Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

03 October 2006


Or, Why I Don't Blog in a Thunderstorm

In the fifteen years we've lived here, we've had a lot of interesting experiences with lightning.

When we first moved into the house, we had a landline phone with an electronic chirp for a ring. During the first year, in a thunderstorm, that phone said "WHEEEEEEP!" and never rang again.

So we bought an old-fashioned black rotary-dial telephone with an honest-to-gosh bell inside. Sometimes during thunderstorms, lightning would flash and the bell would quietly go "ding", and we would look at each other and say, "I'm not answering that!"

Unfortunately at some point, the phone company lowered the REN on our line, and that heavy-duty bell would no longer ring. So we had to go back to a phone with an electronic chirpy ring, and once in a while buy a new one.

Several years ago, we had a middle-of-the-night thunderstorm, and a flash instantly followed by a CRASH of thunder that rattled the teeth in our heads.

In the next few days, we were taking a walk, and noticed that a smallish black cherry tree was dying. When we walked up to take a look at it, we found a stripe of peeled-off bark down the side, and at the foot of the tree, a small open sandpit where the bark on the root had peeled off and flung the sand away. Not only did that lightning-struck tree die, it also rotted and fell over faster than any tree I've ever seen.

I think it was that same summer when we woke up to a storm and a burning smell. We walked all around in the house trying to find where it came from. In the morning, we found that lightning had overwhelmed our surge protector, fried a dot matrix printer and arced between my husband's metal CPU case and the metal desk-side next to it. Each had a very small burn mark, like a cigarette burn (a cigarette hot enough to fry off powder-coated enamel paint).

The CPU still worked well enough to copy the data off of it, and the surge protector company paid for replacing both the printer and the surge protector. But that CPU was never quite right afterwards. Every so often it would just quietly turn off.

When our son was two, I was getting ready for work one early morning when there was another close lightning strike, and our power went out. The pump in the well is run by electricity, so we lose both lights and water when the power goes out.

I went to work without a shower, and my then stay-at-home-husband called the electric company to report the outage. Later in the day he called me at work, and I asked if the power was back on yet.

"No," he said, with a smile in his voice, "And I think it's going to be a while."

"Why is that?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "The reason the power is out is that the lightning blew up the power pole just down the road. It's laying in pieces all over the road and in the corn field."

So yesterday morning's thunderstorms did not find me on the computer. Instead I went searching all over town in the rain for a circular needle longer than 29". At one yarn shop, when I asked hopefully if they had a 60" needle, the woman asked incredulously if they even made one that long.

I wanted it for this:
This is the half-circle shawl that has been simmering in my head for many months. It's already on two 29" circular needles. I didn't want to do a round Pi shawl, because I don't like the idea of knitting a big circle only to fold it in half. And I didn't like the long horseshoe shape of the "Pi Are Square" shawl. Eventually I settled on a half-circle, with rectangles extended from either end.

(By the way, if you want to draw circles, I highly recommend the Safe-T (tm) compass, a flat orange plastic thing where you hold the center, put your pencil point in a hole, and swing the pencil around. For my money, it works much better than even my expensive drafting compass. It will make circles from 1/4" to 10" in diameter. The only complaint I've had with mine was that I got something on it that caused the black lettering to start to rub off and disappear!

If you prefer to work in millimeters, the same company makes something called the "mmArc" (tm), which will draw circles in one-millimeter increments from 10mm to 120mm radius. The mmArc is made of clear plastic and so far the lettering is fine on it.

I just wish I could find the Safe-T overhead compass made out of the same clear plastic as the mmArc!)

This shawl is just over a third of the way, and I'll need at least a third 29" circular needle if I can't pick up a 60" one.

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Blogger tatt3r said...

Your shawl looks great! What size needles do you need? What's your yarn?

6:00 PM  
Blogger Alwen said...

Those are US 6's (4.00mm), and the yarn is a "mohair blend". "Blend" meaning mohair plus synthetic something-or-other, acrylic, I think. It's the yarn Lion Homespun wants to be. Looks like I might be ordering a 60" Addi from the Sewing Center in Holland!

10:29 PM  

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