When I was in California, I shopped a couple of local yarn shops.

One was Purlescence. They had spinning wheels on the floor! and full size floor looms! And great drop spindles! I was looking for local yarn (another story about that later) and they have their own line of yarn, that they process and dye on site. It's called "Purl up and Dye" - a great name. I got a couple of skeins in bright pink - enough to make a pair of socks - PLUS. I also got a pretty heave drop spindle. The down side of the store is that there are "New Age" signals (but I've shopped such stores that have been fine) and the biggest detractor to the experience was that the operator/manager was not all that friendly. Phil wanted to see a spinning wheel in action and they were having a spinning class in the back. They were taking a break, and rather than just letting us know that it was a private area, she was pretty rude, and physically put her body in between us and the class. It would have been easy to let us watch the instructor for a minute. What was interesting was that when I as there by myself earlier, I didn't have that experience. Perhaps I was there on a mission (shopping for yarn, not wheels) or maybe the presence of an alpha male upset the balance of their universe.

The other store was Green Planet Yarn. I pre-judge the store by the name, thinking that this one would be the "New Age" store. Wrong! They had a wonderful selection of non-animal, sustainable and third world yarn. I picked up a couple of different yarns, one made out of sugar cane, the other out of cotton and wood fiber, in beautiful, soft color. The sales women went out of their way to talk about how to care for the yarn, how to combine skeins to get a consistent color (the yarns were make suing local and ancient dying techniques) - which is not a big deal when making socks.

Short story, if I'm in CA and want a spinning wheel, spindle or class, Purlescence is the only party in town. For local and specialty yarn, Green Planet is the planet I'll be choosing.

Tom lost his hat, so I started a new one (better color for him, and hopefully a better size)

The yarn is Plymouth Yarn: Encore. Color is 1444 (dark brown) and the dye lot is 45747

I wound a ball of hand spun alpaca; not enough to do anything with (yet) but I have a new pattern for a coffee cup sleeve that will work out nicely, I think)

Spinning and making yarn is an interesting process, starting with the shearing (I got all this fiber for helping on shearing day)

The point I'm at in the photo is after spinning and spinning (later on that) and then you have to let is set in water to "set the twist."


I almost finished a pair of socks.  Really...close.

The knitting is done and all I have to do is graft the toe closed.  I started another sock (purple and gray stripe).

I did a dumb thing with my spinning wheel - I pounded the nail in the end of my treadle in because it stuck out too far (this attaches the treadle to the leg of the wheel.)  The "unintended consequence" is that now it won't come out - a problem because I have to fix the treadle, which involves taking the treadle off...

Life is settling in and I'm blogging again.

Spinning again...

I've got a fine thread going and a thicker thread that is a lovely violet/green combo from Zweeliger's (I know I got the spelling wrong) in Frankenmuth.

Spinning is pretty mindless for me, so I can listen to podcasts while I spin.  I don't have a niddy-noddy to skein the yarn (I'm going to Home Depot tomorrow to pick up the PVC pipe to make one - I made a smaller one but I want a 2-yard skein for this yarn.  I know I made one that size but I think it's at work.)

I've got a few dozen yards plyed (three stands of thread twisted together) that I can make into a skein as soon as I have the niddy-noddy made.

Next weekend I'm taking a little field trip to Frankenmuth to drop off alpaca fiber to have it made into roving - I don't want to spend the money on a drum carder that I'll use only a few times - besides, Zwellinger's will wash the fiber for me.

As I knit, I've been knitting socks, I've been using a variety of patterns.  After browsing patterns (mostly looking at pictures, I can sort out the patterns later) I noticed that they mostly follow the same basic structure.

Cast on 64 (56, 48, 32).  Are all socks multiples of 8?  The vast majority, yes.  ok.

There are only two places that the sock "decreases" - the heel and the toe.  I use the "magic loop" method of sock knitting, so I have the sock in two parts (the top of the foot and the bottom of the foot).  You decrease 1 stitch at both ends of both these parts every other row.

For a while I worried about trying to remember if I had decreased the even rows or the odd rows and then I just decided that (if I had to) I would adjust the pattern so that I also decreased on the odd rows.


During the decrease times, I knit even (no increase, no decrease) on the even rows.

Once I established this habit, it became...well, a habit.  I have a row counter, if it's an even row, I knit even.


One of the big political flaps of the week was the Letterman/Palin media scuffle.

Other than the "top ten" lists, I'm not a big Letterman fan.  I appreciate the Palin family's protection (even if overly dramatic) of their child.

Matthew 18 may (or may not) apply - Letterman does not claim to be a brother in Christ.  But we are to show the world how repentance and forgiveness works.  If Palin had gone privately to Letterman first, perhaps there would have been a different ending?    Right now, the sincerity of the  apology is being debated; if the confrontation had been private and Letterman had said the same thing, there would be no debate.

Palin made political hay.  While I understand her very public defense of her daughter and would most likely (at the very least have been tempted to) do the same, she still made hay.

Over the last couple of days, Sarah Palin had two roads.  Her "acceptance" of the apology is just as insincere as the apology is made out to be.  Her chiding had no place in the forgiveness by a Christian.

"Of course it's accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve."

In an ideal world, it would have been

"Of course, on behalf of women everywhere, it's accepted."

Period.  Just as "sorry...but..." apologies have a more appropriate ending, so do acceptances.

But that is what is it is.

Just as important:


Just as important is the response of Christians.

I've written before about how an apology is a cheap substitute for real repentance.  and "I accept" is a cheap substitute for real forgiveness.

Real forgiveness means restoration and a promise to not hold the offense against the offender again.  Ever.

An opportunity to show the Gospel has been passed up.  If the Palins (including Willow) had agreed to be on Letterman's show and if Willow had held Letterman's hand and said,

"We all do things that are wrong and we all need forgiveness.   I have been forgiven by God and I forgive you."

What would that have told the world?

But no...there is hay to be made.

1 Comment

The plan is to complete a project - start to finish.

Starting with the animal.

Shearing day was yesterday.  I started out with meeting the alpaca a couple of months ago.  His name is "Raffle Tickets" and he's two years old.  He's also never been sheared so he has a lot of baby hair left and some of the fleece is about a foot long.
SDC13911 The "VM" (vegetable matter) that sticks to him is because of the baby hair that is much finer than the adult hair.

I was able to spend a few minutes combing him before shearing to remove a lot of it - there's still a lot to go!

I don't have a good "pre" photo, but here's what I have:DSC00240.

Here's the process:  The shearer has a table that tilts both ways.  Starting with the table top "up and down", lead the animal to the table with his (or her - but I'll use "his" because Raffle Tickets is a male)  body parallel to the table top.  There's a wide belt that goes around his belly and 4 straps that attach to his feet.  Mostly we could get two of the foot straps on while the animal was on the ground.  You flip the table so it's flat and get the other foot straps on, stretching the beast's legs to either end of the table.   They leave the halter on and as long as the animal's head is immobilized, they don't fight and mostly lay very still.  If they think they can move their head, they try to get up.  I was the "head holder" for about 8 shearings.

Once the animal is on the table, the shearer goes to work (the whole table thing sounds like torture, but I've seen sheep being sheared that are not immobilized and it seems much worse because they fight and get nicked with the clippers - they are more likely to get hurt.)

The ranch where I was sorts the fleece into 3 bags (Firsts, seconds, and trash) - based on the consistency of the fleece.  The "first" clipping is from the back and sides - if the animal is a "good" animal, up the neck and sometimes the back legs).  The "second" is the legs and belly.  The "trash" is the shorter stuff from the rest of the neck, legs, etc - whatever didn't get caught in the first two runs).  EVEN THE TRASH IS GOOD.   Our last trip to the ranch, several bags of trash was donated to our classroom - we're using it to learn to spin and we're doing a lot of needle felting with it.  But it's not consistent enough to market.

DSC00241I was a good "head holder".

In order to shear the neck and head, you have to take their harness off and hold them by their ears and pick up their heads (it's important to hold their ears up and out of the way so they don't get nicked with the clippers)  Then you "throw the head" to a person on the other side of the table; as the head comes up, so does the body and you just sort of flip them's a lot smoother than it sounds.

As the shearer gets the other side of the animal, the "head holder" puts the harness back on.

As all of this is going on, the animal also has his "top knot" clipped with scissors, gets any shots from the vet and gets his teeth and hooves checked (and trimmed if needed).

When all this is done, his feet are let loose and the belt is loosely wrapped around him again (just for steering now) and the table is tilted in the other direction.  He gently slides off the table and lands on his feet - all done!

I've started a blogger blog for this's going to be quite a deal! I got 8.4 pounds of fleece so now I start the process of washing, cleaning (VM), combing, carding, spinning and knitting (or weaving)

or not...

dad and me

I acquired this spinning wheel from a co-worker (out of her barn), in an unworking state.   There were a few minor things wrong with it and a couple of parts missing.

I thought of my dad and I wanted to work on this with him.  We took a little time this weekend (less than I thought it would take) and...
We have thread!WE HAVE STRING!

Not very pretty, not very even...but the wheel is (sort of) in working order.  You can see the slot where a piece is holds the spindle in place and there is a nut missing that will hold the holder in place.  Without that nut, the holder slides away from the whorl (where the outside piece of string is) and the string comes off of the big wheel, so the drive "string" comes off, which brings a halt to the spinning.

Here's the catch.  There are only 4 pieces of metal on this thing - it is put together with wood pegs and all of the nuts and screws are made of wood.  So the threads are carved.  What we need to do is find a slightly larger metal nut than we need and wrap the peg in some sort of fabric to protect the wood threads and use the metal (until if/when we can find somebody to carve a new wooden one).

I also need to find somebody with a lathe who can make a couple of new whorls and about 4 spindles.