Monday, May 28, 2012

Two Weeks is a Very Long Time...

My right wrist is, um, uncomfortable.  I’ve had modest discomfort in it for a month or so, but in the past week it has really been talking to me.  Now, I must listen.

That means, first and foremost, I must rest my right wrist.  Today is Day 4 without knitting or spinning.  I have accepted that I really need to rest the wrist for 2 weeks.  That may seem like an impossible amount of non-spinning, non-knitting time, but if I don’t rest the wrist now, it is likely that I’ll only make it worse and I’ll need to take an even longer break – when I can less afford it – and perhaps need medical attention.  I’d like to avoid that.

So, for now no knitting.  No spinning.  No gardening.  As little typing and computer work as possible.  I need to avoid using my right wrist as much as possible.  I’m right-handed.  I’ve got to use my left hand when I can … to open doors, push the vacuum cleaner, hold the dog leash, move clothes from the washer to the dryer, pour milk, push the microwave buttons, and so on. It requires quite a conscious effort to resist automatic right-handed everyday movements.  There are a few things I can’t do with my left hand:  I can’t use scissors.  And I think it’d be dangerous for me to use a knife with my left hand.

I also ice my wrist twice a day (for 20-30 minutes at a time).  And I try to keep the wrist and fingers in a neutral position.  And I rest them on a pillow (elevated) when I can.  It would probably help if I took a modest amount of NSAIDs (aspirin or ibuprofen), but that stuff is really hard on my stomach!

How do I know this is the right thing to do?  Well, I trained for 20 years as a dancer.  And I’ve got 10 years of graduate education in the movement sciences.  And I have 9 years experience teaching in graduate-level physical therapy education programs.

If you are experiencing discomfort that you think might be related to overuse, I suggest you check out this National Institutes of Health website:  “NINDS Repetitive Motion Disorders Information Page”.

I do know that my symptoms indicate I do NOT have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  If you need information on that challenge, again I suggest an NIH website, “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet.”

In fact, I suggest that if you are seeking any on-line medical information, you should make your first website stop.  They have a terrific search engine.

Time to Rest the Right Wrist now…

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stumble on Brick Road

Ack!  There’s an error in one of my patterns!  The “Brick Road Afghan” has an error in the suggested knitting gauge.  On page 2, it says:

Gauge:  7 sts per inch in st st on size 10 needles.  In the brick 
slip stitch pattern,  I got 27 sts and 50 rows for a 7” by 7” square.

Whereas it should say:

Gauge:  3 ½  sts per inch in st st on size 10 needles.  In the brick 
slip stitch pattern, I got 27 sts and 50 rows for a 7” by 7” square.

Don’t you just hate that?!  I typically measure gauge over a 2-inch distance and I write that down.  But it’s so very easy to write it down as gauge per 1-inch distance.  My very bad.

Here’s a picture of the afghan:

I sell the pattern for $6.  If you are interested in a copy, you can contact me at:

And if you’ve found other errors in my patterns, please please please let me know!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ducky Taught Her to Waterski

I spent last weekend at the Spring Fiber Fling in Pickford, Michigan.  This fiber retreat is sponsored by the Country Spinners & Bridge Shuttlers, a guild in Sault Ste Marie.  The weather was shockingly warm….er….hot.  I have a few bug bits.

Despite the temps and bugs, I had a most delightful time.  I taught two workshops:  “Plying for Texture” and “I Heart Duplicate Stitch”.  This was the first time I taught the duplicate stitch class.  I am happy to report that it went swimmingly well.

You might think that duplicate stitch is so simple it wouldn’t fill a 3-hour workshop.  You’d be wrong!  We explored the technique of making tidy looking stitches as well as applications and ideas for incorporating duplicate stitch into knitting projects.  Here are a few pictures I took during the workshop:

Another highlight:  at dinner on Saturday night, I won a door prize.  This crazy quilt pillow was created by Pam Artman, Pam Artman, who taught a workshop at the retreat on crazy quilting.  A very sweet pillow, don't you think?

And.  I bought a fleece (that’s five total for the year … so far).  A wonderful corriedale fleece.  Selden Collins is the shepherd.  She actually lives in Pickford.  Every year I’ve attended The Fling, I’ve wanted to get one of her fleeces.  This year I did.  It’s a fleece from a ewe named “Fran”.  This fleece is actually from the 2011 shearing, but I’m confident it will clean up nicely.  I plan to wash and card or comb this fleece myself.

You’re probably wondering where Ducky comes in to this story.  I think it was at dinner on Saturday (yummy scalloped potatoes, baked chicken, and green beans).  I was chatting with Loreen K and several others.  I believe it was Sid D who piped up and said, “Ducky taught Loreen how to waterski!”

Loreen explained that she’d grown up in the UP and when she was a young girl, the cast from the old TV show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., vacationed at her family’s resort (I think I have that part of the story straight.).  You may remember that Robert Vaughn and David McCallum were the stars of that show.  Anyway, it was David McCallum who taught Loreen how to waterski.  You may also know that David McCallum is currently a cast member of the TV show, N.C.I.S.  He plays Dr. Mallard, aka “Ducky”.

I then had to contribute another Man from U.N.C.L.E. story:  Robert Vaughn’s cousin, Tom Vaughn was a priest at the Episcopal church I attended as a kid in Midland, Michigan.  He was also a very fine jazz pianist.  I recall his playing on the baby grand in our livingroom when I was ever so young.  I always thought Tom Vaughn looked just like Robert Vaughn.

More connections:  when I told the “Vaughn story” at the table, Sid said, “You’re from Midland?  I did my student teaching there, at Northeast Junior High School.”  Wouldn’t you know, that’s where I went to school!  But we were there at different times.

A very memorable dinner table conversation!

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Wheel Variety!

Last weekend I attended and taught at Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  That’s just east of The Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul.  (An aside:  I learned that folks in Minnesota refer to them as just “The Cities”.)  

I had a blast.  I got lots of fiber, ate some good food (I really liked the Walleye chunks), and thoroughly enjoyed teaching.  My workshop was “Creating the Yarn You Want”.  There were 12 folks in attendance.

Here’s the big surprise:  each person in the workshop had a different wheel.  Including me.  No kidding.  Here’s a blurry picture (I turned off the flash and had a hard time holding the camera still):

And here’s the list of wheels:

Lendrum folding wheel
Majacraft Tiny Tim
Ashford Joy
Schacht Matchless
Hansen Minispinner
Babe upright wheel
Kromski Minstrel
Spinolution Mach III
Ashford Traveller
Schacht Ladybug
Kromski Polonaise
Kromski Sonata

This has never happened to me before.  I want to go back to Shepherd’s Harvest next year to see what new surprise is in store for me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Amy Has Spots

Last Thursday, Judy McL took her friend Donna and me to Marie Glaesemann’s farm outside of Duluth.  For several years now I have purchased fleeces from Marie.  She has a not too large flock of mixed breed sheep.  I’ve written extensively about “Lucy” (a Border Leicester X Romney X Corriedale ewe).  You can read about a sweater, "Tattoo"that I knitted last year mostly from Lucy’s wool.

Of course I bought Lucy’s fleece again this year.  But I didn’t stop there.  I had planned to pick up Lucy’s fleece and Baby’s fleece (Romney X Corriedale X Coopworth).  When I took a peek at all of Marie’s fleeces, I was compelled to take home two additional fleeces:  Lonnie (Romney X Border Leicester X Corriedale) and Lizzy (Suffolk X Romney X Corriedale X Ile de France).  Lucy’s fleece is grey; the others are white, but each is distinctly different from the others.  Lizzy is super spongy and a French vanilla color of white.  Baby is the softest of the lot, chalkier white and with dainty but distinguishable crimp.  Lonnie has a bold crimp, long staple length, and luster that won’t quit.

In addition to my four fleeces, I was picking up fleeces for local fiber friends:  Puff for Margaux S, and Choco and Clara for Carol S.  Here I am with the seven fleeces (that somehow had to fit into my car).  Judy took this picture…and all the other pictures in today’s blog.

Marie then treated us to coffee and treats.  After which, we strolled out to view the sheep.  We were having trouble getting the sheep to come over to visit us.  So Marie tricked them by rattling a bucket.

That got their attention.

But when they realized the bucket did not contain the hoped-for food, the sheep rambled away.
There were several adorable lambs this year.

Marie was especially pleased with one black ewe lamb that had white spots on its rump.

She mentioned that she planned to keep that lamb, and she wondered what she was going to name it.  I piped up, “’Amy’ is a nice name….”  So!  Marie is going to name the lamb “Amy”.  I am really hoping I get to buy Amy’s fleece next year.

What a delightful visit.  It’s a pleasure to see Marie and her sheep.  And it’s a pleasure to buy her fabulous fleeces – very clean, very well skirted.

After the farm visit, Judy and I spent part of the afternoon at a yarn shop in Duluth, Yarn Harbor.  I did not get carried away.  I only bought two skeins of yarn, one of which is a sock yarn in Christmas green, red, and white.  Judy bought a skein of it too.  We are going to knit Christmas socks for ourselves by Christmas this year.  I swear!

That day was a lovely fiber day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lambs and Lamb Stew

I got back yesterday from a week-long road trip.  First, I drove through the Upper Peninsula and met my friend, Judy McL, at a lovely farm in Iron River, Wisconsin.  Judy knows a fellow, David Grote, who raises Icelandic sheep (and Icelandic chickens and now an Icelandic sheepdog puppy named “Finn”).  His farm, WhippoorwillFarm, is home to about twenty sheep.  

Do visit his website, .  He has a terrific slideshow  of pictures of his farm.  And he also has some photographs of items that have been made with wool from his sheep, “What CanYou Make With Our Wool?” 

And I found more of his captivating photos on the farm’s Facebook page

Here are two pictures that my friend, Judy, took of the sheep:

And her picture of David holding the adorable “Finn”.  (I caught a serious case of puppy fever.)

That stop was about midday on Wednesday last week.  Then I followed Judy to Duluth, Minnesota (actually, Hermantown) where she lives during the winter.  That same evening, Judy served a lamb stew that she had made from David Grote’s recipe.  It was The Most Delicious Lamb Stew I Could Imagine!  (I think the Madeira was a critical ingredient.)  I wanted to lick the bowl clean.  The side of a baguette with brie was a nice touch.  We also had some of the stew the next day for lunch:

What a perfect beginning to my road trip!  Stay tuned for more Minnesota stories.