Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I don't get to Salem very often but the other day I went to help pack lunches for Marion Polk Food Share lunch program. It's sping break for school kids this week and lots of kids need these lunches. I was near Target so decided to pick up a few things for the bathroom which is getting a bit of a makeover since Ed put in the cedar around the bath. (Shopping is not high on my like-to-do list, I'd rather be home or rambling through fields & woods.)

Dollar bins filled with goodies demanding to be thrown in the shopping cart. Next a cute skirt that my daughter would love beckoned, and of course, a blouse to go with it. Make that three. Feeling guilty for impulsive buying I wrestled the cart to the household goods section. Leaving it at the front of an shelf -unobtrusively to the side- I wandered up and down the adjacent rows looking for the right colored curtains for window and shower. Arms full I trudged back to the cart. Gone! Scurrying around looking in other people's carts, scanning the rows and aisles, it was not to be found. Hmm, cart disappears full of impulse goods. A successful escape from Target with checking account still intact.

During a favorite radio broadcast each morning is the perfect time to weave. My hands, feet and mind are all occupied. Today the friction of rubbing through the reed caused one of my handspun wool threads to break. The orphaned end eventually poked its head up from the cloth halting my progress. Fortunately there was some of that yarn left. A darning needle and the yarn deftly attached to the sepearated warp thread and woven through the existing cloth alongside the broken piece has taken care of the problem. I'm slightly holding my breath hoping no more will break. Seldom has a warp thread broken in the past weaving projects that I almost panicked, then decided to ignore it, before coming to my senses realizing it really shouldn't be that big of a deal!

The triple trouble socks continue to challenge my limited knitting skills. As the foot slowly began to take shape it seemed to need ribbing. The pattern just keeps knitting, knitting round and round. But it seems that socks need to have the give and elasticity so I started knitting two, purling two across the tops of the socks. Great news: now the purple tipped needles always work across the tops and the blue needles across the bottoms of the socks. Just that simple visual consistency is easing the trouble of working two circulars at the same time. I'm still not sure what exactly is supposed to happen with the non-working pair when I turn the heels. The directions read to turn them just like the toes. Exactly. Uh, sure. The toes were worked one at a time on one circular then they were slipped onto the other colored needles.

In the past couple days Ed has made 4 dozen Tunisian crochet hooks, sizes N - Q. I managed to polish and write the sizes on them first thing in the morning. They're drying on the rack. Tomorrow I'll put the final finish on and let them dry again. Friday will be my packaging day. There's also about 3 dozen crochet hooks needing to be packaged and the Tunisian.

The cotton chenille has been quietly calling to me to start working on the towel but I've been resisting. Cashmere hair is accumalating which I want to start spinning to see how it spins. But after seeing the Yarn Harlot's carded wool on her blog today, I wonder if I need to card it. Time to do some researching on preparing cashmere for spinning...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Warped & Throwing

Throwing the shuttle, seeing the weft build row on row, consumes a portion of my thoughts. Early this morning as dawn eased into the room I almost crept out of bed to weave but didn’t want to disturb the soft sleeping breaths of Ed. Tying on with shoestrings, the method of Singing Weaver, Nadine Sanders, makes that portion of warping so much easier than the traditional way I was taught of using surgeons knots.

The strands of the warp that aren’t blue are wool and silk threads that I spun on my Turkish Spindle. I’m pleased how the colors show subtly through the blue chenille.

The double-trouble socks are turning out to be triple-trouble! As the foot took shape the holes of the early joins grew more glaring. I hated the idea of starting over. Then a couple nights ago when I started to knit, it appeared that I’d used the wrong needle on the last row. Whatever went wrong? Pull, rip, unravel. I read the directions, and started over, got to the foot, it looked wrong. Zip and rewind. Directions were carefully read, again. Finally, the toes were the right shape. Last night I went to my neighbor’s Bible Study and by the time I got home I was way to tired to even look at anything but my pillow. Tonight as I knitted the first couple inches of the foot, I encountered the same twisted looking, doesn’t-make-sense circular mess. Doggedly I kept knitting the next haphazardly logical(!) section and hurray, it came out right. :-) I’ve realized that is part of the nature of knitting socks on two circulars: there’s a certain point the circular needles and socks seem hopelessly wrong, spiraling out of control, but keep going and it’s fine. Hmm, I think there may be an analogy in there!

The tax date is hovering and bookwork is a demanding beast riding my shoulders. Meanwhile the slightly warmer weather means the grass needs mowing. It was pleasant to get outside yesterday afternoon and mow the front yard. The back yard will take a lot more time & effort. Wind blew rain inland today so it’ll be a few days before I can tackle that job.

The bimonthly violin lesson went well on Monday, despite the fact that one of the previous weeks I didn’t spend anytime on assigned materials since I had to concentrate on celtic music. The Bach Double Concerto is the current work. The timing is a challenge, but it’s a lot of fun and music I really enjoy. I love playing pieces, even etudes, in the key of D minor.

Ed lined the shower stall with cedar today. The fragrance is wafting through the house even now. He’s so fast and efficient at that kind of thing. He also managed to make a dozen pink ivory spindles. They’re drying in the living room next to the ebony ones he made a couple days ago.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


The warp is threaded! Ten minutes here, half an hour there, a handspan at a time, and it's done. Crazy -- with tax bookwork looming and music demanding to be learned -- to feel driven about weaving the cloth for SB's jacket.

A week of some intense, concentrated violin practice and another music gig behind Crooked Finger Band. A week's notice, no time to rehearse music that hadn't been played together since last year's fundraiser, let alone looked at until this week, and it all came together.

This evening was one of those performance where we were relaxed, hitting the notes and timing with perfection. (okay, a few babbles) Floating on a cloud. Witnesses? Was it as good as people said? As we felt? Why didn't we think to bring the laptop recorder? People in the food line jigging to the music, little kids dancing and twirling with abandon. The Irish Medley duet with mandolin & fiddle was magic. We were engulfed in a little bubble, our fingers hitting each note in unison spinning out the 6/8 jigs, almost flawlessly. How does one come back down, and go to bed? Even the hour drive home under a starfilled sky along country roads didn't ease the buzz. People wanted Crooked Finger's business cards! Maybe it's time to make some. LOL Last year T turned away several requests for our band. The weekly practice sessions had become drudgery. A performance for Valentine's day went well and breathed fresh life into us. Tonight stoked the desire to play & perform even more. We've been asked to play at the Oregon Garden next month. Yipee.

Classical ensemble practice was this morning. We're basically a double-quartet. We've set a couple performance dates. Low-key, nursing home kind of playing. Still fun. The house where we practice is almost always cold. By noon my second finger was aching & stiff. An old horse training injury to the tendons and knuckles. I was a bit concerned about playing this evening and sure enough by the last few measures of the Irish Medley my finger was bounding off the string through sheer willpower. That place was also cold. Bad combination for that finger: cold and playing for a couple hours.

When I knit for a long spell the base of that finger, around the joint, will stiffen and swell a bit. It's probably good to knit, helps keep it mobile. This afternoon I sat down and knitted on the circular -- two at once socks, for 10 minutes before heading out the door. Knitting is a mellowing, therapeutic exercise. Nerves were starting to congregate in my stomach, knitting broke them up and sent them packing. :-)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Tuesday evening, just when the week seemed organized in manageable chunks with projects and goals lined out in a way that preserves the sanity, the phone rang. It was the Mandolin Magazine publisher, “The articles are ready for proofing. I’d like them read ASAP.” Gulp. I’ll drop them by her house tomorrow morning when I take the spinning tutorial to Marilyn who lives just a few miles from her. It’s a beautiful drive along a ridge of the Cascade foothills.

One long, concentrated session at the kitchen table early this morning, armed with coffee and a red pen, and the first read through was finished. Early tomorrow morning I’ll take the dozen music pieces and play through them on the mandolin to be sure notation is correct.

The step by step drop spinning tutorial booklet I’ve been working on over the past couple weeks was wrapped up last night. It’s so exciting to finally have a printed copy in hand.The first section is devoted to basic drop spinning with wool rovings. The second half is a shorter overview of spinning with silk. Now the test will be if a beginner can actually use it to learn to spin.

Polished and packaged a couple dozen pairs of straight and circular knitting needles today. Also printed out fifty of the hairpin loom set up instructions. Ed made 20 more crochet and Tunisian hooks which I smoothed and signed with name and sizes this evening.

I only managed to thread a few inches of the warp through the heddles today. Tomorrow afternoon I hope to make good headway with finishing the threading. It’s impossible to work on threading at night, the lighting is so poor over the loom. I want to buy a roll around goose neck lamp to move between the loom and table where I write on the hooks & needles.

Tomorrow I’ll wax all the drop spindles and finish the flex crochet hooks which have been drying today. Ed’s allergies to the ebony have kicked in again, in a major way. He felt fluish all day and has a spreading rash. He realized that though he wears protective clothing and uses an exhaust system, the dust gets into his open mason jar of iced tea.

Fiddle practice is coming along better than I’d dared hoped. Maybe the tunes will be under my fingers by Saturday.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Double Trouble

I dug out the pair of double trouble socks I'd started over a year ago. The toes dangled from the needles, nothing else. Didn't at least part of the feet get done? A bunch of us were going to Portland for a birthday jam, perfect for knitting something and they were the only portable project on hand. It's all good. Fifteen miles down the road I stopped puzzling over which strand of yarn to begin with and was able to do a couple rows. It's a curious thing to work two socks on two circular needles! It seems to be easier this time around. A few more rows went on tonight, no hurry on these socks. They're a bit misshapen, the transfer from one needle to the next isn't very smooth. Time and experience will go to evening out those joins.

Exciting news. Interweave Press Knit/Crochet magazine is profiling our Hairpin Lace Looms in the May edition! There's even a heading liner on the cover, though no picture. We're excited but also wondering how swamped Ed will be with production. Too much time was spent today fiddling with the packaging trying to streamline the process. Packing ten looms for a store order didn't proceed efficiently enough.

Between packaging orders and trying to organize bookwork the day flew. Didn't get to the violin, or loom. Must practice the violin this week. It was decided last night to say yes to a fundraiser gig next Saturday. Crooked Finger has played for this St. Patrick's dinner for the past four years. When we were asked over a month ago they gave us the wrong date, one that didn't work for most of our band. Yesterday we were told it's this Saturday, would we be available? A quick scramble through work schedules confirmed that all of us are free. Less than a week to take out pieces I haven't touched in a year! I wish Irish fiddle can more naturally to me!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Plunge

This is my first real blog.

After reading many during the past few years, and mind-composing ones almost daily, I'm taking the plunge and going for it.

It's the end of what's been a long day with another one in store tomorrow. Really I should be in bed. My mind's blurry and there'll probably too many typos. This from a person who proofreads.

I've almost finished sewing a large bag for a music stand that my husband made for one of the members in a bluegrass/folk band I play in. His wife is having a surprise birthday party for him tomorrow. I hope to get up early enough tomorrow to finish the smaller bags for the stand parts to nestle inside the large bag. I only haul out the sewing machine after weaving fabric, or to make bags for music stands, other than that, it's pretty neglected.

I'm almost done writing a small drop spinning tutorial. At first it was going to be very simple and brief, with just a few pictures and pages. But I had so much fun taking pictures and analyzing the steps that it's developed beyond expectations. I plan to bind it on Wednesday then take the first copy to a friend who recently learned to spin. It'll be good to get her perspective on how user friendly and instructive it is. I learned to spin in August so it's all very fresh and newly enthralling to me. My latest addiction. :-)

Yarn is hanging limply in my loom, a third of the strands through the heddles. Eventually it'll be jacket for my daughter.

I finished knitting a pair of socks Wednesday evening. The needles are still looped in the toes waiting for the darning needle to free them so the next pair can commence. So far I've had the courage to knit only basic socks for most of my family & friends. A pair of "double trouble" (I think that's what they're called) is partially worked. I got to the place where I need to start working towards the heel (toe up) and the directions aren't very clear. Working on two pairs of circular needles simultaneoulsy has been more complicated than I'd anticipated. I do like the idea of working two at the same time.

Enough for tonight!