Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yet More Fiber

A couple weekends ago, my parents-in-love dropped off the last installment from my friend who passed her fiber arts collection to me.

A loom.

Not just a sweet simple little lap loom like I originally expected. Oh no.

This is a Loom.

A 4 shaft Mighty Wolf from Schacht. (the link shows a picture of a newer one- and it's an 8 shaft, but similar)

Originally, I thought I would set up a little fiber corner in the family room for me. It's where my sewing machine was; so I added some shelves, had hubby put my warping board on the wall, and got all ready.

But when the Loom arrived, I quickly realized that was not where I wanted it- because it's a big loom and it's a very expensive tool; and the family room is where the kids play crazy wrestling/Star Wars/ninja games. The Loom would seriously cramp their style.

So I spent the last 2 weeks moving my youngest out of his basement room into his oldest brothers room, rearranging (and repainting sections) the family/schoolroom.

The Loom has been in my new craft room for about a week. I confess I didn't touch it until yesterday because it intimidated me so much.

It's big.

Yesterday, however, we had an unusually peaceful Friday- and today was equally mellow. Totally odd around here, but I thought I should take advantage of it, and started trying to figure out the Loom.

I got to start the easy way, as there were some warp threads already measured and ready to be cut and put on the Loom included with all the supplies. So I didn't have to make the warp myself yet. That probably saved me an hour and a half of figuring, calculating, measuring, and wrapping. So I got out the book, and began.

 This is the very beginning of the process- called sleying the reed. Basically, it's just threading the yarn through the "beater" or reed. 288 threads. Took a while.
 Finally got them all in. It needed a picture. That was an accomplishment.
 Then, all 288 threads had to be individually threaded through tiny metal movable things called heddles. Which are attached to "shafts" which move up and down in the weaving process. Oh, and they must be threaded in the right order! That took about 2 hours all by itself.
 Finally. Reed sleyed and heddles threaded.
 Tying on. Attaching the warp threads to the back beam.
 Warping the beam. (wrapping the warp threads around the back beam to keep tension.)
 Tying to the front apron. 
All these fun new vocabulary words! Basically, now that most of the warp is on the back beam, you tie the front ends to the front beam so they are snug and evenly tensioned, so you can weave and wind the fabric onto the front beam.
 At last! Weaving! Cloth! This is my play-around, not actually making anything piece. Learning how the different shafts make patterns, and how hard to slam the beater (that is the fun part).

Then I put a stick through the warp to create a space and started trying to make something specific. In order to do that, I had to wind some bobbins. The one tool that I don't have (so blessed! Can't believe all these things were a gift!), is a bobbin winder. I could do it by hand, but I have no patience and sore arms. So I got to thinking....

 And got my power drill out, used a little pipe cleaner to make the end thick enough, and made an automatic bobbin winder.  It works really well! I wound both of those bobbins in less than 15 minutes. There's a lot of thread on those!
And now, I have cloth! Wound onto the front apron beam.I think I made 2 feet of cloth in less than 45 minutes. I already utterly love this. I have so many plans.....

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spinning Along

I have a new addiction.
 The little bitty skein is the first bit of yarn I ever spun on a wheel. The crazy colored skein that looks like something Captain Jack Sparrow would wear in his hair (according to my husband) is the first plied (plyed? I know plyed is spelled wrong, but somehow it makes more sense when talking about spinning) yarn I spun with the wheel. 2 strands together of wildly different colors. Pretty much just the first colors I got my hands on.
 This is my second plied (that spelling just looks so wrong!) skein. I like it. I think the colors work well together, and the bits of thick and thing make it a novelty yarn. Someday I'll learn to spin evenly. This one has 3 strands plied together. I plied a bit tightly, so the skein has some extra twist to it, but it's pretty anyway.
This is skein #3. 2 strands again. I think I prefer the 3 strand skein, but that's just me. This one really turned out well, no extra twist, fairly even for the most part. Showing improvement!

I am finding spinning to be an especially soothing activity. I have to focus on it more than I do on knitting, so I can't read while I spin (yes, I totally read while I knit. I am incapable of not having my eyes and mind as busy as my hands.), but I think that may be a good thing. I'm actually doing only one thing at a time when I spin--- well, okay, that's true if I'm alone. Otherwise, I'm chatting with family or answering kids' questions while spinning, but that's still less multi-tasking than usual. ;)

I have no idea what to do with the yarn I'm making, but right now, I don't care. I'm just having fun making it.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Over last weekend, my youngest and I took a mini-vacation, just the two of us.

We went to my parents so Roo could have a well-earned time by himself with all of the animals. It was perfect timing. Grandma had 5 baby goats that required a lot of bottle feeding.

 Several older goats as well- Roo just loved feeding them their "lunch".  At once point, he was picking up some hay and found himself surrounded by goats. His comment? "Hoo-whee!!! That's a lot ub goats!!!".
 The cat wasn't in the best of moods, but Grandma  held her so Roo could pet her a little.
 Blowing bubbles is more fun when you get to blow them at the dogs....
Grandma provided him with treats for the dogs too. He just loves feeding the animals- and they rather enjoy it also. ;)

He had so much fun. That night I put him to bed, left him alone for 10 minutes, and came back to this:
He had such a great time!
I rather enjoyed myself as well. No dishes, no cooking, no 1,000 questions from 4 different directions- just hanging out watching my youngest enjoy himself, talking with my parents and friends, and even reading a little. It was needed.
Now to get back to the busy life....

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Other Fiber Arts

I love knitting. I have loved it since that day over 10 years ago that my dear friend Michelle introduced me to the knit stitch.

However, as my knowledge of knitting grew, so did my awareness of the Other Fiber Arts.
Crochet, Spinning, Weaving, Tatting...there are so many things to do with fiber! I have wanted for a long time to explore some of the other fiber arts, but for various reasons, knitting has been my focus.

I've played with crochet a little. My grandma taught me when I was a wiggly 6 year old. I learned all of 2 stitches, and made lots of odd clothing for my little toys. But I don't have the love for crochet I have for knitting. I've learned a little more since then- I can crochet flowers now- but crochet is my accent for knitting, not my art.

I've played with spinning a little. I got my husband to make me some drop spindles, got a little fiber and a book and played with it. But I never learned to love it with the drop spindle. I always wondered what would happen if I got a spinning wheel. It just seemed to me that with a wheel I could do so much more so much faster that it would be more fun. (I'm a product knitter not a process knitter, if you know what I mean, and getting a tiny result with a lot of effort encourages me to find a new way of doing it -or just a new thing to do.)  But a wheel is expensive and not a need, so spinning just sort of died out for me. I got rid of the spindles, fleece, and book during a move, but I always wondered- "what if".

Well, I get to find out!

This lovely little versatile spinning wheel entered my home to stay last Friday night!  Yesterday, I finally had an opportunity to sit down, watch a couple YouTube videos on how to card wool for spinning, and do some actual spinning on a wheel.

I love it.

I don't think spinning will ever replace knitting for me, I love knitting too much- and it is so much more portable (because I'm still on into the drop spindle, sorry.), but I can definitely enjoy this!

This is my second basket full of rolags (wool that has been hand-carded and rolled in preparation for spinning). I was having too much fun learning to remember to take pictures of my first batch. This is sitting next to the rocking chair behind the wheel just waiting for me to have some free time.

This is my first attempt at spinning on a wheel. It's obvious even in the photo that the wool is uneven, too tightly spun, thick and thin, and has a lot of issues- but it's my first attempt....It took me a while to figure out the tension for the bobbin and flyer (the thing the yarn is on, and the part with the hooks that spins the yarn onto the bobbin), and I still don't think it's quite right. I'll get it figured though! And I'll have even more yarn for my knitting!

This gorgeous wheel and a whole bunch of wool and fiber to practice and play with was a gift. I am blessed beyond words. Once again, I have been given the ability to pursue something I very much wanted to do but couldn't afford to start.

Thank you, dearest Lynn. You were right. I am having a blast.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Random little things that have been making me go "huh" lately:

1) Cutting my littlest one's fingernails, I find myself realizing that I used to cut my other kids' nails too; and I don't even remember when that stopped. Nostalgia hits a mom at odd moments for odd reasons. I wouldn't want to cut all their fingernails now, but I miss doing it. Why do I miss doing it? It must have something to do with that whole, "they're getting too old too fast" thing.

2) I'm 4 days into doing "oil pulling".  It's this somewhat odd thing I discovered through friends' posts on Facebook (my husband teases me endlessly for what I learn on FB and Pinterest!).  Read this article on it for more information; but basically, it's just swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for as long as you can stand it (I don't think I've made it longer than 5 minutes yet- if I'm lucky). Supposedly, it's very healthy and a good way to detox your mouth.  Possibly even whiten your teeth. I don't know if it's whitening my teeth, but after the first day, I noticed my teeth felt incredibly clean- which is always a good feeling.
    I have to say, I totally disagree with the opinion of the author of the aforementioned article that oil pulling is divine and sensual.  3 out of the 4 days, I've gagged horribly as I spit out the coconut oil. It's hard enough to put it in my mouth (in its fairly solid state), get it liquid, and swish it for a long time. Now, I like coconut oil, but that much of it raw and alone in my mouth is pretty intense.  So healthy, yeah, I can see that (I use coconut oil for a great variety of things, it's amazing- see this article); divine and sensual? Not so much. Pretty raw, organic, granola, hippie, and all that kind of thing.  I'm definitely enjoying the clean mouth feeling. But then, hubby has been teasing me about being a hippie for a while now....

3) Every time I think I've gotten something figured out, I find out I'm wrong.
I've had a design in my mind for some yarn for a couple years (it had to wait, I was knitting some books), and finally sat down to turn it into reality.  I totally figured I'd be sailing through it, it's a nice basic design for a cabled tank-top.  Yeah, not so much. I've knit and frogged (rippit, rippit) it 4 times already. Huh. Guess I don't know as much as I thought I did....

4)  I am continually amazed at little "coincidences".
For example, this morning, my oldest son informed me that he was out of notebook paper for school ("I can't do that report after all, Mom."). So I dredged some up from somewhere ("Oh, yes you can!"), and gave it to him, making a note to purchase more on grocery day as we have absolutely no more.
  This afternoon, a friend comes to visit- on her way out the door, she says, "Oh, I have some school supplies my kids don't need, could you use them??"
Packages of notebook paper on my doorstep.
Coincidence? I've never believed in the word and I never will. Call it what it is: Providence. He is Jehovah Jireh after all....

5) Every now and then, I feel like I need a little bit of encouragement. Life is hard, you know? And always changing- just when you get used to one kind of "hard", everything changes and you run into a new kind of "hard". Last night, I found more than just a little bit of encouragement. I found a lot. Here. For moms of older kids. (so much for that thing called "coincidence" again...the timing is always just so perfect, you know?)
Suddenly, I find myself a mom of older kids.
I guess that's pretty much how this post started, isn't it?


Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow Days 2014

 Last Thursday, it started snowing.

The kids were thrilled.

We don't often get snow in this typically rather wet part of the Pacific Northwest.

Snowmen were built, bikes were tested for weather-worthiness, and fortresses were constructed.

Saturday, the freezing rain came, and the fortresses became almost indestructible (and in-constructable as well)
The novelty wore off as the city shut down. Classes were cancelled, churches were closed, and we settled in to enjoy each other in our wonderfully warm home.
Warm fires, good books, fun games, walks in the snow to return to hot chocolate, knitting- and the kids' first time watching "The Fellowship of the Rings".
Snow days are good days. :D

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Oh! Hello There!

Ack. I can't believe it's been two and a half months since I posted! Craziness!  And to be honest- I wouldn't be posting now, but my awesome sister-in-love reminded me I have a blog....

So since my last book was published, I've been super busy with family life.

We had a most excellent Thanksgiving.  Lots and lots of people came to our house and laughed and talked and ate way too much and laughed some more. We are so blessed to live in such a wonderful big house where we have room to entertain everyone we want to. What an amazing time it was.

Christmas was just fun and crazy and overwhelming and the best time with family. We went to my parents for the Day and J's parents for a few days after so he could help with some home projects, and it was great. Until the Roo got super sick the last 18hrs we were there- but we made it home with no vomiting, and J's van held together until he pulled into the driveway, when it gave up.  We made it there and back safely, though! That was a big answer to prayer.

January- I'm just in shock. I can't believe the month is gone.

My sweet Bear turned 8. Eight! What?! He lost his two front teeth for the occasion, and got his own room complete with his drum set.  I think he is happy. I know we are.

Then, my Sweetheart turned 12. Twelve. Ok, stop. I'm so not ready.  Not that that matters. Here we are anyway.  She is beautiful and growing and learning- and teaching me. I'm so thankful for this amazing daughter.

Knitting during all this?  Well, I managed to knit one thing for each kid and sew one thing for each kid for Christmas, plus knitting for most of our extended family gifts. I didn't really do any designing though. After finishing the last sample knit for the big book last March, knitting kind of went out the window for a few months. It wasn't until August that I really had any desire to knit again. That book was  a lot of work!  Now, I'm knitting, but I'm having a great time following other people's patterns instead of coming up with my own.

I finished a huge project- that World Map Afghan. It took me 3 years (since I started just before I got the book contracts), but it's done! And on my Bear's bed. He loves it. I need to get a photo of it, but have been negligent.

I made myself a cowl and matching "gloves",

made my daughter a horse beanie,
made my nieces and nephew some awesome toys from Susan B. Anderson books (they rock. Super cute toys, and some of them can be knit in a day- talk about instant gratification in knitting!), made a whole bunch of knitting headbands for various family members...
and lots of other little accessory knits- as well as a sweater for my Dad's 70th birthday and a matching vest for my Mom's Christmas.
It's been tons of fun. Simple knitting- following patterns instead of making them. Just the break I've needed. I only have plans for 1 design in the coming months, and while that is subject to change, this break from the designing section is really relaxing.

Besides knitting, I'm having tons of fun making Natural health and beauty products. I just got stuff to try my hand at natural deodorant- now I just have to find the time to do it. ;)

When I'm not playing with string or tallow, I'm teaching my kids, taking Taekwondo classes, taking my kids to Akido, swim lessons, youth group (yes, she is that old.), and SkateChurch.  Oh yeah, and cleaning, cooking...... Sometimes I feel like the typical "Soccer Mom".  

Life is good. Crazy, but good. And I like it.