Friday, July 31, 2009

Last Day of July 2009

It's time to think about hats again. I just got my check from the Brewery Arts Center and they sold four last month. Let me say that hats are not lucrative, but they are fun to make and they let me use up handspun without having to make enough of anything for a "real" project.

I have been spinning natural colored wools for the past several months because I want to dye everything at once in natural dyes. These skeins are from exhausted baths of natural dyes last year. The colors are sweet but not very interesting. Time to overdye.
This is much better but still short of what I need. The skeins aren't make-a-hat ready. I need some connecting yarns and less of that blue. It's called Lily but I don't know why. On the other hand, the orange is called Pumpkin. I ordered it thinking it would be golden and now wonder why I'm surprised that it's orange.

I'm trying to decide whether to rainbow dye some already spun yarn or to dye in the locks, drum card and then spin. I need some variegated colors to connect these dots. I'll think about that in the morning. I am *still* knitting on the scarf that I entered in the fair.
We discovered this sign hanging on our fence. Our neighbor Steve teased Ian about it this morning. I had seen it yesterday morning but thought Ian hung it. Ian hadn't seen it at all. We're pointing fingers at Carol, who lives in our valley and works at the library. She must have done it under cover of darkness because we're outside most of the day. They're on vacation so we can only guess for now.

I wonder if I have mentioned that Sammie is a hybrid - part amphibian. Her prior owners have provided us with her vet records and registration forms, which means little since she's spayed. What is does mean is that the questions are gone - she's ours, for better or for worse.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You?

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

I just didn't want to be Mrs. Bennet. I think Austen wrote the first romance and delicious comedy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Weaver's Apprentice

Charlie decided he needed once again to help with my weaving. The only reason I'm working on this project when I could be outdoors is the fair deadline. I think partly it's because this weather calls me to be outside so much that Charlie feels human abandonment, but he perched himself right in front of my face. However, I'm working from the back bean and he is laying with his back to me. I think he's saying something.
He clearly under-
stands how to place himself to insure he's not ignored. He's right between me and my reed, and his swishing tail in in the very yarn I'm trying to thread. I have a very smart and obnoxious cat.

Mim brought over our locker lamb this morning. Donna Wiggins from the Wiggins Trading Post in Chilcoot, California, is the butcher. Ever since I read "Diet for a Small Plantet" in the 1970s, I have struggled with the idea of eating commercial meat. I love Mim's lambs and I know exactly what pasture they fed on. We had lamb chops for dinner tonight. A Shetland lamb isn't very but so we only eat it two or three times a month to make it last the year.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cleaning Up the Studio

Ian brought home this tired old library card catalog and it's been sitting on the front porch for weeks. He thought it would be good storage for my studio but I couldn't think of anywhere to put it, until I realized that if I cleared off my yarn dresser, it could go on top. Space is at a premium and all surfaces have been covered and cluttered. This just gives me an elevated surface to cover and clutter.

The best part is that I was able to store most of the stuff from my beading table. I haven't been able to get close to it for the last year. One thing lead to another and finally I was in full fledged cleaning mode. The dust was terrible and this is not to say that the studio is actually clean now, but it is workable. By the time DS Matt and Julia came for dinner yesterday afternoon, I was completely congested from the dust. Bad timing.
I was inspired by my accessible workspace and emailed Laura for help on calculating the warp from my handspun. Bad news. I didn't have enough to make the size I wanted. Several more emails and a couple of phone calls later, we decided that I should put on a dummy warp, which I have started here. I'm flying blind. I have entered this project in the fair next month. I hope this works.
Meanwhile, my handspun is waiting and ready, and I am antsy to get it onto the loom.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise

I wove this off the LeClerc. Nancy is going to help me learn to warp from the back this weekend and I needed to free up the loom. The bad news is that once again calculated the sett too tight. I think this was at 22 epi and probably should have been 16. Oh well. If I can weave a rug equivalent on the lightweight LeClerc, then I can weave one on my sturdy Gilmore. With that I am pleased. It was that miserable sticky llama yarn and the fabric is scratchy. At any sett, I don't think it could have been a scarf. Also, I finally figured out how to weave listening to my iPod and it was wonderful to weave to the music.

This can only become a bag. I've folded it in half here, but it speaks to me of denim. I have a pile of blue jeans in the top of my closet that I haven't been able to weed out. I know I'll never be a size 10 again but somehow those jeans are still up there, taking space. One pair is headed for a bag.
The last time Eddie tackled a car he ended up like this. Actually he ran into the side of the car, trying to herd it and a lug nut severed a vein in his leg. The gate was open, however briefly, and he managed to damage himself, almost to death. Ian was on the road to work and had to come back for us. I compressed the wound but ended up with so much blood on me that when we came out into our vet's waiting room, the people asked me if I was okay.

That was almost two years ago and Eddie has been a good boy ever since, until. Until last week when he decided he needed to herd Steve's truck. He streaked out under the fence and jumped out in front, and in spite of Steve having come to as close to a stop as one can have on gravel, Eddie managed to get a gouge in his side. And he's a licker, which is why he had to wear the cone last time. Ian plugged the hole - yet again.

And of course, he couldn't have done this on a normal business day. Ian had to drive him to the after-hours emergency vet, something I hadn't thought to budget for in our retirement considerations. We didn't see a choice. And the licking started, followed by the backfoot scratching.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Promised Update

This is my youngest son Matty with his dog Bacca. He has socialized her very well and she is just a great dog. I took this picture at The Gathering two years ago. Of my three children, Matt is the one who most looks like me. You know what a crap-shoot family resemblance is.

If you didn't have me to tell that these photos are not of the same person, would you know it? This is a photo that I scalped from oldest grandson John Paul's Facebook album. Whatcha think?

It's been a loaded 36 hours since John's mother sent the first email. Thanks to Facebook, he first connected with Chrissie, my daughter and his birth mother, and by noon I was able to FB live-chat with him for about an hour.

Can you just begin to imagine how this must be from his side of the plate?! He stumbled after a couple of chat exchanges and apologized, saying that he had only learned of us a half hour earlier from his dad. His parents are so wonderful. Chrissie made a bad turn when she chose to go to that party, but all the turns have been good since then. I believe that my oldest grandson is a blessed man and certainly a very loved one.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Oldest Grandson

This is my youngest son Matt with Julia. I took this picture a couple of years ago at Christmas, but I blogged about him last June here. DD Chris gave up her baby for adoption shortly after her 16th birthday. June 10th, John's birthday, is always a rough one for us, so last year she decided to look for him online.
And she found him on MySpace. John had just turned 22 last summer. Matt was beside himself, wanting contact. After reading his profile, Matt was stunned at how much alike they are, not just in looks. Chris and I felt that contact would be a breach of trust, and Matty respected his sister's wishes.

I don't use Gmail very often, just for Facebook, but last night I popped to see if I had missed any FB comments, and found a message from John's parents, asking if they could initiate contact. They felt that John needed contact with his biological family. I replied, and this morning found this mesage in my inbox. I wish we had gone with Matt's instincts. I am on pins and needles, waiting.

Dear Sharon,

Thank you for writing. We have been crying… we’ve been waiting with John for this contact. He will be thrilled.

I wrote to Chris. We are about to leave for Atlanta and will be back next Wednesday eve.
John has gone to class and will be out at 12:45 today. We will let him know then and forward your emails to him. He has no classes next week.

Your blog was unbelievable. Yes, Matt and John look like twins. In Chris’ book for John, we always have seen the similarities with Chris, too. I looked at her face book page and asked to be a friend…. Her photo in costume is definitely a John pose.

We can’t tell you how happy we are to have heard from you and Chris. We have been so thankful to all of you for entrusting John to us. We love him so much.
God bless all of you,
Karen & Paul

Thursday, July 16, 2009


It has been a tense couple of days out here in Red Rock Valley. A truck pulling a trailer south to Reno didn't realize he had a flat tire and ended up sparking two major fires. It doesn't take much when it's as dry as it is here. A lone worker here is doing some clean-up. I love our fire fighters!

This is what we lost. These old mature junipers don't come back after fire. What does come back is the highly combustible cheat grass. I took this picture last year. It used to be a popular spot for travelers to picnic. There's one tree now.
Ian had to go to Doyle to the post office this morning and I made him take the camera. He caught this image which I think speaks to the desolation of the event. We seem to have a wildfire a year here, but to lose these mature junipers is gut wrenching.
This is how the fire looked just after I called it in. They were confused by the fact that a fire south of us had been sited and didn't realize there was actually a second fire to the north. The dispatcher asked me what size the fire was - the size of a car? I said it's burning up the side of a mountain! That puff of black in the middle is a juniper. Every time a juniper was expunged, it cried out in a plume of black smoke.

I took this picture about ten minutes later. It felt like forever before crews were on the scene - lots of nail biting. But when they did come, they came with guns loaded. I have listened to the drone of fire planes and helicopters all day and I'm calling it tax dollars well spent. Did I mention that I love our firefighters??
These trucks belong to a North Tahoe unit and are parked by Fred and Gretel's house. They are packed for evacuation, but these guys intend that to see that they don't need to. Our fire guys make me proud to be an American. I was spinning on the west deck in the shade this morning, when a caravan of 10 white vans proceeded north across our valley floor. They were the Whalen stage II crew, moving in the take charge. You have no idea how good that made me feel.

If you click for big, you can see above the telephone pole one of the borate bombers going in for another pass. After lunch, they began to fly in at frequent intervals. They assisted the helicopters dropping water from Long Valley Creek.
This is the "other" fire and it is now threat-
ening the south end of our valley. Sometimes I think everything will be burned to a crisp and there will be nothing left to ignite.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Itching to Weave

The day before I went into town to meet my virus, I work up feeling like a million dollars. I decided it was time to dye the yarn that I had spun months before. I had wanted to weave a TV blanket for son Josh and DIL for their anniversary in June, but oops. I had a little over a pound of black Corriedale and 20 ounces of gray Targhee. The black got a black bath to make it inky. The gray was the last of a 7 pound fleece that I bought at Black Sheep Gathering a number of years ago and I wanted it to be match the colors that kids had their interior walls painted.

I sampled in canning jars to see what my projected colors would look like over the gray. I liked everything but the cornflower blue, and without sampling, substituted olive green on a hunch.

I am really pleased with the results. I seem to be a one note Sally, but I really do love the pop of Log Cabin. I think these colors are perfect for their house and cannot wait to see how they weave up.

Isn't it interesting how these different wools full? I only have one knitty noddy, yet the Targhee is so much shorter than the Correidale. They're both very springy but there is a difference nevertheless. Like how I'm using my warping board? I'm not going to start weaving until I stop coughing. How's that for a schedule~
It has been the strangest summer since I moved here 20 years ago. It's July 12th and it still hasn't been 90 degrees. The garden languishes. Mornings have been cloudy and just odd. The main feature at Kiernan's 10th birthday party Saturday was water fun, but by 4:00 the kids were shivering and too cold.

Watching the kids play, Josh let us know that he has several very good job opportunities in communities where he would rather raise his boys. So the house that I chose to weave the blanket to match may no longer he his house. Now that's irony.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Doing a Lot of Knitting Lately

I have been doing a lot of knitting lately and I am especially pleased with how this scarf is shaping up. I made a couple of silk scarves last year but really can't say I enjoyed wearing them. I've had this yarn ready to go for some time, but after the silk scarf disappointment, couldn't bring myself to cast on. The dye didn't take up evenly and I was really disappointed, but Amy said - trust me, it will make a much more interesting scarf because of that - and she's right. I really like the color variations.
These are the batts that I spun for the yarn. I dyed my 50/50 Ram-
bouillet/ Alpaca roving, then put in on Mim's Supercard with some bunny, so the yarn has a nice halo to it. You can see why I needed to overdye it. The first color was just too precious.

I treated my first week of retirement as though I were tent camping on vacation - lots of reading, morning dog walks, afternoon naps. The second week, I started thinking more like retirement and dyed two pounds of handspun for weaving. Last Friday was the first day I had driven my car in a week but I needed to run into town for some errands and pick up some things.

One of the things I picked up was a virus and by Sunday my throat was so sore I couldn't sleep through the night. Tuesday I gave up and went to my doctor for antibiotics because what I thought was a cold had moved into my chest. He told me that bodies react to good and bad stress the same way and that even though I'm happy to be retired, the exposure to virus and my stress made me vulnerable. I haven't been sick in at least four years and I have made up for that now. It's viral - drugs won't help, saith he - and he send me home. Rather, Ian drove me home. So, like I said, I've been doing a lot of knitting lately - and coughing and sleeping. The only good thing about it is that I don't have the worry of using sick leave or going back to work too soon.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Book Report

Finished: Mr. Pip by Lloyd (thanks Jodi) and White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (thanks Valerie). Both are Booker nominated books. I finally realized how Booker books are different from Pulitzer books. I loved this years Pulitzer winner, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – a wonderful collection of short stories that tell the story of a small town in Maine. “The suns never sets on the British Empire” is used to describe an empire so large that at least part of the territory is always in daylight The books nominated for the Booker reflect just about everything in the world but America. Mr Pip takes place on an island in Papua New Guinea and White Tiger, in India. Literature at its best.

Then I read Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. I’m not why I picked it up, it didn’t seem like the type of book that I’d be able to get past the first couple of pages. For one thing the cover is great. You might call it a beach read, but I cried, laughed out loud and was sorry when the book ended. I will read her again.

The Book of Dead Birds by Gayle Brandeis is the one that I have just finished. It’s an older book – 2003, but I saw that Barbara Kingsolver gave her the Bellwether Prize, an award in support of a literature of social responsibility, and decided to give it a try. It starts in my native San Diego at Balboa Park, where my mother had my 6th birthday party, and moves to the Salton Sea, also familiar to me. Her sense of place is wonderful , her characters are genuine and her writing is a powerful and spare ala John Steinbeck. Our library doesn’t own her second book so will have to order it.

Reading: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

On the Nightstand: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cleaning House

I'm trying to get the rhythm of not having to go to work. I'm also trying to not be over-
whelmed with the monumental partially completed projects that I initiated but didn't have time to complete. They nag me. I've finished up the last of my bags. I do believe that I'll set them aside, as much as I love how they turn out. They were great for knitting in between things when I only had minutes to knit and didn't have time for complicated instructions.

I've been spinning for the last couple of months a variety of wools with the plan to dye them with natural dyes, then make hats for the Artisans store with the softer wools and more bags with the luster longwools. Ever since Linda showed me her workbook from CNCH (Conference of Northern California Handweavers) on double weave, I've been rethinking everything.
The bags are great, they sell quite well and I love the compli-
ments I get, but I think I'm done. Those were my therapy knitting. I've been looking at my weaving books and think a dougle weave wall hanging from natural dyed wools is just what our entry is waiting for.

First I need to learn how to double weave, and I'll get started on that just as soon as I finish weaving off the ancient project on the loom in the guest room.

I read an interview in the December issue of American Style this morning. I am just as backed up in my magazines and I am in my projects. The subtitle was "Nancy Jurs and Wendell Castle are married, but not melded." They met in art school and have carried out parallel but independent art careers for 35 years. He headed the furniture department at the School of American Crafts and has "10 Adopted rules of Thumb." Here are two: If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it and If you hit the bulls-eye every time the target is too near.

She is an installation ceramicist and raku potter. I loved a quip from her most expecially, "My life has gotten so busy that it now takes up all of my time." Right on!