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Minnesota, United States

31.5.17

In the meantime...

I sold the Weaving Wednesday project from the last post, finished warping Hank (the floor loom), volunteered to run a station at the. Star Wars themed Cub Spring Fling last weekend, finished knitting Ben's moose sweater (ends are woven in and pieces are blocking), and I have to prep for my demo at Shepherd's Harvest Festival for Saturday.  The weather warmed up and it should be a nice Mother's Day weekend.  Ben's birthday is coming up and the sweater should be finished in time, which makes me very happy and I know he'll love it.  I managed to find some buttons that match nicely, although they aren't made of antler.  If I can find some nice antler buttons the others can be replaced.

15.05.2017 The weekend was warm and sunny.  I drove to Lake Elmo early on Saturday to help Linda before her felted slipper class at Shepherd's Harvest Festival.  My spinning demo was fun.  I love seeing old friends as well as showing others the fun of carding together bits and bobs of color bits with white and a bit of gray wool and then spindle spinning.  After the demo it was time to walk around.  There  were lots of new vendors, most of which had commercial products and hand made goods.  Nice items to look at, but nothing I was interested to purchase.  The focus of the festival has shifted a bit in twenty years.  My favorite button-maker was there and I bought some lovely lilac wood buttons with purple in the wood grain.  Most of my time was spent in the Anoka Fiber Works booth spinning and chatting with passers-by.  After picking up the fleece from Andrea and taking it to the car, there were sheep and goats in the barn to visit and even two yaks were grazing outside.

The moose sweater was finished in time for Ben's birthday on Mother's Day, which makes the day even more special.  We had ribs with fixings and then an ice cream cake.  I'd ordered a small cake, but  when Jim picked it up it was a large cake...we'll be chipping away at it for awhile when Ben visits because it's too big for his freezer.  Ben brought a lovely bouquet of roses and doughnuts (from Andi and Ben).



05.31.2017 I believe it's time to finish and post.  Since the last installment, we filled the shallow hole in the back yard with twelve yards of dirt, eight yards of fill (containing large dirt clods and rocks) and four yards of black dirt.  Friday was a long day until Ben came after work and helped finish the four yards.  Jim sent this information to me about the weight of the dirt:  Topsoil's weight can vary greatly due to moisture content. In the dryness of the summer, the weight of a cubic yard of soil can drop down to around 1700 pounds, while in the spring when soil is damper, one cubic yard may weigh well over one ton.  Did I really need to know that?

This is what four yards of dirt looks like.  

This is the eight yards of fill.  My job was to rake and roll after each wheelbarrow was dumped.  Jim filled the roller with more water toward the end of the fill and it was a bit too heavy for me, so I continued to rake.  
I brought home a lamb's fleece from Black Cat Farmstead.  Ben the black sheep is a mixed breed of Shetland, Icelandic, and Gotland.  I pulled out a bit of the fleece and washed it.  I didn't think I wanted to card it, so I used Mary's wool combs.  The result was so nice and I ordered a set of combs right away.  I learned how to use them years ago as a new spinner.  The locks are loaded onto the comb with the cut side toward the handle on the pad, and then with a comb in each hand, the wool is combed by grabbing a little bit with each pass so the fiber can be pulled through the diz into roving fluffs.  I dug out some clean white wool from the stash and practiced.  Now I have to scour the fleece.  The process of fleece to yarn is slow and enjoyable.

Valkyrie fine wool combs (I call them the Freddy Krugers)

The combed wool makes for smooth spinning

Deb from Old Man Wool Farm/Ewespun Fiber Mill made up some lovely spinning fiber called Mocha Dream, which is ⅓ Romeldale wool, ⅓ alpaca (both locally grown), and ⅓ camel down.  It is a dream to spindle spin.  She had a spun sample and knitted sample at Shepherd's Harvest and it was just too beautiful to resist.  I should have enough for a hat or mittens.  Each hank is about 55-yards of yarn.  

From roving to finished yarn






19.4.17

Weaving Wednesday project

I started this top back in November and finished the pieces, but didn't take the time to finish.  I think I had an aversion to cutting until I made the vest recently.  The top came together nicely and I took my time measuring and pinning before cutting and sewing the pieces together.  I used the sewing machine because I wanted neat stitching.  To cut the long piece in two, I measured, hand-sewed a piece of yarn evenly through the middle and then went to the machine to straight stitch and then zigzag stitch the ends, after which I cut through the middle of the yarn separating the piece for the sides.  The fronts were easy to separate because I'd woven waste yarn between the pieces.  The hem tape covered the edges of the top at the neckline.  The piece turned out nicely and looks great.  

Secure and cut!

It's beginning to look like a top.

I like the subtle vertical stripes in the center front and back pieces.  

Adventures in Scotland, the wool and whiskey tour, day 2

Day two I was feeling much better and after a nice breakfast and visit with the proprietors of the  B&B, we set off toward Inverness.  It was a beautiful drive into the Highlands and there were sheep and coos along the way.

Small spring flowers were blooming and during the trip we saw lots of daffodils in bloom.

Watching over the garden at Laurel Villa.


Laurel Villa was a nice place to stay.  The breakfast room is on the right.  

Before the sheep encounter, we met some Highland coos.

There is snow in the Highlands ahead!

This was a good place to stop and observe a large flock of sheep.


The sheep posed nicely for the camera.



What can I say?  That's a good-looking sheep.

On the winding roads, this sign was a good heads up.

Sheep crossing!
The fun of driving ourselves is to make unexpected stops along the journey.  One stop was to see the Falls of Bruar, which is part of the Cairngorms National Park in Highland Perthshire.

Between the raindrops the reflections were interesting, reminding me of Gollum, Frodo, and Sam in the Dead Marshes...don't look!

This place had a magical look.
There's something to be said for planting trees!

It was fun to wander around the rocks, bridge and falls.

I liked the tunnel, also.
The water is the same root beer color as the falls we saw on a hike last summer up north.
The last two photos are what I like to use as color inspiration for future projects. Some of the students I've had over the years find choosing colors difficult.  All one has to do is look around for inspiration.



On the way toward Inverness, we took a break and I visited the Hairy Coo Shop.  The sculpture caught my eye and inside were lots of locally made goods.  I purchased sheep and coo brooches.


We happened upon our first distillery that was open. Dalwhinnie distillery is in a lovely setting and it was a good place to stretch our legs, tour, and taste some whiskey with chocolate truffles.








11.4.17

Sheep in the woods vest

Yesterday was a good day to sew.  I finally decided to cut into the twill fabric and make a vest.  I'd found a pattern on eBay that I'd used in the early '90s.  I still have the bolero I made and thought the pattern was still filed away.  It was a good find and one that will be used over and over.  Rather than cutting out the pieces, I bought some pattern yardage (lightweight interfacing) and drafted the two pieces from view 2 in the S/M size.  Plan A was to add a seam allowance on the back pieces, but I didn't like the thought of seaming the fabric.  I visited my closet of good intentions (thank you, putzycrafter, for that saying) and shopped my small linen stash.  I had lightweight brown (intended for a summer dress) and neutral (intended for another summer dress), but figured I could do better.  Off to Joann, ETC.  Sigh, I found the linen and didn't like the linen/rayon blends.  After a bit more searching, I thought denim or corduroy would be good options.  Most denim now has spandex and the corduroy was too light or too stiff.  Back to the linen section, and since it was on sale, a yard of natural color was the choice.

There be sheep in the woods!
 Home again, I washed the linen and hung it to dry in the basement.  In the meantime, itching to get to work, I went back to the closet of good intentions and pulled out a yard of printed linen purchased some years ago at Treadle Yard Goods in St. Paul.  Treadle is a small shop that carries lovely fabrics, patterns, buttons (oh, the buttons!), so much more, and a knowledgeable staff.  Suffice it to say, it's worth the drive from here!  Anyway, when the twill met the printed linen it was a match made in heaven.  Taking the time to think about it and then consulting Mary I knew I had to go ahead and begin the project.

Cutting into the fabric was not easy.  Handweaving gives one a particular appreciation for fabric and because the twill has a diagonal design, I took my time placing lining up the second piece after cutting the first piece since I cut them out one at a time.  Speaking of cutting out the first piece...after pinning the pattern to the fabric I took a deep breath and made the first cut on the side, put down the scissors, took a deep breath, snapped a photo, and then proceeded to finish cutting.  Before sewing, the machine needed a new needle and threading was a bit of a challenge with dark thread and a bit more farsightedness.  Stay-stitching around the handwoven pieces with straight stitches stabilizes the fabric.  Dampening and ironing the prewashed linen smooths out any large wrinkles.  
Cut, breathe, cut, breathe...
The construction of the vest is quite simple--sew shoulder seams on right side pieces and lining, sew lining to the outside pieces leaving the side seams open, clip curves, turn inside out and press.  (Between each step I steam press, keeping the seams tidy.)  The reveal was exciting with only two more seams to sew.  The right sides of the back and front pieces got machine-stitched and then the lining seam allowances are whip-stitched by hand after pressing.  Whoa, I was so excited after giving the finished vest a good pressing and trying it on.  Now I'm excited to plan my next yardage using Harrisville Shetland for the warp and weft in a broken twill for an allover surface design.  

Finished!

I love the curve detail at the center back.

It's worth mentioning that the vest fits better on me than on the dress form.  I am so happy and cannot wait to weave more yardage for sewing projects!


10.4.17

Adventures in Scotland, the wool and whiskey tour, day 1

Jim blogged about our adventures the week we spent in Scotland.  Now that we're home, I have the time and energy to look through the photos and think back on the wonderful time we had through the week.

The first day was a whirlwind, having arrived in Edinburgh early in the morning.  After getting the car, Jim called a friend we met through Scouts and we headed to Dundee.  We met up with Chris and Ben, two Scouts that stayed with us twelve years ago.  It was good to see them and catch up.  They are doing well, and maybe someday the trio (including our Ben) will meet up again.

A lovely red mail box in Glamis.

Walking in the direction of the castle, I found the colors of the stone and moss inspiring for knitting or weaving.
Ben, Clem, and Chris (Chris had a basketball injury).

Oh, I would love to hear the stories this tree could tell...

Even on a rainy day Glamis Castle was a spectacular sight and the surrounding grounds were impressive.
The castle is quite large.  
We drove around and enjoyed the scenery, had a bite to eat, and were able to get out and about between the bouts of rain.  Unfortunately, as the day went on I began to feel ill.  We picked up Clem's Shetland sheepdogs to take them for a walk and I could get some puppy kisses.

Unfortunately I was really feeling poorly by the time we picked up Clem's wife, Diane, I was so dizzy and sick we had to find a doctor.  Fast forward...it turned out to be vertigo brought on by an inner ear rock slide.  The up and down of the three flights (the flight between Chicago and Dublin was very turbulent), driving, and fatigue caught up with me.  Once we got to the first B&B in Perthshire, I was able to lay on the bed and rest.  Between the prescription and Brandt & Daroff exercises, I felt much better by the next morning.  

Despite feeling ill, I loved Clem's little darlings and they were fun to watch darting about the park chasing their ball and each other.  

I call this dog pills.  I think they know just what they need to do to make one feel better.  



7.3.17

Winter Whispers

Winter is not whispering today.  Last night it was 57 degrees F and today with the high winds it feels like 16 degrees F.  One good thing is that I can wear my  new sweater.  I saw a photo of it pop up on Ravelry and it was instantly in love with the cardigan.  Designed by Paulina Popiolek for Loop London, Winter Whispers is the perfect pattern for the light blue (Classic Elite) Skye Tweed yarn I've had in the stash for years.  Even better, it was easy to knit and fits exactly the way I like my sweaters to fit.  Sadly, the yarn was discontinued long ago, but I have three+ skeins left for another project.

Skye Tweed yarn and the perfect pattern

Joining the body and sleeves

Blocking makes everything better
Note how the project looks before blocking.  the fabric appears dense and the stockinette stitch edges are curling.  I didn't get a photo of the cable detail appearing condensed.  I filled the washer's tub with cold water and a bit wool wash, immersed the sweater (after weaving in the ends) and let it soak for about 20 minutes.  The lid of the washer was up so the agitation would not work.  Using the wool wash is great, because you don't have to rinse out any soap.  I set the washer to spin, which removed most of the water, gave the sweater a shake, and then smoothed and pinned the sweater while using the schematic as a guide for the measurements.  It dried overnight and all I needed to add were the buttons.

Cable detail on the yoke

Natural shell buttons are a lovely touch