Monday, October 12, 2015

An Awesome Fall Motorcycle Ride

On Saturday my husband, Marshall, and I set out on our motorcycles to explore a fire lookout that's been on our list of places to visit, the Jackson fire lookout. We rode a twisty highway for miles, enjoying the lovely fall colors flash by, to forest service road 384 that follows the Crooked River, then turning on NF-312. We rode for miles into the backcountry, seeing many campers enjoying the warm fall weekend. The aspens have turned a lovely yellow, adding to the wonderful view. Do you see the white line running along the side of the mountain? That was the dirt road that we were following to the summit where the fire lookout was located.

The last bit of road climbed 4000 feet in a short distance, so I was rather glad that I wasn't pedaling it, or I wouldn't have been pedaling, I would have been pushing my bike! This was one of the best maintained forest service roads that we've been on. 

The fire lookout was unmanned and the stairs were locked, so we stood on a pile of boulders to take in the view.

While we were taking in the view, we could hear the yipping of coyotes or wolves close by, which was rather haunting to listen to. The elevation was 8100 feet and off in the distance we could see the jagged peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains.

I love Idaho!!
One must carry a hat to cover up mashed helmet hair....

In the end, we rode for eight hours, and I was so sore and tired yesterday I could barely move, so it was a very good day to sit on a sofa to hand quilt a four patch quilt. 
And not move.
 I'm almost done with the quilt so I'll share photos of it soon.

Happy stitching,

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Love of Spinning (How I Feed My Fiber Addiction)

Years ago while taking a weaving class in Colorado I heard about handspun yarn. At first I didn't get it-why would anyone spend the time to spin their own yarn when they could just go to their local knit shop to buy it? And then I saw some of the skeins that were being created, how unique and unusual some of them were, and I finally understood the fascination. I signed up for a spinning class, and well, I've been hooked on spinning ever since. I know that some people spin for an exact project in mind, carefully measuring twist angles, diameter, and color progression. And that's okay. For me, most of the time, I just want to feel the soft wool running through my fingers and while I'm spinning I'm thinking maybe this will be a lovely special winter hat or maybe a soft scarf or...but I know that when I'm done with the skein, I'll know better what I want to create with it. And to be honest, sometimes I don't create anything at all, and I simply drape the skein over a quilt hanger in my studio so that I can enjoy seeing it each day.

Lately I've been spinning a Merino fleece that I've dyed in various colors. To begin I gently tug some of the medium crimson red wool loose from the tied bundle which kept the fibers in alignment. I wish that you could feel Cleo's Merino-it's incredibly, wonderfully soft so it's a delight to work with.

I use a flicker brush, which looks like a dog slicker brush with a longer handle

to open up the wool that has been compacted a bit from the sheep itself, and from being cleaned and then dyed. The cut ends are kept in alignment as I hold the bunch in my hand, gently running the brush through the ends until they are open and fluffy.

And then I turn the wool 180 degrees to flick card the other end. I've tried various ways of spinning aligned wool, and one of the ways is by folding the fiber over my finger and then drafting from the fold.

Another option of spinning the aligned fibers is to gently hold the bunch in your hand while allowing the wool to draft.

 Here I'm spinning early on a Saturday morning in our kitchen while my husband, Marshall (the Birkenstocks) is making us cappuccinos. 

What will this skein be used for? Well, I'm thinking a special hat or maybe fingerless gloves, but you know, when I'm done with the skein, I'm pretty sure it will come to me. And because it was happily created by me each step of the way, I'm sure to love it. Maybe I'll give it away to someone special and then start on another unique skein....

Happy spinning,

P.S. Just to let you know, this is sure to be addictive if you try this yourself, which is why I live in a house filled with wool-wool skeins draped on quilt hangers on my walls so that I can feel the wonderful texture while I walk by, balls of wool in baskets all over my house, and then bags of wool waiting to be dyed. Okay. Very addictive. There's wool in my attic....