It’s that time of the year: Tour de Fleece.

Except I’m not spinning from a fleece. Not even remotely.

I’ve been honing my skills at spinning flax. Several years ago I spun quite a bit of flax though mostly with a wheel. This time around I’m using an Egret.

The flax I bought from Carolina Homespun, at Black Sheep Gathering, is the longest line flax – or strick, that I’ve spun. Such long fibers present a different type of challenge. It’s been a fun learning experience!


Ed made a small spindle wheel in May. He adapted this wheel from pictures in the excellent source book, Spinning Wheels & Accessories by David Pennington & Michael Taylor. He still want to make small spindle wheels someday, just not this style. It took me getting down on the floor, rather than at a table, for me to become enamored with this cotton spinner.

The day I introduced this wheel to the monthly spinning group was also the debut of the rose linen shirt.
Pattern: Feather and Fan Ribbed Tee by Judy Croucher.
Yarn: M&K Linen 50 g= ca 125 m
Needles: #5 (my gauge determined a smaller size was necessary)
I added 5 pattern repeats to the sleeves as well as knitting an extra inch up to the neck line. If I knit another one, which I am tempted to since it was a fun shirt to knit, I’d stop after the 7th sleeve repeat. Other changes I’d make: knit farther up the neckline and make the shoulder straps wider before binding off so they stay on my narrow shoulders better. The longer, heavier, sleeves probably contribute to the tendency to slip over my shoulders.

DSC09368With this shirt off the needles I’m temporarily between knitting projects. A very strange feeling! I’ve been looking through back issues of my Handwoven magazines for curtain ideas. The living room door, kitchen, and bathroom windows all need new curtains which I fancy weaving. The lacy valance does nothing to deter the summer sun blasting its heat through the kitchen window in the late afternoon.

We had an unusually hot June and early July with 9 consecutive days of temps in the mid to high 90’s F (35+ C) with no rain in 36 days! Clouds covered the sky all day today and we hoped for rain but so far there has been none. Our poor creek looks like it does at the end of August.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be demonstrating spinning again at the Silver Falls State Park historical days. (I don’t dress in period clothing, perhaps I’ll get around to sewing a dress & apron someday.) This will be the fourth or fifth year I’ve been asked to participate. It’s always great fun to sit on the wide covered porch of the old lodge and spin while visiting with people from far and near. I’ll take the small spindle wheel for spinning cotton, the spindle with flax and another spindle for wool so that people can see a variety of spinning styles/methods.

It’s been awhile since posting much about fiber, the early Spring seemed to demand attention and pictures. We’re still enjoying a relatively mild year with more sunny days than rain. So unusual for the Pacific Northwest. The strawberries are already setting fruit! We’ve been picking and eating asparagus as it grows (yum!), potato plants are growing like crazy and the sugar peas are climbing their wire fence.

Ed’s sweater is finished.

I debated about using a ribbon band underneath to hold the buttons so washed and blocked the sweater before adding buttons. Ed said, “I’ve never worn a sweater that had anything under the buttons.” Ed picked out the buttons from the One of a Kind Button table at the annual Abernathy Grange Fiber Fair a week ago. He also bought several other button packets, Candace is a wizard at button making, it’s hard to use restraint in her booth.


I ambushed Ed for a picture when he briefly went outside to feed the cats. The man rarely steps outside without his hat. He wasn’t keen to have his picture taken without one on, as a result I didn’t risk asking for poses.
Pattern: Fine-Knit Cardigan from Erika Knight’s “Men’s Knits” book.
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash  Ed gifted me with the yarn and book a year ago Christmas. :)
The back was knit twice, the first time for the x-large with the recommended needles. It was way too big. After a visit to the frog pond I worked out the math, again. Given how big it had turned out even getting gauge I calculated by following the instructions for L and dropping from US5 needles to US 4 it should fit. Lots of measuring, counting and math took place throughout the making of the sweater the second time through.

It was worth it!

Meanwhile, a little sweater was knit.


And pants sewn for Violet’s beloved baby doll. No patterns used.

Last October a Kool-Aide challenge was given at the Aurora Colony Handspinners’ Guild. We were given 4 ounces of Polwarth and directed to dye with Kool-Aide, spin the fiber and complete a project in time for the Feb. meeting.

The Kool-Aide yarn is on the left. Chain-plyed to preserve the colors rather than risk a muddy yarn.  My daughter, Aurora dyed the yellow and blue fibers a year or so ago which I’d spun and had in the stash. Last fall Marianne Cant of Picperfic  posted a picture of a granny square jacket she’d made for a baby.

I got the yarn spun and was working on my first square at the Feb. meeting. Not quite a finished item.
Violet loves pink so I added in balls of Cascade hot pink and light pink plus a burgundy.

Violet and I have fun playing around with the placement of the squares. So many options!  These pictures were taken before have the squares were made.



There are only 12 squares left to make to have enough for a jacket for a 3 year old. This coming Friday Violet and I will play with more arrangements and see what we come up with before they’re all joined with a cream colored yarn. It’s been a fun project, one that’s proved easy to take while sitting with a friend at a hospital or visiting with Aurora, or working on in the evening when I’ve been too tired to do anything else.

One final project which was made in February, a neck warmer for my daughter-in-law who loves to be active outside during the cold Idaho winters.


This was another fun project using a Knitspot kit: Glasstower.  As a slow knitter who only manages to knit in the evenings this was finished in three days.


It’s soft, warm and very cosy around the neck. MJ was thrilled to get something personal that she could immediately put to good use.

In anticipation of posting frequently this month I took lots of pictures. Here are a few of the early Spring, these were taken March 11th.  A neighbor’s tulip tree. (or a star magnolia? I forget.)



Daffodils and I think these are a type of asters in the city park.


DSC07867Up close

The very early blooming strawberries, even before the middle of March! The green berries are now as big as grapes.


Ed’s sweater is off the needles and ready to be grafted and seamed.

This afternoon the ironing board and iron were set up in the kitchen, a white cotton dish towel dampened and I tackled the task of steaming the individual pieces. Anne Hanson of Knitspot blog about steam blocking a sweater early in February convinced me that it would be worth the extra step.

Except, I don’t have a large surface to fully lay out a sweater for steaming so I wasn’t able to properly block it. Still, it seemed worth the effort to steaming the edges so they’d lie flatter during the seaming process.

The two sleeves, the one on the left looked just like the one on the right before steaming it.


All the sweater pieces steamed and folded into a pile.


The grafting and seaming will be tackled when there’s a good chunk of time to sit by the window during daylight hours. It’s not a job I want to feel rushed doing.

This coming Thursday I’ll be demonstrating spinning from 9am – 1pm at Wool ‘n Wares Yarn Shop in West Lynn during the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl. It is the oldest Yarn Crawl in the country! If you’re in the greater Portland area come by to say hi.

This morning we decided to take advantage of the lovely March 1st day by riding our bikes in a new area. Looking through our Road Biking Oregon guide book we decided to do the 10 mile Hagg Lake loop. Neither of us had been there though we’d occasionally mention it over the years. The guide book rated it as easy, and since it went around the lake we figured we’d be riding on level land surrounded by farms and rolling hills.


The road turned up into the base of the coastal range where the county owned park is located. This was the scene from the first parking lot. Later we realized that there are many parks and swimming areas scattered around the lake. Hagg Lake is very popular in the summer for swimmers, boaters (the lake is zone motorized/ski boats at the eastern end, non-wake on the western end) and triathlons.

Crossing the earthen dam.


The view looking west from the dam.



Shortly after crossing the dam the road started climbing.

And climbing. We kept thinking around the next bend the road would dip back down to the lake.
DSC07776It didn’t.
By then Ed’s leg was threatening to give out on him. We also had the very real suspicion that the road was going to continue skirting the lake higher up along the flank of the hills surrounding the lake than behaving gently by going back down to stay level with the lake.

We practically flew that mile back down the hill. We loaded into the car and drove around the lake, clocking that uphill mile which once we realized we’d pushed that far on our 3 (Ed’s ) & 7 speed (mine) bikes were very proud for having accomplished that climb.



Our speculation proved true. The road rolled up and down all the way around the lake, much of it in the fir trees. It’s understandable why this is considered a great triathlon course.

This early in the year there were very few vehicles on the road. We did pass a number of cyclists and several runners.

On the north side looking south across the lake. One lone boater enjoying the calm day.



We’re glad we went to such a lovely place on this beautiful day!

The fine Pacific Northwest weather of spring-like sunny days in the 60s is coming to a close. Rain will be moving in later this afternoon. Snow is predicted for the mountains – a good thing since the snow pack is only 7% of normal! A good snow pack is crucial for the water table, farmers and water reservoirs.

Rising shortly before dawn the colorful sky pulled me outside for an early morning walk.

The sky was ever changing, different in every direction. Looking North below.


Glowing brilliance to the East.


Across the creek and heading North is a house with a juxtaposition of Christmas lights, blooming camellias and the 4th of July.


The fiery sky beyond the eastern ridge mellowing.


This fine oak tree will be swathed with wisteria in another months or so.
Wisteria vines and daffodils.


Clouds coming in from the Pacific Ocean about 70 road miles west.


High winds blowing from the East made streamers of the wispy clouds. The high pressure is dropping and soon the prevailing winds will blow in from the southwest bringing rain.

Down the rise, across the bridge, back into town.


Across from the post office a tree caught my eye. Were those unfurling leafs? What kind of tree was it?


Crossing the street to inspect the tree I discover to my immense delight…


Pussy willow with its blooming catkins! (It’s ironic that catkins from a smaller hazelnut tree beside the willow is what first caught my attention to the bigger tree.)

As a child I loved finding the first pussy willows of the spring and taking them home to my mom who put them into a vase. Their fleeting heralding of Spring brought cheer to the kitchen table.

To think that all these years I’d not paid attention to this tree. My heart did little pitter-patters with happiness at the sight.


After such a walk what better than to bake an apple pie?

Ed and I were outside a great deal this weekend. Not to shovel snow.

Stories and pictures of the never-ending snowstorms and brutal cold in the eastern part of the country seem surreal. It’s hard to wrap my mind around snow banks higher than my head and minus zero temperatures. 

Yesterday Ed shoveled compost from the two year old mound onto the raised beds.

I hauled bits of branches strewn around the yard from last Monday’s windstorm to the burn pile. While raking in the back corner I spied these delicate beauties. The Daphne bushes which we planted last fall are beginning to bloom.

Who could resist bringing a few of these tiny flowers with their big fragrance into their house?
DSC07662The ladder was used to prune the perimeter branches of the apple tree then I climbed up into the tree to get to the upper center branches. Good fun and exercise.

While Ed finished working in the back yard I made an apple pie to celebrate Valentine’s Day and as soon as it was in the oven we went for our first ride on the tandem bicycle we bought a week ago.

Ed’s been wanting a tandem bike for forty years and has been keeping a watch on Craigslist. When he saw this old Schwinn, the exact same color as the Schwinn he rode around Oregon on – with a 75 pound backpack (he was 18), he fell hard. Isn’t it a beauty? (Picture taken last Sunday but he was too sick to try to ride it.)


After church today we took our bikes to the Willamette Mission State Park. (I wanted to take Dually but Ed wants more practice before taking it for a longer ride.)

Yes, these are pictures from today! Note the very green grass and the unfurling leaves.  (Our yard needs mowing already but it was still too wet yesterday.) Almost to the far end of the biggest loop we encountered this body of water stretching across the bike path.

DSC07670Hmmm, hard to tell how deep it is…
Nope, not going to try.

We retraced the path to the first fork where a young couple were soaking up the warmth.

Signs of spring are everywhere!


This path ended up looping us around to a horse path leading down to the Willamette River. Nothing like a bit of dirt biking. The bottom part was very soggy and slick. Just after I snapped this picture Ed headed right and skirted along the hillside just above that little tree. A small adventure off the beaten path.


The bridle path soon circled back to the bike path and soon we were staring at the puddle of water we’d turned back from earlier. Except, now we were on the south end of it. Rather than take the longer way back around we decided to be daring.


DSC07686Once Ed was safely across he called back that the water had gotten above the pedals through the deepest stretch. What’s some wet shoes on a fine warm day? Especially with good wool socks on? Come to think of it, I’m still wearing the same shoes and socks! Gotta check… yep they’re still damp. Amazing how warm wet wool is.

An email heralded the box’s appearance about a week before it arrived in our PO box. Scarcely containing the impulse to rip it open right in the post office I raced home, grabbed Ed and opened it. Inside was a cocoon of fiber surrounding a block of Imbuia wood for Ed.


Ed reached for the wood while I scooped up the soft, luscious hand-dyed roving sent from a friend.
The colors of the silk/baby llama blend has proven hard to capture. Deep blues, greys and brown with highlights of brighter hues and flashes of purple that make me wonder if I’m seeing things.

After spinning up the first 52 grams on the Great Wheel the strands seemed to call to be used as singles.

DSC_6329Soaked, set and dried this first half yielded approximately 230 yards. There’s another spinning project that I must finish before I spin the second 52 grams. As soon as my hands touched this soft roving I couldn’t resist taking the other fiber (Polwarth) off the Great Wheel spindle. But, the deadline of having a finished object made from the spun Polwarth is the last week of February.

Yesterday we were able to meet up briefly with our son who was in the area on a business trip. We’d planned to have supper together but the scheduling only allowed a very short meet-up. I’ll take ten minutes with him over none!

I was reluctantly dragged into Facebook when our son’s family moved to a different state. It didn’t take long to figure out that if we wanted to stay current with them and our grandchildren we’d need to have FB accounts. The added benefit is keeping in touch with far-flung friends and family. Years ago letter writing was a passion that slowly dimmed from far spaced, often brief, letters in my mailbox in return. A welcome bonus with FB has been reconnecting with a few people from years long ago.

Recently two friends have been treading through waters of deep grief. Wanting to tangibly wrap them in a bit of love but being an excruciatingly slow knitter I needed something much quicker than a shawl, or even a scarf. Yarn Harlot wrote about the realities of a certain hat taking more than a mere few hours admitting that it was more likely to take a couple days. I’ve yet to knit a hat within a couple of days, with the exception of a chunky handspun. I used a size J knook to make one in record time of a couple days for my visiting granddaughter three years ago. (Story and pictures, here.) I should dig up that knook and knock out some more hats for the grandkids, but first I’d have to spin some chunky yarn with my Navajo spindle.

That’s right, I was telling a story about finding a quick project…

Remembering a few necklaces that were relatively quick knits I turned to Laura Nelkin Designs for a bracelet knit. The first one was destined for my daughter.

Nelkin bracelet1 1.12.14

Delighted with how it turned out  I dug into a bead tray, strung a bunch onto some handspun and started a new one the next evening. The yarn in the kit was round with great stitch definition which helps the design and beads to pop. My slightly thicker handspun bloomed with washing and even after blocking it seemed a bit too uneven to give to a friend.  What’d I expect using a 50/50 silk cashmere blend?


The first picture of the grey bracelet is closer to the color. It seems the light was picking up and reflecting the blues in the picture above. Despite the funkiness of the bottom, handspun one it feels wonderful on my wrist; soft and warm. I had to use different type of clasp than that snap clasp that came in the Nelkin kit. Aurora thought the sliding clasp I used on my bracelet is easier to use.

This one shows their true colors:



It’s interesting to see that the slightly thicker, flatter yarn made a bigger bracelet using the same size US 2 / 2.75mm needles.

Digging through the handspun stash didn’t reveal anything that shouted their names like the yarn I wanted to use. The color and soft fibers were perfect for both of these friends in need of some hugs. Using a spindle I added more twist then cast on for a third bracelet which was finished and blocked last night using the same needles. Adding more twist and knitting a bit tighter helped tremendously. One end looks narrower than the other but they are pretty much the same when curved end to end.


Number 4 is half-way done, tomorrow the ends will be sewn in and the clasps attached. Thursday these bracelets should be winging their way to give my friends warm, gentle hugs and to let them know that they’ve been much in my heart and in my prayers.

Meanwhile, inches are adding up on Ed’s sweater sleeves. It will be a happy day when they are finished and the blocking commences.


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