Monday, December 28, 2009

To Be Continued

I am currently spinning the contents of this bag. It's labeled "Gray Mystery Doris," which means I bought the fleece from Doris and she doesn't remember who it was. I processed the whole fleece on my Patrick Greene Deb Deluxe before we moved out here so that has to be over seven years ago.

I had pulled the batts out and rolled a pseudo-roving into tight balls which have not tempted me to spin them at all. However, the bag is taking precious space from my yarn storage, so it's time. My processing was so poor that after trying to spin from these geodes, I decided to give them another run through the carder.
It was exactly what the doctor ordered. It's a dream to spin now. Doris's original flock was Corriedale/Rambouillet but she has raised Targhee for quite a few years now. I couldn't tell from the feel which it was.
However, once it was washed and fulled, it developed major spoing so I'm of the opinion its Targhee. I'm really pleased with the yarn. It's also close to the color of the moth eaten sweater so I'll be able to mend it after all. Dale emailed me that he now has walnut and black acacia shavings. I'd like to overdye this yarn and will sample with the wood shaving dyes when they're ready.
I have been struggling with what to do for my next dish towels. I fooled around with the cones for a while, then went and cut some more rag strips while I thought about it. I finally selected these colors. The towels are a birthday present so I was trying to please me and my recipient too.
I was able to wind the warp quickly this afternoon and get it onto Maudie Mae's lease sticks. I love the colors together and look forward to watching them become towels. We're leaving tomorrow for a week in Southern California and I wanted the warp to be ready for me when we get home.

This year we decided to drive in spite of the weather. I'm not sure which would be worse since the roads are icy, but since I am always wanded and TSA is in a state heightened alert, I'm pretty sure that flying would be more unpleasant than usual. It's always me and the other geezers getting wanded while the young and verile breeze through the check station. Why doesn't TSA make me feel safer? Rhetorical question, no answer required.

I've gotten my driving knitting assembled. Guess I had better to pack my clothes. To be continued....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Getting Ready for a Rag Rug

I have saved this box of scraps for probably 20 years, thinking that one day I'd piece these together into a quilt. Then when I started following Hilary's blog, Crazy as a Loom, and saw her gorgeous rag rugs, I knew that one day I'd like to make one of my own. Hilary said that when I was ready, to let her know and she'd help me. Yesterday was that day.
I emailed her in the morning and just about the time I was starting to fix my lunch, I saw that she had replied and was only going to be in her studio a few more minutes. It's that three hour times differential, you know. I called the number she provided and got a busy signal. I had missed her for the day and knew that she was planning an evening with family so replied with my phone number and crossed my fingers. She called from home about 15 minutes later and spent a half hour on the phone with me, answering all my questions and told me things I didn't know I needed to know, like - you need a temple!
I didn't realize that she had a website but by the time she called, I was surfing it, so she walked me through the rugs and what created the effects. She also told me in her email that she had a tutorial on preparing the strips which you can see here. I sewed my first strips together at right angles, then went back to read her instructions again and saw that she said to hold the strips at right angles. Rip out, re-do. By today, I was getting the hang of strip assembly. She says just to keep sewing and not even lift the presser foot. I didn't take her advice at first, but it works much better if you do.

For my soft cotton, Hilary told me to cut the strips 2" wide and then fold them in half while rolling them in a ball - easier said than done. Mim was over for a while today and ended up folding and feeding the strips to me while I wound. Mim said to save my strips and the next time I come over we'll wind them all at once. This is the sum total of my work so far. Oh, and I did take Hilary's advice on the temples. I ordered two!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas was very different this year. It's the first time since DS Josh was born in 1971 that I've celebrated it without him. His family is creating new traditions in Oregon as we are here in Nevada. We have always had our family for Christmas Eve, including DIL Missy's family. We knew it would be small so Ian invited several neighbors. They were alone and were thrilled to share the evening with us. Alexia taught herself to courtesy from a movie. Without having to share the spotlight with her cousins, she decided to it must be all hers, which it was.
Christmas Day was an empty canvas since our Christmas dinner has moved to Oregon. We ended up going to a matinee showing of Avatar at the Riverside Theatre. I really like to watch my movies at home, especially when they're three hours long, but I have to say - it was Ian's idea and it was a good one. Good movie - followed by pho at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

This is the Truckee River, which runs through the center of Reno. How do those ducks do that?? It was 19 degrees when we came out of the show. I finished Christmas day by a reading a book until I was done. I'm a slow reader so it took me the rest of the day. I don't often take a large block of time to read so felt like I was indulging myself.
We woke to Pogonip today, which is an ice made of fine crystals suspended in the air. I think it has a fairy quality. It was 12 degrees when I took these pictures at 9:00. Few days this month have even reached freezing.
The crystals remind me of flocked Christmas trees and they cover every-
thing, including the fences.

This is now already a record-breaking cold December. I believe in climate change. It is gorgeous from the living room, but this valley was once a working cattle ranch. I cannot imagine herding cattle on horseback in the this. I'm can't imagine me on horseback, but that's beside the point.

I haven't Photo-
shopped this. What you see is what you get. I got to talk to my grandsons just minutes ago and had a 15-minute conversation with six-year-old Evan. It was a hoot. We're re-sculpting our traditions and the new ones, though strange and unfamiliar, are good too. It's snowing again now. I'd be okay if that weren't part of the tradition.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Woodn't You Know It, Another Hobby

I didn't get pie plates after all. His are too big for quiche and that's mostly what I want them for. I got this set of nesting bowls instead. They're wood fired and a great trade for 15 bars of soap.

I've been using this set of bowls that I got as a wedding present in 1968. DD Chris says she'd like to have them. She only has tupperware. I can see how she'd not be big on kitchenalia, since her mother isn't either.
I decided, no time like the present, and launched a batch of chocolate chip cookies to christen my new bowls. I'm using palm oil, something that Leigh talked about here. I won't know what I think if I don't try it. I'm also using pecans because DS Matt is deathly allergic to walnuts.
Back to the box for a second. It turns out that not only is Dale a potter, he's a wood turner, and he gave us tours of both his workshops. I had read something recently on WeaveTech about dyeing with wood chips so I asked him if he'd save them for me. He said he would and separate them out as well. These shavings are cottonwood, and since I got yellow dye from the leaves and branches, I have to assume that I'll get yellow from the shavings too.

I searched the WeaveTech posts and found the message that I read. The weaver is Sandra Rude, who has both a blog and a website. She has a pdf linked on her website with instructions on dyeing with wood chips. How do I keep finding new ways to waste, I mean, spend my time?!

Dale said he was first interested in weaving, but fell in love with pottery, though if he had discovered wood turning first, he never would have become a potter. I asked him if he was interested in making shuttles and he said, absolutely. He's going to come out here after we get back from Southern California for New Years and take a look at mine. I'm going to show him drop spindles as well. Why not??

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And done

I realize now that I could have made each towel two inches longer. I will know this for the future and have so noted. I wove this morning, took a lunch break and then got right back to work. Christmas Eve is breathing down my neck. Goldie is in the guest room and can't be there when we have guests.

Here they are, just fresh from the drier. I'm afraid they're closer to bread clothes by length but will certainly be serviceable as dish towels. I measured mine and realize that the short ones are also narrow.
These towels are from the M and W twill variations. I loved watching each pattern grow and was so frustrated to have to truncate it at a 2 1/2 inches. I want to use this twill in my next towels but will choose something that allows the pattern to shine.

These other two are plain variations - one tabby and the other a complete mystery to me because I flubbed up. I'm sure it will be absorbant. It's like the blind date - she has a great personality. As for the tabby on the bottom, I was delighted to see that the M and W pattern appears shadowed in what I thought was plain weave. I didn't' know that was possible. No surprise, since I know just about nothing when it comes to weaving.
I hope this photo shows how Anne Dixon has laid out her book. It's a magni-
ficient challenge. She shows the threadings across the top, the treadlings on the right side and the results in the middle. It's brilliant.

I got a phone call tonight from one of my favorite potters. He wants to trade me pottery for soap. I fly, he'll buy - in the morning. Ugh. He has pie plates. Why can I not talk Joe, our local potter into pie plates. I could walk to his house. My morning is cut out for me. (Picture me shaking my fist at Dale)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Still at It

I've started on the second towel and am using the M and W variations threading for 2/2/ twill from The Handweavers Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon. The first towel is goofy. I didn't treadle the correct repeats, but even worse, I forgot to change the tie-up. Oh well. And I misread the treadling on this second towel, so it's still not "right" but it sure is pretty.

And this is the pattern I'm following for the third towel. It is correct. Good for me - finally. I am in love with M and W and am already thinking about my next set of towels. Rude awakening. I thought I'd just weave for 3-4 hours a day and just pop these off the loom. It didn't occur to me that I don't have the back muscles to support my good intentions. I'm good for two hours and then have to quit - for now. This will be a good way to develop those muscles to support good back health. I'm thinking money spent on yarn to weave with will be money not spent in an orthopedist's office. I have to get these done so Goldie can be stashed away before Christmas Eve. No pressure.
I've been using film cannisters with screws and nuts in them to weight my floating selvedges, but both of them have broken a couple of times on this project. I'm wondering now if the lid clamping on the yarn caused it to weaken. I'm looking for suitable substitutes.

Meanwhile, the new storm has just come in and has started to gift us with rain, but as the temps fall - well, I'm just glad to not be on the road tonight because - I'm retired!

For those of you who know Mim, I thought you would want to know that her mother passed away this morning. Mim says it was a sweet death, but this is such a hard time of year to lose your mom.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Humming Along

Are you talking to me? This is the second time that Ian has had to to check on me. I really have to stop humming to my music. The first time I was humming and weaving and in the background I would hear his voice. I finally paused my iPod and called downstairs, "Are you talking to me?" Are you okay? he asked. He really was worried. He seemd to think that I had fallen and was moaning.

I mailed Ken's towels last week and got this nice note in response: "Thanks so very much. They are very reminiscent of what LeeAnn had made on the loom. I appreciate what you have done and that the loom is getting used by someone who can truly use it. Now I need to find a way to display them." That made me feel good.

What's on my iPod: Bonnie Rait, Ride with Bill, The Greencards, The Duhks, Asleep at the Wheel, Green Day, John Fogarty, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Los Lobos, No Doubt, Liz Phair, Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky, Steven Stills and Manassas, Mose Allison, El Madmo, Uncle Earl, Ralph Stanley, Alanis Morissette, The Wailin' Jennys, Cheryl Crow, Galaxie 500, Rusted Root, Hart Rouge, Cat Power, The Band, Frank Black, Mark Knopfler, Allison Krause, Taj Mahal, Allison Krause and Robert Plant, Adrienne Young, Mark Knopler and Emily Lou Harris, The Notting Hillbillies, Mohatella Queens, Los Super Seven, Dave Matthews, The Ditty Bops, Bill Hilly Band, Cal Tjader, Buena Vista Social Club, Nat King Cole, Xavier Cugat - oh, and the soundtracks from Once and Slumdog Millionaires. That's all I can remember - I'm too lazy to get up off the sofa.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Colors of December

Sue at Life Looms Large began some time ago to post the colors of the month, once a month. I'm not sure if she originally intended it to be a communal activity, but last month I caught on. She posts her colors and invites us to post ours. This is my first month, and wouldn't you know it, it has snowed and stayed. This is the spruce tree in our front yard that Ian decked out. Color.
This morning we woke to freezing fog, so although some snow has melted, the fog froze onto everything, almost pogonip. This is the tree that we brought down from the neighbors who lost their house and it's doing great. If you remember, it looked peaked last the summer.

Sammie is another color of December. It was one year ago this month that she adopted herself to us. Her owners were rarely home and she had taken to living on our front porch. One night at 19 degrees she appeared at the French door, covered in snow with a snow beard. We didn't know else to do and just opened the door. It wasn't until spring that the neighbors asked us to take their trees and their dog and left their home. Sammie loves us.
Blue is the most color I can come up with and the forecast is for another storm tomorrow. I'm afraid our colors of December just aren't very interesting. I know I keep saying it, but I get such pleasure out of snow because I don't have to commute in it any more.

That's all the color I have. Time to post your colors! Check the link I provided at the beginning of this post for the rules. I hope someone has some color because we sure don't.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Handspun Sweaters

This is the first sweater that I ever knit from my own handspun yarn. The gray is Corriedale/Rambouillet and the white is Rambouillet. I hadn't learned long draw yet and suffered terribly at the hands of the Rambouliet. It was an agony to spin from my pinched over-controlled inchworm technique. Still, the yarn is soft and the sweater comfortable. I have complained for years that I don't know why I knit sweaters because I never wear them. Until now.

When we worked, we would come home, run the furnace to heat up the house and then maintain it with the woodstove. I was never cold. Now that we're home all the time, we only heat with wood and it can get pretty chilly in parts of the house. I wear my sweaters a lot!

It has been years since I wore this one, so when I was wearing it last week, I was mortified to discover that there were moth holds. I found this out when I reached around to scratch my back and my finger went right through, or I would probably never have known. I then brought down the stack of my sweaters from the top of the closet and checked them all. I was lucky to only have one victim. There's no more yarn from this project but I'll mend it and make due.

I have about a half dozen sweaters that are my favorites. The two on the left are from the Sonnet pattern on Knitty. I've sold sweaters at guild White Elephant sales before and had planned to donate the one on the left this year - until I got cold.
These are a couple more of my favorites, but the middle is my absolute most favorite of all. It was my second sweater from handspun and this time I plied the white Rambouillet with the gray Corriedale/Rambouillet. The small handspinners flock belonging to a friend that the gray wool came were killed by neighbor dogs, and I have always felt close to this sweater. I love the cables.

I've been curious about temples in weaving and I've seen other questions lately on blogs. I was thrilled tonight to open Laura Frey's blog and find a discussion and video which you can see here. If you are interested in weaving, you really should follow her blog. She is a wonderful and generous teacher.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Three Packages

A package came in the mail for Charlie. It's the orange tabbycat ornament that I bought on eBay for this years tree. Yes, there are others. It's becoming a collection. What do you think, Charlie?

I do believe there is a resem-
blance, especially the 'tude. Charlie has claws, the ornament does not. Charlie is a sandy cat. Does that make him Sandy Claws?
He's like, whatever. Leaf me alone, I'm in the forest. King of the foreeest - think Burt Lahr. This is closest this poor indoor kitty gets to sleeping under a tree. He loves his Christmas tree. There are no outdoor kitties in Coyoteville. No presents under the tree? Our family agreed several years ago that we would share ourselves, but no gifts, no January debt.
I got a package too. This bin is my sum total of dish towel cotton and it's all 8/2. I was going to plan another warp but I was waiting on a Webs order. I realized that I don't have blues and would like to see my new cones before I plan the next one.
Charlie's package came yesterday and mine came today. I love the blues - don't know why I didn't think about them before. The variegated yarn? I have two babies I had planned to knit for, but I'm going to weave blankets instead. The first one is due in March so I have time to figure out what in the heck I ordered and what I'm going to do about it.

I have Missy's warp on Goldie. It's sleyed and I decided to warp in point twill, but when I got half done I realized that I don't have enough heddles. I have exactly 400 heddles and I need 402. I already knew I was going to make two at the end. I didn't stop to think that point twill uses more heddles on the middle two sheds. I pulled it all out. I had wanted to try a M and W threading and got my wish. Half of the warp is threaded in a variation. I could have been done - sigh.

Package #3? It it exactly six months ago today that I walked out the back door from my job and my work life to my new life in retirement, thanks to an early buyout package. I like all my packages but I LOVE this package the best.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Looking a Lot Like Christmas

I have only found one snowflake crochet pattern on the Internet that I understand well enough to make so have made a half dozen. I pictured a variety of different snowflakes on the tree, but I overestimated my rusty skills. Notice the ornament below it - Campbell kids sitting in a cup. I was phishing for Christmas ornaments on eBay and stumbled across this, and also the invitation to check out her other sales - she had bought a set at an estate auction.

I am absolutely thrilled with this catch. She had them set for "Buy Now" and I did. I bought them all. She messaged me that if I was interested, she had just loaded three more sales for Campbell Kids bobble heads, that I had wiped her out.
Someone at the company under-
stands merchan-
dising - they issue aluminum cans every year. The red fits nicely into the Christmas theme. I'm not a collector but I am happy to have all this Campbell stuff on the tree. Four auctions were in original plastic forms, but the owner was a smoker. We wanted to share the wealth with other family members but have been unable to shake the smell. Ian wanted me to wash them with Dawn, but I think we might lose the art along with the smell. It occurred to me, literally while I was typing this, that maybe an immersion in kitty litter might do the trick. They are so cute to smell so bad.
Here is the green green grass of home. Today was an in-town day, totally loaded. My oldest stepson from San Diego is spending a couple of days with us but his car was in town with a flat tire. Ian and Dougie set off in Ian's truck for their set of errands and I in my car, with a lunch date set in the middle.
This is our dirt access road, about two miles worth. I was thrilled that it was plowed. I named my Forester "Eleanor" after Eleanor Roosevelt. Neither one is pretty but completely capable in the most challenging circumstances. I have driven this before plowing - not fun - but Eleanor just girded up the loans of her spirit and did it anyway. I am so glad I don't have this commute anymore.
This is the paved road. It's 29 degrees and the road is a sheet of ice. Eleanor just laughed. We took it slow and I listened to my iTunes library. It got ugly when the we lost the blue skies and entered fog. I allowed 1 1/2 hours for my appointment and was right on time. I'm so happy I don't have to commute in this anymore. Wait, am I repeating myself?
I treated myself to a visit at Jimmy Beans. I was just going to buy sock yarn for DIL Missy, but Noro sock yarn was on sale and I love the one pair that I have already. I asked Missy for her favorite colors. She said, black, brown, blue or purple. Her skein has all but purple. I can't start hers until she can find the tape measure she packed, so I started mine instread.

And yes, I did cut that warp off. I've known Missy over half her life. I know that her towels coming from Goldie will touch her deeply. I got the warp sleyed, and now Goldie is folded and stored in her dormer jail while we have company.