’18 A To Z Challenge – G

 

Challenge '18Letter G

For the letter G, I want to take you from Sheep to Socks, through

GADGETS

In my Rapunzel post, I told of my daughter, who is a spinster – literally a woman who spins yarns.  While she also does it with cotton, bamboo, milkweed silk, dog fur, angora, llama and other, more exotic fibers, she most often spins wool.  There’s a lot more to it than just spinning, so I thought I’d show you some of the gadgets necessary to get from a naked ewe, to a well-clad me.

20180424_161147

Most sheared fleece the daughter obtains, has already been washed.  If not, she has to soak it clean to remove dust, dirt, and the natural lanolin.  The above picture is of two hand carders.  Like giant, curved brushes, handfuls of the raw wool are placed on one of them, and then ‘combed,’ to align all the fibers.  Hand-carding is a long, tedious operation.  She also has a hand-cranked drum-carder, but needs the moved-away grandson, to run it.  Usually she just purchases ‘roving,’ which is a commercially produced, loose, fluffy rope of fiber, already for spinning.

20180413_175939

This is a drop-spindle.  Hung vertically, and brushed against the leg to rotate it, the yarn grows ‘up’ until it’s wound onto the spindle to hold it, and the process is repeated.  This one is fairly small, for producing delicate yarns.  Depending on the size, these can produce anything from the finest yarn, up to ships’ ropes.

20180424_161406 - Copy

These are slightly larger drop-spindles for heavier yarns, one wound with thread the daughter has already produced.  These are all commercially made, but the daughter has several that she built herself from readily available household items.

20180109_162228 - Copy

This is the smaller one of the daughter’s spinning wheels.  Her larger, better one has two foot treadles, to prevent a sore, tired leg from pumping with just one foot.  Through gear-ratio, the large wheel rotates the small spindle quite quickly, and the thread/yarn flows off as fast as the spinner can keep up.

20180322_183706

This little storage bobbin hangs off the side of the spinning wheel.  As the loose yarn accumulates, it can be temporarily wound on here, until the batch is finished.

20180424_160902

This is called a Knitty-Knotty.  The finished yarn is wound on from the bobbin, up-down, back and forth, then slipped off as a skein.  A loose skein of yarn is not handy to knit from.  The yarn can tangle, or it can fall to the floor.

SDC11124

This gadget is known as a swift.  A skein can be held in the Vee of the center.  The shaft slides up and down to change its spread, and match the circumference of any skein.  You may notice that all these gadgets are made of wood.  Spinners and craftsmen developed and built their ancestors from wood, long before metal crafting became cheap and commonly possible, so there has been little reason to change what works in wood, into metal.  Steel/aluminum swifts are available, but they are not as inexpensive, tend to jam or tear yarn, and fall apart sooner.

SDC11126

At this point, the daughter’s yarn reels off the wife’s swift, and goes onto her winder, to produce a small, firm, easy to find and control ball, that will sit on her lap, or drop into a knitting bag.  This is about the only gadget which has successfully been fabricated from plastic and metal.  Like a little sewing machine, the wire arm shuttles back and forth, to produce that round, even ball.

SDC11122

The daughter knits a variety of things.  Her hand-spun yarns and knitted items can be viewed online at http://www.facebook.com/frogpondcollective .  In the past, the wife has also knitted a wide range of clothing items, but now concentrates on custom-fitted socks.  Non-elastic socks don’t ‘fit all.’  She makes them for the daughter, our son, the grandson and now his fiancée.  The above pair were lovingly crafted for me, when it became apparent that my aging body couldn’t pump enough blood to my feet at night to keep them warm enough so that I could sleep.

***

In last year’s A To Z Challenge – K I included information about Herbert, Lord Kitchener, for whom this city is now named.  While not a very nice man, he did accomplish one nice thing.  Hand-knit socks, the only kind available back then, were basically tubes.  The toes were sewn closed, leaving a protruding, rough ridge on the inside.

Kitchener found that, after marching his men for hundreds of miles, their toes were raw and bloody, and the men would refuse to march further, or be unable to manoeuvre when needed.  He went to some women who knitted socks, explained the problem, and asked if there was a solution.  At least one of them said that there was, and explained it to him (or his aide.)

Without being able to knit a stitch himself, he is given credit for “The Kitchener Stitch,” which is not really a stitch, but rather, a type of grafting, or weaving, which closes the ends of socks smoothly.  Of course, the wife knows all about it, and uses it on every pair she knits.

Th-th-that’s all folks – for this time.  I hope to see your electronic footprints back here soon.  They could even be in a special pair of socks if you play your cards right.  😀

Advertisements

Five For Festing

From the early spring, when most of the snow has melted, to the late fall, when it starts coming down again, the daughter (LadyRyl) is reasonably mobile.  Whether with one crutch or two, she can catch a bus a hundred yards away, over on the main street.  On bad days, she can call up the Transit Mobility van, and be taken in her power wheelchair, to places like the big mall at the edge of town.  I’m even amazed at how far away she can get from home, with just the wheelchair’s battery-pack.

All this freedom quickly disappears when the ice and snow begin to pile up.  Unshovelled sidewalks, and piles left by plows can be quite a challenge for the mobility-challenged.  She’s been stuck a few times, outside, in the cold.  Once, she thought a quartet of teen boys on foot might harass her, but they dug and pushed her out.  Then, a quarter mile down the street, at the other mall entrance, she got stuck again, and had to call her son at his work, to leave and come over to get her out.  No-one else helped.

Other than when I drive her somewhere, she spends a lot of time indoors over the winter.  You can’t read or watch TV all the time, so this is when she stocks up on her crafts.  She spins up lots of her raw fiber into skeins of beautiful artisanal yarns, then she knits and crochets some of it into shawls, scarves, hats, mitts and socks.  She and a girlfriend turn wire and semi-precious stones into jewellery.  It gets her through the winter, but by spring she’s got a lot of time, energy and money tied up in stuff for sale.

At about this time of year, along comes a line of festivals and opportunities to recoup investment through retail.  This year, it started five weeks ago.  On a Saturday, I took her 15 miles out, to a Mennonite village, to celebrate the Strawberry Festival.  Aside from fervent thanks, and a few dollars for gas, I received a couple of pints of “picked-today” strawberries.

The wife washed and hulled them and put them on a cookie sheet.  I put that into the freezer, later transferring the frozen fruit to a Zip-Loc bag.  I will be able to thaw small bowlfuls, and add them to my cereal over the winter.

The next week I took her to her monthly BarterWorks congregation at the downtown Working Center.  While it’s open to the public on a cash basis, it needs some promotion.  Still, she made a few sales and trades, met some old friends, and had a nice day out.

The third week, the cherries were in season, (In Washington State, and Mexico) and I put her and her goods beneath a nylon-topped gazebo in her nearby Cherry Park.  She and her friend sheltered from the blazing sun in the baseball outfield, and a bit more stock was exchanged for cash.

On the fourth Saturday, I set her up in the big park for the Anti-Violence Festival.  While we set up the gazebo again, she was on a small island, and well protected from the sun by mature trees.  She brought along her spinning wheel, to attract customers.

Here are some pics of the things that she and her friends make and sell, under the name Frog Pond Collective.  Included are shots of her spinning wheel, first lonely, then, fully manned (Womanned?)

SDC10585SDC10586

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDC10584SDC10583

 

 

 

SDC10587

On the Friday night before, I had been there for the big Cruise Night.  On the way out of the park, I again ran into these.  I’m not sure if this is the city’s idea of a joke – or art.   😕

SDC10569

About 125 years ago, when the park was created, one of the buildings torn down had belonged to McBrine Luggage, on this exact spot.  They’re still in business – just elsewhere in the city.  These are made of concrete, and, like the warning on McDonald’s cups, not to juggle hot coffee with your crotch, there is a metal plaque on the grass next to them, across from the bus terminal, reminding the drunks and druggies not to try to steal them.

Last Sunday, I was to take her to a fest the Oxymorons call Open Street – when they close the main street to traffic.  At the last minute – Wed.? Thur.? – it was decided to switch it to Saturday night, to meld with the Jazz Festival being held in front of the downtown mall.

It was overcast but dry all Sunday, but began drizzling as soon as we got set up Saturday evening.  Even sitting on a thick, woven rug, the spinning wheel began to get damp.  She called me to pick it up and take it home, but, by the time I got there, several vendors had had enough, so we packed it in.

The young city workers were supposed to have distributed a survey at the end of the evening, and were now desperately yelling in car windows to find what was good and what could be improved.  Aside from the rain, being located two blocks from the Jazz Fest, the only people walking by, in the dark, were on their way to their cars – very disappointing.

This Saturday will be a small, indoor BarterWorks again, and the last Saturday in August will be another.  The city wants to try Open Street again on the third Sunday.  (Did I say Five??!)  The daughter is considering the upcoming Word On The Street Festival, and is looking for other chances to unload the last of her stash for cash.

 

I’ve Been Thinking – Again

If this keeps up, it may become a habit.  The first day of September was a Sunday, which made the 15th a very early “third Sunday”, which is the day for the monthly meeting of the Free Thinkers.  The first time we attended a meeting, our sister city was holding an Open Street fair, and the handicapped daughter and I had to hobble two blocks, to get in.

On this 15th, Open Street was on again, but opening was delayed till noon.  The daughter’s BarterWorks group had reserved some space.  She wanted to attend the Free Thinkers, and then have me deliver her down the street to set up.

As sometimes happens, the son’s weekend sleep schedule was destroyed.  So happy and wound-up that the work-week was over, he couldn’t go to sleep Saturday morning, and was still babbling till 3:00 PM.  We woke him again at eight, so that we could all eat supper between 9 and 10, but he was asleep again shortly after midnight.

Before he crashed, I offered him a chance to attend.  Sure enough, when I rose Sunday morning, he dressed, and came along with the daughter and her friend.  He and I sat on opposite sides of a long table.  He talked to the people to my right, and I talked to people to his right.

He might not have the highest IQ, or be the smartest person where he works, but he damns himself with faint praise by claiming he’s the best spoken.  That doesn’t take much.  He expounds clearly, concisely and knowledgably, on a variety of subjects, both trivial and serious – and gets nothing back.  He was thrilled to spend time in a roomful of people who, not only kept up, but caused him to stretch himself.  He wants to ride the ride again.

On our way to the downtown hotel, we came out of a side street behind a plaza, and turned down a four-lane, one-way street toward the main drag.  Three wide, we and two other cars, went up a rise and around a bend – to suddenly confront a car coming directly at us, going the wrong way.  He quickly pulled to the curb so I could go past.  I watched in my mirror.  As soon as the rest of traffic cleared, he pulled a U-turn.  Only 25 days till Oktoberfest, I think he was from out of town.

While many free thinkers tend to be individualists, there is still an urge for like to join with like.  We accepted a business card from a lady representing www.sacredsecularsanctuary.com which offers support and guidance to those leaving their religious safety nets.

The group president was on a business trip to Switzerland, so neither he nor the ex-Mennonite lady was there.  The oldest member, while in apparent good health, had suddenly died.  We offered no prayers.

Since the set-up for the street fair was to begin at noon, we left early – about 12:10, and not a moment too soon.  They had blocked off the street, and were just about to block off the hotel’s driveway when I backed onto the street.  I didn’t get downtown for this summer’s Cruise Night, but got to look at 50/60 examples of beautiful classic cars as I slowly threaded down to where the daughter needed to set up.

While the food is good, the prices reasonable, and the service crisp, efficient and friendly, the old hotel where they hold these luncheons is an old hotel.  The room we use is a half flight down from the already basement restaurant.  It was a malting room for the brewery, with the tanks removed.  The inscription on the doorway lintel stone reads 1856.

With no elevators, and lots of steps, it makes it difficult for folks like the daughter to reach.  We would normally skip next month, but they’re trying a newer hotel in downtown Kitchener.  It has elevators, lots of free parking, and is much closer to the daughter’s house.  We’ve decided to attend, try it out, and cast a vote.

While not a rousing commercial success, the daughter’s afternoon with BarterWorks was fun, and a chance for further social interaction, something that’s limited for the mobility-impaired.  She ran into an old friend she hadn’t seen in years, and gabbed and gushed and got caught up.

She took along the newest one (to her) of her spinning wheels, for demonstration, and entranced gobs of lookers.  It’s 40/50 years old, and worth about $500 new.  Somebody must have turned grandma’s stuff in to the Thrift Shoppe, where she found it, and picked it up for $25.  I came back to pick her and the wheel up just before it rained.

Native Canadian Indians have a strong presence at each of the universities up in Waterloo.  At U of W, the larger, each fall they hold a Pow-Wow, much like a smaller version of the Multi-Cultural Festival held in Kitchener’s Victoria Park.  It will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28.  This would be the normal day for the daughter’s BarterWorks display, but she applied early enough, and was granted space at the Pow-Wow.

A table at the University will give her much more exposure than at the little BarterWorks get-together, probably with more cash sales.  Also, it will be a 9 to 5 session, instead of only 11 till 3.  I will be up early to haul all of her stuff, including a wheel and the nylon gazebo for weather protection, along with her, her friend, and the grandson for support.

No drugs, no booze, no dancing, no all-night raves, no random, anonymous sex, (well, none I’m admitting to), doing things the old-fashioned way, this is the exciting way we spend a day or weekend.  Like Hercule Poirot, we stimulate “the little grey cells” to have fun.  I’ll report back, and tell you all about it.  You’ve been warned.

Candle In The Windy Park

I didn’t look far enough ahead, and my, blog-every-two-days schedule, fell on its ass again.  We couldn’t wait till Saturday to go to the Mennonite market, because the daughter and I were busy, so we went on Thursday.  I might have tried to get a post ready on Friday, but the wife and I were busy getting ready for Saturday.  If you’re confused and whirled in circles by that paragraph, you have some idea what I felt like.

Another couple of blocks past the daughter’s place from the big park where the Multicultural Festival was held, is another, smaller, neighborhood park.  Since the smallest, pedestrian-only entrance is off Cherry Street, some bureaucrat named it Cherry Park.  It’s been two weeks since the big festival, and cherries are just coming into season, so the neighborhood association schedules a local cherry-festival get-together at this time each year.

There are things for adults and kids, but again, commerce is the unifying force.  There are two or three food suppliers, bouncy castles, a Latin-American band, and a municipal employee handing out information about seniors’ services available from the city.  Beyond that, there are a couple of dozen purveyors’ booths.  There were two offering temporary tattoos, one with roses made from wood, a palm reader, and a woman knitting and selling all her knitted items.

The daughter and one of her friends like to attend.  Between them and the wife they put out a mixed offering.  The daughter has her artisanal yarns, and shawls, scarves and crocheted cat-toy mice, made from them.  She takes along her spinning wheel to give demonstrations and entice customers.  She and the girlfriend make up cell-phone charms, bracelets, necklaces and earrings from beads, wire and yarn.  The wife makes the same kind of thing but puts the beads at the ends of fancy yarn to make bookmarks she calls book-thongs.  Lay it in a paperback, with the beads at each end, and close the book.  The grandson still has a few pieces of primitive pottery, from his course last year.

The thing the daughter believes draws the most customers, is the wife’s hand-made beeswax candles.  She concentrates on tea-lights, both in the plastic cup, and refills for those who already have enough cups, as well as votives.

There are two honey vendors at the farmers’ market.  We buy honey from one, but get beeswax from the other, to make candles from.  While the first has good honey, when he melts the wax down, he does so at too high a temperature, and *chars* the wax.

The grandson is allergic to all grasses.  Sugarcane is just an overgrown grass, and he is sensitive to cane sugar.  We used to be able to obtain reasonably cheap and available beet sugar in town, but a tariff changed several years ago.  Since then, we have used our trips to metro Detroit to stock up on white, brown and icing beet sugar.  Michigan has a large beet sugar industry.  Unless it says cane sugar, you know it’s beet.  Sugar beet growth and processing used to be big here in town a century ago, but times and crops change.

The grandson also sweetens some things with honey.  Both of the honey vendors offer honey sticks, like thin drinking straws filled with different types of honey, and sealed.  On our most recent trip, the better honey guy offered orange-blossom sticks.  There’s not a lot of citrus grown in southern Ontario.  The wife says he means from mock-orange bushes.  They have an orange smell and impart the taste.

As previously noted on one of my posts, when something creative is happening, my portion of it is usually getting things out, cleaning things up and putting things away.  While the wife poured about fifty candles, I ran down to the basement storeroom and back at least a dozen times.  If we don’t use our heads, I use my feet.  My diet is still lounging on the couch, but he gave me a big thumbs-up.

The wife had a nasty nasal infection about a year ago.  It affected nerves, and almost wiped out her sense of taste and smell.  They have come back a little bit, and we hope for more, but, for someone who relies on them for cooking, this is a devastating loss.  She used to be able to tell when pasta was cooked.  She now relies on me to smell or taste things.

We were well into the candle-making when I remarked the entire house had been imbued with the smell of honey.  “Oh really,” she said.  “I can’t smell any of it.”  The sweet smell of honey was so thick that I could have toasted a piece of bread, and just waved it though the air to pick up the taste.  It doesn’t last until the next day, but it does help make the work more pleasant.

While socially enjoyable, the daughter did not have a great commercial day.  A couple of people watched her spin, and took her card with her email address, saying that they would contact her about specialty yarn.  Of the few things that sold, the wife’s candles were at the top.

Next weekend the friend wants to have the daughter join her at a display at the anti-violence fair, back over at the big park.  Neither of us has ever been there, but I guess I get another day of set-up, take-down and schlepping.  First, a hundred-mile Tuesday round-trip, so the daughter can get her anti-pain med-infusion.  She should be in better shape to handle it.  If I find it interesting, I’ll post a story about it.  It’s been a big day.  Now that this blog is up, I need some rest.  Till then!