The New Year Beckons

All day I’ve had the niggling feeling that a cold is trying to take up residence in my head.

Not wanting to deal with a cold I decided to stay home this evening rather than join the games and music up at the church. It would have been fun; friends, table games, puzzles, jamming with other musicians, food and hot drinks until midnight but a quiet evening in our woodstove toasty home is more sensible.

I took the spindle for a walk for the first time in what seems like months early yesterday morning. The spinning and exercise felt so good and natural! Here’s to having more sunny days ahead than the extra rainy autumn and December which were not conducive to spinning wool in the rain.  A neighbor and I walked out to the cemetery and back before church time. I ended up not going. We were deep in one of those conversations about life stuff that sometimes need to be shared and it was more important to listen over a cup of coffee when we returned to the house. We plan to walk again in the morning before I head over to spend time hanging out with Aurora.

2013 is a good year to get back into weaving on a more regular basis! I miss sitting at the loom and getting into the rhythm of watching the cloth grow.

Yesterday afternoon I began the process of measuring out warp and sleying the reed for my next weaving project. Super time and darkness fell before the last bout was sleyed and today there was no time. I want to get the loom completely warped tomorrow afternoon while there’s still good daylight. My eyes feel the strain of the close work of sleying the reed and threading the heddles with artificial light. This will be a small project but using a technique that’s new to me: 3 shaft weaving . I’ve had the pattern and materials for months but haven’t been able to hurdle the idea of manipulating only 3 shafts on a 4 shaft counter-balance loom. Sometimes a person just has to take the plunge and hope that the muddy surface was just an illusion and that once in everything makes sense! It’s a short enough warp that if it doesn’t work out as intended then it’s a small loss that will have been worth the trying and learning.

A Pretty Thing cowl seemed the perfect way to close out 2012. Except. I’m slow. It’s only 1/4th of the way. But there’s no rush, it’s not for any particular birthday or occasion.  We’ve been watching Tripods almost every evening and I couldn’t keep track of the pattern while watching the show.  Ed ordered dvds of Tripods from England a few weeks ago and they arrived just in time for Christmas. He decreed we’d watch only three episodes a day. Sometime back in the 80s or 90s we stumbled across the weekly BBC show but on our local station it was always hit or miss and then suddenly it was off the air leaving us hanging. It’s one of those low budget shows which wormed its way into our hearts.

A new blog was started today at our Yarntools website!!! It’s been at the back of my mind to have one at that site, mostly for those times that Ed’s up to something new or information needs to be available. The past couple of weeks so many people were expressing concern for Ed’s back that rather than try to answer via email it was easier to put it out in one place where customers could easily find it.

Fiberjoy will continue to be my main outlet. 🙂

One spinning project that’s been in the works off and on for too long only needs one more braid (maybe 2) to spin for the final color. I just might get spinning on it tomorrow evening. A good way to begin the New Year: an early morning walk followed by girl time with my daughter, some loom work, and finishing the day off in the evening with spinning. Wednesday, the 2nd, is our 35th anniversary. Another day of celebrating!
Here’s the skeins of yarn spun up so far, the 2nd and 3rd from the right are each about 270 yards, the others are about 140 yards each

DSC02790All from various braids of Picperfic Polwarth, Polwarth blend braids. (oh! I must not look at her shop! There are more colors that would be great with this blend of yarns!)

Blessings on the New Year! May it be filled with Peace,  Industrious use of time, hands and mind,  Contentment and Joy


Sweet Success

Ed loves hats.

Only certain types of hats.
He’s very choosey.

December First we went to Clackamas Town Center to scope out the stores. Much had changed since we were there a year ago, including the opening of a hat store. The one hat Ed liked they didn’t have in his size. But he spied a hat he wanted me to try on. Soon it was paid for and it rode out the store on my head. It accompanied me to the Christmas music sing-along that evening.
Christmas hat                                      (With dear Millet, wife of our banjo player)

While on the subject of hats… I was finally able to get a decent picture of the hat I made for Violet early November:
Violet's slouchy hatWith Christmas fast approaching, and Violet growing by the day, I settled down to working only on the BSJ thinking it’d be finished within a couple of days. A bit over half-way along on the hood I held it up for inspection. To my horror I’d been moving one marker pin to the wrong side making a very wonky, out-of-kilter hood. Ripped it out and back to the beginning. Paying attention to moving both increase markers correctly the hood grew at a decent rate but by the 3/4th point the ball of yarn was diminishing at an alarming speed. At that rate there was a chance there was enough to finish the hood but none left to lengthen the sleeves. I settled for a small collar with a bit of curve at the corners and had plenty for making the sleeves longer. By Saturday night (the 22nd) it was blocking on the table.
029Violet's BSJ
When Ed’s vest was finished in 2009 there was fair bit material left over so it was tucked away with the remaining piece of the vest lining with the idea of making Ed a matching hat.

Ed loves that vest. It’s seen a great deal of use during the past 3+ years. I’d kept a look out for a good hat pattern, of the type that Ed wears but hadn’t come across one. Until Ed bought Beyond Toes by Judy Becker (Look, on the front cover!) for my birthday (or Christmas, I can’t keep the presents straight between them). Lo and behold, he liked the looks of the hat that Judy and designed. Inside was the pattern for the lining. Her hat is a knit structure that I’d like to tackle someday but for now the lining pattern was a great start.

The woven material was given another good washing, a short stint in the dryer then a good pressing with a hot iron. There was barely enough for the odd shaped hat pieces. Seams were pinned and sewn together. Starting with the lining to get a feel for how it all went together then on to the handspun, woven wool/camel/tencel cloth.019

Putting in the plastic bill part.

022With insides facing, the lining, woven material and one folded side of the headband tape I’d precut and ironed were sewed together then the tape folded over and hand sewn into place, leaving a small opening to coax an elastic piece through and around the circumference so it would fit his head.
025For the most part I was pleased with the results but would it pass Ed’s hat critic?

Oh yeah! The man loves it. 🙂
He could hardly wait to serve at the community dinner yesterday so he could wear his vest and new hat. He went to the church, shortly after taking me out for a birthday lunch, to help prepare dinner. I drove in to eat after the first wave of people had gotten their food. (Usually the waiting line is quite long until after six pm.) I found him pouring milk… in matching hat and vest.

christmas 12 008

“Ed, what’s on your arm???”

christmas 12 009

“Aargh, a mouse!”christmas 12 010christmas 12 011

Hahaha. He loves serving at the community dinner. Note the knitting needle apron. 🙂
(The older grandkids got him the mouse for Christmas, it’s really for the cat but HankCat didn’t much like it riding on his back.)

He had the last laugh. He’d arranged for the pianist and workers to play/sing Happy Birthday and bring me a piece of cake with a candle. :0

Storms and peaceful interludes

Wind is whipping and howling against the house, driving the rain hard against the windows. Gusts are forecast to top 65mph. The south ridge often protects us from hard winds but tonight the wind races down the basin leading southeastward up into the Cascade mountains. A pause then an onslaught from the southwest.

The weatherman said that swirling winds cause the most damage. He mentioned that many people were in the stores stocking up on flashlights, food and water for the almost certainty of losing electricity tonight.

Seriously, except for situations where someone’s been ill or away from home an extended time, lives in a dorm, etc, who doesn’t have at least a few days’ supply of food and water on hand that they should need to dash to the store as the outskirts of a storm begin to strike?

For my part, if our house plunges into darkness, I’ll pick up the flashlight next to my chair and head for bed. I’m tired enough to sleep for a good 10 hours. (Ha, I haven’t soundly slept a night through in ages. More than likely I’ll spend some time listening to the wind rocking the house.)

After an exhausting weekend I’m looking forward to climbing between the sheets. Climb. Literally. Ed built our bed frame high enough to store boxes under, which given our lack of storage space is a good thing. Rather, it was until the old mattress wore out and we bought one that would be helpful for Ed’s back. That thing is Mt Everest thick! I’m short. I practically need to execute a high jump maneuver to get on top of the bed. Great for putting little Violet down for her naps and no bending over to left her chunky little body.

Back to the weekend…
Friday’s tragic news was hard to comprehend, hard to bear. Hard to move forward from. I was thankful for a packed day that provided mind-numbing action. Creekside Strings met late afternoon for our routine every other week practice, a crucial one that we couldn’t postpone as we’re scheduled to play at a retirement home next Friday. We gathered solemnly expressing that it felt hard to even want to play music at such a time. Especially hard hit was the music teacher of the local middle school. But play we did. As the 90 minutes came to a close he expressed how helpful playing music together had been.

I had wondered how our little church would be able to have the acoustic Christmas music evening that was planned for the 15th. How could we sing and play cheerful, hopeful music in the midst of overwhelming sadness? Driving back home from practice Friday evening, along the quiet, dark gravel road leading over the ridge I thought of those little children (Oh! The little children. My heart bleeds.) and suddenly I knew without a shadow of doubt that they wouldn’t want others not to go on with their lives, to celebrate Christmas.

I could envision little chins quivering, eyes filling with tears at being told that “we’re too sad, we can’t sing the songs, we can’t play the tunes that I know you love. It doesn’t matter that you were looking forward to lots of yummy finger foods and hot chocolate. This is a sad time.”  The now is everything to a child, treasured events eagerly anticipated. We must hold out hope to them. Hope, steadfast courage and faith that we will get through these sad times.

Saturday morning I baked Christmas breads for friends, wound up a skein of handspun that I’d finished and washed the day before, and wrapped it in a box then went to an early lunch to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
Dec 15, 12 009Early afternoon Ed & I joined our in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary party held at the vineyard where our daughter and their son were married. It was the second huge anniversary gathering two weeks apart each with a couple hundred guests mingling. These huge celebrations of family, friends and neighbors really brings home the advantage and continuity of living an entire life in one small community! Having moved so much as children both Ed and I were never able to first hand experience what it means to sink deep roots.
Dec 15, 12 012-001(Always surrounded by family and friends, I had a hard time getting a clear shot of the couple. There’s no doubt these two are still very much in love fifty years, seven children and twenty grandchildren later.)

Ed and I parted ways for a couple hours, he off to a Christmas party for the the weekly workers at the community supper, I to gather all my gear and head up to the church to get ready for the evening of music.
Dec 15, 12 021Music stands, mics and chairs in place we’re ready to make a joyful noise in honor of the birth of our Saviour, God stepping down into this dark world, that we might know the reality of His everlasting love, even in the middle of anguishing hard times when there are no pat answers. Apparently many who came also felt the need to turn their minds and hearts to Christmas as they kept requesting songs for four hours, until voices and fingers were too weary to continue. Dec 15, 12 026-001
A quiet calm, the absence of wind and rain lashing at the house prevailed throughout much of the writing of this post.  The respite is over, the wind and rains are back and increasing in strength. It is a good time to go to bed.

Life encapsulated

Oh the irony. Just as the last picture was loading on a very long post late last night, the internet connection was lost, not to be restored, so I went to bed. Can’t turn back the clock so the title is changed from the oh so entrancing 12.12.12. But the worst is that the normally faithful WordPress draft saver was also on the blink and only the first two paragraphs were saved. The first was now irrelevant.

Thanksgiving seems like it was eons ago. We had a good time with lots of family and lots of food. Hanging out with the grandkids once again was the bonus. Some knitting was accomplished but since I’m the only knitter of the bunch and with three little children around, especially two who like sliding down the carpeted stairs on grammie’s lap as well as having books read to them, finding moments to sit still with needles and yarn in hand were few and far in between.

nov 22 173-1

Our neighbor had her baby daughter on the 25th. Little Mina gets to share her birthday with her grandfather. She’s a cutie and seems to be a content baby. No picture yet of her with the little hat I made, maybe next time – I’d love to see how it looks on her.

Squeezed in between watching Violet Tuesdays and Thursdays, trying to stay on top of orders – especially those destined for gifts (I think we’ll have the last of them in the mail by Tuesday) spinning yarn for a gift and knitting I’ve tried to dedicate enough time to music practice.

Part of our Scotts Mills Friends/Crooked Finger group played Christmas songs for the Community Christmas tree lighting, the next day we went to the funeral mass for the mother of our banjo player, the following day we played for a 60th wedding anniversary party, which was a blast. The couple have lived in the community their entire lives and are a huge part of getting things done.

Next up is the Christmas Sing-Along with a slight bluegrass flavor and over 60 songs for the people to chose from. If you’re in the area Saturday evening the 15th please stop in at the Scotts Mills Friends Church where there will be finger foods, hot drinks and lots of music. People are welcome to come and go as they need and everyone seems to enjoy this tradition which will be the 11th or 12th year.

Remember the Baby Surprise Jacket (BSJ) I had to frog after finishing about 3/4th of it and realizing it was too small. I managed to get about half of the new one knitted, on size 4mm needles this time, when my attention was drawn to the Spirograph Headband/hat and suddenly needed to make one for my very active daughter-in-law who has thick, long red hair. I knew exactly what yarn to use: Two years before she’d gifted me with the lovely skein of camel colored Austermann Natura. There was only 100 meters which I hoped would be plenty. Half way through it looked dicey so modifications were in order. I’d not been crazy about the way the hat pooched in the back so I started the decrease rounds seven rounds early and added extra decrease rounds before the final k1p1 band rounds. Her best friend modeled it for me before our Christmas sing-along practice on Sunday.

Picking up Violet last Thursday I was struck by how big she’s getting and had an “oh no!” moment realizing the BSJ might once again be too small. By the time she arrived Tuesday I was onto the hood and so tried it on her for size.
A bit on the small size so yesterday I picked up stitches along the left front edge and knit several ridges for a button band. More length needs to added to the sleeves and sew on the buttons, give it a bath and it will be ready for wearing.

Life is full, we feel very thankful and blessed. Blessings on all for contentment and joy during this oft too crazy season!