Nov 17, 2010

Kid n Ewe

I spent last week in Boerne, TX attending Kid 'n Ewe and Llamas, Too. It a fiber festival held yearly in Boerne, TX. WOW, what an awesome, eye-opening experience. I worked just about every spare moment for several weeks getting 30 of my new turkish spindles with cutouts made. Susan, the owner of Yarnorama, graciously let me use a portion of her booth to sell my spindles.

Boy, did I worry about that festival. My sister was my sounding board, and I provided her with daily amusement for the things I worried about. First, it was that my spindles wouldn't sell and I would be a huge disappointment to Susan and would return home with all 30 spindles. Then, it was that they sold so well that I ran out the first day. Then, it was that I arrived at the festival only to find that I had left the spindles at home. The final worry was that I would stumble on my way to the booth and break every last spindle.

Suffice it to say that none of that happened. My spindles were a HUGE hit. I worked an early shift for my day job, which I'm lucky enough to be able to work from my RV when needed, so that I could be in the booth on Friday afternoon. I sold eight spindles on Friday, and by the end of Saturday, I had bartered one spindle for some fiber and sold 28, leaving one left. That one sold first thing Sunday morning to a very nice lady just learning how to spin. I also took orders from those who either didn't manage to grab a spindle before they were all gone or wanted a pattern/wood combination different than what I had with me. I'm going to be quite busy for the next few weeks. Too bad I forgot to get my camera out of the truck and take pictures...

I need to throw out a few thank yous.

  • Susan at Yarnorama for letting me share her booth and for her very valuable feedback with each new run of spindles.
  • My friend Kennedy for being my spindle guinea pig with the very first spindles I made, and each spindle thereafter. Kennedy taught me how to tune a spindle hook, how to actually use a spindle to turn fiber into yarn, and introduced me to the wonders of turkish spindles. She also digitizes my hand-drawn patterns and takes each new spindle model for a test spin. It's the perfect arrangement. I get her insight and expertise, and she gets free spindles!
  • DebbiRYarn on Ravelry. Since purchasing one of my turkish spindles during the Hill Country Yarn Crawl, she's been a walking, talking billboard and spent much of her time at Kid n Ewe sending those who asked where she got her spindle in my direction.
  • Barb from Rosewood Yarns. She purchased one of my spindles at Kid n Ewe, and managed to run her own booth while turning a very impressive amount of fiber. She sent no less than a dozen people over to see me so they could get their own spindle. I kept hearing all weekend that "the lady from Rosewood in the next building said she got her spindle from you. Have you got any more?".

Thank you all!

Oct 22, 2010


So, I went to Woodcraft today to look at a new woodburner. They didn't have what I wanted in stock, but I made the mistake of checking for any new wood that could be used in my spindles. I got a nice piece of brightly colored 3/4" Cocobolo and was headed to the register when I saw this...

This has to be one of the best and most interestingly figured pieces of Cocobolo I've ever seen in my life. It practically takes my breath away. It's a small piece at only 3/8" x 3" x 24". Much too thin to use for my Turkish spindles. Plus, to use it on something that small would totally take away from the overall look of the board.
I have no idea what it will end up being, but I simply couldn't leave it in the store. It came home with me, and it's sitting on my desk so I can admire it and dream of the possibilities...

Sep 8, 2010

No More Betting!!

I really don't have the hang of this blogging thing yet, do I? It's been months since my last post. A lot has happened since then, and it's way more than I can cover in just one blog, so I'm going to focus on one pertinent realization. I am a lousy gambler.

I know this. Really, I do. It's the reason I stay in town when my friend Mario heads to Louisiana to go to the casinos with his friends. Pet care issues aside, why drive five hours just to lose money? Woudn't that money be better spent on yarn or ammo or new tires for my truck? My gambling track record is the reason why, when I do actually go into a casino, I have a firm $20 or $40 limit. Once that money is gone, so am I.

So why, I ask you, if I know that I'm a lousy gambler, do I continue to make bets with people. I've made two bets in the past three days, and I've lost both of them. I made the first bet because it was a bet of skill, not luck. I bet Mario that I could beat him in a bullseye pistol match. How could I lose? We're both excellent marksmen, but I've got my years of trapshooting competition under my belt. I've been in shoot-offs with some of the best shooters in Texas. I've already won, right? Bet on!

  • Equipment: Thompson Center Contenders with 14" .17HMR barrels and custom made (by us) grips and forearms out of desert ironwood, both with Leupold gold ring pistol scopes.
  • Target: A single sheet of target paper with five ringed bullseyes placed at 50 yds.
  • Scoring: As marked for each ring of the bullseye (8/9/10) and 11 for the center circle. Five shots at each bullseye. Each bullseye is tallied up, and the winner of that bullseye gets a point.
  • Stakes: The loser buys dinner that night.

For the first bullseye, we tied with 53 points (three center ring and two 10 rings). On the next two, Mario got me by one point - one stinking point! I had to win the next two bullseyes in order to tie. Didn't happen. I tied him on the fourth bullseye. At that point, I was shooting dead. I couldn't win, but I don't give up easy. On the fifth bullseye, I beat him by one point. All in all, a good match (all scores above 50), but I lost and had to buy dinner. Damn!

You would think with that loss so fresh in my mind, I would know better than to make another bet, but I was so sure about this one. My mom was poking around Ravelry this morning and found out that I have a blog and printed the pages so that Daddy could read them. So, I get this phone call this morning, and it's Mom. Daddy wants to talk to me about my blog.

He gets on the phone and asks me why I'm lying to the whole world. I'm searching my brain trying to think what I lied about. I gave him credit for helping with the spindles and the horse while he was here, I know I did. What could I possibly be lying about?!? Couldn't think of a thing, so I asked him... what are you talking about?

He asked me why I told everybody that rocking horse is made of 3" walnut when it's only 2. I've got him! I just know it's 3" walnut, and I tell him so. He said "wanna bet a cup of coffee on it". Uh oh. Beware. I'm sure I'm right, though, so I tell him it's a bet. With him on the phone, I walk out to the garage, take one look at the horse... and say a very bad word. He got me. It's only 2" thick.

So, apparently, I'm a liar as well as a lousy better. Who knew?!?

So that's it - I'm done. I'm not betting on anything anymore. Don't believe me, you say? You think I'll always succumb to betting on a can't lose sure thing? No way! Never again. Wanna bet on it?

May 4, 2010

US Postal Service

Remember the days when it was exciting to go to the mailbox and get the mail? Wonderful things always came in the mail... letters from friends and family, mail order packages, Sears Roebuck catalog... it was all good.

Now, I'm all grown up, and between the responsibilities of being an adult and the commonplace usage of email, the only thing that ever comes in the mail is bills. However, I have a plan for that. If I can get my letters online, why not my bill statements? I pay all my bills online, so my mailbox is a lot less depressing. Now, when there's something in my mailbox, it's usually something fun. Last week was a good week. The mailman brought three skeins of sock yarn - like I need more sock yarn! But this is Dream In Color Smooshy, and I didn't have any of that. The colors are just beautiful, and I can't wait until the next round of Sock Madness so I can use one of them. I also got some new knitting needle tips for my Harmony Options set from Knit Picks. Definitely a good mail week.

As good as last week was, yesterday was ten times better because I got two wonderful packages on the same day. So, instead of a good mail week, I had one awesome mail day.

The first package contained a brand new set of earphones for my iPod with custom-molded ear buds. Why go to the trouble and expense of getting custom earphones? Well, there are several reasons - better sound, not having your sound bleed out and annoy those in your general vicinity, and not having the noise being made by those same people drown out the music coming through the earbuds. Those are all good reasons, but they could be obtained with a set of quality Shure buds. The primary reason for going custom is that those earbuds are also hearing protectors that will provide about 45db noise reduction. Many competitive shooters use music to keep the mind focused during competition, but when using music, you can't ignore hearing protection. I have a set of Shure buds, and they have great sound, but they provide next to no hearing protection when discharging a firearm. These new custom ear budsaccomplish both tasks and look good in the process - beauty, function, and protection. Awesome!

The second package contained a new drop spindle. I know... I'm working on building a business making drop spindles, and I do have a turkish model in my offering. Why would I ever buy one made by someone else? I'll tell you why. The turkish models I'm making are about 5-6" in height with 3-3.5" arms. They're small enough to be easily portable and hover in the 1-2 ounce weight range. They're also beautiful because I use only pretty wood.
I was intrigued by this little fella from the first moment I saw it online. I don't make anything this small, and I really don't plan to start. That doesn't change the fact that I wanted one. It's the kuchulu model from Jenkins Woodworking, and it's much, much smaller than my hand. The shaft is ebony is only 3" tall. The arms are holly, and the combination of black and white is striking. It only weighs 10 grams - can you believe it?!? This thing flies like it has wings. This is the first spindle I've ever purchased. Ever since I learned what a drop spindle was, I've always made my own... and not just a chop stick and a CD model. I went right for the quality offerings from the very beginning. I gotta tell you, I couldn't be happier with this purchase. Ed did a wonderful job on this "shrinky dink" turkish spindle, and knowing what I do about the effort and skill it takes to make something like this, it's well worth the price. I absolutely love it!
So, what came in your mail box today?

Apr 22, 2010

Springtime In Texas

Well, it's been two months since my first post. Guess I don't quite have this blogging thing down yet. It's been a busy two months indeed. It's springtime here in Texas, and there are wildflowers everywhere. This is one of the best times to be here. Everything is green... and blue, and orange, and red, and yellow, and purple, etc. The weather is great for getting off the couch and doing things. Here's what I've been up to since my last update...


My parents spent the winter down here, and one of things Daddy and I worked on was a rocking horse I had started this past fall. She's being made out of 3" thick walnut with curly maple accents for the mane and tail. She's turning out beautiful.

We also cranked out some drop spindles. Daddy took a turn at turning the shafts while I worked on the whorls. We made about 10 spindles of various types. Five of them have already been sold at the local yarn shop (LYS), and there are about 10 more to finish up. Susan at Yarnorama gets her first pick, then I'll post the rest for sale on Etsy.

I'm now officially in love with small Turkish style spindles. Daddy and I experimented with making some, and I now have almost an ounce of BFL spun up on one made of Desert Ironwood - one of my favorite woods. This fiber is so soft, and beautifully dyed by my friend Kennedy. I've also got some ruby red Merino that I'm spinning on my walnut top whorl. That fiber is destined to be a shawl. I also tried out one of my new tiny turks made from a bamboo cuttingo board. At 1.25 ounces, it's quite a bit lighter than my Desert Ironwood spindle, which weighs 2 oz. Before I knew it, I had a good start on one of the first rovings I ever bought - a beautiful light blue mix of alpaca, merino, and silk and splashes of charcoal. It's spinning up a lot easier than I remembered it. I'm able to get nice even singles now, whereas before, I got a thick, ugly mess. Guess I've come a long way in my spinning ability... either that, or it's the exceptional spindles I'm using made by yours truly.

This is where I've been the most busy. Sock Madness is in full swing, and round 3 just finished early this morning. I'm quite surprised that I'm still in it. I'm on the "Anne of Green Cables" team, and as of this morning, we're down to 20 knitters on each team - there are four teams in all. The first rounds was a sideways sock. Instead of being knit from cuff to toe or vice versa, it's knit flat from side to side and then grafted down the length of the sock. It looks pretty cool, but because stockinette has very little vertical stretch to it and the rules of Sock Madness at the time wouldn't allow me to increase the number of rows, it was knit to an 8" foot circumference. Mine is 9" with a high instep. So, these beautiful socks have absolutely no chance of fitting a normal Brock foot - nor that of any of my friends. Unfortunately, they're destined to be frogged.
Round 2 was colorwork - a beautiful pattern from YarnYenta (Heatherly Walker) called Cool Beans. I haven't done colorwork since I made a cardigan in college. And back then, I did the stranding too tight. Guess what? Not much has changed in 20 years. Sock 1 was too small, so I said I would give the socks to my sister. I guess I got the hang of it, though, because sock 2 worked out perfectly and fit me. The good news is that I slipped into the next to last position on my team for that round, but I've got two orphans that look similar, but fit two different people. I'm either destined to make two more of these or frog one and knit one more - probably the latter. Care to guess who gets them? Sorry, Linda.
Round 3 just ended, and I was one of the early finishers. Finally, a nice, stretchy lace pattern called GAMs from TheDrollEclectic (Taya Schram). I used a hank of sock yarn I got at Christmas time in Michigan from Threadbear Fiber Arts. This yarn is hand-dyed by the shop ownder, Rob Matyska, and it's gorgeous. Nice, very short repeats so that there's no discernible pooling or, God forbid, striping. Love it! My favorite sock so far in this madness.
Other than socks, I'm doing the SheKnits (Sharon Dreifuss) Mystery Knit-A-Long #3. It's a beaded, lace shawl. The pattern is sent out in six clues. The fun is that you don't know what it will look like until you knit the clue. Not knowing ahead of time what I'll get is a huge learning curve for me. It's good for a lot of knitters, though. If you show them a beaded shawl and say "knit this", they might say "I can't do that. I'm not good enough yet." But, if you give them a clue and say "knit this" and it's only a series of knits, purls, yarnovers, knit two together, etc., they just do it. And before they know it, they've done lace. And for the advanced techniques like making a bobble or beading, Sharon creates these videos that show you exactly how to do them. I highly recommend her KALs. They're fun, and the designs, whether they end up being a felted bag or a shawl, are always beautiful.
I've participated in two registered trapshoots since my last blog update. Let's just pretend that I did well, which I didn't, and that I'm still qualified for A class, which I'm not. Taking four months off from competing was hard, but financially required. However, starting back up is even harder. May will be a busy month for me in my shooting life. I'm sure there will be many wonderful things to write about next month.
That's it for now. Make it a great day!

Feb 14, 2010


Welcome to my first ever blog posting. For this initial foray into the world of blogging, I'll just introduce myself. And the best way to tell you about me is to explain my blog title.

Guns, Fiber, and Sawdust
My three favorite activities. Where all my non-work time is spent, and where all my non-budget money goes. They're my obsessions... my life... the most important things to me outside my family.

I grew up in a shooting family, and our sport has always been primarily trapshooting. While I also shoot skeet, sporting clays, pistol, rifle, and dove and quail hunt every season, my obsession will always be ATA (Amateur Trapshooting Association) trapshooting. I love it. I've been competing since March of 2007. Last year, I bought a small 18" travel trailer that I tow all over Texas to different ATA registered shoots. I can't begin to describe the joy and fun I've had so far competing in this sport. I've met the most amazing people, and have the honor to call them fellow competitors and friends. They epitomize the meaning of sportsmanship. I've also been blessed to have experienced some success in this sport. In fact, I just found out yesterday (officially) that I made the TTA (Texas Trapshooting Association) Ladies' State Team for the second year in a row. Last year, I finished third. This year, I finished second. My goal this next year is finish in first place and captain the ladies' team. Considering the caliber of women currently shooting ATA trap in the state of Texas, this is a very tall goal.

I love all things fiber. I was taught in my early teen years to crochet and knit by family members. My entire family has always been crafty, and I guess it was inevitable that I inherit this bug. Over the years, I taught myself the arts of tatting, crochet, quilting, and cross stitch - mostly from reading books. And the simple dishcloth or potholder patterns hold absolutely no interest for me. I want the hard stuff. I was doing fair isle colorwork and cables back in college as a way to destress from classes. I work my cross stitch on 24-36 count even weave (can't stand Aida cloth). I've worked some amazingly detailed Christmas stockings. Two so far. One for me, and one for my sister. After college, I mostly crocheted. A few baby blankets for the those friends blessed in starting their own families. Mostly, I crocheted Christmas stuff in #10 bedpsread cotton. The more intricate, the better.

In July of last year, though, after a few years' hiatus, I got bit by the knitting bug again... HARD! It started with an innocent project class with my Mom while visiting family in Michigan. We both liked the tote bag patterns being taught, and we thought it would be a good way to spend Mom/Daughter time. It turned out to be Mom/Daughter/Sister/Cousin time (even better!). The end result is that I got bit, and I've been going full steam ever since.

I'm now completely in love with making hand-knit socks and lace shawls. Don't know when I'll ever use a shawl, but I've got two in progress with plans for a dozen more. I guess it's the challenge of knitting lace. It's so beautiful.

I also got bit recently by the spinning bug. A friend at my knitting group, Kennedy, usually brings her spinning wheel with her. When I first met her, I would just stare, fascinated. One week, she pulled out a drop spindle and started spinning using that. She showed it to me, and I thought "I can make that in my woodshop". Once I made a spindle, I had to learn to use it. How else could I tell if I made it right?? She has since convinced me that instead of continuing to search for the perfect shade of red yarn to make a particular shawl, I should instead buy 8 oz of merino roving that just happened to be the perfect color of red, and spin the yarn myself. I've almost got my first full spindle of singles, and it's going very well.

As you might have guessed when I talked about making my own drop spindle, I love making sawdust. I have a woodshop that makes most men jealous. I mostly work with the lathe and the scroll saw. The more intricate the project, the more I want to do it. I've got a couple things in progress, including a very large wall hanging of The Lord's Prayer and a large walnut rocking horse. My current obsession, though, happens to be making drop spindles.

After making that first one, I kept making them. I would bring them to knit group, and Kennedy would test drive each one and give me pointers on how to improve them. Her help was invaluable in so many ways. Each time she pointed out a way to improve, I learned, not just how to make a better spindle, but how to actually use the darn thing. Now, it appears that I'm on the cusp of having myself a start-up business. I made a set of five drop spindles in November of 2009 and took them to Kennedy to test drive. She snatched up one for herself right away (must be I did okay). The rest I took out to Yarnorama in Paige, TX. Susan, the owner, bought them all and is selling them in her shop. Now I'm working out the kinks in establishing an efficient production line so that i can make several more. The working name of my new business is JB Woodworks, but that is subject to change. One google search on that name turns up way too many matches. I think I need something more unique... but first, let's get the next batch made.

I attended a Christmas party out at Yarnorama this year, and one of the things we did was write down our fiber goals for 2010. One of mine was to spin my ruby roving and knit my bleeding hearts shawl. Another was to knit the Aeolian Shawl. Another was to make and sell 100 drop spindles. Guess I better get busy...