Tag Archives: knitting

OLIO – November 12, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

This hasn’t been a particularly busy week, 2 days home with a sick almost 6 year old, daily walks the other days, fairly consistently getting the 10,000 suggested steps each day and our speed up, walking 3.7-4 miles per hour, not bad for two oldies but goodies.

Car time was spent finishing up another pair of fingerless mitts for the Holiday Markets and the shop.

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Hand spun Coopworth by me and the green is part mohair from a friend’s goats, blended commercially with merino maybe and dyed by the friend.

A few nights ago, we were threatened with our first hard freeze, we have had several light frosts, so a harvest of mint, oregano, flat leaf parsley, and lemon balm were made to dry for teas and culinary uses this winter.  They are scattered around on trays on the hutch top and shelf to dry.

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A couple of sprigs of rosemary were brought in and put in the rooter ball in the kitchen window to root before potting.  The intent was to put row cover over the plant in the garden and over the rainbow chard, but intent and action didn’t meet.

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I probably should have.  If it perks back up, I will harvest a fair amount of it and freeze it then cover the plants and see if there will still be fresh greens for a bit longer.  It looked even worse this morning when I went out to feed and water the chickens.

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It has been cold enough the past few mornings to warrant the big ugly pink hooded barn coat and gloves.  It is ugly, but it is warm and there are two pair of gloves, depending on the chore and temperature, a pair of leather rough out work gloves and a pair of thick insulated Columbia fleece gloves that used to go winter camping with me.  With the sharp drop in temperature the other night came very strong wind.  It flipped our gas grill over two half barrels of herbs in the yard, tipping them over as well.  Other than a dent, it seems undamaged, but it will be moved well away from the house before it is lit to be sure.

Recently a friend, who is also a blog friend, posted a finished beautiful shawlette/scarf called Hitchhiker.  Years ago I knit one and the grandkids said it looked like a Dragon’s tail.  Though I was pleased with the knit and the shape, I didn’t like the color that I had chosen for the yarn and it sold in a prior Holiday Market.  I commented on her blog post and she encouraged me to knit another.  It seemed like a good project to take when we travel in February as it is one that can be picked up, put down, fairly easily memorized so good for airports and planes.  I started looking for yarn and couldn’t find anything that struck my fancy.  I had been spinning a lovely colorful Merino on the Spanish Peacock drop spindles, but feared it would look muddy plyed on itself.  If Navajo plyed, it wouldn’t give me enough yardage for the pattern and would be a bit heavier yarn than desired.  I realized that the Hearts of the Meadow Farm Coopworth that I am spinning for a sweater was a great color match, so a bobbin of it was spun fine and the spindle singles was plyed with the bobbin singles to produce a 155 yard skein.

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I like it, just 350 more yards of it need to be made to complete the project.  That will be my spinning project for a bit, except for Thursday when I am at Smithfield House in costume for a large Homeschool group.  I will resume spinning the oatmeal colored Coopworth that day.

Knitting, I am working on a Wonderful Wallaby, a hooded, pocketed sweatshirt style sweater for daughter.  I have made many of them for grandkids, this is the first adult sized one.  The body is done up to where the sleeves must be attached so the sleeves were begun last night as they are knit separately and then knit onto the sweater.

In spite of the very cold morning yesterday, we bundled up and ventured out to breakfast and the Farmers’ Market.  There are still many vendors there with produce, a few with meat, a couple with coffee, candles, artisan breads, and other goodies.  We came home with some produce, sausage as the house will be brimming at Thanksgiving, a loaf of bread, and a small bouquet of flowers for the table.

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While there, I met up with the Market Manager, and Ian told me that our Holiday Market conflicts with a 12:30 home football game at the University, the last home game of the season.  Typically, home game days are not good market days as the parking around town all gets taken up by game goers, several of the larger lots that are on campus become tailgate sites, including the one across from the market where we typically park our cars and trucks, it will be closed to our use.  Jim may have to deliver and pick me up and I shouldn’t expect this market to be a good one.  December should be better.  I almost didn’t do the November market to do one at our local elementary/middle school.  Maybe that is what I should have done, but what is done is done.

After the market and the grocer and all was put away at home, we ventured to the local trail around the big pond to do our walk and it was still only in the low 30’s.  It was brisk and made us move quickly to keep warm,  Today is supposed to be a bit milder, up into the mid 40’s.

Another week on the farm, the mountain looking like winter, the leaves down, the trees barren, the little flock of finches, Tufted Titmice, and Chickadees frequenting the feeders, the chickens cleaning up what they spill and “weeding” my flower beds with their scratching.  I love life here, even in winter.  Must get some firewood though.

Olio – 11/6/2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

It is truly autumn here, near 70ºf one day and 40’s to 50’s the next.  Sunshine and gloom, but more gloom than sunshine of late.

With the last of the harvest from the garden (still some chard and herbs), it was mulched down last week.  The 8 quart bucket of the last of the peppers brought in though I kept forgetting to buy ziplock freezer bags.  I avoid the use of plastic for the environment, but some things that go in the freezer don’t have another good option.  Son in law picked up a box for me yesterday and last night after dinner, daughter packaged and labelled while I chopped.  I didn’t specify how to label them and she tends to be a creative sort when not given specific direction.

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There are some interestingly labelled chickens in the freezer for the same reason.  It makes me smile each time I pull out one of the packages.

The shorter days have slowed egg production from about a dozen a day down to about 8 a day.  It amazes me that with 30 acres to prowl, that those 16 birds can foul their coop so thoroughly as quickly as they do.  This morning, I could smell ammonia again, so I opened the pop door, the coop door, and all three windows fully to hopefully dry some of the straw, but hardly got back in the house when thick gloom formed again.  A weather app check said rain was due before 10 a.m.  With the garden dormant and a winter to break down the hot fertilizer, I forked the fouled straw out of the coop and onto the dormant beds and spread new straw in the coop, closed the main door and lowered the windows to a ventilating crack.  Back in the house, only 8:30 and the rain has already begun.

I hope the rain will stop by early afternoon.  Jim and I have been working together for the past 8 weeks to improve our health.  This has included behaving better at meals and eliminating most snacks, altering the types of snacks we do eat, and walking daily.  We started with a bit over 2 miles at a pace the hare would laugh at, but yesterday we did 3 miles at 15.05 minutes/mile.  He is willing to go to the gym and walk the treadmill, I am not, plus we don’t encourage each other doing it that way.  I walk faster when I am with him and I think he does also, so I don’t like rainy days that interfere.  When it gets cold, he will go to the gym, I will layer up and continue to walk outdoors if it isn’t raining.  So far, though I don’t see much weight change, I have dropped a size in my jeans and had to purchase a couple of new pair yesterday as I was constantly pulling the old ones up.

The first Holiday Market is coming up and I am spending car time and evenings, knitting hats and fingerless mitts with small skeins of hand spun yarns.

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If the day is cool or windy, hopefully they will sell.  Each new item also goes into my online shop with the link on the side of the blog.

Lately, I have been missing my Dad.  It is approaching two years since he took sick and passed.  On Halloween, while looking for a photo of my daughter doing professional grade Darth Maul makeup on her little brother to show her son who she was doing as the Joker from Batman, I stumbled on this photo from many (maybe a dozen) years ago at a holiday meal at his home.  This is my sister and me with Dad with a silly smirk that I saw so often.  I’m not sure why my little brother wasn’t in the picture as well.

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I had much shorter and much darker hair back then.  This morning, while sitting and eating my breakfast, I was watching the birds on the feeders.  Please excuse the dirty window, I can’t go safely out on the deck to clean it.

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He always had feeders full for the birds and squirrels and most of the ones I can name when they visit are because of his lessons.

One of the things I really miss is our weekly call that always had a discussion of what we were currently reading and his recommendations of many excellent books I have read over the years because of him.  I did have a nice long conversation with my step mom yesterday though.

I think I will end with a picture of the best buds.

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They had been wrestling over a ball and she putting her whole head in his mouth, but then they they just collapsed into a puppy pile to snuggle.

 

 

 

 

End of week 9-16-2017

This has been a crafty week ending with a good session on the tractor to beat the too tall grass back to a reasonable length.  The unused chicken run is going to require the weed wacker and this body is just not up to that this afternoon.  Our house sits on a slope that has the main floor at ground level on the front and on the second level on the back.  To mow with the tractor first requires that the gas powered lawn mower (not self propelled) be hauled out and a couple of swipes around the house along with a couple of areas that the tractor can’t reach, must be done.  The typical mowing is 4 or 5 acres, around the orchard trees, the garden and chicken runs, and the front, back, and side yards.  The area that is hayed and we usually brush hog in the fall is going to be hayed this fall, taking this task from me this year.

The crafting has involved designing two new patterns for fingerless mitts for the shop. The patterns have been shared with a few friends, I am hopeful that if they knit them, that they will alert me to any miscues that might surface.  Also this week,  3 batches of Shea based cold process soap, and a couple dozen tins of salves and balms were made for the shop and the upcoming shows.

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The lower ones are for me, though I will knit a pair or two for the Holiday Markets as well.

A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I could make a particular hat for her grand daughter who is turning 1 soon and has yet to grow hair.  The project was quick and sent to the friend, who in turn sent it to her daughter.  The photo credit is from her daughter, they were very pleased with the results.

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And then today was Worldwide Spin in Public Day, and my new Spanish Peacock drop spindle accompanied me today as we went to our usual Saturday morning breakfast and Farmers’ Market trips.

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A busy week.  Tomorrow the garden and a batch of pickles will be the focus.

End of Week – 9/10/2017

The cruise obviously did not happen.  We are safely in our Virginia mountains, not at sea.  We will use our credit to try again in the spring when we are out of hurricane season.  Since we are home, we took advantage to make a short trip to Meadows of Dan to supply with Bent Mountain cabbages, Virginia apples, and Ashe County cheeses from the Poor Farmers Market.  This was done after our morning trip to our local Farmers Market yesterday.

Each day we try to take a brisk walk to improve our stamina and help both of us shed a few pounds.  Yesterday was a home football game, bringing thousands of extra people into the small town, making traffic miserable, especially as the main bypass road around the town is in the midst of construction, repaving great sections and a new interchange at the campus.  This has made travel even more miserable.  With no place to park on football days, we missed our walk yesterday but enjoyed getting away from it.

The apples purchased yesterday were processed today to make two batches, a total of 15 pints of spiced applesauce.  It is cooling from the canner to be labelled tomorrow and added to the shelves in the basement for our winter enjoyment.

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Two of the cabbages were slated for kraut.  One of our favorite winter dishes is pork chops seared then topped with applesauce and sauerkraut and slow cooked in the dutch over.

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Two half gallon jars are fermenting on the counter.  If I can stir up another wide mouth half gallon, the third cabbage may also become sauerkraut as one of these jars will be packed in pints or quarts and given to eldest son and his family once it is fully fermented.

Tomorrow, a couple of flats of jars will be purchased for another prep of salsa and an attempt at making Asian Pear Butter.  Once that is done, the fading tomatoes will be pulled and that bed seeded with a cover crop.  The peppers are being allowed to ripen to red before making a batch of Sriracha style sauce and for drying to use in enchilada sauce this winter.  The corn stalks are about to be pulled for fall decoration, the fall radishes and turnips pulled for salads and kimchee.  The sweet potatoes will be left until the first frost is threatened, then dug.

The young hens are now giving us 9 to 12 eggs each day.  The old hens have all but quit laying and some appear to be beginning to molt.  They have had a good life and will be humanely killed soon to be stew chickens.

On the craft front, I have spun little since I returned from the retreat, but I have been working on designing a fingerless mitt pattern.  I think I have gotten it all figured out and written up.  Here is a peek of the finished mitt.

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They should soon be in the shop.

 

Away, Far Away – 8/28/2017

Life continues to spiral away, hopefully to slow a bit now that the grands are back in school as of this morning.

The eclipse provided a great science lesson last Monday, with eclipse viewing glasses thanks to eldest son and the grands’ other grandma, reflections caught through the broken clouds in a planter saucer of water.

Daughter having to take a day off so we could do more appointments.

More canning, lots of Jalapeños.  Tomatoes being frozen to peel and process this week after more jars are acquired.

Pullets figuring out the egg deal and thus many to deliver to folks who appreciate their efforts as much as we do.

Relearning an old skill, Tunisian Crochet.  Another way to use some of the yarn I spin, but I am so slow with it still.

And a couple days of R & R away for me, friends and fiber, to my favorite fiber retreat, The Knotty Ladies (though there are a couple of guys that are there too).  It is an opportunity to vend my shop as well and yarn, stitch markers, soaps, and salves sold, though none of the knit wear, but then again, everyone in the room knits, spins, crochets, weaves, felts, or some combination of those arts.   A generous skein of sport weight Hebridean was spun and 12 ounces of the softest Merino/Alpaca blend of fiber purchased and one skein of it spun.  There may be a sweater in my near future.

Finally back home to my family and my own bed.

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Whew, what a week – July 10, 2017

What a whirlwind the past week.  The garden has been neglected as the only time I was home to work on it, it was either raining or too hot to want my fair skin out in the sun.

Last Monday, eldest continued on the high lifter, staining high parts of the house while I worked on removing screens, staining the windows that tilt inside, passing supplies out the window from the upstairs to him on the lifter bucket.  We moved the lifter as night fell up to the gravel of the driveway before the predicted rain was due.

Tuesday, being Independence Day in the USA, the historic house, Smithfield House, where I go to spin in costume, held a 4 hour celebration of the day with hourly cannon fire, apple pie contest, reading of the Fincastle Resolution and the Declaration of Independence, re-enactors, the blacksmith, weavers, spinners, tours, and fun by all.

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Wednesday it rained and we stayed home with the grands, getting them to their evening Taekwondo classes.

Thursday, they were loaded in our car and off we drove east nearly 3 hours to meet youngest son and his family who drove west about 3 hours and met in Charlottesville to let the cousins play, us to get some snuggle time and to visit with our son and his wife for a late morning, lunch, and early afternoon before the trips were reversed back to our respective homes.

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The car time allowed knitting time as I rode passenger and good progress was made on the fingerless mitts to go with the Fiesta hat from the playful handspun yarn.  The second mitt was finished yesterday.  The set has been uploaded to my shop for sale.

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Friday was laundry and get my act together day as Saturday, Jim and I were taking off in opposite directions for the weekend.  He left on the BBH for a very long ride with his club.  They went way west in the state to various sights and parks and to overnight in a hotel in Norton, Virginia.  I got the groceries for the week purchased, brought home and put away and then took off north to eldest son’s house.  They were not home when I got there, though their car’s were, so I settled in the cool quiet and knitted on the second mitt and spun on a drop spindle.  Finished a novel I had been reading, but it wasn’t worth a review or the time spent reading it.

Sunday, their young one had archery day at the Isaac Walton League facility and I went with daughter in law to watch that while son went with another group from the league to pick up trash from the road into their community.  Sunday afternoon, son, young one, and I drove south about an hour and a half to the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriar’s theater to see Love’s Labors Lost in that wonderful setting, the second one that I have had the opportunity to see this summer.  We were fortunate to be seated on three of the Gallants’ stools, the 12 stools on the side edges of the stage.  It was such a great experience, being right there in the action, seeing the facial expressions, having lines spoken directly to you.

After a couple of days and nights away, a drive home early this morning to help with the summer’s swim lessons for the grands and back to the “normal” routine here, I am worn out.  As I went out to secure the hens and pullets near dark, my one little pullet that wants a nightly hug awaited me outside the coop.  In the several years of raising chickens, she is the first that wants to be handled.

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Though the rest of the week is supposed to be record hot, I hope to get the yard mowed, the chicken runs trimmed with the string trimmer, the garden weeded, the onions and garlic pulled and cured and perhaps some other veggies that may have matured in our week of travel and chaos.

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The garden box per month purchase idea got sidelined this winter somehow. Today some catch up was in order. Home Depot had 4 complete boxes of the 4×4′ ones and several 4×8′ ones that though they were made of the same parts minus 4 slats as two of the smaller ones, cost more than twice as much. The price was higher than the 2 purchased in the fall. We came home with the 4 and with what is in the garden already will allow me to combine sets and end up with an extra 4×4 once corner posts of some sort are found.

Tomorrow the rain will be gone and an attempt to put the new ones in place with more paths mulched will occur. It is almost onion set and pea seed planting time. Home Depot already had cabbage, lettuce, and broccoli starts.

Tractor supply got some chicks in today. We live halfway between two stores so both were called. One only had meat chicks, the other got Welsummers and Americaunas.  Oh the temptation to add some Welsummers with their dark reddish brown eggs, but saner heads prevailed. New Country Organics, 2 hours from us will be getting several heritage breeds of chicks in early March but you had to reserve them. A dozen straight run Buff Orpington chicks were reserved today and a day trip in a few weeks is in order with a tub to haul them home.  That store has been on my agenda for a while so this will be an opportunity to visit and get some garden supplements in time to make the seed starter mix.

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The cowl out of my handspun silk is dry, soft, and beautiful. Because I don’t care for tight things around my neck, I added one pattern repeat. Lovely pattern, Pretty Thing by Stephanie Pearl McFee aka The Yarn Harlot.

 

Olio-Week’s End, February 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been an emotional wreck.  The grandson that lives with us is with his Mom, Sister, and “Dad.”  His biological father lived in Florida and without sharing details, passed away on Wednesday afternoon.  Grandson had been told about a week before that he wasn’t doing well and couldn’t talk on the phone on the scheduled day, but it was still very hard news for him to take and for daughter to have to deliver to him.  They are awaiting information on the service so they can go down and let the young man be there.  It is hard,  he is 10, and as my sister reminded me, children his age are still too young to fear death, though I’m sure he will have his share of tough moments over the next few weeks.  I still do over my Dad’s passing and it has been 14 months.

The week has been up and down with the weather as well, and the changes are causing allergy symptoms for some in the house, weather related headaches for others, and confusion for the animals as they go out to freezing wind one day and temperatures that invite playing in the creek the next.  Each day is a debate of what to wear, the uniform has become a short sleeve t shirt with a sweatshirt or fleece over it, a parka added if necessary.  Gloves stay in pockets when needed.  Some days, the layers stay on, some days peel down to the t shirt.

If we hadn’t had to cancel our ski trip, we would have arrived home late last night from a week in Colorado.  We missed not only the skiing, but also the company of our cousins who are wonderful hosts when we visit them.  Instead of sharing our anniversary dinner with them as we did 4 years ago, we just enjoyed each other’s company at one of the finer restaurants in town, a great 4 course meal that was delicious.

Last night, the cowl that was being knit from the silk that I had spun was finished.  It is beautiful and is blocked and drying.

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The weekend approaches, our usual breakfast and Farmers Market Saturday, tomorrow and more vendors are beginning to return with early greens, so good food will be had next week.

My spinning is improving on my little antique spinning wheel.

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Generally it doesn’t throw the drive band, but the upright nearest the spinner still moves some and causes the wheel to skew and throw the band.  The next time it jumps off, the upright is going to be wrapped in a few rounds of waxed hemp thread to see if that will tighten it enough to hold its position.  The peg under the table also needs to be forced in tighter to help.  The missing part for the new antique walking wheel is being made and when it returns, another learning curve for me as a spinner.  Also improvement is noted with the support spindle that we got last weekend.

Olio – February 3, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

If Phil had come out today instead of yesterday, he would not have seen his shadow.  It is thick and gray.  It looks like it could snow, but there is none in the forecast.  Even the weekend storm threat has dissipated, so there should be no missed school next week.  It is cold, each day this week has been colder by 10 or more degrees than the day before.  It was near the upper 60’s on Tuesday and it won’t reach freezing today with a low in the shivering teens.  We have had wind this week too, though today is calm.  One day, the wind took out our power for nearly 7 hours before they found the tree on the line and did some major pruning about a mile down the road.

With the lengthening daylight hours, the hens are picking up egg production.  Yesterday there were 5 eggs out of the 7 hens.

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It amuses me to see the variation on the size and color of the eggs from the Buffys.  The top two right and the bottom left are all Buff Orpington eggs.  The top left is the Americauna and the bottom right is the Americauna/Buff Orpington cross.  The seller of the Buff Orpington pullets that were to increase the flock must not really be interested in selling as they have not gotten back with me though they have email and phone number to arrange the sale and pick up.  Hopefully the girls will  be prolific this year and provide us with enough chicks to replenish the predator loss and still give us enough for the freezer.

The Fibonacci Infinity scarf is still growing.

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There is a 13 row white repeat to go, then pick up the blue with the white and finally the blue with the merlot.  It is already as long as my legs and very heavy due to it being a tube.  It will definitely be a warm scarf.  The silk cowl at the top is growing, it is about 70% done, only getting attention when I am the car passenger instead of the driver.

The Leicester Longwood, a bit finer than the yarn for the scarf is on the wheel.  Hopefully, it will make a knitted fabric that is more sweater friendly after a swatch or two trying different needles.  This week, my Spanish Peacock drop spindle went to a new home as it caused too much strain and pain in my shoulders.  The proceeds from that sale bought a new supported spindle and bowl.  That is a learning process and some of the soft California Red roving is being used to learn. This still allows for portable spinning with less strain on the shoulders and elbows.

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This is definitely a learning curve.  The spindle spins nicely, but my drafting of the fiber is still very inconsistent and trying to avoid the park and draft technique makes it more of a challenge.

Still loving life on our farm.

 

Tools of the Trade

In addition to keeping the household of 4 adults, 2 children, 3 big dogs, 3 cats running, raising chickens for our  eggs and some meat, making soap, balms, salves, and beard products for my online shop and craft shows, I love fiber arts.  I sew, knit, crochet, and spin fiber into yarn for my own use and for sale in the shop and shows.

A couple of years ago, we were flying on a vacation, I took knitting with me to help occupy the time and keep me settled on the plane (I’m not a huge fan of flying).  The project that I took was  socks for one of the grandson’s for Christmas, Batman socks.  I had black and gold yarns and I wanted to put the Batman emblem on the cuff of each sock.  I rummaged through my bag and could not find a piece of graph paper though I usually carried a small graph paper notebook and ended up drawing a grid on the back of a receipt and graphing out the emblem.  Several days into the vacation, we were shopping in one of the native markets and I spotted a small woven fabric covered notebook cover with a graph paper pad in it.  It was inexpensive and I purchased one.  The pad got used up over time and I discovered that it was a non standard size and unavailable in the USA or on any online store I could scare up.  It was larger than the pocket Moleskine or Fieldnotes books, smaller than the medium Moleskine variety and it had to be side bound with staples, not a spiral.  The cover sat idle and empty, but I liked it.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could use the woven part of the cover and repurpose it with some added fabric to make it fit a standard size. My very talented and crafty sister in law was called on with several questions, many ideas, and finally, bravely, I cut the notebook cover in half, removed the binding, made a new liner, spine, and binding that enlarged it enough to handle a standard notebook.

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This required setting up the sewing machine and pulling out the sewing box. They are in the dormer in our bedroom where I have a handmade walnut table, pottery lamp, and shelving to store my yarn and fabric.

Compared to many of my friends in the fiber arts, I am a lightweight. Most of them have multiple wheels, looms, sewing machines. I do have two wheels or I will once the antique one has all of its parts back. But the rest of my equipment will fit into a tote bag.

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The Louët has a built in Lazy Kate for plying, but I don’t like it, so I use the one my son made me for Christmas.

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A swift and two different sized Niddy Noddys for winding yarn into skeins from a bobbin.

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And two different sized Lucets for making cord.

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An assortment of various drop spindles for portable spinning.

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Hand carders for combing unprocessed clean wool.

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A backstrap loom, that I need an instructor to teach me to set it up for weaving.

With one set of interchangeable knitting needles, one set of double pointed knitting needles in various sizes, a few fixed circular knitting needles, and several crochet hooks, I have all I need for spinning, sewing, knitting or crocheting.

It will all fit nicely in a beautiful hand made tote from a friend.

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Though I don’t carry it all with me, I could.