Tag Archives: cats

Pippi and Portland

A little more on our recent trip to Portland OR.
We went on a tour of 7 tiny houses. The houses always fascinate me. They are so cute and the idea of winnowing down one’s items so that there is little to clean has an appeal. Actually living that lifestyle might be another thing! Here we are standing in one of the largest ones which had a footprint of 160 square feet and a loft for sleeping with 60 square feet. The width of it is 8’ so we took this picture for perspective. I of course am under no illusions I know I would need one for living and another one for a fiber studio. I won’t winnow down that far!

tiny house

Tiny House Portland OR

Of course we ate and ate and ate. I love their clusters of food trucks. Never before have I knowingly eaten Viking Soul food. There was a troll snack but what I learned of trolls in Norway made me reluctant to try that. viking soul food

We had to visit Rimsky’s. It is open only for dessert at night. It is in an old house that has a creepily fascinating décor. It kind of has to be seen to be believed. On our last visit our table very very slowly rotated. Another one reportedly slowly goes up and down on its own.

Billboard bag

Billboard bag

I also shopped at my son’s girl friend’s shop, Johan. Lots of beautiful ceramics and many other items most made locally. I can’t show many pictures since I was Christmas shopping. But for me I bought this bag made out of old billboard signs in Portland. So unique as is everything else in her shop. The bag is extra good when filled with my fiber.

Laura and Johan, Portland OR

The only thing we did not do that was on my list was to visit a cat café called Purringtons. Next time.

We returned home to…a kitten.
It will probably come as no surprise to any cat lover that as a friend says “Oops- I adopted a cat when I wasn’t looking!”  Well, we went to a shelter to talk about fostering a mother cat and kittens because I wasn’t ready to start a permanent relationship with a cat but wanted cats around. Yes, I admit I did look at their web site the night before and saw a calico kitten who had been homeless and needed a quiet home at which to gain trust in people. Kind of the same story and type of cat we encountered when we adopted our dear departed cat. So, I asked to see her. The people at those shelters are very good at their jobs and they quickly plopped her in my lap and she snuggled down and suddenly I was ready for a permanent cat! Well, within a few days she came out of her shell with us and now voluntarily jumps into my lap to attack my hands. Steve called her a pipsqueak and thus came the name Pippi. Pippi and I share common interests. Beverages for one. Pippi and coffee Pippi and ice tea Pippi and wine

Combing fiber

Combing fiber

Also intensely combing fiber until it is just right for spinning.

In the end I am not sure if she sees my value as a companion, or as a place to nap and as a chew toy.Pippi at restattacking me

Either way I will take it!

 

Life Provides Balances

Thank you to everyone who reached out as we were adjusting to our cat’s sudden illness. It meant so much. Our little sweetheart did pass away about 12 days ago and while the end is never easy we were grateful she did so before the vet who was coming to the house to euthanize arrived. She was so afraid of everyone except us and that would have made it harder initially for her. She came and woke us up when the end was near. That meant a lot to me because she had a semi feral first year and a half of her life and once when she got out of our house she reverted to that. I wondered if she would do the same at this point and hide but she wanted us with her when she was distressed.

Thankfully life has balances and one of mine recently was the enjoyment of having two young neighborhood girls here for the morning while their mother was at work. As you will see I am not comfortable putting children’s faces into cyber space but hands are safe I think. 🙂  Since my entire house is something of a fiber studio we:

Enjoyed drum carding wool to make batts

IMG_1220

Drum carding a wool batt

 

Being a mother of sons and not having a girly bone in my body means that sparkly pink things have never been a part of my life. It was fun to see the creativity that they put into this one.

IMG_1226

Pink sparkly batt

They had used hand cards on a field trip that included sheep so were familiar with them. Why weren’t those kinds of field trips around when I was a kid?? They taught me how to make wool bracelets like they had made there.

IMG_1223

Hand carding

Spinning occurred of course and knitting.

IMG_1222

Spinning first yarn

What better way to top off a morning than making chocolate chip cookies. We went out and fed the chickens and got their eggs for the cookies. One of us preferred to put them on the cookie sheet with her hands which I found entertaining. We all know they taste the same no matter how they go on so why not if that is your inclination!

IMG_1224

Cookies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was just a really nice day.

 

 

Waiting and Appreciating

cat spinning

Helping me spin

I had planned last night to sit down and write a blog post. As is often I didn’t know about what but when I sit down my ideas gel together. I was thinking maybe I would write about spinning in some fashion.

But then life intervened. We took our cat to the vet yesterday because for a few weeks she has seemed to be breathing harder. Her chest would rise and fall more quickly. She wasn’t panting or gasping. Just her chest rose faster. I pondered an infection or maybe Congestive Heart Failure, both of which could be managed.

The vet quickly felt an internal mass in her abdomen and an x ray of the lungs showed some of it and fluid around her lungs caused by the cancer. It is inoperable. There was no hint of it five months ago when she saw the vet.

We had gotten her when she was a year and a half old from a shelter. She had had a rough beginning and was afraid of everyone. I had seen her picture in the shelter’s column in the paper and our 20 year old cat had just died. The second I saw how pretty she was and read that she would need help trusting people I knew she was mine. We were going through some transitions that were hard for me and I knew as the cliche says I needed her more even than she needed me.

After a few weeks of hiding under a bureau while I sat quietly in the room each night she grew to trust me. Months went by before she trusted my husband. Now she acts like a normal cat with us. She still hides in fear when anyone else comes in the house. But with us she is cuddly, playful and sweet. And only 4 years old.

The vet gave her a shot of steroids which he said may help her to be more comfortable for a few days by reducing the inflammation somewhat. She is still eating a bit, watching activity outside the window and engaging with us. We will know when the time to go is right by the look in her eyes. They always tell us.

We’ve lost pets before, all elderly though.  I know I will still feel her presence as I do with my others. I know I will see her again. I will have more cats in my life. My brain knows life will go on but my heart hasn’t caught up with it yet.

 

 

 

Thank you Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last Saturday we went to Concord MA to celebrate Father’s Day. Steve chose the location so he could see a baseball exhibit at the Concord Museum. The museum is very attractive and provides a great deal of historic information.  I will however never forget this plaque- be sure to read the very last sentences.

IMG_0924

 

Now that is a strike for which I would work hard!

We had lunch at the Main Street Cafe which offered some refreshingly creative sandwiches and the best lemonade I have ever had. Then delicious coffee and a cupcake at Haute Coffee in an old building with lots of character. My kind of coffee place!

IMG_0933

Side view of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home in Concord MA

 

 

After coffee we went to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home.

 

 

 

 

I have read a lot about the Transcendentalists as an offshoot of reading biographies of Louisa May Alcott. We visited her house also in Concord several years ago. Before going to Concord this time I looked up some of Emerson’s quotes because I was in need of some philosophical boosting up after last week’s shooting event. These horrible occurrences no longer surprise me but always sadden me. We seem to live in a world where violence against innocents is happening all the time. How do caring people responsibly keep in touch with country and world events without being taken over by the sadness of them?

Unfortunately my ponderings haven’t provided me with the perfect answer to this question. Because there is no perfect answer.  I would love to hear ideas others have found.

The main thing that I try to do to cope is to  look for various strategies for coping and realize that strategies have to be shuffled around to keep them fresh and meaningful. The quote above by Emerson is helpful to me right now. To me it speaks of inner resilience which has always been important since the beginning of time and is needed even more so today. It calls for us to be responsible for our outlooks and for our responses to world events. But just as importantly in my mind is that is contains the encouragement that we CAN figure out ways to cope.

As always some of my favorite ways to get a break from outside events and gain perspective are through the teachings of the natural world, living creatures and of course…fiber.

1) Stick close to your pals.

IMG_0920

Daisy-Dandy and Marigold sharing a nesting box despite there being an empty one available.

2) Spend a lot of time thinking about your beloved creative projects and look at them from all angles. IMG_1311

 

 

3) Never forget that there always have been, and always will be,  many more caring people in this world than there are hate filled ones.
Focus your thoughts on them. Don’t forget the ones that always make you laugh!
Sesame Place

Using What You Have Part 2: New Skills Day, Spiders and Waylon Jennings

A little while back I wrote about the appeal that the phrase “Use what you have and you will never be without” holds for me. I  applied it again recently when I was feeling guilt about the fiber tools/patterns/techniques  that I have rarely and sometimes never used. I usually get them for two reasons: 1) they are new and interesting and get that adrenaline flow going about how much fun they would be  2) I tell myself that with the new tool I will surely use up lots of my pounds and pounds of fiber sitting in the attic in plastic bins….

Okay, that worked well when I bought a lucet over two years ago. A cute, inexpensive, beautifully made wooden tool that has been around since the Middle Ages which you can use, among other things, to make braids. My supposedly rational thought: I can use it to braid lots of my roving and make seat pads which I have always wanted. I put it on a shelf where I could admire it… and never touched it again.

So the other day I decided I would take a couple hours and have a learn new skills afternoon. I first went for the lucet and watched a youtube video. When I learned to spin back in those Middle Ages there was no youtube and few books on spinning. Much harder to learn things then. I do appreciate the internet for that. Here are my results.

Lucet

Lucet and braids

That was fun. I can make lots of braids and sew them together for seat mats and virtuously use a lot of fiber.

Then I looked under something on my table and found an article that I had gotten from somewhere and even put in a plastic sleeve (I love office supplies, I feel so organized and efficient, I enjoy wandering around Staples even if I don’t get anything) and then forgotten of course.  There was instruction on how to crochet circular or square mats from roving- which meant no sewing braids together. That sounded good. Easier to complete and could use up pencil roving I bought and never used for spinning because I found the quality was not as good as I had hoped and it fell apart more easily than I expected when spinning.

seat cover

Crocheting chair mat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much better for ktichen chair mat- but how will I use the lucet now? It is back on its shelf and still looks beautiful.

Next skill to learn: chain plying. I had done some in the past and found my yarn was pretty twisty, and several months ago been shown another technique. I watched the video I made of my friend doing it -got to love that technology once again and believe me, I am not a big electronics fan but I guess as with anything else that helps my fiber, I like it for that! I practiced and created two skeins that were a bit twisty but became balanced when soaked in warm soapy water.

two chain plyed skeins

Chain plyed skeins

I  hung the yellow one on that spoon like thing I dug up when putting in herbs behind the barn. I still don’t know what was used for but now it is a proven yarn dryer thing.

chain ply fall colors

 

 

I will still give a prize to anyone who can

definitively tell me what it is.

IMG_0761

I have to interrupt this train of thought because  a friend, sort of a spinning sister, just dropped in. IMG_0908

Spinners and weavers have an affinity for spiders since they also spin and weave.

IMG_0912

Good-bye spider??

Uh oh. Someone else just found you too.

Now I have totally  lost my focus because my husband is rooting around for food- it is way past supper time-and put on Waylon Jennings and my legs won’t stop moving to the beat so I will stop for now. “Did old Hank really do it this way?” 🙂

 

Bringing Out Old Friends

We’ve had a few moves in the past few years and some of our things stayed behind. Everything is with us now. My Ashford Joy wheel and my fiber processing tools were at my side every step of the way.

 

joy wheel and tools

Ashford Joy spinning wheel and fiber processing tools

As was my spinning partner. Is she trying to correct my technique?

cat spinning

Friends don’t let friends spin alone. Apparently.

Now I am renewing my acquaintance with my first wheel, a Country Craftsman. The Joy is much easier to transport when spinning with friends and I was having some trouble with the drive band falling off the Craftsman as I spun so it hasn’t done much for a number of years except look pretty and sometimes be a prop when I took  pictures of my yarn and knitted items.

FullSizeRender

My first spinning wheel

There is a funny story connected with the Craftsman. Years ago one of my son’s girl friends told me she had a dream that he had a party at our place and that some friends were making the wheel spin. She went over and made them stop and told them that was the most important thing in this house! She sure had my number! (Besides of course the living and breathing things and the pictures of my children as babies and toddlers.)

But today I decided to try it again and if I had problems that would be hard to fix I would, well, do something else so it wouldn’t take up space in this small house. My test was to see if I could spin ten minutes without a problem and it spun like a breeze. Maybe it healed during its long rest.

There are many differences between the Joy and the Craftsman besides ease of transport. Although I didn’t know any of this when I bought each I now know that the Craftsman can spin faster because of its construction. When I was taught to spin years ago I was taught to create different yarns by how I used my hands and feet rather some of the more technical methods that people with technical minds, and I am not in that category for sure, can now apply to get yarns with certain attributes. So I have studied the technical ideas just to understand them simply because I want to know everything about spinning even if I don’t use it. I do pay attention to ratio but that is for another time. The rest, for example twist angle of the yarn-I won’t explain it because my eyes are glazing over even as I only type it much less try to use it- is knowledge but doesn’t enter in to the ways I use to create the yarns I want. Different strokes for different folks.

Now I look forward to doing more “production” spinning-getting more yarn more quickly- on the Craftsman as it has larger bobbins and can spin faster and thus make yarn faster. I don’t usually think much about speed since I am usually too busy enjoying the leisurely process but I may try out speed for fun. When I am alone and not distracted by other talk around me. I will mean business! 🙂

IMG_0850

Mrs. Mc’s wool winder

 

I have a few other truly antique wooden friends I have been using right along. Several years ago while on PEI I bought a smaller old wool winder that I use all the time for the purpose for which it was made. I love the big old nails, and in one spot I can faintly see the penciled name  Mrs. Mary Mc (I can’t read the rest of her name) which makes it even more fun to use. It is very rustic and may have been made by Mr. Mc…I also have a large clock wheel wool winder given to me years ago by a friend which now is mostly another nice prop for my yarns and project bags.

IMG_0852

Everything has multi purposes.

 

toy wheel with rolag

Toy spinning wheel with rolag

Of course I also have this wheel:

 

 

 

 

rigid heddle loom

Rigid heddle loom

 

New friends too.

 

 

 

Human friends and family, pet friends, perennial flower friends, spinning wheel friends- they all bring warmth to our lives and we can never have too many. Except maybe too many pets at one time!

Treasuring Abundance

Today is one of those rare and wonderful days when I can shut the door to the outside world for several hours, appreciate the abundance in my life and, naturally, spend a lot of time working with my fiber.

cat sleeping

my little sweetheart

I can’t possibly take time to make the bed because the cat is sleeping on it.

Mother Nature is on my side and it is raining so I don’t have to water.

I have good books to read.books reading

And I have an abundance of alpaca that I have dyed to work with all day long.

alpaca dyed and natural

Thanks to alpacas named Wilmington and Lenox.

I have alpaca yarn and batts I have made which I can admire.

alpaca yarn

Alpaca batt for spinning from dyed and naturally colored alpaca

 

 

 

 

 

 

white alpaca (2)

Yet to be washed white alpaca

alpaca batt

Alpaca batt for spinning from dyed and natural alpaca fiber.

I can revel in the thought that even with this much alpaca I still have a lot more to wash,  dye and enjoy in the future.

 

white alpaca (1)

Alpaca to dye or leave white.

My chickens have even brought me lunch for today and longer.

eggs

Thanks Lilac, Marigold and Daisy!

Tomorrow I will face the outside world again. Today I will let myself get absorbed in

Alpacas For Sale – Pet and Fiber Boys

Beautiful alpaca!

Here is hoping that during the next week everyone can have a few hours to enjoy the  abundance in their lives and emerge refreshed! I would love to hear about what is abundant and enjoyable in your lives.