Sunday, September 17, 2017

Kicking it into high gear

This is the costume I'm wearing for the 1885 time period of Silver City.  It's really a remarkable work by some anonymous volunteer seamstress, but I've given my notice and the 29th wil be my last day for this season.  SMART starts the first week of October for the 2017-2018 school year and I will once again be reading to kindergarteners on Thursday afternoons.  I've told the museum I'd like to return after the end of the school year and once again be a living history interpreter.  I have absolutely loved it.

Many years ago I bought this box of various bits of Jamison jumper-weight two-ply wool from Alison Judge for $80 but I have never known exactly what to do with it. At some point organized the mess into related colors but the many grocery sacks are almost as messy and disorganized.  I finally have a project that is perfect for this yarn.

I'm knitting miniature Christmas sweaters for our guild holiday sale which is the first weekend in November.  Mary, Gillian and I are once again sharing a booth and I think these will be good eye candy.

Mary suggested I display them on a Christmas tree so I ordered one from Amazon which came today.  Cute!

I've been lollygagging about but now it's time to put the pedal to the metal and get serous about weaving some saleable inventory.  I've finished these dish towels which I washed and pressed today.

And I wound this warp today and have it ready to go on Maudie Mae tomorrow.  I only have one raddle so have to take it from the scarf I've weaving on Arthur.

This scarf.  Mary weaves a lot of chenille and is comfortable with the crazy twisty nature of the yarn.  I on the other hand am a newbie and wish to goodness I didn't pick a two-shuttle weave when I'm still trying to master the peculiarities of chenille.  I'm not going to weave more chenille for the holiday sale since we're boothmates and I don't want to put myself in competition with her.

I took another class from Bend Art Center last week on a technique I've been trying to figure out on my own called chine colle.  This class came along at just the right time.  At the intaglio press is Sterling Gorsuch, our teacher, with Helen his class assistant (and also mother of Nick who my granddaughter Alexia took flute lessons from). I'd take another class from him in a heartbeat.  Six hours was not nearly enough time for the material, but I'm going to practice the techniques so I can be ready for his next class.  He is from Portland so I don't expect it will be until next spring.  Fall is here and we'll be back to freezing roads in just a matter of weeks.  Yikes, this year has flown.

This my favorite of my pieces from the class.  I am fine tuning the juggling between weaving and printmaking.  I love both and wish I had more time for both.  Helen said she has discovered the secret to being a successful artist and that secret is -Time.  It is always in short supply, isn't it?

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Getting through the smoke

I planted basil from seed last spring and thought it would never grow, and when it did, bugs ate the living daylights out of it.  And then all of a sudden it grew faster than the bugs could keep up with.  I've never been so successful with basil and made my first batch of pesto yesterday.  I put it in ice cube trays and freeze it so I can have pesto all winter.  I'll make another batch tomorrow and I think I'll still have enough for a third, and this is just from the four plants that survived.  I ate it for lunch yesterday with linguine and it's delicious.

It was smoky enough that Linda Evans moved me inside yesterday to the Spirit of the West exhibit.  The area Ethan and I sat in is modeled after Silver City, Idaho in 1885 so it required a new costume since I was moving back in time by about 20 years.  I'll try to remember to get a picture of me standing in it next week.  One of the volunteers in the prop department made this and it's an impressive piece of work.

School is back in session and the number of visitors has slowed down more than usual because of the smoke.  Ethan always takes a book when he's in the role of a living history interpreter.  He's a medical doctor and also doubles as a dentist.

But when you open the book you find something else.  He said this has saved him during the low times,  especially during the winter.  He think there's another one in the prop department and will try to locate it for me before next week.  Linda is talking to me about changing my living history interpreter role, possibly a schoolteacher or seamstress.

I finished my wool scarf and couldn't be more pleased.

I have another skein of this ultrafine Merino from Webs that I bought several years ago when I visited their store in Northampton.  It was on sale for $16, a deal I couldn't pass up, and it's just been sitting here, waiting for me to get inspired.

But first there's another chenille scarf in the offing, this one woven in Log Cabin.

Meanwhile work continues on the dish towel warp.  The error and repair really took the wind out of my sails, but I'm closing in on the end of finally.  What you see here are two kitty hacks.  I have the supplemental warp in a large beer stein to keep it from being batted around.  The second one is less apparent.  She loves to chew and tear up my packing paper so it's hanging in two slings which automatically rolls itself up as it comes off the beam.  I would have had to buy new paper a long time ago without out this handy little trick.

We've had some rain and though yesterday was still smoky, today was much cleared with the first sunshine we've had in weeks.  I was thrilled to pieces to finally be able to take a walk.  You can see the bank of smoke in the distance which still obscures the Cascades.  The forecast is for a return of warmer days with more high pressure on Monday.  But for today I'm thankful.  It did wonders for my spirit.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Under house arrest

Today is Labor Day and for eight years we celebrated it at our place in Red Rock Valley with Burning Man-style camping with our family, friends and neighbors.  It was so much fun that one year everyone chipped in and bought us this monument because it never occurred to anyone, let alone us, that we would move, but indeed we did, and 2014 was the last year.   We brought it with us when we moved, the only remaining relic of those times. This weekend we're hunkered down at home, along with many people in our region as smoke from the 25 fires wavers between very unhealthy and hazardous.  The good news is that the smoke is acting as a cap reducing fire behavior to some degree, whereas clean air could have the potential to move fire very quickly, so I try not to complain.

I'm thrilled with the rayon chenille scarves.  I struggled with the selvedges and finally put a floating selvedge on the right side which cleaned things up considerably.  However, the first one is too messy to sell and I'm thrilled to keep it.  Now I understand what all the hype about chenille is and I'm planning to weave more.

I immediately wound another warp, this time was some ultrafine Merino yarn that I bought at Webs years ago.  I'm sure it was meant for knitting shawls, it's very springy, and is certainly meant for knitting of some sort, not socks.  I wanted to see if I could warp from back to front this time without referring to the Web's video.  I didn't rush and thought through each step carefully.  It was on in no time and error free.  I can safely say that I am a convert.

I'm weaving as many hours in the morning as my back will let me, about three most days.  I think I'll keep doing scarves on Arthur and dish towels on Maudie Mae.  At this rate I should be well on my way to restocking my inventory for the Guild holiday sale in November by the time the fires are out, sometime in October.

I finished two more bears and found them far too fiddley for my taste.  Quoth the raven, nevermore!  Maybe some baby hats?  There's still a lot of Cascade 220 bits and pieces in that basket.

Someone asked me about these rod holders that I used for my "supplemental" warp.  I hope these pictures are adequate if you want to order some from your own local woodworker.  They were designed to hold the warp on the front beam for warping from the front.

My scarves have all been priced at $100 but I've had a nagging feeling about that so spent a couple hours on Etsy the other morning, reading descriptions and noting prices.  I'm getting ready to catalog and price these for the sale and have decided that I'll feel better pricing my smaller and simple scarves at less than that, maybe $75 or $80?  I wish I could go for a walk because that's the kind of stuff that I would noodle out while walking.

The living history part of the High Desert Museum wasn't staffed last Friday because of smoke so I stayed home, but I know I need to empty these bobbins before I go on this Friday.  They hold 4 ounces and are massive and neither of my lazy-kate's are wide enough.  This morning I spotted this drop spindle lazy-kate that I bought from Ken Ledbetter at the last Black Sheep Gathering I attended.  I haven't used it much, I haven't used my drop spindles much.  However, it was ideal for my perpose.  I skewered both bobbins with the pins from my Kromski lazy Kate and ran the singles through the eye which provide some tensioning.

It turned out pretty darn good considering my poor fiber preparation and all the talking and interruptions that occur while I'm spinning.  The next thing I need to do before Friday is prepare more fiber!  I have no idea what I'll do with the yarn and will cross that bridge when I come to it.

This was the headline in yesterdays paper and his face says it all.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Smoke gets in your eyes

I thought that this warp would be a good time to try BtoF warping again since I've been away from towels for over two months.  I was pleased by how well it went though I did have to refer to the Webs YouTube video throughout.  It wasn't until I had woven a bit that I saw this glaring error which had nothing to do with warping and everything to do with operator error.

I couldn't think how on earth I was going to remove and replace that stripe of red with 10 ends and nine yards of the turquoise and then I remembered the Supplemental Warp class that I took from Linda Gettman last year.  It made a tricky repair manageable.  I was able to do this without referring to my class notes and was back on my way in no time.  However it was time for my volunteer shift at the gallery so weaving had to wait until today.

i took this photo from the front of the Bend Art Center in the Box Factory.  You can't see the iconic smokestacks of the Old Mill in the distance and my car had a layer of ash.

This is what the sun looked like at 4:00.  It's as dark and gloomy as winter and outdoor activities with parks and rec and also the school district have been cancelled.  It burns your eyes and throat and you can taste it on your tongue.  The hospitality industry which banks on tourism over the Labor Day weekend has taken a big hit.  I'm sure the trickle down will be felt by more than just hospitality.  I mean who wants to go to the nursery in this or call a landscaper or an irrigation guy or repair the fence or deck that you wanted to take care of before winter.  The smoke at this level will be with us into next week along with 100 degree temperatures.  I have no idea how firefighters work in these conditions day after day after day, but I'm so glad that they do, and I'm so glad we bought a house with air conditioning.  Our Tacoma family visit planned for this weekend is cancelled and if we can get a house sitter, we'll go up and see them instead.

 My scarves feel stiff and I remembered Cindie Kitchens telling me that they respond to fabric conditioner, and though I finished weaving these scarves a week or two ago, I couldn't remember to buy the conditioner.  I finally got some, washed and pressed these and am really happy with how soft and drapey they feel.  I'm now washing previous scarves to see if they respond as well as these did.  This was the last warp from my painted warp workshop and I expected to like this one the most and I like it the least, too much contrast in color.

Since I was trapped indoors today I decided to warp Arthur with some of the chenille that I bought from the Yarn Barn mill-end club.  I've heard a lot about the yarn and like the way chemille scarves feel so jumped in with two feet.  I called them to get their advice on sett because I've heard lots of different opinions on how to work with it.  They said to use 15 epi and plain weave.

Because I had warped from the back I felt confident that I could go through the steps without the video this time.  I'm so glad I stuck with trying to learn this method.  There are more steps but once you get to this stage, the yarn is tensioned while sliding through the lease sticks plus through the raddle with the rubber bands.

The first I encountered the famous "worming" characteristic of chenille was right here and I knew this wasn't going to be as easy as I had though.

This is what "worming" looks like and it's a pill.  With every throw of the shuttle I have to verify that the yarn has passed through the shed without folding up on itself and it happens a lot.  I had to unweave several times to straighten the yarn and it really slows down the progress.

This is what it looks like and if it's as soft as other scarves I've felt, I think it will be worth it.  If not, I have a lot of yarn that I need to figure out how to use.  There's always the Guild Weftover sale next July.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Post Eclipse

We sat on our deck and watched the eclipse which wasn't total here but it still was a really cool experience.

We were surprised at how quickly the temperature dropped and even though it only seemed like twilight, it fooled our yard lights into turning themselves on!

I've suspended knitting on my sweataer and am working away on my miniatures for the guild holiday sale.  They're pretty quick and still pretty fun but I'm a long way from my goal of at least a dozen.  I was going to buy some heavier gauge wire to make the hangers but have decided to make due with the 27 gauge that I do have and even though it's annoying to twist the two strands together.  I'll do them a few here and there.

We're stuck with a summer of smoke as they don't expect the Chetco Fire in SW Oregon to be out until sometime in October.  It's the largest fire in the US, and at this point is 0% contained.  Some days are worse than others so then we just close up the house and hope the next day is better.

Yesterday was a nice day at the High Desert Museum, and since it wasn't an especially busy day, Ethan decided to practice with the rawhide lariat, inviting the children to give it a try.  It's an authentic piece and is so impossibly long and heavy, I can't imagine it being useful or manageable.

For whatever reason the chipmunks were especially inquisitive and pesky.  I'm told that off all the animals at the HDM, children vote the chipmunks as they're favorite.  They kept trying to enter the ranch house so as soon as we'd run them out one door, they'd scamper to the other and scoot back in, and repeat.

Ethan took time to oil the lariat with linseed oil with the help of a friend.  At one point he had his front paws on my wheel and was investigating my work.  The smoke and heat were tolerable yesterday so we kept the living history ranch open the whole schedule time, from 11:00-4:00.  I ended up spinning all the wool I had washed and prepared so need to work on getting more done this week.

Late in the afternoon it got really quiet so Hayden brought out a writing desk from the cabin and worked on the love letter he had been writing.  I asked if he would mind reading it to us so you can hear it here if you'd like.  Mind you, we were pretty tired by that point.

Ian I went to Art in the High Desert today, which is supposed to be one of the top ten art shows in the country.  I enjoyed visiting with weavers and printmakers alike.

We went to lunch afterwards at Level 2, a fusion restaurant in the shadow of the Old Mill smoke stacks.  After resting my feet and filling my stomach, I felt like I want to go back for round two.  All of the prints I saw and especially those of one printmaker were really calling my name.  Then I told Ian that, nah - let's just go home, which lasted until we got to the footbridge when I decided I wanted the one print that we had both liked.

Her name is Susan Hestrand and all of her prints are etchings which is the process I'm learning right now. We had chatted quite a bit and she gave me a couple of tips and suggested several books.  I love her work!

It seemed to fit nicely into the last remaining blank spot on our walls.  I had been saving it for some of my work but I can see that there's still plenty of room there for me too.