Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Time

Take time to think about friends and family this holiday season. Those who are here and those who are not. This is the first Christmas without Gram Margaret, my Hubby's maternal grandmother. I am missing her this season for several reasons, one being that I miss the stories of my Hubby's childhood that she shared whenever we visited her.  Gram Margaret was one of those ladies who always wore a dress and had her hair done at a beauty shop. And feisty, oh yes, feisty and despite being adopted into the family when I married her oldest grandchild (my Hubby) and becoming her only granddaughter, she loved me as one of her own.
I know this Christmas that either she is finally able to bake her special sugar cookies again or that she's found an even better way to celebrate the Season, with it's Author.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My Sister will be Home in 16 Days

My shop, Spindles and More is having its first-ever sale:
And I'm selling my items for 20% off! In honor of my sister's temporary return to the US, I'm offering all items at 20% off their listed price from Dec. 1 through Dec. 16 (the day she arrives). Regular shipping costs apply. Proceeds from this sale will go to support her work at Talita Cumi Children's Home in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (www.Talita

Spindles and More is found at

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Someday soon my sister is coming home. She has not been in the US for at least a year and a half. She's been away, working with MCC in another country. She's actually doing what the rest us us mean when we say "So and so is a Missionary in some-far-away-place."

And while my family and especially our Dad have missed her, we know that she is answering a call to serve. I know some of us are jealous, in a way, that we aren't the ones going, as scary as leaving the "civilized world" seems (until you realize that there are places more truly civilized than where we live). We are staying here, not having the "adventure" (nor the struggles) she is having.

She's learned a different language and dialect (there isn't a place on Earth that actually speaks the Spanish they teach us in school) and a different culture. She's worked with adults and children, some easy to get along with, some not. She hasn't "shoved God" on anyone, true missionaries work with and alongside the people, not over them. And she gets frustrated with her own limitations just like anyone else, but she doesn't have the luxury of sitting back and deciding to let "someone else" do it, she can't because she is that "someone else."

And so she struggles in a far-away-place. And she makes new friends with children at a home for abandoned children. And she experiences sadness when children we've never met get sent home to a bad situation. And she experiences triumph when a plan comes together and children get sponsors. And she experiences joy when some of those same children experience reconciliation with their families.

And still, she is far from home, except that through technology, we can at least see and talk to each other. We cannot touch or hug, hold or comfort.

I want her to know I love her and miss her. And I'm thankful for the women God has made her into, for her willingness to serve and for her beauty that is so much more than skin deep.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Slow going

Confession time: I have not worked on the shawl at all this week. I wanted to. I wanted to see it finished and listed but job stress got to me and I had some paperwork I had to get done too. No fun time for me, though one evening I did work on a pair of socks I'm making for myself for two hours.

Generally, this week, I would come home from work, lay down for a nap, then do dinner, then do some more work and then go to bed (anyone who tells you that teachers "only work from 8-3" has never been a teacher, would never survive as a teacher, and deserves to be the substitute teacher in a rowdy room of middle schoolers, for a week, without lesson plans... IMHO).

So, no time to work on the shawl and let off steam. There it sits, waiting for me to pay attention to it again. I may have some time this weekend, I've already prepped for the all-day conference Monday and the meetings Tuesday...

Anyway, I am a little down about my shawl progress (and the lack thereof).

If you have anything positive to say about spinning, weaving or crocheting or crafts you do, make a comment, I could use the encouragement.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Featured: One Wool Hat

Well, for everyone out there clamoring for a hand spun, hand crocheted, wool hat, there is only ONE in my etsy shop. I have not made any since this one as I am in the middle of a project for my family (see "Other Projects" post).

The wool hat pictured in this posting is made from the yarn I had left from my sheep to shirt project. I started with raw wool (right off the sheep), washed it, dyed it (with kool-aid, aren't the colors awesome and they are wash and color fast) and began to card it.

Hand carding all that wool was a pain in several regions so I sent it away to be made into roving. When I got it back, I spun both the blue and purple into singles and then spun them into yarn before crocheting them into my first sweater.

From the extra yarn, I crocheted this hat. I am only making one hat like this. I may decide to make a matching scarf later, but haven't done so yet. When this particular wool yarn is gone, I won't be able to make more exactly like it.

Click on the picture to enlarge it so you can see the varying thicks and thins of the yarn and its poppin' texture.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Other projects

I know I said this blog is for the work that I list on the Spindles and More etsy site, but I have to digress long enough to say that the reason I haven't been listing more items is that my sister (serving with MCC in Bolivia) asked me to make winter hats for the children living at the children's home where she works. And when family needs something, my own projects get put on hold to take care of that need.

Anyway, the children's home is called Talita Cumi (I usually refer to it as TC). My current project right now is to make 50 winter hats for the kids at TC. I've got 24 done so far and I have until she comes home at Christmas time to get the rest finished. She'll take them back down with her.

Last fall's project was to make crocheted wash cloths (using cotton yarn) for the kids to use. I think the total ended up being 64 (in 3 months). The saddest part of that project is I haven't made a single wash cloth since, even though we need a few here at the house. I just can't make myself make another, maybe next year...

Having spent a month in Bolivia, with my sister at TC, I have to say that I was sadly surprised by the things we take for granted here in the US. Simple things, like having our own toothbrush with toothpaste to put on it. Or how about more than 2 pairs of underwear to wear under our skirts... The people living and working at TC are doing the best they can with limited resources. We figured out that it costs $2 a day per child to live, eat and go to school at TC. The government only pays $.50 per child, per day. Now multiply that times 7 days in a week, times 4.5 weeks in a month, times 12 months in a year, times the roughly 40 children that live at TC...

And somehow TC is supposed to make up the rest of that missing $1.50 per child, per day on its own. It is almost impossible when you consider that once the children are old enough to get jobs (and therefore help support TC) they are old enough to leave TC's care and live on their own. The rest of the children are too young to work. They have come up with a few creative ways to help TC. The children participate in painting scarves that are then offered for sale (they can be ordered from the website). For a period of time they were also making pizzas to sell to the North American schools.

Incidentally, if you want to make a difference in children's lives, Talita Cumi has a website:

25 hours, probably another 10 to go...

Sorry, no pics this time...
I'm hoping it won't take too much longer on the shawl. These last hours of weaving and then finishing, washing and blocking are when I start to drag. I just want it to be finished, but since I'm the only one working on it, it won't magically finish itself. If I take 3-4 hours and work on it without interruptions, I can really get into a groove and get quite a bit accomplished.

The problem with hyper-focusing this way is that I don't interact with anyone during that time and I run the risk of ending up being tired all the next day at work because I lose track of time and only stop when my hands begin cramping (at about the 4.5 hour mark) which somehow ends up being almost 2 in the morning. Since I get up around 6 am and deal with middle schoolers all day, it is not a good mix.

I will probably work on it again tomorrow evening. I do want to get it off the loom. I'm thinking of breaking the loom down for a while and giving myself a little more space in the craft room for some other, ongoing projects. I'll say more about the projects in the next post.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Red and Black Shawl

Well, I've hit the 20 hour mark on the red and black triloom shawl. I predict that I have less than 10 hours to go before it is ready to be listed for sale. WOOHOO!!!

A triangular loom (or triloom for short) is a triangular frame with nails set at measured and matching intervals along all 3 sides. Because the yarn being used serves as both warp (lines running across) and weft (the lines running up and down that are woven over and under the warp) the piece will be finished and can be worn straight off the loom. My triloom has a hypotenuse of 7 ft and legs of 5 ft each. This makes for a weaving area of 12.5 sq. ft (which may not sound like much until you factor in that the diameter of the yarn is less than 1/16 in).

The pics were taken at a higher point looking down toward the shawl, so the warp appear to run into each other (they don't). The first pic shows a relative close up of the right side of the triloom, I put the tassels on to help me see what it will look like when finished.

The second pic shows the difference between the right side which has been "adjusted" so that the weft (up and down lines) will run more vertically instead of drifting (bowing toward the middle, as seen by the left side weft). This adjustment takes a couple hours to do as each string is adjusted individually since I can only move a single weft string left or right about 1/4 inch at a time for a vertical length of about 1 inch. Often you can not see the drift until it has accumulated over the distance of several weft (hence why I wait and then adjust nearer to the end of a color set).

Despite the long time it takes to work on the triloom, I love the simple checked pattern of this shawl. One can, of course, change the pattern by adding other colors to the weaving and end up with some very complicated and beautiful weaving. At this point I'm sticking with the red/black combination because it reminds me of warm flannel and cool autumn days.

Next time, who knows...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Of spindles and spinning

The making the spindles evolved from my wanting to spin wool and not being able to afford the beautiful, hand turned spindles that started at $35 and went up from there. I am a practical person and have made and used my own spindles for 8 years. I do own 3 (of 18 or so) that are "professionally" made, but have found myself not using them as much because I like mine better in that I feel they have more personality than "the other 3". I use acrylic paints because I don't have to wait very long for the paint to dry. The spindles I make are practical enough to use, pretty enough to show off and inexpensive enough to give to someone who is learning to spin and who will be dropping it often in that learning process. They don't refer to them as drop spindles just because they ˆspinˆ downward.

Non-itchy wool

For many people the word "wool" is enough to make them itch, this is not an allergy, but rather an old idea of how wool products felt years ago. I had run-ins with woolen items in the past that were absolutely awful, itchy, scratchy and with that wet dog smell when it got damp. I am very pleased that now days there are wools that are soft enough for me (sensitive-skin queen) to wear directly against my skin. The breeds I use almost exclusively in my items are Rambouillet and Merino because of their softness. And of course, the Rambouillet and Merino are related, the Spanish Merino being the base stock to their French cousins the Rambouillet, both breeds started back when kings ruled the world and everyone wore wool.

Choosing wool or acrylic items

Incidentally, whether to choose wool or acrylic winter items should be taken into consideration when one is purchasing my hats, use wool if you are:
a) in a place that has REAL winter (not a few inches of snow, but rather feet of it with below zero temperatures).
b) not allergic to it.
c) easily kept cold by say, your significant other's insistence on keeping your apartment at low temperatures during the winter.
d) inclined to wear wool because it is natural and you like it better anyway.

Wear acrylic winter hats for:
a) warmer climates.
b) easier laundering care. Chuck it into the washer and then the dryer and wear it again. PLEASE do not do that with wool unless you want it to fit on your child's doll baby. Wool items (unless marked as "superwash") should be gently hand washed and laid out to dry. No tumbling in a dryer.
c) people who do not use any animal products in their lifestyle.

Wool vs. Acrylic yarns

I love what I do. As cliche as that sounds, it is true, from the picking out and purchasing of wool roving, to the spinning and crocheting thereof. I use acrylic and wool yarns, to create my crocheted and woven items. I usually spin the wool into yarn myself. The acrylic yarns are purchased from local stores or ordered online.
I haven't yet mixed acrylic and wool yarns in my items, because I am in entirely different moods when I create with them. I've found that after making several hats with acrylic yarn, I sometimes have difficulty making hats using the wool because their essences seem so different. Wool is a naturally occurring fiber (from a sheep), while acrylic is from a chemical process. Both have their advantages (especially if you are allergic to wool). Acrylic items dry faster, but wool feels warmer to me.

First attempt at a blog and intro.

I have started blog in an attempt to record and highlight the process I go through in the creation of the items I sell on my Etsy site ( Perhaps with a little background to the items there, others will be inspired to try these crafts too (or purchase mine).
I suppose introductions of a sort are appropriate at this junture. As far as basic information goes, I am a Special Education teacher, wife, daughter and big sister (to my younger sibs who are 25 and 22 and engaged).
I am in my thirties and feel just fine about it.
My favorite color is deep, royal purple.
I am left-handed (and proud of it)!
I tend to write the way I think things should sound when read aloud, which may not (gasp) be considered completely proper in the usage of Standard English (which doesn't seem to exist anymore, anyway, just listen to conversations in our schools and on the street).
I am a very visual and kinesthetic person, show me how to do something and I'll be able to do it again on my own. This, incidentally, is why I love crocheting and spinning and making the spindles, I can see the creation coming into existence from the raw materials.

I crochet, spin, weave and make drop spindles as a hobby because I love the process involved and if you hang around here long enough, you might end up liking it too.