Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yarn In

On the way north to Vancouver. See the fresh snow in the Cascades. (Some of us haven't seen much snow this winter. The rest of you can gaze at the green pasture.)
Twelve hours of knitting and spinning companionship flew by yesterday.

While a bit apprehensive, the idea of setting aside an entire day for working on projects seemed like an excellent opportunity, thoughI don't normally enjoy group/crowd situations.

Over eighty people showed up throughout the day. Knitters as well as crocheters, a quilter and two of us spinners gathered around tables chatting and working away. One of the reasons for the Yarn In was to make and donate warm items for people who are on kidney dialysis.

Did you know that once a person needs dialysis they will have to continue the rest of their lives.
Three days a week, every week of the year. Four hour sessions each of those days. The blood is cycled through a machine which removes the excees liquids that the kidneys are no longer able to handle. If the excess isn't removed it will go to the lungs filling the lungs with fluid. The room needs to be cool, and the blood is cooled during the process which means the people get very cold during the four hours of sitting while hooked to the machine. They're not allowed a hot beverage because introducing more liquids when you're trying to remove liquids rather defeats the purpose.

Because of the demands on their time and energy it's hard for these people to hold down a regular job, and money is often very in short supply between the special diets they have to adhere to and medications. To be given a soft, lightweight, warm blanket, hat or slippers for use during each session can be a real, tangible blessing. The item becomes their personal property which they always have at each session.

I took some various spur of the moment "must have" skeins of yarns purchased during the past couple years. You know the kind your hand grabs even though you have no plans for a project. While I didn't make anything for the cause yesterday it was a thrill to see two different skeins snatched up almost immediately and by the end of the day see them as hats and scarves. I'd like to make something each quarter to donate to the local kidney dialysis center in my area. This project touches my heart; one of my co-workers at the public library was on dialysis. She very rarely talked about it but I watched as she continued to lose weight, had constant large bruises on her thin arms, and slowly cut back her work hours as her energy levels depleted.

StephanieJo is the engine behind the Vancouver, WA Yarn-Ins. (Unfortunately I manage to take lousy pictures yesterday. There were only a few half-decent ones worth posting.) StephanieJo is wearing the pink shirt. The lady in blue, Karen Thompson crocheted the huge flag. She'll be adding felted stars.StephanieJo is such an organized, hard working, gentle woman I came away totally in awe of her. Warm, intelligent, and deeply compassionate, she's one of those quiet women that you immediately want to get to know.

The woman standing is Carol. "Hi Carol!" Another warmhearted person who loves helping people. She's been knitting since she was little and has the knack with fibers. We had a great time together. One of those people you immediately feel like you've known for ages. We meet the last weekend of September at OFFF sitting outside in a knitting/spinning circle. StephanieJo and Marque were also there. (Picture with Marque did not turn out.) Carol was interested in my spindle and I showed her the basics. The next day an email was waiting in our business inbox, she wanted a spindle and the instruction book. Just look at her spindled yarns:
This is a small sample of what she's spun. She's starting to make socks with them. She pulled out some beautiful cuddly soft fiber. (Carol, I'm sleep deprived and not remembering well, it was Angora, wasn't it??) She spun beautiful fingering with her Ambonya spindle. In the afternoon another woman, Linda, wanted to learn. I'm in awe of these people who just naturally start spinning smooth yarns almost from the get-go. It didn't take her more than five minutes to catch on. Unfortunately no picture of Linda and her yarn. By that time it was 3:30 and Carol, Marque and Norene were headed out for lunch so I joined them - that breakfast scone had long disappeared - planing to capture a picture of Linda afterwards. When we returned she was gone.

Look at one of the edible bouquet that StephanieJo treated us with:
When I arrived home last night it was 10:30 but there were a dozen knitting needles and hooks that Ed was hoping I'd write on so he could put the first coat of finish on the first thing this morning. Sometimes it's not possible to totally get away from work for an entire day. :-)

Thanks for all the requests for the scone recipe!
Here's my favorite:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Just before popping the scones in toss a bit of water onto the floor of the oven. The steam will help the scones rise.

4 cups flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teas salt
4 teas baking powder
1/4 teas cream of tarter
Mix all of these ingredients then cut in
1/2 Cup (1 cube) Butter (Yes! It needs to be the real stuff)

In a large measuring container beat one egg (reserving part of the egg white for the wash)
Add 1 1/2 Cup Milk (Half & Half is best) to the egg.
Pour the egg/milk mixture into the flour mix and gently, barely, stir together.

Blend as little as possible then turn onto a floured pastry cloth. Let it rest while you whip the egg white with a bit of water. Then gently knead the mass just a few times. Form into a round, and brush the whites over the round. Sprinkle with another tablespoon, or so, of sugar. Cut into wedges and place on baking stone (or cookie sheet). My well seasoned stone doesn't need greasing for these buttery scones.

Pop in the hot oven for 15 - 18 minutes until golden brown. Scones with frozen berries may take
18 - 20 minutes.
Option: For breakfast I will usually add 1 Cup of frozen blueberries to the dry mix just before adding the milk.

These are so buttery I normally don't add butter but Ed loves to slather on more along with jam. :-)

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Still Scrambling

This is a very small percentage of all the hooks Ed's made during the last three weeks. (Waiting for the size to be written.) And the best part? His dental work is paid for!!! Thank you everyone who helped out by ordering something. We're down to the last dozen orders that were placed during the sale. We hope to have the last one sent by next Tuesday. By this time next week I hope to have actual numbers for the items he made during this very busy season. I'm not sure which were the biggest sellers; hairpin lace looms or Magnetic Needle holders.
Meanwhile, not only did sale orders consume the days but regular orders and store orders calling for shuttles, hairpin lace frames, spindles - and to throw some interest into the works, some exotic hooks and needles. Sorry about the poor picture quality. There are two Tunisian Flex hooks, one Kingwood the other hard rock maple. And a set each of 8mm & 7mm needles made with four different exotic woods. The woman had ordered circular crochet hooks in those sizes but between my handwriting and Ed's interpretation he made knitting needles. He'll make the proper circular hooks for her tomorrow. These are so gorgeous that I'm loathe to part with them though really, I should put them up for sale.

In the midst of packing goodies today Justin dropped by to work on his truck, which meant Grandma needed to watch Faith. :-)No, she doesn't stay in the car seat all the time, though pictures indicate that is her life. This week she turned four months old. She's been rolling back to stomach for a couple weeks and is showing more and more personality. The noise of the camera brought out the quizzical look on her face.

Tomorrow (Feb 24) is A Yarn-In. A whole day devoted to whatever fibery goodness people want to indulge in. Wanna join us? It's from 9am - 9pm at the Phoenix Inn Suites in Vancouver, WA (USA). Cost is $10, come and go as you wish. It's a day for working on charity projects, UFOs, and hanging out with other knitters/crocheters/spinners. I hope to finish the birthday socks and get some serious work done on the Red Sweater. Did you think I'd forgotten it? It gets a bit of attention from time to time. I'm getting worried about running out of one colorway. There were two skeins of handspun yarn in the batch but one skein seems to be getting smaller much quicker than the other. A couple spindles will also see some action. I'm hoping to introduce others to the joy of Turkish spinning. :-) I know some of you are laughing, those who've been to these things and know it's not possible to accomplish everything. There's so much to be done it's hard to think realistically.

Suppers have been rather haphazard lately but last night when chili was heating, visions of scones danced in my head. They're my favorite quick bread to make when in a hurry. Made with whole milk (preferably half and half) and lots of butter they melt in the mouth. I'll tuck one in a napkin and grab a hot mug of coffee before hitting the road to Vancouver early in the morning. Care to join me?

Sunday, February 18, 2007


We're still working at making and sending out hooks and needles. We're feeling very blessed by everyone who was so good to buy in volumes during the short sale! And it looks like all of Ed's dental bills will be covered. Ed had four teeth pulled Friday morning. (Restoration work will commence in a couple of weeks.) He came home from the dentist, jaw packed with gauze, and went straight back to work for the rest of the day. He worked 9 hours yesterday, and yes, another full day today knocking off in time for evening meeting. We miscalculated the totals and the time to make everthing. We should have ordersfinished and out by this coming Friday.

I rarely paint my nails. Chipped, worn out nail polish looks tacky, and the smell of the acetone remover is very obnoixous. But on the eve of Valentines' day Aurora brought out some bright red polish with just a hint of purple undertones. How could I resist such cheer for Valentines, especially since Aurora expertly applied it? It was startling to see red at the ends of my fingers. It took only a couple days of packing orders for the paint to begin wearing off. But hey, it was fun while it lasted. :=)

I'm not good about keeping up with my relatives. I think about them quite often but am bad about writing or picking up the phone. And yet I'm so fortunate in having cousins that even after a long silence we're able to quickly reconnect.

I'm at the bottom of the heap in the pile of cousins, on both sides. My oldest cousin could be my dad, he's that much older. His daughters - first cousins once removed - are my age and younger. He's the cousin who's geographically closest to us and was my dad's dearest nephew. Thanksgiving and Easter were always celebrated together our families mingling comfortably together. All of the other many cousins on his side of the family lived on or near the farm Dad grew up on in Minnesota. Twice we made the trip to see them when we were young but it's harder developing ties with long distance, rarely seen cousins..

My mom's sister lived the next state over so there were the occasional summer visits that set of cousins. My brother Jesse stayed with them several weeks during a couple of summers as a young teen. When he died I called one of the sisters in that family. During the course of our conversation we started talking fiber. She's also a spinner! :-) I told her of this blog. Sadly she's blogless. Early this week she sent an email letting me know she was headed to this area to visit her son and d-i-l. We made arrangements to meet at the LYS where I spindle most Saturday mornings.

What a delight to see Faith again (yes there are two Faiths in the family now), her son Tim and his wife Jessica. Faith surprised me with these goodies: White, and black Cormo, and Angora, and the cute bag to hold them.

The black Cormo is nicely cleaned and carded, ready for the spindles. Faith gently cleaned the white cormo leaving in a great deal of the lanolin. I kind of like the greasy feel and am curious to see how it spins. The grey and cream angora is dreamy soft. I'm almost afraid to try spinning it. Not really! I'm pretty jazzed about trying them all. And though I have Charollais on the .9 oz bamboo spindle and Merino/Tencel on the 1.4oz Australian Myrtle I've taken a short break from the BFL so there are a couple spindles that are begging to be put into action. Maybe the grease-in wool will spin well with the Balkan spindle. I'll play around and see what works best on which spindle.

Faith and Jessie brought knitting projects and Tim his palm pilot. We all settled into the comfy chairs in the YS and spent the next couple hours chatting and catching up. Tim, who does not knit, plopped himself down right at home, chatting it up with the owner about getting her store online. I still have a warm glow in my heart and a smile on my face from seeing them. Great people whom I'm thrilled to have as relatives.

"Hi Faith! Thank you!"

Sunday, February 11, 2007


This is why there've been no posts in the past week. My courier bag has been stuffed to overflowing everyday with packages. 22 packages were crammed in this batch. Thanks to Stitch Diva who posted a sale on her website for most of our items, and all of you who've so generously supported the cause of getting Ed's teeth fixed! We're filled with gratitude for the numerous orders during the sale days. And to be truthful, a bit overwhelmed. We figure the last package will go out next Friday. Ed has been working almost nonstop turning, turning, turning and then carving and sanding. I've been busy downloading and filling orders, along with buffing the hooks and needles then handwriting the size on each. Twenty-four hours later, after the first finish is dry, I apply on the final coat of finish.

There has been little time for anything other than taking care of the orders, and trying to keep everything straight. I'm aware of one order I sent that I forgot to personalize the needles as requested by the buyer. Then there was the order that changed a couple times and I accidentally sent two sets of hairpin lace frames only to find my error later that evening when doing the paperwork. But this error has a silver lining: the next day the buyer wondered if it was too late to change the order (again) to two sets. :-) That was an order from Brazil so that mistake worked out splendid. It will be grand if that's the worst that happens.

Hank the cat keeps me company in the office/packing room. He loves curling up in the foam cushioning. The other place he likes to catnap when I'm working is on top of the corrugated paper roll. If you ever receive a package from us that has claw marks, you'll know who the culprit was.

I've been babysitting Faith on Fridays afternoons so DS can sleep - he works the graveyard shift and his wife works part time.

This week there was no way I could escape my work duties. But DS was thoughtful enough to bring her over for a short while so I could get in some grandma cuddles.

Before the rush of orders I spun one ounce of the Charollais wool. I want to spin another ounce to ply with this one. I have no idea how many yards it is. I'm quite pleased with it, when plyed it should be a good weight for a sweater. This is one project that will take many months. Ed wants the sweater in the natural color, no dyes for this one. (In the background are ebony spindles Ed made, racked while letting the coat of finish harden.)

I was gifted some lovely Shetland wool --along with other fibery goodies :-) to make a memory item in honor of my brother Jesse who died 3 weeks ago. Socks will be the proper memory project. We always gifted him with socks since that's what he always wanted and needed. There's also some history and humor concerning Jesse and socks. He was very fond of cherries. As a boy he'd sit in the cherry trees and eat to his heart's content. His favorites were called Black Republics. I dyed the skein with two packs of Black Cherry KoolAid. This is a new area that I haven't explored much. I was concerned that the wool would be too red so I added a package of grape. I'm pleased with how it turned out. I like that there are areas which are almost white. I'm anxious to start knitting a pair of socks.

But first, these are desperately wanting to be finished by Wednesday, Valentine's Day and birthday of my DIL. It's not going to happen with the work load facing us this week. I knitted on them during some long church related business meetings I had to attend this weekend.

A small glimpse at Jenkins Woodworking in progress.

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