The Black Sheep Gathering

Yesterday, my sister and I ventured over to the Black Sheep Gathering.  This event is held at the county fairgrounds each year, right around the Summer Solstice.  I’ve always planned to go, but this was the first time.  Wow.  What an immersion into fiber!  From the sheep, alpacas, bunnies, etc., in the barn, to shearing, cleaning and carding, spinning, weaving, knitting, etc., it was mesmerizing.  I knit.  I’ve often been fascinated by spinning wheels — no doubt from reading fairy tales as a young girl.  How wonderful it would be to spin flax to gold, no?  Anyway, the Black Sheep Gathering is a spinner’s paradise.  I have never seen so much roving in one place, so many different types of fiber.  Yak Silk, anyone?  Let me assure you, it feels like heaven!  You could even go to the pavilion and buy wool newly shorn off sheep brought for the purpose.  If you’re one who likes to do it all, from start to finish, this is your venue.  There was also plenty of lovely yarn to be had.  Shawl fasteners, cool buttons, glass knitting needles (fabulously beautiful, but highly impractical for a klutz like me), yarn winders, spindles, and yes, spinning wheels.  So many women sitting in the demo area just spinning.  It looks so relaxing, just draws you in, so you feel like sitting down and running that wool through your fingers and watching it wind into a nice even strand as you gently tread on that peddle.  It looks so cozy, so homely, the type of thing that makes you want to hang a kettle over the fire and just sit and be content for days.  Until you read the price tag on a spinning wheel that is!  After I had made my way around the show, I returned to the entrance, looked back, thought of all the ecoutrements I would need to really delve into this art.  Then my mind flashed on my studio filled with fabric, thread, batting, patterns, tools, etc., and I thought — buy your yarn at the local shop or on line, Linda.  You’d need another house to start this, not to mention an additional 24 hours to each day.  Sigh.  So much to do, so little time!

Are you happy?

Someone on one of my quilting groups brought this up last week.  Are you happy?  Is your life a good life?  Are you in the place you thought you would be at this stage of your life?

I have a small plaque in my kitchen that says, “Happiness is wanting what you have.”  I would say that I am fairly happy.  The things and people in my life are quite satisfactory.  Probably the only thing I would change is that I would like to have a male companion with whom I could share my golden years.  There are times, however, when I realize that I’m actually very lucky not to have anyone.  Relationships require a lot of work and, after so many years of being single, I’m not sure I’m equipped for romance.  Might be fun to try, though.  In the meanwhile, I’m content with my life.  I’m not rich, I’m not famous, and I’m not the toast of the town, but I am happy.  How about you?

Father’s Day

I was lucky enough to have this man as my father.  He wasn’t perfect, but he had a zest for living and he let his children know that they were loved.  I don’t have many memories of being reprimanded by my father.  I do have lots of memories of him going to bat for me, helping me do the things I wanted to do, of him rubbing his five o’clock shadow on my face when he came home at the end of the day, and of many days just riding around in the truck with him.  He was the life of the party, a friend to everyone.  After all these years, I still miss him terribly.  I lost both my folks when I was 12 years old.  People tell me that must have been so hard.  I suppose it was, but it is what it is — just life.  Just my life.  As Nietzsche said, ‘that which does not kill me makes me stronger.’  Sometimes I think I would give anything just to have my folks here again, but then I think that I am just grateful to have had them for the time that I did.  In my mind they are still young, vibrant, and wonderful people.  They’ve not grown old, become forgetful, burdensome, cantankerous.  I have, however, missed my mother’s singing, and the feel of my dad’s whiskers on my cheek at the end of the day.

I’m still here!

Well, just where in the heck have I been?  I guess I’ve been missing in action from the computer a lot lately, as the weather has been so perfect here that I’ve been out for walks with the dog, out puttering in the back yard, and generally not paying any attention to blogging.  I have been doing a bit of sewing, went to a retirement party at the UO for a friend who has worked there for 46 years (crazy lady) and yesterday I wasted nearly the entire day having a flat tire about eight blocks from my house.  I did try to change the tire myself.  It’s not hard to change a tire, if you can get the darn lug nuts off.  Unfortunately, since most places mount your tires with those air guns, dislodging the nuts is not in the strength capacity of most women.  Despite my many injuries and surgeries, I’m still pretty strong — I can lift quite a bit of weight if I’m careful with the mechanics — but I couldn’t loosen those darn lug nuts.  I had to wait an hour for the roadside assistance guy to show up to get the tire changed, then I drove to Costco (where I bought the tires) to get the tired repaired and remounted.  Fortunately, that is where I was headed to begin with . . . there was basically no food in the house, so I was on my way to get eggs, cheese, veggies, fruit, when there was a bit of a rattle in the back end of the car and the low air pressure light came on the dash.  Argh.  So . . . I got to spend over two hours shopping in Costco.  I looked at nearly everything they had but only bought what I had come to get, and I still ended up sitting in the tire center with my cart for half an hour, waiting for them to finish with my car.  Gorgeous weather and a coupon for $70 off a set of tires made for a very busy tire center.  I was glad I had purchased the tires there previously, because even though it did cost me a lot in time, it didn’t cost me one red cent to get that tire repaired.  Roadside assistance?  Included for three years.  Tire repair and rotation?  Guaranteed for 60,000 miles.  So, I’m back on the road again, but today I think I’ll stay home and sew.  The quilts are beginning to back up and I still have a lot of things to make for the Coburg show next month.  Some pics of those when I get closer to quilting them!

Triangle quilt information

Whoa!  What happened?  Perhaps it was the arrival of the MQX Teachers Flyer yesterday?  Anyway, many of you have popped in to visit my page today and have questions about the triangle quilt 

Here’s the scoop:  this is one quarter of a quilt originally made by Karen Sikes Collins of Austin, Texas, and it appears in the book Great American Quilts 1988.   The half square triangles are all made into nine-patch blocks.  In Ms. Collins’s quilt, the blocks are 7″ finished.  Mine are 7.5″, as my HSTs are 2.5″ finished.  My quilt will finish at approximately 85″ x 98″, but I may add a bit more to it, as the man for whom I am making it wants it to be king sized.  I’ll just mimic the pattern layout and extend it a bit on one side or the other.  I believe the book is now out of print, but Amazon seems to have used copies available if you want one.  Not only are there other cool quilts in it, there are a few well-known quilters in the book whose appearance may startle you a bit.  Indeed the quilt on the cover of the book is a gorgeous Whig Rose applique’ done by Ami Sims.  Her photo inside the book is so demure that you would never suspect this is the woman who now does the annual dyeing of the underpants!

All piecing instructions in this book will be template-oriented, being a bit before the popularity of rotary cutters.  I’m sure you can adjust your cutting and piecing to today’s methods.  Any questions, just feel free to ask.

For more information on my quilts and quilting, please visit my website:

More wonders of nature

We had such a nice thunderstorm.  Flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder.  It lasted almost an hour.  Normally, if we get any thunder in Eugene, it’s the announcement of an approaching front.  One boom and it’s all over.  What a nice storm today.  I think it did a good job of washing some of the grass pollen out of the air too.

Tuesday, June 5th, brings a little more of the magic of Mother Nature to those of us who are aware.  Venus will pass between the Earth and the Sun in what is called the transit of Venus.  It will be visible in Europe and most of Asia at sunrise, in North and South America at sunset.  It actually takes about six hours for Venus to make the path across the face of the Sun, giving us the method of calculating the size and placement of the objects in our solar system.  Pretty special event . . . it won’t happen again for more than another 100 years so, if you are so inclined, catch it Tuesday, or forever lose the chance.

The power of the full moon

Although it is cloudy and we can’t see it, we can still feel the pull, and Mother Nature has heard me.  It has been raining today, and Ozzie has not wanted to go out.  I knew his back teeth had to be floating, so I took him out into the back yard and ran him around so he would take care of business.  I noticed some very ominous black clouds headed in our direction and my heart leapt.  YES!  I do believe she heard me complaining about no thunderstorms.  The first crack of thunder has just rumbled the floorboards of the house, so I’m closing all the electronics down to enjoy the show!  I cannot tell you how happy I am.

Standard issue Oregon day

We’re back to the grey gloom.  It’s Saturday, so of course, the clouds are very slow to burn off, and the forecast says that there will be rain this weekend.  Actually, we got a little bit of rain last night, along with a few rumbles of thunder.  Amazing thing about this little piece of Oregon . . . for as much rain as we get, we rarely have thunderstorms in this southern end of the Willamette Valley.  I do love a good thunderstorm.  Before moving to Oregon, I lived in Geneva, New York for seven years.  Right at the northern tip of the longest of the Finger Lakes, it was prime mecca for summer thunderstorms.  Almost one every evening.  While still in school at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, I had a job cleaning the glassware in the bio-chem labs in the science building.  I also bred fruit flies after knocking them out with ether and lifting their skirts to see what sex they were, but we’ll try to keep things rated PG here today.  Summers in upstate New York are swelteringly hot and humid.  Each evening, right around five o’clock when I would be leaving work, the atmosphere would broil up a wicked thunderstorm.  Bolts of lightening could be seen coming down the street and I would run home (only a few blocks, as I lived above the Twin Oaks Bar and Grill) to beat the huge drops of rain before they could catch and soak me.  I miss the excitement of those rumbles, the intense flashes of light.  In those days and in that climate it seemed we never heard of lightning starting forest fires.  I guess I should be thankful for the lack of storms here, but I do miss them.  Oh, and I miss the lightning bugs too.

Can you hear that?

That slight hiss in the background?  It’s the sizzle.  It’s the Oregon slugs starting to fry from the heat.  Now, mind you, it’s probably a max of 84°F out there, and yes, it’s a bit humid today, but we’ve not had that many warm days, and we now have everyone bitching about the heat.  Me?  I’m always cold, so I’m finally comfortable!  Today is payday for those of us on a pension.  I had to go shopping to re-stock the house.  Every single store I went into was filled with people complaining about the heat.  I’m glad it’s warm.  I can shut the furnace off.  I can go outside without a jacket.  I can sit outside and enjoy the fine day.  With the amount of complaining today, you would have thought it was 100° out there.  Let’s just hope everyone will be a little more acclimated when the real summer weather gets here.