Friday, May 27, 2016

Time Marches On

My friend Chris Smith from El Cajon, way back in the day, stopped by on her way driving from Portland to South Dakota.  She is our first guest of 2016 and the first one to use our RV space.  I gave her a cooks tour as she hadn't been in Bend in years.  She had never seen the Old Mill District which is on both sides of the river and is the area of two former lumber mills.  (Everyplace in the city is a district - our house is in the Old Farm District.)  I took this selfie in the REI store which is a building from the sawmill and lumber days. I didn't think about how short she is when I took it!
We did a quick tour of the downtown area. This little statue is sporting one of the yarn bombs from the fiber arts symposium a couple weeks ago.
 Chris drives a 24' foot RV which has also been her home for the past ten years, so it was a quick visit as she wanted to get on the road early.  She left me with this Amish-inspired wall hanging.  She's had to downsize her love of quilting and this is a perfect addition to my studio.
I'm sampling again on the two-block profile draft but with a black warp this time.  I was so full of myself, thinking that I had come up with something ingenious, a faux counterpane.  We watched Madelyn's DVDs at the weave/study group this past Wednesday.  It was there I learned that this had been a weave-along in a Handwoven issue a couple years ago but since I only starting taking the magazine last summer, I was oblivious.  I guess I'm not the only one who thought it was a good idea :)

An exciting and energetic discussion followed afterwards.  I asked a by-the-way question - how do you get fringe knots to be the same length all the way across?  Stephani said to tie a loose overhand knot and then afterwards adjust the knots up or down.  It cut down the twisting time by half and the knots did line up.  I realized after it had been washed and dried that I hadn't snugged up the knots evenly and they no longer line up.  I will try this again on my next scarf.
The scarf is finished but the matching teal Tencel M & W pattern is lost in the stripes.  I thought this yarn would be a little more variegated.

The light has to hit it just right for the pattern to show.  I think the 6/2 bamboo is a little heavy for a scarf and is probably more appropriate for a knitted lace shawl.
This is the other skein of 6/2 bamboo.  There's a little more contrast here so I'm hoping for better pattern definition this time.

Just a year ago we were here in Bend, enjoying a visit with the kids, and a year later it's where we live.  I had my first appointment at radiation oncology this past Tuesday.  The preliminary stuff is over and I start treatment next Thursday afternoon.  Fortunately we're meeting friends from tai chi for lunch that day, a little dose of laughter with friends to sweeten up the day.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Enjoying Nature

One of our neighbors told me that she and her husband like to walk along the irrigation canal to downtown, have breakfast, look around and then walk back home.  I don't want to walk that far but thought it would be fun to see how far I got using the Map My Walk app on my phone.
I got this far, right behind Nottingham Village, a housing area without fences and with big lawns where the geese have made themselves at home.  They were doing the "polite" nodding and ducking but I never got to the hissing part because this is where I turned around.  Geese are real bullies, especially when they have goslings and there were many.  I'll wait a while before trying this again - after the goslings become geese.
We came home from Logan's baseball game Wednesday and were greeted by this buck in velvet, nonchalantly munching grass in our front yard, the unfenced part. I took this from the car figuring he'd bolt any second.
We pulled the car into the garage, he moved across the driveway and went back to eating.
I finished the birthday scarf and was pleasantly surprised by the iridescence.  The color is actually more maroon but the camera likes purple best I guess.  A steady and loose easy beat is still not second nature for me and I need to work on that next time.
And next time will be this.  I ordered these two 630-yard skeins of 6/2 hand-dyed bamboo from Yarntopia Treasures on Etsy.  I've heard a lot of positive comments from other weavers on Facebook and certainly the price was right - $12 per skein and $4.50 in shipping from New Mexico.
I'll use 8/2 Tencel as weft - still thinking about colors.
Weaving time is in serious competition with the beautiful outdoors.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I have been wanting to knit a simple sweater for several months now but have been put off by the price of yarn.  Then I remembered how much Diane Soucy liked Bartlett coned yarns and in fact even went to Maine to visit their mill.  The very first sweater I knitted from the EZ percentage system was over 20 years ago using this same yarn and color.  The first step is to skein and wash it before it can be swatched, but the price is right.  I got 1,750 yards for $45 including shipping.
Yesterday was the prettiest day so far since we've been here.  We met up with DIL Missy to watch Logan's baseball game at 4:45.  The game was over in the 5th inning because his team was so far ahead.  Ian and I decided to drive downtown and try the new location of Los Jalapenos which has inside seating.  Neither of us was in the mood to pick up tacos from the old location and drive home to eat them.  Best fish tacos ever!
Signs are popping up that tourist season is on the horizon like this horse and cart we passed on our way back to the car. He's perhaps jumping the gun a little as rain is in the forecast for this weekend.  We could hear live music from several places and the night was young - for someone :)
We parked right by this waterfall/fountain at the top of Wisconsin Street and I'm sorry I didn't see it then because the light was poor by the time we got back.  Please note the yarn bombs on the feet of the giant bird sculptures.  There's a Fiber Arts Symposium here this weekend so local knitters went out yesterday to install them around the city.

I got an email last week announcing that we could come to their open market today in the vacant Orvis building in the Old Mill District, a classy place.  I didn't know what to expect but it had started to rain pretty good after lunch and it seemed like a great Saturday noon activity.  The market was a collection of local fiber artists and their work.  A lot of them were from our guild so just it ended up being a fun time to visit.  Kay was showing up how to insert a row of Leno in a scarf, new to me.  She's teaching a class on pile weave techniques at the guild meeting this Wednesday.

My samples are finished, each one is a little different since I was measuring and experimenting.

I'm still partial to this one, partly because it's reversible.  I think a pair of these would look cool hanging together.
These fiddly ones also have a front and back but it's not as dramatic and as long as the proportion is off, I can't tell if this pattern would be a attractive until I weave it right.  I've wound a solid black warp for four more towels - next week.

Yesterday I met with Dr Miriovsky, my medical oncologist, who will be responsible for my ongoing care and future follow-up visits.  I went in loaded for bear, thinking I was going to have to sell my objection to a five-year-course of Tamoxifen and he stunned me by showing me statistical evidence why he thinks it's a bad idea for me.  It was as easy as that so I wasted the sleepless night for nothing.  I'm released to begin radiation but don't have a start date yet.

It's nice to listen to the rain patter on the skylights as I finish this post.  I've spent another couple of frustrating hours today trying to figure out a way to successfully get the pictures from my iPhone into my Microsoft Pictures library.  It worked well for a while and then this week only half a photo would be imported.  I think I've found a workaround without being too complicated.  Keeps me on my toes!

Saturday, May 07, 2016


I make a mistake on this warp that I've never done before.  I usually warp with stripes so with a solid color I was very careful to use a counting thread and recount the total threads at the end of each bout.  Yet I wound 19" instead of 20".  I lied to myself!  I didn't notice it until I got to the center and realized I didn't have enough to make the check pattern that appears on both corners, so I punted.and treadled one Block A, two Block 2 until I had used up those threads.
Next I tried red and I could see it kinda has a counterpane look so instead of making a long stripe down the center, I wove Block B until I had created a solid red block.  But I miscalculated the size of these two patterns and ended up using an extra 2 inches of my precious warp
If the first two samples are Papa Bear and Mama Bear then this one is Baby Bear, because I got it just right.  I will have to finish these another day though as yard work was calling me outside, and tomorrow our family is getting together to celebrate Mother's Day at McMenamin's.  Reversations are for 11:30.  I'm really anxious to see these finished and hemmed.
 I worked on this until 1:00 when I could no longer stand my hunger.  This is two hours of work.  The water feature is in the back and it's the area in front of that I am working on first.  Because of the underground maze of drip lines I have to be very cautious when I dig and use a hand trowel but I got ten more plants in the ground today.  Fortunately the soil is very easy to dig in but boy does the grass absolutely hate being pulled.  The large plaster duck is guarding my just-planted lavender from careless dogs.  We've talked about just mowing this grass now and deal with it next year when it starts to grow again.

I know I'm probably not supposed to do two hours of yard work yet.  And it was rigorous work - my Fitbit buzzed 10,000 steps while I was still working.  My incision is healed and nearly invisible, the follow-up appointment with my surgeon is Tuesday morning, and it's then that I will be referred to a medical oncologist and find out what comes next.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Weaving, Yes I'm Still Weaving

We went to the High Desert Museum this week to see the Art-in-America exhibit which features the WPA era, and by going in April we still got the winter rate.  We also got rained on.  The bronze statuary is all through the landscape but this one is a favorite of the kids as you can see.  Their little bottoms have burnished it and my two grandsons have contributed to that.
The last disiplay area was a recreation of a hotel room at the Timberline Lodge, a WPA ski lodge build on Mt Hood and furnished by local artisans.  All the bedspreads and draperies were hand woven.

I don't know if this loom is original to the WPA artisans but when I posted this on Facebook, I learned that all the bedspreads and draperies are still handwoven and the Portland weavers help out with that when the need arises.
 This is my very first sample woven only following a profile draft.  It's 4-shaft Atwater-Bronson and really unremarkable cloth in this putrid green which is why I'm sampling with it - use it up!
I started with a two-yard warp so Patty Huffer, our study group leader suggested that I cut it off and rethread it for eight-shaft turned twill.  The sett is 24 because I thought that's what you're supposed to use for twill.  I elongated the center just to see what it would look like and got the idea for some "heritage" towels.
We went to the nursery yesterday on our way from tai chi.  Just these plants were $65 so I'm going to have to pace my ambitious plans.
It's going to be cooler with chance of showers over the next three days, so we rolled up our sleeves and got back to cleaning up.  Ian went to the dump with the last load of stuff we cleared out and came home with a half yard of bark mulch which is sold at the dump. Ian took the hedge trimmers to the nasty creeping bush and we've leveled it.  It's throwing out creepers as fast as we can pull them.  The Cooperative Extension wasn't able to identify them so we're trying this in an attempt to avoid poison.
I planted the three Basket of Gold by the rocks near the water feature.  They're really common here and are often planted in rock gardens where they like to cascade.  In order to plant I first have to pull grass but I can't dig with a shovel since the drip lines are buried.  I know because I cut a line, and after that I switched to digging with a trowel.  The soil is very nice and drains well so the towel worked fine. I have a Stella de Oro day lily, a Munstead lavender and three creeping phlox still to plant - another day.
This is what I'm working on now - it's the 4-yard warp for my profile draft dishtowels.  After an email from Linda Gettman, another dishtowel weaver, I realized that all my calculations were based on 24 ends per inch, but in reality most dishtowels with 8/2 cotton are woven at 20 epi. I had to recalculate everything which is a far as I got yesterday.  I really wanted to get further today but already it's time to get the chili on the stove.  It's a good thing I'm retired and have all the time in the world, so I can lose track of it a little bit every now and then.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Moving Right Along

Shannon, my granddaughter-in-law, sent me this picture of Owen posing with his blanket.  Babies don't get any cuter than this!

My procedure was last Friday and the hardest part was waiting without water or food.  The directive was nothing by mouth after midnight but I couldn't imagine going over 12 hours without water so called the office for clarification.  They told me that I could drink clear liquids up to four hours before the procedure so at 7:59 I had my last glass of water before my noon appointment which ended up being 2:00 and boy was I thirsty in the recovery room.

I dressed my loom and started weaving this Friday morning to kill time and keep my mind occupied.  Tomorrow I can return to full activity as my energy allows, so it's nice to have an easy project that I can sit down to.  This is Walls of Troy in 8/2 Tencel.
But this is what I'm really excited about.  My weave/study group is doing a year-long study of block weavers and profile drafts.  I'm hoping to finally make sense of profile drafts since I just came out of a year-long study of them with the Reno Fiber Guild.  We watched the first half of Madelyn's DVD last meeting and a chunk of the puzzle fell into place when I heard her say that profile drafts are for block weaves and don't necessarily work for all weave structures.  Light bulb!!!

I threaded this sampler directly from a two-block profile draft and I knew what I was doing.  I didn't push my luck though and wrote the threadings for both blocks on a sticky note and stuck it to my loom.  Block A:  1,3,1,3,1,2 and Block B: 1,4,1,4,1,2. The structure is Atwater Bronson which is also new to me.  Note to self:  Next time check heddles before starting to thread a block weave.  Atwater Bronson uses three heddles on the first harness for every single block.  That's a lot of heddles!!!!!

I had to steal some from the 8th harness and move them to the 1st harness and now I need to remember to put them back.  My plan is to finish the sample, cut the warp and rethread on eight harnesses for Turned Twill.  At least that's the plan - I'm feeling mighty big for my britches right now. And of course, I'll do that as energy allows.  I see my surgeon for follow-up May 10th.

The landscaper who installed this waterfall and the entire sprinkling system came last week, got everything turned back on and repaired one broken sprinkler head.  He knew the Triplets quite well and knew that over the past several years they had lost the ability to keep up with the yard so had let it go.  What wasn't damaged by neglect was damaged by their dogs.  We have a lot of work on our hands but since we both enjoy yard work, there's plenty of it for both of us.  He also showed us where the septic tank is - good to know.
This shrub is proving to be my nemesis.  It spreads through a system of invasive roots that are nearly impossible to pull up.  I took pictures of it and have sent them to the Cooperative Extension hoping that they can identify it and tell me how to eradicate it.  Even Laura was flummoxed and said that as much as she hated to think it, there are times when Round-Up is the answer.  I hope not.

I had to make an emergency trip to Macy's Thursday afternoon.  I wanted to do all the laundry before my procedure just in case I was left with some limitations, which I'm not.  I had just put fresh sheets on the bed when I noticed the yellow spot on the duvet cover that I thought I laundered out a couple weeks ago.  A sniff test revealed it was skunk stink - still.  As always, I seem to find what I need at Macy's.  The clerk helped me find this set marked down to $35 from $300 and the funny thing is we like it better than the set it replaces.

I have a large sack of wildflower seed so my yard task today is to rake, broadcast the seed and rake again.  It's rained the past two days but today is a break in the weather and then it's supposed to rain for the next two days.  April showers bring May flowers - fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Books, Books, Books

I was astonished to see that the last time I posted about books was last November and I've read some really good books since then.

The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck.  I picked this up at Costco last year.  It's written in the style of William Least Heat Moon whose "travel writing" is across the US by road and then later by waterways. Buck's trip is with mules and a covered wagon. It's an interesting juxtaposition of travel and American history.

Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt.  This quirky Western was recommended by two people in my book club and was nominated for the Booker Award though it's totally unlike any Booker I've ever read before.  The brothers are hired killers with a job assignment which doesn't in any way go down as they had planned.  The O'Henryish ending was the frosting on the cake for me.  It's almost a spoof but not quire.  From one review:  “A gorgeous, wise, riveting work of, among other things, cowboy noir…Honestly, I can’t recall ever being this fond of a pair of psychopaths.” 

The Boys in the Boat:  Nine Americans and their Olympic quest for gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  My sister-in-law gave us this book for Christmas because she said that she had loved it.  Three stories are braided together: The Seattle team were underdogs in this predominantly East Coast Ivy League sport; Hitler was building his empire and wanting to display it; and the iffy position of Joe Rantz who takes a front-and-center seat in this book. It's been around for a while now though it's still considered a best seller.

Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild.  This debut novel is a pretty inane romp across the world of art and art dealers.  After Annie finds a lost masterpiece in a junk shop and once the authenticity is established, she finds herself bombarded with a wide array of interested buyers  It gets pretty wacky.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.  Allende is such a well-known author that you've probably already come across her newest book, but just in case...  The setting is San Francisco in 1939 shortly before before the Japanese were interned.  Alma is Polish and with the Nazis soon to invade her country, her parents send her to stay with her rich and loving aunt and uncle.  Unnoticed by all, she forms a close friendship with the gardener's son which continues throughout their lives.  It was one of my favorite books last year.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  Ove is such a cranky old guy that I was surprised to find that I liked him.  No one seems to take his gruffness seriously.  Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Georgia by Dawn Tripp.  I've been an O'Keefe fan for as long as I can remember so was looking forward to this fictionalized recounting of her art and her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz.  It was everything I hoped for.  I came away with a different opinion of Stieglitz.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.   I read this after I saw the movie and for once I'm glad I did it this way. Usually I want to read the book first but Toibin's lovely prose simply doesn't  translate onto the big screen.

The Summer before the War by Helen Simonson.  The is a second book by the author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and I saved it for last because it's my favorite book so far this year.  It's 1914 in Sussex England and the book opens with arrival of the new school teacher who is also the main character.  If you do read it, Aunt Agatha is my favorite character.  “A novel to cure your Downton Abbey withdrawal . . . a delightful story about nontraditional romantic relationships, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small community.” so saith the Washington Post.