Wednesday, February 25, 2015


February, as most of us in the Northeast can testify, has been so cold and so snowy that I think it qualifies for the longest month of the year. 

Snow from off the roof, piling up in front of the kitchen window

I did mention the cold, didn't I?

We have been keeping busy indoors.  About two weeks ago my 87 year old father came to live with us.  He had spent two weeks in the hospital and then four in rehab.  Still not being too steady on his pins, it was decided that he should stay with us 'til he gets his strength back. 
It has been quite a learning curve.  However, we are all trying hard to make things work.  So far it has been relatively smooth.

To keep out of trouble, I decided to make myself a pair of mittens as mine were sadly in disrepair.  Elizabeth Zimmermann has a Norwegian style pattern that I thought I would try.  It is in her book Knitting Around.  I have wanted to try a patterned something with the background changing colors as I went.  This seemed like a great way to play with that concept.

Mitten backs

Palms, with EZ's idea of stripes for the thumbs
So far they are a lot of fun.  I had to copy out the patterns so I could put them up on my magnet board. The board has a stand that props it upright.  That makes it really easy to follow charts.  After the green I am going to yellow, then orange, then red.  I think. 
I am also working on some spinning as I feel the need to be weaving.  The sun (when it is out) is so warm and strong as it shines into the room where the loom is that I long to be there. 

We had one day that the temperature rose above freezing.  It had been several weeks since the last time that happened.  It was so exciting the girls all had to come out and see what the yard looked like.  They have been confined to the barn with the sub-zero weather.

They are not amused with the snow
At least with 8 hens I didn't have to resort to basement confinement in this bitter weather as they kept each other fairly warm.   They are all laying now, which is great.  I had 8 eggs the other day, so not one slacker among them. 

Eagerly awaiting the return of green grass and springtime flowers, I will post this photo to keep our spirits up.

Ah, the promise of Spring

Friday, January 30, 2015

For Posterity

I felt the sudden urge to document my Reeves spinning wheel.  It was purchased in 1994 after I had tried out several different wheels at the various fiber festivals that year.  Once I knew that I wanted a 24"  Reeves, I looked for the vendor with the best price and ordered one, unfinished,  to be shipped to my house.  At that time the price was around $460.  I sold my Ashford wheel to help defray the cost.

This is the wheel, 20 years later
I wanted to embellish my new wheel with things that were important to me, so I painted, stenciled and had the children help me make it mine.  On the treadle I put heart and home.  Jesse was 16 at the time and as a Boy Scout had gone to Philmont hiking the high mountains.  This was his imprint.

Mountains for Jesse

Becca was 13 and Annie only 9, so their contributions were happy thoughts.

Happy sunshine

Annie's happy self

At first a lot of spinners looked aghast because I had painted my wheel, but over time that seems to have faded.  It is a wheel that suits me perfectly.  How many thousands of yards of yarn I have happily spun on it. All the projects that come from it.  The happy indifference in which I haul it around to demonstrations, friend's homes, craft fairs.  Then I found out that my wheel is now worth more than $1,000!!  By that I mean that if I were to purchase a similar wheel, it would cost me that much.  Made me stop and look at it and consider treating it with more respect.
The frustrating part of owning this wheel is that I  can no longer find authentic Reeves parts for it. This is because Rick Reeves stopped making wheels some time ago, and sold his company to Schacht.   My bobbins have taken the biggest hit as the ends of them are so finely turned that over the years many have snapped off bits.  The one bobbin I bought that I was told would fit perfectly, doesn't.  I use it anyway.  Lately I dropped my largest whorl and cracked it.  I hope I can repair it somehow.  Until then I have stopped using it.  The whorl Schacht offers might fit, but it is not the same ratio as mine.
But the biggest reason to photograph the wheel is this:

Handmade by Rick Reeves Marengo, IA USA

His signature is slowly fading away to nothing.  I don't want to lose it, so documenting it like this brings me comfort.