Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sock 'o Doom

Since Blogger is having issues with loading pictures I'll post the right up top to avoid a crash after writing tons.

This is the first of the pair, I'm down to the toe tonight but decided to wait until morning to finish so I could update the blog. This whole "Sock Wars" has been quite the experience! First there's been tons of controversey about the name - it's very offensive to some. And I do wish it'd been title sock tag, or even better: socks forward. As I knitted tonight and thought about the whole game and how it works when you get right down to it, is that everyone knits a pair for the person down the list from them so everyone should end up with a pair. Makes me think that Socks Forward would be a good possibility for a KAL. (That stands for Knit A Long - it took me forever to figure that out. LOL)

On the very evening the pattern and individual dossiers were to be directly emailed to each participant, wouldn't you know a HURRICANE slams N. Ireland where our fearless leader lives. Hurrican Gordon has thrown the works into a tailspin leaving Yarn-Monkey pretty much incommunicado. She did manage to get out the entire list of who knits for whom - with emails - on her blog but there's been no word since Saturday. Meanwhile at the forum comments and questions having been whirling. For the most part it seems people are being honest sports, playing the game by the rules but of course there are always a few who get super competitive over this and are going full bore ahead to out knit everyone. The riot is, it all comes down to not necessarily how fast you can knit a pair of socks but how fast the person targeting you can, and the one targeting her. And factor in International and unreliable mail.

I guess that's why I'm thinking of it more in lines of simply trying to knit up a pair of socks as rapidly as feasible for a new "friend".

The pattern calls for DK yarn. Apparently it's common in the UK and Europe, I had a harder time finding some. The yarn I did buy isn't labeled DK but it worked up to gauge and I love the color. The working pattern has a 2 row repeat: Row 1 - k3,p3 Row 2 - k,p which makes for very expandable ribs. I'm liking the combination of the yarn with this pattern so much that I keep thinking it'd make a striking sweater. At the least I may buy yarn just to make fingerless gloves for myself.

Saturday evening Crooked Finger played for the annual barbecue for some branch of the forestry dept. Though the day was almost hot, the evening cooled off quickly. The last half hour of playing my fingers were cold and I kept thinking how good a pair of wool fingerless gloves would feel. I think I'd be able to play the violin with them on though I should probably use a fingering wool.

Last week I was chained to the grindstone. (Archaic term but chained to the computer seems so dull) I had to totally rewrite the Spinning Booklet. I'd saved a copy to a CD but the computer wouldn't open it. My HP could open it but I'd done it on the Mac so HP thought it was gibberish. I decided I may as well take new pictures. Dark backgrounds use tons of ink when printing! I'm quite pleased with it overall. It's basically the same but I did go a bit more indepth with the silk. I finished printing and putting together 80 books in time to take them to Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival held just 16 miles from our place.

OFFF couldn't have landed on a more pleasant weekend! We're experiencing an incredible Indian summer in the Pac NW. The weekend had temps in the mid 80s! Even more astonishing was the atmosphere was such that the air was clearer than it's been since last spring. The Cascade Mountains were bold in their blue presence. Mt Hood & Mt Rainier dazzling with the fresh coat of snow that had fallen during the rainy weekdays in the valley. Yes! Mt Rainier to the North can be seen on bright clear days. Mt St Helen almost aways has a tinge of grey on her mantle of white. Regrettably I have no picture to share. Two days I drove to OFFF and two days I was several miles from home before I remembered the camera.

A friend called today wondering if I was home. (Yes, buried in end of the month bookwork & accounting stuff for the business. ) She was headed from town on her bike to pay a visit. About half an hour later the computer crashed just as I was rounding third base with the ledger. Of course, I'd forgotten to press Save. ARGH! So Ed kindly filled my tires with air and I pedaled out to meet her. It was the break I'd badly needed. The air is still sweet from all of last weeks rains, the fall harvesting is still under way so the different rich smells of the fields, along with still ripe blackberries wafted on the breeze. The dairy with it's newly fermenting silage was the only slightly obnoxious part. It was worse coming back since the road winds uphill alongside the dairy. We met up about 2.5 miles from here, just before she encountered the last hills coming to our place.

So now, I'm planning to try to get in at least a short ride everyday while this fabulous weather holds. It's too precious to be couped up in front of the computer!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Spinning Silk Hankies

Countdown to the 22nd when the sock pattern is released and the socks start flying to their destinations. Yarn and needles are ready, the swatch is made and gauge is good. Problem is, I've fallen in love with the yarn. So has Aurora. Knitting the swatch I kept seeing handwarmers keeping my hands warms for those occasional music gigs where Crooked Finger Band is expected to play in a cold setting.

Finally, a post about my findings in silk spinning, this post will be about what I found in spinning from the hankie form. To anyone who may not know, I have only spindles - no room for a wheel in my house. I learned to spin just over a year ago so these are tidbits of what a beginner is observing while exploring the spindling of silk. Keeping in mind that many people still have only dial-up access, I'll post more pictures along with more spindling in future posts.

I've been spindling silk off and on for about a year. After an initial disasterous start with Tussah silk on a top-whirl spindle I'd given up. To my great delight the combination of a Turkish Spindle (Bottom whorl)and some Bombyx silk roving worked magic in my hands. Long shiny threads of silk spun through the air with only an occasion "drop" of the spindle.

Seeing silk hankies of greens and blues, and another hankie of reds, Ed latched onto them suggesting I try spinning from them. Silk hankies? How in the world was I supposed to spin from a square made up of layers of thin silk?

Carefully pealing off the topmost layer of silk I looked at it from all angles. I wanted to cut off the thicker rim but on closer inspection realized there's a lot of silk bundled in those edges. So I gently pulled a corner and started a drafting area then proceeded to spin directly from the thin hankie, prepping and drafting as I spun. The problem was, the thicker rim tended to cause lots of slubs. I like spinning smooth, satiny threads, not ones full of lumps. So I search the internet but found nothing that discussed the thickness of the rims - though I did find some very good information. Mostly what I learned is that the square needs to be made into rovings first!

Poke a hole in the center of one of the thin hankies and with your hands widen the loop until it stretches to a long continous circle of roving. Break the loop, thin to predraft stage and you're ready to spin.

By stretching the hankie into roving the rims are also thinned and stretched, giving a much smoother roving. There are still slubs which doesn't thrill me. From my very limited experience with the hankies I prefer spindling directly from purchased rovings. One advantage I found in spindling hankies is that each individual hankie spins up very quickly, so it seems I'm accomplishing lots. But when I factor in the time it takes to peel off an individual hankie and circle it into a roving then incorporate it into my draft I'm sure spindling from the purchased roving is much quicker overall.

This picture shows two small segments of silk spun from the hankies. The top piece is from a hankie which was circled into a roving. There are still slubs but not as many as in the bottom piece which was spun directly from the square of hankie.

Stitch Diva recently asked Ed if he could make stoppers for our knitting needles. Always up for a new challenge he disappeared into the shop for hours.
This is what he's developed: Isn't he amazing!

He's been hard at work turning and carving smaller crochet hooks, with a pearl finial, from different exotic woods for various orders. These are made only on demand.

On the home front: Earlier in the week I discovered that the spinning with Turkish Spindles booklet I wrote was totally erased from the computer! I have no idea how it happened but, not to worry, I've saved a copy to a CD. Only, the computer couldn't open the CD and the only other electronic copy I'd saved was an older version in PDF which can't be edited. I have an order for 60 which have to be printed and bound by next Friday! What a long process reentering all the information and formating the book. On that same day I was given the pages for the quarterly magazine I proofread. That job was finished and dropped off at the editors this afternoon.

Thursday morning just as I was gearing up to work on the spinning book Ed walked into the house bearing a five-gallon bucket full of green beans. The morning was spent canning. I'm so thankful for friends who share their garden! There's nothing like home canned green beans.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sept 11. 1995

Please allow me to indulge my memories and ponderings. I"ll post about spinning tomorrow.

Sept 11, 1995 is a day burned into my being when my world tilted a bit and the sun became dark.

At noon I went to celebrate a childhood friend's 40th birthday. A bright, warm late summer day. Perfect for lingering over lunch with her family and friends, some whom I hadn't seen since I was a teen. Glancing at my watch I suddenly realized I'd best get a move on it. I wanted to be home before Aurora got home from school. It was only her 4th or 5th day of high school, an uneasy transition from a small country school to the nearby high school with over a 1000 kids.

Coming down the hill and into town my heart sank at the unusual amount of traffic and kids walking about. She'd beat me home. Then I realized there were police cars, and TV trucks seemingly everywhere. Aurora met me in the driveway, shaking with tears and grief covering her face. Violence had vicously struck close to home. Laura and her three daughters had been killed.

A year plus earlier Laura had moved into her mother's home around the corner from us, seeking a divorce from a husband, Dave, who'd sexually abused their two very young daughters. She'd tried telling his family, the pastor at their church and a few others (in another state) about what he was doing but no one there chose to believe her. [Why, he was so kind and thoughtful. He always went everywhere with them and watched out for them. He was a hard working, upstanding young man.] Her widowed mother took her and the two granddaughters in with open arms. She quickly became our friend. I marveled at her deep wisdom, courage and calm. She set about reclaiming a life as a single mom. Aurora became her close friend, mother's helper, and babysitter. Laura became her confidant and mentor. Midsummer Dave snuck into town and violently raped her. She got a restraining order against him. The next April she had a third girl whom she named Hope. She refused to run and hide. She wanted her girls to have as normal of a life as possible. She was so steady and determined to face the world squarely without fear.

On Sept tenth she'd brought over a bunch of grapes from her garden and we talked awhile in the sun. Before leaving she told Ed, "He's going to kill me but I won't give my daughters a life of running and fear."

On Sept 11, 95 he dove the long drive from his home, parked his car on a different block and snuck to the back of the house to wait until the oldest daughter got home from kindergarten in time for lunch. When he heard her voice in the kitchen he used his shotgun to blast his way into the house. Laura grabbed the two older girls and grandma scooped up Hope in her arms and they fled into the front yard where he gunned them down. Then turned to grandma, her arm spattering blood from pellet wounds when the baby was blown from her arms. A man from our church who'd hear the first shotgun blast and instantly knew what was happening, hurled himself down the hill and leaping out of his car tackled Dave and held him there until the police arrived.

The mindless shocking grief, anger, and disbelief which surges when something like this happens is beyond words. A vibrant young mother and three little girls ripped away in front of their grandmother. Selfishness beyond comprehension. Dave hung himself in the county courthouse a few weeks later after receiving a life's sentence without parole.

We in the neighborhood and meetinghouse where she also attended tried to make sense of the pieces, then realized there is no making sense of some acts of violence. It is evilness manifest in human flesh. We can't allow ourselves to plunge into seeking vengence, only justice. We came close together realizing that out of this tragedy the hope we hang onto is knowing that we will see Laura and the girls in heaven. And more tangibly comforting was the knowledge that now they all abided in true peace. They'd left the world of abuse, fear and worry behind. It was a remarkable thing to watch the grandmother's strong resolve to stay strong in her faith and love of God. Ed repaired the backdoor and walls and a week later she moved back into her home where she stayed for another three or four years before moving to a retirement home. It was a home of peace and subtle yet palpable joy mingled with a shade of sorrow. My fondest memories of those years were of gathering in her living room to make music. People of all ages from teens up invited friends from towns around - we never knew who'd come with what instruments, what songs we'd sing. Laura's cousins now live in that home. We hold fast to the hope and faith in the knowledge that God is good and His goodness will triumph someday.

And so on 9.11.2001 as the tv unfurled the stunning pictures and news my heart broke once again for all those sorrowing because of senseless violence. And yet I prayed that calm minds and hearts would prevail. I still pray for that. And for wisdom in the hearts and minds of the world's leaders. For common sense, compassion and a humbling of their selfs. I pray that they turn away from vengence, anger and self-righteousness and seek the common good for the least of their people. That the powers that be would come to the realization that there is a time to lay down arms to come together and work hard and diligently for peace. And I pray most of all that they realize that violence only begets violence. And I pray for forgiveness! I am so saddened and ashamed at the pain our leaders are causing innocent peoples of other lands. And more, as a believer in Jesus who lived in love and forgiveness, I am grieviously ashamed of those who claim His name but are not acting in love. This is not how Jesus asked us to live.

"He has shown you what the Lord requires: To do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Summer's End

Jo, please don't fall out of your chair in shock that I've actually posted.

Jenkins Woodworking is back online, except I had to use our old domain name, ArtEdJe, since the Jenkins one isn't cooperating yet. I hate to think of how many orders & emails got lost in cyberspace when our host server was wiped clean by hackers.

I've drawn my tiny wood DP swords. Sock Wars awaits! Sign-ups close on Sept 8th. Join in the madness. The least you'll come away with is a new pair of socks knit by someone else. :-)

The hops are being harvested. Tall 12' rows of vines are cut down and taken to the dryers to eventually be used in beer making. The scent of hops is one I love. The season lasts such a short time that I want to gather vines dripping with the hops into my arms and bury my nose in them. Here's a small bit of vine showcasing the knit bias ready to be handsewn into place.

Aurora's bolero was finished and wrapped in time for her birthday. I stayed home from church knitting the biased bands for the cuffs. That part turned out very well. Can you see the black knit bias around the front/neck and sleeves of the bolero? Time consuming for this slow knitter but so worth it. The twisted stitch in the middle of the band helps it to fold neatly, the increase at one edge of every other row with a corresponding decrease of the same row at the other edge makes the knit biased. I found a copper button and made the icord for the closure. I'm not happy with the raglan sleeves! I really should rip the seams but they were ripped and reset once and I'm afraid the woven fabric is too delicate to withstand another ripping. Fortunately Aurora loves it! The body was woven from navy chenille with subtle stripes of handspun wool and silk. I'd originally planned the jacket in wool but had a hard time finding any finger weight heather and the chenille cones were a great price. I really like the way the handspun wool & silk turned out. Next time I'll make a heavier gauge of yarn so it stands out better.

Last week I spent quite a bit of time playing around with spindling from silk hanks. Stay tuned: Next post will have pictures and findings as I've delved a bit deeper into the world of silk spinning.(The colors in this picture are the best representation of the bolero & silk).

Argh! Can you believe I'm sitting here posting when I could be listening to Yarn Harlot at Powells Bookstore right this moment in Portland??? Up until 4pm I'd planned to go. I'd even made arrangements to meet a neighbor from our Portland days. After all, the meeting is taking place a mere three blocks from where we used to lived! Oh those lucky hordes. My orange meetingsocks are drooping in the drawer from disappointment at not flashing for The Harlot. (Remember those socks on needles from the jury and meeting posts in July? Go ahead, look back in time and get acquainted with them.)

I'd forgotten that Ed had a meeting tonight. And I'd been to Portland with d-i-l for her last sonogram (Fascinating!) just yesterday so the thought of another hour drive to Portland, deaing with the traffic, and another late night, dimmed the outing a bit. Further darkening the picture is that I get tongue-tied and shy, and crowds are diminishing to my soul. But the nail in the tire was when Ed tried to start his pickup. Dead. As in not coughing. Don't blame it on the batteries - they're fine. The truck is old. Was old. Battered and road tired. Ed took the car.

Monday night the stars finally peered down at a couple of daft chix in sleeping bags. :-) I have a friend who's also keen on sleeping out. Her husband is in Papua for a few weeks so I whisked her away from the drudgery of everyday chores. It was so good to flop our bags on a tarp and lay there looking at the smoke tinged stars (forest fires in the mountains) and the drifting lopsided moon. After an out-of-control week the change of pace was much needed. No concerns or hassles tried to snuggle into the toasty sleeping bag with me. Nope, not under the expanse of stars. By 9:30 dew was settling everywhere. But the fleece blanket tucked into my bag and draped loosely around my head felt as cozy as a baby in a crib. I woke up throughout the night to look at the stars and the low southern moon etching its way through the black trees. I didn't want to sleep but to totally savor the night with everything in me.

A thermos of warm coffee with hazelnut creamer awaited us. Perfect! We edged carefully around trying not to smear the heavy dew into our bags or on the clothes. (We'd slept out away from the trees so we could see a larger piece of the sky.)
Blurry picture of Jane raising her cup to the morning - my dew slicked feet were wanting to dance in the grass.

Steam rising from the pond inticed me to dive in. Okay, I didn't actually dive into the water. Capering about and swimming in the early morning is pure joy. The feel of water's satin smooth coolness is invigorating and yet so soothing and calming. All too soon it was 7:30, time to head back to reality.