Saturday, March 19, 2011

To Spindle or To Wheel?

To most folks the traditional wheel is what sleeping beauty used to spin fiber into yarn. And yet she pricked her finger on what we believe to be a spindle. According to Mary Boulet, who discussed and shared her collection of spindles with us, the spindle predated the wheel. Spinning is frequently seen in myths and legends, with twists of plots and evil consequences. The traditional wheel was not common before the 16th century, thus, it is believed that most of the stories are referring to the spindle. If you're interested in the history behind the spindle, the internet is a wealth of information.

A spindle is a spike (shaft) which is used to spin fibers into thread or yarn. It's commonly weighed, e.g., weighed at the bottom, it's called a drop spindle, weighed in the middle or top, it's called a whorl. There are also supported spindles, Navajo spindles, turkish spindles and tahkli.

I was amazed at the number of different spindles available and in use today. They come in different sizes, woods, metals, weights, designs as well as types. On the table in the picture, are just a few of those available. Other spinners brought in their own spindles to share and to demonstrate how they work. They are a convenient way to spin anywhere. As we all know the wheel is hardly portable; it requires a little heft to carry. The spindle allows spinning to be a "take along project".

A great presentation!

The Challenges of Knitting

The Knitters gathered at the guide house as usual to share the joys...yes, I said joys, of knitting with a circle of like-minded folks. It seems several of us choose the "easy" route...socks...something to mindlessly knit while chatting. Several folks were working on a "challenge" project. Jackie was knitting a project from her design class. Her challenge...a prototype from her pattern, colors, fiber selections...its amazing to see what goes into designing.

The spinners group, which includes many of our knitters, have a spring "challenge"-to knit or crochet a shawl or scarf from homespun fiber. Its not just any scarf, but one which requires thinking, paying attention, following the other words, knitting at a level above me. It is a beautiful piece, all lacy and to see it in many colors is exciting. Maybe, maybe, I could(?) try (?) it. But as Yoda said "try not, do yes!"

And yet another "challenge"-Lucy was knitting the back of a sweater from hand-dyed wool in the gorgeous colors, midnight blues and lights reflecting the midnight sky in the north woods. She stopped, puzzled at what was happening with the yarn. Was it the light, an allusion? There appeared to be a color change where she began a new skein. Now, we all know to check "dye lot" numbers on purchased yarn, but how do you know the consistency of colors in hand-dyed? Overall, the hand-dyed skeins appear similar, and are dyed in the same batch, but I think the answer is you don't.

So, now what? Lucy took all the skeins, wound into balls and compared them to each other in bright light and selected similar skeins to use where the color change would be obviously. In other words, the skeins were matched and preselected for each section of the sweater before she began. As each sections is joined, its looks more like a light reflection. The bottom line is when purchasing hand dyed yarn, know your supplier, and as Lucy did, carefully analyze your yarn. Challenges met, I cannot wait to see the finished projects.

Free Motion Machine Quilting Class.

Learn Free Motion Quilting

Inspirations Quilt Shop in Hills, IA (319) 679-2207
April 16, 2011 10 am - 4:30 pm (we will break for lunch at 12:30)

Learn the basics of free motion quilting and a method to teach yourself any pattern or style of quilting. No magic revelations, just good common sense, a few good insights and a method you can adapt to improve your quilting no matter what your skill level.

We will cover: work environment/ergonomics, machine settings, exercises/warm-up/practice, a few common all over patterns, stencils, and where do I go from here?

Who Should Take This Class
Both beginning free motion quilters and those with some experience should learn something in this class. Those signing up must have a machine in good working order and have a working knowledge of its operation. We will not be covering the basics of sewing machine operation in this class.


Class fee of $15 is payable at the start of class. Please pick up a class supply list when you sign up. If you sign up by phone, please email the instructor for the supply list. If you have questions contact:

Linda Kahlbaugh
(319) 330-8140

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Linen: Meeting the Challenge"

This weekend Vicki Tardy conducted a 3 day Linen workshop which took us from warp to fabric. She presented information on linen, its origins, its physical properties and how to work with this type of fiber. She had numerous examples of all types, sizes and plys which reinforced the production of quality items. Her ultimate goal was that we try linen without fear.

We warped our looms and we began a robin round process to try the various structures and those uniquely linen methods of weaving. Wow, amidst the iced-over cars in the parking lot and the smells of a potluck lunch from the kitchen, we morphed into weaving oblivion as one piece challenged our patience as much as it excited our creativity as the piece began to reveal itself.

As a topper, Dorothy brought the guild's linen placemat collection. I don't think any of us realized what had gone into their production before this experience. I must admit I was one tired puppy afterwards, but thrilled at the prospect of weaving linen.



Kookies, Kookies, Gimme Kookies!

The other evening at Weavers, I became cookie monster, "Kookies, Kookies, Gimme Kookies". Although I didn't turn blue, I did love these cookies...and wanted more...more...more...I couldn't eat just one.

Terry Jones brought the incredible ginger cookies as a treat and has graciously shared the recipe.

Here's the recipe for Double Ginger Cookies from Weavers' meeting last night. It came from

Double Ginger Crackles by Abigail Johnson Dodge
yields about 4 dozen cookies

10 oz. (2 1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup molasses
3 Tbs. finely chopped crystallized ginger
Tip: For the best results, measure your flour by weight instead of volume. (1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 4 1/2 oz.) If you don't have a scale, be sure to use the proper technique when filling your measuring cups.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar with an electric mixer (a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand-held) on medium-high speed until well blended. Add the egg, molasses, and crystallized ginger; beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended.

Pour the remaining 1/3 cup sugar into a shallow bowl. Using a 1-Tbs. cookie scoop, a small ice cream scoop, or two tablespoons, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in the sugar to coat. Set the balls 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until the cookies are puffed and the bottoms are lightly browned, 12 to 14 min. If you touch a cookie, it should feel dry on the surface but soft inside. The surface cracks will look a bit wet. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 5 min. and then transfer them to a rack to cook completely. When cool, store in airtight containers.

Ginger flavor intensifies with time, making these cookies excellent candidates for long keeping. When stored in an airtight container, the cookies remain impressively delicious for up to five days from baking. Well wrapped, the cookies will keep for several weeks in the freezer.

nutrition information (per serving)
Size: per cookie; Calories (kcal): 80; Fat (g): 3; Fat Calories (kcal): 25; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 1; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1; Carbohydrates (g): 12; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0; Sodium (mg): 40; Cholesterol (mg): 10; Fiber (g): 0;

From Fine Cooking 75, pp.45
December 1, 2005

My cookies didn't crackle, but still tasted good. I used Swedish Pearl Sugar on the tops because it shows up better. I got it recently, but cannot remember where. Likely candidates are New Pioneer Coop, Aldi, Hy-Vee or possibly even the Dollar Tree.
Have fun...a truly tasty treat. Thanks, Terry