Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hi Cindy,

As promised here are a few pictures of the cactus growing in our yard. These are cholla along with a few agave. We got these about 4 years ago from DH's parents and they have gone while. Right now they are covered with a whole host of little white eggs. We had the same last year. Shortly they will probably hatch into little red bugs. We need to clear out some of the cholla as they've grown too close together. The agave also seem to die back when they get too large.

I'm calling this picture Inspiration. I have some Brown Sheep yarn I got at Goodwill in Yuma that is going to be transformed. Think 1-2 ribbing and a bobble or two. (Finally a good use for a bobble!) The tall center one was already planted when we moved in but the other two were the small cactus that you can buy in some of the drug stores down here. The scale is hard to tell but the bottom of that beam is probably at 5 feet high or so, I have to slightly duck under it. The brown band near the top of the right one is where it got touched by our freezes this winter. The small one on the left also lost a foot or two off the top due to the cold weather but is now growing back.

Here is the last picture from the front yard. The tree in the background is an olive tree. We've never cured the fruit but DH wants to try it some time. Mostly it just makes a big mess from the purple fruit and the little leaves. The ferny looking flowered plant at the center is a Mexican Bird of Paradise. It came up as a "volunteer" from our neighbor's plant. It is really pretty. The ironic thing is that it came up right about where there was a regular bird of paradise planted when we moved in. It was not a xeriscape friendly plant. You can also see the lantana and Texas Ranger/sage plant that has taken over our "flower" bed. Nice and natural and not too much work, just occasional trimming and watering.

The weather forecast for the next week is nothing but HOT. Highs between 111 and 114 the whole time with nightly lows in the mid to upper 80's. No wonder the pool is so warm.

I guess I'd better close up and practice spinning some more. Take care, A

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Hi Cindy!

Do you remember in high school a few statements I made that started with the phrase "I'll never..."? Invariably within a couple years (or less) whatever that statement was ended up being exactly what I did. Most specifically I remember being at a college fair our junior year and looking at all the different UW campuses. I think either you or Jackie wanted to go by the UW-Milwaukee booth I uttered the phrase "I don't need to got to that booth, I'll never go there." And less than 2 years later that's exactly where I ended up. I may have said something similar about Madison too.

After those 2 incidents of regretting stuff that came out of my mouth I've been pretty good about avoiding making those absolute statements. However, I almost uttered one recently after I signed up for the spinning class, something about never getting a wheel. I think that has changed. It won't be anytime soon but probably in the next several months.

Class finished up last night. We spun some more and then learned how to ply it. Here is my plied yarn. I'm really happy with it. Kinda looks like one of those expensive art yarns, don't you think? I had to celebrate with a glass of sangria when I got home.

Of the 5 of us in class, four are wanting to continue more with it but not call it an intermediate class, perhaps something like beginning 1.5. The teacher is game if at least 2-3 of us will sign up for it. Three of us put our name on the list. The fourth wants to come in and use the wheels but not pay for a class. We talked about it a little bit and it could start as early as next Thursday. It would probably be more informal and we'd buy our own fibers rather than have them provided. I'm thinking it will be a good time to practice more, figure out a wheel I might want and start experimenting with fibers.

The weather here is still HOT. When I got in the car yesterday to go to class the temp inside the garage was 108. By the time I got to class it read 112 (@6:20 pm) and still read that at 9 when I got out. DH got the Polly pump hooked up Monday and it is running fine. We got in for a while yesterday afternoon. The water temp was about 86, just where I like it. Doesn't it look inviting? Almost all the dust is gone, now it's just bread and cat food that the birds drop in (yummy). The neighbor lady feeds stray cats and must put out 5 pounds of food a day, a lot of it just on the other side of the fence from our pool.

I guess I'll close this now. I'll have pictures of our cactus and Mexican Bird of Paradise soon. Stay cool! A

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Le Tour

Hi Alene,

The kiddos have had various ailments over the last week but mostly it's been a great summer so far. Here's a source of great joy for me: a winter-hardy prickly pear that favors me with gorgeous blooms some years.

Hope your class is going well. I am going to unofficially do the Tour de Fleece this year. I've been trying to spin more anyway, and it looks like fun I was all set to spin on the deck yesterday while watching the kids when DD announced, in a tone that ruled out negotiation, that she was going in. Sighing, I picked up my wheel and wool and in we went . . . DS stayed out a bit to chase butterflies. More soon, Cindy

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Hi Cindy,

I'm excited about the spinning project too but I've got to practice more before I'm ready. Fiber Factory has some really nicely dyed hankies that I need to look through to see if there's one that really floats my boat. They also have some wonderful bombyx top that I've been eyeing too.

DH had a zen retreat today so I had the whole day to myself. The scar on my scalp is finally totally healed up and it was time to get my hair cut and colored. I only ended up getting about 2 inches off the length but with the layering portions were almost 4 inches shorter. It really looks great. During the wait for the dye to set up I got my single sock finished up, just had to kitchner it when I got home. Here are pictures of it from both sides. The leg portion had a regular pattern to it but the heel mixed it up and caused the pooling around the ankle. The foot portion had 8 stitches less than the legs so the color pattern didn't re-establish itself. I carried the stitch pattern down the front of the sock but it doesn't look quite the same.

I am now going to work on DH's socks, at least up to the heel, before starting the second one of mine. Was I working on these when I saw you? I put them down for a while to work on a couple of other things so it's time to get back to them. DH always moans that I've not knit him anything (except a hat that he calls the Robin Hoody). I've got things in progress but haven't finished a project for him. As you can see these are two at a time, toe up. This is my second pair in this style. In some ways they seem to take forever but when you're done that's it, no second sock.

When is your family headed to WA? We are thinking about going to visit DH's friend FG in September in Seattle. We are talking about doing a beach backpack trip but I've got to get in better shape first. FG's girlfriend knits too so I'm hoping she can show me some of the good shops there.

The namesake is as devilish as ever. She saw the little ends I'd cut off after weaving in the long pieces on the sock and had to grab some and carry them off. This was an interruption of her spinning after the floss. She is no longer content to just spin on the floor. She likes to add variations to it. She's tried the back of the couch, the bar stool at the counter and tonight she added the bathtub. She was in there for quite a while and seemed to really enjoy the noise it made. She finally got the floss off and carried it around before deciding it was time for a nap.

Time to get back to the socks. Take care, A

My head is spinning . . .

Hi Alene! Anticipating our silk adventure, I ordered some undyed silk caps from The Woolery. I'm thinking of plying them with a multicolor singles for a fun effect. They are backordered but should be here before our summer trip to WA. Have you read the silk spindle spinning articles in Knittyspin? I really like them. Also, the Spin-Off web site (and the magazine itself of course) has lots of good info on many aspects of spinning. I read the magazines over and over.

The WI Sheep & Wool Festival is the weekend after Labor Day, and I am going this year for the first time! It would be fun to go to some festivals together in the future.

Spinningly yours, Cindy

P.S. How is our blog namesake cat doing?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Second wheel attempt

Hi Cindy,

Here's my second attempt. I had much better luck this week. I'm getting better on the drafting and the wheel was happy too. It still was thin and thick but at least I got it to pull onto the bobbin. It wasn't wanting to do that last week. Last night I used a little Ashford portable. If I ever thought about getting a wheel I'd seriously consider this one. Next week's class will be in the new store location and we'll try different wheels from the ones we've used the last 2 weeks. We'll also learn a couple of plying methods.

I bought a batt of purple last night, the same as what was in our fiber pack to start. I figured that way I'll have enough to actually make something in the end. Fiber isn't included on the moving sale but I still got the student discount.

More pictures soon, A

Spinning Practice

Hi Cindy,

As promised the temps here have been hot, we're expecting 115 toward the end of the week. Thank goodness for AC and our water-filled hole. Here is a picture of Polly (for your DS) on the last day she swam. Right after this picture I noticed the horrid noise her pump was making and turned her off. We finally stopped by the pool supply store yesterday so see if they could rebuild the pump and motor but no such luck. It is about 15 years old and doesn't really fit Polly so we picked up a dedicated pump for her. DH will get it installed one of these mornings but it's too hot in the pm.

I have been practicing spinning diligently this week. I finished the maroon fiber mix you sent. I skeined it up on a piece of foam board I've cut to 18 inches. I got just over 24 yards out of it. It is pretty thick but it is yarn. I've washed it, dried it and wound it into a center pull ball. Although the angle on the scale is a little off, it came out to just under 2 oz. I have also spun up the rest of the corridale roving we got in class as well as the partial purple batt. I also got all my washed fleece carded up. Right now I just have that and the BFL bit that you sent that hasn't been spun. Looks like I'll have to buy some more. Good thing Fiber Factory is having a moving sale. But of course I do get a class discount too.

Just 2 1/2 weeks till we go to LA to see the Decemberists at the Hollywood Bowl. We'll have pretty good seats in the garden boxes. We're staying within walking distance so we don't have to worry about parking. DH is also hoping to do a set at the LA zendo associated with the group he attends here. I'm also hoping on visiting at least 1 yarn store while there too.

Well, it's almost time to leave for class #3. I'll keep you up to date on how it goes.

Later, A

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My FO and spinning thoughts

Hey there, what a week! A 2-day biz trip to Mpls for DH, DH's birthday, kindergarten graduation, and Father's Day . . . and a garden where the weeds got a head start :) I managed to sew the suede bottoms on my slippers (crookedly but close enough). I started out with a fancier cotton yarn, but it was too bumpy to pull through easily even with the pre-punched holes so I switched to a smoother yarn for the 2nd one.

Your wheel experience . . .I can relate. It is tricky at the beginning. Maybe the brake band was not set correctly; that can cause problems with insufficient take-up. Some wheels pull the yarn in readily and some you practically have to throw the yarn at! Too much take-up pulls the yarn out of your hand, so finding the right tension takes some experimenting. It is helpful to break the process into steps just like when you start with the spindle, and remember you can't treadle your way out of trouble. Also I found that the more spindle experience I had, the easier the wheel got.

I've been thinking about spinning and our blog a lot and hope to write a lot over the summer! C

Friday, June 15, 2007


Hola Cindy!

Hope your weekend is off to a good start. It was as hot as the surface of the sun again today but they expect it to cool off to 108 this weekend ;0 !

I thought I'd share a few recent finished objects although I don't have a finished picture of one.

First off are the two lace caps I knit last month. These are both from the cotton yarn I bought at Sow's Ear when I visited you in April (can you believe it's been almost 2 months). The one on the left is the one I actually gave to DH's grandma. I found the pattern on Free Pattern Central. I actually found both patterns there. The one on the right is one on the Lion Brand Yarns site. It is top down with stockinette at the top and then a "grunge" lace pattern.
Here is a picture of the socks I made for my MIL's birthday 2 weeks ago. They were made with the Tofootsie yarn from Southwest Trader's, located right here in beautiful Tempe. The pattern is one I had along when visiting you. I modified it slightly as I knit it. The socks turned out great. The yarn has a squishy feel to it. I'm waiting to hear if she's worn them much. I'm making a pair from the same pattern but using yarn I bought off ebay last fall from Susan's Spinning Bunny. I'll take a picture when I finish at least one. I'm extending the pattern down the top of the sock so it will be slightly different. The yarn for it is a handspun sw merino/tencel mix. The leg part has a nice color pattern but that kind of disintegrates after the heel flap and gusset. Hope the second one will be similar .
Well, DH has bedded down and the cats are quiet so it's a good time to get some knitting in. Take care. A

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Birthdays!


Wish your DH a Happy Birthday from us. Today is also the first birthday of our friend A's twins.

Here they are about 3 months ago on St. Pat's day. For their birthday they are getting a new house. Today they are moving from their cramped condo into a real house. I'm sure they'll have plenty of fun exploring and wreaking havoc.

Spinning class the other night was frustrating. I tried out 2 wheels and neither one seemed to be working properly. I couldn't get them to wind the yarn on the bobbin so I just ended up with overly engerized yarn. At least I wasn't the only one. The young woman in our class gave up quickly, stating that she just wanted to spin on the drop spindle. One other woman was having about as much luck as I was. She took over the first wheel that I was one and had the same exact problems. The other two women had better luck but still were getting over energized yarn too. Here is what I was able to produce the other night. As you can see it is all kinked back on itself in places and some of it was hardly spun at all. I don't foresee myself buying a wheel any time soon.

At the end of class Barb ( the instructor) showed us the use of carders. I'd helped Sandy at a few living history demos back before I moved out here. She did all the spinning (I never tried it) and I sit carding wool for her. Here's the 3 rolls I did in class. Our home work this week is to card the rest of the fleece we cleaned last week.

When I got home I was so frustrated with how class had gone that I put the cats out to the garage and practiced with the drop spindle you sent for about an hour. DH was already asleep so I had no interruptions. The maroon blend from Sandy's Palette that you sent spins so easily that I've been using it for practice and I'm getting it pretty consistent. I mixed it a little with the merino the other day but it works great on it's own.

Happy Birthday again to all Flag Day Babies, young and not so young! And to the Yarn Harlot although in Canada it isn't Flag Day.

p.s. Did I mention it felt like the surface of the sun today? The temp read out in the car read 112 on the way home. Officially it was 110. Welcome summer

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Signs of summer

Convertibles are popping up all over, it's hot enough to run through the sprinkler . . . it must be summer in Wisconsin. That means strawberry time! We got 12 quarts from a farm (DD & me, DS in school 'til Friday midmorning) for jam, freezing, & eating. Yum. They picked 'em for us; we aren't quite up for u-pick yet but I'm looking forward to that one of these years.

Thursday is DH's birthday. I realized we ordered his present too late to get here by tomorrow, so we switched it with his Father's Day gift and are hoping for the package by Saturday. Father's Day tie-dye shirts for Dad & kids goes back to a playgroup project in 2004, led by another mom. We (well, mostly me) did it again in '05, including me and Farli (she got a cotton receiving blanket). We decided to do it again this year for the people anyway.
DS is old enough to help a lot now. He opted for the goggles himself . We've learned that low-quality T-shirts take dye better (go figure) and that smaller sizes are easier (less fabric to get the dye into). DH's is the good quality, extra big gray one and is a bit darker than the picture shows. Still I think the white ones were the most successful. I'm sure he'll love it anyway. --Cindy

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Dear Cindy,

Guess what arrived at my door yesterday. Margi says it smells like fiber.

Yep, its fiber, and other spinning goodies!

Margi says "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

There's just one little dilemma. What to do with 2 copies? Will B&N take the copy back or should I see if I can exchange it at one of my favorite shops?

I tried spinning up some of the wonderful fiber you sent and it spun like a dream-both the merino and the maroon mix. Here Teddy demonstrates what he thinks of my spinning.

Think the new cat-design of a spindle will work? It spins on its own quite well but tends to reverse a lot. (No, she didn't actually try to eat it, she's just experiencing it, totally).

Thanks Again!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thank You!


Thanks for the package. It was sitting on the door step when we got home. Pretty Cool! I have one small problem but I'll address it in the morning.

It feels almost like having a secret pal without having to sign up.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

WWKIP . . . or maybe CIP

Hi Alene, I hope crocheting counts cuz that's what I did while at a kid party with DS. I'm making some simple slippers from an old issue of Spin-Off but not of handspun. I'd write more but the kids are restless! My old girl cat doesn't knit or spin, but I don't want to fall behind in the cute cat picture dept. all the same, so here she is, as adorable as ever and more tolerant than ever! Cindy

Saturday, June 9, 2007


Hi Cindy!

Did you get to knit in public today? I met up with a couple of people down at the Community Market in Downtown Phoenix. It runs 8-Noon this time of year but it was pretty hot by 11 and we packed it it. I had only been there since about 9:40 but I'm sure the others got there much earlier. We had a shaded table right by Lisa T's booth. She's the one that sells the churro yarn occassionally. Today she just had her own hand spun. And she had her wheel there spinning most of the time. She does lots of other crafty stuff and also re-works old clothing into new outfits. She had quite a crowd from time to time. I didn't buy anything except an iced mocha and some kalamata olive bread for tonight. I couldn't buy anything fresh because I wasn't coming home for several hours yet.
Afterwards I had lunch with Julie and Lytifa. We spent almost 3 hours talking and gossiping. Of course in the end we ended up gossiping and complaining about MI's, wonder how many year's of being gone from there it will take to get over it.
I also stopped by Barnes and Noble before meeting them because I was running a few minutes early. Here's Teddy showing off what I picked up. He's pretty insulted that I laid it on his tail.
So I have a question. Of course the book probably answers it but I haven't read too much yet. Which way do you wind the yarn around the spindle? Clockwise or counter-clockwise? Our instructor said it is typical to spin the spindle clockwise but I assume you wind the yarn up the same way, right?
As you can see Margaret is a chewy cat. Believe it or not that is actually a knitting cd she's chewing on back in that little cubby on the desk. No matter how I block the opening she really tries to get up in there.
Hope your weather has improved from a couple of days ago. More soon!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Good Intentions Gone Awry

I meant to write an entry last night about my recent knitting and post some pictures of it but I went shopping instead so you'll have to just enjoy a picture of the Superstition Mountains with snow. We had an unusually cold winter and even saw snow in the Valley. Pretty cool huh?

But I digress...

I went shopping last night to get a birthday present for my friend Lytifa. Her birthday was 3 weeks ago but we couldn't get together until this weekend. The night before her birthday her kitchen got burned up. Her husband was making dinner and went outside while the pan was heating for chops. Their daughter even commented on smelling smoke but he assured her that a neighbor was grilling. No such luck. She lost a lot of kitchen stuff so birthday gifts are to help make up for that. I went to Ikea where I knew I could get a lot of stuff for cheap. They had utensil sets for $0.59 both wood and plastic. And silicon spatulas for 50 cents each. What a bargain.

Want to feel old? Lytifa was born almost 2 weeks after I got my driver's license. Her daughter is about a month older than your DS.

We are also meeting Julie. All three of us worked at MI together and quit/were fired within about 2 weeks. Julie grew up in Baraboo, in fact her family farm is right next to the east entrance to Devil's Lake. She moved out here about the same time I did. Before I meet them for lunch I'm going to the Phoenix gathering for World Wide Knit in Public Day down at the

Coming soon . . .

. . . to a mailbox near you: some spinning goodies!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Warm feet on a summer day

Hi Alene! This blog idea of yours is inspired and already fun. I don't have any spinning to show today, but here's a recent finished project: slipper socks for DH made of commercial and handspun yarn. The main colors are a fall-color commercial wool and gold Tiur doubled; the "timbers" are assorted handspun experiments. I machine-knit (is that a verb??) the main parts of the sock and then handknit the ribbing, heels, and toes. They fit him well and he doesn't mind the seam; I tried a method new to me that was supposed to be flat but it didn't work too well with yarn this thick. The chart is from the good folks at Philosopher's Wool.

Have you see Charmed Knits? It's a great book! I'm considering a HP costume for DS for next Halloween . . . stay tuned.

Your spinning looks great! What type of spindle is that? I read somewhere it takes about 8 hours to feel really proficient, so you are well on your way. Cindy

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Spinning Class, Part 1

Hi Cindy!

Last night was my first spinning class at Fiber Factory. They are a great store with all kinds of fibery goodness. There were also 2 weaving classes going at the same time: Intermediate Navajo Loom and Intro to Theo Moorman.

There are 5 of us in the spinning class. One woman was totally gung-ho to start on the wheels right away and didn't seem to understand that you need to get the basics of drafting first. One woman had an informal lesson a week or two ago when she thought the class was filled so she did pretty good. There was a youngish woman there (19-20?) wanting to spin dog hair. The fourth had wanted to commission some one to spin for her but the backed out so she was taking the class.

And then there was me. I'll be happy just to learn the drop spindle so I can do small bits. And it might take me all four weeks just to get the drafting down. After nearly 2 hours of spinning I probably don't have too many yards of yarn on the spindle and it is pretty chunky and varied. I know, more practice.

The class fee included fiber and a spindle as well as use of carders and a wheel during class. Here you can see my rovings and a bit of the yarn I spun. As you can see it wasn't very much or very pretty.

We also got a small piece of fleece to clean as homework. Margi loved the smell and taste of it. She tried to carry off a small, very dirty piece of it (can we say dung anyone?).

The fleece has been soaking for a while so it is probably time to close this and go check it out. I'm sure that I'll have more to tell you tomorrow.

I'm off to check the fleece and the practice with the spindle.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Is anyone out there? Probably not yet, especially since this is just a first attempt.