Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Storm camping

Okay, yes.

We are all utterly mad.

And we are leaving tomorrow for Isle of Wight to go camping under the rains of Earnesto.

There are 11 of us. Four kids and six adults all camping at Gathering of the Tribes over the Labor Day Weekend. We leave tomorrow and come home on Monday. Earnesto should pass over Virginia on Friday night.

We went down last Saturday and put up some tarps and tents (which will be nice because we won't have to do it tomorrow). We will re-enforce everything tomorrow and lash down stuff better and hang sides off the tarps to keep blowing rain out. We will probably also dig a directional drain ditch across the top of the campsite to redirect the run off from the hill so we don't have a river running THROUGH the campsite.

But we are going to be wet.

We are also going to have a proper high tea on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. for anyone who wants to venture out from their own campsite and come visit a dry one.

I'm taking all my current knitting products: Matt's hat, the BBSs and my red socks. I'm also taking some spinning stuff -- about a pound's worth. I really want to get enough stuff spun to knit a whole project.

I have almost finished plying the cream and purple sport weight. I might have enough to make something with it. It's very nice stuff. I'm very happy with it.

Plying with the spindle is hard on my left shoulder. Not murderous, mind you, but I definitely feel it for a few hours afterwards and I find I have to take a Tylenol. Arthritis really sucks.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Tink vs The Frog

A funny discussion is just getting underway on the Socks for Soldiers Group and our fearless leader "Sarge Kim" responded to a member's question about what was meant by tinking and frogging. She responded with this:

"Frogging is the act of a totally hysterical knitter who has totally flipped out because a mistake was made some 6 inches down and said knitter is screaming and cursing their knitting project and yanking the needles off the knitting violently "ripping" miles at a time, leaving piles of tangled yarn in a lifeless pool on the floor...All those standing nearby are contemplating whether to call 911 or the guys in white coats...

Tinking, on the other hand, is the systematical, methodical undoing of a mistake one stitch at a time, undoing the loop in each stitch, by taking the knitting needle under the prior knitted stitch, removing the loop, while slipping said stitch on the needle, then going to the next. It is done with quiet demure and serenity- a quiet resignation.....

And.....The keen observer can analyze immediately many things about your personality by which method you choose.
Now.....which kind of knitter are you???? Anyone care to confess????"


Well, I must be a tinker because I am utterly terrified of frogging. I mean, if the problem is a dropped stitch five rows back (and it usually is a dropped stitch that far or farther back), why would I risk dropping far more stitches by NEVER being able to find all the ones I just deliberately pulled off the needles!? I would rather back up, stitch by stitch -- even in a moving car -- than frog.

And quite frankly, if the dropped stitch is far enough back, I'll live with it and darn the hole later.

Yes, shoddy workmanship, I know. But we're talking about my sanity here.


I really hate it when this happens. It's now 5:15 a.m.. I woke up at 4:20 a.m. from a bad dream about camping in a hurricane.

It was one of those weird dreams in which no one got hurt but no one was happy either and I was very, very anxious.

I think I'm nervous about going camping this week. We leave Thursday for Gathering of the Tribes in Isle of Wight County (Blackwater Campground) and plan, at this point, on coming home on Monday. Hurricane Ernest0 is coming our way and will be over Virginia on Friday night and Saturday. How lovely.

I'm not worried about getting wet. Despite rumors to the contrary, witches do not melt in the rain. But I hate wind. I think growing up in Fort Worth, Texas where we elementary students were subjected to tornado drills as opposed to fire drills, really put an unhealthy fear of wind in my heart.

I'm worse than the dogs. I can handle lightening. I don't mind heavy downpours. But I will literally tremble when a high wind is blowing outside my house. If the winds are up AT ALL by the time Ernesto reaches us, I will be huddled in my tent, under a table, pushing out a bubble of energy to ward off falling trees.

Thankfully, we will arrive at the campground on Thursday and can batten down real good. We won't leave until Monday when, hopefully, some of the mud will have settled.

Pictures from Last Post:

For some reason, Blogger will not let me add pictures to the last post. So here you go.

The first (very bad photo) is of the brick colored yarn spun at the Fair with the little dime tucked in there to give you size perspective. The second shows the color a little more accurately though I think it a tad more purple than that.

I got 34.6 yards (.5 oz) out of this. I spun more over the weekend and got 62.2 yards. I'm thinking of plying this together and should get a nice worsted weight for Mittens. I have quite a bit more of the fiber to spin up. (About 11 more ounces)

Hopefully, there will be enough for a pair of mittens from this color alone. But if not, I have some other fiber of the same type in a slightly different colorway which might make a nice stripe. Or I may just use some commercially made moss green yarn as a contrast color.

In any case, while I really like my toy wheel spindle and my heavier fimo clay spindle, I really need one that is light but which will hold more yarn. October is coming and so is the Virginia Fiber Festival at Montpelier in Orange County. I suspect I will be able to find a "real" spindle there.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

County Fair Dealings

The county in which I live no longer has a county fair. Nor does the one next to where I live. But three counties down the road they still hold one. There are the typical carnival rides, the same artery clogging food, the tallest corn stalks and the best pickles. They are still trying to have the demonstrations of skills which are, these days, kind of hard to come by.

The lady who usually does the demonstration on spinning (and who works on a wheel) had her rotar cuff repaired recently and has been unable to spin. How dreadful is that!? One of my co-workers is a fair volunteer and found out on Tuesday that I spin. She asked me if I would be willing to come demonstrate and I told her I would.

I wish I had had more time to prepare but I had a lot of folks ask lots of good questions and I felt pretty good about it. Next year I'm going to do something similar to what I did at Hoot-n-Any and prepare a dozen or so small, inexpensive spindles, purchase some easy to use roving and set up times when I actually give classes. I may charge some minimal fee (like $5) to cover expenses and make folks feel like they are learning something of value and offer an hour class. They can take home the spindle and 2 oz of roving.

In any case, during the three evenings I was there I was able to fill two spindles with nicely spun stuff. So, to give myself a time perspective, it took me 9 hours (I spun from 6 until 9 p.m.) to finish 1.5 oz of wool.

On the brick colored roving (that I purchased from a fellow spindler on Friday Sales on the Spindler List), the small skein is 34.5 yards. The "Ugly Yarn" in orange, red, lime green and b&W is around 80 yards.

Soon I will have enough "Ugly Yarn" to make something. I'm thinking about a felted bag of some sort or a vest for one of the granddaughters.

I love the brick colored roving and it spins up beautifully. I'm going to ply it then make mittens with it. I should have enough. If not, I will make a strip in the middle in a complimentary color.

I am still working on the Big Black Sock for the soldiers. I completed the heel and am about an inch into the foot. I have switched over to two circulars as I now have Bordhi's book Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. I have to find a way to move along faster on these BBS or I will never get them done. Perhaps this will help. I got about four hours of knitting on them yesterday. My hands actually hurt!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Making Judi

Making Judi

This method is so well described I'm pretty sure even I could do it. I'm hoping DH will tackle this one day.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Photos from Graduation at Fort Knox 8-18-06

I took a lot of photos at Fort Knox last week. I took an extra long lunch hour today and hit the Wal-Mart in Tappahannock and got them developed. So for those who are curious about changes in my son or who might be looking for snapshots of their own soldiers who might have been captured by my camera:

These are from the 8-18-06 Graduation from Basic Training of the E Company, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry.

Here is my son. Balder than he was at birth! My, my!

This is a group of young soldiers immediately following graduation. It was fun to watch them gather and pose and prep themselves for the photo. It started out with just two, then there were suddenly a whole bunch of them.

Here is a picture of John with one of his buddies.

And here is a picture of John with his little brother, Matthew. Matt is a Freshman in High School starting this year. He grew over the summer and is now taller than John.

Aren't they both handsome?
Yes, I'm a proud mom.

If someone has a family member who was a soldier who graduated from Basic Training at Fort Knox with E Company who would like to look over my other photos to see if they can spy their loved one... just email me or leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

The Big Black Soldier Socks Continue

I am struggling along with the second pair of socks for the Socks for Soldier's project. I have turned the heel on the first sock and am working on the gusset. Then I have to knit the foot and finish the toes THEN do the second in the pair.

I don't think I'm going to get it done by October 1st when our fearless leader, Kim, wants to ship off 500 pairs of socks. I suspect my first contribution to the group will come with the January shipment.

But I'm happy with the quality of these socks. I'm glad I'm not rushing through them.

I am waiting for John to send me a snippet of the new socks they have to wear which are green (sort of mossy, I think). I may just trot down to the PX at Fort Eustis and see if I can snag a pair so I can attempt to match the yarn color. The other option, John tells me is to knit white socks which are also permitted. Black is the color they wear in the army with their dress shoes. Heavy woolen socks would be uncomfortable in those things.

In any case, I will finish these BBS and send them along as soon as I can.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Spinning Wisdom

"The best way to learn about spinning is from other spinners. And with this knowledge comes the responsibility of passing it on." --Merike Saarniit

I found this quote in The Panopticon's Blog.

I like it.

I wonder if drug dealers feel the same way?

Sunday, August 20, 2006


He did it! John survived Basic Training and graduated Basic Training at Fort Knox as a soldier with the E Company, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry of the U.S. Army. Just a few hours after graduation, he and about a dozen of his fellow soldiers were loaded onto a bus and shipped to Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia where he will begin his Advanced Individual Training (AIT) as a Computer Systems Specialist. His MOS is B-25.

I'm very proud of him.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Knitterguy: The Orange Project - Finished

Knitterguy: The Orange Project - Finished

I'm terribly impressed with this chap's work. I will spin enough someday in laceweight to knit myself some lace. I'm working on a doily thing now with my purple and white. It's actually coming out really neat and will probably end up on my altar.

But I don't have nearly enough yarn made. The amounts needed are frightening. But I will get there!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Wheel Adventures... Maybe

Mom called Sunday evening and wanted to know if I had been to the Animal Shelter Yard Sale. I told her I had not.

The local Animal Shelter runs a once a month "yard sale" out of the cafeteria of the old Lottsburg Elementary School where the Northumberland School Board Office now resides. Because it is a county owned property, the Animal Shelter folks were able to talk the Board of Supervisors into letting them have this unused space in the old cafeteria. So the Animal Shelter has had this on-going yard sale for about two years now. It is a big money maker for them and lots of folks donate lots of stuff to them to sell.

Well, Mom called because she spyed a spinning wheel there on Saturday. She didn't bother to call me about it on Saturday but said she gave the wheel a turn and while it "seemed a little wobbly, it seems to work okay."

I asked her if all the parts were there. She admitted that it had been so many years since she owned a spinning wheel, she couldn't remember but thought that it seemed complete. She didn't know what kind it was but described it as "sort of upright", so I'm guessing it's a castle type like a Traveler.

She also told me they were asking $35.00.

In any case, she told me I could go down there on Tuesday between 9 and noon and take a look at it as the folks who run the yard sale use Tuesday as their day to bring in new goods and clean and straighten the place up. She told me they weren't really open, but if I told them I was related to her and dad (they are both very involved in the Animal Shelter) that they would let me in and sell me the wheel if I wanted it.

So, I'm going to take some time off from work (about an hour or two) and drive halfway home and check it out. For $35 for a wheel that either works or might be fixable, I'm thinking a little personal leave would be worth it. I'm going to take some roving with me to check it out.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

And yet another started

The red Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn I bought up in Franklin, PA when I went up this spring to get my tattoo fixed finally hollared loud enough from the yarn bin that I had to pick it up and start a pair of socks.

I think they are socks. They might want to be mittens. I'm going to do a cuff (K2,P2) for a bit and see what happens.

In any case, I really like this color. It's a lovely cranberry. My winter coat is black. I have mittens on my list of things to do. But I don't know if they will be warm enough for me.

I bought a heavier weight Alpaca blend yarn in plum while I was in California. But I'm thinking it will be too thick. I'm not actually going to be in Minnesota this winter (at least I don't think so). Perhaps a hat in the plum would be better. Or a nice thick scarf.

I've also got sock yarn in the bin for making socks for my step-daughters-in-law (two pairs). And I've got some lovely moss green Manos for a felted basket AND some Mossy green/brown/tan that I also thought would make a nice basket or a hat.

The crazy colored handspun is coming along nicely. I have one small skein done which is weighing in at 1.1 ounce (16th of a pound) at fingerling... I'm thinking I have between 80 and 100 yards so far. In any case, the spinning continues and seems to be going well. I'm going to make a hat from this stuff.

Someone will love it. Perhaps I can get Paige to sell it in her "Pagan Yardsale Tent".

Friday, August 11, 2006

I think I'm recovering

Well, it's been just over a week since we left to go camping.

In the heat.

No, I take that back.

In a sauna.

And I have the tee-shirts to prove it. Camping in Sauna Shirts

I think I got several people well on their way to a fiber addiction with the spinning class. Their spouses are not happy with me just now. It was interesting to see how many different ways people interpret spinning.

I gave everyone the same instructions. Everyone got the same spindles. A couple of people started with merino. A few started with the Colonial Top. One started with the mystery brown wirey stuff. Two others started with the white Corriedale.

Those who started with the Colonial had the easiest time of it and were soon back for more fiber. I kind of had to laugh because Ken had just told me I wasn't allowed to order more fiber until what I had was gone. Well, these folks just gobbled it up, so I think I'm justified now.

Those who started with the merino, loved the feel of the stuff but found it harder to spin. What I know to be true is that these are the people who will end up being master spinners because they have started with the more difficult and will happily and easily shift to the longer fibers.

All of the multi-colored Colonial is gone. I really like working with it so will have to order more. Most of the teal colored merino is gone. I have just enough I think to make a sample for myself.

I still have some of the black and white from Sheep's Shed and I have the whole pound of brown and white. This is really nice fiber. I think it is merino. Part of me feels like I'm wasting it because I'm creating this play yarn by alternating the B&W with the Koolaid colors. Pretty wild and ugly stuff in my opinion. I need to make one more skein of this and then I'm going to knit up a hat from the singles.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Distaffs and whittling

I discovered yesterday that I do remember how to whittle.

I got frustrated with roving that would not stay wrapped round my wrist. I had been doing a little research on historical spinning and knitting (seems the only things knitted during the Revolutionary War period was stockings and a few hats) but spinning was fairly important even if mostly outsourced from overseas.

Anyway, I went outside and found a nice little branch off my birch tree that was hanging in the way of the lawn mower driver and it had a nice little fork in it. I discussed the issue for a second with said tree and he did not seem to mind the trim so long as it was for a good cause and I didn't take too much.

Then I found a little wild cherry that was growing up under my fense. It too was nicely forked and since it clearly would not survive in that site anyway, allowed for a clean harvest of her branches.

I quickly clipped away all the extra branches and leaves and then peeled the bark (I did keep the inner bark of the cherry for cough meds this winter) and sanded both little forked sticks.

Here are my new distaffs and they work very nicely. I've been stripping down the roving into pre-drafted, thin little strips then winding them onto the distaff. I hold the distaff in my left hand and the roving comes down off the top between my thumb and fore finger (the other fingers of the my hand are holding the distaff). I get the spin going with my right hand and can draft quite nicely with both hands and still manage my park and draft method when I need to.

Thank you little trees!

And here is a picture of my weird yarn in process. I'm spinning on a polymer clay spindle I purchased at Gathering of the Tribes over Memorial Day Weekend.

Weird yarn

Well, I thought and thought and played with dying with Koolaide and ended up with some wild colors (see posts below -- may have been last month)... anyway, I think I've come up with a way to use all the colors to make a worsted weight yarn that I can knit into either mittens or a hat.

It will be the ugliest pair of mittens or hat anyone has every seen, but it will be mine made from scratch (well, short of shearing, washing and combing the wool). I have 8 ounces of wool set aside. Four ounces are in the wild Koolaide colors of orange, red and lime green (think sherbert) and the last four ounces are the black and white that I purchased from Sheep's Shed Studios.

I decided not the blend the colors but to alternate. So I have about four or five yards of the green. Then four or five yards of black and white went on the spindle. Then I added about four yards of yellow. Then B&W. Then Red. Now I'm getting ready for another layer of B&W.

Of course the dilema will come when I have to decide if or how I'm going to ply this stuff. I can leave it as a single. Which I might do to preserve the stripes. Or I might ply with a straight b&W OR I might lose my mind entirely and ply with a second ball of the same stuff and HOPE it comes out okay. OR I might risk divorce and find some nice black roving and order just enough (like four ounces) to spin up to ply with the whole thing.

I wonder if I could get a nice deep black color with Procion dye or some kind of acid dye from Dharma trading company and overdye this black and white so I end up with a more solid colored black?

Wagons getting ready to roll

Well, tomorrow is the big day. We pack up and roll out to the campground and set up for the 6th Annual Hoot-n-Any Pagan Gathering at Heritage Park Resort (otherwise, now known as Belle Mont Vineyards and Winery).

And of course, we are expecting the hottest day of the year tomorrow while Ken, Cat, Carla, Sim and the boys and I will be setting up. With good fortune, Paige will also be joining us on Wednesday but she may have better sense and wait a day for cooler weather.

Last year we set up in a driving rain storm.

While I think we are fairly accomplished weather witches, messing with the air currents and such really does have some back lash problems and my family and closest associates always seem to get the brunt of it at some point. But to keep our guests comfortable in 80 degree weather Friday - Sunday, I will happily tolerate 100 + heat on Wednesday and Thursday.