Archive for May, 2009

May 27 2009


Published by under Gardening

Oh, dear. I’ve been away a while — not for lack of doing postable things, mind you. In fact, it’s an overabundance of postable things that has had me so tired at the end of the day that the thought of writing anything at all sent me directly to sleep.

Here is the beginning of the springtime garden frenzy:


Terribly exciting, no? No.

This is the beginning of my back garden entryway. Last¬† year, my backyard was open to the world with a privacy fence just along one side of things. It hadn’t been replaced since long before we moved into the house, and in one evening’s windstorm and microburst, the top of the neighbors’ pine tree was sheared off the trunk and dropped onto the fence.


Doesn’t really look so bad there…how about this one?


So, after that, I had the backyard enclosed with a new fence…and then did nothing else with it, really, until this spring.


So, the First Task of getting the backyard done was a flagstone threshhold beneath the arbor gate. The series below is the efforts of part of an afternoon in step-by-step order.

The last two pictures are Yin and Yang, the Concord grapes I planted to grow up the arbor. Yin seems to have a laid-back sort of attitude, in no great hurry and growing steadily along. Yang is full of energy and growing like mad, jumping onto the arbor as quickly as possible and tendrils grasping. Yet, somehow, Yang isn’t all that far ahead…

These last pictures are teasers for more garden updates:

The sweetest violets grow in my backyard...

The sweetest violets grow in my backyard...

and in the front...

and in the front...

candy-scented irises!

candy-scented irises!

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May 04 2009

Spin to Weave

Published by under Spinning,Weaving

So, I keep beginning posts and then setting them aside because I’ve not quite finished the project…or have something else I want to write about…or (best of all!) Have Finished Something Else. In very good news for me, this post is delaying two others for the latter reason. Hot damn and holy hallelujah!

This is my first weaving completely woven from handspun yarn. I’ve used handspun (both my own and lunarawe‘s) as weft before, but not as warp. I figured it would likely work out well, but I was just waiting for the right moment.

Many months ago, lunarawe was at my house for a while and dying to spin something. I handed her some green merino and some very soft shell pink merino that I’d picked up from Toni at The Fold. (You do know about The Fold, right? Please say you do…if not, go visit! It’s a wonderful shop in Marengo, IL, with sheep on the premises and a very helpful Toni at the counter.) For some reason, I’d found myself wanting to use these two colors together; so I asked the spinning addict if she’d make me a 2-ply, with one strand of green and one of pink. After the inevitable allergic reaction to the pink, this is what she’d spun:

226 yards of handspun merino by lunarawe

226 yards of handspun merino by lunarawe

So, then it sat in my stash. Waiting. And sitting. And waiting. Until I got bit by a radioactive spider…or stabbed by a crack-laced spindle, and started to spin like a madman fairly regularly. The remainder of the pink and the green reappeared, and I spun them into single-color 2-ply yarns. Oh, did I spin them…and here’s the photo montage, starting with my green handspun merino. (As the Yarn Harlot says, click to embiggen!)

And the pink handspun merino:

And here are pictures of the yarns together:

And now for the weaving…

The wrap before wet finishing:

And after wet finishing:

I was hoping to end up with a tweedy sort of fabric, and got just what I wanted — the weft helps bring out the contrasting flecks of color from the pink/green 2-ply. I love it when experiments turn out well!

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May 03 2009

Illusion of Life

Published by under Construction

When I was very young, I had a spider marionette that I used to make dance and walk. I really loved that spider and had a wonderful time trying to figure out how to make it move so that it seemed real. Then, as life often goes, my interests shifted and I became fascinated by other things. Then, many years later, while living in Upstate New York, I became a semi-professional puppeteer for a while. I worked with Holly Adams and the Mental Health Players/Peacetown Puppets department of the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier in Binghamton. Holly is a deeply talented actress and director,  and was a wonderful mentor as well. She taught me how to work with puppets, how to make them appear alive in their motion and in their ability to listen to one another in a performance.

Now, a little less than a decade later, I’m back to puppeteering! No education is ever wasted. Although there is a part of me that would love to join the cast of Avenue Q, my work with puppets has been in the service of education in the congregation I serve. (Not that being part of Avenue Q wouldn’t be educational!) There is a small group of us at the church who have experience as puppeteers; we’ve built some new puppets and are using them during classes this spring. Very early on in the process, the two I built looked like this:

Just the beginnings of people back then…but now, I’d like to introduce you to Tolo and the Commodore:


Tolo is the guy on the left in the blue; this spring he’s playing the part of Carlos in our puppet shows. On the right is the Commodore — he’s got long white hair and a white soul patch, not to mention a great deal of cool. He’s often seen sporting a pair of shades and refusing to admit that he’s named for how much his long hair looks like the ropy hair on dogs of the Komondor breed.

<i>Tolo looking very PQ (Puppets Quarterly)</i>
The Commodore

Although creating the illusion of life out of any puppet is an amazing thing, bringing your own creations to life is even better. There are a number of companies making puppets these days, some even specifically for congregational use; that said, I’m no slouch with a sewing machine and I’m almost always willing to try something new. I’m incredibly pleased with these guys, and I’m looking forward to making more.


I think they could use a few more friends…

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May 01 2009

Like a crazed spider…

Published by under Spinning

I’ve been spinning like mad lately — handspun for weaving, for knitting, for the sheer pleasure of wheel and spindle.

bits and bobs
bits and bobbins

I am beginning to think that the crazier the world gets, the more appealing spinning yarn is to me. I don’t suppose there’s any way to spin straw into gold, is there?

How about Corriedale into yarn instead? I’m aiming eventually for a 3-ply knittable yarn. Below is Corriedale dyed with indigo and osage orange from Handspun By Stefania. It just so happens that Stefania is the mother of my best friend from junior high and high school, who I saw at last summer’s Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair. Stefania’s dyeing is wonderful, and I’m spinning up nearly a half pound of this stuff.

one-third down, two to go
one-third down, two to go

This is also hers:

two cakes of singles, one small ball of 2-ply
two cakes of singles, one small ball of 2-ply

Corriedale dyed with two concentrations of cochineal. Looks like raspberry twist in the singles…and I think it’s much nicer as singles than as a 2-ply. That starts to look like a cabled yarn, and not in a good way. I’m thinking to try it as a singles weft, although it might make for an interesting 2-ply warp. The cabling would disappear and it would become a tweedy sort of fabric with the right weft. Hm.

Oh, and here’s more Corriedale (with silk added!) waiting to be spun. This is dyed with logwood and cochineal:

the roving is actually a little darker than this
the roving is actually darker and more purple

And let’s not forget the first two wools of hers that I spun up: some Coopworth in indigo and more in osage orange. The shine of the Coopworth is glorious, although I find it feels a bit like spinning wire. And if there’s just a tiny bit of osage orange pigment left in the wool, well, my fingers turn fuschia! Yes, the hottest of hot pink. Very silly…and not what I would have expected, but the yarn is washed and my fingers are clean. Wish I’d have taken pictures of that.

mood indigo
mood indigo
oooh, shiny!
oooh, shiny!

Huh. I guess you can spin wool into gold after all. And into a lovely color-graded yarn (roving from The Fold) with a bit of gold in it, too.

color-graded polworth roving all spun up
color-graded polworth roving all spun up

There will be more spinning in the next few posts; I’m beginning to think that I might need to take a break and go play in the garden or read a book or something.

Crazed spider, I’m telling you.

this one’s been stalking me in my bathroom for a week!

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