Saturday, February 21, 2009


Back, way back in another lifetime I was a freelance illustrator. I concentrated on mostly natural science illustration for various publications and for Cornell faculty. At some point when I decided to take myself seriously I acquired a used desk/drafting table. It was one of those that has a nice movable wooden desk top and drawers on one side plus a tiltable liftable drafting table top on the other. I even had a drafting machine mounted to it. (Yup, pre CAD, pre computer). The top measured 40 by 60 and the desk about 36 by 50 so it was a substantial piece of equipment. That wonderful table accompanied me to every residence (I moved about every 2 years in those days), making sure it would fit before I decided to rent. Then when I bought this house and moved out here we trekked it in and pretty much built a room around it.

I have not been seriously painting or illustrating for some years now. First teaching and then knitting, spinning and designing knitwear seem to have nicely usurped those energies. So when we thought about modernizing the dye studio, making more room meant releasing my hold on the table. I wanted it to go to a good home that would continue to love it. I didn't want it junked. I hemmed and hawed but decided to be mature.  Once that decision was made it still took me a couple of weeks to actually list the table on Ithaca Freecycle. I listed it at 11:30am. 2.5 hours hours later there were at least 10 email replies. Each reply was then sent my general location and phone number. Roy and Celia were the first to say they would come. They asked for 4pm the very same day. Whew, that was so quick I hardly had time to adjust! However while emptying it out and cleaning it up I was able to make a fairly mature goodbye to a piece of rather nice history.

I mentioned that this was one substantial table. It weighed maybe 300 pounds. arghhh. As Jim reminded me, when we brought it in here he was 25 years younger and was the oldest of the 4 guys moving it. This move it was only Jim and Roy. We schlepped as much stuff out of the way and kept removing items from the table to make it not only lighter but inches smaller.

Ah yes, here we go into the Yarn Harlot moment.

Jim warned me that the door to the studio and maybe one moulding would need to come off.
Off came the door and one moulding. No maybe's about it. Then another moulding needed to come down.

OK not too bad, right? Maneuvering this item through the hall took several tries with the desk part going sideways, then on its side and lots of jockeying. Ooops, well it was too wide no matter what to fit through the door into the kitchen air lock. So off came another door.

OK now they put it onto a dolley and were almost out. Bunk. Bunk. They moved that sucker this way and that way, but finally a third door had to be removed.

It was already getting dark. It is winter. It is relatively cold. The house was missing 3 doors for most of an hour while the table and top were bumped up the steps, up a ramp into a truck bed and secured for the trip to its new home.

However its replacement shall not take near as long to be removed should we need to.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Before and After

My dye studio was closed for over a week so that it could be modernized and made more useful. Major thanks to Jim and Wai Lin for all their hard work.  I owe Jim big time as his least favorite job is plumbing and this renovation entailed a lot of crawling around under potentially wet things.

We can start with the sink which was the impetus for the whole idea.  For years now I have been dyeing in pots in the studio but then needed to take the pot full of water, dye and fiber/yarn out of that room, through the front hall, up a step and over to the kitchen sink.  

The kitchen sink began to have a patina of rose instead of shining white porcelain. The kitchen floor had drips that needing wiping up and I got rather tired carrying the pots back and forth at the very least full of water.
Now there is a dedicated dyeing sink IN the dye studio. Clever idea, huh? Only took us 3 years to figure that one out.

While we were in there I decided we might as well make the whole thing more efficient. A major portion of the floor space was taken up with an old drafting table. A wonderful drafting table that served me well for over 25 years but was now just being a table. That whole story we will save for another day as it is a Yarn Harlot moment in and of itself. For today, know that it is no longer in that room.

Now the dyes that used to look like this

Look like this.

The drying rack that used to look like this.

Now looks like this.

and see all that nice storage space on the rolling shelves?  Cool huh?

And the weighing station has also undergone some change.

All in all I am one very happy camper.  The room feels larger, is better organized and is definitely easier to get around in and use.  Best of all is no more walking back and forth to the kitchen.  I am so excited I want to give tours.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


The other evening Jim came home and asked if I had any idea what dinner might be?  I told him I had a hankering for a hamburger and fries. "OK," he said, "where shall we go?"

Jim makes about 75% of our dinners.  You many not know that in a previous life, before teaching, before free lance illustrating, I was a cook.  I cooked at Moosewood  for 2 years and then at Cornell fraternities and sororities for a few years until the illustrating got going.  Once I began teaching, cooking slowly took a back seat.  Jim took over the dinner prep and I cooked more in the summer.  I love to cook, and to eat, all kinds of foods and enjoy tasting and trying out dishes from around the world. I prefer shrimp, casserole and vegetarian recipes.  Jim is a more meat and potatoes kind of cook, although his winter stews are hearty and delicious.

Since retredding from teaching into fiber artist/knitwear designer I seem to have realigned my interest in cooking into an eating fascination, which is easily seen in my figure.  I also work long strange hours resulting, if left alone, to odd eating times.  So my contribution to dinner frequently has become bringing home ready mades from Wegman's or to treat us to a bite to eat out.

While we were deciding where to have a hamburger, I realized I had no sock knitting to take along.  The last pair had been completed and no new ones started as I was so preoccupied with the Shawl Collared Vest.   

"Um, Jim, I can't go out."
"Huh?  Why not?
"Well, I don't have social knitting to take with me and don't have a skein balled up ready to go."
"What were you going to make next?"
"Socks for Matt (my son).", I said hesitatingly and showed him the skein with the newest colorway, Twilight.
"OK.  I will go up to the shop and get the equipment ready."

I then ran around collecting needles, a baggie and myself.  Gave Basel and Sparkles good bye Greenies and headed up to the shop. By the time I got there Jim had the Beka Swift set up and the ball winder ready to go.  In just a few minutes there was a nice cake of yarn and we were in Jim's car headed into town.

At the restaurant I got to cast on and start the cuff ribbing, satisfying that urge many of us have to knit whenever we are idle.

Jim gets the "Most Understanding DH Award of the week."