Summer Dew Point

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What To Do

Good morning. What a glorious day today. It’s 6 am right now and I am looking out my west window. The robins and all their fledglings are at the pond, drinking and bathing, getting ready for another day. It’s so much fun to watch the young learning life’s skills. Hard to believe these bumbling babies will someday be graceful birds.


Hollyhocks in the morning sun.

I think I have finally gotten caught up with all my backlog of projects and now have time to start some new ones. One project that was a constant problem to me was the lap robe I had on the loom. I have a 36 inch, 4 harness loom that Hubby made for me; Black Walnut and Birdseye maple. It is beautiful and weaves great. But the first “real” weaving I did on it was not working. The warp that I picked was not strong enough and it kept breaking on the side. So I have finally given up, cut it off the loom and tied the ends. The envisioned lap robe is now only a knee warmer. Still as pretty as I had hoped, but basically useless for anything more than a chair drape. Lesson one learned. I am sure I’ll have many more mistakes, but weak warp will not happen again.


Charcoal and gold warp and weft.

I have another problem that I need to solve; hopefully with your help. I know that some of you readers are spinners. And I need your advice. I have a beautiful tall castle spinning wheel that I told you about earlier. But she is so hard to transport. And while working in Rapid for those 6 weeks, I really missed not spinning. The drop spindle helped, but to me it’s not the real thing. So while most of my earnings went to bills, a portion is going to get me a portable spinning wheel. If funds were unlimited, I would get a Schacht Matchless.
Matchless LadyBug
Schacht Matchless. Schac
ht Lady Bug.

I also like the idea of the Schacht Lady Bug.

Kromski now has the Sonata, which is where I am leaning right now.
Kromski Sonata.

Lendrum has a folding wheel that looks pretty good. Then there is the Little Gem, the Wee Robin and the totally unaffordable Mach II.
Lendrum Little Gem
Lendrum. Little Gem.
Mach II
Mach II.

My last choice would be the Ashford Traveller, Joy or Kiwi.
Ashford Traveller
Ashford Traveller.

Do you have any thoughts on these wheels? I really would like some input. If any of you have one of these wheels or have spun on one, please let me know what you think. And if anyone knows of a used Matchless, I would love to hear about it.

Now I need to get busy. Hubby made me a hackle out of plastic horse combs and I need to try it. I have wool strips to cut for the rug hooking and STILL have the two fleeces to wash. It’s going to be a fun day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Home Again, Home Again: Jiggity Jig

Well I finally made it home. After working in Rapid City for about 6 weeks, it is nice to be back. I enjoyed my time there: enjoyed seeing friends, spending time with my parents, good restaurants and shopping, and all with the added bonus of making a little money. But now I can enjoy looking out MY window again.

I was so surprised when I got here. South Dakota is so green this year, more so than I have seen in years. But it does not compare with the green of Anniversary Grove. I have been home for over a week and still get startled when I walk outside and see the landscape. When I left here, it was just greening and the corn had barely started to show. Now the corn is over 7 feet high. The trees are all leafed out, the grass is emerald green and plants are blooming. The grove is so heavy with plants that you can not see the ground.

Corn is as high...
The corn is as high….
Hubby is 5'11".
Elderberries. Wine in the making, if I can keep the birds away.

Hubby’s sunflower.

Northeast view
The northeast view. Can you see the red barn on the right?

South view
The south view. If we can’t see the road, they can’t see us.

I have been so busy unpacking and getting reorganized. Also, busy getting reacquainted with friends and neighbors. Our closest neighbor passed away while I was gone, so I needed to go visit with his wife Clara. And I needed to get reacquainted with my garden. Plants are up and blooming that I didn’t even remember were there. Hubby did such a great job keeping the place going and the burdock at bay. He even harvested, blanched and froze the first broccoli. I have since picked beans, squash and more broccoli. And soon the tomatoes with be ready.

The garden is really growing.

And life went on while I was gone. My oldest granddaughter graduated from high school. My youngest granddaughter has left on an adventure with her other grandmother. My oldest step grandson was here for two weeks with his grandpa, learning “guy” things, like tools and tree trimming. Then we lost Emmy, my tortoiseshell cat. She disappeared about 4 weeks ago and has not been back. Hubby and the dogs looked everywhere they could think of, but I am afraid she is gone for good. We have coyote dens less than a mile away, large owls in the grove and hawks cruising overhead. Any of them may have taken her. And I am afraid I will never know. Now I will forever be watching for her to come home.

So I am now ready to dive into the projects that have been waiting for me. I have two fleeces to be washed. The rest of Shalom Hills' wool is waiting to be combed. And lots of wool to spin. Connie and I are starting a small cottage industry of wool and we need to get that organized. I have to get ready to demonstrate historic and vintage fiber crafts at the Butterfield Thrashing Bee in the middle of August. And I need to get the canning supplies counted, replaced and washed.

It is so good to be home.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spindle vs the Wheel

I know it’s been awhile. Rapid City has kept me very busy. But I am almost done here and will be heading home next week.

Now I want to talk about spinning..... I know better. But it still seems to me that the drop spindle was invented for times likes these; for spinners like us that can’t take our wheel on the road. It’s hard to believe that such a simple tool that has been around for eons, is still so useful

I have at home a beautiful spinning wheel. It’s a Lennox Irish Castle wheel, “Fiona”. She spins like a dream. Fiona and I learned spinning together and I love it and her.

Castle Wheel
Picture of Fiona. And No that’s not me. A staged photo for booklet.

Irish woman spinning
Nope, that's not me either. But proof that my type of wheel has been around a long time.

But Fiona is very big, and hard to transport. I always wondered why sister Connie had so many spinning wheels. Now I know. A different wheel for different reasons. Some spin one type of wool better than others, some are easy to put in your car and go, and some are for Historical Interpreters because they are historically correct. Connie has all of the above. But when I got Fiona, I really felt I wouldn’t need any thing else. How wrong I was.

So I had Hubby make a drop spindle for me. I thought I wanted a bottom whorl. Wrong again. OK. Then I bought a top whorl drop spindle and brought it with me to Rapid City. I think I’ll have Hubby fix the one he made for me into a top whorl. Then I’ll have two sizes. And I have enjoyed spinning the small amount of wool I brought with me on that spindle. But I miss the hypnotic feeling you get with the wheel. So now I am thinking, like many other spinners out there, that I do need a second wheel. I need some sort of traveler. Now I will have to start researching the traveling wheels to see what is out there and what I like. It took me a year and a half to get to this point, the realization that I need a second wheel. Some get here quicker. But I’m a stubborn learner. And when or if (no…WHEN) I get my second wheel, I promise Fiona I will not desert her. She will still be my main spin.

Drop Spindle
My drop spindle with spun wool.

This picture is of the wool I have spun while here in Rapid. The red was spinners web from South Dakota Natural Colored Wool Studio and the yellow blue is the Shalom Hills wool that I showed on the blog earlier. Fun; but not as much fun as my castle wheel. And much harder work for me.
Shalom Hills wool
A close up of the Shalom Hills wool. Single ply at this point.

Another thing I have learned along the way is the types of wool. What is good for what project and what I like. It is such a wonderful feeling to have that wool sliding through your fingers and knowing that you made that yarn. I started out spinning anything. But have learned through time what wools I like and wools I don’t like. And every spinner has their favorite. Mine right now are Shetland and Finn. I have some beautiful black Icelandic, but I don’t like spinning it as much as I had hoped. The Shetland I got from Little Red Oak Farms is a dream. Do I like it because of the wool, or because I love little Maple, the ewe it came from? It doesn’t really matter. I just love the feel of it. And I have tried a small amount of Finn and really liked it. I’ll get more later. Then my next trial will be some Rambouillet from 2nd or 3rd or 4th cousin Mark in South Dakota. I have heard wonderful things about that wool and am anxious to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So next week, I’ll be home again. I’ll be able to dye and comb the fleece from Maple. And finish combing the Shalom Hills wool. By then I’ll have more Finn to work with too. And hopefully a short trip back to NE South Dakota for the Rambouillet. I guess Minnesota keeps me busy too.