Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Blessing of the Hounds

I went down to Red Rock Ranch today for the Hunter Pace event, the beginning of their 33rd season, and the Blessing of the Hounds, a bizarre ritual.  I couldn't resist this picture of Gwen and Belle, mother and daughter participants.
There was a lot of milling around as horses were saddled and riders mounted.  Many of these thoroughbreds are so tall that mounting requires a stand.  These aren't your typical Western quarterhorses. 

Finally Angela calls for everyone to ride down for announce-
ments and final instructions.  She explains the division of the three fields in the event.  The red jackets are the Hunt Masters.

The Hunt Masters ride off to get the hounds and we go to the giant cotton-
wood tree to wait, in the shade.  Riders are milling around with horses pent up and ready for a ride.

We don't have to wait long.  They charge in and if you've ever heard a beagle, think of that times 50.  These dogs are excited.  They love the hunt and are as ready to go as the horses.

They are running as fast as they can go.  Their excitement is obvious, then Lynn, the Master of the Hunt, blows her horn.  It's the silliest tinny sound ever, but the dogs are trained to it.

They all return to her and then as a group, they come over the us under the tree.  From here on out, those dogs don't leave her.  It's like she has a dog magnet in her saddle.
This is Lynn's fan club.  She's devoted her life to her passion for the Hunt and after years of hard work, she has an event that fulfills her dream, a dream shared by her partners Gail and Angela.   This was the biggest field they've had.  Gail, an octogenarian, passed away earlier this year.  She would have loved today.
 The ritual Blessing of the Hounds begins.

The is the one who delivers the blessing.
This is "The Pope" also known as Pete Lazetich  who has come to irreverently confer a blessing on the hounds.  His wife made their costumes and also is his driver.  I don't know their connection to the Hunt other than they've done this for about a decade.
The entrance was more interesting than the actual blessing as I couldn't hear a word he said over the braying of the hounds.  They upstaged him!  It only lasted minutes and then riders started stripping off the formal ties and jackets.

And the Hunt has begun.  This is the third group, those who wanted to participate but not compete.  They nevertheless has a course to complete that will challenge them.

I came home, took another shower, and started a new book.  That's my Sunday story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Rest of the Story

I finished the last two 2x3 rag rugs today.  I'm pleased with them both, but the one on the right was from a king-sized sheet I bought at Goodwill.  They use some kind of fumigant that has a nasty sweet smell.  Ordinarily it's just annoying but today the entire time I was weaving my allergies plagued me to the point that I was sneezing pretty badly by the end.  I love the rug but I'm not going through that again.  Even after I pulled them from the washer and drier I could still smell that chemical.  I'll have to try a different thrift store next time.
The good news is that I had enough warp left to tie off for a dummy warp.  I've never taken rag rugs to a craft fair, only place mats.  Ian says the problem is that so many people don't sit down at a table to eat together anymore that they don't want place mats.  Let's see if they want rugs.
This is the latest shell I've knitted from the pirate-booty fiber gift exchange at Spindle Camp in June.  The photo is a bit staged since I had just washed my hair and I wasn't wearing the sweater anywhere, but I really do like it and I have worn it.
The Ronco dehydrator that Ian ordered for me arrived within two days so I've been using both to double-team our aging produce.  Gretel says she thinks she's had hers for 30 years.  At first I didn't think there would be much difference, but oh boy, there certainly is.  Mine dries more quickly and also the food doesn't stick to the trays.  I think the change in plastic was more than cosmetic, or else 30 years of use has changed Gretel's trays.  We have Amazon Prime so the dehydrator and Farberware mandolin were $43 dollars with no shipping charges.  I'm really pleased.  I'm drying the zucchini chips that Cindie suggested and sampled one a little bit ago.  Yum!
This is what 20 pounds of tomatoes looks like after they've been dehydrated.  It's my understanding we can store them in glass jars in the garage over the winter.  They're supposed to be good for a year, but I hope to have cooked with them before then.  I think I'll prefer the frozen tomatoes in cooking but there was no more room.  I need to give the produce a rest tomorrow.  I need to give me a rest!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Trying to Keep Up

Friday I prepared eight quarts of blanched and quartered tomatoes for the freezer.  I have two lugs left to go but I ran out of ice from the ice maker and it's so slow refilling that I hope to have enough tomorrow to at least do another lug.

Gretel offered me the use of her dehydrator as she is canning this week so I drove over this morning and I picked it up along with her mandolin.  I've got five trays of cantaloupe drying tonight and expect they'll be dry in the morning so that I can restock the dehydrator.  I have more melon but would also like to dry some of the tomatoes.

Ian came in from the garden with these this morning. This is the most robust growing year we've experienced. I feel like the little Dutch boy with his fingers in the dike trying to save the whole thing. Ian ordered a dehydrator for me this evening which should be here Tuesday. I don't want to lose any of this food if I can help it. Our potatoes are ready too and I'd like to dry some of our onions. I thought I'd try making potato chips in the dehydrator.
The last warp of sea glass towels is off and the the towels are finished. This brings me up to 21 towels for the craft fair in three weeks.  I'm dressing my loom with the reds and purples, but by adding the lilac I ruined the image of Red Hat Society.  I'm not sure what I've got.  I guess I'll find out in another couple days.
I'm cutting strips from this king-size sheet for my final rag rug.  I think the rugs look awesome and was surprised when Ian commented this morning that he had noticed my finished ones when closing the blinds yesterday afternoon upstairs.  He said - they're gorgeous!  I have no idea if they're craft fair fodder so will limit myself to a few to test the waters.
I hope they do sell as they're so much fun to make. Plus, I have probably close to 50 pounds in cottons.   I forgot to take any pictures of the finished rugs but I love how this one is developing.  The rest of my energy until then will be in towels, which I know are craft fair fodder. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

CNCH Liaison Luncheon

This is Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and this is the Resort at Squaw Creek and now site of the 2013 Conference of Northern California Hand Weavesr conference.  As president of the Reno Fiber Guild I was asked to attend to represent our guild.  I was overwhelmed by the location and after the program presentation, by the sessions and teachers we have to choose from.

Northern California is a large region and some of ladies had a seven-hour drive which made my 90 minutes through pines and back country pale in comparison.  What struck me was the passion, love of the crasft and sincerity.  It was refreshing company.
We toured the rooms that would be additional workshop spaces.  There are eight on the ground level and nine on the ninth floor tour and they will have views just like this one.  I don't know about anyone else but I think I'm either going to have to play hooky or schedule an extra day.

I left early because I was unsure of the drive and ended up visiting with weavers, old and new friends in the lobby.
It's good, the drive home was easy.  Huge fluffy clouds, so fluffy and white.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Fallon Woman

Kerry and I drove to Fallon today along with our neighbor Gretel to visit Carol who was just hired as the director of the Churchill County Library system.  She found this adorable house two blocks away and walks to work.  She still comes home on weekends.  It's 95 miles and an hour and three quarters one way.

I'm always amazed at the dynamic in their household.  Carol and Harry grew up with Kerry in the town of Rosetta, PA - if you read Malcolm Gladwell's book the Outliers, then you have a sense of the family loyalty here.  

She's certainly got her work cut out for her. It's a charming library, built in the 60s but it's plagued with an asbestos problem that's so pervasive that they're raising to money to build a new library and raze this one. These old IBM Selectric should give you some idea of the age of the building.

They have a fantastic Friends of the Library bookshop and we all brought books, but I loved this sign.  Someone has a sense of humor. 

We wanted to see Carol's house and her library but we also wanted to visit Lattin Farms. Kerry and Gretel wanted to pick raspberries for jam

They picked for a couple of hours while I lolled in the car, reading a book club book on my Kindle, me and the flies.  I'm not a canner and I knew what I came for - tomatoes.  I got 60 pounds of beautiful red orbs for $20.  I'll blanch and freeze them as two cup per freezer bags.  It's been a bumper crop for them this year.  Lattin Farms is where our CSA box comes from and Mike the delivery guy told me last Tuesday about this three-for-two deal.
This is how they get so much food in this inhospitable climate.  They use hoop houses that are Washoe Zephyr wind worthy.  The one on the right was filled with basil and other herbs.  The one straight ahead is all tomatoes.

I came across these ladies, shucking garlic.  I know they're grateful for the work, but the lady on the left told me that stench never leaves you.  It permeates your clothes and your skin.  She said her sister told that she makes her eyes water.  Nevertheless, they were cheerful.  All those boxes are filled with garlic.  This farm is completely organic on an impressively small footprint, contributing to their local economy and I love being a part of their enterprise.

You might think we were at just another fruit stand but the place was teeming with activity.  People popped in buy two melons and then were on their way.
They had many displays of Halloween pumpkins, gourds and squashes.  We learned last year these crazy things are delicious and seeing this, I assume we'll get squashes in our CSA box very soon.

Gretel's husbands has a large greenhouse and she cans about 200 jars of food each season.  She was along for the visit and the berries.  She's offered to loan me her dehydrator so I'll pick it up Sunday.  I bought six melons from the very ripe discount table and would love the dehydrate them.

Years ago when my parents lived in Fallon I had a dehydrator and would dry all the fantastic produce my folks brought to town.  Nothing was on the dehydrator shelves by the time the cycle was finished.  My kids kept "sneaking" it in advance.  They thought they pulling the wool over my eyes and I was thrilled to see them eating so much fruit.  I appreciate Gretel's offer and her advice.  I think I might need one.  Dehydrated minced onions??

So this post was done on the new blogger interface which I'm a long way from understanding.  I bought a new laptop on Tuesday and I simply couldn't find the old interface.  I can find it on my old laptop but that defeats the purpose entirely.  I hope I get better.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rag Rugs

Yesterday I pulled off the four rugs that I had finished, washed them and hung them to dry. It's a pretty meager offering for a craft fair but I was tired of fighting with the warp.
I formed a cross behind the heddles so I could pull the warp back through them and still keep track of the order of the warp threads. I decided to change to two harnesses and set it at six ends per inch. No time like the present, even if I'm working under a deadline. You know you have a problem when you call your warp the demon warp. I wasn't having fun so I either needed to stop or change something.
I actually got to this stage yesterday afternoon but warping from the back is back breaking. I don't understand now anyone can do it. There's so much reaching and stretching, and it was at this point that my back cried uncle.
I'm really happy with how the hem-
stitched fringe turned out. It takes much less time than actually tying fringe and there are no knots to step with your bare feet or wear out.
This is how knots wear on a rug. I love this rug from San Miguel de Allende and we had it on the floor for a year or two before the damage reached this point. One day I walked into my studio to find that Ian had tacked it to the wall, which has preserved it, though only I get to enjoy it now.
The fourth rug on the warp was this stubby one that I hemmed and put inside the laundry room door which is probably our most heavily trafficked area. I think a rag rug needs fringe but I made this one for utility purposes. It's from Tommy Hilfiger sheets and boy does it feel good to walk on Tommy Hilfiger.
I worked hard today. I finished the towels on Maudie Mae before lunch and after lunch I tackled the warp on Miss Millie. First of all, I'm grateful to Melissa and Linda for insisting that lashing on the warp is the only way. It is for me now. I was lashed on and ready to weave in ten minutes. Never has "live and learn" been more appropriate. I'm stoked - over the moon - gaga - gratified that my hunch paid off. Six ends per inch on two harnesses is the ticket. Not only that, because there's more space to pack in the weft, I can cut the strips at 2" instead of 3" and get more bang for my rag.
Meanwhile, I've usurped the balcony for my staging area. The dogs are confused. I've got probably 30 pounds of cotton in various colors and amounts. I'm trying to decide what the last two rugs will be in a huge hurry since I really need to weave about 30 more towels in the next three weeks.

Next year I'll do one craft fair - this one - and I'll have all year to get ready for it. Thankfully I'm sharing a booth space with Carol and Kerry again so if nothing else, I know we'll have fun. We've shared space for the last couple of years and I'd feel naked without them.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thick Headed

I've finally been able to spend a day in my studio. There have been a lot of distractions lately. I'm cruising through my latest interpretation of Sea Glass. This is the last towel on today, along with my inspiration picture from Google Images.
And this is all the warp on the floor that I tore out to remove a too-bright yellow substitute for the broken warp in the first image. I used up several cones of variable yellows on this warp, but I think this substitute will be acceptable. The first was horrible - bad judgement.

I have had the most broken warps on this set than I ever have. Some of the UKI that I bought from the Georgia Company seems to be especially tender. It makes me wonder how long that yarn has been in storage. Broken warps aren't a tragedy but they're certainly obnoxious.
I have one weaving bench and two looms so I shifted over to work on this rag rug today. My booth space at the craft fair is supposed to have rag rugs. My shortcut to colorful stripes was cut short today with the realization that I would need a bias-tape maker and then would have to run the strips through it, ironing them into shape - ugh. Thanks to all the weavers who helped me with this. Hilary, who had brain surgery just two weeks ago, started me on the path to getting this sorted out. I smile as I hear my mother saying - there are no shortcuts.
I've added higher storage space in my studio, freeing up some of my meager floor space. Those top two units had been under the window with Charlie's bed on top so he could sleep in the sun. I spent the bulk of the day here, and when I got a text message from my youngest son that he and Julia would be by today to pick up the things they needed to take to Oregon and his brother instead of tomorrow, I asked if they'd like to have an early dinner. He said, Absolutely! It's six hours from our house to Bend so I thought it would spare them that stop and give us a quick visit.

And right after that I got a text from Kerry asking if she could stop by with friends about 6:45 to shop for towels and soap. It turns out the friends are visitors from England and they wanted local presents to take home for their house sitter. The green to the left of the yellow cone is American money. That was a fun conversation, about how all our currency looks the same. Their paper money is different sizes and colors, depending on denomination, and their coins have different edges. They find our currency bewildering. I told them there's a reason we call our money green backs.

When Ann chose a towel from the Yuba River series, I also gave her my inspirational photo that I had borrowed from Beryl. They suggested I look into images for the North York moors and also England's rapeseed fields. I have and both have fabulous color potential though not much color variety. England is so green. They left with something and left me with something.
Meanwhile, I pulled this book out again. It's mostly an oral history of tradition but I thought it might give me a little inspiration, and then an unanswered question became obvious. I've asked every rag rug weaver I know if they weave on two or four harnesses. Right below the photo they listed the weaver and the harnesses. I had the answer here all along. Unless they wove a twill, all of the rugs were woven on two harnesses. Thick headed German? Raising hand.