Monday, January 31, 2005


Yesterday John & I went down to Boston to the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. Suffice it to say it was a rock, plant and archaeology geek's playground...

The best parts? Well, there were two best parts....the glass flowers exhibit-- 4,400 glass pieces representing over 800 plant species created by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (this exhibit is worth the trip alone!). I had no idea ahead of time what this collection was about -- I was expecting just ho-hum modern glass flower art. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. These are incredibly realistic reproductions of plants made specifically for botanical study. We walked in and stood there in stunned amazement: "They're glass?" "They don't look like glass!" "It says they're glass!" "No, they can't be glass!" "But it says they're glass!" et cetera, until the very nice docent interrupted us and assured us that they are all, in fact, glass (mostly painted with enamel). Glass goldenrod, glass mountain laurel, glass rhododendron, lupines, red maple (in fall color), asters, figs, water lilies, hazlenut, willow, delphinium, clematis, pitcher plant, a FANTASTIC Oncidium tigrinum orchid, lady slipper orchids, irises, sedges, and on and on and on. Wow!

The other best part was the Hall of Minerals with over 5,000 mineral specimens. Poor, poor John, (but he tolerates me). "Ooh, come look at this one!" "Oh, John, check this one out!" (I think he was actually pretty amazed, too.) I was struck by how much some of them look like living lichens and molds. I didn't take any pictures, but just as an example, check out these azurite nodules on another rock. Doesn't it look alive?

Also cool were the textiles in the Peabody and a bunch of ancient Central American ceramic spindle whorls with "images of warriors" etched on them...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Lions & Lambs...

Thanks for the title, Laura!

Doug came over for dinner last night and brought the sheep rug & stuffed sheep that Marie gave him for birthday/Christmas. Abbey & Twilly took an immediate liking to both. How cute is this?

Then Twilly decided to model the single mittens I have done recently in an effort to get Mommy to actually finish a project:

No more indigo dyeing done last night...but Doug was kind enough to show us the fruits of his labor from the silk workshop he went to over the weekend in Vermont. Yum!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Snow, etc.

So it has finally decided to be winter in New England. Saturday & Sunday's storm dropped around 16 inches of the fluffy stuff in Henniker. I need to contact the Cape relatives and see how they fared -- 3 feet down there I heard. Yesterday I shoveled. And shoveled. And shoveled some more. And it's really cold still, too. I had hoped to go out snowshoeing yesterday but the wind was whipping around so much I decided to stay in. I made bread, pugilese, out of the Bread Bible (it's the one on the cover -- yum!), worked on the Kimono shawl (picture soon, I promise) and did a silly Viking braid-cuffed mitten out of some of the indigo-dyed yarn from last week. I started up the indigo vat again and did a bunch more yarn for Laura -- this batch came out much deeper blue. Doug is coming over for dinner tonight and he has been advised to bring yarn to "indigofy." That vat just keeps going and going! I also started a new batch of rock-tripe lichen -- should be ready to make purple at the end of February/early March.

Saturday night was the SCRAP party at the State Library. Good to see lots of people -- Travis was back from Iraq and Pat & Kurt came down from Jefferson even though one of the goats (cashmere!) had two kids on Saturday morning, male & female named Paris & Twilla, respectively. A good (and cold) time was had by all.

This morning there were turkeys in the driveway again -- one of them flew up to the top of one of the big pine trees on the far side of the field. I think they must fly like that huge new European airplaine -- way too heavy to be up in the air. Gravity doesn't work like that.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Blue, Blue, Blue!

Yeah, yeah, its been a week. The Saved Loom continues to reside in the Farmstand. We meant to move it into the Horse Barn this week, really we did. What a week. Snow, ice, rain, sleet, ice. One of the pre-schoolers asked me if we could go out to see the river (what river?) and I finally figured out he meant the river of meltwater running in the ditch down the side of the road. In any case, definitely not good snowshoeing conditions anymore....

So what to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon? How about an indigo vat? Splendid idea, Laura! (She had all the stuff, but let me do it). This was my first try with indigo (well, second try. The first try was also today and I stirred it way too much and got way too much air in. The second go was much more successful) and I am stunned! It actually came out blue! The best part is watching the yellow-green to blue oxidation reaction....swoooosh -- magic! You can kind of see it in this picture:

This is the second-coolest dye bath I have ever done (rock tripe lichen -- purple! -- remains by far the best) Today there were 9 skeins in all. Three commercially spun cheapies, one alpaca/wool blend that I bought at the Henniker Farmer's Market last summer, two very smooth merino-ish (I don't remember what exactly) skeins that I spun a while ago, one of the gray skeins previously destined for Laura's sweater (and no, she doesn't want it blue after all) and two small skeins, possibly Icelandic, that she spun this afternoon (shortly before leaving to take Ellie back to school). They have been washed & rinsed in vinegar water and are currently drip drying (onto cardboard) in the kitchen:

Aren't they pretty?

SIDEBAR & CAT UPDATE: You may have noticed that Twilly is invading this picture -- kittens & yarn continue not to mix so well, sweetie pies that they are. They want to help, learn, become great fiber artists, but they need to discipline themselves a bit. Yesterday while winding warp for my table loom they were decidedly unhelpful. Today I'll be surprised if they don't wind up with blue spots for all the interest they took in the dripping indigo skeins. AND Abbey killed my orchid this morning -- first she knocked it over, (and I righted it -- "bad kitty") and shortly thereafter she jogged into the livingroom proudly carrying the severed flower stalk in her mouth. Cute but not funny. In an attempt at distraction, I found them a scratching post with yellow spring-loaded pom-pom on top at the Swap Shop at the dump (it doesn't smell). They had fun beating that up, especially once catnip had been sprinkled liberally. Better that than my foot.

IN OTHER NEWS, yesterday I received my very own copy of (drool) The Lichens of North America which I have been lusting after for some time (10 points for John). The Christmas tree came down (on purpose, not due to the kittens -- lucky for them -- can you believe they only broke one ornament over the entire holiday season?) There were over 20 turkeys in the yard/driveway again yesterday. The Kimono shawl continues to grow -- I am about 1/3 of the way through it. No picture yet. Nana called from Illinois to tell me that they have a new peekapoo puppy named Megan -- "Meggie." It weighs a pound and a half. "Dog" we ask? That's smaller than Abbey...

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Rescue Mission Accomplished!

2:30 on Friday. The call comes in: couple moving. House closing on Friday. Situation, dire: one 48" 8-harness Macomber loom to be chopped into bits and carted off to the dump (GASP!) or donated to the Village if we can pick it up on Saturday morning. "It's really big," she said.

Friday evening. Loom Rescue Team formed on behalf of fiber artists everywhere.

9:15 Saturday morning. Braving predictions of more snow, the Rescue Team set out with Mapquest paper, tools for disassembly & blankets for wrapping and soon arrived in a suburb of the lovely city of Concord. Upon entering the house the Rescue Team could hear the small peeping "Save me! Save me!"from the loom in the basement (the basement!) It was alone, scared, and clearly ready to find a permanent, loving home having been made in Saugus, MA, moved to Newfoundland, then Maine, then the Concord suburbs and *never used*.

10:30. Extraction of the loom from the basement. It was heavy. With *some difficulty* the Rescue Team wedged it up and out of the bulkhead. Ouch. Definitely not going to fit in the car.

11:00. En route to Salisbury to Rescue Team Leader's mommy's house to borrow the pickup truck.

11:30. En route back to Concord. It started snowing.

12:00 (Really snowing...) Arrived back in Concord. Loom parts packed into the car & loom hoisted into pickup bed, but because of truck cap, it had to go in sideways and wouldn't clear to wheel wells. So it stuck out a bit...

12:10. The loom is in protective custody (you can breathe now...)

12:30 (Really, really snowing...) Arrived at the Village. Rescue Team leader forgot her keys, but the loom was ecstatic nevertheless as it was unloaded into the barn. A new lease on life!! We'll put it somewhere else (?????) on Monday (did I mention it's really big?)

1:15 (Really, really, really snowing...) Back in Salisbury to return the truck. Tea was served. A pleasant time had by all.

4:30 (Still snowing...) Home sweet home. Mission accomplished. One loom is saved from the flames of hell (or the Concord incinerator).

7:20 (Still snowing??) Evil kittens have taken over the couch, feigning cuteness and sleep, only to get their murderous claws ever closer to my feet. Yup, see....awake. Ouch.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Twilly & Abbey, Fiends from Hell:

These busy little cats are SO glad to have been adopted by knitters. All that stuff about cats and balls of yarn is true, true, true. Last night Abbey nearly extracted a full skein of Lamb's Pride from Laura's knitting bag and many a fine Brittney knitting needle is now pocked with kitten teeth marks. But they're so cute. Sheesh.

I haven't posted pictures of projects yet but I am currently enamored OF (housemate corrects my grammar) Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns book.

Hello there...

Regarding the title of this blog, I seem to be obsessed with both.

After 10 days off I'm back to work. I was introduced to blogs, especially Yarn Harlot, over my vacation -- my lovely housemate Laura was reading her posts to me over morning tea. Laura has pictures of my cats (Twilly & Abbey) and a picture of a hat I made a couple of days ago. I'll post pictures of some of the stuff I finished knitting over my vacation when I get home... Fair warning: I'm a major Luddite (and proud of it), so this will probably be an infrequently updated venture. Frankly, I'd rather be spinning and knitting and out looking for salamanders than writing about it. But on the fiber side, Laura tells me that this will give me incentive to *actually finish* projects. On the salamander side, it might let me keep people posted in the spring when the little guys start waking up and heading to their vernal pools. We'll see.

Meanwhile I should get back to work...I'm planning a fiber camp for kids over February Vacation and fiber arts workshops for the spring.