The Beautiful Blogger Award.

On Wednesday, I received a note from saying that she has passed on her Beautiful Blogger Award to me.  I am just so pleased and surprised by this.  Thank you very much Agujas!

I started this blog as a sort of journal or portfolio of the things that I make, the places I go, and just general thoughts about where we live.  I thought that if a few people looked at it, that would be cool too.  To have this given to me is really special.  Thank you!

There are rules that go along with this award.  You are supposed to:

1.  Add the award to your blog.

2. Thank the person who gave you the award.

3.  Mention seven random things about yourself.

4.  List the rules.

5.  Nominate 15 other bloggers.

6.  Inform the nominees by leaving a comment on their blog. 

If you have not been to agujas blog, it is worth taking a minute to have a peek.  She has a great writing style, and her enthusiasm for fiber crafts just shines through the pages.  Of particular interest also was her writing about a back packing trip to Real de Catorce.

Seven things about myself?

*  I grew up next to the ocean and now live in the mountains surrounded by rivers.

*  My houseplants have names (Fern, Droopy….)

*  I love to eat apples and cheese together.

*  I have an addiction to a love for bags of all sizes and colors (this is inherited and not in any way my fault).

*  I like to listen to Harry Potter books on tape in the car while driving.

*  I like to fly kites and keep a kite bag (a hikers back pack) in the car with all sorts of kites and various tools and stuff for kite flying.

*  I have a teddy bear collection, not because I especially like stuffed bears, but because we find them in odd places–we find lots of them–like to woods, in ditches by the road, in parking lots.

*  And how about a number 8—I’m not overly technically savvy—I do not facebook, twitter, i-anything, text (I have a pre-paid trac phone, not a real cell phone), and have no desire to.  This blog is about as computer-ish as I get.  My buttons don’t always work and I don’t have lots of gadgets on my blog because I don’t know how to do that!

I really love the idea of these types of awards.  What a neat way of recognizing someone else’s hard work and art and craft.  And a nice way to pass the word around about other blogs that might appeal to those of us with similar interests.

I don’t have a list of 15 bloggers to pass this on to.  I do have a few that I check out on a daily basis, and can come up with a fair list, so I may add to it later on, if that is allowed!

1.  The Sweaty Knitter:  Karen, the sweaty knitter, has such and interesting way of presenting really detailed information about knitting and other crafts.  There is so much effort put into her posts.  Some history, some perspective, and some interesting questions too.

2.  Ngo Family Farm:  Gardening, recipes, and beautiful photos of a family farm in Colorado.

3.  Natural Suburbia:  Linda, who lives in South Africa, hosts Creative Fridays where other bloggers can link to her site to share what they are working on for that week.

4.  reWOLLuza:  Beautiful knitting from Münster, Northrhine-Westphalia.  Great photos and project updates.

5.  Andrea, the Wonder Why Gal at also hosts a fiber meet up, Fiber Arts Friday.  Another great way to see what so many talented folks are working on.

6.  Naturally Tasmanian:  shares views of her family working on natural and creative projects.  I love that she has a nature table in her home.  What a great idea!

7.  Ally B:  spins and knits and shares her life with a really cute dog.

I have really liked seeing what others do with their talents, and also getting a glimpse into other corners of this big/small world.


Circle Socks in the (Mail) Box

With one thing and another last week, I never did post about my new socks that arrived in my mail box from my Mum.  Aren’t they great?!?!

The pattern is Circle Socks on  I love the color and the pattern that the circles make.  Isn’t she clever?  And do you know what else was clever?  The tiny little ball of yarn that she included with them in case they need repair at some later date.  Now, if I were clever, I would put that little ball of yarn right in the sock drawer.

Thanks Mum!

Sunday Drive

Between Skowhegan and Solon, a scenic overlook, where a park has been built.  There are two covered areas with picnic tables facing an incredible view of the Western Maine Mountains, our back yard.

This plaque identifies each of the mountains, but my panoramic photography was sketchy at best.

The squirrel socks came along for the ride. (One gusset done).  Ug says that knitters are their own special breed of geek.  He’s right.

Summer Solstice, Strings, and Squirrels

We all have different beliefs about faith or some sort of higher power or …. whoever…. This week I have learned more about this.  I have placed my faith in this loom that I built.  In trying to work through my feelings and emotions about this issue/problem/situation that really scared the crap out of me, I have been asking my new loom for help.  Some of you will understand this right away and some of you will think this sounds like new-age-y junk, and some might not get it at all.

I am getting it though.  I started this project feeling pretty bad and every time I was obsessing about it, I would pick up this loom.  I focused my thoughts on what I was doing, and did form some questions in my mind and directed them into the weaving.

I found that the further up the strings I progressed, the better I was feeling.  And about half way through, I heard that little voice in my head say to me, very clearly and in these exact words “You will be fine, just not right now.”  I am not all the way through it yet, but I am feeling a lot better.  And the weaving is not done yet.  I will keep going until I feel like I don’t need to do this anymore.

I often find that when you need to work on a problem, or find a solution, to either something fairly practical, like how to put something together, or something more personal, like how to fix that problem, I find that if you give your brain something else to do, something that it already knows how to do without really thinking about it, it frees it up to go work on your other thing without you interfering at all.  It just sort of percolates under the surface while you think you are doing something else, it is really do the hard work for you, and without you getting in the way.  I am convinced that this is why I often have “Ah Ha moments” when I am washing my hair.  Other people call them “2 am moments” when they wake up with their problem solved.  While you are doing something completely mundane and rote, your brain has been churning along and working through things, often in spite of you.

I think this is what the loom is doing.  No, I don’t think this is a magical loom with some sort of special powers, I think it is just the belief that I have put into it.  It could really be anything.  It could be knitting, it could be bike riding, it could even be mowing the lawn.  If you tell yourself, “by the time I am done with this, I will have figured that out”, if you believe that strongly enough, then I think you will succeed.  So maybe it is a magical loom?


On a much lighter note, what have I been working on this week?  I have turned the heels on both of my squirrel socks and am onto the gussett of one.  Why is this a big deal?  Because it has been in the 90’s and incredibly humid this week.  How fitting that the Summer Solstice would be the hottest day we have had so far.  In Maine, 90’s and humid is about as bad as it gets. (Unless it is 20′ and the wind is howling or it is sleeting and freezing rain, that is the other kind of weather we get here.)  It makes you want to lie on the bed in front of the fan and not move. While you are lying there, not moving a muscle, trying not to even breath to much, sweat is rolling off of you.  We don’t like this kind of weather here.  I might have mentioned this before.  Yes, I’m sure I did.  So instead of just waiting it out, or perhaps finding someplace to go swimming, I have been knitting.  On socks.  Wool socks.  Wool socks that I will not even think about wearing until October.  I have not really wanted to knit on these socks for weeks now, but now that it is 90′, gee, what a great time to really dive into them.  I’ll just go with it, I guess.

Oh….and I am participating in my very first fiber swap with some folks on ravelry.  I’m really excited about this.  Everyone involved puts together a box of “goodies” from their stash and sends it to the person that was chosen for them.  There was a list of questions that each person answered so you could tailor your box to what that person might like.  This sounds like so much fun to me.  To receive a box of yarn and fiber in the mail is just about as good as it gets for a geek like me.  Some of you have probably done this loads of times, but I am just figuring out about stuff like this.  Can’t wait to see who I got and put a box together.  I already have a bunch of ideas.

Happy Creative Friday and Fiber Arts Friday to you all.  Go check out what all these other creative folks have been up to this week.

Night Visitors

I left my back light on last night.  This morning the back door was COVERED in moths of many different colors, designs and sizes.  It is now almost 11 am and a lot of them are still out there.   Why don’t they go home now?

This one is my favorite.  So big and pretty.  It is a Luna Moth.  Ug gets these at his house, but I’ve never seen one here.

String Theory.

At the Maine Fiber Frolic this year, while roaming around the various vendor booths, I overheard a woman explaining to a potential customer the principles behind Zati: The Art of Weaving a Life, by Susan Barrett Merrill, and the accompanying Journey Loom.  This caught my attention for a reason, I think.  The principles the woman was discussing, possibly the author herself?, I’m not sure, resonated with me as they were along the same lines as what I have been trying to pull together for myself.  When I wrote about building my own Summer Retreat, I was trying to summarize the feelings I was having for the last several months about wanting to explore art as therapy or as meditation.

I was able to borrow a copy of this book through our library in Madison through the inter-library loan.  The folks at the library are great.  It only took two or three days for the book to arrive.

This project really could not have come at a better time.  I am working through some issues today that have been all thought consuming.  This is the first serious issue that I am able to apply my new approach understanding or working through via fiber arts.  I tried to read through the book last night, but my focus was not really as sharp as it would normally be.  I think I did absorb a bit of it though.  Once I have a better understanding of it, I will write about it more.

Of course I think it would be great to buy one of the looms that is available to go with this book, and there is a web site set up for this, but that is not really feasible for me.  The book does encourage the making of your own looms as well.  The process is the process, no matter what you are weaving on.  It even recommends wrapping yarn around a notebook if there is no other equipment available, and to do what you need to do to start weaving.

Today I gathered up some materials to make one of my own.  While I have used the design in the book, I have modified it a bit (I added a stand) and have no intention of either making looms to sell, or of selling the weavings that I make.  I am more interested in what happens during the creating process.  The outcome or the appearance of the woven item is not really that important to me.  Yes, I would be happy if they looked nice too, but that is secondary.

I did not use all of the hardware here, as I had a couple of ideas in mind when I was thinking about making this loom.  The wood came from the Carrabassett Thrift (i.e, dump) and was just hanging around waiting for me to realize why I brought it home.  Thank you Great Spirit of the Dump!  I did most of this work myself, but Ug was instrumental in the sawing of the wood.  I’m sure he would like proper credit.

This is my loom with the stand attached:

I think I used lots of extra screws (but those wing nutty things are so much fun!) and there are a few holes that were drilled by mistake, but I don’t really care.

In my back yard, I have an awning set up.  I consider this the outdoor studio.  The weather has been so nice since it stopped raining, and while I want to continue with my projects, I don’t want to be stuck inside.  So I work out here.  I can bring my spinning wheel out here, I can knit out here, and today I brought the new loom out too.  You can barely see Henry the bunny there in his outdoor pen.  I like to bring him out if I’m going to be out.  The awning keeps the sun off both of us.  To the front of me is part of the garden, but to the left is the end of the house and beyond is the river.  I really like this spot to work in.

Judging by the state of the garden and the lawn my time would have been more usefully spent in mowing and weeding and planting, but I really felt it more important to address my inner issue today and to work through it.  I made the right choice.  My head is still full, but I was able to focus on these thoughts and turn them into something.

I know weavers use bobbin kind of things, I don’t know any weaver terminology, sorry, but I had cardboard available.  I am calling these fiber-flys.  They look like colorful woolly butterflys to me.

It took me a long time to get the warp strings onto the loom, but that was a good hour spent in reflection as well.

I was surprised to see what is appearing on the loom.  I really am not planning anything, but just adding what seems right.  It is hard to see in this picture, but that is bark with moss on it.   I like the layers that are building.

I am really excited to learn what is being offered in this book.  It is written for experienced weavers and newbies too.

I find it really interesting that when you need some guidance or assistance, if you keep your mind open to what is zooming past you, you will find what you are looking for.  Otherwise, why was I at that booth at the fair just in time to hear all of this described?

PS:  I was so excited to notice this afternoon that my garlic has scapes on it!!  Hooty hoot!

The Clay Bank

Yesterday afternoon we went to a place that everyone knows as The Clay Bank.  Alan has been coming here since he was a kid.  Off a dirt road, down a little grassy road that you will miss if you are not paying attention is a turn out that leads to a foot path that goes straight down, and steeply so.  In this picture I am standing at the top of the path and Ug is almost at the bottom:

Just to the right of that path the hill drops straight down to a little stream.  Where the path lets out is really a little bend in the stream.  It is a clear, cold, swift running shallow stream. But in this one corner of it, the bottom is all clay, as is the whole wall of hill behind it.  The water flows right out of the clay and into the stream.  He brought gallon jugs to collect the water.  Someone, long ago, has actually driven a piece of plastic tubing into the side of the bank and the water runs out of it like the faucet was left on full blast.

This is one happy dog.  She is the only Lab that I have ever met that does not like water, no swimming, and is afraid of the garden hose.  But here she took off down the hill ahead of us and was splashing around in the stream before we could get down there.  It was like she suddenly realized that Labs like to swim.  Remember that she got sprayed by a skunk on Wednesday?  Well, that smell was sort of fading, but boy, after a romp in the stream it was all wet dog and skunk all over again.  She seemed pretty pleased with herself.

This is a bit of the clay wall where the water comes out.

The clay bank rises really high off the back:

Of course I took some knitting and spinning with me.  The squirrel socks are ready to have their heels put on.

There were all sorts of gnome homes in and around the banks and the roots of the trees:

Some spinning too:

This is some wool that I dyed a long time ago with kool aid.  The colors are really bright.  Great for a sunny day on the road.  There is some sort of instinct in me that does not like to leave the house for some adventure, or even just for a trip to town without some knitting or spinning.  I think some part of me thinks “What if I have a half hour with nothing to do?  Then what?”  Then I get all antsy and think I should be working on a project.  Ug has stopped making fun of me for this.  When we are getting ready to leave he will ask “Who’s driving?”  And I usually say, “Well, I can drive, but you’re going to have to do the knitting”.  So then he drives.  But I really like to have some kind of fiber project when we go someplace like this.  It just seems natural and fitting.  I suppose a sketch book would be more fitting, but I really can’t draw.

The water was about this high (about ankle deep):

I walked around in it with my shoes on.  I had a sturdy stick for stability too.

We had such a nice time down there.  You could really feel the good energy and we did in fact hear some hobbits running through the woods. I don’t think they liked us in their spot on a Sunday afternoon.

The climb up and down the steep path really did a number on our ankles though.  I can’t speak for Ug, but I think it was worth it.