Friday, January 30, 2015

been a while...

it's already been a long winter...     i've had a respiratory infection since the middle of december and it's been sapping my energy.  :(

i'm working on catching up on a variety of projects.  i have a bunch of dish towels that have been off the loom for a little while.   there are still a few waiting to be hemmed,  then the whole batch can be wet finished and pressed....      i'm thinking they'll go to the gallery, but need to run it by my boss.

i like to hem them by hand.  it takes longer, but if i'm going to the trouble of weaving them, it makes sense to spend the extra time to finish them by hand as well.   :-)
the weave structure looks a little loose in the photo,  but once it's washed, dried and pressed, it'll tighten up.    these are 100% cotton and get softer and more absorbent the more they are used.   i need to keep a couple for myself.  :-)

in other news, my friend, amanda, got a new (to her) spinning wheel.    she'd been wanting a canadian production wheel,  and found one on craigs list in upstate new york.   through the miracle that is, she connected with someone who lived near the wheel and who was willing to go look at it to determine whether it was worth the asking price,  and who then paid for it and helped amanda get it set up on the 'underground wheel railroad'.     it was fostered near niagra for a while,  and then this past weekend the foster mom was going to be in erie, so amanda drove up to meet her and bring her new baby home.    he's a beauty.   there is no maker's mark, but she's pretty sure he is a bordua, based on the style of the wood turning and several other features.   he has a lovely cast iron treadle, and a few other cast iron fittings.   the wood is a little dry, but there are no wormholes or other damage.  a nice coat of oil/wax will take care of the dryness.  :-)      this wheel has the largest drive wheel i've ever seen on a treadle spinning wheel.    he flies like the wind.     these wheels were made to spin a LOT of fine wool in a short amount of time.  i'd love to have one in my own herd.   maybe someday.   it's on my spinning wheel bucket list,  along with a norwegian double table, a super slanty (either or both of which could be blue and it would make me very happy), a leclerc (either tilt or screw tension, i don't care which), and a frank fell/mayville saxony (which is amanda's fault... i wouldn't even know about them if she hadn't bought one,lol)    sooo...   without further ado,  here is amanda's new fella.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

teaching an old dog...

a few years ago i became enamored with supported spinning.    i've been spinning on drop spindles and spinning wheels for what seems like most of my life, lol...but supported spindles were an alien concept until i bought my 'learn to spin cotton' kit earlier this year.     the little brass tahkli spindle that came with it made spinning cotton (something with which i had struggled in the past) nearly effortless.   who knew that having the spindle resting on a surface (or in a small bowl) was the missing ingredient?   this new found love spurred me to look more deeply into other supported spindles.   as i said,  i have been enamored with them for a while...   i had watched videos of russian women spinning very fine cashmere for equally fine shawls using russian style supported spindles.    this spoke to me on a cellular level.   but i didn't know anyone in real life who did supported spindling, so my pursuits never went past the watching and drooling stage.

the tahkli spurred me on, however.   i joined several supported spindle groups on ravelry,  and began to stalk the shops of some of the favored spindle makers.    i haven't had any expendable income, so all i've been able to do is look,   but there are several supported spindles on my bucket list, lol.  

recently, my friend, amanda, decided that she wanted to learn wood turning.   she aspires to learn the skills necessary for restoring antique spinning wheels.    i suggested that 'we' could also make spindles.  :-)   
she has been learning the basics,  and a few nights ago i showed her pictures of phang spindles (a himalayan style supported spindle) which are very simple in design,  and seemed like making some would be good turning practice and a great way to suck her in to making supported spindles.   hahahahaha.    she saw right through me, of course.   but friday afternoon she dropped by with her first ever spindle,  a phang made from cedarwood.   it smells divine.  and is deceptively light in weight.    she handed it to me with instructions to test drive it.   :-D   woo hoo!!!

ok.  so spinning on a phang is a whole new learning curve for me. i can almost smell the new neuron pathways being burned into my brain.   my first thought was that i wanted more heft...that a heavier/more dense wood would be better.   i searched through some forum posts and found that many people PREFER a lighter phang.  hmmm.   so maybe i just need to keep experimenting until i find the right body mechanics/flicking style/drafting style for this type of spindle.....    

i have been practicing (and struggling) and today i seem to be finally getting the hang of it.    i'm using a 'park and draft' technique,  which is sort of like supported spindling with training wheels,  but it's making good yarn, so i'm not going to beat myself up about it.  :-P

i will keep practicing and, hopefully, will collect some more supported spindles in a variety of styles.
and thank you, amanda, for humoring me.  :-) 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

barn loom

(cross posted to the Harmony Weavers blog)

for the last several decades there has been a barn loom (c. 1850) in the Ziegler cabin on main street in harmony.    this cabin is generally only open during special events, and while there was a warp on the loom (with one finished rag rug wound onto the cloth beam and a second in process), no weaving had been done in 20 years or more.

several museum volunteers are in the process of renovating the 'decor' in the cabin, with the goal of making it more 'period correct' to the timeline of this particular dwelling.   they have decided that the loom doesn't fit into their vision.      there has been discussion regarding where this loom should go, and the hope was that it could be moved to the weaver's cabin.     unfortunatly there is no room on the first floor,  and we feared that the floor of the second floor might not be able to support the weight of this heavy loom.     it was finally decided to clean out the basement (which has been used for storage) and put the loom there.

yesterday several of us embarked upon disassembly of this old beauty, and moved parts of it to the cabin.   the larger, more cumbersome parts will be moved by other volunteers.

looms of this type are called 'barn looms' because they are built using similar construction techniques to what would have been used to build barns during this time period.    often built by husbands, brothers or sweethearts of the intended weaver, the mortise and tenon joints are secured with removable pegs and wedges, allowing the loom to be easily disassembled for storage when not in use.  since space would have been at a premium in those days,   and household weaving was often done in a spurt rather than throughout the year, it was good to be able to take the loom apart and store the pieces flat when not in use.

i took a few pictures, pre-disassembly, for reference. in this one you can see the simple counterbalance mechanism.   this loom has 2 shafts and 2 treadles,  allowing for weaving of tabby (plain weave) cloth.   it would be relatively simple to add more shafts and more treadles if we want to do more complicated weaving.     the rope draped across the upper side controls the simple brake mechanism.

here we can see the warp beam with 20+ year old rug warp still in place.

close up of the brake mechanism on the warp beam (back of the loom.
also visibile is the hanging beater, complete with antique wooden reed.

slightly better view of the brake release.

view from the back, after removal of the warp, and hanging beater.

the plan is to clean her up, get her into good working order,  and weave on her.    when in use, the basement will be open to the public (when volunteers are availble).

my plan is to photograph the restoration process and post progress here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

they grow up so fast....

remember these little guys from back in january?

i paid them a visit last week and they've grown up quite a lot.   they're living outdoors now.  :-)

they probably won't start laying eggs until late in the summer,  but they definitely look like chickens now.    they grey ones are blue americaunas, and they'll lay blue-green eggs.   the others are specific breeds that will lay various shades of brown eggs,  including dark, chocolaty brown.   like easter every day.  :-)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

lifestyle changes.....

i've known,  for at least the last 15 years,  that i feel better when i eat a diet lower in carbs.    i have done it,  periodically,  and while i feel so much better,   and lose some weight each time,  it's been hard to maintain....especially since i live with a carb fiend.....       lately, though,  i had been thinking about giving it a go again.   my friend, rachael, suggested trying paleo.   she and her husband have been working their way into a paleo lifestyle for a while now,  and are very pleased with their results.   so i started thinking about paleo and doing some research.   it sounded good,  although i'll admit that i was more attracted to primal,  which encourages as much meat as you want and dairy products.    eventually i found that there are as many versions of paleo as there are people doing it,  and that it's more of a template which makes suggestions about what to eat,what not to eat and why.  you are left to make your own choices,  for your own reasons.     so far, so good.     but diving in head first seemed daunting.   i decided i'd ease into it but wasn't sure where to start.  after a conversation with some other friends,  who i had no idea were also exploring paleo options, i decided to start by eliminating wheat.  my mom is very allergic to wheat, so it stands to reason that it might be affecting me as well.  i don't know why it hadn't occured to me before.

after the first day of being wheat free,  i could already notice differences in how i felt.  after a week,  i could go up and down the steep stairway at work, one foot after the other, like a normal person.  i noticed that my posture was better without having even through about it. during the following week, while out with a friend,  i had a spicy chicken sandwich at chick-fil-a....   as an experiment....    i could feel it the next day.  my joints were sore and my muscles felt fatigued.   a week ago i did another experiment,  and again, noticed a huge difference within a day.    it seems that it takes about six days for me to recover from these 'experiments'.    and i am quickly coming to the conclusion that it's just not worth it.    i am guessing that my cheats are going to be few and far between,  and i'm going to have to really convince myself that it's worth it.

so.   i am still easing toward paleo...    after starting by eliminating wheat,  i am easing into being gluten free.  i am thinking i will probably eliminate corn as well, but still thinking on that one.

last night i decided to try out this recipe for paleo pancakes.   i had all of the ingredients, and it looked pretty simple...    the picture looked yummy, lol.   wellllll.....   my first one looked more like this:
they were way too crumbly.    once i figured out how hot the pan needed to be,  they got better,  and i actually got a few, toward the end, that were round....   

my opinion, though, is that they are way too sweet,  and very rich/heavy.    i don't think i'll make them again.     i have quite a lot of buckwheat in my food storage,  so i will continue to perfect buckwheat pancakes instead.   i have found several recipes for them that are gluten free.

my next quest is to find a gluten free recipe for sandwich bread that meets my expectations.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

finished spinning and socks started....

i had thought there would be several posts between this and the last one,  but life got a little intense in between.....        but the yarn is now spun and plied,   and yesterday i started socks.   for me, this time.  i do so much knitting of items to sell,  and things for others.   it's not very often that i knit for myself.     all of my handspun socks are getting hole-y.    while  i'm perfectly capable of darning them,  i decided it's time for a few new pairs.    my intent is to spin and knit a few, for myself,  before next winter.      although, if the weather doesn't decide to get warm, and stay warm,  i may need them much sooner, lol.

ok,  so here is the yarn...

it's approximately sport weight, although it looks heavier in the photo....
i am knitting it on size 3 needles.      i started by casting on 56 stitches.   seemes like it will be big enough.  i won't be certain until after i turn the heel and try them on....   

the color changes are long, since i didn't ply the variegated singles against themselves.   i've a feeling these socks will be decidedly fraternal, which is fine with me.

i am linking this post to ginny's  yarn along on her 'small things' blog.   each wednesday she posts about what she's knitting and what she's reading, and invites others to do they same.       i am re-reading robert jordan's 'wheel of time' series.     i've read (or listened to) most of the series several times.   a friend gave me the first three books somewhere around 12 years ago, and i found more on audible in audio book form.   i've read these five or six times.     i have not read the last three volumes.   there was to be one remaining book in the series when the author died.   his wife hired another respected fantasy author to finish it, from her husband's copious notes.   it was decided that there was too much information that was necessary to the story to fit into one book,  so the last became three...    i no longer have a membership at audible.  it just doesn't fit into the budget.   but i recently signed up for a free membership at the free library of philadelphia (anyone in pennsylvania can get a free membership and anyone else in the US can get a membership for $50) and as soon as my card arrives,  i can borrow these last three on audiobook.   :-)     (my local library doesn't have them).   anyway...   i am currently on book six,  Lord of Chaos.

click on the yarn along icon to see ginny's post.  :-)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

currently spinning....

i don't often buy roving dyed by other people, since i'm perfectly capable of dying my own, but this one caught my eye a while back when i was wandering around at darn yarn.   it's different from my own typical colorways, and maybe that was the attraction.

it's an unidentified wool, labelled 'US wool top' and isn't particularly soft,  but i thought it would be great for a sturdy pair of socks.    but the spun singles are looking a bit more pastel than i anticipated. 

which would be fine for easter, i suppose...but not really my style.    so i decided to dye some corriedale roving, picking up on the turquoise in the colorway, in the hopes that it'll brighten it up a bit.  my plan is to ply a single of the turquoise with a single of the colorway.

i'll post pictures once it's all spun and plied.