Monday, March 31, 2008

"All Creatures....Feathers and Fur...."

"Whatcha' doin'?" This is something that happened numerous times a day when the girls are "free ranging" in the backyard. Although, their free ranging days will soon be coming to an end, as the temperatures rise and plants in the flower beds begin to show their growth.

Our ferocious guard dog, Copper, trying to have a little peace without someone "clucking around" with her. It doesn't happen very often, but the girls finally do wander off in search of better "pickings".

Sigh.....peace at hens pecking at me, a high spot to keep watch on the neighborhood, and the warmth of the sun to doze in......

Well, that was a short lived snooze.....Jillian from across the street came to visit, and Copper, the ever polite hostess, met her halfway to say hello. We have to keep a watchful eye on these girls, otherwise they'd play in the street and run around the neighborhood all the time.

Zack was ever vigilant, too, looking out the front window, letting me know with his "alarm squawk" (UGH!), that someone was "stealthily" walking past the house. Well, maybe not "stealthily", but none the less, walking past the house. ;)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"The Youngest of the Family...."

My cousin, Jill (actually my Mom's 1st cousin), sent me this photo of her son Greg's, daughters, taken last weekend. Their names are Caitlyn and Norah. They are the youngest of our family from my Mom's side of the relatives.

It is hard to see that they are a couple of characters, isn't it? :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"The Anticipated Announcement!"

I received a call from Patrick last Friday morning and he announced that he and Julie are now engaged! :) YEA! We have hoped for a long time that they would marry and seems our hopes will now come to fruition. They are hoping to have a September wedding, but plans are still in the works.......

This photo is from our Christmas gathering at my parents house, 3 years ago, when we met Julie for the first time.

This photo was taken here in Madison when Patrick and Julie came to visit Don and I (State Street behind them).

And this photo was taken while we were being tourists at the "Grand Traverse Lighthouse", located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan, when Don and I vacationed in Traverse City 2 summers ago. Julie lives in TC, although her condo is now "For Sale", for obvious reasons. :)

This was taken outside Patrick's house, after celebrating Christmas 2 years ago. The weather was quite different than we had this past Christmas. :) Along with Patrick and Julie, is Morgan, who lived with me while Patrick worked in Yellowstone National Park.

And this photo was taken last Christmas, again outside of Patrick's house. Sean, my younger son, holding Morgan, myself holding Odie, who was a birthday present from Julie to Patrick last November, Patrick, Julie, and in front, Copper, Don's and my dog. Don took the photo while Sandy, my sister (who hates having her picture taken), strategically removed herself from the area when the camera came out. :)

We are so happy to have Julie officially join our family! In all honesty, she has been a part of it since first meeting her. :) YEA!!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Carried Away....."

I took another piece off of my larger loom. This one was made for hanging on one of the bedroom walls. I have to admit that I am happy with the results. I actually measured sections and counted picks to make sure that I had a symmetrical design this time....and I was successful! :) In this photo, I am tying the end fringe.

Don suggested we take photos of the piece while the sun was shining brightly. We got a little carried away with the "photo shoot". :) The sunshine really does help show the brightness of some of the colors.

The yarn used (Lion Brand Homespun) is so soft, you really could use it as a "prayer shawl".

Or a "poncho". I am guessing that it "drapes" well enough for one?

As said earlier, I am happy with the is Don. Since we plan on using it as a wall hanging, and both of us have to look at it, that is the most important part. :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

"A Visit...."

Our former neighbors, Travis and Sara, along with their son Jonas, stopped by last week. Travis and Sara are teachers in the Madison schools, which were on vacation. Actually, Sara was the one on vacation.....Travis is on leave from the school system, staying home with Jonas. Sara took off the beginning of the year school year with her maternity leave and then Travis took over the home front when she had to go back.

Luckily, we had mainly "Spring like" weather for most of their vacation break, instead of experiencing more days of heavy snowfall like last Friday. The chickens were exploring the backyard, giving Jonas some "chicken activeness" to watch.

When they came in to visit, I had them try on the vest and hat that I knitted during my "experimenting" with the sweater pattern. Each fit Jonas very well, so they became his new Easter outfit. He seemed to think it was a good idea as well. :)

Here Jonas is happily modeling his new outfit. :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

"Other Activities....."

The sunshine and warmer temperatures also made it possible for me to sit in the greenhouse with just a tee shirt while re-potting some plants. The solar heat felt REALLY, REALLY GOOD! :)

Lonnie and Charlie had a productive weekend. They added insulation to their house. Hard to tell that it is Charlie behind all of that protective gear.......

There's that well known smile! :)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Winding Warp/ Threading the Heddles...."

Sunday was a busy day with getting the loom set up. Don has been good enough to help me with winding the warp while I keep tension on it and comb out tangles as it is wound. This was a pretty wide warp, so my hands got a cramped and tired from holding so many warp threads under tension.

This photo shows me combing, with my fingers, the warp threads to minimize any snarls/twists in the threads. It also shows how the threads are kept under tension.......

The "raddle" is what keeps the threads separated into 1 inch sections, rather than unruly groups. the "epi", or ends per inch for this project is 6, meaning there are 6 warp threads per inch. I have another warp ready to go when this weaving is completed and that epi is 18. Threading 6 per inch is less time consuming and easier than 18, as you can imagine. :) These 6 warp threads are also heavier/thicker, thus easier to see than the next projects warp threads. Again, in this photo, I am combing the threads while keeping them under tension.

In these next 2 photos, I am threading the warp threads through the "heddles", which are wires with openings in the center. The heddles are enclosed in "harnesses", which move up and down according to how you "treadle" the pattern. Treadles are located under the loom (stepping on them moves the harness(s) up), and depending on which ones are stepped on, it creates a pattern in the cloth that you are weaving. Got that? :)

Threading the heddles is the first part of the threading process. The second part, is the threading of the warp ends through the "reed" (sleying the reed). The reed is what you pull back against the woven threads, beating the "weft" (the yarn that was just passed through the warp threads), to create a tight fabric.

It is a fairly long set up process and can be somewhat tedious at times, but I enjoy doing it, knowing that I will be weaving soon, making decisions as to how much of this color and how much of that color are going to be woven in creating a specific stripe pattern. Eventually, I will move into other types of weaving, but for now, stripes are fine. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Knockin' at the Front AND Back Doors....."

Knockin' at the front door......Anna and Michael stopped by on Sunday to say hi. Anna had just completed a knitted baby block and wanted to show it to us. I'm sure it is first of many for her. :) Great smile, eh?

And then with Michael, Mr. Photogenic himself. :) They have just bought themselves a tandem bike and soon after leaving us, they'd be taking off for a ride.

Don wearing my "chair rug". He'd gone to get it to show Anna. Especially with his beard, it DOES look like a prayer shawl!

And knockin' at the back door....... Heather and Buffy. As stated in yesterday's blog, we've been allowing them to "free range" in the back yard. They DO seem to love the patio area and spend a good amount of time right where you now see them in this photo. I think they see their reflections, but they also seem to be watching us as well. Maybe both, eh? They do peck at the window occasionally, thus the "knockin".

Whatever the reason, they are outside the door a lot. I won't do it, but Don suggested I open the door to see if they'd walk in.......just what I need more bird s@#! to clean up!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Setting Up and Exploring Chickens...."

After completing my chair "rug", it was time to set up the loom for my next weaving project. This time I am going to weave a wall hanging for our bedroom, mainly in blues, with some contrast colors for accents.

This is the warping frame where the warp is measured and counted out. I'm using 3/2 cotton warp, the color is "Flaxon". The weft will be Lion Brand "Homespun" knitting yarn.

After measuring the warp, it has to be wound onto the looms warp beam. Don helped me do that by winding while I held and kept tension on it. This photo shows the warp spread across the raddle (barely seen on top of the "castle"), keeping it in 1 inch sections. Lower and amongst the warp threads, are the lease sticks, which are used to keep a X (cross) in the warp. I finished threading the warp through the heddles yesterday, tied the warp onto the front metal rod, and wove the heading. Today, I begin the wall hanging! :)

We decided to let the "girls" have some freedom. Their run still has a lot of snow in it, being in the shade as it is, so we allowed them out into the yard. They have been having the best time ever! After being "cooped" up all winter in a 4'x 8' enclosed pen, they are exploring and getting a lot of exercise. They seem enthralled with the back patio area........spending time either looking in at us or seeing their reflection in the glass door. Whatever the reason, they are outside the slider door, spending enough time to leave "droppings" on the patio. I told Don that yesterday was their last time out because of this, but suppose I will relent and give them more time outside of their run........they are enjoying scratching around the yard so much, eating grass and generally just having a good time.

This is Buffy.......

And Heather......

A nice shot f the 2. They hang out together most of the time. About the only time they are not near each other is when one goes in the coop to lay an egg.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Impromptu Gathering...."

It seems that Friday night gatherings have begun. :) Michael came over to ask if we were interested in having a gathering on our deck, but we said no, it was already in shade, and not warm like it had been in the sun. We went about our business, having dinner (I grilled outside!), when we got a call from Lonnie, saying we should join them out in their driveway, which, of course, we did. We all stayed until the sun had gone too far down to give anymore warmth. :)

left to right: Michael, Anna, Charlie, Lonnie (who was sitting in shirt sleeves prior to our joining heat, I guess), and myself.

Maniphone and Jonathan's old house is still for sale. The new Realtor has been doing a great job of showing it, as are other Realtors, but it just hasn't "captured" anyones heart enough yet, I guess. We've all gotten a kick out of the "add-on" sign....."Seriously!"

Another shot of the group just before we went back into our warm houses. :) (notice the sun no longer was on the "gathering spot"?)

Angela stopped by to say hi. She was on her way to spend the night at a friends. Work had begun in earnest in her house, with Andy and Rob tiling and painting, so she wasn't allowed to stay because of the fumes. It has been a "work-a-thon" over there this past weekend, actually starting on Friday. Andy took Friday off to begin working on the remodeling, wanting to get most of the painting done by Sunday night. I went over last night to check on the progress and the baby's room was finished as was the downstairs sitting room off of the kitchen. The kitchen cupboards were almost completed, and probably would be finished after I left. It will be awhile before the upstairs bathroom is completed though. The tile around the tub is done, and the floor tile goes down today. Rob is a man who has the skills to do anything! Andy has a good mentor. :)
It is harder to see in this photo, but Angela's pregnancy is showing quite a bit. She is back to feeling good....her first 3 months were not enjoyable at all. Michael always has a smile for the camera.

Anna, busily knitting a shawl/wrap....finally something for herself! :) Not sure what that little smirk on Charlie's face is all about. :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Some New, Another Old....."

This is the new part of todays blog entry. When Sandy visited with her friend Allison last weekend, Allison asked if I would knit her dog a sweater. She has a dachshund and has trouble finding a sweater that has legs short enough for her/him. After searching online, coming up with one that I tried, then tore out, I looked in a boxed daily calendar that my friend Debbie, from Florida, sent me. Yep....found it in there (January 30, 2008 page).

Another friend, Angela, had cleaned out her stash of yarn, giving me some of it, and it was from that yarn, that I found what I knitted the dog sweater in: Lion Brand, Wool Ease Worsted.

Here is the finished sweater.......

And since we do not have a dog small enough to try it on, we used one of Coppers stuffed toys to help give the illusion of a dog wearing it. :)

This is the old, but including some new as well, part of the entry. The sweater vest has already been posted, but I added a knitted stocking cap to the outfit. Decided they needed to be shown together, since they are a set, and actually, the yellow of the yarn came out better in this photo than the previous one showing the vest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Some Textiles...."

I finished the 3rd sweater using the basic pattern that I received from Andy and Angela's b-day card, experimenting with the pattern once again, making it a vest instead of a sweater with long sleeves. I'm happier with knitting it "in the round", rather than knitting 4 pieces and then sewing them together. Picking up stitches for the sleeves seems to work better for me, too. The photo doesn't pick up the color of the yellow too well, because it is actually a little brighter, more "buttery". I've since knitted a stocking cap to go along with it.

Here is the finished "chair rug". It is VERY long.....I need to work on keeping better track measuring the length of my weaving as it is woven. You may recall that my runner was longer than planned, too......enough so, that I had cloth left to sew some into a hot pad as well. I'm pleased with the chiar is VERY, VERY soft and feels good sitting against it.

Monday, March 10, 2008


My sister visited this past weekend, for the first time since I have lived in Madison. The 5 hour drive has been a hold up, but the main reason has been the taking care of our parents. She and a friend, Allison, drove over Friday and left late Saturday afternoon. Her interest in kayaking brought her to Canoecoppia, the annual canoe/kayak show, held in the Alliant Center each spring. It was a whirlwind visit, cramming a lot into the time they were here, but we had a good time and a did lot of laughing. :)

As you can see in this photo, neither she nor Allison like having their picture taken. Allison on the left, myself, and Sandy. They had perfect, although cold weather, for their traveling.

Here we are checking out kayak paddles. It is truly amazing at how light the carbon paddles are in comparison to fiberglass and/or aluminum.

Don is testing the convenience of a carrying rack for kayaks that swings down from the top of a vehicle. It makes it very easy to load a kayak onto the rack and a person only has to lift the kayak about waist high to get it into the saddle. When Sandy and I first got to the booth, the salesperson was a small boy of about 12, demonstrating the ease of it. :)

A VERY cool trailer at the show. It is a "pop up" camping trailer that weighs only 700#'s. Very light compared to most camping trailers. The reason of course, is that it is all tent, except for the roof and framing. The roof cranks up and has the tent stored in it, allowing it to come down and unfold to its full extent. It's a very innovative trailer that stores the tent in the top section, which can stay cranked up, locked in place using the panels that normally fold down for the sleeping position, but locked vertically to allow the trailer to be used to carry a 4 wheeler, bicycles, or other equipment, inside and underneath the fiberglass top. If you didn't use that feature, racks can be mounted on top of the trailer roof, and boats/bikes could be transported that way. Very cool!!!

We went to listen to Darren and his wife, Stephanie, give a talk on their family kayaking vacation to Alaska. I suppose it wouldn't be of interest to everyone (although, it was standing room only by the time the talk started), but to us, since they are old neighbors (having lived next to Don in Rob's house), it was. The photographs were fantastic and, of course, he and Stephanie have a good sense of humor so there were many laughs, too. Here he is with daughter Whitney, who came home from college (Brigham Young) for the show. OH! I guess I forgot to mention that it is Darren's shop, Rutabaga's (the paddlesport shop), that sponsors this show. :)

By the way, this would have been posted yesterday, but something was wrong with the server and wouldn't load the photos.