Dec 29, 2009

Secret Siblings

Whew! I just came off of a weekend that involved viewing 13 full-length, first-season, hour-long episodes of The Walton's! If you only vaguely remember this program it first came out in the olden days of 1972.

I wasn't very interested in the show back then because well, I was busy being a Walton of sorts. I was a little kid, the oldest of 5, actually living that big ol', innocent, large family, "'g'night John-Boy", three-to-a-bedroom lifestyle. I wasn't about to be entertained by it.

In 1972 I sought to live vicariously through those fantastic old, "ultra-cool" Mary Tyler Moore reruns. (After all, she had her own studio apartment, an awesome job working with Mr. Lou Grant in the TWIN Cities, perfect hair that curled up evenly on both sides and a super-fun neighbor, Ms. Rhoda Morgenstern!)

But, back to this past weekend. When you watch 13 full-length, first-season, hour-long episodes of The Walton's (without commercial interuption) it really starts to work on you a bit, on an unconscious level. Honestly, it can cause a person to act differently. Not initially. Initially I was mildly offended to realize that, here I was watching an old-timey country show that apparently has no sheep, spinnning wheels, looms, knitting needles/crochet hooks/tatting shuttles... everything I would associate with these golden days of yesteryear appears to be missing. Wha?

But, around episode III  entitled, "The Calf" and all about the family dairy cow having a child (first aired on September 28, 1972), I started to feel the effects of a whole lotta Waltons. Before I knew it I was up in the attic digging out the old ice cream freezer and then pedaling off (on my new Christmas Bike) to the store for an ungodly amount of milk, white sugar, real vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream.

If one were to replace that electrical cord with a hand crank it would be very "Waltony"

When you don't have your own dairy animal this kind of ice cream can run about $42.73 a quart. HOLY COW! But, I'm off topic. I was going to talk all about my secret, secret person. Do you see how dangerous the Walton's are? I'm a little afraid for myself as we still have 11 episodes to peruse! And, I just know Claxton is going to get seasons 2-5 for Valentine's Day. (By then I expect we'll have traded the Astro van in for a mule.)

O.K. Secret Siblings: So the Waltony family of my own childhood is all grown up now but, we still carry on a youthful Christmas tradition that our mum started for us long ago, before the turn of the century. She realized that there were way too many of us children to all try and shop for each other on our individual allowances and those modest babysitting wages. She initiated the tradition of siblings drawing names and buying only for one "secret person". And, the tradition has carried on all these years since. We have tweeked it a bit, added a wrinkle: the gifty must be homemade.

This year my youngest sister drew my name and on Christmas Eve I received an originally crafted and completely unique calendar that featured her two children:

Sweet aren't they? It's really sad to think how these youngsters have both become so horribly addicted to fiber arts at such an early age. That wooly addiction gene was passed down on our Mother's side.  She had a yarn stash that could rival a well-stocked craft store. (I should know I'm now the Gatekeeper-to-the-Stash.)

How does one know that the addictive gene has gone on to infect the next generation? Well, here's the November 2010 picture on my new calendar:

Notice how cute and smiley my youngest niece was in the first photo? Well, look closely at the above picture. There she is, at only 2 years old, feverishly blending a woolen batt on the drum carder.  I tell you I defy ANYONE to get between this little one and the task at hand when wool-play is involved. I rest my case.

Dec 24, 2009

Let's Ride!

When my son was a little guy we lived in Kansas, in a neighborhood filled with young families with children his age. All the kids got along so well and loved to play outdoors together. Whenever they'd meet up after school or on Saturday mornings the call would go out from one child to the next, "Let's Ride!"

It sounded gruff and exciting to hear this message echoing forth but, I found the cry very cute knowing that it meant, "Let's pedal our bikes up and down the sidewalk until suppertime."

I've always loved bicycling myself. When I was very young it gave me a sense of independence to "head out and go places" (back and forth along Westgate Lane) on my own steam. And, even now as an older person I get satisfaction from completing a lot of little errands with this simple form of solid transportation. I feel productive and, for a brief period,free of the eternal dependence upon fuel sources. "No need to check the gas gauge, to the library and the post office AWAY!" It's a lovely, silent sport, and really, you can get pretty far quite quickly!

I like to pedal all the year round so it was truly a dark day when my old winter bike, Trusty Rusty, bit the dust. And honestly, my primary, fair-weather bicycle is genuinely worthless once the snow flies. (It has too many gears that get clotted with snow, and skinny tires, and an elaborate braking system, and no tread and...)

Enter good-old-Santa-Claxton who surprised me with this little beauty below. It has one speed, a simple foot brake, and fat, fat tires with heavy-duty traction. It is meant to be my snow bike. I found it waiting for me in the garage, an early Christmas gifty. (I removed the little wreath before taking this picture. Ahh.)

Additional great news! We've been under a blizzard warning as of early this morning. (Yay, I guess.) So while the kid in me says, "Let's Ride!" the slower, wiser Treadler in me says, "How about INSTEAD let's set up a little snacking tray, put in a few old movies and dye some wool?"

So far this morning I've completed the above dyed  2oz-rovings (braided to look cute for the picture), watched White Christmas and made a good little dent in the Hickory Farms basket that our Teal sent us.

Now, if only Santa would come on ahead with Claxton's fantastic gifties.

He must have been awfully good this year because a little birdy told me that his stocking will be stuffed with a full 24 episodes of the first season of the Waltons! Believe me this will come as quite a surprise to good ol' Clax as I'm sure he never, ever even imagined wanting the first season of the Walton's, (or any of the subsequent seasons for that matter). And, he'll be even more dumbstruck (seems like the right word) to find the entire original ULTRA Man series awaiting him as well.   What a lucky, lucky lad. Ho, Ho, Ho!

Santa cannot be blamed. No one ever  knows what Clax really wants. Best to surprise him with things he simply doesn't expect and see how they go over. There was a time when I was quite elaborate in my gift-giving. But, that was back in the olden days. Now I know better. We never use the telescopes, or the rock tumblers of Christmas Past. Meanwhile, the scarf that I knitted for his mother turned out to be an accidental and absolute hit with Mr. C! Poor Mary Lou, if you ever discover the internet and stumble across this blog entry I'm sorry to report that your evil, evil son stole the hand-knit scarf I created with you in mind back in Christmas 2008, and he will not give it back! He's wearing it right now. (I have to go.)  Happy Holidays!!

Dec 9, 2009


I've ridden my bike in the snow for years. It could be a bit like riding on the beach. (Powdery snow might behave like sand.) Sadly, the above is not my bike. My bike died... from being ridden in the snow.  This bike is an awesome retro-ride that Claxton found at a thrift store, the Vista Sophisticate.

No mountain bike tread on these tires. Also, those great old fenders are fantastic on a rainy day but not much of a friend to one who needs to peddle through a snow drift. But, because I procrastinated shopping for a cheapo Winter / Snow bike I took the Sophisticate out and got pretty far from the house before finally admitting that, under these conditions riding this bike was anything but (sophisticated).

In order to keep from becoming too despondent I pretended I was helping a sickly dog sled team through the last leg of the deepest, most trecherous parts of an untamed stretch of Alaskan wilderness. (It was all up to me to save them.) The pretend sled team was lost somewhere in the Yukon when I noticed I was actually riding past a potential hand spinner's paradise: Superior Fly Angler Shop. Time to rest the dogs and search for feathers!

Let me simply say right now I WILL be returning to this shop. I was treated as if I were a professional angler preparing for the fly fishing olympiad. You'd think they had folks bicycling through snow storms every day to purchase yarn-making feathers. And the selection was fantastic. Look! Chartreuse!

Can't wait to blend up a matching woolen batt and start spinning!

(That is if I can ever stop COILING!)

Just when I thought I couldn't be any more addicted to woolen activity I'm revisited by Jacey Bogg's anchoring ideations (she's on the cover of the Winter 09 Spin Off Magazine) and Lexi Boeger's beehive behaviors and, now I can't stop spinning coily beehivey, funky-plied skeins. How many yards of this does one need? Well, apparently as many as one can possibly spin in every free, waking moment.

This kind of twisted definitely needs its own pattern book. Too much fun to knit and crochet!

Dec 2, 2009

I've Been SPINterviewed

Back in October I was contacted by Cindy Cole of Studioloo and invited to interview myself for the wonderful Spin in Public Site. As I'd never interviewed anyone before and, as I'd never been interviewed I thought it would be a great opportunity for both of me.

I decided to set the interview location on my own turf so that I would be at ease and comfortable asking and answering the tough questions. (Thankfully I didn't ask myself anything too personal.) There was a moment of awkwardness when I discovered that both me and myself had arrived wearing identical outfits. But I managed to ignore this and simply chalked it up to mutually poor fashion sense.

So, yesterday I received word that my interview was posted. Now, what motivation is there for you to click on over and read this interview? Well, you'll see a really enlarged picture of my avatar that will lay to rest once-and-for-all the question about whether or not The Treadler has a mustache. Next time I interview myself I will not allow me to take my picture.  My SPINterview

Dec 1, 2009

T'is the Season...

There's nothing like having a wonderful family holiday filled with a great many adventures and woolen inspirations then, once home again, realizing that I have about 25 pictures of the Turducken and very few photos of anything else.

So, here it is, Teal Marie's Turducken. I was wrong to think a turkey that is stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a hen means there will be wishbones for everyone. Other than the legs and wings of the turkey there are no bones throughout the main body of the birds! Below my brother makes short work of carving this most interesting main course.

And, below you can see the layers of meat separated by dressing/stuffing. It's like a meat cake!

Teal's Turducken was delicious. We were all quite impressed. Sadly she set the bar so high it will be a genuine challenge for her impress us in future. Once treated to a feat of wonderment in the kitchen we're the kind of family that comes to expect a little more next go around. In fact suggestions were made as to how she might try starting out with an elephant which would give her plenty of room to stuff in double digit animals. (We were all quite liberal with our suggestions of what might be stuffed well with what...beef to poultry to fish for a little surf and turf?)

Last year I did not travel home for Thanksgiving.  I remember I was knee-deep into a wool dying odyssey and my Thanksgiving dinner consisted of boiled eggs and microwave popcorn. (Surprisingly no pictures were taken of that meal.)

Besides treating us all to Turducken Teal also showed me how to solder LED lights. I want to make a light-up yarn and she embraced this dream by very patiently giving me lessons in how to solder.

Should you decide that you would like to make light-up yarn you might wish to drill holes in a board. Make the holes the size of the lights you intend to utilize.

Above we stripped 30 gauge wire at the connection points and wrapped the positive and negative connections in preparation for the soldering iron. The board makes a handy-dandy light holder for this kind of fiddley work.

Very easy to solder the connections with the LED lights snug in their little knooks. I'm going to use the strings of lights for a core in a very bright and wild yarn. We got further than this with the process but, as I mentioned earlier my camera is filled with Turducken pictures. Besides, this is really a work-in-progress adventure thus far. More will be revealed or should I say 'illuminated' in future.

Another adventure in the works is a woolen stand I'm going to create to support my father's latest endeavor  for a team project we're hatching. Dad blew me away with his gourd art. Here are a few pictures of his half of our top secret wood and wool  project:

He's drawing up sketch ideas for the woolen display stand I'm to create. I'm "envisioning" all sorts of wild armatures to serve as the base. And, Teal loaned me her solder iron! MMMmmmmwwwhhhaaahahahahah!