) and a very rare black Horned Dorset.

Why is the black Horned Dorset so rare? Well, technically, there are no colored Horned Dorsets. This ewe, named Marley, was born to a mother who was white, a father who was white and whose twin sister was white. Either sometime way back in the past a sneaky ram got into the flock who was not a Horned Dorset, or there is a color mutation that developed to produce Marley. Either way, while Marley is registered, none of her lambs can be even if they are born white. Too bad, because, as a hand spinner, I much prefer natural colored fleeces. I’ll get pictures of these fibers taken tonight and up into the shop in the next couple of days.

So, while we were there, we looked a fleeces and animals searching for just the right ones to add to our selection of those for sale. We did purchase other fleeces, but the animals were too much for my camera. Take a look!

sweet shetland ram

The closest one to the camera and I became good friends.  I reached through and gently rubbed him under his chin and on the side of his face and his tail went 90 mph.  He was such a sweetie and look at those lovely horns and his pretty face.

another shetland ram

Another nice looking Shetland ram.  Doesn’t it look like he had just finished some chocolate ice cream?

icelandic ram

This Icelandic ram has a wonderful fleece on him.  Really, I would love to have his next shearing – and I have a picture of the farm sign he is from, too, so I might get my wish.

magnificent horns

And doesn’t he have such a noble head?

two pretty pygoras

When we got to the tents where the fiber animals were, the Pygora show was going on.  I apologize for the yellowy tint to these shots, but it was a yellow-striped tent over head.  I loved these two and they posed so nicely for me.

pygora goat1

Another sweet, light-gray Pygora.  Just look at the fiber!

pygora kid

And this kid was just as pretty.

sweet pygora

This one was getting ready to go into the show ring.  Sandy fell in love with its upright, tufty tail.  It almost looks like someone pinned a feather to its butt.

Type C Pygors

The very first Type C Pygora I have ever seen.  The owner and I talked for several minutes and she told me that this goat tested as cashmere.  It was so soft!!

big scary world

And, folks, it’s a scary world out there for a wee kid.

So, we had a wonderful time at the Michigan Fiber Festival this year. Keep your fingers crossed and say a few prayers that we will be selected to vend there next year. That would be wonderful!

Aug 15
Upright Flatfoot
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 08 15th, 2014| icon31 Comment »

I think it is because of the Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel and the 2-2 rib that this sock can do this.

upright flatfoot

Cool, huh?

I’m on the cuff of this first sock and, on the way back from Michigan Fiber Festival, Sandy is going to drive so I can get the heel done and onto the leg with the second sock.  It ended up being a bit long for my foot, but I am really happy with both the toe and the heel on this.  I’ll just make the foot of the next pair about an inch shorter.

Wait until you see how different the 2nd sock looks – and all I did was start knitting on the outside of the ball whereas the first one was knit from the inside.

Aug 14

Sorry I’ve taken so long to get this written, but between work, teaching and a bad stretch of insomnia, I just haven’t been able to do anything extra.


This first thing we did upon arriving at the fair Saturday morning was head to the sheep barn to watch a couple of favorite kids show their Shetlands – they would be the middle two kids in this picture.  The one is red (E) won 2nd place, and the one to her left (our right) is her sister (L) and she got 4th even though the judge wanted to give her 3rd.  She made two rather critical errors, though, and got nicked for them.  She’s young, though, and she will know better next time.  Her sheep, Elsie, has a fleece to love.  They are going to show it next year at the state fair, and they know I now have dibs on it if L decides she wants to sell it.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


Then we walked around to check out some of the sheep there.  This lovely Tunis Ewe was waiting with her sisters before they were to go into the show ring for the Showmanship competition.  I love spinning Tunis.

After that, we watched some college girls’ pole vaulting until the Home and Family Arts Building opened.  While Scott was checking out the art downstairs, I got to see what people have been creating.

GC costume

This won exactly what it deserved.  There were other beautiful costumes there, but this one easily beat them all.  The work on the hat alone was enough to make me drool, but the pleating on the spencer was lovely.

textile display

I really loved the display cabinet next to where SWIFT (Spinners and Weavers of Indiana – Fiber and Textiles) demonstrated spinning and weaving.  I think they pretty much covered it all here.


Rug hooking is one thing I have yet to learn (and, yes, I probably will one day just to say I’ve done it), and I admire all of the designs and colors in these.  Starstruck Cat Studios in Greenwood has classes on this and, one day, I’m going to give in and take a class.

celtic knot quilt

Of course, there were lots and lots of quilts hanging from the second floor railing and this one really caught my eye.  You can’t really see it in the photo, but the knot design really goes over and under where the intersections are.  Beautiful!!


This lovely secretary got first place for a reason.  My, my, it was sweet.  It’s bigger than the antique one I have at home and I love all those little drawers and cubby holes.


I adore pottery and these antique ones had me drooling.  Goodness, I love to have ones like these (but newer so I can actually use them and not be afraid of breaking one).

SM GC single

Susan Markle of The Trading Post for Fiber Arts in Pendleton, Indiana, received Grand Champion on her hand spun singles and she deserved it.  They are fine, consistent and just the right amount of twist.  I wonder what she is going to make with it.

silage cutting

Over on the other side of the fair ground is the Pioneer Village, and Scott and I always spend a lot of time here.  This is a silage cutter driven by a belt from the Farmall tractor (BTW, my maternal grandfather had a tractor just like this one).

corn sheller

Next was a corn sheller driven by machinery mounted on an old pick-up truck.  It sure beat the way we did it when I was a kid – hated those thumb blisters.  I wish we had had one like this.

steam tractor

This steam engine was a favorite with Scott and I.  Scott has an alcohol fuel model of one very similar to this that his grandfather bought for him when he was a kid.  Scott still has the box and everything for it.  This one had a belt running to a…


…sawmill.  It was fun watching the bed slide back and forth so that the blade cut the log into planks.


Isn’t this wee tractor cute?

scroll saw

Inside the Pioneer Village building were several craftsmen and women working.  This man was using a beautifully made scroll saw and was cutting out puzzle pieces.

puzzle front

This is the front of one such puzzle.  It was about 6 X 8 inches.

puzzle back

And this is the back of that same puzzle.  Look at the shape of the pieces as they followed the details of the picture on the front.  He even did these types of puzzles the size of large postage stamps and they were just as intricately cut out.  He showed me a blade he used to cut the postage size puzzle pieces with and said it was 80/10,000ths of an inch.  It was so fine and so tiny that I could not see the teeth on it, although I could feel them when I ran my finger along the edge.  Wow!

yarn winder

Another man was making these yarn winders and was tickled pink when I knew what they were.  Most people thought they were spinning wheels.  Sigh…  We still have a long ways to go in educating the population on what is really important.  🙂

corn row width

And, I learned something while I was there.  I did not know this.  I would love to be able to discuss this with Pappy, my maternal grandfather.  He loved telling stories about farming with horse drawn implements back before and during WWII.  I miss him.

pb quilt

Lovely quilts, don’t you think?


This man was knapping flints into arrowheads, knife blades, axe heads and such, and had several for sale there.  We drooled over them, but, in the end, decided it was a want and not a need and left them for others to buy.

That pretty much sums up what all we did at the state fair on Saturday.  I can’t wait to go back this Sunday for the Sheep to Shawl competition.


Aug 13

I have added two classes and one workshop to my teaching schedule at Starstruck Cat Studio in Greenwood, Indiana.

Beginning sock knitting class – Three Monday nights in a row, September 8, 15 and 22nd.

Beginning 4-Harness Weaving Workshop – October 10-12.

How to Buy a Fleece and What to do with it once you get it home class – Saturday, November 1st.

All three have limited space, so if you are interested in them, please contact Starstruck Cat Studio as soon as possible to make sure you can get into them.




Aug 11

I’m having issues with my laptop.  First, it got stuck downloading my pictures from my camera, then it wouldn’t let me process anything in Photoshop without the computer locking up.  So, I did a disk clean-up and a defrag (which took almost 10 hours to do its thing).  I am hoping that tonight it will behave and let me get the pictures processed and uploaded.

One thing of which I didn’t get pictures, so I can talk about it separately, was my trip to the Wool Room at the sheep barn (Blue Ribbon Pavilion).  I have been able to find some great fleeces to purchase there in the past and I wanted to see what was for sale there this year.  Most of the fleeces I looked at had way too much VM for me to even consider.  One had a bad case of scurf, which made it completely unacceptable.  One was a deep black, Shetland lamb fleece with no VM in it.  I pulled a lock off to strength test it and it snapped in two with hardly a tug.  I dug through it and tested another lock.  Same thing.  I have never seen such a brittle fleece.  It was too bad because there wasn’t a white bit in it and it was a good, true black.  I was heart-broken for the owners of it because it was good only for mulch.

So, I bought no fleeces there this year.  Too bad, too, as I really like giving local shepherds first dibs on my fleece budget.  I guess I’ll have to see what MFF has for us.

Aug 6
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Support Your Local... | icon4 08 6th, 2014| icon32 Comments »

You know that I told people that if they bought a spindle at the fair that I would teach them how to spin. Well, most of those people who brought a spindle back had purchased them from David Shepherd at Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking, who was across the aisle and a couple booths to the left of us. I have no idea how many people bought from him because of this, but it must have been several because David gave me this as a thank you.


This is one of his mini’s and it weighs only .6 of an ounce, perfect for spinning lace weight. I love it that he puts the year it was made on the shaft.  I’ll be giving this a whirl!

Also, David and I got to talking about some of his needle stands, and between the two of us doing measurements and looking over the best way to set them up, he is going to create a lazy-kate for spindles. I asked for a cherry one, so when he gets it done, I’ll test out the prototype and we’ll see where we can go from there. This is pretty exciting.

I love fiber fairs and festivals. The people there love what they do so much and are always looking for a better, more efficient way to do what we love doing.

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