Monday, May 30, 2011

North Country

Laundry's sorted, a batch is swishing around, and I'm sitting back in my chair after many days away visiting North Country family for the Memorial Day weekend.  I've got that weird feeling I sometimes get after driving a long way--kind of like my body is still moving forward at close to seventy miles an hour and the four shot mocha is still kicked in.  Not exactly a comfortable feeling.

But worth it for getting the opportunity to stay someplace where Perkins and Old Heartburn Cafe haven't made any headway, and real country diners still thrive on the local highways.  I love Jean's especially, it's the kind of place where they ask you if you want "real" syrup, by which they mean Maple Syrup, not some artificially flavored caramel colored corn syrup in a nostalgic looking ye-olde plastic bottle--or worse in some plastic tub like it was grape jelly.  The eggs come from a shell from a chicken who lives down the road, not a carton off a restaurant supply truck.  The butter comes from cows.  The little town even boasts a pizza place that has homemade crust and uses local ingredients including smoked sausage from down the road.  This is the North Country.

Surprisingly,  I didn't come home with any fresh, field grown fleece.  There was lots of family stuff to do and that kept us busy the whole time.  Despite being out there in the midst of all that bucolic loveliness, the distant mountains, the hilly pastures perfect for growing excellent fleece, I still missed my little suburban home.  It is nice to be back with my studio and workshop surrounded again by all my many projects--spinning, weaving, knitting and I can get back to work on some dyeing and fiber prep ideas I've dreamed up.  Plus, there's the garden that got plenty of rain so needs a little TLC. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse? Not right away

My latest stash addition is 1.5 pounds of a cotton/lyocel blend destined to be spun into a summer top.

With the latest date for the possible start of a Zombie Apocalypse passing without incident--yes, I checked CNN just in case--it is time for those of use with historic stashes built up to tide us through the end-of-the-world-as-know-it to take a deep breath and enjoy the latest additions to our stashes.  Above you can see my newest fiber, arrived fresh from the Copper Moose, a fawn cotton lyocel blend that spins up rather nicely.  I hope to explore this blend more after the Tour de Fleece, and I'll let you know how it goes.

I guess we will have to look toward the next proposed Zombie Apocalypse date... the end of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, 2012.  I'm something of an expert on this having half-watched a television special on it, while flipping during commercial breaks to watch a gay couple purchase a summer house in Mexico on House Hunters International.  Did it ever occur to anyone that perhaps the Mayan Academy of Sciences chose to close down the project?  That perhaps funding a bunch of scientists and stone cutters to create a calendar that stretched a thousand years into the future lost its appeal in face of other budgetary considerations?  Why do we jump to the conclusion that they stopped the project on the day the world would end?

Practical old fiscal politics is not nearly as sexy as the end of the world, and would not generate scripts for over-the-top disaster movies.  There really is no mystery here.  Apocalypse is sexy and is able to generate money and media interest as we saw from the latest spate of RV-driving prophets of doom.  I am always fascinated by what people manage to find in the Bible.  Some people find hope, solace, and a freeing love, others find gloom, doom and condemnation.  Could the message each person finds be decoding some deep workings of the soul?  Now this is a mystery. It is a mystery why people fixate on the Zombie Apocalypse thing in the first place.

Enough mystery! This is a fiber blog after all, dedicated to all of us who enjoy spinning lovely fibers peacefully at our wheels, knitting beautiful things, puttering in our gardens or among our potted plants, and generally doing our bit to make the world a saner place.  And, of course, supporting all our favorite fiber producers and purveyors by choosing among their beautiful offerings.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Too much fiber? HAH!

"What is "destashing?" Sounds very wrong...wrote Eva a knitter, spinner and dog rescuer (yeah!) in comment to one of the blogs where I'm obsessing about having accumulated too much fiber.  Too much fiber?  Really? Who am I kidding?
 
Eva is right, all this destashing madness I've been blathering is very wrong.  I should be rejoicing to have enough stash to survive the looming Zombie Apocalypse! As we well know, zombies are repelled by lovely fiber stash. 

But back on topic:  a fiber artist must have her stash, and she must replace it as she uses it.  This idea of using it and not replacing it is sheer madness and is deeply wrong.  And with this I end the pretense of being overwhelmed by my stash and I embrace it!  I celebrate it!  I spin, knit and weave it and replace it with joy!
 
And I welcome the newest addition, dyed by fellow Raveler and blogger Etsy shop called A Piece of Vermont:
 






 


Monday, May 16, 2011

001

001 by whorlwindweaver
001, a photo by whorlwindweaver on Flickr.

I just wound this yarn off the bobbin: 8.7 ounces of a crepe yarn made with two-ply brown Jacob's lambswool and a single of fiery red dyed Angora. It is 10 WPI and I hope to make a warm hat and gloves.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sustainability's "Ouch Factor"

Tomatoes have been planted in the large planter I built along the south-facing side of the garden shed.  They are not heirloom varieties because those don't grow well for me.
Gardening is part of my quest for sustainable living in the suburbs.  I'm talking primarily vegetables here, not growing all my own food.  I leave the meat, egg and wool production to the expert people with the small craft farms who are really into that sort of thing.  I'm more into the craft side of things, hence I'm a "craftsteader" NOT a homesteader.  I do my part by going to the farmers market and buying free range eggs and meat from people who know what they are doing.

But vegetables I enjoy growing. I'm not a CSA kind of person because my foodway requires large quantities of specific vegetables: namely an assortment of broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and green beans.  Oh, and plenty of basil and cilantro.   I have no use for clumps of kohlrabi (which to me taste like broccoli stems) or cabbage or eggplant for that matter which is more work than it is worth.   Kale is okay, in small quantities, but it can be tough and unpleasant.
 
For the past two weekends, DH and I have been working to put in our expanded garden.  This means digging, turning, seed planting, trips to the garden center, fencing, turning, weed barrier placing, trips to the garden center, some more digging and planting, and weeding, and trips to the garden center.   All of this has left me stiff and sore. Hence the "Ouch Factor" of sustainable living.

Which has made me kind of grumpy about the varmint who has taken residence under the shed which forms one side of the garden.  I hope it got the hint when we put up the chicken wire yesterday along the bottom.  I saw whoever it is dug a way out afterwards, but where could it go?   Sorry, this varmint is not getting a vegetable filled private patio.  Whoever it is had better tunnel out the other side and find somewhere else to live.

I used to think bunnies and other critters were so cute until they ate the fruits of my ouch-producing toil down to the roots. Bunny fencing has become standard all over my tiny suburban lot, and whoever has moved in under my shed has been served with an eviction notice.  There's no room for sentimentality when it comes to growing food. Yes, hours of hard labor in the garden brings out the curmudgeon in me.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Takeout for the fiber obsessed

This snack-sized bit of fiber goodness was delivered right to my door!
Just as I am likely to make a pizza from scratch--including grinding my own whole-wheat flour and running to the garden for fresh tomatoes and zucchini--so I enjoy knitting a sweater that began as a farm-fresh fleece purchased at the source and lovingly shepherded through the involved fiber-processing steps to make something lovely to wear. 
On the other hand, there's always take-out for dinner, whether it be Chinese or pizza delivered straight to my door for those days when playing kitchen goddess seems a bit too much, and I admit to the frailty of my humanity and those days I'm tired, or irritated, or whatever.  So, it is also nice to take a needed break from all that washing, dyeing, carding and other fiber-love task.
Yum! More wheel-ready takeout for the fiber obsessed!
 
Enter those snack-sized, ready-to-spin braids with all the lovely, colorfulness ready to go "wooohooo" on the wheel and providing as much "squeeeeeeeeee!" as a deep-dish Chicago-style pizza delivered to my door.  Yep, whether it be the pizza truck or the postal truck, there's delight delivered right to our doors.  And it can both be done online these days, as I did when I ordered from Wildberry Moon earlier this week.

Oh yes, the "extreme destash" pledge I opined about in my previous blog. (Turns slightly red).

Okay, so maybe I should be a politician or a tax lawyer or something, because there is a convenient loophole large enough to drive a delivery truck through, be it FedEx, Brown or the US Postal Service.  I only pledged fleece at fiber fairs and didn't say anything about mail-order braids!  Oops!  Anyhow, I've decided to take TinkerTots advice and will take the cash-only route since I don't want to miss a couple of the local fairs.  And I get extra credit if I buy, say an extra bobbin for the Schacht, rather than more wool/silk/whatever kind of fiber catches my eye.  And my latest purchase is earmarked for this year's Tour de Fleece, Ravelry's annual spinning frenzy that just happens to coincide with the Tour de France!  This will be a big stashdown opportunity for me.
These are the four snacks I'll be spinning as a member of Team Lendrum in the Tour de Fleece.  The blue and purple are from Ambrosia and Bliss.  This was truly take-out since I picked it up at Tallgrass Farm.
  Oh, and did I mention this latest addition brings me to an even 100 items on my stash page? (double oops!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Merry Month of May!

Spinning 27 ounces of brown dyed Elihu Farm Romney into three-ply super-bulky rug yarn has made a satisfying little dent in my stash.
Bird song filtering through the various layers that protects the typical suburban abode from the out-of-doors woke me early this morning to the wonderful knowledge that it is May, and brings to mind a song sung years ago in Chorus.  It is an unusually gorgeous day, bright blue skies, soft breeze carrying the fragrance of ornamental shrub blossoms, the far off purr of a lawnmower a number of houses down--yes Spring in the Suburbs

It would be a great day to set the Lendrum outside, fire up the grill, you know all that stuff.  But I decided to live sustainably.  Oops!  That means gardening doesn't it?  Yep, trips to pick up bags of mulch, and composted cow poop (though I really need to contact some farmer friends for sheep poop) etc. and a certain amount of digging around.  But that's pretty normal.  We need to do that anyway in front or we are in danger of annoying our neighbors by having an unkempt front yard.  It's bad enough its organic and dandelion prone.  I'm sure there will be time for both pursuits.

And I do have some lovely broccoli plants and the perfect place for them in my flower bed.  Oh, the joys of May! Oh the weirdness of living sustainably in the suburbs!

In the meantime, I am incorporating TinkerTots' cash only pledge for fiber shows to my "extreme destash" pledge.  This seems reasonable.  And the thing is, I plan to avoid buying whole fleeces until at least next spring, you know those 5 to 10 lb bags that require lots of TLC? Purchasing an Indie painted braid or a bit of silk for dyeing and blending won't hurt as they are easy to store and spin.  And I wouldn't mind an extra Schacht bobbin or two to accommodate multiple simultaneous projects.  And I really want to go to the nearby Midwest Fiber Show and that new one out in Franklin Grove. It's a lovely drive and near a Nature Conservancy prairie that boasts a rare butterfly.

In the meantime, I am proud to announce a decrease in total stash weight!  I managed to card and spin up 27 ounces of rug yarn for the May challenge on "Spin Your Stash" and I shipped away a pound of yarn to my niece as a gift.  I am so glad to have a crafty relative!


For May, my first order of business will be to spin up 8 ounces of dark brown Jacob lambs wool and ply it with dyed Angora to make a soft, warm yarn.
So now, that it is May Day, I would dance around a ribbon decked pole, but this certainly would raise eyebrows in my neighborhood, so instead I will relax in my backyard with a nice cup of coffee.  Happy May and the hope of Spring to you all!  And to those readers Down Under, well, fall is nice too.