I Need New Dish Rags

OK, so I have been using some of my first weaving as dish rags and I have loved them. They were wonderful in the kitchen. Cleaning and great for getting lids off jars. Alas they descended into over use and more holes than a piece of cheese cloth. I first recorded these at A First That is a Now. I was planning at that time to weave the pattern again.

I can't let you go!

I can’t let you go!

Well, as I can see, I must do something about the state of dish rags in this kitchen. These are beyond the shape they were in when I decided to reweave the same pattern. What I wove then, A First That is a Now Part 2, I put in a sale and two sets sold but one didn’t. So as I went looking again for new dish rags, I found my set still waiting for a place in this world. I pulled them out and to the kitchen they came. I love the colors though these are the muted ones of the three sets they still are pretty.

My new set in the kitchen.

No I didn’t iron them before they went to work.

I have been pretty happy with these though they don’t have the rough workhorse quality of the old ones. They are for a finer kitchen. They are the same pattern which takes on different qualities between the two different types of cotton yarn. The old ones were a thicker rough cotton yarn.  These the pattern stands out better but it is a fine tea towel quality though not linen. These are a nice soft smooth yarn. But happily I can spend money on other more fun things than something as mundane as dish rags now.

And yes, I have been doing a bit of weaving and spinning. To come in a bit.

Categories: Weaving | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A Paper Just Found Not to be Lost Again

This is one of those posts that one makes so that they don’t loose some information again. You see, I love history and family history. Now I have one family that once you get back in the 1700s is very frustrating. I would like to know why Michael Cowger never wrote down his parents names or his brothers and sisters. Or maybe why the generations between him and me didn’t think to keep that knowledge in the family. Alas and alack, it was all lost and no one, out of many people, has sorted it definitively yet.

You see there are two theories of who his parents are. Both a situation of a spelling change on the last name so can’t just see the name and say, “Oh, that must be.” Alas, I do favor the more logical (to me) line back from there but many favor another line with a less near surname and to me a bit more of a stretch. So for me, Michael remains parentless and what I am sure must be his siblings, remain unattached. So if anyone ever comes across that definitive piece of information and proves my point of view, I will find someway to pay you back infinitively.

So none of that really has to do with this post. You see I have a quarter piece of paper that just came out of a box that lists a George Cowger (as far as I’m concerned must be my Michael’s brother). He lived in the Fort Seybert neighborhood of West Virginia. (Near my Michael.) This is just across the mountains from the Shenandoah Valley where I have several different lines of ancestors in residence at one time. I wonder what they would think if you told them all that two hundred years later they would all be ancestors to a group of people in Illinois?

Ft. Seybert in West Virginia today and west of the Shenandoah Valley.

Ft. Seybert in West Virginia today, west of the Shenandoah Valley. Within this view are the homes of many of my ancestors.

What is on this paper? His property was appraised on 6 November 1788. Among what was appraised are:

8 sheep = $1.33 each

loom = $9.17

flax hackle = $1.67

fulled linen sold – 66¢ a yard

other linen = 25¢

Mark checked this out for me a few years ago and with inflation it was a total of $453. I just tried to see what it would be today but can’t find a calculator that goes back further than 1800.

So some observations. They had sheep so would assume that wool was spun and woven as well. Had flax and spun and wove linen cloth which they had present. Believe that they processed it as well as fulled it by the presence of a hackle. Interesting that a spinning wheel or other implements were not listed as there would be more needed for this production.

Now hopefully, the next time I loose this information, I will remember I recorded it here.

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When Hay Needs Moved

Now this was my diary of my fiber pursuits but sometimes you just have to keep a pictorial memory of other things. This is one of those “whatever else crosses my mind” that needs a record.

So we have moved to the country and 12 acres. This summer we had the hay fields cut (that sounds like a large area but really isn’t) and then had 5 big round bales sitting out there waiting to be moved somewhere. Now, I am wanting to attempt a no till garden come spring which means preparing the area now. Not that we have it all right yet, but yesterday afternoon Mark wanted to run to Tractor Supply for a bit to help move a bale. We got back and the job began.

Arriving on the scene

Arriving on the scene

After we got home, I changed from summery skirt to sturdy split skirt and headed out to the nearest bale. Mark had the truck and trailer backed up to the bale and was getting the tie ready to wrap around it. Sam and Mattie were very curious at what their crazy masters were up to. Sam stayed close and observed, but Mattie headed back to cooler ground and watched from a distance. When I arrived, we moved the bale and got the yellow tie around it. A large bale (said to weigh 1500 pounds) can be rolled by two people amazingly if little is in the way. So together we did get the tie wrapped around, but then it was too short so Mark had to go get a chain and another tie and we were able to cobble together enough to start.

Starting the cranking and learning not to go too far down or you disengage it.

Starting the cranking and learning not to go too far down or you disengage it.

Cranking became the order of the evening. A job simple enough that I took over for most of it. We learned a bit about using a crank like this. It has a name that more or less is what it does, but I forgot. Something like a Come Here is what it is called. But back to the work. The fun was not looking back for some time and then when I turned around the bale actually was coming up the ramp and onto the trailer. I was moving a huge bale with one hand! So on it went and finally the bale was on the trailer.







Almost on the trailer

Almost on the trailer

Look at that! It is just about on the trailer. A wonder when you realize what you are doing without the expensive fancy tools some use. We had an immense feeling of achievement and pictures had to be taken at the time. I snuck one of Mark, who would prefer not to be in any of these, and he got one of me after that was not half bad.





I will admit a bit of pride at this moment.

I will admit a bit of pride at this moment.

Here I am by our proud achievement. Though this turned out to be the easy part of an evenings bit of work. You see, we needed to take this to the backyard and get it inside the fence and then take it all apart.





Off the trailer and in the yard. See how long that shadow is getting.

Off the trailer and in the yard. See how long that shadow is getting.

Now we got the bale to the fenced backyard and had to get it in there and over to where the garden is going to be. It was pretty easy to roll it off the trailer. Gravity can be a great friend at times. Though the next step was a bit more as we needed it to turn a corner. With bits of working off of each side and using a board to change how it rolled, we managed to get it to turn. I’m sure geometry terms would describe this better but alas do you want to hear how I passed geometry? Yeah, this brain doesn’t work that way, but I understood why Mark tried what he did to help us get it to turn, and we succeeded in the end.



Time is unknown but alas from the sun in the first picture to this one, quite a bit of time has passed and a job done.

Time is unknown but alas from the sun in the first picture to this one, quite a bit of time has passed and a job done.

So what was it like outside by the time we got that bail tore apart? So very after dark. The sun and any of its remnants of light were long gone and the moon shining bright through the tree. I was covered in hay, sweat, and general ick. I am not a general ick sort of girl, but I got it done (yes, Mark left me to it for a time but then came back and helped me finish) and finally got in for a shower. Did a shower ever feel better or was more earned?

Oh, and a lesson learned. I have always respected that ranchers and farmers dress the way they do, for the job they do, for a specific reason. If you ask me if you can wear shorts and a tank top to work out here, I may laugh in your face. But this shirt I have on was a no no. Lots of hay down the front inside the shirt and my arms we covered in scrapes and just plain dirt. Brown when I went in. You can bet your little blue booties that when we move the other 4 bales I will have a long sleeve button up shirt on. I have a flannel shirt that will probably go to work then.

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Tidbits | Tags: , | 2 Comments

If You Don’t Know What it is, What Would You Call It?

"Ferris Wheel"?

“Ferris Wheel”?

We had a good laugh in unpacking boxes. One was the last one off the truck when they unloaded our goods to the farm. All the guys just laughed as they read what they had written on it when boxing it up. We laughed but couldn’t dream what was actually inside this odd box.

So finally last night came. We were unpacking these big boxes and getting loom stuff up to my space above the barn. A busy, hot, paper and cardboard everywhere affair.

AVL Warping Wheel

AVL Warping Wheel

We did break into this box and had a good laugh. I guess if you don’t know what something is and no one is at hand to tell you, you come up with the nearest thing you can to describe it. They knew it had to do with weaving and that the main instrument of that occupation was called a loom. My loom is warped sectionally and I progressed up to owning an AVL warping wheel. I guess it really does look like a ferris wheel.

I didn’t get a picture of the other funny box that had us befuddled. I wish I did get a picture. But it had on it all about a cylinder with metal rods around it, and other odd descriptors. After finally cutting through the tape and unwrapping the box (wound around whatever item), we found inside the warp beam of the loom with its metal rods dividing up all those inch sections across the beam and around it.

Categories: Fiber | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Why Nothing has Happened Here Lately

So it has been a month since I wrote about something I’ve done. Not good. Alas little is happening on this front of late. So I must tell myself that other things have been happening. The biggest being that I am still getting my new space ready to actually move in and set up. Seems like it is taking forever – which it is. But it is close whether I see it or not.

We bought this place outside of Lexington, and it had a simple metal barn and an apartment above. That apartment is my space. Alas and alack, it hadn’t been used in some time and was beyond a bit neglected.

Before work began

Before work began

This picture (above) is my only one of the before any work. Stuff was being taken up there only to be in the way later. What you don’t see in this picture is that the window by the door leaked badly in the past and all around it is rotted. I pulled up the rubber baseboard glued to the wall and what did I find in that corner under the window?

The floor affected by the leaky window

The floor under the window, under the carpet

So you see that daylight coming through? This wasn’t going to be a simple job. Also a reason why the carpet had a major ick factor to me that Mark didn’t quite get. So definitely new carpet was needed and fresh paint. So a plan was set up. After a couple of carpet prices we found a guy Mark wanted to work with. Interesting as the guy came out and measured everything and then I went to the shop in Giddings and picked out carpet. I picked one and it was below any other price and he even showed me some linoleum they were getting rid of that was perfect and didn’t add that much to the cost. So I was able to get the carpet and linoleum for less than Mark’s top dollar for just carpet. And it was rather an interesting time as it felt like I had time traveled back to the 50s or 60s. The building was mid-twentieth century with little updates, and the man did all his figures and sales sheet with a pen, paper, and adding machine. There was a computer on the desk but it wasn’t on nor could you see the keyboard under the papers.

So the plan? We would get the place painted, some layers of wallpaper taken off that proved hard and time consuming, and the floor by the window fixed in the two weeks before the carpet was put in. Notice that “we”? Alas, it became a “me” project. Mark found a tractor he wanted and spent the two weeks trying to get it home. He was told it ran but when he went to bring it home, it didn’t. So by the time he did manage to get it running enough to trailer it, the man gave him two tractors and a brush hog for less than the original price for one of them. They are both 1950s Ford tractors that he is excited about fixing up.

The scary hole to cover over from in front of the door to the wall.

The scary hole to cover over from in front of the door to the wall.

Haven't painted the one section as part of that wall will still need replaced.

Haven’t painted the one section as part of that wall will still need replaced.

But what about my space? Well the floor that needed fixed, that was beyond my help and got done in the two evenings after work before the carpet went in with a very late night and a not very happy wife to be sure. It was 10pm when the least amount of work needed was finished.

So the carpet and linoleum came and went in. I didn’t remember the carpet being exactly like it was but it was perfect for blending in with the walls. It is specks of about three colors. Also perfect for those paint drops found too late. Now the wall color. I wanted something with just a hint of color. There is a lumberyard/hardware store in Lexington that has paint. Not the big choice of the big box stores but thankfully it was close by. So I picked the lightest color they had which was actually in the pink range to me and had a name with the word lilac in it. Mark thinks it looks a bit more lavenderish so that is good. Alas, it does seem a bit more color than I wanted but it will do and by the time all gets in up there, you won’t see much wall anyway. I also picked a baseboard color that wasn’t just white. It also has lilac in its name. When just seeing it with the walls and carpet it looks white but against something really white you can tell there is a snitch of color there.

I am a lot farther along now than these pictures. Mark even (was he feeling guilty not helping with the project?) had a guy come out and fix the wall and replace the window and door and do some other jobs up here that I was just declaring good enough as I was just wanting to get done. So he has now come and gone and I just have a bit more painting to finish to start setting up. Almost there.

Carpet, baseboard, and wall

Carpet, baseboard, walls together

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At My Folks House

So my father had a heart attack and I am now in North Carolina taking my stint as home health care for my folks. My father calls me the General but as my other sister is coming back this evening, he thinks he is going to have a Brigadier General and a Major General to now deal with. Things are going well at this point.

But the reason for this post is that when I come, I get to see some old handwoven pieces I did years before and gave to my mother.

My successful Log Cabin

My successful Log Cabin

I made this towel for my mother back when I finally was successful with Log Cabin. I do love this piece though I think I do see one mistake in it now. She has used it as a dresser cloth as she didn’t want to actually dry dishes with it and wear it out. I must say though I am in love with the 3D look of this and can never tire of looking at it.

Space dyed yarn bag

Space dyed yarn bag

So then I found a bag I gave to mom. This bag is from the same warp as the bag I gave my new neighbor just a month ago. Mom has used this bag extensively to hold her clipboard with sheets of Sudoku puzzles as well as books when she is traveling. If you look close you can see it has had some life behind it. The straps really stand out. They are the same yarn as the warp but are inkle woven and so the colors aren’t washed out with a white weft yarn.

Well, time to get back and see what is next. I think I need to go help with lunch now.

Categories: Weaving | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

CHT Conference 2015

Another conference has come and gone. This was my fourth Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference, and this year it was held in Austin. So since we moved 3 weeks ago that meant just an hour’s drive from our new home.

One of my Warp Speed Ahead centerpieces.

One of my Warp Speed Ahead centerpieces.

I went over early Friday morning so I could set up my centerpieces on the tables and then do a stint at the check in table. I must admit I rather enjoyed coming up with a plan for the centerpieces. I did still have my original note I made in a meeting when I had that insane moment of volunteering to make them. (I have since lost it, but it is interesting to see where one begins and follow the journey to where one finally has the finished product.) I then worked on two ideas – a ball for the world and shuttles taking off into space with yarn flowing behind; then the second idea was a cylinder with the shuttle going around it with the yarn flowing around and around. Then both ideas were going to have color changing LEDs inside. As I progressed and played with the ideas I passed by my prototypes and had a brainstorm. Why not put the cylinder inside the circle. It looked great so instead of settling on one idea and making it. I now had to make 12 of both and combine them. It worked out and I was pretty happy with them.

I roomed with a friend and took very few pictures as in only a couple to remember the time with. The hotel had a lovely courtyard with outside entrances that I loved but alas we were on the inside with a lovely view of the intersection of 290 and 35. At least if you wanted to see something moving there was no lack – even if you were up at 4:30am.

View from room

View from room

My favorite class was Woven Silk Flora with John Mullarky. He was a fun teacher and reminded you of a kid still having fun with life. The class used the dreaded silk hankies. I had one once and swore to never touch one again. Alas this day I learned to make a silk flower with the Zoom Loom (developed by John Mullarky) and actually wouldn’t mind a few silk hankies finding their way to my home now. It was quite fun though a bit more challenging than using just the wool and cotton that I have used on the loom. I did get my flower done in class. Not perfect as a first try never is but I will be making many more and they will improve with the practice.

Only the flower. I did get the green leaves done and attached but no picture... yet

Only the flower. I did get the green leaves done and attached.

But what can be a great part of a conference? The Goodie Bag. So below is my haul of things that I didn’t have to pay for. Well, almost. The bits from classes which are there, I did pay a $5 class fee for supplies but I still feel they count for this picture.

The wonderful things given to us or just to me.

The wonderful things given to us or just to me.

In this picture are quite the treasures. The silk and merino roving, top right, was a door prize from Red Fish. I consider them a bit expensive for me, but boy, I will treasure this and enjoy the spinning and finding a special project for it. And not prejudiced, but I think I got the best door prize of all. My flower is there with the leaves done and attached. There is a lovely washcloth, kleenix cover, card holder, split ply key chain, shuttle, dryer balls, covered button, card, stuffed little pincushions, samples from a class I made, and a stick spinning kit. Already tried the stick spinning and now know how I will at least begin every spindle from now on. It works so well and as the spindle I’ve used the last five months doesn’t have a hook on top, I had the dickens trying to get that first bit spun and wound on. This was very quick and easy to get the beginning spun. Each of these came from different guilds around the state.

Now don’t think I didn’t hit the vendor hall as well. I did buy some organic cotton for weaving and some variegated cotton. And yes, as all good wives tend to do, I did go over what I agreed I would spend with my husband by $10. At least he isn’t upset.

Categories: Weaving | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Mock Plaid Bag

We are moved alas my stuff is still basically in boxes awaiting its new home to be fixed up. A nightmare for my husband that I am taking pictures of and will have before and afters at some point. So little is being done in fiber except for one project that is taking time and needs to be done this week for its grand revealing. I so hope it comes round well and looks good. But more on that later for the memory bank.

The day the movers unloaded our things here in our little piece of heaven, a lady stopped by and turned out to be our nearest neighbor to the east. We talked a bit and she left us her phone numbers and then invited us in a week to come to her daughters graduation party so we could meet people and other neighbors around.

The day arrived and as neither my husband or I are good in crowds and especially ones we know no one in, we still debated going but decided we needed to venture out. Now I am not a natural at all with the abilities most have with such affairs, but I do know that it is proper to bring a gift. Though I also know what I like as gifts and think are nice most others wouldn’t. Yikes, what will we do? Not like I could just run to the store here unless you want something from Woodson’s Hardware and Lumber store or the Dollar store. So I went to my stash and pulled out this bag.

A warp from 6 years ago that was made into a bag.

A warp from 6 years ago that was made into a bag.

In 2009, I attended my first Contemporary Handweavers of Texas conference in San Antonio. One of the classes I was taking was on weaving with space dyed yarns. Now you could bring yarns to class to work with but I had none at home. So getting in before my first class on Friday, I visited the vendors immediately. At the Lone Star Loom Room booth they had a clearance shelf and would you believe – three cones of space dyed yarns. I quickly bought all and had my yarn for class. (Sorry to any one wanting to buy before class that day but alas and alack.) I learned how to use them that day and came home and warped up the prettiest one.

I love these colors and it came out so perfectly looking like a lot of hard work went into weaving this pattern. When actually all it took was keeping those weft bobbins in order and hoping you wound off enough for what you wanted to do. I did manage it. Yeah me!

So back to this month. I found this bag I made with some of the warp and as I thought it looked nice, I used it for a gift bag. Then I added a mug and coaster that we got as an extra when we made a purchase that hadn’t been used – ever. If you are ever in my house, you will quickly learn that tea cups and mugs are not in short supply. So that went in the bag along with an unopened bag of tea and we had a gift. Not really a re-gifted gift and we didn’t go empty handed which I think as I understand etiquette would be worse than nothing.

Gift ready to go.

Gift ready to go.

I am sure that she will never know that it was handwoven or that it was a favorite of mine that I let go. I just hope she thinks it is pretty, and that it is not her most hated colors.

I guess this is actually a good week for this post as the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference is back around again at the end of the week. In the wee hours of Friday morning, I will be headed out to my fourth one.

Categories: Weaving | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Grandmas’ Doilies

Well we are moved into our new home these past two weeks. Does that mean we actually have everything unpacked and a home found for each item? Absolutely not! I need Mark’s help for some things and he has different priorities, so I will still have to wait some on him. But in unpacking what is available at the moment, I thought I needed a record of three doilies I have.

I don’t remember how I came into possession of the following doily. I know that it was crocheted by my maternal grandmother, Wilba Cowger. Now she had cancer for 12 years and as she died when I was 14, none of us grandkids really knew her outside of cancer. But I have been told all about this wonderful woman that we saw only glimpses of at times. I know she did knit, and we all got knitted socks one Christmas when she was feeling better. I was given her knitting needles after my grandfather’s death though I don’t know a whit about knitting and couldn’t tell you a knit from a purl. Ok, so I know a small whit about it. I know two terms.

Grandma Cowger's doily

Grandma Cowger’s doily

I do crochet though, but have never crocheted with such a small hook as this was done with. And look at those cute flowers added at the points. I will admit that I have not kept this well. Upon perusing it, I realize that it was probably quite white at one time though I never remember it white. I will say that for the pictures it did get a good ironing for the first time in probably forever. I couldn’t take a picture with the flowers closed up and the stems willy nilly.

Close up of a point

Close up of a point

This has sat under an oil lamp for a few years, but I still haven’t decided where in this incarnation it will abide.

Now the next two doilies were crocheted by my paternal grandmother. Virginia Cummins. I do remember her crocheting, and I don’t think anyone on that side of the family knits at all – though I might be surprised. But my Grandma Cummins did crochet though her main pastime was quilts. All by hand and not a whit of a machine to be seen by any quilt.

Two doilies crocheted by Grandma Cummins

Two doilies crocheted by Grandma Cummins

These two doilies have always sat in my hutch under two sets of dishes that I love. So alas and alack, you don’t really see much of them. But then most people wouldn’t know what was up anyway and I know what is back there so I enjoy. And who knows, their life may be why they are still in almost perfect order. Just like the day that Grandma gave them to me.

Closeup of Grandma Cummins' doilies

Closeup of Grandma Cummins’ doilies

I can say that these were not originally white so don’t feel bad about the color. The second picture, as far an my monitor is concerned, is closer to their real color.

It is nice to have my grandmother’s close by even all these years later.

Categories: Fiber Arts | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Found Paper Weaving

Today I was trying to clean some things up and sort. Among my pile that has grown over the last 5 months, I found a lost experiment.

I was trying some new idea of weaving with pages from books and only managed one that was half decent and it still has its own troubles. But all the same I do have a bit of a liking for it.

Pooh and Piglet out for a walk.

Pooh and Piglet out for a walk.

I took a picture from a small child’s book of Winnie the Pooh and then wove into it a page of the written word. I found a page that had both Pooh and Piglet’s names on it and so did not weave that in and also kept them whole as well. I rather like it and especially since Piglet’s name came up right beside him. Alas the poor piece has more than a couple of troubles so it isn’t a masterpiece but a poor piece that I still like.

Categories: Weaving | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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