Spinning Wheel Tales

A member of my Knit & Nibble group recently bought an antique spinning wheel. She's always wanted to learn to spin and when she found this wheel in a embroidery store that was going out of business, and was able to purchase it for $50, she figured it was meant to be.

The wheel is old and in desperate need of some TLC. Dry rot (and little wood chomping buggies) shattered the peg that connects the mother-of-all to the wheel. The wheel itself had some separation issues, with gaps and cracks near the spokes. But you can tell that someone loved it; the treadle is well worn where the spinner's foot would have rested and there is significant wax build up around the bobbin and other moving parts.

The new owner was looking for someone to fix the shattered peg so she could spin. And after hearing the story of the cute little wheel that was getting a new chance at life, Dick volunteered. Sight unseen. Which may have been a minor miscalculation on his part.

It seems that dry rot and termites did more damage than was immediately apparent. All the pegs are rotten and there is significant damage to other parts of the wheel. Taking it apart was a challenge it itself; some pieces appeared ready to shatter if he even touched them. But did that stop Woodshop Man? Of course not! Seriously, Dick spent the better part of today gently taking the wheel apart, drilling out the rotten pegs, fashioning new parts, and then carefully rebuilding it, piece by piece. It's not done yet, but it is looking significantly better. And barring unforeseen disasters, this little lady should be up and spinning again, very soon.
Woodshop Man is the best. (And he not only worked on the wheel, he took photos of his progress - without my asking him - so I could blog this. I tell ya. The man's keeper.)

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Poor Puppy

Have you seen this video yet? Trust me; take 2 minutes and watch this. Your day will be much brighter.

Thanks, Lisa!



This weekend was the fiber retreat in Cambria at Camp Ocean Pines, a former YMCA camp that was significantly refurbished about 5 years ago. The setting was lovely - we were less than a quarter mile from the ocean, surrounded by pine trees, with deer grazing right next to the cabins. The main lodge consisted of a great room that easily accommodated the 57 weavers, spinners, knitters, crocheters, beaders, lockerhookers, and one dulcimer player, a dining hall, kitchen, and wood deck overlooking the ocean.
The 12 or so cabins were a short hike up the hill. Each was about the size of my kitchen and had 10 bunk beds plus a toilet and shower stall. The cabins were built about 4 years ago when the original cabins were torn down; they are nice, but, shall we say, cozy. After looking at them, and overhearing two women talk about the hotel room they had reserved, Vickie and I decided that we'd enjoy the retreat a lot more if we got a good night's sleep - so we booked the last room available at the oceanfront Fireside Inn at Moonstone Beach, about 5 minutes from camp. Great decision. Clean sheets (rather than sleeping bags), great shower with lots of hot water (that we didn't have to stand in line with 8 other women to use), and complimentary breakfast (including make-your-own waffles and fresh fruit). Definitely staying here again next year.

Each attendee brought whatever they wanted to work on; there was no set schedule, except for meals that were provided by the camp staff (and they were good.) The idea was to relax and enjoy the beautiful area with other fiber enthusiasts.

Vickie worked on her first ever pair of crocheted socks. (Yep, I corrupted her to the sock-side.)

I did a little spinning, a little crocheting on a new pair of socks, and then worked on a shrug for Marie.
I fell in love with the yarn and bought it about a month ago with the idea of making the Lacy Lilac Shrug in Crochet Fantasy's Spring 2006 edition. It's hard to tell in the photo, but the handpainted yarn has small gold flecks sprinkled throughout. It is incredibly soft and a real pleasure to work with.

Fortunately, I wasn't able to completely finish it this weekend; I still need to do the ribbing for the sleeves. Unfortunately, it is too small; I need to add about 2 inches to the back and make the arm openings a touch wider, which I think will be fairly easy to do. Or I could just keep it for myself.
If only red was my color.

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A Sock-Making Fool

I finished another pair of socks tonight. These are the ones I started in sock class about three weeks ago. The pattern is (basically) Ribbed Hiker from the book Crocheted Socks! I changed the stitch for the gusset and foot to single crochet rather than the split single crochet called for by the designer. The pink socks I finished last week are the same pattern except I used a mini-cluster in place of the split single crochet. I definitely prefer the pink's pattern - I'd do that one again anytime. It has a little more give, so the fit isn't quite so tight, and I love the lacy look of the clusters.
The yarn was chosen by our instructor and I don't think I'd ever use it again; it feels too scratchy and rough on my feet. And the colors just don't do anything for me - I'm not feeling the love here. But I have another pair of crocheted socks that fit almost perfectly. And that I do love.

Tech Specs: The yarn is Heirloom's Jigsaw, color #32, a 4 ply made in Italy; 75% wool, 25% nylon, 420 meters per ball. I used a "D" hook for the cuff and heel flap; and an "F" hook for the gusset and foot. If I made this one again, I'd add 2-3 rows of single crochet at the bottom of the cuff before starting the heel flap; I think it would feel more comfortable if the cuff stopped higher up the ankle. I'd also go up one more hook size, to a "G", for a slightly less snug fit.

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This is Snickers. Matt got her when she was a kitten, after a very effective begging campaign; his dad was not really pleased about having a cat in the house again. (Very effective. Snickers was the first of the three cats that now rule our house.)

When Matt moved out, Snickers stayed. And in a supreme act of irony, she transferred all her affections to Dick. She sits on the arm of his couch; climbs into the crook of his arm when he's reading; flops on the floor at his feet to be petted. She seldom has anything to do with me. I don't know if it's because I lack sufficient testosterone or the fact that her arch enemy, Oreo, spends most of her time in my lap.

But lately that's changed. Snickers has discovered that my studio is a very comfortable place to be. She likes the carpet and the sun that shines through the glass doors in the early afternoon. And there's always a pile of fiber on the counter that she can nest into.

Her latest thing is to sit at the door, waiting for one of the other cats to climb into the garden window in the adjacent bathroom.
She'll bat at the door until she gets their attention, then jump up likes she's 'attacking' them. AJ and Oreo just look at her like she's crazy. It's very entertaining to watch. Occasionally when Snickers starts to get bored, the other cat will bat at the window to get her started again. Free entertainment is a wonderful thing.


Fabulous Socks

I started and finished these socks on the trip to Colorado. The yarn is Peppermint Pink from Fearless Fibers (wonderful, wonderful stuff. go buy some. you know you want to. Deb also has an ebay store and a blog.) and the pattern is a combination of 2 in Crocheted Socks! complete with heel flap, gussets, and shaped toe. I love the fit - they are the perfect in-your-shoes, wear-when-I-spin-so-everyone-can-admire-them socks.
Have you entered the contest on Addy's blog? Pick the date she's born and win a prize! Read all about it here.

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Looks like I'm not going to have to finish it on the plane to Colorado. The scarf I started on Monday is done. I worked on it during the last hour of today's sock class (I took the wrong size hook to class. Actually, I had at least 4 hooks with me. None were the right size. It was that kind of day.) and I finished it during Project Runway (oh, Jeffrey, what have you done? Please, please, don't let Laura's accusations be true. I'm still rooting for Michael, but to have come this far, only to get kicked off for cheating? How heartbreaking is that?)

Ahem. Back to crochet.

This was made with Plymouth Yarn's Baby Alpaca Grande using a size "P" hook for the body and a "K" for the border.

Very pretty, if I do say so myself. Soft, warm, snuggly. Can't wait for Colorado!

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Culinary Delights

I used to be a fairly decent cook. Not gourmet, mind you. But I knew my way around a kitchen and enjoyed taking miscellaneous foodstuffs and making something tasty. Growing up the oldest of 8 kids, I learned early how to feed lots of hungry mouths. Lasagna for 15? I'm your girl. From scratch spaghetti sauce for an army? Not a problem. For two? You'd better be ready to eat it for the next month.

Over the last few years I've gotten out of the habit of cooking. I'd make a meal; the kids would want something different. Or they'd be gone - at college or a friend's or whatever. I think the death knell sounded when Dick became lactose intolerant. I grew up making casseroles and one-dish meals - anything to stretch the basic ingredients so they'd feed more people. I was never a meat & potatoes kind of cook. If I couldn't put cheese in it or toss on a cream-based sauce, I was at a loss.

So Dick took over a lot of the cooking. We eat a lot more roasted chicken now - especially when avocados are in season. (Chicken with avocado & salsa. Yum!) He's adjusted fairly well to the lack of milk in his diet, especially after he found a lactose-free milk that actually tasted good on cereal. But the one thing he really missed, that made lactose intolerance intolerable, was chocolate milkshakes.

Until now.
Lactose-free milk + lactose-free ice cream + dark chocolate syrup + blender = delicious, pain-free, better than In-N-Out, chocolate shakes. I'm pretty pleased with myself for cooking this one up.

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New Projects

When I'm stressed or overwhelmed, I tend to start new crochet projects. Doesn't matter how many I already have going, starting something new relieves stress and gets me revved again.

But I did actually finish something today. This is Rachel's baby room afghan. I made it with
Lion Brand Homespun, so it's super soft and cuddly. It's big enough to cover mom & baby when Addy fusses in the night. And when she's a little older, mom can use it to teach her the colors of the rainbow.

And the UFO's? Socks. I'm taking a crocheted sock class in Ojai; this is two classes worth of work. We're starting on the heels this coming Wednesday.

Baby afghan.
I like this pattern and love the way it's turning out. But I have to count the stitches in each row - it's not a 'mindless' project that I can work on while talking or watching TV. So it's taking longer than I'd planned. But I'm still hoping to have it done before Addy is born - but probably not in time for this weekend's baby shower in Colorado.

Cashmere shawl. Handpainted, lace-weight yarn.
Gorgeous. Soft. Just for me. This is actually my take-along, mindless project. It's a two-row repeat and I only have to pay attention at the turns. Otherwise, the stitches are the same on every row. Easy. Fun. Relaxing. And beautiful to look at.

So what new project did I start after this last stress-filled week? A new scarf.
This is bulky weight baby alpaca that I had in my stash - I bought it at Anacapa Fine Yarns in Ventura about a month ago. It was so soft; I loved the colors; and it was on sale. How could I pass it up? I'm using front & back post double stitches in a cable pattern. The texture is incredibly thick and incredibly soft; I love the plush feel of it. I will definitely wear this one in Colorado this weekend. Even if I have to finish it on the plane.

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I'm excited, now that I've recovered from my almost-heart attack. Rachel's email tonight said "Addy has flipped and is getting ready to go per the doctor." (Details are on Addy's blog.)

Looks like she won't be a late baby; I just hope she holds out until she's a nice, healthy weight and all her parts (like her lungs and heart and brain) are ready for the world outside mommy's tummy. I don't think the family is ready for another scare like when William was born 6 weeks premature at 2 pounds, 14 ounces.

So please cross your fingers and send happy, healthy, stay-in-the-tummy thoughts to Addy and her mom. I'm ready to be a grandma, but November is plenty soon enough.

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Another One Of Those Days

I knew things were not going well this morning when I got stressed to the point of throwing things because I could. not. find a pair of socks that matched. The past two weeks have had too much work, too many deadlines, and not enough quiet, stressless, just-for-me, I'm retired dammit, crafting or reading or whatever time.

But it got better. On our way to pick out some carve-able soapstone for Dick's birthday present, we stopped for lunch at a new cafe in Ventura. And what was on the menu? The ultimate comfort food - gourmet mac & cheese. No Velveeta or Kraft in-a-box stuff here. It was truly wonderful. (And I am not going to think about the calories or the fat content. Not. Not. Not.)

And today it was finally chilly enough to light up my new studio fireplace. Behold! The first fire - the non-food equivalent of comfort food. The gel canisters put out a lot of heat but no smoke. They're a tad smelly, but cracking open a window resolved that issue.

Add in a trip to the bookstore that netted a new crochet magazine and a quick run into Michael's for a crochet hook (honest, that's all I wanted!) where I found yet another new magazine, plus a crochet book I just had to have - and it ended up being a pretty darn good day after all.

Back in July, I won a round of word bingo on a crochet socks Yahoo group. My prize was coming from Australia
and was supposed to take 8 weeks or so to get here. At about 10 weeks, I figured it got lost somewhere at sea - but I was wrong. After 12 weeks, my Aussie package arrived on my doorstep this morning. Julie sent a box of chocolate & vanilla cookies and a French lavender sachet. I love the smell of lavender, plus it's good for keeping the little mothies out of my wool stash. But my favorite part of the package was the cool stamps. Thanks, Julie!

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No Time

There aren't enough hours in the day. We're taking a break from house remodeling, so maybe that will free up some time. But the P6 campaign seems to take up whatever 'free' time I have. Oh well, only 6 weeks until the election.

I miss blogging and hope to get back to it very soon.

p.s. The baby shower was a lot of fun. We even had entertainment - young William was the star of the day. More details soon.