Monday, July 23, 2012

Musical Rooms

“Are you taking over another room?” This is a refrain I have heard numerous times from my husband during the twenty-some years we have lived in this old farmhouse. He writes. He sits at the kitchen table with his computer. That’s all the room he requires. Me? I craft. Need I say more? There are five rooms downstairs. Of those, the kitchen is the only room I spend time in regularly.

Upstairs is a different story (pun intended). There is our bedroom/sitting room where I knit and read. My studio contains, well, studio stuff. It has been used for dyeing, spinning, felting, quilting, puppet making, and various other enthusiasms. There is an area that contains my desk, shelves of reference books, and archival boxes holding genealogical materials. In a previous incarnation, this room was a family/TV room.

My son’s bedroom has been inhabited over the years by several of his siblings. Most recently, it held my quilting stash, which has been packed into bins and relegated to the basement.

What is now a bathroom, had been a big walk-in closet and then my darkroom. Thanks to digital cameras I no longer need to closet myself in the dark with smelly chemicals, but I still sometimes mourn “real” photography.

The final two rooms are small with no heat. Remember, we are talking 1890’s “old” farmhouse. One has shelves and bins of supplies and equipment for batik, shibori, felting, and var... oth... enth...s.

The other was set up as an ebay room. Shelves hold stuff we thought we could sell. My son and I catalogued, and photographed all the items, but never actually committed ourselves to spending the time selling. This is the room that is about to be repurposed. It will become my “Dyeary.”  I will also do my carding in this room. But first, I need to empty it. Yup, more bins and boxes for the basement. We cannot, must not get rid of anything!

We are still experiencing uncommon heat. Algoma is on Lake Michigan. It’s a place where people come to cool off. Right now Algoma is 91 degrees. The Dyeary will be a dream until an 80 degree day, possibly 85. For now, I’m going to finish my second sock.

Be cool and Good Stitches

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hot New Group

Like a lot of the country we’ve been experiencing extreme heat. I’ve managed to survive by claiming a spot on the old wooden swing out in the side yard. It’s shaded by a maple tree with a trunk that measures about 170 inches around. It was planted over a hundred years ago when our farmhouse was built. The bark on the tree and the wood on the swing have acquired a lovely shade of gray-green over the years. This is the first time in the twenty-some years we have lived here that the swing has experienced such extensive use. Usually the east wind off of Lake Michigan, a couple of miles away, has been too cool for prolonged periods of swinging. But this week, “cooler by the lake,” a phrase popular with local forecasters has a welcome ring. Yesterday, winds from the west cancelled out any lake effect cooling. We suffered along with the rest of you. 

My time on the swing has been spent working on a pair of socks for myself. Yes, I’m trying again. I decided to make anklets this time. The heel of the first sock has been successfully turned, and the simple round and round stockinette of the foot easily managed by my over heated brain. A new dishcloth is taking shape from the strand off a cone of variegated cotton. No grand design, complicated stitch or mitered square, it’s just plain old back and forth garter.

During the many hours of happy swing stitching, I have not been alone. I have acquired a new group of knitting companions. Just like at open knitting at Spin, my LYS, the number of attendees varies. Here, the group numbers from one to twenty-nine. That’s the number of strutting, clucking, pecking chickens my son lets loose in the yard each morning. The “girls” seem to appreciate the shade of the old lichened maple, and the taste of the lilies of the valley that grow under the bridal wreath that borders the swing. 

A Welsummer among the shredded lilies of the valley.

We enjoy a cluckish companionship. A Buff Orpington occasionally hops up and sits next to me for a short visit. A silver- laced Wyandotte circles the swing, pecking at my knitting basket after completing each circuit. 

A basket pecking Wyandotte.

When they flock around, peering up at me, I’m not sure if they are clucking compliments on my yarn selections or offering helpful technical tips. Looking at their tiny heads containing tiny chicken brains, I realize that I may be reading too much into our conversation.

After a while, one hen will wander off to some other shady spot with others casually following, or the whole flock will suddenly flap-run noisily across the yard’s expanse. They’re all under the far apple tree now, but I know that sooner or later my new group, my knitting biddies, will be back.

Be cool, and good stitches.