Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Seasons

We are nearing the end of the summer season. The trees are already beginning to turn and the rabbits have gone into an overdrive eating frenzy in the yard.

The firewood is in and needs to be stacked.

We are harvesting from our eentsy garden. I didn't know onions could taste so good.

Within weeks, the sun will set on cooler nights, and yet another summer will be gone. Another sun is setting in my life. After fighting cancer for six years, my brother, my only sibling, was moved to hospice yesterday. I'm trying to come to terms with my feelings.

Ian and I have a large and wonderful family, and they will, in fact, be converging on our house for the three day weekend. Ian has planned for this all year, and I might add, will also cook for it. He expects to feed 80 on Sunday. I can't think of better timing, to have family present in this time of loss.

I am the elder statesman (woman?) in my family now, a role I have never given any thought to. It is a new season in my life. We leave after The Gathering for Oregon where we have reservations for our favorite campground, and then from there go to be with my sister-in-law in Washington. For this reason, my blog will be quiet - for a season.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Nevada State Fair

I spent the day at our fair and never got around to the carnie side. Here's my bag, in good company I must say. The fair provides a large tent right across from the livestock pens for our guild. They make walls for us out of hog panels, and because of our location, we get a lot of exposure and interest.

You can see the fleece show entries in the back. In the past we've all spun our own projects but this year we had a washed Shetland fleece and took turns turning it into roving on the drum carder. Then following a sample, we spun and plied it.

Nancy dyed the warp with indigo and brought the loom ready to weave. She had to leave so Kathleen is taking a turn as weaver.

While she's weaving, her daughter Lauren is taking a turn as spinner. Note the rainboots. She's actually spinning and earlier had been weaving on her own small rigid heddle loom.

I was completely taken with this rabbit on a 4-H girl's lap. That's one loved and trusting rabbit. The 4-H and FFA kids are what make the fair.

This is the largest rooster I have ever seen in my life. He was the size of a small dog. He was scary. Some kid had printed in pencil on his identification card, Darth Vader. I took a picture including his adult neighbor for some perspective - see below.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bag Project

Months ago I signed up for our guild's bag project. The idea was that we would make a bag in a way that pushed our creativity and the deadline was the fair - this week! Big ouch. We were to put our inventive juices to the test in a way that was new to what we had done in the past. Several bags were ready at the last guild meeting - I was feeling inadequate in a major way. As of yesterday, this is my entry and while it's not exciting, I am very happy for what I learned. It's a weaving sample lined with cotton and I weighted the flap with a washer and a nut.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ah, the County Life

The other day, for no real reason, I went to the window of my studio to inhale my view. It's really worth doing every once in a while. I told Ian that there appeared to be some standing water at the well. West Nile virus has appeared in our area, and we are warned to avoid any standing water - just be cautious. He checked, and the water was a clear indication of some greater underlying problem. Our neighbor Tom drove his backhoe down this morning.

He's locked and ready to finish what he started last night. He's so funny - he had been thinking of our problem and called to Ian in the front yard on Sunday evening to go inside and call up - he had a plan. When you have your own well, you are your local municipal water district. Who ya gonna call? Not Ghostbusters - Tom!

This is what Tom had started last night. The guy we hired to bring water from the well to the sheep shed had jury-rigged the connection and over time it failed, so we are paying again for what we paid him to do the first time. Tom told Ian that he's giving him a break - he's only charging for tractor time because he says the rest is friendship. He and his wife are the best neighbors we've ever had. My tomato jail comes from them. Recently, they put their retirement dreams on hold to become foster parents for their grandchildren, and they do it with pinache. That's the kinda neighbors we have.

My concern over standing water ended up in uncovering this defective join.

That defective join made our pump run round the clock and reshape our yard. We have a family reunion here in a couple of weeks, and all I can think is what great timing this was, and what it could have been.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

For my profile

Just trying to get a picture into my profile by actually following the directions - we'll see.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

At Home Day

This is my tomato plant in jail. Our neighbor Tom gave us this cage because they've got a hot-house now and no longer need it. He says that when the weather gets cold we can wrap it in plastic and we'll have tomatoes for quite a while. The plant is healthy - lots of blossoms - lots of green tomato balls. We have yet to ever have a red tomato here. Is it possible??? Hmmm

Ian brought this onion in today - proof that something is indeed growing. I've used one onion already and am happy, but hope the potatoes give us results as well. Between ground squirrels and rabbits, gardening is pretty futile.
Today is laundry day. It's a good thing that I didn't just toss this load in the washer. Charlie and I would both have been very surprised.

I am very disappointed because I had wanted to link to an article from last Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle. I always ask Ian to pick it up for me on his way home - there's so much in it that it takes me nearly all week to read it. The article I wanted to share was called "America's Private Army of 48,000" about the private contractors in Iraq who are responsible for shooting deaths of Iraqi's and Americans, and who have no oversight and no one to answer to for their actions. However, I cannot link to the story since it has been expunged. If your library subscribes, it appears on A20 of the SF Chronicle for August 12th and I encourage you to be informed. I prize the independent information from this paper, but how dare they redact what they were so bold to report?!!!!! In substitution I submit this Wikipedia entry:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Present to Me

Look what was waiting for me when I got home tonight. I had preordered it from Amazon and what a wonderful treat to have this delightful book waiting on the counter for me when I walked in the kitchen. (Ian picked up the mail.) I've looked through it several times and am just overwhelmed - I don't know where to start. My instinct is to dye some wool to satisfy an itch, but my brain tells me to make a plan.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

More Nevada County Fair

Dona raises silkworms and does a demonstration each day of the fair, explaining how to raise them and how to reap their silk.

I was surprised at how big a silk worm is. I don't know what I expected, but this wasn't it.

She brings them in a plastic tub, filled with mulberry leaves. Keeping them supplied with mulberry leaves I learned is no small deal. It's the only thing they eat. How many of us have mulberry trees???

The Foothill Fiber Guild has an abundance of weavers. Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers Guild, my local guild, aspires to grow some of our own. I drool over the articles that are entered in the handwoven category each year. The FFG group absolutely inspires me. I have to say that the CSSW ongoing push for education has prompted a growth spurt and I hope to see some entries like these in the next couple of years.

And this is where I'll gloat. We are so lucky to have a lot of fiber producers submit to the Nevada State Fair. Our wool show has grown and we hope will continue to grow. This year our wool judge is Mark Eidman and I'm really nervous. Last year our wether Mickey Mouth was given reserve grand champion. I've seen Mark judge, and we're going to have to skirt our fleeces a whole lot better this year if we're going to see any acknowledgement. I guess by now you've figured out that I'm a fair junkie.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Nevada County Fair

Amy and I drove over to Grass Valley today for the Nevada County Fair. We belong to the Foothill Fiber Guild, Grass Valley's local guild, in addition to our own local guild. We know that we grow as fiber artisans when we are in with contact with others of our "species." Amy's wheel always draws attention. Remember when you were a teenager and your pretty friend was the one the boys wanted to talk to? Deja vu.

I admit, Amy's wheel is worthy of the attention. She wood-burned the pattern, then painted over it to complete the effect. Once she did her Ashford wheel, she felt that she needed a chair to match. She insisted the cushion stay in the picture because she "only" painted the seat. The lazy kate is the latest addition, having been completed this morning about 1:00.

We were so exited to have Birdsong show up. She's been rather out a commission with a bad back and was on the fence as to whether or not she'd be at the fair. And suddenly I was getting a big Birdsong hug. This sweater and the stitch marker necklace is on her blog.

I'm disappointed that the detail of the lace on the back shoulders doesn't show well as I saw through the view finder, because it's so nice and the sweater looks way cute on her little self.

Demonstrations in Progress: Molly is weaving dishtowels on her direct tie-up Dorset loom. Sara is spinning silk, but of course, one one of her two Lendrums, as is Sue - only she's not spinning silk but another yummy blended confection.

Oh my, such happy spinners. Will you look at the Lendrum line up! The sweater with a ribbon between Sara and Sue is Sue's At our Virginia City retreat a couple of months ago, she was knitting it from her hand-dyed, hand spun yarn and grumbling about it. Click for big to see that no grumbling was needed. The pattern is killers.

Details on Amy's wood-burned and painted lazy kate.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On my long drive home

Where there is an opinion,

there is a critic.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Plaid Lap Robe

It's finished and drying on the balcony. It's quite apparent that need to work on weaving plaid by the obvious, glaring errors.

The colors are from these four boys and my biggest surprise in how chocolate brown Ollie's fleece is. He's on one right in the center.

Charlie tested it last night when I was sewing in the ends and declared that it works just fine.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My Head is in the Clouds

My head is in the clouds because I cut my cloth off the loom yesterday, have tied the fringe and am now sewings in the ends and ends and ends and ends. I was having so much trouble with the selvedge that decided I'd just deal with the ends later, and now is later. She's awful purty, Mr. Dillon.

Friday, August 03, 2007

I Felted!

Mim came over today to show me how to make felt. The plan was that I'd make a felted bag for the guild bag project but with only two weeks left, I realized that I cannot have one completed, even if wet felting is quicker than knitting. I decided instead to sew one from some felted weaving that I did a while ago. I think it'll be pretty cool and that freed me up to enjoy the felting today. Mim was working on a couple of samples she'll use next week for her nuno felting demonstration at the guild meeting, which is right here at my house! I cannot believe how much wool goes into wet felting and it really was fun. I made a multicolored square, then cut into a square spiral, then felted it onto some moorit Bond fleece. The practical side of me demands to know what it's for, and the artsy side of me says - whoa, that's cool.

This is the sum total of equipment required: a towel, bubble wrap, a piece of window screen and a length of PVC pipe. Whispy, whispy, whispy, Mim kept saying to me as we made our squares. I layered whisps of wool one direction until I had a square, then another layer going the opposite direction, and repeated. I did this on the bubble wrap, then we laid the screen on top, saturated the wool with soapy water, rolled it up on the PVC, and rocked it back and forth. I removed the screen as soon as the wool began to hold together. After that I would unroll it, rotate the square a quarter turn and repeat. I was really surprised how quickly it because a cloth and solid the union of the fibers was.

Mim showed me the multicolored silk gauze that she dyed in the crockpot, but that process is a whole post in itself. But this led to my dyeing 3 ounces of silk black in my old Rival crockpot while we were felting. I used 100 grams of 2% stock solution of Procion black to one ounce of silk and it exhausted completely. I'll ply it with some colored silk I have been spinning.

And I'm happy to say that I finished plying the last of the weft this morning and hope to finish up the weaving tomorrow morning. Tomorrow afternoon is taken with my DIL's surprise birthday party, for which I made potato and macaroni salads today. No wonder I'm tired tonight!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Skirting fleece

This is my skirting table. It's four saw horses and four sections of 8 foot California closet components. I wired two closet sections together and did that twice. I can fold them up and slide them away between shelves in the garage when they're not in use - the same with the saw horses. My father would be mortified that I even paid for saw horses. He made the ones I grew up with. Note the appendage attached to the right one - that's neighbor dog Sammi. Our Queenie, Buster is on the upper left, a blue body and red legs - Mister Camouflage. They both loved the smell of dirty wool.

I just got an email from Shari at Morro that she had received the box of fleeces that I sent, and she said the silver Merino was a dream. It's from one of Wayne Jesko's lambs and the last fleece that I will have from him since he has moved to Oklahoma. He took a teaching position back there so he could be near his aging parents. There are many wool processors and wools. We all have favorites, but from my experience I can tell you that Shari has returned perfection to me, not matter what I have sent her. I wish I could show you the butter of a roving she returned to from the black merino/cormo I sent her. She works magic with my dirty Shetlands.

Twenty four hours in a day just aren't enough. Dear God.......