Friday, February 27, 2009

Art of Alzheimer's

This is a red beret that Rick sent with a few other things for Mom to play/make art with. It wasn't intended that she make art with the beret, but she has never let the intended use of an object stop her.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Which, if any?

Do any of these buttons work?

Why do I have such a hard time picking out buttons? I see other people with cool, big buttons on their scarflette, neck thingy, whatever you call this, and love the effect. I look at these and think, I don't know, does this look ok?

I made this using the new peg loom. I really like the loosely woven texture and look of this. There will be more.

We are having thundersnow and lightning right now. It's coming down like crazy out there. I was out to do chores before it got too deep, and my cleats failed. I came down hard on my elbow. Just remember that it is always better to divide whatever you're carrying between two buckets to help keep your balance better. That's your tip of the day, two buckets, even if it could be carried in one. Two buckets!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Peg Loom Revisited

This is what you get when a professional builds you a peg loom. Straight, uniform pegs. A hole so you can clamp the loom to the table.

Chamfered edges on the pegs!

Another innovation that I never would have thought of, or been able to do, is the lap joint to join several together. This peg loom is in four sections. I can make a rug up to eight feet wide! I just screw on another section. Can you believe that?

A friend took pity on me after seeing my sorry excuse for a peg loom. Her Dad is a retired woodworker who likes to keep busy. She saw the perfect project for him, and he outdid himself. Thank you Dieter!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Judy now has a little brother.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Happy Birthday, sweet Mom o'mine!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sticky buns

Made a batch of sticky buns the other day. Mom's recipe, except I cheated and let the bread machine make the dough. The top of the pellet stove makes a great place to let dough rise. The rest of the house is too cold.

Poor Mom, I don't know how she kept up. She would make a double batch, one pan with raisins and one without. Between all the kneading, rising and rolling, it seemed to us five kids that it took all day for those things to get done. We'd come into the kitchen, are they done yet? No, not yet. Ten minutes later, are they done yet? No, not yet. Then when they would finally come out of the oven, they'd have to cool for a bit. Talk about torture. When she would finally give the nod, they were gone in about five minutes, maybe ten.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Party Never Ends

I had Mom in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, getting her washed up and her clothes changed. I realized I had left her shoes in the bedroom, so I headed off to get them.

When I got back, Mom was standing outside the bathroom, the white part above in one hand, the stopper from the bathroom sink in the other, and something in her mouth. I asked her what she had, and out popped the little silver part on the right above. *()&*()*%$#$!@#$@ I couldn't find the bolt part though. Since she had the stopper in her hand, (Remember, work backwards from whatever she has in her hand.) I walked into the bathroom and looked. Yep, there it was, down the drain. Again, ()(&**(#$%!

Luckily, I am fairly adept with chopsticks, so I was able to get it out. I put the sink handle back together, screwed it back on, and let out a sigh of relief. That woman is curious, crafty, and quick. A combination that can be exhausting, but not dull.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fiber Storage

One of my goals this weekend while I had reinforcements, was to figure out a better, more organized way to store my fiber. Most of the small dye batches fit in a plastic bag, and were then basically just in a huge pile in a corner of the fiber room. I would have to dig through the pile, opening each bag, to find the color I wanted. Not very efficient, and the piles bugged me.

I wanted to be able to see the color without having to open something, and I didn't want to have to move ten things to get to what I wanted. I didn't want plastic. After some brainstorming, we came up with the idea of a shoe holder. We looked on-line at different models, and their prices, and I concluded I could make my own. That will be another post, once I get it done. My friend headed home last night, and a few hours after leaving, was back at my door. She had made a pit stop at a department store on her way home, and just happened to find exactly what we were looking for, on sale, plus she had coupons. She bought two, turned around and delivered them to me.

These were designed to hang over a door. The pockets were only 4 inches wide, not quite big enough for the 4 ounce batches I usually dye. I took my seam ripper to the stitching between two pockets, and it turned into the perfect size to store 4 to 6 ounces of fiber. I will use these to store finished batts. These two will hang over the two doors upstairs, one to the guest room, the other to the fiber room. I'll place a few drops of lavender essential oil on each canvas pocket to help retard moths, and eventually each pocket will have a card with weight and fiber content of the batts.

I am making more, and will dedicate those to the dyed roving I use to create the batts. I'll show that when I get them done.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cooking with Judy

Judy was all set to help cook supper (cheese tortellini with chicken, yellow summer squash (from the garden), in a tomato(from the garden) cream sauce, and garlic bread. We have a weekend guest!) last night. Luckily I was just starting to make preparations, so no burners were on. No babies were harmed in the taking of this photograph!

Also, did you notice that now Judy is either hormonally challenged and is sporting a goatee, or maybe she was applying lipstick in the car when we went over a pothole?

It is amazing how much easier everything was having another person here. I could do chores without worrying, take a shower without worrying, and cook a meal without wondering what I would find in the food. Crayon, ladybug anybody?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Art of Alzheimers: Valentine Edition

And it isn't even Ash Wednesday!

My dogs are so patient with Mom. You never know what she might put on them next.

Last night I reached over to remove a crumb from Mom's shirt, and gave us both the static shock of our lives. I jumped and let out a little squeal, (it hurt!) and she look at me accusingly and asked,"What did you do that for?" All I could do was apologize and say it was an accident. I didn't even try to explain the whole static electricity thing.

I'm not sure about the art label here, but she decorated the dog with a vaguely heart shaped paper, so I'm including it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009





I've shown the top two here already, but thought it might be nice to show the progression. It is time for me to learn the Navajo ply. I want to do a yarn that doesn't mix up the colors so much in the plying process.

The black alpaca/ angora mix in roving form. I'm spinning it as fine as I can. There is so little angora (the part that shows as white in the photo, but is actually light gray) that it shows up as the barest of gray flecks. I'm curious to see what the yarn will look like. Black with gray flecks ya think?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mid-Winter Report

Nothing terribly exciting going on around here (that's good, right?) but I thought I'd give a little report anyway.

My hay supply is holding out well. I was starting to wonder, because we've had such a cold winter up until this week. I feed more when it is cold, so I saw the hay going down quickly. I still have several bales of the "really good stuff", that I add in when it is bitterly cold. It pleases me to no end that I've (we've, the neighbors do most of the work) been able to harvest enough hay to feed my animals through the winter, without having to buy any.

The llamas and alpacas are all doing good, keeping up condition. I have a couple of special needs animals that I worry about in the bitter temps, but they've been able to snuggle down in the deep bedding I provide and made it through fine. Since the animals have so much fiber, I have to actually touch them to tell their body condition. Let me tell you, it is such a hardship to sink my hands into their soft, warm fiber. I can hardly wait for shearing time to come in a couple of months.

Last summer's chicks, one boy, one girl, are reaching maturity. I heard the boy learning to crow this morning. I swear there is nothing funnier than the sound of a rooster crowing his first crow. Instead of the loud, proud "roo, er, roo!" crow of Big Daddy, it is more of a "er, er, er, errr?". It makes me laugh.

The warm weather we've had this week has caused most of the snow to melt. There are still three foot drifts here and there, especially by the fences. The dogs have figured out that they can climb the drift and jump the fence now, so I have to watch them carefully. The husky (I assume they are part husky) in them loves to run. Luckily the hours of dog obedience classes we went through as pups, and I put them through their paces periodically to refresh, has made them good dogs that usually come when called.

The angora rabbit is doing great. I still haven't named her though. I've been saving the combings from grooming her, and am currently blending them with some 50% natural black alpaca, 25% dyed black wool and 25% dyed black silk. I'll put some pictures up when they're done.

Mom is doing good too. She is still sleeping a lot, but we've had none of the drama of last year around this time. No seizures, no coin swallowing, just coloring, making music on the xylophone borrowed from her great granddaughter, and keeping me awake (but usually laughing) until all hours of the night. She is her own sweet self, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dancing Dan

I've always focused on Mom's art here. I think it's time to show you a little of my Dad's work too.

He was a bricklayer by trade, a hardworking man until he retired. It drove Mom crazy sometimes, with him underfoot all the time. When it got to be too much, she would tell him to "Go downstairs!". He would head off, laughing as he went. He didn't mind it one bit. For one thing, it was the warmest place in the house, since they heated with a little woodstove in the basement. He appreciated the warmth, I think, after all those years working out in the elements. He found things to keep himself busy down there.

One of his favorite things was whittling these little dancing men out of pieces of kindling.

No two were exactly alike.

This one was tall and thin, and had non-jointed arms. I like that there is still a bend at the elbow though.

This one was short and fat, with jointed arms.

They both have jointed knees.

You can see the nails sticking out of the tops of their heads. They were designed to be tied to a stick (which he also whittled), then you could make them dance. Their legs and arms would fly wildly. Very entertaining.

Dad made them and put them together, but Mom painted the faces.

They are among my most prized possessions.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Safety first

We're in the freeze/thaw cycle for a few days. Temps above 30 during the day, melting the snow into puddles that freeze overnight. It makes my trips hauling water treacherous. It seems this winter I have come to realize how vulnerable Mom would be if I fell or otherwise injured myself while outside. It scares me to think about that.

So I invested in something to assist with traction. It just slips over my Sorels. They are slightly too big, the one kept slipping off my heel and making a worse tripping hazard.

I tied that sucker up with some baling twine. For good measure, I did them both.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A piece of history

That is a circular sock machine on the left, a bobbin winder on the right. (Ursa's nose in the corner, she's a curious one.) This was shipped in 1923. I have the wood box it shipped in.

The csms were sold to women as a way to make extra money. The company (Gearhart, in this case) would sell the machine, provide the yarn, then pay for the socks that were created. "Gearhart Home Earners" they were called.

This is a new toy for me. A woman in my spinning group wanted to get rid of it, because it was just sitting in her basement not being used. She wanted it to go to someone who would actually use it. I was telling the story of the peg loom and the box of chair parts I got because I wanted the wood box they were in. That is what reminded her of it, the wood box. I was in the right place at the right time. No money is exchanging hands, she has a new skein of handspun yarn, and will be coming up for some spinning refresher lessons, and some new roving. This is an incredible deal, csms can sell for hundreds, even over a thousand dollars. I have been interested in them for several years, but the price tag was just too high for me.

This one seems to be in extremely good condition. Everything has been kept well oiled, there is no rust that I can see. I have several packets of needles to go through. There is some brown on them, but I couldn't tell if it was rust or just old oil that needs to be cleaned off in my quick look through the packet. There are two cylinders, a 72 and a 60, for using different yarns and creating different sizes. Both are true, (oftentimes the cylinder can be out of round) and move through the machine easily. It has the ribber for each cylinder as well, and there is some damage here. The metal is cracked. However, a good friend is a machinist, so he might be able to help me out. I understand that a lot of people don't even use the ribber, so that may not even matter. The instruction booklet, supplemental instructions, even color advertising for the socks ("Children's Sport sox of Wool, made for the health and comfort of children. " "All physicians and authorities on hosiery prescribe Wool for health." "Protect the Child's Health, it Pays" $2.00 per pair) are all in very good, legible condition.

I don't know if it actually knits. I have to figure out how to use it first. I think there is a steep learning curve here.

If you've been reading along for any length of time, you know I love old stuff. Functional old stuff even more. Having this machine, I am in seventh heaven. If I can get it working, I'll be beside myself!

On one of the booklets, the Special Subsequent Knitting Instructions for Allwear (TM) Woolen Hosiery, there is an important notice with tips on making their hosiery with the machine. "Learn the names and numbers of all the parts." and the like. My favorite one: "Make up your mind it is easy to operate with care." That might become my new mantra "Make up your mind it is easy." I'll have to write that on a few sticky notes and put them around the house. The power of positive thinking from 1922.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Blue fiber. (Alpaca, Cormo, silk)

Blue sky.

Blue glasses.

Current mood.

Not blue. Not plied.

Monday, February 2, 2009


My brother would have been 47 today. Please don't drink and drive, or, in his case, ride with a friend who has been drinking.

He was a huge help to me. He'd come over and fix things, mow the driveway ditches because I was too afraid of the steep slope to do it, helped put up fence, just generally do anything that needed doing.

He liked to drink Coke, and would leave the cans wherever he happened to be at the time. I would find them all over the property, and it annoyed the heck out of me.

Now I have a collection of Coke cans in my garage that I can't bear to part with. Silly, isn't it? I want to make something with them to hang on the wall of junk, I just have to figure out what and how. They would have to hang upside down, so they don't collect water and become mosquito breeding grounds. I'll have to review my Cathedral of Junk photos and see if there is anything there to inspire me.