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

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Glowing brilliance to the East.

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

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The fiery sky beyond the eastern ridge mellowing.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.
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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.

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

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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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.

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

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Signs of spring are everywhere!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ed reached for the wood while I scooped up the soft, luscious hand-dyed roving sent from a friend.
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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.
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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.

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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?

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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:

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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.

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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.

This afternoon Ed did something that he hadn’t done since the mid-nineties.

Needing to run some errands and pick up supplies Ed decided to wait until this morning so he could take our young granddaughter, Violet, with him. Almost three, she loves going on errands with Papa.  Ed gets a hoot out of the attention that she brings, and has fun buying a few special little things for her.

After they returned home he went out to work in the shop while she helped me finish up a few office tasks, fix lunch then went down for her nap. When Ed came in from work later this afternoon he asked if she was awake; she was going to help him with a task. DSC07499

The last time he’d shaved was twenty years ago! I thought he’d never shave again.

Why did I sort of expect him to look like he did in his early forties just by shaving off the beard? Even though Violet watched him shave she was still hesitant about getting close to this new looking papa. Why, our own daughter-in-law, whom we’ve know since she was 13 had never seen him without a beard.

Here’s how he looked Christmas eve as the servers were getting ready before opening the doors for serving the community supper. Yep, the one with the grey beard. (Taking a stealth picture just before prayer made for a blurry picture.)DSC07403

I have to admit, it’s strange to see his chin.
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Jan 6th, eta:  Yarntools website is up and running!!! The drawing spindles (shown below) have also been posted on that blog.

Jan 5th
I don’t normally use this personal blog for business but our spindle website, Yarntools.com has been in limbo so long I’m resorting here in order to help keep people updated more fully than is reasonable through Facebook.
There’s also a new drawing! Details below.

When I’d transferred the work site to the new host server and pointed the domain to it I thought it was a done deal. Unfortunately only the basic, non-formatted WP skeleton was installed, the links between where the domain name sits and the new server weren’t reset, for something I didn’t find out about until business emails stopped coming through Dec 22nd. It’s been a very bumpy ride trying to sleuth what was happening. In essence there were four completely different servers that needed to interact with each other in order for everything to coordinate in the end.

Long story short; we now seem to be on track to getting the website sorted out, the .zip folder with all the website files have been uploaded, now more waiting for finalization from the new server people. Once I get the all-clear email then I’ll need to make sure everything arrived intact and learn how to work within the new site. I’m hoping this will all happen within another day or two.

In the meantime, Ed used these past few weeks to clean and reorganize his shop, build a set of large cabinets for our back porch; clean, sort and reorganize all the stuff back there; tend to some yard work. Today is his first day back to spindle making since the 17th.

Meanwhile: A new spindle has been dancing in the wings waiting to be introduced.

Spindles made from Icelandic Sheep Horns, pictured heaviest to lightest, left to right. (#4 – #1)
2 Horn sideview

Ed was able to finally find what he hopes will be a reliable source for horns from a rancher who raises Icelandic sheep.


2014 #1    10 grams / . 35 ounce
Icehorn1 10g



2014 #2   12 grams

Icehorn2 12g



2014 #3     14 grams / 0.49 ounceIcehorn3 14g



2014 #4     17 grams / 0.59 ounceIcehorn4 17g
Rather than wait to put them on the website (they were poised to dance onto the stage on New Year’s Day),
we’re holding another drawing.

If you’d like a chance to  buy one of these please send an email to spin@yarntools.com with the following information:

Subject Heading: Horn Spindle #___
In the email:
Your name
Zip code, Or the country and phone number if outside the USA
PayPal email
The spindle number of the one you like best.

These spindles are each
$85 USD
1st Class S&H:  $4 US domestic, $7.50 to Canada, $12 – all other International destinations

The entry numbers for each spindle will be entered into a random number generator, the number that is drawn for each spindle will be posted here by 11 am, Saturday.
PayPal invoices will be sent to the people with the winning number.
Example: you enter for Horn Spindle #4, you’ll receive a reply letting you know what your number is. If your number matches the randomly generated number for Spindle #4 you’ll be sent a PP invoice.

If you see the same number that you were give but it’s allotted to horn spindle #3 that means the person who entered for HS #3 and was given that number will be the one who gets to buy it.
In order to give everyone plenty of time to hear about the posting at this site the drawing won’t take place until Saturday, January 10th at 10:30 a.m., Pacific Time. Closing time for entries is 10 a.m. Saturday.

Best wishes to everyone! We’re praying for an uneventful, smooth sailing year ahead with all of the website woes and headaches in the dust of the past.

The sweater is knit back to where I discovered six stitches were missing. One good thing is the button holes are neater and more uniform. Rather than following the directions for a one yarn-over button hole I’m using the one-row horizontal buttonhole from the Vogue Knitting Quick Reference book, page 84. It took awhile to get the hang of exactly how many stitches before the end of the row I needed to start working it but after about 9 times I’ve got it down.

Please indulge this grandma in sharing something that was precious to me yesterday:

Ed and young Violet returned from a trip to town to pick up some screws and wood while I was still packing up spindles to take to the Post Office. At two and a half years old Violet wanted to help me wrap. She rolled the office chair over to the workbench. Not content to play with a few items, including a small sea shell, as she has in the past, she really wanted to participate, so I handed her a folded sheet of tissue paper.

The little shell was one in a boxful of shells which Ed had brought home after his time on Diego Garcia, a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean where he spent much of his off-duty hours snorkeling for shells decades ago. Violet has enjoyed rolling the smooth surface in her hands while admiring its pastel beauty. Yesterday she decided to give it to her older sister for her birthday which is tomorrow.

After carefully (for a 2 year old) wrapping it, tape and all, she took a piece of paper and wrote Abby a note. Enchanted, I had to capture the sweet moment with some pictures.
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DSC_6195She’s well aware of birthdays. Her daddy’s was last month as well as several cousins recently having them. She sees decorated trees, and is learning that baking cookies and wrapping gifts are signaling that we’ll be celebrating Jesus’ birthday pretty soon.

She is learning the joy of giving.

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