Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunkhaze Wildlife Preserve

In Aperture Mode!


I took a few snaps in AUTO to be hopeful something might come out fairly decent if I totally failed this exercise.
But the plan was A mode.
No chickening out!

This adventure was a Sunday Snowshoeing trip with Tom last weekend. We had only found this location before in summertime . . . driven by on the way to Some Place Else
Fishing usually. 

The trail we took was a wooded path that looped out to a platform and back around to the gate. Mostly dark old forest growth, without much to point a camera at. It seemed.

Newly fallen snow made snowshoeing easy although the camera needed protection from an avalanche of snow coming down from the tree tops. Completely buried me and the camera at one point. Not good!

I'm not sure which, if any of these were actually auto mode.  I was uncertain how to find out photo details after the fact. Turns out trying to remember what I did as I practiced in A mode didn't go all that well.

I downloaded software from Nikon's website yesterday so now I should be able to tell.  I had been letting Windows open pictures from the camera but it wasn't very satisfactory.

Winter Finally Arrived

Snowshoeing Adventure

Sara and I headed to Hirundo Wildlife Refuge. She was practicing on new cross country skis and I had the camera around my neck.

Still in AUTO mode but the camera seemed to do a pretty good job until the sun sunk behind a cloudy sky.

Settings. We need to learn them!

When There's NO Snow

 Letterboxing in December! 

The girls and I went looking for local hidden treasures soon after Christmas.  Since I tend to get us lost whenever I'm in charge of the clues, I'm not allowed to hold them. Which works for me! Taking pictures and getting used to the new camera was my priority.

I was still in AUTO mode because the minute I get outside anything learned from watching tutorials or reading the owner's manual has gone out of my head as soon as the lens cap comes off.  It was quite dark along the forested trail. It seems clear neither one of us knew what we were doing.

We only found one of the two hidden boxes, but we may have followed the trail backwards according to the clues.


Monday, February 08, 2016

Giving it my BEST SHOT . . . ?

New Nikon D5500
I got a new camera for Christmas! 

I've watched a lot of YouTube videos esp. this one  . . . over and over again. It takes a while for things to sink in.  Now that I need reading glasses, seeing the menu on the camera is a bitch without them. I hate it!

My plan is to practice taking pictures and to blog a few of the keepers to document my slow learning curve.  As with most things that needs to be learned all over again, I intend to give myself a break. My favorite advice from one of the video tutorials to date: "You'll take a million BAD pictures before you become good at this..." Or something like that. 
I'm up to about 500.

Most of my trips outside have been either walking our trails here at the house or snowshoeing some of the local nature preserves.

My goal from this batch was to end up with a four season series of photos in more or less the same spot halfway down our field. 

The first fall photo with lots of color (when this plan was first hatched) was taken with my old Canon Powershot. 

The frosty morning pictures were taken with my new camera... I think. Probably in auto mode. Winter snow-covered attempts have included too little sunlight, a dog's butt and our tracks messing up the imagined "best shot".  Getting out of auto mode is the goal.

Snow is predicted for this afternoon and tomorrow.
Yay . . . another shot at it soon? 

(Wandering Camera Project link up! ;)

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Treadling X2

1896 Singer treadle sewing machine!

I did a lot of spinning in May. In June I took a break and knit another felted bag using Log Cabin Wool. (the soft fuzzy one in the middle)

There were 2 skeins of white all ready to make another bag. Except I think I'll make mittens! I dyed one of the skeins with blue and green food color. I really like the color it came out.
You never know what you're going to get!!

I may have a "bag problem"! They are addictive to knit and although I've given a couple away...   
I seem to have a few on hand.

I finished plying 2 "Fine" singles inspired by the latest issue of PLY.  Sara gave me a birthday gift of fiber from One Lupine. And a baby lamb! Stuffed :)
It was very nice fiber and I did my best to spin thin. So different from the fat fluffy 3 ply I was getting into a spinning groove with recently. Probably a good idea to change things up. The other fiber is Mohair. Yikes! Never tried that yet and may procrastinate a bit longer.
Since July I have spun 5 more skeins of  the grey Romney from Log Cabin Wool. I finished carding the last of it into 4 batts but set it aside last night to begin working on the 2 Tunis fleeces from Montana!

Meanwhile . . .

I've had my grandmother's Singer treadle sewing machine since Aunt Vena gave it to me in the 90's. I got so far as buying a new belt for it but gave up trying to get it to work when it didn't just GO! and moved on to other things. In June I started oiling all the moving parts (and wiping down the dust).
In July it sewed stitches for the first time in about 50 years!!
It still needed some work as the bobbin winder was seized up so I had to wind it by hand. The wire spring on the tension knob was pretty much nonfunctional. I ordered a new one. It cost $1.69 plus s/h. Plus there was a $3.50 minimum so I ordered an oil bottle.


I have since fixed the bobbin winder.
With a hair dryer!
When days upon days of oiling failed to budge a thing someone on Ravelry suggested a blow dryer. It was like magic after just a few minutes of heat I had a perfectly functioning bobbin winder!
(Also worked to loosen the stitch length knob. ;)
I have now sewn 16 twelve inch crazy squares and am now deciding whether or not to use my new-fangled vintage Viking 960 with its nicer selection of feet attachments . . . 
or keep treadling!

In June I decided to rip out our old patio stones that had begun disintegrating from winter rock salt and build this new walkway. Tom helped me collect rocks from the woods with the ATV.  I spent 2 weeks putting the "puzzle pieces" together. My brother made me the bench!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

February became March

AND winter stayed...

(and stayed!)

Photo is first day of spring.  
It snowed again a few days later.

I'm ready to complain about the heat & black flies!!


I went to my first Spin-In February 21st. 
In Newport there was a room filled with spinning wheels and people spinning them. 
I was there by myself - a little frightened - when some lovely ladies welcomed me into their group.  They all raised angora bunnies and were the friendliest bunch! 

Lots of vendors were there selling fiber.
I came home with a roving in fall colors, some alpaca, llama (that I won) and some green dyed locks (which I would have left had I known how awful it was.)  Almost impossible to pull apart. Felted. Cotted? Don't know! Whatever it was... it kind of sucked. I managed to get 2 skeins spun of 3-ply by spinning thicker and letting the lumps and bumps go by.  Sort of. It's not really in my nature to let that perfectly awful clump stay put. NOT stopping every few inches to pick it off was a challenge.
It should be good for making some more felted bags and I'll consider it another lesson in not basing purchases on "ooh pretty!"  
I really need to be more picky when buying fiber. 
What I really want is a fleece fresh from a farm. Cut out the middle man and do it all myself.  Some WARM weather for drying it outside would be nice.
I finally got brave enough to try food color dyeing!
I also learned "pretty colors" blended together can make muddy, not quite what I expected colorways. It looked like a copper penny while spinning it, but the green of one of the plies really took over. 

I found a free felted bag pattern that I followed the 2 color striping sequence for.  
They are really quite addictive.  I've made 4!
I've been using some of my early handspun including the 20 year old stuff I practiced with. 

I also made one of these bags in fleece from the 2 Lagrange farms locally. 
Picture to follow next time camera is out.

I crocheted a bit...made 2 bunnies with requested purple sweaters. One still needs the face finished.

And I cast on for a sweater out of handspun. Hoping it fits.  A free pattern until the end of March.  My sweater attempt has become a UFO about to be ripped out as a bad idea. Not to mention freaking boring.

(hope it begins soon ;)


Sunday, February 01, 2015

January Review

Finished things . . .

There's a beast in my Yarn Bowl!

I kept busy for the month of January and got lots done . . . more than I thought before I gathered pictures of things to blog about.

Wild Thing by Susan Claudino is a pattern for sale on Ravelry. I made one before Christmas in thin sock weight yarn on size 1 needles. 
A couple of weeks ago I decided to make one in thicker yarn on size 3 needles.  CUTE! 
I followed the pattern a little better the 2nd time around. He's the beast from the children's book Where the Wild Things Are.
I got LOTS of spinning done - 7 skeins of 3 ply during the month of January!!!

My drum carder got a good workout. 6 of the 7 skeins were fleece I put through the drum carder. The light gray was some I hand carded last fall from the Common Ground Fair.
I got it all washed this morning to "set the twist". 
It's drying on the back of an old easel.

I found a free felted bag pattern with a braided strap that I'm thinking of making with the brown/gray Tom gave me for Christmas.
Except it's only in German! 
Think I got it figured out with the help of a group on Ravelry. Once I studied the numbers and the picture it sort of makes sense even without understanding all the words. 
(That's what she said! We'll see.)

I enjoyed spinning with fiber from my new drum carder better than just about any I've purchased so far.
Very happy with the decision to buy one.

It did need a bit of unexpected maintenance. Fibers had built up on the inside axles of the drums.  It started turning harder for a day or two and then it wouldn't turn at all. There is so little space between the frame I had to remove 5 screws  from the side panel in order to get it cleaned out. 
I had remembered seeing the diagram for taking it apart  when I first took it out of the box. 
Hoping not to have to do that too often!

AND. I've KNIT 2 pair socks already!
Okay... Size 5 needles with thicker yarn goes faster than a fancy pattern in size 1's. 
BUT they're from my own early hand spun yarn!
One pair was dyed in Orange, Red and Yellow Kool-Aid. They're a little scratchy but not sure if it's because of beginner spinning or maybe 20 year old fleece?  BOTH!

The market bag is a UFO I dug out of hiding. One of my 2015 goals was to finish things I've gotten bored with and left sitting around. PLUS:
Knit with hand spun.
Finish processing fleece I own ... before buying more.

So far so good!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Another New Year ...where was I?

Spinning and other things.

Mostly spinning!

I make pretty good yarn now :) 

Yarn I don't mind knitting with - although deciding what to knit takes ages as I seem to go round in circles deciding what would make a good match.  
Is there enough? (usually NOT!) 
Is it too thick or too thin?  
It's been thick & thin more often than not. But it's getting better.

I started AND finished a pair of socks this week in some merino I bought from Bountiful last April. They are really more like croc socks or slipper socks as I spun it last summer and was still doing 2-ply. Not sure how well they will stand up with wear. They should make nice, warm spinning socks as I don't wear shoes EVER while treadling my Ladybug.

I decided to save towards a drum carder for Christmas 2014. 
My beautiful daughters took the $400 I had built up and added the rest. It came a week before and I dutifully left it right in the box until Christmas day.
Once again I chose a piece of equipment sight unseen. I had never touched a drum carder but I decided I wanted one. Once I picked which one a family friend tried to talk us into driving several hours away to test some out. 
It's winter in Maine and driving tends to suck quite often. There were blizzard like conditions at the time and so I convinced the girls NO.  
I want what I want! 
(Free shipping, no taxes if comes from out of state AND there was a sale!)

I've spun 3 new skeins in 2015 already. 
Two of them I processed through my new Ashford Drum Carder!

I was afraid it was beginner's luck or a fluke that my first test run through the carder was spinning so nicely. The next batch is spinning nicely as well. 

I  had grabbed some dyed purple locks from One Lupine and after finger picking and putting through the carder it was like spinning cotton candy!  I told Tom I wanted 4 purple sheep in whatever breed it was. Turned out to be Romney. I didn't to ask at the time I bought it but a quick email solved the mystery.  

Tom gifted me with 2 big bags of washed fleece also from One Lupine. All he remembered was that it was washed once and came from a farm in Lagrange. I bought my first half fleece at the Common Ground Fair in September 2014 ... also from Lagrange.  Turns out the lady farmers are next door neighbors. I WANT TO BE THEIR FRIEND. Or volunteer apprentice :)

I also discovered NEEDLE FELTING a couple of months ago! Lots of snowmen were made, complete with knitted scarf and hats.    
And the frog from Woolbuddies.  I borrowed the book from the library and decided it was a keeper. Sara gave it to me for Christmas!

I have made a few New Year Goals including reviving my African Violets (down to 2 trays) and blogging occasionally. PLUS Finishing more of the things I've started. 
More to come...  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Slippery Slope.

I never knew I wanted to be a spinner.  

Through the years old spinning wheels were regularly seen in antique shops around here; usually broken, with missing parts even to my untrained eyes. I remember carefully reaching out a finger and daring to poke wheels to make them turn a bit whenever we came across one.  
But I never really thought, "gee, I want one of these." I can make yarn now! 

Yarn I look forward to knitting or weaving with. 
And soon I want to try dyeing some of this creamy, off-white freshly hand spun yarn into lovely new colors.  NEXT!

In April my cousin Mark gave me 3 bags filled with old fleece from long ago when he raised sheep. 
I couldn't remember how long it had been, but I did know Sara & Steph were still young when they went next door with Grammie to see the baby sheep. 
I dug through some old photo albums and found pictures dated 1991. 
He doesn't remember what kind of sheep they were.
Except one was named Gloria and one Jane!    
One of them had silky long locks and in hindsight should have been kept separate.

A wiser person would probably have passed on this gift, rather than be so quick to jump in with both feet. 
Who teaches herself to process fleece with less than 2 months of practice, learning to spin?!
"I don't know what I'm doing!" has been uttered many times now.

I dumped it all on a tarp. There were rips in the bags it had been stored in. If there was anything making a nest inside I figured it was better to find out quickly. Outside!

I sorted using my own grading system:
Gross. Grosser. Grossest.
Grossest went to trashcan with no looking back.
This has not been a job for the squeamish. Veggie matter is a polite description for what these critters got stuck to themselves long ago. 
My first two skeins were done using a regular comb and a washer as a Diz. 
By the end of April I had my new Hand Carders from Paradise Fiber.
I look forward to my next fleece being not quite so vintage.  
Slippery Slope!!

Practicing with this old fleece has been freeing in a way. For as much work as it takes to get it ready to spin, I don't worry about wasting money on the expensive bags of fiber I bought, still waiting because of this new distraction. I get to figure things out and if it doesn't go as well as I liked, I get to pull a bit off and try again.  Like joining new ends smoothly.
There's no more anxiety or guilt for the time I took until I was ready to begin spinning. Simply anticipation of the next slot of time I happily give to my spinning wheel. Sometimes a bobbin will fill.  Another bobbin might be started and before I know it an hour or more has passed.  
I actually enjoy the process of plying many spinners seem to find a chore. 
It feels like accomplishment to me!
As I go about my daily routine now, my Schacht Ladybug sits in the corner made by our couch and a small thrift-store end table that I sanded, buts still needs finishing.  
Just out of the traffic flow of the living room. 
(No, it's NOT a projector!)

Jax shoves her half-peeled soccer ball under my elbow to coax me into doing something different after I've hardly gotten started. She lays her head on my left knee and makes it feel as heavy as she can until she gets what she wants. I tried to take a picture of her face looking up at me and keep treadling. Doesn't work too good. She's worked out how to get her way:
Lunch, a walk, or peanut butter, please!

Darling Blue Trail in bloom. (Distraction from first use of my new bread machine: FAIL.)
Note to Mrs. John: wait til you see one of my Tiger Trail plants!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

So, where was I . . . ?

Catching up with myself!

(There's been spinning... eventually.)

During the winter of 2013 the great Fox Project was begun. Fox Mittens were knit madly, in time for the holiday shopping rush. Every order that could be filled in time for Christmas gift-giving would be knit. 

There were many pairs sold, as well as the pattern on Ravelry! 

It paid for my new spinning wheel, and then some, for which I'm so happily grateful.  

I was also exhausted by the time this big box arrived. Plus, there were still mittens to be sent before learning to spin could begin.

And then something most unexpected, and a bit frightening, happened in January and part of February.  There was a bit of a delay before I pronounced myself ready to learn to use my wonderful new spinning wheel.  Exhaustion from not sleeping well and worry over several older relatives, combined with holiday blues and the never ending winter left me as close to a nervous breakdown as I ever want to get. It didn't help that I gave up caffeine and was experiencing withdrawal symptoms I didn't even recognize for several days. I actually went to the internet to see if it was a "real" thing. It was suggested symptoms could last a week or two. I couldn't see straight half the time and went so far as handing over the car keys and refusing to drive or be responsible for anyone's care besides Tom and myself.

(And the dog!)  We did a lot of snowshoeing, although half the time my surroundings were a blur as I focused on one step at a time. My spinning wheel sat on a desktop, safely out of harms way until I was ready. I watched lots of online video for beginners and went to the library fiber festival February 22nd just so I could stand behind a lady spinning to watch what her hands were doing. It was helpful. Drafting is a bit of a mystery until it finally clicks and just starts happening.  That was the morning I officially began teaching myself.  I got off to a bit of a shaky start, but always kept it in my mind learning how to spin could take as long as it took.  Even as I muttered laughingly to myself several times "I might really suck at this!" I never believed I would not figure it out.  Happily, I am now making "yarn"!

Okay... the first couple of skeins were more like rope! 
This was my first 2-plied carded Romney from the Woolery, spun quite thick in some places; too thin in others.  I made myself knit with it, using the thickest skeins as the bottom layer of soles for my favorite felted slippers. My arms ached from knitting with it, but it might have been a good lesson: I needed to spin thinner and more consistently so knitting would not hurt!  The slippers are finished - using all my own hand-spun! They still need to be washed to see how well they felt.