Absent for months on end I was determined to attend the monthly spinning group a week ago, Wednesday.  A relaxing day with other spinners was just what I needed after being down with a cold. I felt slightly guilty turning my back on work that had piled up but it would still be there the next day.

During our visit to the kids in Idaho last September I had watched the grandchildren one evening while everyone else went to Swan Falls to fish. After tucking the kiddos in bed I unpacked my spinning wheel and the 8 ounces of Crown Mountain Farms BFL roving.  Those few hours were only spinning I got in while there. When we returned home hairpin lace, knitting  and occasional weaving occupied my crafting time but once Mirth’s prayer shawl, Feather’s sweater and Aurora’s hand-warmers were finished I turned back to the wheel…

Brief sidetrack; I forgot to post a picture of her wearing them, not a great picture but she didn’t want to hold still, blame it on wee one’s hiccups!

The cold bug depleted my energy level and fuzzed my thinking but spinning felt relaxing and productive. It’s remarkable how much fiber a person can go through when most everything else is ignored. Almost 8 ounces of singles spun within a four day period. Three bobbins full ready to be plyed during the spinning group.

Spinning was at a home about 30 miles to the west, across the Willamette and up into Eola Hills. Just before the turn to Jere’s house I pulled over to gaze at this view of the Willamette River past the hills southwest of Salem.

With several of the regulars not able to attend we were a group of  six enjoying the slower pace after a busy holiday season when others had also dealt with a virus.

Jerene well captures the mood of the day: quiet and serene.

My bobbin (foreground) was as stuffed as possible. I remembered looking at a spare bobbin thinking to grab it and put it in with the wheel but alas, I must have been interrupted mid-thought. What else does one do when out of bobbins but seriously wanting to be finished with the job at hand? Wind the three singles together into a plying ball to empty the bobbins! The last of the singles were being wound onto the ball when Jerene looked across at me and asked what I was doing. I explained the purposed and Jere exclaimed about having ball winders, niddy-noddies and skein winders that I could have used.  Of course, I should have thought to ask. Jere, spinner and weaver extraodinaire, naturally has the necessary equipment for any such need.

I’m very pleased with this 3-ply yarn meeting my goal for a lofty, bulkier yarn which was spun for a specific project. After washing and hanging to dry it weighs 7.5oz / 214 grams and is approximately 250 yards.
With so many rain-free days this winter our almost daily walks are very enjoyable, even when frosty. We stopped walking during the worst of our illness but by Tuesday we were at it again (missed a few days). I grabbed some of the white wool that was in the birthday fibers and my 1.6oz yew Swan (our name for our standard sized Turkish spindles) with one goal in mind; spin all that fiber only when walking. I’m even spinning walking to and fro the Post Office, and last night I spun my way up the high to Bible Study. Coming home was the best. The moon was bright, the air biting cold, silence spread over this small valley. Bundled up with a shawl wrapped around my head and shoulders, a felted hat down over my ears, a small headlamp perched on my head with the light directly slightly down, the scant half mile was covered all too soon.

The beet tops that were to be eaten for dinner are still out by the garden, forgotten until a few minutes ago… after supper dishes were washed.

This morning the fog was so heavy and moist everything was drenched, but it was past time to finish digging up the root vegetables. Shoes and gloves caked with mud, the last of the potatoes and beets washed and laid out to dry under the covered back deck, I headed back to the garden with a basket and began sorting through the snapped off beet tops that I’d left when we dug up the beets.  Bug holes riddled a number of them (we’ve been so negligent) but many looked fresh and delicious. Humming while picking them over I suddenly felt movement in my hair as though something were caught in it.  A bird had flown overhead a moment before the squiggly feeling and I feared nasty gunk.  I bravely put my hand up and encountered a body which I quickly brushed at, very thankful it wasn’t goop. More frantic struggling ensued in the hair so I grabbed the offending creature and pulled it violently away. To my great alarm it was a yellow jacket which took swift revenge. Flinging it away I watched in horror as it angrily came back at me.  Only the cold damp weather befuddling the bee allowed me to out run it.

One summer while picking blueberries with my daughter I was stung on the finger and the field owner taught me to look for buckhorn plantain leaves to chew then put on the sting. It worked wonders! They are a prolific weed throughout my yard with some  growing near the garden but I didn’t take the time to look for a plant with the vengeful yellow jacket nipping at my jeans today.  I was afraid it was going to call for backup and rally the troops to help it do battle.

It’s been a lovely Saturday, one that I’ve been craving for some time. A bit of physical work in the garden.  Originally I’d planned to tackle writing on the knitting needles and spindles that are still waiting on the kitchen table which Ed had brought in from the shop yesterday afternoon–his labors of the week. But we’ve been putting in long work weeks with Saturdays too much like the other five days with hours of work to be accomplished in order to be on top of things come Monday morning. So, other than spending some time going through emails and sending PayPal invoices I ignored the work.

Ed headed up towards Portland in pursuit of more wood so I got out the violin and practice for almost a couple hours. (The finger is only sore at point of sting.) It’s wonderful to be enjoying the violin again. There was a long spell where the muse seemed to be gone and I wondered if I should stop: the violin is a demanding taskmaster. A week ago during ensemble practice the joy came back. I’ve been playing at least half an hour every evening and sometimes few quick moments here and there during the day. The advantage of having the violin readily accessible in its box stand.

I spent some time spinning (more about that in a following post), a bit of knitting, cleaned the bathroom (much needed!) and worked on hairpin lace.

The loom is still empty. I rummaged through the fiber closet to find the cotton warp needed for the blanket had been used up so more needed to be ordered. It took almost two weeks for it to be delivered. (should have ordered it through Woolworks!)  By the time it arrived I’d started on a hairpin lace wrap for my friend. It’s been a slower project than anticipated but I’m making it plenty big for her to snuggle in, and best of all, she loved it when I showed her the work in progress.
Yarn: Classic Elite Alpaca Sox – 60% alpaca, 20% merino, 20% nylon   1 skein = 450 yards, I’ll be using two skeins.

I finished spinning all of Picperfic’s hand-dyed Kid Mohair. I used my 14 gram Walnut Aegean spindle for the second half and easily spun it all up with room to spare. I’m in love with my Aegean! (Ed still hasn’t had time to make enough to put up on our website but there’s a picture of a batch as well as a picture of all his styles of Turkish spindles.) So light, fast and yet efficient, effortlessly holding more than three times its weight in yarn. I believe that if the fiber hadn’t run out at 52 grams it could have easily packed on other 10 or more grams. Next time I’ll start with 100 grams and see how much it will hold before it either bogs down or runs out of holding capacity.
It was fun to try a different approach to wrapping the flatter armed Aegean: instead of over 2 under 1, I wrapped the yarn round and round, going over 2, under 2 in a circular fashion, ending up with a type of basket weave that produced a very compact ball when it was taken of the spindle.


Ed is headed for bed and after a couple of late nights (late is 10:30 – 11 with an odd midnight jaunt now and again) it’s calling my name too. If I can ignore the spinning wheel with the newest project. Which is one reason I was up late last night, couldn’t resist the fibery call.

Ed’s been making spindles for five years. During the first couple of years he worked to refine his design of the Standard Turkish spindles until he felt he had a good understanding of what makes for a well balanced, good spinning spindle. In the Spring of 2008 he designed what to us seemed like a mini Turkish spindle, our Turkish Delight. Around that time he also experimented with making a Ladakhi man’s spindle, the Skuru by using the proportions from a picture sent to us from Celtic Jo, who’d taken the picture while visiting in Ladakh, asking if Ed could make her one. He made a couple but wasn’t happy with the imperfect balance and seemingly cumbersome appearance.

I took one of his skuru’s  to Sock Summit 2009 as part of our display. A woman who saw it asked us if we’d be interested in seeing a Turkish spindle she’d picked up years ago while touring through Turkey. We arranged to meet at Oregon Flock and Fiber. Ed was fascinated with the spindle and he made a couple more sort of based on its size and shape which was very similar to the Ladakh skuru but this one had chip carving on it. And weighed almost 4 ounces! Surprisingly they spin half decently, it just takes more concentration and experience.

During that same time he began developing the wee Kuchulu which was released in October. From huge to tiny, both intriguing and fun to spin, especially the kuchulu which is like a little turbo of speed and energy spinning out cobweb and lace. We can hardly keep up with orders. It doesn’t help that he sands the skin off his fingers and needs to let them heal for at least a week before making another batch.
Somewhere along the way he dreamed of a sleek mid-whorl spindle and next thing I knew, he put one in my hands asking me to give it a test run. The elegant sweet spinning Lark which debuted this past Spring.

Imagine our surprise when hardly had the doors at Black Sheep Gathering opened when a woman zoomed straight to our table with a contagious air of excitement. She reached into her bag and plunked down a spindle much the size of our Larks. Fifteen years ago she was strolling through a marketplace in a small town in Greece when she saw this item and was totally captivated. She thought it was simply a child’s top. After learning to spin a year ago she was shocked to realize it was a real spindle.
Pictured on my book for size reference.

Dana placed it in Ed’s hands and asked if he could make her something like it.

A couple months have gone by with the Greek spindle never far from Ed’s thoughts. Meanwhile, Chrome64 (you must see her amazing sweater knit as she finished spinning fiber samples) accidentally let one of her kuchulus get to chummy with one of her Larks and she loved the resultant spin. She contacted Ed pleading with him to make this hybrid spindle for her.  Oh my, how these offspring of the Lark/Delight/Kuchulu fly! Other than Ed’s first seven prototypes, named Jay, he hasn’t yet made more, but that will soon be remedied. The other very very cool thing about the Jay is that if a person owns a Lark, Ed will made a Jay shaft to fit it so the Lark can be converted into a Jay.                                                                     Jenkins Jay on the left,  Jenkins Lark on the right

While all this new flurry is kicking up the sawdust around the home place yet another type of spindle has quietly made an appearance, known only to three of us.  Until now.

A couple weeks ago Dana of the Greek spindle contacted me and invited us to her house. Ed needed to work but I arranged to visit her last Friday. Thursday Ed came into the house from the shop and set two spindles on the kitchen table to be weighed and signed. Taken completely by surprise I held each in turn then ran and grabbed a bit of fiber to test spin them. Finally the weights were recorded and the spindles returned to the shop for the first coat of finish. Friday morning I applied Wood Beams as the final coat then tucked them in with the wool from last week’s post to take along to Dana’s.

While Dana’s back was turned I slipped the two spindles onto the table. Gobsmacked, she was. Simply gobsmacked.

She hardly knew which to pick up and spin first. We compared Ed’s with hers and declared them a decent match though hers has the wonderful patina of age. Then we set them up and tried spinning all three at once while running the camera. Hmm, still need to get that video on YouTube.

Cherry chip carved spindle left 18grams/0.64oz , Greek spindle middle, Pear chip-carved spindle  right 19 grams/0.67 oz. I have no idea when Ed plans to start making them to sell, or what we’ll be calling them. I’d love an easy to pronounce Greek word for some type of song bird.

Our daughter’s birthday is coming up and her handwarmers aren’t finished yet. (I’m a bit astonished that I got sidetracked into posting here tonight when my one focus was to be knitting!) One has only the final ribbing to finish, the other has the thumb to finish and the final ribbed edge. Here’s hoping I don’t get sidetracked to much in the next couple of days.

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