Early December

I have the feeling this month will fly past too quickly. The first four days were already filled with activities. Lots of people came to the town’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the city park Thursday evening. This year the band decided to use one group mic rather than dealing with several as we have in the past. We had more people compliment us than before telling us that they could hear everyone. The best part was having all the kids from the Bible club jam onto the small covered bridge “stage”, to lustily sing with us. During Jingle Bells they got to stomping their feet in rhythm on the wooden floor. So much enthusiasm and fun! Lots of parents recording the kids on their phones.

The mayor of the town (a professional chef) made a huge pot of delicious chili as well as pans of cornbread, plus there were homemade chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate and coffee. Perfect food for a cold evening. First year in several that it didn’t rain, or even threaten to rain, nor was it as cold as some years have been. Santa and Mrs arrived in their shiny black wagon decorated in lights pulled by two huge draft horses decked out with big jingle bells. This year they sat next to the bridge to greet the children (and parents) while we played music and people sang.
dsc04620This is a small town with, as is typical of most places, a few people doing most of the work but there is plenty of wonderful enthusiasm and support for this annual event.
The picnic structure were the food was served.
dsc04622The covered bridge and the picnic structure face each other. The tree has been lit, Santa and wife have driven off on the horse-drawn wagon and most people have returned to their homes.
dsc04624Friday was our Violet Day. She’d had extremely busy days since the day before Thanksgiving and was quite tuckered. Often she loves to go shopping with Papa but not Friday, not even to the wood store up near Portland where she likes to help Papa pick out pretty woods.

Instead we measured Papa’s feet to make Christmas slippers for him and made his duct tape foot forms (lasts). Then she and Papa painted while I worked in the office packing up twenty spindles to send to a store in Pittsburg, PA: Dyed in the Wool. (DITW) I’m not sure if they plan to sell online for just through their brick and mortar store.
dsc04632Yesterday morning Ed drove up to the wood store while I worked some more on today’s sermon, finalized the Advent Candle passage for the responsive reading and selected  hymns. (The song leader prefers for me to choose them.) I also managed to practice a few of the tricky songs that have violin breaks.  We decorated the church in the afternoon then went back up there at six for a three-hour practice for next Saturday’s Christmas sing-along.
dsc04633The picture was taken before most of the instrumentalists arrived. After this I was too focused on playing to think about more pictures.

The piano has a brand new quilt cover sewn together by one of our women who has more energy and drive than most of us put together. The blue flannel is the inside, I need to get a picture of the outside of the quilt. See the advent candle and wreath with the pink flower next to the white Christ Child candle? While decorating the outside railing one of the twins discovered the camellia bush has some blooms so she picked on for the candle. In December! Tonight’s first freeze of this winter will be hard on them.

I hope you all had a good weekend and aren’t stressing about this oft too busy month!

Thirty day success

Whew! Thirty days of posting has been accomplished. A number of days it was hard making the time or finding the words to write. An outline of a subject plan at the beginning of November would have helped but that’s not the way my brain tends to work. Organization has never been a strength, I love organized environments but I’m sadly lacking in the knowing how to get organized. Both my mom and dad were orderly, organized people. How did I miss out?

When our kids were in elementary school I was the 1st grade classroom assistant for a couple of years. The teacher was a very organized person whom I enjoyed working with, not just for her pleasant, easy going personality, but because she was masterful in keeping a tidy, well-organized, user-friendly classroom. During that time I realized that inside I’m an organized person who can’t figure out how to get organized.

My office is a quite chaotic. I’ve tried to reorganize it only to end up spinning my wheels. (Not in the fiber sense.) I’d like to take the time in December to work my way all around it starting in one corner and get it organized so I’m more efficient. (Which will take organizing my time – another deficiency in my life.) Then I need to tackle the filing cabinet. My methods are too scattered. I need an organizational coach! As a 50th birthday gift a dear friend from Texas came for a visit and to help me to organize my cabinets and office. She arrived with printed labels ready and a master sheet to work from. We ended up running off to the coast to play. Considering that we hadn’t seen each other in about 10 years who could blame us!

December tends to be a very busy month, starting already with our band playing for the town’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the city park tomorrow evening. Saturday afternoon we’ll decorate the church for and have a long rehearsal/practice for the sing-along on the 10th. I’ve been terrible at practicing for it this year and must buckle down to some serious work on a few of the trickier songs that I don’t have music for, which we’ve transposed to more singable keys.

I’m still hoping to spin and knit hats for the grandkids in time for Christmas. It’ll be interesting to see how far I get. Lately all I’ve wanted to do is spin. My knitting mojo has disappeared.

Rather than posting every day I’d like to continue posting two or three times per week. We’ll see. The blog is a wonderful way of keeping track of what’s happening and I’d like to keep it up more consistently.

Meanwhile, this happened in November:
dsc04505 dsc04506Just as the odometer moved across the 100,000 mile mark and keeps rolling steadily along I can keep moving forward with my goals.

Posting daily has proven that I can do something when I set my mind to it, am disciplined and make the effort. I need to keep applying that determined focus to the areas in my life / house that need to be organized. Here’s to a productive December!

Thank you for reading along through these 30 days of November!

Spinning Alpaca

The fifth skein of the alpaca project has been spun, soaked and dried. This latest one is the colorway is called Midnight; it’s the second from from the right.dsc04589April ’15 I bought some alpaca/silk roving from Upstream Alpacas at a daylong, local spin-in where Christine had a table. As soon as the roving began slipping through my hands I feel in love and ordered another 4 ounces. It didn’t take long before I knew I wanted to spin enough to weave material for a skirt, perhaps a matching short jacket ensemble.  So far there are over 3200 yards. I’m not sure about the skein on the right. That roving was ordered online and turned out brighter than I’d anticipated. Yet, it might be interesting to have a pop of color in the cloth.

At times my plan is to use a black alpaca yarn (yet to be spun) for the weft, but that idea gets shoved aside in favor of a plaid scheme. It’ll be good to weave samples of various colors layouts and design. There’s still the 4 ounce braid of black  roving to be spun up. I might get another final braid before I call it enough, probably another Midnight so the dark will be dominant. These have all been spun using my Louet Victoria.

A different color sequence. This layout seems more pleasing to my eye. I’m open to thoughts and opinions.
dsc04591Ed and I had read about drinking a banana blended with hot water and cinnamon for a good night’s sleep. Not crazy about the weak taste of the hot banana water I’ve been adding hot milk to the blender, as well as some vanilla, ginger, turmeric and a bit of black pepper for an all around healthy bedtime drink. Rather tasty and it does seem to help. 
dsc04521Today I’m thankful for the blessing and comforts of home.

A New Journey

Today would have been my dad’s 104 birthday. Even after these more than 32 years since he went home to heaven those moments of a deep aching for him can still sweep over me. I wrote a tribute to him three years ago here.

In some ways he was far ahead of his time. While always courteous to woman; holding doors open, letting them go through first, etc. it wasn’t because he viewed women as weaker. His mom had been a feisty auburn with a backbone of steel who expected respect, manners, and for her boys to help out with the kitchen chores. Dad expected both of his two girls to follow our hearts even if called into non-traditional roles.

He would be pleased as punch and bursting his buttons at one of my present roles: the preacher in our small local Quaker (Friends) church.

If someone had told me a dozen years ago that I’d be a preacher I probably would have laughed. I didn’t have an inkling. Nor was it one I actively pursued.

Over a year ago I began teaching the adult Sunday School class, leading us week by week on an overview of each book in the Bible, in order. What an experience it proved to be! I found out that I loved digging, studying, praying and pulling together each lesson week by week.

Our church had been without a pastor for two years since a fire in the parsonage had rendered it inhabitable. Without the house to offer a pastor, and our small numbers, we couldn’t afford to hire pastor. As a meeting we weren’t worried; God brought in a retired husband and wife pastor team, and a woman who is a hospital chaplain. All three of them were willing to periodically preach, as did one of our previous pastors who still loved coming to preach when he was able. Between those four people and occasionally an outside guest preacher there was usually someone to preach, if not we’d have a Sunday of open, unprogrammed worship praising God and seeking to listen to the Holy Spirit. Most of all, our meeting desired God’s will for us.

A few times during this past Spring I was asked to preach, and found to my astonishment that I enjoyed it. During the long drive to Moscow in June Ed brought up the possibility that I might be called to be the preacher. And if so, we needed to free up time for me to study. He knew that I was already in the habit of waking up early in the morning to study for Sunday School and the weeks that I’d preached I’d often be up by 4am.

Ed suggested we transition from direct, online sales to wholesaling the spindles. The transition has been slow, mostly due to my not wanting to let our wonderful customers down. So many whom I’ve felt a kinship towards even though we’ve never met. I’m still working to find the best balance between being able to continue to sell direct and sell wholesale.

By mid-August I was asked to be the preacher. It’s been a wonderful time of personal growth and challenge figuring out what all this entails. I still have so much to learn! And at times the responsibility is sobering, and daunting. Almost always I feel inadequate and wonder at how it is that God has chosen to use me.

We desire to be living for God to the best that we are able. I seriously love digging into God’s word, praying and earnestly seeking the direction on where He’s leading me each week in preparing a message. It’s an honor to  equip people with knowledge of God’s Word, to an understanding of our need for Him that leads us to the place of yearning for God, to yielding to Him which bring about a relationship with the living Creator who loves each of us beyond what we can grasp on earth.

At the same time, I’m not one to shout my faith from the rooftop, to get into people’s faces. I’m not the type to stand on a street corner and preach. Oh, how that thought makes me shudder! Instead I want live my life treating people with respect, dignity, love and trying to come alongside, to understand where they’re coming from, as God wants me to. To let God’s great love draw them to Him.

I’ll not use this blog as a platform to preach, unless I’m strongly compelled by the Holy Spirit to do so. It’ll still be the place where I mainly focus on fiber stuff and the periodic meanderings of my simple life. Periodically stuff of my heart and thoughts are bound to come out here for writing is a good way of examining and making sense of thoughts.

Today I am thankful for a dad who lived his deep faith in actions more than words, a dad who encouraged me to follow my heart and who expressed complete confidence in me.
I’m thankful for the people of our meeting who have encouraged me to take on the responsibility of preaching and are giving me time, and space, to grow into the position.
I’m thankful for Ed’s valuable support.
I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit is leading us in this new journey.
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Walking Spinning

The turtle singles and plyed balls that I posted about on the 24th, now skeined and pictured below, came to approximately 393 yards.

Here they are before the warm soapy bath to set the twist.

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Fresh from the bath, wrung out and laid next to previously skeined spindle-spun-while-walking yarn that have been accumulating over the course of several years, spun using two of Ed’s early standard Turkish spindles. (What we call Swans.) I don’t spin when it’s raining during our walks – a common occurrence in NW Oregon, and I’ve been quite sporadic about taking my spindle and wool with me.
All together now there are approximately 860 yards. There is still have another turtle waiting for a last spindle full to ply it with which might take the yardage close to 1000. Instead of the sweater I’d originally set out to make this yarn might be used for a vest.

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The three skeins hanging to dry.

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Thankful for the satisfaction of being able to spin yarn that will eventually be a piece of clothing.

Felting Boots part 2

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post please look at some of the early pictures of the felting process.

With the limited, albeit generous, workshop schedule I concentrated on doing this wet and sudsy process as quickly as possible. Shortly into the project it was evident that I might have taken on more than I could finish before the end of the two-day class. The amount of wet-felting needed for boots seemed mammoth to this beginner.

There are a total of four layers of wool applied to each side of the boots, with study plastic form in the middle. The first thing we did was to divide the 8 – 10 ounces of the Corriedale  wool we were using (depending on the height of the boots, foot size, etc. into 4 ounces for each side, then those four ounces subdivided into 4 – 1 ounce groups so that each layer had the same amount of wool applied. Two layers of wool tufts are placed, first ounce horizontally, the next ounce vertically. (The first picture on the previous post shows a long layer of red wool: the inside of the leg flap, which was then covered with the plastic so that it wouldn’t be felted to the newer layers.)

Once the entire side was covered with wool Kiss My Face soap  was grated over the surface then generously sprinkled with water. With netting on top of everything each layer was thoroughly rubbed with the flat of the hands until the fibers were matted together. (The olive oil based soap was recommended for the benefit of our hands)  Once the first two layers were somewhat felted the boot form was flipped over to apply wool to the other side.

The wooly boot ready to be soaped and spritzed then rubbed, and rubbed, and rubbed until my hands and arms were aching.

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Meanwhile Pam’s boots had been cut apart and she was rubbing, felting and shrinking them to fit. Isn’t it cute? (Even in its still mammoth stage.) There’s no distinguishing the sole of the foot as she’s just in the process of shaping it.

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Then next morning by 8:30 we were back at our tables armed with more water, soap, lots of hand power and determination. To get the wool to mat together into a felted mass takes a great deal of rolling, rubbing, massaging, pounding and manipulation. It’s important to work both sides and feet as evenly as possible, best achieved by rolling the entire thing as a unit then rolling it back and forth in the soapy water, re-rolling from one end to the other, from toes to heels, then from heels to toes. Always changing direction so that it shrinks uniformly. There comes that moment when it goes from being rather squishy into a firmer sheet of fiber.

Once that feeling happens it’s time to cut the boots apart and the plastic material form removed so that the foot and leg shaping can take place before it shrinks into a flatten form.  Here Carin is cutting the boots apart for me. I wasn’t brave enough.

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I should have taken a picture showing the inside boot flap as it was being reveled, along with the plastic insert, when the boots were cut apart.
Once the boots are separated the two duct tape foot forms I’d made at home were placed inside. These help to shape the boot foot and ideally to keep them from shrinking too much. (oh the horrors of that happening after all this work!)

At times I used the wash board to roll and rub the boots against. I also used a ceramic stone with ridges made for this purpose. The rice paddle also saw lots of action pounding the fiber around the toes, soles and heels. Whack, whack, whack. There were times when we were almost beating in unison in the room.We talked about the dynamics of how when a number of people start randomly beating an object in a group the rhythm eventually melds into one and everyone beats at the same time, completely unconscious of it. The the beat drifts apart into random strokes again before merging into one beat. Fascinating to experience it first hand even as we were all concentrating on our own boots and not really paying attention to the rhythm of the others.


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Eventually the boots reached the stage where the forms were pulled out before the felt shrank enough to trap them. That sad situation has happened to some of Carin’s students. Carin was terrific about working one on one with each of us, keeping an eye out to see that we were progressing as needed, even helping to rub and shape everyone’s boots which was hugely encouraging.

I wasn’t able to finish them in the workshop but they were at the point that the forms had been removed and I’d tried them on for size. Ugh, feet thrust into cold wet wool boots. Oh, did my hands, arms and shoulders ache that night from the 6 hours of almost nonstop pummeling, rolling, massaging and beating. If a person did a great deal of this type of felting there’d be no need for arm exercises! 

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The following weekend the boots were re-soaked, soaped and pummeled some more with the rice paddle. When the feet started getting to the right shape and size I began carefully rubbing in the direction that the shrinkage needed to happen. A good tip to know: Shrinking will always go in the direction that the fiber is rubbed. I didn’t want to lose anymore length in the foot but needed to tighten up around the arch and the back of the heel so I rubbed from underneath upward. The leg part was floppier than I liked but already shorter than I’d intended.  I did not want it them to get any shorter. In shrinkage the circumference I rolled the leg portions into a cylinder then rolled them back and forth over the rubber shelf lining that we used underneath the boots throughout the felting process.

Felting is one of those things that seems to take forever to accomplish when suddenly everything quickly shrinks. Attention and care must be given in order not to get past the intended shape and size. I almost over shrank the legs, even with being careful.

Since this final picture I’ve done more shaping to neaten the top edging as well as some final tweaking with the foot shaping. Overall I’m very pleased with them. Now I need to finish spinning the 3-ply and make a lucet cord for the button cord, fix on the buttons and cord then put on soles so they can be worn outside.

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Today I am thankful to be able to learn new skills!