I has been a rough couple of months. As I don't like to whine or solicit sympathy, it has kept me rather quiet. Time to change that. Today is the first day of a new year; it is my birthday.
It hasn't been all bad. I have been enjoying the company of Kay and Kerry. The other day, we had a girls night out with pedicures. This pampering thing . . . good stuff. I could get used to it.
Kerry is such a joy! She is smart and funny and loves to read. And, an adorably cute snuggle bunny. Did I mention that she is interested in craftiness? Santa brought her a little potholder loom for Christmas and she immediately made something pink. I might add that the design is all hers. A bit of talent in that wee lass.
This coming weekend she will stay with us. We are planning on cooking together. She is such a picky eater; maybe if she cooks it, she will eat it. I hope so! She is so tiny and thin (the first tip-off that she is not of my genetic stock). Any advice on feeding a picky eater?
I am also going to teach her to spin. She always wants to treadle my wheel, spin my fiber, or knit my projects. Clearly she needs her own projects. I am so excited I can barely wait! Being a grandma rocks!
There have been itty-bitty bits of fiberishness around here. A handspun hat for Roger (superwash BFL spun to a sport weight). He is holding Clara Mae, a one week old bundle of joy manufactured by our friends Rick and Heidi.
Handspun for a scarf and mittens for Kerry (why, yes, it IS pink). The larger skein is merino-tencel in pink and brown, should stripe nicely. The smaller is merino-silk. Yes, probably a bit extravagant for an eight year old, but she is so worth it.
Gotta go! Time to go renew my drive's license with a brand new picture. Quick, while the big ole zit on my cheek is still large and angry!
In my last post I mentioned that I would be vending at SOAR. Since I am a solo operation now, I do a fellow fiber fiend to help me out at shows. Enter Velma. If you don't know Velma, you should. She is fun, funny, earnest, sweet, smart, and all around lovely. Did I mention that she is hee-LAIR-ious?
Give the woman some chocolate and she gets nutty.
Now referred to as the chocoincident.
You can find her in Velma's World. She also spins art yarns and dyes fibers at COLORBOMB Creations. Her color sensibility is rather different than mine (read bright and LOUD!) in a delightful way.
She went with me to California Wool & Fiber (aka Boonville) last month. We camped out behind the fairgrounds. (The camper wasn't with us yet, the clutch dropped out as we were driving it to my house for loading. At least that happened close to home!) When we were breaking down the campsite to go home, Velma caught this shot of me.
Yup, that's me with my finger in the air valve. She says I am adorkable. Did I mention that she is a wordsmith? Love that! Life is always interesting in Velma's World.
Wow, it has been quite a while since I last blogged. Well, in writing. I have written many blog posts in my head. They were all brilliant and poignant and fascinating.
I do have a reason for my silence. Life has been all about changes lately. I started working for my father two days a week. Has has a business in Oakland that makes furniture and houses out of trees from the urban forest. These are trees that need to come out for a construction project or have fallen and need to be removed. Instead of them being chipped into mulch, he makes gorgeous works of functional art. My job is administrative. I manage accounts, write proposals, create invoices, streamlining processes . . . You know, all the glamorous stuff.
What this job lacks in glamor it makes up for in satisfaction. It is such a joy to see so much of my father and it is immensely satisfying to be able to help him. I am trying to take the mundane tasks off his plate so he can be the fabulous creative leader he doesn't get enough time to be. I look forward to my work days.
On the Tactile side of life there are big changes too. I am now the sole owner of Tactile. It is exciting and a bit scary. There is safety in knowing you have someone else to rely on and help shoulder the load. I feel confident that I can do it and I am looking forward to the new challenges that await me.
Speaking of Tactile, Fiber Club is open for new (and returning) members. It is always a fun process to dye the club fiber. It is one of the things that keeps dyeing fresh and challenging for me. Often, I don't know exactly what I am going to do until I get in there and start playing.
In more Tactile news, I have a show right around the corner. SOAR aka Spin-Off Autumn Retreat. I am so thrilled to be vending there. SOAR is like spinning camp with all the people you like best in the spinning world. This year it is n Bend, Oregon.
I am getting there in a new (to me) ride. There is a camper in my husband's family that has been sitting in the back pasture at my father-in-law's house. It had been so long since I'd seen it, that I had completely forgotten about it.
Stylish isn't it? Looks aside, it is in amazingly good shape. All it needed was to have the goat dimple popped out of the hood (goats LOVE the high ground!) and a thorough cleaning. My husband Roger spent a whole day cleaning out and setting up the camper. Why? Because it was something he could do for me at a crazy busy moment in my life. Awwww! Love that man! He has been so supportive and helpful through all the recent changes. He is my rock.
We decided to take the camper on a test trip before I head out for SOAR. What could be more fun than camping in the redwoods with your favorite 7 (almost 8) year old? She had never been camping. Can you imagine that?
We headed north a couple of hours to Austin Creek SRA, outside of Guerneville, California and camped by Bull Frog Pond. It was just a quick overnight trip and we got in just before sunset. In the morning we awoke to a gorgeous foggy morning. Just the thing for a northern California girl! Love me some fog!
Recently a friend came to visit us. Luckily, we just finished fixing up Kay's old room as a fiber & yarn / guest room (a.k.a. The Study).
We (okay really this is Roger's handiwork, however, it is MY blog so I shall take some credit) stripped the room down to studs, added insulation, and put in new doors and windows. The wall treatment is a picture rail, chair rail, and a plaster finish below the chair rail (not shown, but it is a lovely warm tan). The room is the nicest one in the house now complete with a comfy fold out couch (segue back to the guest).
Gretchen spent 5 wonderful days with us. We explored the East Bay, ate yummy food (we pulled out our mad cookin' skillz), and just hung out. She kept me mightily entertained during long hours of fiber and yarn washing.
I know Gretchen via an old and wonderful friend, not via fibery/yarny goodness. However, she is a knitter (we are EVERYWHERE!). I was even able to lure her into the wonderful world of yarn making. We started with a spindle, but she quickly moved on to my Matchless. A natural spinner!
I think I may have learned a new spinning trick from her.
I so enjoyed having a house guest; I'm busily inviting out of town fiber friends. Okay, maybe some non-fibery friends too (maybe I can convert them?!?). You know who you are!
We had a great time at The Lake last weekend. I love spending time with my daughter Kay and her daughter (yes, that makes me a grandma a.k.a. GraMaia) Kerry. So much cuteness!
Kerry is so cute I can barely stand it. Did I mention that she is also smart, funny, polite, and well-behaved? She is perfect! Granted, I may be biased, but she IS fabulous by any measure!
Pardon my absolutely horrible hair! Yech! Kerry's hair is twisted like 2-ply yarn. How awesome is that?
Did I mention that she pestered me all weekend about learning to knit (she calls it sewing). She kept taking my yarn scraps and extra needles to imitate me. Next time I am coming with worsted weight yarn and needles. A beginner spindle might be a good idea too. Did I mention she is perfect? Did I mention how lucky I am?
I am so very excited about this book! The author, Novella Carpenter, is a friend of mine and a very talented story teller. This book is about her adventures creating an urban farm in a vacant lot in a ghetto neighborhood of Oakland, California.
From the back cover: <snip> "By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing." -- Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food (yes, THAT Michael Pollan!).
I started the first chapter and it was all I could do to put it down and get back to work. Like her blog, Ghost Town Farm, I expect this to be a great read.
My maternal grandmother was a tremendous influence on me. Today would have been her 96th birthday. She died 23 years ago when I was 23 years old. Half my life ago, yet my memories of her are still strong.
Every year I celebrate this day as a remembrance of her. She was my anchor and my guiding star. I know I am verging into the sappy zone here, but it is true. The sun rose and set on her.
This is a picture of us taken in her back yard in 1972. I am wearing a hand knit dress that she made for me.
I want to send out a big thank you to all the grandmothers, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, and friends who invest in the children of their lives. It is a great and wonderful thing you do just by being there.
My Grammie loved fruit breads. I used to make her bundt cakes when she visited. In her honor, I will share a recipe for Banana Bundt Cake. It really is a banana bread with an icing, but I have terrible luck with banana bread so I am calling it cake. I made this over the weekend and it was a big hit.
Banana Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Icing Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
3 cups pastry flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt Sift or whisk together.
4 very ripe bananas 3 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 3/4 cup oil 2 oz Pernod * 1/2 cup buttermilk 1 1/2 cups brown sugar In a large bowl, break up the bananas with a whisk. They don't need to be completely liquefied. Whisk in the eggs followed by the vanilla, oil, Pernod, buttermilk, and brown sugar.
1/2 cup ground toasted pecans (optional, but it gives a wonderful texture to the cake) 1 banana, sliced Stir the flour mixture into banana mixture with the ground pecans and sliced banana.
Pour into a well greased and floured bundt pan. If you don't have a bundt pan, use two 9 inch cake pans or two loaf pans. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes and then turn it out onto a plate.
Cream Cheese Icing 4 oz cream cheese at room temperature 1 Tablespoon sour cream 1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon zest 1/3 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar Whisk cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Whisk in lemon juice and zest. Add powdered sugar to taste. This icing should be thick, but not stiff. Pour over bundt cake.
This cake is quick and easy to make, tasty, and looks great.
If you don't have enough overripe bananas all at once, stick them in the freezer as they occur. When you have 4, it is time for cake! Frozen and thawed bananas mash very easily too.
* I you don't want to use Pernod, substitute brandy or just use more buttermilk.
If you wait to take a picture,this is all you get:
I am still floating on a SOAR high. It was so much fun! Warning: there will be a crazy number of pictures in this post.
As I mentioned in my last post I took Deb Menz's 3-day workshop. That was very interesting and she is a fabulous teacher. Last time I showed you my complimentary color yarn. Here it is as the start of a scarf. I have very mixed feelings about it. They color shifting is not really working for me; it looks so gray. Okay, I know that is the point of a complimentary color blending exercise, but I am still disappointed (absolutely no reflection on Deb or her class). What do you think? Be honest. Will it be worthy of gifting?
For the retreat sessions I took Wrap and Roll with Sarah Anderson, Spindle Spinning with Rudy Amann, and Spinning Big and Lofty Yarns with Maggie Casey. I saw the wrap and roll article in Spin-Off and thought it was a great idea. Whenever I have tried to make coil yarns I have had a terrible time keeping the core from getting overtwisted. This simplifies the process. I know it seems odd to consider spinning a spindle while spinning on a wheel making supercoils simple, but it is pretty fun when you get the groove going.
My favorite retreat session was Mohair and More with Robin Russo. She gave us an assortment of goat fibers to spin and explained the differences between them. It seems that goat fiber is not classified by breed as much as it is by fineness. We played with mohair, pygora, and cashmere. Yum! Best of all, she provided us with a handy punch card to put our samples on. I felt so organized leaving her class!
One of the highlights of my week was going to the Home Textile Tool Museum. It is a great collection of spinning, weaving, and dyeing tools. The folks there are so nice and knowledgeable. We took a tour or of the buildings and saw so many antique tools like a gossip wheel. It is a wheel with two bobbins. The wheel turns both so the the spinner can spin two singles at the same time, one in each hand. Crazy! They were also doing a natural dye demonstration using plants grown on their property. Gotta love that.
The best part for me was the great wheels. I got to spend an hour spinning on several different great wheels. What fun! It was my first time and I loved it. For those of you not familiar with great wheels (also known as walking wheels), they are quite large and don't have a treadle. The spinner drafts with one hand and turns the wheel with the other. As you draft, you walk away from the wheel to extend the singles yarn being made. When you have walked as far as you can, you wind the yarn onto the spindle. The spindle is a pointy metal rod similar to charkha. The singles are spun off the end of the point and then wound onto the spindle by holding them perpendicular to the spindle. Silly me did not take her camera. :-( A great wheel and a charkha can be seen here.
The most exciting great wheel was the pendulum wheel (click for detail). The drive wheel is still large and turned by hand, but the spinner sits. To extend the singles, the spindle is on a counter-weighted pendulum with a treadle attached. As the spinner drafts, they press on the treadle to push the spindle further away. Oh how I wish I had a photo to show you! I loved spinning on this wheel so much. If only I had a larger house . . .
A huge thank you to Fluff N Nonsense for letting me use her picture. Another picture of this wheel can be found here. She has some other pictures from the museum that are well worth viewing.
The bestest (they were all the best parts really) part of SOAR was the people. So many blog friends that I met for the first time, old friends to see again, and new friends. Here are a few (click to bigify):
Steve - maker of the wonderful Spindlewood spindles, Fibergal - maker of gorgeous spindlespun lace and font of wisdom, Fiberguy - maker of great fun and our swill-meister, and Anne - maker of great book things fiber related.
Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks (love her rare breed fibers!) and Sheila (I need soak up more of her knitting knowledge).
Marcy (see what happens when you make silly faces!)
Janel looking radiant. By the way, have you seen the new Spindlicity? I highly recommend it.
Aquilina who came all the way from Peru to share her Andean fiber traditions with us. What a treat! I believe it was her first time outside Peru. She is wearing her everyday clothes. It is the traditional garb for her town; each town has it's own style, patterns, and traditions.
Nilda in her traditional Andean clothes. She is the author of Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands (fabulous book) and the founder of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. The Center has restored the local textile traditions of the Cusco area. People are again using natural dyes, spinning, knitting, and weaving, traditions that almost died out. It has also brought jobs, money, and respect to the traditional peoples. She gave a very moving talk on Sunday morning that had us all wanting to travel there for a workshop.
Dork that I am, the only pictures I got of the fall colors was on the drive back to the airport.