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More Old Photos

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am from northern Maine, Aroostook County. It's a center of forest-related industry, as well as farming. There are a lot of farms up there. For a couple of years, I've been puzzled by the fact that for my whole life, I never heard or saw any indication of sheep farming in the area. You never saw people raising sheep or spinning wool into yarn; old attics were bare of any spinning wheels, in my experience. The whole fiber preparation thing was just oddly absent. And yet, it seemed like almost everyone around me knit. I grew up totally surrounded by knitters. Everyone knew how to knit, and they knit a lot. I never wondered where they got their wool to knit with, until a few years ago. It seemed to me that sheds and barns and attics should have held the same detritus of fiber preparation that they held for cooking equipment or farming equipment or old toys. But there were no odds and ends of spinning wheels or niddy noddys or hand carders or combs or pickers. Nothing. Seemed odd to me.

Then the other day as I was browsing through the Library of Congress pictures, I experienced joy when I found photographic evidence of the elusive Aroostook County wool-production on small farms. Here are some pictures of actual sheep being raised in the county in the 1940's:
Aroostooksheep2 Aroostooksheep3 Aroostooksheep4

And then I found pictures of women in Aroostook County actually spinning wool and weaving on a loom!!! Here they are:

Aroostookspinningwheel2 Aroostookspinningwheel3 Aroostookwheelandskeining

Aroostookloom Aroostookloom2

And then my heart truly fluttered -- as I found possibly GENETIC reasons for my last spinning wheel purchase! I couldn't believe my eyes! You may recall that I recently purchased a gorgeous spinning wheel from David Paul of Merlin Tree fame; he built me a beautiful reproduction of an antique Quebec production wheel. When I saw the wheel in his booth at the NETA Spa last year, I knew immediately I had to have it. There was a strange attraction it held for me. People who know me, who know how little I spin, who know how many spinning wheels I already had, nearly disjointed their eyeballs, rolling them so hard. But here is my justification: in the picture below, a woman is spinning on an Aroostook County farm and she is using a wheel that is nearly identical to my wheel! I am betting that somewhere in my genetic past, a woman in my family owned a wheel like that, and my DNA recognized it and cried out for it. I will never regret buying that wheel. I am putting a photo of my new wheel next to the picture from the 1940's, for comparison purposes:

Aroostookspinningwheel Mywheel

Out of the Bag

Astute Yarndemon readers may have noticed that the same four projects have filled my knitting bag for about two months now. Well, as of last night, all four projects are officially done!!! (And that includes weaving in all the ends.)

The Step socks came out great; I started them on the March Knitting Weekend. And yes, the stripes do match (pretty much). The hemp bag, of course, is done because it was for the spring newsletter. The Malva summer top is wonderful, it fits me perfectly, and it looks pretty darned cute on, too, if I must say so myself. Too bad it is a sample for the store! I might take it with me to wear in Indianapolis, though. And last night, I finished the very beautiful Heartstrings' "Zig Zag Mobius" scarf out of the also very beautiful Alchemy Alpaca Pure in a marvelous pink color. I love it! I almost wish it were winter -- or at least fall -- so I could wear it right away. It looks quite alluring to wear, and it feels yummy. It also will be on display at Unique One.

So now I have these other 47 projects hanging around my chair. I think I'll finish a sweater before I start a new project. I've got this worsted weight wool sweater project I'm doing in Nanny Kennedy's Seacolors yarn that is languishing because I am making it up as I go along. And, you know how that goes: I got to a point where I had to make a decision, and stopped. The sweater body is done; I just have to do the top yokes and sleeves, and needed to decide how to do them. But last night, I decided to just finish it off as a Penobscot Bay Pullover (a pattern I hand out on the knitting cruise). Once that's done, I have a little scarf I want to crochet out of new Alchemy's Silken Straw yarn -- very odd stuff, but in a good way, like yarn made out of silk grass. I also have another little summer cardigan to make for the store out of a yarn -- I think it is a wool crepe -- called "Dream". You use it doubled, on a size 7 or 8 needle. I think it will be nice, and should be a quick knit. And there's a hat, nearly done, and a pair of worsted weight alpaca socks, three-quarters done, behind my rocking chair.

I do believe my knitting bag is full again. :)

Spring Newsletter

The Unique One 2006 Spring Newsletter is up and available online now.

Reasons to look at it:

  • Find out about new products available (or coming soon) at Unique One
  • Read about the stuff Victoria and I will be doing in June
  • Read about the Fiber Frolic that I can't go to because I will be at TNNA please feel sorry for me.
  • Read my review of Wendy D. Johnson's new book, "Wendy Knits"
  • Grab the free pattern -- Daisy Chain summer bag (very cute, easy to knit)
  • It's free


Old Photos

As you may or may not know, I am originally from northern Maine, Aroostook county. "The County", they call it. I was browsing around the Library of Congress online today, looking for (what else?) knitting pictures, and ran across this one:

This picture was taken by John Collier in 1942 as part of the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection.

It's titled "Aroostook County, Maine. Airing wool before spinning". But, it looks to me like the wool is already spun into yarn; what do you think? I think the photographer knew beans about fiber work, and should have labeled it "Airing wool before weaving". That's what I think. But I tell you what, that lady on the right knew the photographer was coming, cuz she picked her best hat to wear, hanging out that wool. :)

The Sheep Market

Well this is kind of interesting, in a "why?" kind of way.

You can click here to visit "The Sheep Market". Move your cursor around the ten thousand miniscule dot-like things in the bottom half of the page, which prove to be ten thousand highly-miniaturized sheep drawings. When you find one you like, you can click on it to select it. Then, you can watch it being drawn in the box at the top of the page. If it really is the sheep you want, you can buy it as part of a set of "collectable" adhesive stickers. Or, you can send it to someone, by email I presume -- although I couldn't get that feature to work (I'm using Mac OSX and Safari; I suspect it works in Firefox or on a PC).

I picked sheep #8655. He's my best buddy, now:

Oh, and by the way -- I took the Unique One Spring Newsletter to get copied today, so it will go out in the mail on Thursday or Friday! Look for it soon! E-mail me (look at the upper right corner of my blog, there ya go) if you want to be added to the mailing list. By Friday I should also have the online version available for you to read on the Unique One website (click "Our Current Newsletter" when you go to the Unique One web site.)

Uh Oh, Grace....

The Top 16 Signs Your Cat is Overweight

(Copyright 1996, 1999 by Chris White, The Top 5 List)

16. Cat door retro-fitted with garage door opener.
15. Confused guests constantly mistaking her for beanbag chair.
14. Always lands on her spleen.
13. Fewer calls to the fire department, but a sudden upsurge in broken branches.
12. Fifteen month gestation period, and still no kittens.
11. No longer cleans itself unless coated in Cheese Whiz.
10. Rosanne fits through your kitty door without the aid of lubricants.
9. Catfood dish replaced with Rush Limbaugh trough.
8. Luxurious, shiny black fur replaced with mint green polyester pants suit.
7. It's no longer safe to lift him without a spotter.
6. "Steals breath" from all five quintuplets, simultaneously.
5. Larry King keeps trying to kiss it full on the lips.
4. Waits for the third bowl of food to get finicky.
3. He only catches mice that get trapped in his gravitational pull.
2. Enormous gut keeps your hardwood floors freshly buffed.

and's Number 1 Sign Your Cat is Overweight...

1. Has more chins than lives.

heh heh

(my favorite was reason #3)

And why the title? Who is Grace? Well.... I have this cat, Grace, and she's known for being a little chunky. And hoovering up food like there's no tomorrow.

Knitting News:
Today I got my little hemp bag done and photographed it for the Unique One Spring Newsletter. I have the newsletter just about done; there's only one little bit left to write, and proofreading and stuff. Hopefully it will be in the mail and posted on the Unique One website by Friday. I hope. Anyway, the bag is the free pattern that will be in the newsletter, and here's a little preview picture of it that I took today:


And here's a picture of what Nora the Skinny Picky Eater was doing while I was snapping photos:


But Is It Art???

We all grew up with those cool paint-by-numbers kits, right? Nasty-smelling little pots of oil in mostly ugly colors, with maybe that one pretty turquoise or bright red whose use in the picture was never demanded as often as we would have liked. Remember having to stir up the paint, getting all that odorific oil blended into the pigment? Yeah, those were the good old days.

Kids today, though, they do things different. Here's a link to a place where you can order a Chew By Number art kit -- instead of painting or coloring in the picture, you chew different flavors of gum and then spread the gum around in the numbered spaces to create the picture. The website also has a handy list of Top 10 Reasons to Chew Gum. A quote from the web page:

"These kits allow kids to create vibrant artwork by chewing tasty wads of gum and spreading the chewed gum onto the ChewByNumbers art board. Each kit teaches project planning skills and helps develop fine motor skills, concentration, and creativity. Meanwhile, kids enjoy every step of the artistic process. Art has never tasted this good.

Chew and spread gum for fun by trying a ChewByNumbers GumArt kit today!!!"


Okay, so I am going to invent a Frog-by-Numbers Kit, where you unravel a Kaffe Fassett sweater that is making you unhappy, and use all the many colors of crinkly, wrinkly yarn to re-create The Last Supper. And I'm going to make a Top 10 Reasons to Unravel Projects You Hate, as a little extra for Frog-by-Numbers shoppers. :)

In the Bag This Week:

I'm baaaack, heh heh. Yes, I know it's been a few days since I last posted: it has been pointed out to me.

So, I thought you might like a peek into what's currently in my knitting bag. Hmmmm (rummaging around).... it looks like there are four separate projects here. With any luck, I'll soon have four completed projects, as it looks like all of them are close to being done!

Project #1:Hempbag

The Unique One Spring Newsletter is going to be a little late. I fell behind in my designing, and didn't have a pattern ready to include! However, I quickly came up with an adorable little bag, very simple, pretty much two rectangles sewed together, and having a twisted-cord shoulder strap (although the shoulder strap may end up being knitted, if I decide that looks better; it might.). I'm adapting a knitting pattern called "Daisy Chain" for the textured stitch pattern of the bag, so the bag will probably be called something like the Swingy Little Daisy Chain bag, for summer. I will probably line the bag (gasp! sewing!) with denim, because the stitch pattern is quite open, so small items like dimes and pens and lip balm would fall out. If you only used the bag to carry your wallet, your cell phone, sunglasses and a large-ish bunch of keys, you wouldn't need to line it. The yarn I am using is the wonderful LaLana AllHemp 8, a dk weight, 100% hemp yarn that is fun to knit with. I really like it; it is not harsh on the hands, as I had feared it might be. And I love the colors it comes in, very earthy.

Project #2:Malvatop

I LOVE this yarn. I don't usually like tape or ribbon yarns, or cotton yarns either, for that matter. I mostly just like wool. However, this is a little summer top called the "Bistro Shirt", a marvy little easy-to-knit pattern from Oat Couture. It's really easy to knit, and the pattern can be knit in worsted OR chunky weight yarn. I am using Malva, and I love the way this yarn feels as it slides through my fingers. Best of all, I love how the knitted fabric formed by the yarn retains the silky, soft feel that you get when you squeeze the ball of yarn. Usually ribbon and tape yarns feel kind of "crunchy" when you knit them up, no matter how soft they feel in the skein. This is the front of the sweater as of last Thursday; I am actually all done both the front and the back (no sleeves!) and am ready to just join it together and knit the neck.

Project #3:Stepsock

The Step Sock. Again, I LOVE this yarn. It's the new sock yarn from Austermann that has aloe vera and jojoba oil right in the yarn, so it not only feels soft and springy and wonderful while you knit the sock, it will make your feet softer as you wear the socks, because the additives are retained in the yarn through 40 washings. These socks are for me, so I will let you know how the yarn works out, whether it softens feet, whether it keeps softening through 40 washings. This is the second sock of a pair, and actually since this picture was taken I have turned the heel and am at least halfway down the foot. So this little project will soon be done. Here's a free sock pattern you can download for Step sock yarn: Download the Step sock yarn pattern.(398.0K) Also, since the sock sizes are given in European sizing, you can download this shoe size conversion_chart. (28.7K)

Project #4:Zigzagmobius

I am knitting this Heartstrings pattern called the Zig-Zag Moebius -- it's a very fun pattern to knit! Learning the pattern stitch is easy and it would be a quick knit, for anyone who doesn't have 47 projects going at once and working 61 hours per week, like me. (I am not making those numbers up.) (Please feel sorry for me.) I am using one of my favorite yarns of all time, the Alchemy Yarn (how did you know it would be an Alchemy yarn? heh heh) called "Alpaca Pure", a 100% alpaca, hand painted luscious, yummy, luxurious, wonderful yarn. I am knitting this one a bit slowly on purpose, as it is the combination of a yarn and a pattern that I just don't want to be done with. This one is a sample for the store, so look for it soon.

So that's me. What are you all working on?

Ahhh, Summer

MMMmmmmmm, dandelion greens.....

And, I also got to wear shorts and sandals for the first time this year, finally! Seems the warm weather has been coinciding with work garb; but today I get to dress down and get comfy. (Don't worry, I *am* wearing shorts in the above picture!) We should be getting the first shipment of new summer clothing at the store any day now. Maybe today!

I love summer!

Theresa Honeywell is Tougher than You


A knit motorcycle (pink, of course). A knit jackhammer. A knit toolbelt. A knit machine gun. Embroidered tattoos. See them all here: *Click*

I have to say, I have thought of knitting a lot of different things, but I never, never imagined a knit motorcycle. Until now. What's next? a knitted stealth bomber? ah, but you wouldn't be able to see it, being stealth and all.

Note: although the motorcycle is labeled "knit" in the photograph, it looks mostly crocheted to me.

Re-arranging the Furniture

I've been moving stuff around on the blog. As you may have noticed over on the left margin, I've gotten rid of the "On My iPod" list in favor of a list of my favorite songs, constantly updated courtesy of Under the list of songs is a link to Yarndemon Radio, which is a station I created on Pandora and which plays music that I like. Ostensibly. (Some of the artists I chose; some of the music played on the station is chosen by the Pandora software, based on the analyses of the Music Genome Project. You can make your own radio station. It's easy! and fun! I did it; you can too.

I think it's cool.

Thanks go to Stacy, who Must Get a Blog SOON since I appear to be talking about her all the time and could be linking to her.

So, unrelated to the entire rest of this post--
From the Off-the-Wall's a list of my 5 favorite things today:

2. Cute Bento boxes.
3. Camilla the Hen.
4. Wearable Animal Heads.
5. Food Sculpture.