Absorbed Between the Covers

Until this past hour I’ve been unplugged today. How wonderful it felt not to try to catch up everywhere. Even though I’m feeling slightly guilty for not at least checking in to the Yarn Tools forum on Revelry as I know I should. Perhaps that will be my number one task tomorrow morning.

I came home from church and the potluck this afternoon feeling completely wiped out. Changing into jeans and a sweatshirt I briefly debated laying down on the bed and taking a nap.

It’s crazy how sometimes when I’m that exhausted an afternoon nap makes me too groggy to enjoy what’s left of the day. Especially when there’s a novel borrowed from my daughter begging to be read. It didn’t take long before I was absorbed between its covers.

Most of my book reading now a-days is for spiritual enrichment and growth. There’s no end to the non-fiction books on the shelves and next to chairs that are in progress or lined up to be read.

Getting lost in a novel for a good part of the afternoon and evening was just the mental break and physical relaxation needed.

Currently reading: The Lake House by Kate Morton
The reviews on this book are quite mixed but I’ve enjoyed reading her other books and so far this one has also sucked me into the plot and characters.

The previous fiction book I’ve read recently:
The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergus

I’ve known Natalie online for a dozen years or so as she’s a fiber artist (check out her blog and store – she has a great eye for colors) in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is also the setting for the majority of her book. When I read that she’d published The Sewing Machine I had to buy it. And I’m glad I did! It was an enjoyable read with interesting characters. The ending makes me hope that she’ll be writing another book that takes her characters into their next chapter of life. She knows of what she writes, basing her story within familiar places, work and experiences making it an authentic, knowledgeable read.

What good books have you read lately?

Grateful for:
A restful Sunday afternoon and evening.
Church community of friends.
People willing to step up on the spot when needed.
An abundance of delicious food at the potluck.
Good books.


Craftily Busy

Lately there’s been several projects on the needles and spindles plus one on the loom. Tonight the weaving was cut from the loom ready to be washed and dried tomorrow and possibly sewn on Tuesday. I’ve been greatly assisted by listening to books. Normally I love working in stillness but this summer I pined for books. While I managed read several it wasn’t enough. On a whim, during the weekend Ed was in Idaho, I purchased the audio book Testimony by Anita Shreve to listen to while knitting Ed’s Whitfield Jacket. I’m haunted by the similarity between that story and the news  last week of the death of young violinist Tyler. A heartbreaking, senseless tragedy.

Listening to a book being read took me back to listening to books throughout my growing up years. My mom read to us daily. Teachers read aloud after noon recess almost every day from first grade up through the seventh grade when I had a teacher who was the best reader of them all. He choose books which captivated our attention and imaginations;  A Wrinkle in Time; The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (this was in 1969); A Bronze Bow, to name but a few. My children could to listen to me read for hours at a time without getting restless, as long as they had a box of crayolas and paper to draw with whilst listening. (Seriously, we read The Wheel on the School for hours on end completing it in two days when they were once both young and quite sick.)

Listening to a good story made the hours and needles fly! When Testimony ended I searched for an online source and found LibriVox and Elizabeth Klett. This afternoon and evening I listened to the last chapters of Jane Eyre (version 3) as I wove the final inches of the shirt-to-be that was on the loom.Yes, was. It’s cut off and ready for a washing and drying tomorrow then hemming and sewing the sides.The colored yarn is my Limegreenjelly handspun from late last year. When I calculated the warp and weft for the shirt I found that there wasn’t enough handspun for the weft by a couple hundred yards so I also used some black tencel in the weft and silver grey tencel for the warp. After the first dozen inches were woven I wasn’t sure that I liked the results, then Grace came by a couple weeks ago and saw it. Her enthusiasm for the material gave me the inspiration and courage to weave on.

I’d read Jane Eyre as a teen and had only a vague memory of it. Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte’s sister, Emily, was far more to my likening. This time I could scarcely stop and turn away from the story. Listening to Elizabeth Klett’s beautiful, sure voice was as if listening to Jane herself telling her story. I’m now queuing up other books which she has read. No worries about what to do as I listen. There’s still a couple pairs of socks that Feather and Gus are patiently waiting for. Hrmph, more likely they’ve forgotten about the socks I started knitting for them while they were visiting two months ago. They had six skeins of yarn to choose from, I was quite surprised at the yarns they chose.  Last evening as I picked up Feather’s down-to-the-heel sock I realized the pattern was lost in the busyness of the yarn so I frogged it and will make plain 2x ribbed socks for both the grandchildren. Once Ed’s jacket was finished I had planned to concentrate on the socks as Feather’s birthday is this month.

Until the other day when good friends stopped by and Mirth asked if I could make her another throw. Years ago she’d had cancer and the heavy wool throw I’d woven for her became her favorite for snuggling under when she felt chilled and exhausted but too sick to sleep. Cancer has once again attacked, she’ll start chemo tomorrow.  I’m shooting to get the warp measured and sleyed tomorrow evening and the heddles threaded on Tuesday. If I can work full speed ahead, without interruptions, tomorrow — emails answered, paperwork tended to, and packages mailed (eiyeiyei tomorrow’s to-do list is looong) maybe I can free up some normal work time during the daylight hours on Tuesday when it’d be much easier to thread the heddles.

Lots of spinning has been happening too. Often enough I’m asked how much yardage I can get on a certain type of spindle. Of course that’s so relative it’s impossible to definitively say, but I should be able to give people a rough idea of how much weight one can handle. Since the Lark/Jay is the relatively newest one* I’ve been spinning some superfine kid mohair I got from Picperfic last year. I wasn’t sure how I should spin this fine fiber until Jay came along and shouted out that it would love love love to spin it into a yarn for a sweater for Feather. (Yes, I know, the whole Lark/Jay spindle thing is rather confusing. The Jay is essentially a Lark but with a shorter shaft which the crossarms sit lower on than on the Lark. So, if you have a Lark you can get a Jay shaft and then you’ll have a two-in-one. sort-of.) The mohair and Jay have indeed been a happy union and I’ve been having a blast spinning.

My loaded Jay sitting next to an empty Jay of the same size. There are 57 grams of fiber on that Jay, that’s 2 ounces! By the last few grams  I was trying to wind more onto the shoulders and sides instead of upwards since the shaft was slowly disappearing. I could have put a few more grams on it. This kid mohair has been a joy to spin that more has been spun in the last two days. I’m so eager to make a little jacket for Feather it’s hard to stop spinning. The colors are so bright and cheerful that I decided not to take the chance of muddying them when plyed so at the suggestion of Pam of Herndon Creek Farm (she is such a sweet loving woman!) I will be spinning grey alpaca to ply with the mohair singles. Right now the plan is to weave the yarn then slightly full and brush it for the jacket. Half the fun is in the planning!

With all these projects and listening to books (and blogging!) there’s been little personal computer time taking place. I’ll feel like a stranger when I finally make it back to Ravelry. Must do so soon for I have an International Moleskine that’s needing to go forward on its journey so I’ll need to check in there. I’m almost afraid to open Ravelry and get lost down the wayward tunnels of threads.

* the chip-carved one  is still in the wings while Ed is making numerous spindles, hooks and needles for store orders.

Potential Projects

It’s sobering to realize that 20 days have passed since the last posting. Too many project deadlines invading my regular evening computer time.

The tencel/merino spun up beautifully.

50/50 Merino/Tencel from Crown Mountain Farms, Chasing Rainbow dye, colorway Madrona (I think. The tag is long missing)
2 ounces = 160 yards
16 WPI

This has been measured out and sleyed, meaning that I’ve threaded it through the reed which is a device on a loom resembling a comb and used to space warp yarns evenly. (Someday a post will be devoted to weaving and the various terms.)

I had planned to weave the entire vest with the corriedale/camel yarn with random streaks of merino/tencel in the warp to give it a bit of spark. Did you hear my groan around the 11th? I discovered that I’d forgotten to tally in the amount needed for weft which meant there was only enough yarn for the warp.(huge groan of dismay) Back to the spinning wheel with another 4 ounces of the dark brown corriedale wool. Several days later and another 250+ yards of yarn, still not nearly enough. Ransacking through the stash I found the perfect treasure!

Do you see that gorgeous smushy grey in the upper left of the picture? Authentic organic Irish wool straight from the Emerald Isle and Jo. It had been languishing, waiting for a very special use. I’m so tickled that it will be part of Ed’s vest! The four different yarns that will make up the vest are pictured above. The dark corriedale is a bit hard to spot under the tencel yarn.

Since the vest was still being assembled on the loom come the 24th I scrambled to make something for Ed’s birthday the next day. At night he empties his pockets and puts keys and the odd coin into a plastic container. Potential for a great present for change.

Saturday, the 23rd, we’d gone to The City of Books (aka Powell’s Bookstore) in Portland for a book fix then stopped by a yarn shop where Ed snagged a ball of Nettle Yarn. Yep, yarn made from nettles. At first I tried crocheting a basket (sans pattern) from the nettles but the yarn is stiff, bumpy and very uneven. Digging out various bits of my handspuns I devised this just in time to gift Ed on his day.

The nettle yarn was used on the turning rows.

What else have I been up to…My first attempt at Broomstick Lace! Destined for someone special.

Last week Ed and I were activity engaged during our local church’s Friend’s Kids’ Days (VBS). Ed helped with crafts and made paddle wheels for the kids to paint which they then raced during activity time on the last day. I got to oversee, organize, and teach. We’d been put in charge of directing the VBS this year. It was great fun, totally exhausting and at times very chaotic when the rain poured down on the third day and everything was taking place inside our little church.

But oh so worth the time to make a difference in some of these kid’s lives. To hear a boy declare that he can hear Jesus whispering in his heart during a dark night, “Be Brave, it is I, don’t be afraid” fills our hearts with joy and gratitude.

Books and A Birthday

This was the first Christmas, to my recollection,, that no books were wrapped and waiting under the tree. Ed scored with six books and I went to bed slightly disappointed for I always look forward to having some new books to savor. Not to worry. The first present I opened on the 26th revealed:wildhorses.jpg
A wonderful book about the various wild horse refuges. The friend who gifted me with the book went to school with the daughter of the author, Charles J Summers, Jr who had a working ranch.. It’s truly a fascinating book that has stirred up a bit of horse dreaming.

Last year I saw this book while visiting a library during a trip to the coast and marked it down in my book wish list. I was delighted to find in it hidden in birthday wrapping paper. 3cupstea.jpg_Three Cups of Tea_ is the story of a man who after attempting to climb K2 took a wrong turn and ended up in a remote village that had no school. Determined to help these people Greg Mortenson set out to build them a school with sheer determination and perseverance. It’s a pleasure to be vicariously. back in the Baltistan mountains, a place I first discovered through Dervla Murphy’s, _Where the Indus is Young_. I’m trying to read it slowly, in small portions. A book filled with the tallest mountains in the world and deep gorges shouldn’t be galloped swiftly through, I don’t want to miss any of the rich details.

Ed also gave me a book I’d recently read about and had high hopes of receiving:musicophilia.jpg

I’m looking forward to engaging my brain in, _Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain_. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and the author of _Awakenings_, explores the power of music.

Two other books round out this feast of books:
_Tales of Persia_ William Miller, a missionary who’d worked in Iran for 43 years. He wrote the book for his grandchildren hoping that his stories would help them to see past the media and political image and instead see the regular everyday people.
_Home to Holly Springs_ Jan Karon, one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors. Her stories are peopled by characters strikingly reminiscent of people in your own community, especially if you live in a small country village. I look forward to peering back into the story of Father Tim who Jan Karon brought to vivid life some ten years ago. Jan is not an author who churns one book out after the other but lets them develop and mature slowly. As a result it’s been a couple of years since I read her last adult book and I’m looking forward to a slow blustery weekend when I can wrap up in a soft cuddly throw with a cup of hot tea and time to lose myself in Holly Springs.

Though it’s a pain in some ways to have a birthday on the heels of Christmas there are benefits. A few friends of my heart were able to meet me for birthday coffee at the local coffee shop. The times of getting together to chat and catch up with each other is precious.

I love having my birthday so close to the beginning of a new year. The week from my birthday is often a time for looking back and making decisions on how I can also move forward in my life. I want to be able to have more balance in my life this year. Somehow I need to find the time to balance our business and fibery pursuits with other important areas: personal relationships, walking, music. And even within the fiber world I want to sort out projects and goals. I’m not sure how that’s going to look, yet. I know that I want to spend more time at the loom, and the other night I dreamed I was making bobbin lace again. It’s such a slow process I’m not sure I should take up the pillows, bobbins and thread again but Sarah has been longing for me to make a bobbin lace bookmark to replace the one that was stolen from her Bible years ago.


This past week I finished the first prayer shawl (Yes!), spun a couple ounces of corriedale roving and made a hairpin scarf. Ed gave me a camcorder for Christmas (I am so spoiled fortunate to have two days in a row opening gifts!) I’m still learning my way around with it this new camera that also takes still photos. Soon I’ll figure out how to load the still photos to this computer. And then on to making some tutorials of hairpin lace and spinning. : -)

Wednesday, January 2nd Ed and I will be celebrating 30 years of matrimony! Whew, where did those years go?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! May it be filled with Peace.

Book Draw

My apologies for not having any pictures to accompany this post. Our All-In-One printer has died and with it the ability to read the camera card. I need to dig out the funky old cord that came with the camera to plug directly to the computer. Unfortunately neither card nor cord fit in this new laptop. Until I can upload pictures to the deskcomputer then copy to a cd I’m kind of stuck. Ed gets the deskcomputer in the evenings.

I have a hard time accepting the fact that expensive technology products wear out or become obsolete within a handful of years. When I pay more than a hundred dollars for an item I expect it to last for years.  One computer costs more than we’ve paid for any car until we finally bought a new car in 2004, which I’m planning to drive at least another 15 years. In the past 10 years we’ve bought four computers – only two yet functioning including this 2 month old laptop; four printers of which only the laser is still working and it has printed over 9,000 pages this past year. I have no idea how many pages the workhorse All-in-One printed during its lifetime of two years.  My Olympus camera? It’s practically a dinosaur among digital cameras. We bought it the summer of ’97, shortly after the first computer purchase. These are crucial to our business.

Oh, you want to know who won the drawing. Thanks everyone who left comments! I wasn’t sure how well a non-fiction book, with a somewhat narrow focus, would appeal. (Did I say how great the recipes are that are included at the end of almost every chapter?)

Fifteen names were written out onto identical slips of paper which were then carefully folded into thirds (no peeking), and tossed into the large orange ceramic bowl which Ed likes to use for soup and cereal. Again Ed was the person reaching into the bowl and grasping a name slip.

JudyMac! You are the winner! Judy had dropped out of blogland for so many months that I was concerned about her silence. (Judy provided me with the Charollois wool from France well over a year ago.) To have her surface a few days ago and then to win is wonderful. (I promise it wasn’t rigged) I just wish there was a way I could afford numerous copies to give to each one of you.

JudyMac is at the Knit Show at the Ally Pally in London where FreestyleFibre Jo and CelticMemory Jo have also been. Is anyone else of UK/Ireland/Europe going to the show? If you do please stop by Robynn’s Purlescence , (click on Cafe to get to her blog) Stand M33 and say hi.  Check out any of our Jenkins knitting needles and crochet hooks that she is selling, along with all her other goodies while you’re at it. The two Jos already stopped by and said Hi. 🙂 How cool is that! I feel like I’m almost meeting all these various people through each other.

Next post will have fiber content, and pictures.

Good stuff still to come such as Oregon Flock and Fiber, and a weekend getaway at the Oregon coast.

All about Books

A leap across two weeks brings me to the end of October’s Buy A Friend A Book week, which I would have missed again if I hadn’t chanced by Cornflower‘s blog last evening. Since I’ve had a hard time putting down my latest read a copy of that book will be sent to the person who’s name is drawn. Leave a comment on this post and your name will be tossed into the drawing basket. Though the BAFAB week ends today, you have until 6PM Pacific Daylight Time Friday, Oct 13th. Drawing will take place that evening.

The book? Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A year of food life by Barbara Kingsolver


The book is an engaging chronicle of the year Barbara Kingsolver and her family consciously ate only what was grown in their area. (Each person was allowed one exception that stayed within the spirit of this eating life such as Fair Trade coffee for husband, Steven, who also contributes to this book along with the oldest daughter, Camille.) Barbara is an informed, intelligent, witty author who is skilled at captivating with words. The concept of eating locally appeals very much to Ed and me. We are very fortunate to live in a fertile area where it is possible. What is harder is knowing who is growing their produce and livestock as naturally as possible. This past week we have eaten almost exclusively from our garden. Not only have we eaten tasty, simple meals, it’s a good feeling to know that what we’re putting into our mouths is not damaging to our bodies.

Charity has tagged me for a book meme. I don’t really enjoy participating in memes but sometimes one comes along when I’m thrilled to be tagged, such as this one:

1.Hardcover or paperback, and why? Definitely hardcover: the solidness and smell seems more real.
2.If I were to own a book shop, I would call it… I’m terrible with names but I know what it’d look like. There would be shelves full of books next to tables where people could sit with the coffee, tea or pastry they’d just ordered at a corner counter. A small area with a little table, soft toys and tough books would be available for small children to have their own tea party while the parents temporarily escaped into a book.
3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is… I can’t say I have one favorite quote but here’s one taken from a notebook where I write a line or two that has caught my fancy: “The greatest moments in life are, and should be, brief. Man in his earthly weakness, like seedling plant, cannot stand too much light.” The Child From the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge pg 574
4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be… These are two people with whom I’ve fantasized eating at my kitchen table and sharing since I was in my twenties: Madeleine L’Engle and Edith Schaeffer.
5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be… The Bible (Does anyone else find that to be an oddly worded question? My eye/mind keeps reading “going to be a deserted!)
6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that… reads the words outloud, in character, as I read.
7. The smell of an old book reminds me of… Comfort, serenity, and of cradling old and ancient volumes when I worked at the Mt Angel Abbey Library.
8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be
9. The most overestimated book of all times is… as so many others have written – The DaVinci Code
10. I hate it when a book… is redundant, oversimplified, and has many editing/proofing errors.  …builds up to a climax that just doesn’t happen.

Here’s the hard part, tagging five more people. Hope you don’t mind, I wanted to tag many of you, please join in the fun even if you haven’t been personally tagged! Jocelyn,  Cyndy, Tracy, AnneMarianne (Blackbunny)

Don’t forget to comment and get your name in the drawing basket!