FO! And KO and HO

If a Finished Object is an "FO" and a Knitted Object* is a "KO", then a Home improvement Object should be an "HO", right? Ok, maybe not.

Are you sick of finished blocks yet? This is #5. It's another Chris Simon square - Star Overlay. Chris has several free patterns
on her website, including these blocks. I want to have six blocks sewn together to show Saturday's first block-of-the-month class. Only one block - and all the joining - to go.

Dick's been busy working on various projects to complete the house remodel. He grouted the tile outside my studio door and put the oak finish piece in place (last coat of varnish went on yesterday. Yeah!)
Don't you love the caution tape? Doesn't do a bit of good when you have cats and teenage boys in the house.

Today's project was sanding and staining the first part of the stair railing. And, oh boy!, I got to help. The excitement. The joy. The sarcasm.
You may recall that I'm only allowed to do tasks requiring unskilled labor (for good reason) or semi-skilled under direct supervision. Sanding and wiping off stain are about as unskilled as it gets. And the results are pretty nice. I really don't mind helping, and between the two of us, we got this job done in about an hour. Plus, it gave me a chance to wear that really sexy dust mask.

*You'll notice I mentioned a Knitted Object? This is the first-ever item knit by me. It's not pretty, but I did it! I did it! This square is all knit stitch. The next one, in a tan version of the same yarn, will be all purl. I've tried to learn knitting before and it didn't take. I wanted to make sure I really understood both the knitting and the purling. If an entire 12x12 square doesn't teach me, I guess there's no hope.

I figured out how to bind off with a little help from here. And watched a refresher about casting on and purling while I was visiting. There are other knitting help sites (including a good one on DIY) but KnittingHelp.com is still my favorite. What did we do before there were videos on the Innernets?


Crafty Day

I have a bad habit of taking workshops and then never doing anything with the information or techniques I learned. But since Dick left early today to take his mother to the doctor and Marie ran out of the house shortly after 10 (literally! - she thought she was scheduled to work at 2. Nope. The boss called at 10:15; Marie was supposed to have opened the store at 10. Oopsie.), I had the whole place to myself. So I sat down at the wheel and Navajo-plied all the singles I have stacked up around my studio.

The first skein was actually the best balanced of the lot - but I held the twist so tightly while I was plying that I couldn't even move my poor thumb when I was done. I worked on relaxing on the next skein and it got a lot better.
This was spun from batts we made at a guild workshop last July. Susie had us combining various colors of wool on drumcarders, a la Deb Menz. Some of the color combinations were, um, interesting. I spun all mine together, one after the other. I really like the resulting yarn. I'm not sure how many yards I have; hopefully it will be enough to make a block for my blanket project.

This skein is more reddish than the blue/purple my monitor shows.
I spun this a long time ago. I was surprised when it appeared on a bobbin, under the sparkly yarn I thought was the only thing on there. There's not much of this one, but the spinning is really even and I'm pleased I found it.

This was spun from roving I got from Bountiful (I think).
I love how it sparkles. I remember how pleased I was when I was spinning this; it was my first successful attempt at making a consistently thin yarn. And I'm pretty sure I have more of the roving. Somewhere.

It's hard to see in this photo, but this represents a couple of the techniques Gwen taught this weekend.
The thick brown yarn is a thick-thin slub that takes everything you've learned about making a consistent fiber and throws it out the window. It was a lot of fun - and very liberating - to make. This bobbin held all the different fleece types we worked with on Sunday so there was no consistency of color. I took a silver sparkly novelty yarn that Susie gave me and carried it along as I Navajo-plied the wool. There's not much of it, but I'm thinking I could use it in my blanket as the center of a square, with another yarn around it. We'll see.

And lastly . . . . . another square for my block-of-the-month afghan. This is Waldo's Puzzle by Chris Simon.
It looks a lot harder to make than it is. The only tricky part was weaving the last circle around the first three correctly. It took a couple of tries, but I finally got it. I love the 3D effect. Four blocks done, only eight to go.


Lots To Talk About

So let's get started. I have an FO* - a cotton scarf made with Schaefer Yarn's 'Laurel' (100% Pima cotton) in the most gorgeous colorway - but I forgot to take a picture of it before handing it over for the Guild's conference booth. I'm happy with how the scarf turned out (the pattern is an EP original) and really bummed that I forgot the photo.

Yesterday's Wonders of Wool workshop with Gwen Powell was a "wow". We started with fleece - both well skirted and 'yucky' non-skirted.
Gwen talked about how to separate the sections, what to look for in a good fleece (and when to cut your losses and toss a fleece in the compost pile), how to wash wool - including a great demo of lock-by-lock washing with hand soap (beautiful results!) - and on to prepping with handcarders, the differences in spinning woolen and worsted - and when to use each method - and how to figure out what a 'mystery fleece' might be. The volume of information was almost overwhelming. Gwen lives about 45 minutes from me (or 2 hours, depending on how the 405 is feeling that day) and offers classes in her home. Including how to design crocheted sweaters that fit. I want that class!

The very best part of the day was the woodturning ideas I came home with for Dick. Gwen is a woodturner (among her many, many talents) and had some thoughts on what Dick could make for our new business. One idea (I'm not telling the others. I'll show you though when they're done . . .) is an orifice extender for the new Victoria wheel. The opening in the 'stock' orifice is too small for the type of yarn Gwen makes and teaches in her workshop. She's sending me the dimensions and we're going to see if Dick can make more. This one was made by Gwen with tulipwood.
I also took the prototype crochet hooks Dick made to get some feedback from Gwen, Susie and others; feedback was positive! In fact, if I'd had a dozen hooks I probably could have sold all of them to my classmates. Very positive reception to Dick's beautiful work.

Remember the fiber I spun in Saturday's workshop?
The fuzzy parts are 'boufles', pieces of dyed mohair Navajo-plied into the yarn. I made it into a skein tonight and it's soaking right now. Hopefully, it will dry overnight because I'm itching to make it into something - like a 12" crocheted block. I'm planning to use my past and future class/experiment spinning to make individual squares that I'll sew together in an afghan. It should be really, really colorful.

Marie has condensed her jobs from three to just one. She's working full-time as manager of my favorite scrapbooking store, Scrapbookers Villa in Ventura. She decided to go with that job because she can set her own hours and work around her college classes. One of the benefits is that she got to go to Anaheim for CHA - the "World's Fair" for the craft and hobby industry!
3,500 booths... 20,000 visitors... 46 nations... one shared passion. Can you tell I'm envious? Marie and Debra took lots of classes and looked at tons of new products. Most of which will arrive over the next 3 months. The good news about Marie working there? I get to hear about and see all the new products first! The bad news? I want to BUY all the new products first!

This is one of the classes Marie took. Marie is a talented artist; this class taught her some great new techniques. Isn't it gorgeous?
This is the Bob Ross Wet-On-Wet painting technique. Pretty cool, huh?

*Finished Object


Plying Workshop

Today's workshop was wonderful. Gwen is a great teacher, very knowledgeable and patient. We learned to Navajo ply singles to make a 3-ply yarn, then moved on to multiple singles, making 9- and 12-ply yarns. Gwen also showed us how to add puffs of colored mohair to make a poofy, textured yarn. The ugly green and purple yarn on the left is crochet cotton. I brought a big bag of the stuff to share; I've had it practically forever and had no plans to use it. Turns out crochet cotton is the perfect yarn to practice on. My little bag of goodies was very popular.

News reports last night gave us a slight chance of rain today, but the general consensus was that it would miss us. Wrong. It poured all day long. Dick had to right idea. This is how I found him when I got home around 5.
All warm and cozy in his den. I'm so envious.


Cute Kitties

Want to see something really cute? Go here. Since I don't have any baby photos, the best I can offer is cute kitties.

Oreo has forsaken my lap for another heat source -

She's crazy about the heater in my studio and often sleeps with her head on the back wheel and her nose almost in the heater. She'll still climb up in my lap when she wants to be scratched, but then it's back to her new love.

AJ, on the other hand, prefers a softer, more enclosed sleeping spot.
I left the lid off the box of wool batts I'm spinning and she climbed in, nestled down, and claimed it as her own. I think she's down for the night.

Tomorrow I officially start as Vice President of my spinning and weaving guild. My main responsibility - and the reason no one else wanted the job - is to arrange for speakers and workshops at our monthly meetings. I thought the hard part would be coming up with ideas. Wrong. The hard part is getting potential providers to return calls and emails. If they would just say 'nope, sorry, can't do it', rather than leaving me hanging, I'd be so much happier. Bah humbug.

Being the organizing fool that I am, I've set up a database with all the programs the guild has had since about 1998 (yes, I'm a little compulsive, why do you ask?). I'm tracking all the contacts I make and all the ideas people have given me for future programs. Since VP is traditionally held by the same person for two years, I'm hoping my little Excel program will make it easier to book programs next year. That's the theory. Better idea would be to find another um, volunteer to take this job.


Museum Day

Dick and I like a good museum, so it's a bit of a surprise that we've never been to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. We've talked about it - usually after seeing the building during the annual Rose Parade - but whenever we plan to go, something seems to derail the plan.

We made it today, despite a very impressive traffic jam in Moorpark, of all places. First impression was good; several bronze Rodin sculptures grace the front lawn, including The Burghers of Callais. Dick and the girls saw another edition of this bronze when we visited the Rodin Museum in Paris last year. (I didn't see it - I was in our hotel room with a very sick son.)

Our first stop, after paying the very reasonable $8 entry fee, was the cafe. My advice? Eat before you go. The items sounded good; roast beef sandwich, eggplant sandwich (which I love), potato salad, brownie. It says something that the brownie (hard to mess up chocolate) and the bagged potato chips were the best part of the meal.

Dick loves Impressionists and the museum has a nice selection of paintings and bronzes by
Monet, Degas, Manet, Pissarro and others. We spent a bit of time contemplating van Gogh's Mulberry Tree (so much energy! The branches reminded me of the twisting snakes in Medusa's hair.) and Portrait of a Peasant.

We also liked the 17th & 18th Century collections. I'd never seen Interior with Monks by Alessandro Magnasco. A fascinating - and strange - painting done all in browns, blacks, and grays, with a little white. The 14th-16th Century collection featured a lot of religious artwork that we found uninspiring; the modern art in the 20th Century area was not to our taste; and the Asian Collection, while impressive in it's size and scope, just couldn't hold our interest.

Would we go back? Maybe. If they had a special event or exhibition that we wanted to see, it would be worth the drive. Overall, it just wasn't that impressive. But then again, we're comparing it to last year's visit to the Louvre, Rodin, and Musee d'Orsay (gorgeous, gorgeous place.) There aren't many collections that could compare with those.


New Look

Do you like my new look? I just spent over 3 hours updating my blog template because the 'new' Blogger couldn't import the changes I'd made in the 'old' Blogger. Three hours to get my 'new' blog to look just like my 'old' blog. Shesh.

While I was at it I added Haloscan comments. Blogger's comments have always been kind of annoying but making everyone get a Google account just so they could leave their thoughts? Ridiculous - and the final straw. Goodbye Blogger, hello Haloscan. (If you plan to upgrade and you're a Firefox user, be sure to read this article.)

Vickie - you should be able to add a comment now without all that 'anonymous' hassle. If anyone has a problem using the new comments, could you let me know at epspinsATgmailDOTcom?

Thanks (I think) to JenLa for pointing me in the right direction.


FO! And Time Out

A student in my beginning crochet class asked for the pattern of a scarf I made a few years ago. The problem was that I - of course - didn't write the pattern down when I made it. Fortunately, it's pretty simple. To check the pattern before I shared it, I made a second scarf using some handpainted silk and merino wool yarn I bought a long time ago on eBay. It took me a little over three hours to finish this. (Did I mention it's a really easy pattern?) I like how the openness of the design shows off the color changes in the fiber.

I've finished two of the three bobbins I need for Saturday's workshop (the partial bobbin in the photo is the third.)
Each batt is about one bobbin's worth of singles. Since I have six more batts, I should have a lot more fiber than I need for this weekend. Yesterday, I rolled the batt length-wise, then drafted and spun from one end. Tonight, I tore the batt into 4 long strips that I'll spin end-to-end. I'm want to see if different drafting methods will change the tone/color/texture of the singles.

Since we'll be plying three to six (or more) singles in Saturday's class, I'd like to use the large plying head I bought for my Lendrum. My plan was to fill the bobbin that is currently on the wheel, then ply it with the one I have waiting.
You'll notice I'm speaking in the past tense? Florence seems to be offended by all the time she's been sitting idle. Nothing I did tonight was right; the tension was off, the brake band broke, she wobbled, she squeaked, she sulked. I finally gave up.Florence is now sitting in the corner for a well deserved time out. Maybe her attitude will improve by the weekend.


More Than Crochet

Lately, my life has seemed like all crochet, all the time. Between teaching classes, planning for classes, and working up samples for classes (and worrying about classes; I'm very good at worrying, especially at 4 o'clock in the A.M.), I feel like all I've done is hook.

But the next class I'm teaching is two weeks away - there are still openings for the February 3 block-a-month class. Just sayin' - and my Guild meeting is this Saturday, so it's time to do some spinning. The thing I especially love about my Guild is the workshops. Each month, we have a program during the morning meeting and a workshop in the afternoon. This month, we have a three-fer. Gwen Powell is lecturing on "Chinese Knotting for Spinning and Weaving" in the morning, then teaching Navajo multi-ply spinning in the afternoon workshop and
The Wonders of Wool all day Sunday.

For Saturday's workshop, I need several bobbins of singles. I'm spinning the big bag of Cormo roving
I won during Le Tour de Fleece. The bats are layers of 'funky' colors, a la Deb Menz, that spin into wildly colorful singles. I wasn't sure if I would like them, but I do. The Cormo is a little difficult to spin, with more neps than I like, but with these colors, nobody is going to notice the lumps and bumps.

AJ decided that I needed close supervision while I spun. (I think the cold is getting to her. She's turned into a lap cat lately. Not that I'm complaining.) Whenever I'd stop treadling, she'd open one eye and give me "the look". Once I got going again, she went right back to sleep. She'll usually sit on my lap when I spin on the double-treadle Lendrum, but she much prefers the single treadle Traveler.

Today was also the first chance we've had to practice glass blowing since Dick set up our workshop in the garage. With only one lesson - well over a month ago - it seemed like we had more broken bulbs than finished ones. A couple blew up when we started heating them; some broke when we blew too hard; one was crushed when I was overly enthusiastic in making sure the heat-resistant blanket was securely in place. (It was. After I successfully squished my best ornament. Anybody want some sharp pieces of pretty glass?)

But we did end up with some nice ornaments.
And had fun making them. Dick and I are signed up for a glass fusion class in February. Want to bet we come home with a glass kiln and yet another new hobby? No takers? I wouldn't take that bet either.


FO! And Broken O

Remember the wool squares I made for the block a month class I'm teaching at my LYS? I'm making a set for myself in cotton - so I can show participants that blankets don't have to be done in wool - and in baby colors - so Addy will have a blankie at grandma's house. So far, I have three blocks finished.

Chris Simon's Cable Hearts:

Chris Simon's Mandala:

And Chris Simon's Supernova: (see a theme here? I love Chris's work). I'm getting faster at making the squares; I completed Supernova during the slightly less than 2 hour plane trip from Colorado to California last night.

Want to see what else I did on the plane last night?
Yep. Broke the glass screen on my digital SLR camera. The good news (?!?) is that it still works. But OMG. I bet this is going to cost a small fortune to fix.


Addy-licious Weekend

This cracks me up every time we pass through Denver's airport. The restrooms are tornado shelters. (You should have seen the looks I got while taking this photo. Heh. If they were bloggers, they'd understand.)

Thanks to Frontier's last minute gotta-fill-them-seats fare, we spent the weekend in Colorado. For some reason, fewer people are going to Denver these days. Maybe it's the 2+ feet of snow on the ground? Or the memory of all those people stranded in the airport during the last storm? Whatever the reason, it worked to our advantage. We flew from LAX Saturday night and returned tonight. Almost two whole days with Addy!

It's amazing how much she's grown in the past two months. She's close to 10 pounds now and really loooooonnng.
She's still very good natured, fussing only when it's time to eat or when her diaper needs changing. Otherwise, she's sleeping, smiling, or checking out her world.

Mom & Dad decided to take advantage of our visit and had their first dinner date since Addy's arrival.
We tried (really, really hard) to get them to go to a movie, or shopping, or ANYWHERE - anything to give us more time with Addy. But Rachel could barely stand to be away from her for the hour and a half they were gone.

Getting to their house was interesting, at least to us Californians. Although the main streets in Loveland have been plowed, residential streets are still under several feet of snow. Rachel warned us that we'd be playing 'bumper cars' to get into her driveway. It wasn't quite that bad; she has the banked slide into her garage down to an art. Unfortunately, getting out for the trip back to the airport was a different story. We lost traction and twice got stuck at the end of the driveway. Gives a whole new meaning to "man power".

The temperature was -6F Saturday and Sunday nights. Sunday was cold and snowy, adding about 2 inches to the snow pack in Rachel's back yard. Needless to say, we stayed inside with a roaring fire the entire weekend. And just to prove that Addy is perfectly capable of getting her opinion across . . . She was not happy that Mom was ignoring her requests for food so she could take still more photos. Good lungs on that kid.



My buddy Cheryl tagged me with the Six Weird Things meme. I had a hard time coming up with six things. (yeah, yeah, the peanut gallery is chiming in with 'how could you choose from so many weirdnesses??) But here goes . . .

THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

1. I hate having water on my face. In the shower, pool, lake, ocean, or anywhere else, I don't like having my face in the water. My mother was a swimming instructor and loved swimming; she taught all us kids to swim, so it isn't that I don't know how. I'll get in a pool, as long as my feet can touch the ground and I can keep my head above water. Weird.

2. I hate having anyone touch my back. Touching my neck or shoulders is OK, but not any lower. It really creeps me out.

3. I'm borderline obsessive-compulsive. (Another shock to family and friends.) I always count steps when I'm climbing stairs; doesn't matter if there are 2 or 20, I count them. And stitches or anything repetitive. Often, I'm not even aware I'm doing it, I just find numbers running through my head while I'm working.

4. When I start a new hobby or craft, I um, 'collect' things. Like 85 pounds of fleece and roving. Dude. I've only been spinning for 2 years. And crochet hooks - antique hooks, unusual hooks, hooks that light up, ivory and bone and tortoise shell and plastic and metal and wood, I have them all. And several Graydogs. (See #3.)

And cracks in the sidewalk? I always try to avoid them. "Step on a crack, break your mother's back"? It plays in the back of my head when I'm walking.

6. Once I start something, I have a hard time stopping before it's complete. And if I do stop, I seldom go back and finish whatever it is. Before I retired, this lead to many nights of working until 3 a.m. or later, trying to finish a project. And I'm a touch competitive (stop laughing). My projects have to be bigger or better or prettier. Perfect is good. Weirdness.

Ok, since most of my buddies don't have blogs, I'm tagging readers to leave 6 weird things about yourself in the comments. Come on V and E and W and R. 'Fess up!

Hook Test Dummy

In a recent post, I mentioned that Dick was planning to make crochet hooks, spinning bobbins and other fiber toys. Look what I got today - the first test hook. This one is pink ivory, elephant ivory (pre-ban), and ebony with a bee's wax finish. I wanted a more ergonomic hook than the traditional Boye or Susan Bates, more along the lines of the Clover Soft Touch. I also asked for an inlay or something to rest my thumb on. This one is ivory; he's planning to use exotic woods, turquoise and other materials in future hooks. Most of the hooks - those in the size C - K range - will have wood tips. But the thread hook sizes are so small, it would be impossible to carve them from wood. Those will continue to have metal tips.

Dick's working on a second, all-wood hook - cherry burl and black ebony - and I should have that one to test tomorrow. Can't wait!

Name The Hooks

We're looking for a name for both the hooks and our new company. We had planned to use Spindlewoods, but we weren't fast enough and someone is already using that name. RAP Hooks? (those are Dick's initials) Help! We need ideas.