Sunday, August 16, 2009

Skills and Steadiness

As I sit here at midnight, pondering the end of what little of summer vacation I had, I think about how life has been the last eight months for me . I seem to confront life experiences with calm, quiet expectations and try to see the big picture around me. God never promised us a life of luxury. For many, the years living in prosperity, with throw away income, life has become quite a shocking change to their lifestyle. For others, who have lived modestly, it is a time to recover their resourcefulness and prioritize what is important.

Having parents who grew up in poverty in the Depression years, has given me a sense of being able to live without many things. It has also given me an appreciation of getting the most out of things and not wasting anything. I truly appreciate how hard my parents worked to save for the future. Their lessons come in very handy now as the economy seems to be heading in the same direction of Depression the 1930’s community experienced.

I think about how my grandmothers taught me a basic skill of crocheting that lead to learning how to knit, spin, sew and do other needlecrafts. I know they used this skill to make garments for their children, as they had no extra income to buy clothes in the Depression. As sharecroppers, they frequently owed money to their landowners and through their resourceful skills of crocheting and sewing could sell or repair garments for others for a few cents to feed their children. My, how different life is now!. Yet, I wonder if we will be in the same situation and have to do the same.

I feel so fortunate and blessed to have some skills. I bless my grandmothers’ for sharing their skills with me. My needlecraft skills and skills in homemaking have given me much pleasure and reassurance that I do not have to be helpless. It has given me an appreciation of the natural beauty this world contains and a satisfaction that I can create some beauty from the raw materials and animals of our God-created world. It makes me happy and gives me joy. I imagine God smiling on his daughter with pride thinking how much he likes watching me create beautiful things from what he created.

Like a loving Father, he oversees his children. Like a faithful child, I have learned to trust and obey Him. He always provides what I need. He keeps me from being overwhelmed beyond what I can handle. I am feeling this now with my husband’s cancer. I’m sure the road will have its ups and downs but I can count of God to be there, carrying me in His arms when I am unable to handle anymore. Many have said how much they admire my calm steadiness as I go through this situation. I don’t think I would be of any usefulness if I panicked. I just give it in God’s hands. He carries it for me.
God is Good.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spinning Hope & Coming Home

My husband is coming home today from Hospitalization #5 this year. He started a new treatment called photopheresis, which I can only described as a sort of dialysis with UV light. It is aimed to kill the cancer cells in the blood and return it back to his body. He is feeling better in general but he is looking forward to coming home. A week and a half in the hospital is a little too much.

With much time on my hands watching him recuperate, I have been able to work on my Elizabeth Zimmerman Yoke sweater. I am now putting together the sleeves and body and working toward the yoke where I will be doing a Fair Isle pattern close to the neck. I am planning to use some of my Handspun yarn for the color. I really need to find ways to use this yarn, as it seems to be accumulating quite fast.

When I tire and get bored with the sweater, I have been making some toe up socks with a rainbow colored Trekking XX sock yarn. I am using a pattern in the new August issue of Cast On, a Knitting Magazine. This issue is amazing, with lots of instruction and wonderful patterns. I was so impressed by this issue, I drafted a comment for the editor…..

Dear Editor of Cast On,

I don’t often send comments about knitting magazines, as many only seem to be fashion shows of designs made for the fashion model types.. However, your new August-October issue of Cast-On is something to behold from cover to cover.

I love everything about this issue. The sock lessons and designs, and the variety of techniques described in easy to understand detail, are so great. I want to knit all of the sock patterns listed. I’m usually not a sock knitter, but this issue has definitely motivated me to pick up the Size 2’s again and find a beautiful yarn to create the wonderful sock patterns in Cast-On. I love how you included additional patterns to extend the learning techniques of the socks. I absolutely love the Christmas stocking and the left-over mitten patterns, reminding us it is never too early to get a head start on Christmas knitting.

I like very much the focus on “instruction” in this issue. After all, TKGA, is an organization that promotes the education of knitting. I think you have hit a winning strategy in this issue, with something to teach everyone. It is likely to become a favorite knitting resource, one that knitters come back to time again.. Congratulations on a well designed issue. Keep them coming.

Happy Knitting!

Diana Hilton
Duarte, CA

In spinning I have been working on the Corriedale fleece I purchased at Black Sheep Gathering in July. The fleece is beautifully clean and fluffy. I has a little lanolin ( a greasy feel) to it, so I washed it with one soak with Dawn dishwashing liquid and rinsed it once. I pulled off locks and lined them up side by side in laudry bags. I also tried to use tulle netting closed with safety pin and this worked well too. Normally, I have to soak it 2-3 times to get all the dirt out. However, with so little dirt, once was enough. I soaked the locks and used a ShamWOW or towel to absorb the water, and laid them out to air dry.

When dried, they looked like this……

Once spun into a single ply yarn it looked this on the bobbin. See how white and clean it looked.

It was so easy to spin.
It made a lovely two-ply yarn…
I still haven’t dyed my newly spun Corriedale. I keep thinking I should accumulate enough yarn for a sweater, but I’m not sure I have enough. A four-ounce bobbin only gets me about 70-80 yard skeins per bobbin. One adult sweater takes from 1000 to 1500 yds. I have perhaps enough for a child’s sweater, but I fear making a wool sweater and giving it to someone who will not take the time to wash it properly, will resulting in a felted shrunken mess when naively washing in warm water with agitation. The thought is just horrifying to the long hard work I will put in it. It is better to make it for someone who know how to care for wool.