Thursday, June 27, 2013

A new member in the family!

She finally arrived! Proud to announce a new family member (in my fiber family, that is). Meet Greta, the little Kromski Mazurka spinning wheel. Isn't she pretty?? Well, she was, until I artlessly plopped that gray merino on her distaff. No time to sit and be vain, sweetie, there's work to do!

And she spins so well, despite my awkwardness. Steve realized AFTER I bought this that I have no idea how to spin on a treadle wheel (I have only used drop spindles and my walking wheel to date). Hey, the concept is pretty much the same, right? Make the wool twist - easy.

 So far, it's looking good. We'll see how the yarn plies and finishes.
For those of you that don't know, the U-shaped piece with all the little hooks is called a flyer, and the gray yarn is wrapped around the bobbin (which comes off). 

Love all the turnings and that rich mahogany stain. This is a used wheel, signed and dated 2002 on the bottom. She's in great shape with nary a scuff mark on her!

 Family picture, with big sister in the background. Poor old girl has been neglected, and likely will be for some time, what with the little upstart stealing the show. Big Bertha's a bit persnickety to spin with, but I'm rehabilitating her. Despite her stripped tension screw and franken-head, she still has fine lines for being 200 yrs old and can spin her share. I bet back in the day she was a great dance partner.

It's not all spinning happiness here today. I found THIS - my favorite drop spindle - under hubby's chair.... and no one is 'fessing up to it. I suspect sword-play. Hmmmmmm.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Kids' Summer Reading Reviews: "Penny Dreadful"

"Penny Dreadful" by Laurel Snyder
2 out of 5 stars
grade level: 4th-7th??

I wasn't blown away by this author's first book, but gave her second book a chance anyway. The writing has not improved, and neither has the plot. I think I'm done with this author for multiple reasons.

Synopsis: Penelope is an only child in a well-to-do family. Her life is boring and she makes a wish for excitement - any kind of excitement. Her father, the president of a prosperous company, comes home one day to annouce he's quit his job...and wants to write a book. For several weeks he shuffles about in a bathrobe while the family's finances go from bad to worse. In fact, they're broke, and the parents end up stressing and fighting about this. Penelope is a confused and worried on-looker, wondering if this is really the excitement she wished for.

Their fortunes change when the mom receives word that she's inherited a house in a rural community. They put their mansion up for rent and move to the sticks, hoping for a change in fortune. Turns out they inherited a ton of debt as well; money worries multiply. Their "house" is actually a run-down conglomeration of houses all built onto each other, and according to the will, the tenants get to live there rent-free. Penelope changes her frou-frou name after being teased and befriends a loud-mouthed girl who is not ashamed of being dirty or poor. Several other friends surface, all of whom have issues of one sort, but they're content to change what they can and live with what they can't.

A hair-brained spelunking scheme to search for a legendary lost treasures turns up to be a bust, and Penny worries that her family - and the other families in the housing complex - will be evicted. In a last-minute turn of events, the other families ante up whatever they can to cover the current month's debt payment, and then they have a potluck picnic. The End.

To keep myself from ranting why I did NOT like this book, let me list a few reasons, rapid-fire:
1. horrid family relationships, children are disconnected/out of touch with their parents
2. the theme of money issues as presented is too deep/complex for kids to relate to
3. the author tosses in a very-pregnant mom who refers to Jenny, her "wife" - either kids will catch on that this is a lesbian relationship or they will be totally confused. This served no purpose in the story at all and is just yuck.
4. The only 2 dads in the story are weak leaders/self-absorbed or paranoid/over-controlling/clueless.
5. I felt like the focus of the plot changed about 3 times - and nothing was really resolved

This book was not even fun to read - tons of worry, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, sad parents, disappointments. I know there are kids who could relate to some aspects of the book, but overall it seemed like the author muddled and lost control of the plot by trying to make her story as politically correct as possible - which only adults get.

What I did like:
1. The illustrations were well done and lively.
2. the main character was not afraid to make friends with people unlike herself

Next I'll be reading a new historical fiction about John Calvin- by Douglas Bond. My brain needs something solid after this!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

No Grays Allowed

Gray Flowers - Great lyrics paired with a sweet indie sound inspired me to do this painting.
Because we all need grays. 


Twinkle twinkle

Found time to sit with my brushes again while the kiddos did their own paintings. My youngest is really into all things related to outer space, so I was inspired to paint the stars.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kids' Summer Reading Reviews - "Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains"

Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains - Laurel Snyder
2nd-4th grade reading level
3 out of 5 stars

Lucy is a common milkmaid with an independent, firey temper. She also happens to be best friends with the prince, who is a bit of a weak-willed pushover. When the king decides it's time for the prince to find a suitable princess (hello?! He's only 12!), spending time with the very unsuitable Lucy is replaced with ruby-polishing and law-memorizing. Lucy suddenly feels angry and alone. She wishes she could talk to her mother about this, but she has been "gone" since Lucy was a tot. Father won't talk about her mother; neighbors sadly shake their heads and say little. In hopes that her mother might still be alive, Lucy goes up the mountain her mother came from to search for her. She doesn't find her mother there, but instead discovers the importance of true friendship amidst a crazy little town that is full of rules (rule-breaking is Lucy's specialty). In the end, we discover that her mother is in fact dead (completely burned up in a lightning strike, not even a gravestone to remember her by) and that the king is willing to bend the laws - justified as a "loophole" - so Lucy and the prince can get married (did I mention they're only 12?!).

OK, this was a fanciful, fun read, but the themes of "rule-bending" and rebellion that goes uncorrected raise a few flags for me. Both Lucy's and the prince's fathers are disconnected from their children's hearts, leaving them the desire to fend for themselves. Finding a spouse at such a young age is just foolishness. The story would've held together without the princess-hunting; the theme of friendship and loyalty are already there and could stand on their own. This is the author's first book - and it felt like a first book while reading it. The plot moves quickly, but the writing is not compelling. It's not bad, just not great. There are a lot of good points to discuss with my kids after reading this - especially how Lucy and the prince would've saved themselves a lot of grief and suffering if they had just talked about what was on their hearts with their fathers in the first place. How rules protect us, and when/if it is ok to go against those rules. I'm not a fan of books that portray overly-independent, rebellious children and disfunctional families, even if it does end "happily ever after."