Experiments: success and failure

The month of November has been tumultuous. Some projects were ongoing, some were started and came to a screeching halt. As with all projects, and in my case, experiments, there were successes and failures.

I started and made a bit of headway on a weaving project.

Warp measured and wound. Currently, I have about 1/3 of the heddles threaded, but had to stop due to a very unexpected injury. And actually, I’m not at all sure if I’m happy with the pattern I’ve threading. It’s currently a bird’s eye twill, but something tells me I might be happier with a simple herringbone. I could do this with the current threading by just altering the treadling, but, oh, I’m waffling. Waffle, waffle. In any case, I can’t actually continue threading, so I’m just letting threading ideas waft around in my head for a bit. I have time.

The sucky part of not being able to act on this project right now is that I have nothing to sell, and no gifts made for winter gift-giving holidays. Argh.

I did attempt to do some spinning, but that didn’t work out so well either. There was a bit of a tangle.

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Argh. Argh, argh, argh.

I did eventually get this sorted, and spun the rest of the little wool nest, but had to stop.

Quite a few of my friends have birthdays in October, so around the end of the month, I attempted tempering chocolate for to make presents!

The chocolates on the left are solid. The chocolates on the right are squares of dipped squares of ganache. They look so good, don’t they?

Unfortunately, this was not well-tempered chocolate – a week later, I discovered it had bloomed. Which was super embarrassing because I’d already given some away. When chocolate blooms, it’s completely edible, but the texture is a bit different as some fats come the the surface and it looks ugly. Back to the drawing board. But not for a bit yet.

I did sell two dish towels! The last two green ones that I was thinking about keeping got snapped up.

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On the way to the post office!

About 20ish years ago, I planted some seeds from a lemon I bought at the grocery store. They took ages, and I nearly gave up, but eventually, after some weeks, they germinated. I only have one left, and that one grew and grew into a fine tree. It comes inside in the winter, and goes outside in the summer. About two years ago, I found a couple of blossoms on it, which was very unexpected. I’d read up on growing lemons from seed, and they often result in a tree that never blooms. This one did, but since the blossoms ended up growing at the end of the year, they’d fall off when the tree was brought in – there is no sunny place in the house, so it spends the winter under (mostly inadequate) lights and in a dry environment.

This year, it bloomed while outside when no one was looking, and the bees did their thing! I also have a couple of Key lime trees I grew from seed, and they bloom every year prolifically, so I imagine the lemon got help from the limes and the bees. Suddenly, there fruit on the lemon tree. Just one. And it stayed there. And it grew!

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A lemon-sized lemon! Organically grown in Western Massachusetts!

It fell off the tree a few days ago, so now it’s in the fridge while I decide what to do with it. Candy the peel? Dry the peel? Freeze the juice? Make lemonade? I suspect it’s not quite ripe, but close enough.

(For anyone wondering, the variety is likely a Lisbon. It’s one of the most widely grown commercial lemons and has truly mighty thorns.)

Of course, I want a greenhouse someday to grow my orchids, lemon tree and lime trees.

So. On to the injury. And my Sekrit Experiment.

On September 1, 2017, I started cello lessons. This has been a dream since I was about 9, but I’d never before been in a position where I could 1. afford it, 2. where I had space, and 3. where I wasn’t going to bother the neighbours. Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake, but it occurred to me around August this year that I had all these conditions where I live now, and I might not by the spring when I have to move again. So, I thought I’d try it for three months to see if I really liked it.

I have never tried to play a stringed instrument before, and haven’t played any musical instruments regularly since I was about 18. I thought that part of my life was done. But I found a place to rent a cello and found a teacher. Three months. That was it. Then at least I could say I tried it.

What happened next was completely unexpected.

I set a goal of practicing one hour every day. Instead, I got lost in practicing and often went over one hour. On the weekends, it wasn’t unusual to practice for a couple of hours. Once I accidentally practiced for three hours – not all at once – but still. Oh, I’d set timers, and I’d blow right through them. The joy at working at this was (is) tremendous.

Was there progress? I think so. I can tell when I hit the right notes more often now. I hit that magical 100 hours of learning a new thing. I started learning a couple of very, very easy Baroque/Classical pieces.

I also acquired a shiny, new case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/one hell of a repetitive stress injury in my bow hand due to a too tight hold on the bow and not taking enough breaks.

This means that for the last three weeks, I’ve been sleeping with a brace, I have appointments with an occupational therapist, I am typing and mousing mostly with my left hand at work, and I am completely unable to do any of my other hobbies. I carry heating pads with me. There are ice packs at home at at work. Bowing has come to nearly a screeching halt. There has been crying and sadness. There was a period last week where I was sure I’d have to just give it up because this kind of injury seems to not completely disappear in most other people. I steeled myself. Moar sad.

Which is ridiculous! It’s just a cello! I don’t need it more than food and shelter!

Sigh.

So, experiment successful. And a catastrophe. Right now, I’m hoping I will be able to wield a shovel when the snow comes. And then maybe weave again. And practice cello. I am plucking now instead of bowing, and setting a goal of bowing in two to three 5 minute chunks with 20-30 minutes rest for the next week, and will go from there. Maybe I can weave again in a month or so. And shovel snow.

 

October is a Baroque month

Summer is finally over. (Whew!) I was sick for the entire month of September with a gross sinus thing that made my ears ring and my head ache. Two rounds of antibiotics later, my sinuses were finally mostly free of gunk. My Super Sekrit Project is slightly less secret, but is taking up a portion of every day (sorry, it’s still Sekrit here for now). So, making hasn’t really been happening.

The autumn brings yard work involving moving leaves around to designated areas. This past weekend also involved moving said leaves, hauling some brush, and stacking up some firewood. Of course, the moment I was done cleaning the driveway, the front yard, and the porch of leaves, a front came through and blew more down. Sigh. I’ll be doing more of that this coming weekend.

I did finish hemming the trousers for J with those chili pepper pockets, and I made a something else for my friend in Indiana:

The Baroque Wrench Roll! If it’s not Baroque, you don’t need to fix it! It’s quilted as well for ultimate wrench comfort.

If anything, it’s absolutely useful, and I really hope it makes my friend laugh. I’ve also given him instructions to open the box while listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

So this happened on Saturday evening:

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Soda pop can camp stove. Almost.

One of my geeky friends (okay, that’s not much of a distinguishing word…all my friends are geeky…) decided to figure out how to build a camp stove out of a soda pop can, aluminum tape, and some denatured alcohol. This is the first try of this particular design variation, which nearly works. In fact, it’s impressive at the level it nearly works.

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This is how PhDs keep warm on those cold, cold nights.

And on the weekends, I’ve been going over to another friend’s house to help repair his pop-up trailer. The whole thing seems to have been sewn together with cotton thread, which has just rotted to bits. (Honestly, who would use cotton thread for something that you use outdoors??) I sewed together most of one end of the trailer so he and his family could go camping last weekend, but as soon as he set up this end, the seams let loose like a zip top bag. Oops. I was using doubled 80/3 linen line thread waxed heavily with beeswax previous to this, but this time, my friend produced a 25% cotton/75% polyester button thread he got from his mom, which we doubled and waxed heavily. I don’t know which will last longer, the cotton/poly or linen thread, but it should be a good experiment. In any case, the whole seam below needs redoing, so I’ll be over again next weekend to finish up the remaining four feet:

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It’s entirely possible that my stitching will outlast the trailer. Heh.

I am still in the middle of measuring a new warp in lovely bright colors for another batch of dishtowels (still!). I’m hoping the colors play well, but even if they don’t, it’ll be a learning experience, and I’ll have Moar Dishtowels. The red and white dishtowel I kept for myself from the last batch is still shrinking, five or six washes later. It’s amazing, and slightly irritating. I’m so interested to see which brand of cotton shrinks the most!

In other news, I went to this yesterday:
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It was great to hear and see a viola da gamba in real life! I had hoped the musicians would come out and speak with the audience after the performance, but alas, they did not. Or, I didn’t wait long enough? Maybe next time!

The plan for this week is to get those dishtowels at least started, and get another pair of trousers at least started! Though, really, this is the start of drier weather here in New England, and I should be thinking about combing and spinning wool. Perhaps it is time to set up the combs and the wheel and unpack the fleeces…

Chilis, cows, stars, and organization

Making is still slow, but it’s all good. I finished the red and white weaving project, and really need to get to the post office to mail the couple out for my friend in Indiana. Of course, a sinus infection turned up and made me feel like Teh Awfuls and I didn’t get that done, or a whole lot of other things for that matter. I’m better now!

I’ve also been working on J’s trousers. I found some really awesome fabric in my quilting stash for the pockets!

Nearly done with them. This particular denim was narrower than I wanted, and the length was not quite enough to cut the pieces when the cloth was folded, so I had to get creative when laying out the pattern pieces. In order to get the grain running the right way for all the pieces, the waistband was sacrificed – this only means that I’ll have to cut out smaller bits and sew them together, which I hate doing because so many seams, but oh well. It is what it is and the trousers need a waistband, right? I cut out a bunch of smaller pieces last night and sewed them together. It doesn’t look too bad, and I think the seams won’t be thick enough to chafe, but man. Next time I’ll be more careful to note the fabric width!

A couple of weeks ago, we had a partial solar eclipse in my neck of the woods. Pretty much nationwide, there was much cheering, travelling, and buying of those special glasses with which to view the eclipse. I am fortunate in that I work very close to a large university that has kind of a kick-ass astronomy department that is always trying to get the public interested in the universe. This meant that they had an event at the Sunwheel featuring a couple solar telescopes where the public could queue up to get a chance to look at the sun through them. I met up with some friends down there about 20 minutes before the maximum, and we watched it through various pinhole cameras and binoculars:

 

SCIENCE!

The lines for the telescopes were soooo loooong. We just stuck with our own indirect methods of viewing.

The best thing was that the place was packed. I mean, there were hundreds of people there, all members of the public. I love this area.

There were some spectacular photos of the eclipse on NASA’s website, lots not copyrighted. One in particular caught my eye, so I downloaded it and had it printed out:

 

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See that little ‘H’? That’s the International Space Station! The other spots are sun spots.

These were growing in a pot outside the frame/print shop!

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EEEEeeevil petunias!

I am continually amazed at the magic that happens with weaving. It still seems like magic! Making something out of nothing, although I know that’s not true – it’s really organizing things so well that the result can wipe up spills and dry off fine china. It also can combat nakedness and cold floors.

 

In other news, I’ve been trying to ride my bike in to work more often, which is to say, more than once this year. Mission accomplished! The bike path is built on an old railway that’s been out of commission for years and years, which means it’s fairly flat and there are no real hills. I like the lack of hills a lot, but I do have to tackle at least one on this commute. The trip is about 9 miles each way, and I get to ride through the most beautiful landscape. This is in Hadley:

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MOOOOOO! Seriously. Moo.

I can’t tell you how in love with this area I am. I have really enjoyed living in other areas of the world, but there’s something about here that makes me so happy and I count myself super lucky to be here where it’s so beautiful and so full of art and debate and conversation and museums and books and music and food.

Speaking of that, I am currently involved with a Sekrit Project of my own devising. There’s been A Thing that I’ve wanted to do for, oh, 35ish years, and I finally took the first step. This first step is very tall and very long. A hell of a learning curve, but strangely, it is fabulously fun. I haven’t told a lot of people because…I am afraid of being judged. I’m doing this thing, and part of it is not expensive at all, but part of it is, relative to my current finances, kind of expensive. Everything else in my life right now is just right for it, so I decided now was the time to take that First Step, because I don’t know if these Just Right Things will stay as they are. I am afraid that very likely everything will change in a few months and I’ll have to put the Sekrit Project on hold for a year or so, which would suck. I want so much to tell everyone, but can’t just yet.

But this Project, while OMG fun, is also eating into my Making time.

Anyway. The only other thing I’ll say about it is this:

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Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt!! I promise!

Okay. So this blog is about CRAFTURGENCY!, which I have been slacking on. Really slacking. There are SO MANY THINGS TO MAKE! On the list right now:

Moar dishtowels (brightly colored!)

Sweater vest (green!)

Button-down linen shirt

Scarf for myself made from the olive green alpaca I’ve had in my stash for the last two or three years (basically since my first weaving project)

Dishtowels first.

Slow craftiness

And it’s not the buzzword definition – I’m so busy with non-crafty stuff (and tired) that Teh Crafturgency! isn’t going at the speed or quantity one might otherwise expect from me. Alas.

Here’s some of what I have been doing.

I finished the pants – woo! and I managed to use all but about 8″ of the spool of matching thread for top stitching. They have been mailed to J. Behold my extreme luck:

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Whoa. Just, whoa.

This guy was in the backyard. There’s just so much wildlife back there!

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Froggie! He was so very beautiful, with gold eyes. And very quick. I couldn’t get any closer, so the resolution is dreadful.

I continue to be delighted by the bright colored flowers I find in downtown Amherst. The thistle is wild, the zinnia was planted by a landscaper. Aren’t they beautiful?

 

I went to the mineral, fossil, and gem show in Springfield this past weekend (largest on the east coast!) with my brother, his two daughters, and our friend M and his family. It was just too delightful for words! I got to see beautiful gemstones, uncut crystals, polished stones, pieces of petrified wood, pieces of mammoth tusk, all with my niecesWith my nieces!!! WOOHOO! Part of our adventure also included a trip to Michael’s for art supplies where we found some much needed things for art to happen at their house, and I found a bead reamer set. I had been thinking about buying a set of jeweler’s needle files, but have been feeling oddly cheap about it, so when I saw this reamer set for $5, I snapped it up. When I got home, I applied it to the shell I made into a diz to see if I could smooth out the holes a bit. I think it worked? I’ll have to test it later to see if the wool comes through with less of a struggle. I may end up with a jeweler’s file set anyway.

 

And FINALLY! I got 1100 heddles (thank you, Stephan and Judy!!), put on 800 of them – I’m going to use only 4 shafts for my first warp on this loom and will need a total of 600 heddles. 800 means 200 per shaft. Easy.

I fretted about what warp to measure next, and decided that I need to figure out the actual shrinkage (after many, many washes and trips through the dryer) between the two brands of cotton yarn I’ve been using because J tells me her bathmat has gotten irritatingly smaller (!!!!). AND, I realized I could get two functions out of these experimental warps. The red and white below (one brand) will become red and white dishtowels, a couple for Z in Indiana, and a couple for me. The next warp will be with the other brand of yarn: a couple for someone else, and a couple for me. Everything will be measured and photographed after every trip through the laundry. Then I will have completely useful and pretty presents AND experiment data.

 

Yeah, I’m a crafty nerd. If I win the lottery, I will both set up a massive maker space for my little area and go back to university. Cross your fingers!

Once I get the warp on the loom (and that will be an adventure in itself), I’ll have to figure out how to tie up the lamms. TWO sets of lamms. Upper and lower. I will admit, I’m nervous about the whole thing, which makes no sense. It’s not like I can mess it up. It can take a lot longer if I don’t think about the steps properly, but that’s the worst that can happen. Probably.

MWVariation

I think this will be the draft I’ll use. I mean, I did figure out where to put stripes so they fall symmetrically down the pattern, but since that’s the first time I’ve tried that, there’s a chance I messed it up. I didn’t draw a draft, and I didn’t use any computer software. I used… arithmetic.

I’m a bookkeeper (among other things). I can totally add and subtract. Uh-huh. Honestly.

 

Just, uh, wish me luck, okay? Please?

Summer

This summer has not been terribly conducive to? helpful for? organized with respect to? making things. Frequently these days, the day starts at 3am, which is never my choice, and that level of Teh Tired sucks out motivation for anything other than staring at the wall wondering why I am staring at the wall. However, I have remembered to leave the knitting on the couch so that when I’m staring at the wall, my hands have something to do and Something gets Made. This is helpful because after a couple of hours, a significant amount of sock materializes that I don’t remember knitting, but hey, handmade socks! And it makes the wall staring seem less worrisome somehow.

I have been collecting pictures of bits of excitement from the last couple of weeks:

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A Polyphemus Moth. Yes, that’s my hand, and yes, he was huge. (I’m pretty sure it was a male, but I could be wrong.)

I was running my usual work errands and on my walk up the street nearly stepped on this guy. It was an unseasonably cold day at 60F (about 30 degrees colder than usual), and he was only too happy to crawl up onto my warm hand and grab on for all he was worth. I carried him across downtown to the library, which has a lovely woodland garden in the back. I put him under a tiny Japanese maple, and he fluttered up onto a branch, probably feeling a lot better since he was no longer in the open.

I finished off the weirdly purple/brown socks. Gosh, those are wonderful to wear. They’re Madelaine Tosh merino and so, so soft. But the yarn was weirdly dyed. These new blue/green socks are made from some of my favorite sock yarn: Berroco superwash. They wear like iron, and I have never had them give the slightest hint of felting if I put them in the washer and dryer. (I’ve stopped doing that as other brands were starting to felt.) I find the yarn is a teeny bit heavier than other brands of sock yarn, so knitting up with size 0 needles really gives you a dense, hard-wearing fabric, but still stretchy. I like my socks to not stretch out too much when I wear them, so I’m constantly adjusting my vanilla pattern. This time, I’ve added a wee gusset to my short row heel to allow for a bit more diagonal stretch from the heel to the top of the foot as I’ve reduced the number of stitches across the foot a bit. The gusset thing is totally made up, so we’ll see how it works out. I had wanted to figure out how to do a heel flap on a toe-up sock, but there was Wall Staring, so that was a non-starter. This was the best I could come up with. The real test is to finish them and wear them.

The colors are delightfully cool in the heat of the summer, and they remind me of all the colors of the Atlantic Ocean here in the north.

Only, have I mentioned? It’s been boiling hot and humid (read: deeply tropical) for a few days, then distinctly autumnal – the kind of weather that makes you crave roasted squash, woolly sweaters, and hot drinks with whiskey in them – then it’s boiling hot and humid again. I’m not really complaining. Usually it’s just boiling hot and humid. So, so humid. Everything gets damp, and five minutes after a morning shower, you feel you need another one. The cool weather is fiiiiine. Plus, I love roasted squash.

 

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I want to sew shoes….? Of course I want to sew shoes. Of course.

So, I want to make my own shoes. I can’t actually afford all the tools necessary to become my own cobbler (yet), but I do have all the necessary tools to sew cloth shoes. Having a body whose parts do not conform to a single standard size, I have to hunt for things to clothe said parts. Which means I am not one of those fortunate souls who can walk into a mall and buy cute summer shoes that fit. Also, the crap they sell in malls wears out in a season, and I’m so done with that (*stifling a rant on consumerism, marketing, and the environment*). The solution is obviously to make my own out of materials that are renewable, affordable, and will not persist in the environment for hundreds of years. And if I make it, I can likely repair it when needed. So. The above is a first stab at a pattern. It’s nearly there. The pins are holding tucks where I will likely put seams. The white on the inside is a temporary cardboard insole, which will be replaced with a linen/wool insole in the finished product.

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Thrums from the napkin project.

I have kept a lot of the thrums from the napkin project mostly because I am in love with the colors. There must be SOMETHING I can do with them.

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The napkins. Washed three times, dried three times, ironed to within an inch of their little lives.

There they are! They’re beautiful for the most part. I mean, the colors are gorgeous, and I love them. The selvedges are kind of crap and I’m pretty sure some of the colors shrunk at a different rate than others, which gave me weird ripples. Ironed, they’re fine. And they will absolutely work as napkins. So as soon as I can find a box to send them in, I will ship them north to their intended new home. (Box hunting may be on my after-work agenda today.)

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Another pair of trouser for my bud Jenny! (Hi, Jenny!)

I have a few more pairs of trousers to make for my friend. This pair is getting done slowly but surely! This is a close up of the waistband being attached. I’ll sew it together tonight, then serge, then topstitch, then fold, iron, etc etc.

 

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Yeah, so there’s this new-to-me loom. It’s hyooge. It’s Very Swedish. It has 12 shafts. Once I get some heddles, theoretically I will be able to weave all the things! Wider! And more accurately! With super complicated patterns!

Though the place I live in has lots of space for things like looms, there is only space for one assembled loom at a time. The Auld Loom has been disassembled and put upstairs to keep the fabric and wool bins company for now. I have spent the last three days putting this new (used) one together, which is not to say it’s super complicated, but rather it was (is being) assembled in short bursts. (Assemble, sit and stare at the wall for an hour or two, assemble, sit and stare. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.) The next step is to buy a lot of heddles for it, then put on a warp. All the instructions I found on countermarche looms tell me that once I put a warp on and tie up the treadles, all will become clear as to how this loom works. (Personally, I’m hoping for a tesseract-like action whereby I’ll be able to weave in several dimensions at once. I mean, did you see the pulleys and levers?)

 

 

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You just don’t see many of these guys anymore!

Depending on what street I park on, I sometimes get to walk past a house that’s got a large patch of purple cone flowers right in front. The woman who lives in that house is kind of my hero. She’s Polish, barely speaks English (but enough to be understood), stacks a giant pile of wood in a shed in the backyard all by herself in the fall, tends a vegetable garden that takes up the rest of the tiny yard, walks all over town to run errands and do shopping, and she’s very much past retirement age. I always tell her how beautiful her garden looks whenever I see her, and she seems glad to hear it. And hey, honeybees!

 

Life

Where to begin.

First, I am fine. Totally and completely fine. I complain about being tired and not having time to make things and there’s too much to do around the house blah blah blah, but actually, it’s all fine. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, enough money to pay my bills, and things to make other things out of. I have friends and family who I love and who love me back.

I wove a set of eight napkins for my friend Kathy (hi, Kathy!), but since they are not quite right (perhaps due to my lack of skill, the coarseness of this particular loom, or, the fact that different colors of this brand of yarn seem to shrink at different rates when wet finished), I am going to weave another set out of (probably) more reliable yarn on a different loom, thereby increasing the chances of solving the problems.*  I still need to hem them, so there will be more pictures soon. Here are the stripes:

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Stripey goodness! I do love this color pattern.

There have been a couple of family emergencies (no worries – everyone is okay, just very stressed out) and I’ve been trying to make sure I am in the place where I can do the most good and be the most helpful as often as possible.

I’ve started a new pair of socks, and those have been following me hither and yon. Recently, they came with me on a trip to visit a dear friend:

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Weirdly, they are both from the same ball, but one is definitely more purple than the other. They’ll be fiiiiiiiiine.

This dear friend is one from college. We met each other when I moved to Germany studying on exchange, and being the only other American on the dorm floor (okay, there was one other, but she mostly lived with her boyfriend on an army base…that’s a longer story), and both of us being lovers of books and language, we generally got along fabulously well. I was so afraid of making mistakes, and he kept prodding me on telling me I was doing fiiiiiiine, then he’d suggest a list of books I could read that might help. And then we’d sit at the kitchen table and read the American Heritage Dictionary and laugh so hard, we’d cry. I made many, many fond memories during my two years in Germany, and those are some of the dearest.

He’s very deeply extremely academically minded. And brilliant. And right now, he’s got cancer in a pretty bad way. So, I went to visit him and his partner because I can and they wanted me to and it was pretty damned awesome.

There were so many fine things: books, and much laughing, and eating bags of cherries because they’re in season, and tiramisu, and creme brulee, and tea, and a picnic in the afternoon, and talking about Europe, and woodworking, and knitting, and visiting the neighbor and her awesome dog Hank, and there were cats rolling around being silly and meowing their heads off pretty much all the time, and there was Monty Python. And I truly can’t wait to see them again!

 

I flew home, knitting my socks, thinking deep thoughts about life and death and what that means, and thinking about what’s important and what’s not.

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The making is important.

The spending of time with your family and friends omgrightnow is important. People, this is really important.

Staying in touch with friends is important.

Hugging those family and friends is important. Tell them you love them.

Eating the sandwich AND the cookie is important. Just eat the damned cookie. It’s delicious. And you only get to live once.

Sometimes, something comes up and you have to think hard about that last phrase. You look it squarely in the eye and see it for what it is. Eat the cookies, cherish other people, love with abandon, cry in public, laugh as much as you can, live.


 

This weekend, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for years and years: I took a class on basket weaving.

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This is going to be a shopping basket! It’s in the car now just in case I need to buy something on the way home. It may or may not get a cloth liner.

And we used the world’s cutest planes to accomplish this:IMG_3004

And this was waiting in front of the bakery when I came back to work last week:

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I have some cherries waiting at home for me. And a couple of really good audiobooks to go with the hemming of napkins. I might glance at my list of projects that need doing, but I’m not going to worry too much about that right now.

To my friends and family: I love you so much I can’t adequately express it. Every last one of you. Even if you don’t hear from me for a while, please know that I still cherish you and our friendship.

 

 

 


*I may have acquired another loom. Ahem.

Not a lot of making going on

So, for the past few weeks, there hasn’t been a whole lot of making. This has meant that there really hasn’t been all that much to post here. Also, I’ve been crap lately at actually taking pictures, but hopefully at least one of them I have managed to take will make up for that.

I’ve been working on my socks. The second one was well on it’s way to completion after knitting it up a second time, so I ripped out the first one and started that one over. That one, as of yesterday, is now nearing completion. Soon I’ll have another pair of socks I can wear. Woo!

The Gothic Cross shawl is finished and has been tested out – it’s warm, but not overly so. It provides me with a snuggly alternative to wearing a coat in the office when the air conditioning is on (which it really hasn’t because although it’s June, and we put the air conditioners in the windows, the temperature has really been in the “England” zone of “New England”). Everyone who’s seen it in person has commented on the softness and the (extreme) length, all in a positive way.

I have been doing yard work every moment I’m home and it isn’t raining, which, if you live in the northeastern United States, you know is not as often as I’d like. There’s been raking, leaf blowing, brush hauling, tree felling (small ones), branch cutting…wash, rinse, repeat.

When I’m not outside, I’ve been tidying inside, trying to tame the making sprawl in the house. The fleeces are all washed and put away in new bins. I’ve tidied up some errant yarn that I’d bought on sale for knitting sweaters later on. There was a spare bin (after some reorganizing) for filling with weaving yarns. (After filling that, I determined that I cannot buy any more weaving yarn until I start selling stuff!) And I’ve been making pants for my friend. She sent me a box of several fabrics a while ago, which is now rapidly being washed, dried, cut, and sewn into pants. I’m very happy with how they’re coming out!

The foxes trot more often through the backyard these days. There are a bunch of new martins flying around. The owls have been hooting – I’ve not seen them lately, and was worried that they’d flown away, but I’ve decided they’re busy raising little owlets.

I can’t wait to have time to get back to weaving! The embroidery bug has lurking on the horizon as well. I can feel it watching me with its beady little eyes. The mosquitoes and black flies are out, so spoon carving will have to wait a bit.

Let’s see…oh! I participated in the MA Sheep & Woolcraft fair over Memorial Day weekend as the weaver in a fleece to shawl competition (though, because there were no other teams, it was billed as a demo). I had forgotten to bring a measuring ribbon with me, but knew I’d put on extra warp, so we all decided that I’d weave until the end. This meant that instead of the required 2 yards, we accidentally produced a shawl 120″ long (plus fringe). Oops. The spinners did a terrific job supplying me with yarn! Lots of kids and parents showed up, we talked with them and answered questions, so over all it was a successful demo.

Over this past weekend, I also got to hang with my nieces, which was thrilling beyond description. I hadn’t seen them in about seven years, and even then it was never a real visit, just a brief ‘hi’. Actually, the time I spent with them this weekend was the most time I’ve ever spent with them in my (and their) whole lives. Can’t wait to hang with them again! They’re growing up into really amazing people.

And now for some pictures:

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This poppy and a bunch of its friends nearby opened last week.

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Can you believe I took these with an iPhone? I can’t.

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I uncovered these guys while I was raking yesterday. They didn’t move a muscle, but I’m pretty sure they were just trying to blend in so as to not get eaten.

Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get the mundane stuff done soon so I can get back to the usual program.