Sunday, November 30, 2008

What I Learned on Thanksgiving

Things I learned over the Thanksgiving holidays:
1. Family is ultimately important. This isn't new for me. It was very strongly reinforced over the past week.
2. Family doesn't have to be just blood-related. Our friends form a bond which is sometimes just as strong.
3. I can go for a walk in 28 degree weather and still be warm when dogs and family are included.
4. Other people's pets can help when my pets are not close enough to hold.
5. The first James Bond movie with Daniel Craig had a better story than the second.
6. Airports are perfect places to not see humanity at its best, but they are good places to develop characters for your writing.
7. I can knit cables even when sitting on a crowded airplane with my elbows held next to my sides.
8. I will look for a different airline the next time I travel. Northwest charged us an additional $55.00 for three bags checked each way and still wanted $3.00 for a very small can of Pringles on board. Their coffee was awful; at least it was free.
9. The Raleigh airport does not have sufficient signs for people to find their way around (like my mom and sister who were trying to pick us up last night in the dark and ended up circling the airport a few times before getting to ground transport).
10. There's nothing like your cats forgiving you for leaving them for several days (yes, we did have friends looking after them) and snuggling up next to you when you finally get to fall asleep in your own bed. Bunkai purred so loudly on his way to the bed that it sounded like birds chirping in our bedroom. Both stayed with us all night and Willow hasn't let me out of her sight today:)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Craft Write Video

I recently purchased a video camera because I enjoy podcasting, but find it limited in a way with trying to share crafts. After all, we all know the saying about a picture vs. a thousand words. Now, as a writer, I might protest and say that if the words are written well, they would suffice and quite well at that, thank you very much. But, as a crafter, and a visual learner, I would also argue for the value of seeing something demonstrated. Well, I hope to do both. I have some tutorials in mind that I'd like to share with my readers. I recently talked about knotless netting. Diagrams and pictures are all well and good, but I think watching someone actually do this works better. I go through a similar procedure when teaching my craft club students at school. I may have diagrams, but seeing me cast on or do a knit stitch or seeing how I hold my brush in addition to hearing that they need to hold it perpendicular to the page only adds to the learning process.
My first video here is an introduction. It introduces the viewer to my workspace (or at least the main one) in my house.I will add more videos later which will include tutorials. For now, I just wanted to say, "Welcome to my place."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nano Update

We're into the third week of NANOWRIMO and I'm still moving slowly. I have increased to 7010 words and I'm now closer to finishing my Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher novel. My goal for the month is becoming more realistic now: Finish Delores and make it to 10,000 words. For next year, I'll push for more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Sadly, I can only say I'm up to 5,396 words. For me, other things, like spinning classes and chasing the possibility of a new wheel get in the way. I've also been commissioned to knit two hats before Christmas to be taken to Minnesota, so that does tie up my typing hands. Enough of the excuses. At least this contest has me doing some writing, which I had slacked off for a few months now, so I'm thankful for that. I still am determined to go over 10,000 this year. This is my first year with NANO. I'd like to keep this challenge for myself for the next few months, maybe develop some better habits. If nothing else, this has given me a better insight at writing discipline and what it takes to be a professional writer.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Spinning in the Grease

I started a two-day spinning workshop at the Tail-Spinner yarn shop in Richlands, NC. This is a great little yarn shop filled with beautiful lush yarns and tons of roving for the spinner. Roving ranges from Corriedale to Merino to Romney to Buffalo and Angora Rabbit (which the owner, Linda Davis, raises herself with her son). I learned a great deal this weekend, including the history of spinning and about various types of fiber, animal and vegetable. We were given pencil roving to practice basic spinning and treadling. We then practiced carding Romney wool on our new hand carders, then spun it onto our wheels. My spinning wheel is now jealous of Linda's wheels because they all have names. I didn't admit that my wheel has been with me since June and is still nameless. I have to go do my homework now which consists of carding the rest of my wool samples before tomorrow's lesson. And, of course, my camera batteries expired as soon as I got to the shop today. I'll recharge them tomorrow and post pictures of the shop.
Spinning in the grease is a term used to mean that instead of washing a fleece prior to spinning it, you spin it with the lanolin still intact. Linda stated that it is her favorite way to spin and it makes it easier to draft into the spinner. When you pre-wash, you run the risk of the wool's felting itself slightly and making it harder to draft. Drafting is a term which refers to the spinner pulling the wool apart gradually as it's being fed into the spinning wheel. This puts air between the fibers and makes it a loftier yarn. It also allows more light to penetrate the fibers which is good for color and shine.
So, anyway, we spun in the grease today and it is definitely a different feel. For one thing, you can feel the lanolin. This is not quite sticky, but does give your palms a nice lubricated feeling. No dry palms when you spin in the grease! The smell is also nice, at least I think so. It has a nice earthy, not unpleasant animal smell. I've found that the olfactory sense if also involved with knitting. I love to pick up new wool and smell it. It's a nice feeling to think that you're not so removed from the wool you're spinning or knitting that the factory hasn't removed all identification of the animal from it.
Day 2: I had sat up late carding the rest of my Corriedale wool. I finished the birds nests sitting in my car waiting for class. To make the birds nest, prepare the roving from your carders, then draft into a workable piece. Wrap this around and around your hand so that it looks like an airy birds nest. This is used to pull from in spinning.
We spun for a while, then Linda introduced the drum carder. We were given various pieces of dyed Corriedale to play with. This was surprisingly easy and fun; too bad they're so expensive. A drum carder pictured here pulls the wool apart and into smooth roving. You can either feed the wool into the drum from underneath or lay pieces on top while turning the crank. The drums pull on each other with their wires and separate the wool.
We also practiced plying today. Linda gave me a bobbin with white wool already spun to go with my "in the grease" wool. It was different from what I'm used to trying on my own, but was much more effective. I'm happy with the results which are now upstairs drying and hanging.
I'm including pictures of the felt pieces by Melissa Gray which are on display in the Tail-Spinner. Melissa teaches classes at the shop. She has won awards in various parts of the country for her work. These pictures don't do them justice. This is another have-to-do class for me sometime in the near future, I hope. All in all a wonderful learning experience that I would recommend highly to anyone who wishes to learn to spin.
Click to play Spinning Lessons
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

NanoWrimo Contest

I entered the nanowrimo contest this month. This is a yearly challenge writers take on to see if they can write a novel (50,000 words) in one month. I started out behind, not writing anything yesterday because I wanted to blog the Pow-Wow. But tonight, shamed by my fellow Goalies' success and hard work so far, I plunged in. I'm happy to say that I've got 1557 words so far. I'm working on a modern fairy tale that will include crafts. So, I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Native American Dancers

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Native American Heritage Festival

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Saturday, November 1, 2008


Wayne Community College is hosting its first Native American Festival on the college campus today and tomorrow, November 1 & 2. The goal is to educate the public on the rich heritage of Native American culture in North Carolina. The MC is Jamie K. Oxendine, Headman is Osceola Mullin and the Headlady is Tina Mullin. The hours are Sat. 10 AM - 7 PM with Grand Entry at 12 AM and 5 PM. Sunday 11 AM - 5 PM with Grand Entry at 1 PM. Kau Tah No Jrs and Southern Eagle are the host drums. Dancers shone under a beautiful sky today to the deep, earthy beat. Veterans, including several of the performers, were honored in the opening ceremony. There were no pictures allowed, but it was a beautiful introduction. There were several vendors, including Moonhawk, who makes handmade wooden flutes and breastplates. Danny Arnette who runs Moonhawk, (and is also my piano teacher and Henry's guitar teacher), performed on flute. Also of note were exquisite gourds for sale by Visions of Gourds by Dion. I'm including a picture of the wooden flutes at another booth; unfortunately, I didn't get a card from this booth to identify the maker. You would have to see these in person to appreciate the intricacies and workmanship, but I do have several photos. Henry bought me a beautiful butterfly barrette made of beads and I purchased one of the worry dolls sold by Lazy S Mercantile. The story of these tiny dolls is that when a child goes to sleep at night, he/she is to tell his/her worries to the doll, then place the doll under the pillow. The doll will remove the worry at night. They are very finely woven and quite cute. The masks in the photos are Mayan from Lone Wolf Creations of Lancaster, Ohio. and Wanda's Jewelry (Lumbee).
Mr. Oxendine did an excellent job of explaining the various dances. Especially interesting were the grass dancers. He explained that one theory of the grass dancers was that they would dance on the fields to mat the grass down for the tribe to set up camp. Another was that this could have originated with warrior tribes who danced for the well being of the tribe. Dancers wear bright yarn or ribbons to simulate the waving grass in a plain. The dance is characterized by fancy and intricate footwork. The jingle dancers were women with tin ornaments made from the lids of snuff cans sewn to their dresses. This was also thought to bring health to the people of the tribe. The dance is beautiful to see and hear. Another dance I loved was the fancy shawl or butterfly dance, also done by the women. The dance is done with colorful shawls draped around the shoulders simulating butterflies and involves much fancy footwork and spins. He also noted that the Native Americans made cloth from cotton and also some from Spanish moss. Straight dancing which comes from the dignified posture of the dancer were also performed as well as men's and women's traditional, and men's fancy dancing.
The children were a delight to watch. Children naturally love to move, especially to music. This was a wonderful opportunity for the local children to be able to share in this type of dancing and music. The Native American children who performed showed absolute pride and joy in their movements. I loved the combination of traditional dress and modern additions, like the one child whose outfit was partially made from spiderman fabric. Which just goes to show kids are kids everywhere.
Henry and I shared a large piece of Navaho frybread, similar to funnel cake. It was too delicious and I ate way too much. Thanks to the Native American participants for allowing us to share in this experience today and to Wayne Community College for hosting. Hopefully, this will be a yearly tradition. I've included a few more pictures in the slideshow at the right.