"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Packing the Necessities + "New" Ashford Wheel

I'm getting ready for a road trip. Although the laundry is up-to-date, I don't have any clothing in a bag yet, but I have gotten the most important things packed - my WIP's. And, as my friend says, "First Things First!" I mean, a girl's got to keep her hands busy, right?

These are all Christmas presents except for the socks on the right that I'm reinforcing and the gray fair isle hat - that's for me. yea!

Also, as I briefly alluded to back in May on this post, I had purchased a older Ashford Traditional Single Drive spinning wheel. I had given, yes, given my first spinning wheel, an Ashford away to a high school friend who came up to learn how to spin. I hadn't used that wheel for quite sometime since acquiring my Louet wheel, so I thought I could do without it. But a few weeks after it was gone, I realized it should have stayed with my family. After all, my kids learned cause-and-effect by using the foot peddle and watching all the movement from it.

I've been eyeballing them for awhile now so when I found this one on eBay for less than $200.00 USD, and after reading all the assurances and disclaimers, I went for it. I couldn't really tell if it worked or if it was even all there, but the seller assures his buyers that they put a lot of attention and care in the spinning wheels they restore. It, of course, arrived from New Zealand disassembled, which meant that we had to assemble it. And it had no directions.

I thought I could manage to put it together since I had been spinning, hauling, oiling, tightening screws, and the like on wheels for 4 decades. But as I began searching for instructions at the Ashford website, I discovered that there have been significant changes to this simplest of their wheels. PLUS I discovered that this newest purchase is even older than my original one. The web site instructions were not very applicable. So I had to enlist my engineer husband's help. Between the two of us, we got 'er done.

And now I'm trying to decide where to store it! I do think it will be great for spinning demonstrations because it looks old, compared to my faithful Louet.
And while it is not actually my original wheel, it still evokes many fond memories.

Here's my original in the first photo and the new purchase in the second. You can see the aesthetic changes in the 2 Traditional Single Drive models. And mine is over 35 years old. I would like to know the age of the second one. If you have an opinion, I'd love to hear it.

When it arrived, I was slightly disappointed in the color of it and as the finish seemed unsealed, I put some walnut stain on it. It is not like the original, but much closer than when it arrived.

I took several photos of the staining and assembling process so I will include them, for the (my) fun of it.
Here it is right after it arrived

And a close-up of the color of the wheel

After the staining

And assembled
One last thing, while searching for the age of the newly purchased, old wheel (!) I read the interesting story of the beginning of the Ashford Company. If you want to learn something about it, too, you can read it here.

I hope you are having a great week and are having some time for a bit of fun.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Creeping Wool Rug & The Colors of Fall

You know, wool rugs are wonderful because they are made of...well, wool. They last forever, they feel so warm and cozy underfoot, and they clean up beautifully - although the dog's gooey dental chews are a bit of a challenge. Nevertheless, they are wonderful.

Not long before we decided to move from the "Log House Up on the Hill" I bought a wool rug at HomeDecorators.com in their Outlet Store. It had great colors and a great price. Then we decided to sell and build a new house with everything on one floor - our "old age house."

While I was still looking for an affordable wool rug, I was looking for one to highlight the tones of the large hardwood floor of  the log house and to tie in with the furniture and decor. When I found this one at Home Decorators, I was a little nervous about all the color and designs. But was also smitten.

I had raised my boys on our hardwood floor in the log house and, while it was beautiful, I felt ready for a change. So we put heavy duty carpet in the new living room and picked a color that would tie in with the new WOOL rug. I expected it to last a very long time - still do - so I planned to put it over the carpet to "define the space." It is so nice. And it matches everything so well.

The piece that is a perfect match is a painting that was done many years ago by an artist who grew up just down the road from our log house. And she named it "Hills of Home." So it is from the very area where we built our log home, raised our kids, and very near where I buried my late husband. I know where her home was and have found the very scene depicted in her piece. I may be the only one of any of us who values the painting, but to me it is a treasure, a piece of my family's history. And just look at how it ties in with that wool rug.

BUT that rug has been a source of frustration since it has come to rest on our new carpet. It crawls. The entire rug slowly, but not so slowly, creeps counter clockwise as we walk on it. It wouldn't be so bad but the coffee table legs don't crawl with it so it forms wrinkles. Often when I vacuum, I slide the heavy oak table off the rug, straighten out the wrinkles and enlist my husband to help me shimmy the rug back in place. Only to have it begin traveling again, inch by inch in a matter of a few days.

Last fall, I had the brilliant idea to buy some Ruggies and we were sure they would stop the creeping and crawling. They didn't. The rug is too large and heavy to stop for those contraptions. What the Ruggies do do is get bunched up in a wad, full of rug fibers that have to be straightened out each time I vacuum.

My youngest son keeps encouraging me to just take up the rug and be done with it. But the painting, the "hills of home," the colors... I can't do it. I will continue shifting it back into place and continue hoping no one falls from the wrinkles. And not let son hear me complain about it.

It is home, after all.

And speaking of home, isn't autumn just glorious? I saw this the other day and decided it was time to make the inside of our home fall-like once again. Next week, after I find some pumpkins, the outside will be fall-like, as well.

So here's a brief "photo album" of our cozy nest, wool rug and all.

And my favorite. A simple plywood hanging that reminds us to never forget to be thankful. Ever.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fun In the Mail

I got this in the mail the other day. I couldn't imagine what it was but when I saw the return address or rather the name of the sender, I was delighted and couldn't wait to open it.

What a great name for a business that sells hand spun yarns and other spinning related items. Love that name. (Wish I'd thought of it!) This man sells his items on Etsy and his shop site is under the name Misterstiltskin.

Here is what I ordered, 2 of them.

Because they had to fly here all the way from Australia, I had forgotten all about them. But now that I have them, they will be great for figuring the size of my hand spun yarns. I got one for my "hobby room" (which becomes the "guest bedroom" when needed) and one for my knitting bag. I mean, you can never have too many yarn gauges!

I have some yarn that I spun fairly thickly compared to my norm. (I showed the process in this post) But because of the thickness, I wasn't sure if it is chunky or bulky or super bulky. Lucky I have this new yarn gauge. I tried to figure out the best way to use the gauge and thought it should be wrapped around the laminated card. I did that but it seemed slippery and hard to get an accurate count. I took it to our local "Open Knit" session last night and ask a very experienced knitter. She didn't know but instinctively began wrapping the yarn around her fingers and held it up to the card. VOILA! I think that is a better way to use this high tech device.

So now - I still don't know for sure. But I think what I have is Chunky. Or maybe Bulky. I have a pattern for a pair of Chunky Fingerless Mitts that I may make. I want to be able to look at all the colors and I'm not sure I have enough yarn for a pair of mittens. I may give these mittens a try and if I run out, start over with the mitts????? Fortunately, the yarn is a pleasure to work with.

On a related note, a couple of weeks ago I was given a gift by my girlfriend-in-law. (I made that up but it ought to be a term. I mean, she is the girlfriend of my son.) Anyway, I began spinning before my oldest was ever born and just last year he met the "love of his life" and she is a spinner. And raises alpacas. Which brings me back to her gift. She gave me some small bags of dyed alpaca and a larger bag of undyed alpaca.

It is glorious and it still smells like the animals. I love the smell of raw wool and the like. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it but I think I shall put the colors in one skein, being careful not to blend the colors, and maybe just do a single strand. And then maybe use that in a small Faire Isle project. Hey, I've been saving my golden doodle's tail hair - maybe that would be a good contrast color in said project. (BTW, she sells her fiber on Etsy under the shop name The Running Phoenix.)

And in an unrelated note, we dug for gold this morning. Yukon Gold, that is. And some reds, too. My husband tended a beautiful potato bed this summer, kept the weeds down so nicely with mulch but the potatoes did not get very large. Still, they will be delicious to enjoy as long as they last.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birthday Hat - and A Bit of Confusion

This post might be a little confusing. But, as I mentioned in this post, I have been working all year long on Christmas presents. I have finished 3 of the 4 fair isle hats on my list, for our 4 youngest grandsons, all brothers. I got out the yarn to begin the fourth one on Thursday evening - for the 3 year old, the "baby of the family."

Well, before that, earlier in the week, I had gotten an invitation to the 1st birthday party of my good friend, Catie's, youngest - to be held on Sunday afternoon, after church. I had thought about making him a hat, too, but talked myself out of it because I didn't really know what size to make and I wasn't sure I'd have time. The yarns for our grandson's hat were two Red Heart acrylic yarns because I wanted Mom to be able to throw it in the washer and dryer. The contrast color in the hat would be black so it didn't get show dirt on it.

As I began knitting with all that color, I kept thinking about how Catie often says that she loves COLOR, all colors. I finally convinced myself that I'd have time to do her little one a hat like the one I'd started for grandson, if I hustled. But I had already started. aarrgghh  About noon on Friday I got the "brilliant" idea (we'll see how brilliant) to use my yarn winder and wind up a ball of each color, starting with the opposite end of yarn that I had started the first hat with, which I did, rather painlessly. I still needed to decide what size needles, how many stitches to cast on, etc. for the second hat. Both boys have "good sized heads," one being 3 and one being 1. I wasn't even certain I had grandson's figured correctly.

I was using my 16" circulars for the first hat and they seemed a bit long for even that one so I decided to use the 9" circulars for the one year old's hat. Do you know how short the actual needles are on 9" circulars? Let me tell you, they are short.

And using them began to hurt my old hands. And the more I knitted on that little hat, the more I thought it was too small. I kept hoping that it would be bigger when it was off those tiny needles.

So by Friday around 1:00, I had about 2 inches of hat #2 done. BUT then Catie and I began texting about when she might be able to come over and give our dog a much-needed grooming. And, wouldn't ya know, the best time we came up with was Friday evening. Soooo I had to bathe the dog and blow dry her to get her ready. Hubby & I got supper out while we did some errands in town.

In preparation for Catie coming, I had to hide both hats and all 4 balls of yarn without tangling them. I put them under a blanket on a chair and put a throw pillow on top of that. When Catie finished grooming the dog and because her children were all in bed with her husband "minding their homestead," she stayed and visited for a long while. We have been aching to have some time to visit but this evening I had knitting for her son in the back of my mind. :)

After she left, I decided to pull an all-nighter. Well, not like the all-nighters I pulled in college to cram for exams. More like an old woman's all-nighter, which was until about 12:30. I just had to finish that hat by Saturday night so it would be blocked for Sunday afternoon. And, you know, after I crawled into bed, I think I dreamed all night morning about knitting. And I think Catie was in my dreams, too.

However, very soon into my all-nighter, I realized that the first hat, the one for grandson, was going to be a better size for the little 1 year old than the second hat I'd started. So that's what I focused on late Friday night. When I got up Saturday morning, I had the primary, large design section finished. That got me only a few rows from the decrease rows.

Shortly after I got into the decrease section, The multi-colored yarn had a knot in it from the factory, joining a new length of yarn - GOING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. I couldn't believe that. It wasn't a simple "get to the same place in the color scheme and resume. It was going the opposite direction! Good ol' Red Heart! So I had to cut the smaller hat (hat #2) off its yarn and use that end to resume the yarn color pattern. grrrr  But, on the bright side, I was able to do some necessary de-tangling that had occurred from trying to hide the masterpiece from Catie! And maybe from having 2 projects going on the same yarn at the same time.

Well, I guess, if I ever finish that smaller hat for a tiny baby, I'll just have a couple more ends to weave in. But on the other hand, what mother of a new born would ever put those colors on her new bundle!! In fact, I had begun to second guess my color selection for Catie's little one. Oh well, if she loves colors, ALL colors, that's what she's gettin'!

I finished the hat Saturday afternoon, in time to get up and prepare dinner. And got it blocking after the dishes were washed.

So everything was in order for the party, the little books I got him, the singing card, and the hat, originally meant for grandson. I do know now that I need to make grandson's bigger. AND the hat for my friend's son did fit him. And she said she likes the colors! But I'm not sure she would have said anything else. We'll see if I ever see him in it. 
Finished hat, photo taken Sunday
morning before church
And just look at those colors
on the tippy-top
 And here are a few pictures to finish off this confusing post:

3 year old grandson
with our golden doodle

1 year old son of friend Catie
"Enjoying" his birthday cake
One year old modeling hat originally
meant for grandson.