Monday, November 12, 2007

Non-Sequitur Sunday:

A Funeral, Trains and Yarn

This has been a tiresome and disappointing week. Dave and I lost a dear old friend, Louis Jennings, father of one of our dearest friends, Simon, who is no longer with us, either. We went to the funeral on Friday. Louie was 86 years old and had been married to his high school sweetheart since right after World War Two, in which he served as a signal officer (Morse Code) before moving on to a lifelong career with the Streets Department in New Orleans. He and his wife had to move several times after Katrina and I believe the added stress took the last bit of steam out of my old friend. He will be sorely missed.

Simon was that rare sort of friend who wanted his own friends to know and love his family. That's not a very common thing. Except for a few very close friends, I am only noddingly acquainted with the parents and extended families of most people I know. I'm glad to have had the privilege to know Louis and his wife Nola, and Simon's brothers as well.

Being out of sorts from Louie's death, I'm dispirited and a bit short on blog fodder, so here's some random reportage on events from this week.

On Saturday Dave and I went to the monthly event for the Louisiana Steam Train Association, of which we are members. They had a bluegrass band playing train songs, and the organization spent the afternoon running the old SP 745 up and down the tracks in the historic railroad yard. The event was open to the public and was a fine way to spend a relaxing afternoon. Of course the train staff wears historic costume and loves to show off the steam engine. They have an open flatbed car for the "fun rides," or you can ride in the caboose if you prefer. It was a fine, cool day to sit on the open car and knit.

I have no idea who those people in the foreground are, but I wanted a shot of the green car on the adjacent track, in which the train association houses their railroad museum on wheels.

When we got home, I dabbled with a bit of KoolAid dyeing. I had an old silk tank top which had faded to a dull shade of blue-gray but was otherwise in good shape, and a sample of natural brown sheep-colored homespun I wanted to overdye with Black Cherry to see what effect I would get.


And after. The yarn came out a rich shade of mahogany and the shirt, not being quite as dye-thirsty, came out a nice shade of plum. I'm pleased with the results.

Also? It sorta makes me wonder how my hair would take to Black Cherry...

I also did a couple of bobbins full of merino, spun from dyed roving from Alpaca Direct -- 426 yards of smooth, worsted-spun, two-ply sock weight:

And, under the careful supervision of Tessie the Elder, I spun up some of Ray's hand-dyed grey Jacob's fleece, which came out to a lovely dark tweed with olives and blues. Click on the picture to enlarge it for more detail:

Because it is intend for a scarf, I spun the Jacob's fleece woolen-spun at two-ply DK weight. It's spongy, warm and soft. I made no effort to arrange the colors or match up color repeats during plying, I just let them fall randomly and then plied them randomly as well, for a somewhat tweedy effect.
Ray, I really like this colorway and I think it would be a welcome relief for the spinner/knitter who must knit for a man, Goth teen, or anyone else who only wants super-dark colors. There's enough color variety to give the knitter some interesting color changes, a rich texture and a little sense of "hey, what's coming next?" so the knitter doesn't die of Drab Solid Boredom when knitting for a color phobic family member.
So I started a scarf with it. After all, Christmas is coming. If you look closely at this picture of the scarf embryo, you can see the subtle color gradients. Again, click the picture to enlarge. I like it.

And now I'm out of things to say. I have a stack of work deadlines looming at me and I need to get out in the cool air and take some long walks to shake off the doldrums I am feeling with all the bad news coming down the pipeline the last few weeks.
Best to you and yours.

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At 6:27 AM, Blogger Lorna said...

I had no idea you were trainspotters too! We helped to save the Flying Scotsman (4472 locomotive) and travelled on it just before it was taken out of service for a total refit.

Piccies here:
National Railway Museum, York

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Ann said...

So sorry for your loss, Dez.

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous debbie said...

Next summer, come up and visit Hesston Steam Museum. There's a nice yarn shop nearby in Valparaiso, too, and of course Chicago another hour away.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger ray said...

Hey Dez! Just checking through the blogosphere. I'm sorry to hear of Louis's passing.

The Kool-Aid overdye is WONDERFUL! Congrats on that. I like what you did with the roving, too. Very nice. I don't think I'll ever get into the spinning like you do.

As for 'bad news coming' -- apparently it's in the air. Seems like EVERYone is feeling the blues lately (me too). Could be changing seasons, or adjusting our internal clocks to the time change. It just feels like folks are out of sync somehow. My only consolation at the moment is that things have been sucky before and always manage to get better. hang in there!


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