Stasia's Place Of Grace


Friday, May 14, 2004


Welcome Home, Jeff!

Jeff is back from a two-week jaunt to Belarus, Lithuania, and Latvia. (If you're planning a trip to Lithuania, he says this B&B can't be beat!)

This trip was for fun... yes, fun. Personally, I'd choose Paris or London or Montreal, but Jeff's idea of fun is a National Geographic exploration or someplace like Belarus where they have objectionable toilet paper... if any.

But, like any well-trained husband of a fiber addict, he returned bearing chocolate and handmade textiles!

The hand-carved, antique weaving shuttles - one of which still has coarse linen thread on the bobbin - are from Belarus (the land of my forefathers). The tablecloth is from Latvia, the table runner to its right from Lithuania. The fun hat was made in Lithuania in the colors of their flag. The mittens and socks are from Latvia, and the sash is from Lithuania.

Everything was purchased from vendors at outdoor markets. Do you know you can buy a spinning wheel in Belarus for $15?! Problem is, you can't get it out of the country because of their antiquities laws. But Jeff took photos of wheels he saw for sale and at museums, and also of little old ladies selling their handknit items on street corners - if my aged scanner will cooperate, I'll try to put some up here soon.

Jeff brought the sash and hat for Kary - we all know Kary likes crazy hats!

He also brought some new pieces for our Gzhel pottery collection - sheepies among them! Our favorite piece is a wine jug shaped like a chicken (not pictured). When you pour the wine out of the chicken's mouth, it chirps like a bird! When Jeff's Belarussian friends saw the pitcher, they remarked, "Oh, yes, it sings." Jeff thought he was missing something in translation until he tried it here for the first time!

Project Progress

I finished knitting some socks made with yarn I spun from my beloved Sheltie, Geddy, who passed away in 1998.

Geddy was sable and white, so his "wool" blended to gray when I spun it. Here are the socks, along with a skein of yarn made with one ply of Silkworker silk and a ply of Silkworker silk and cashmere. It glows! I am a bona fide Silkworker roving collector - if you go to her site, you will become one, too!

The small skein is a sample I spun of Sparx the Shetland sheep's lovely wool for a sweater I'll be making for Jeff.

I bought some fantastic new fiber preparation tools - a hackle and a comb clamp to match my Forsyth wool combs. The hackle is a work of art, with Purpleheart accents!

I've been preparing test skeins of Shetland sheep wool, comparing a carded prep to a combed one. I want to spin a durable, non-pilly yarn for Jeff's sweater, and I like the results I'm getting from combing - despite the fact that it is slower than using my drum carder, and that a lot of the shorter fibers are being combed out. But that's normal in the combing process, and I'll be able to save those to card with other wools later on.

Maybe these photos whill help you see the difference in the combed and carded preps and spin(dl)ing styles. (I'm using some lovely Tabachek spindles from my collection - a new Koa is a fave at the moment!)

I spun the combed prep in a worsted, inchworm style. I spun the carded prep in a sort of long-draw, woolen style. And here are the results for comparison:

Top: combed/worsted
Bottom: carded/woolen

Top: combed/worsted
Bottom: carded/woolen

The photos aren't the clearest, but I see a definite difference in how the little worsted skein reflects the light, while the woolen one absorbs it. Both are soft, but the woolen one feels much "cushier". That will not work for a hard-wearing sweater for Jeff, so combed prep and worsted spinning are the winners!

Here's a mini-quiz I posted on Spindlers - answer on your blog!

What was the last thing you...

...spun on/with? (Wheel or spindle? Maker, type?)
...spun up (Fiber - and what/who was its source?)
...bought/made/traded-for that is spinning-related?
...did that was fiber-related, besides your spinning?
...laughed at?
...were inspired by?

I hope you will have an awesome, creative, meditative, joyful, celebratory, fulfilling day!

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Sunday, May 09, 2004


Happy Mother's Day!

Hope all you moms (and pet moms!) are having a splendid day in celebration of all you do for others. Be sure to do something special for yourself today - a self-pedicure, a gourmet cup of coffee... a nap? Just enjoy whatever you choose!

Fibery Pursuits

Cherie at Craft Designs For You (the maker of my fantastic custom Valentine crochet hook) has immortalized Valentine in embroidery patterns for plastic canvas and cross stitch! Click on the images if you're interested in ordering from her:

What great news to hear on Mother's Day. Val thinks Cherie did a great job!

I have been busy with baby knitting for family, neighbors and friends:

Orange Rowan Wool-Cotton baby sweater from
"Simple Knits For Cherished Babies" by Erika Knight

Since I don't know what these babies are (other than babies!), I'm using yarns in "gender-neutral" (term from my very PC Californian sister) colors like purple, red, orange, line green, khaki, and stone.

I've also been test-combing and -spinning the fleece from Spyro The Shetland Ram of Maplewood North Farm. It washed up very well. So far, so good with this worsted preparation and spinning style... if you don't count the times I keep stabbing myself while combing inattentively!

This is destined to be a sweater for Jeff... some day...

Indigo Hound Combs
Tabachek Spindles in Cherry, Koa and Purpleheart
NOTE: I call first dibs on any new Tabs available! Hee hee hee!

Garden Pursuits

What else to bring you for Mother's Day but... plants and flowers! Let's take a peek outside...

The crabapple tree always blooms on Mother's Day - what a gift!

I had an empty flower bed to play with, and here's what I have planned for it:

Now if it would just stop raining, I could get these perennials in the ground! The birds at the feeders have been supervising me during planting:

The heirloom (1916) Thalia narcissus always put on a great show. Here they are with checkered lilies (fritillaria meleagris) and some rogue chives:

The peonies and the blue grape hyacinths are doing fine:

Jeff and I are not sure what kind of bush this is, but we think it is a type of viburnum. It smells heavenly, and blooms early and for a long time:

The tiny wood on our property is really greening up:

In the little woods, we have a mayapple...:

... and also some stag's horn ferns popping up:

There are also native lady ferns starting to appear.

A special gift from the woods - morels!

Maintaining our woods, small though it is, is actually a lot of work. In order to protect species like mayapples, bloodroot, trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Jacob's ladder, and Solomon's seal, we have to constantly get rid of stuff like this (and so should you if you see any!) That means hand-pulling every garlic mustard we see... ugh!

As for indoor gardening...

Here is the snail vine (vigna caracalla) which I ordered from Monticello. They seem to currently be out of them, or I'd post a link for you. It arrived as a little tuber that had been stored over the winter but quickly sprouted!

A new passion flower is a bit showier at this time:

The Jamilou hibiscus(es?), however, are in our tiny, indoor greenhouse in the ICU! They didn't seem to enjoy being shipped from Florida to Wisconsin:

Have you ever seen a candy corn plant? I hadn't, and couldn't resist picking this one up:

It's so wonderful to be surrounded by all this growth and beauty and energy!

You know, we women are all mothers, even if we don't have children. Whether we bring humans or ideas or art into creation... whether we nurture husbands/SOs or friends or family or pets or plants... even some men mother others! So Happy Mother's Day to everyone who has ever shown "a mother's love" for another... and that means you!

(And a very special thanks to all the ListMoms of our online discussion groups!!!)

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Welcome To Stasia's Blog

Stasia is a knitter, spinner, weaver, writer, reader, and musician from Wisconsin, USA.

Join her here as she journals about beauty in nature, the joys of fibery pursuits, special people and pets, and great places to shop. It's her hope you'll leave spiritually inspired and creatively motivated. Thanks for visiting!

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