January spinning and knitting

A short post tonight. I’m determined to post every month this year. Here it is almost 10 pm the last day of January and only the first post of 2017.

Life is full. Life is good. Fiber stuff keeps happening, as does sending out spindles, preaching, and sundry miscellaneous stuff. December was filled with unexpected happenings and January started off that way. I’m grateful that it’s settling back into a more typical rhythm.

Fiber recap of January
A four ounce braid from Mosaic Moon, colorway “The 4th Doctor” turned into approximately 176 yards of 2-ply squishiness. Not sure yet what it will become.dsc05200Wool fiber and yarns tend to call out the hunter in Ebo. He can’t seem to help but want to attack good fiber. I have to guard it like a sheepdog when Ebo’s around.

Another braid of Alpaca/Silk from Upstream Alpaca has been spun into 750+ yards of singles. This skein has gone into the bin with the other skeins of alpaca singles that will eventually be woven into material.

dsc05206Last weekend I had to attend some church related meetings for several hours Friday evening and all day Saturday. It was a perfect time to start a new knitting project that would be fairly mindless with its rows of garter stitch. A Surprise Jacket for my grandson who sweetly asked me to make him a new one as he’d outgrown the one I made for him two years ago.
He asked it to be made with green and yellow because “I like the Oregon Ducks.”
“But don’t you like the Boise Broncos anymore, Wesley?” I asked since last year they were his favorite team.
“Yes, I like the Broncos, but I like the Ducks too. So you can make it with blue and orange too.”


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.

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.


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.

The three skeins hanging to dry.


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

A State Fair Ribbon

One of the “firsts” I accomplished this summer was entering a skein of handspun yarn into the Oregon State Fair.  Not exactly a personal stretching type of first. The people in the 1st Wednesday spinners encouraged me to enter the skein of cotton that I passed around at one of the meetings. It’s the first skein of cotton that I’ve spun with the walking wheel. The two singles weren’t spun one right after the other, then they languished in a drawer for several more months before I finally got around to plying them.

Having been told that singles over a year old lose their energy and won’t ply decently and knowing the first single was spun over a year ago with the second one months later the odds weren’t high that it’d have an adequate ply. Contrary to expectations the yarn came out quite nicely.

Having demonstrated spinning with the walking wheel at the Fair and admiring all the beautiful handspun yarns plus textiles I decided it’d be a good experience to enter and actually have my yarn formally judged for the sake of learning.

Once upon a time I bought 1 pound of EcoButterfly cotton with the intention of eventually weaving material from the yarn spun using the great wheel. This was the first finished skein.  Gracious! I’d better get serious about spinning the cotton with the walking wheel if I ever want to get though that pound!

The index card was dutifully filled out stating fiber material and method used, plus the planned end use for the yarn. I should have written a shawl or some such knitted item instead of a woven shirt.


The fair over I was able to pick up the skein, ribbon and score sheet on my way to the 1st Wednesday spinners. The skein with accompanying sheet was passed around to everyone for their comments. They were all as puzzled as I about the -2 for direction of twist. The only thing we could think of was they thought it unsuitable for weaving. If any of you have knowledge about judging yarn I’d love your input. Given that this was my first spinning of cotton with the walking wheel, the length of time between spinning the singles, and more time before plying I’m pleased with the score which earned a red ribbon. I know that there’s good room for improvement, especially with the thick and thin as well as the consistency of twist.

I’m already plotting what to enter next year. 🙂 Perhaps even a woven cotton shirt – if I start putting in the paces with the wheel every day.

The Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival (OFFF) is coming up next weekend. I’m excited to again teach a 3 hour workshop on spinning cotton, flax & hemp with a spindle Friday morning. It’s fun to be able to expand our spinning repertoire and knowledge and teaching helps one to learn even more.

It’ll be an interesting week: Ed’s dad, JW, is moving to a place about 20 miles from us after having lived 3 hours away. When he was first putting in the bid for the house we made it clear that we would help him move any week but the week between the 18th and 25th. That one week was completely out for us since we had a major show that weekend.

JW called early last week with the news: he’s moving up on Tuesday, the 20th. sigh. Ed and our son-in-law arranged to drive down first thing that morning to drive the loaded moving van up here. Then he called Friday morning to tell us the guy he’s buying the house from won’t be out until Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, the people who bought JW’s house are moving into it first thing Wednesday morning. So, on top of moving JW up here the moving van will be parked at our place and he’ll stay with us until Thursday morning. If the house needs some serious cleaning…

I have faith that it will all work out in the long run. Between tying up all the last minute details for OFFF, and the workshop as well as helping with JW’s move, and hosting him (he’s not one to help with tasks) we aren’t likely to be very rested going into the festival weekend. And, the forecast is now predicting rain next weekend.  Our booth will be outside.

We’re trying to keep a good sense of humor, and attitude about how everything snowballed onto this week.

A January Makeover

Our ancient bathroom is getting a much needed makeover! Ed is doing all the work, other than painting which falls to me. Hooray for my small part.
First the rarely used doorway between the bathroom and our bedroom was removed and hole walled over.


Ed stripped off the old wallboard inside the bathroom.

The old sink was the impetus to the makeover: the original molded sink was about worn all the way through after almost 40 years of use.


Note the linen cabinet to the left: that to will be transformed. Ed started working on it yesterday.


New wallboard in place. Ed is cutting flashing to put around the floor openings for the sink plumbing. Much to his chagrin, plumbing in old mobile homes is far from standard.
Laying the new flooring. This coming summer we hope to remove that ugly old orange carpet that’s in the hallway.
Painting next to the redwood wall that Ed put in the tub/shower ten years ago. Slowly, slowly the improvements are being made.
Applying the second coat of off-white.
The red wall was the first to be painted. That cheerful color delights my heart to no end.DSC01849

Cabinets and new door installed.DSC01881Once Ed has made the new linen cabinet I’ll repaint all the walls one last time and rehang the curtain I wove last year. We’re thrilled with the clean new look and feel.

It’s been another month of not being able to settle down to a knitting, or weaving project. So far each thing I’ve undertaken has languished quickly after it was begun. Instead, lots of spinning has been happening. Mostly during the almost daily walks. I’m participating in the Jenkins Woodworking Ravelry group’s “Recipe Challenge” which has been fun. It’s helped that despite having over 7 inches of rain fall in January the temperatures have been in the 40s and 50s F with a couple days edging above 60F. We had only 3 days where the temps dipped into the 30sF. A few days of hard rain were followed by sunshine.
The yarn needed to crochet my granddaughter the mermaid blanket was finally ordered last week. I’m hoping that once it arrives I’ll have a blast making it.

Weaving and spinning thoughts

This evening an email set me to thinking about why I spend so much more time spinning then weaving.

Opportunities to weave were squeezed into any free moment possible, even a five minutes of waiting for tea to brew was time to throw the shuttle. I even enjoy the slow work of hemstitching the ends while the web is still on the loom.

Whenever spinning flirted with me I quickly turned my back on such a thought. When presented in a tantalizing way I’d remember my mom’s hilariously dismal attempts to learn how to spin from a Navajo friend. No way! Not when I could buy wonderful yarns perfect for weaving from a local source just up the road from where we lived in Portland.

Ed practically hauled me over to a vendor who was selling a beginner’s spinning kit AND was willing to get me started. He decided there was no way I should pass up the opportunity to broaden my fiber world.


My loom has seen far too little action these past few years. As I go about the daily tasks, dreams of weaving flit through my mind. Right now two projects are waiting in the wings including a simple one that shouldn’t take more than a few days.
The other project will take hours of planning and preparation before the warp is on and the actual weaving can begin.

Therein lays the main reason that spinning has taken over.

It’s easy. Grab some fiber, a spinning tool and you’re spinning.

With a spindle it’s also portable. How I love that aspect! Sure, weaving with a small loom is sort of portable.

Snort. Not in the easy way of spindle spinning.

While waiting for a concert:DSC00220
Sitting on the porch at McMenamins Edgefield passing time before a concert, people watching. When I returned from a stroll this woman was asking Ed about the spindle which was peeking out of the small tea canister sitting on the arm of the Adirondack chair next to Ed. A knitter who wanted to learn how to spin.

Getting fresh air and exercise:

I have no idea how many miles spindles have accompanied me during walks. Well over a pound of BLF has been spun as have other smaller projects.

Spinning is a soothing tactile way of relaxing. It can also be mindless; a productive hands-on activity which allows me to listen to audios, watch a movie, think, or pray.

Weaving remains a passion. My goal these next few weeks is to manage my time better in order to carve out a regular weaving routine. In my dream world I’d spend a certain amount of time each day spinning, weaving, playing the violin, practicing the piano and walking. Someday.