Monday, August 31, 2009

Mini Spin-In

Mim's husband Bob is a gardener and it shows. I love their place. Their end of the valley is at a higher elevation and they are on the side of Peterson Mountain, which means the sun sets earlier for them. Whatever the reasons, it's lovely.
He plants his tomatoes in black pots and then stakes them. He says the black pots help to heat the roots. I don't know about that but I can't argue with success. I came home with two handfuls of these delightful red orbs. They don't have problems with rodents eating the fruit- they have Jo Beth, the Jack Russell Terrorist.
If Bob ever needs a referral for a potential client, he need only show them his own yard. It's like a park. It was on Mim's deck in May 2001 that I fell in love with this valley.
I told Mim that after I retired, I was going to come over one day to spin with her on the deck. This is the first time that I've finally done it and I don't want it to be so long before I do it again. You can see Jo Beth behind the blue bag. She's never far from Mim. Becky stayed over one more day after the fair so that we all could spend some time together. We would have had more time if I hadn't had that dental appointment.
This is our view from the deck. You can see why I fell in love. Jake is on guard.

And this is what I brought home from the fair. Charlie likes it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sparking Boy

My pink and lavendar roving turned out darker and more lavender than I had expected. I was able to get it spun up while demonstrating at the fair a couple of days ago. That day was so hot and dusty and so authentic Nevada.
I didn't get to go back to the fair today for the closing events, but will toss my wheel into the car because after my early morning dental appointment tomorrow, I'll come back from town and go to Mim's to spend some time spinning on her deck with Becky before she has to go back to Battle Mountain. This is what I will be spinning. I am so looking to being with them, just visiting and spinning - so rich.
I wasn't able to go the fair because DS Josh was bringing out his 5th wheel to set it up for next weekend, the 3rd annual Gathering. That's what Ian calls it, but friend Kris quipped last year that we should call it Sparking Boy - a nod to Burning Man, also in the Nevada high desert this weekend. Come on out!

Josh apologized that they would have been out earlier, but they sold their house this morning, two days after listing it. They are Bend, Oregon bound. His new position as FedEx termimal manager starts - tomorrow. It just makes it all the more important for our family to identify how we can connect and collect.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nevada State Fair

I've been at the fair all day but only took a couple of pictures. I think our guild is unique in that it covers such a large geographic area, yet we all drive in because we value our craft and our friendships. Ian and I drive an hour to get to Reno, yet Eileen, on the left, lives off-grid northwest of us in the Sierras. Carolyn used to drive in from Lake Tahoe but this year is now in Reno. I like to think we moved for us. Eileen is spinning wolf for the Animal Ark as a charitable contribution. They make the yarn into bracelets to sell as fundraisers.

Mim and Becky are both full-time shepherds and good friends, yet Becky lives in Battle Mountain, which is just about in the center of Nevada, half way between Elko and Reno. She's staying with Mim, my "neighbor," and is staying an extra night so we can have some grrl time Monday morning before she has to drive home.

Our guild's commitment has been to promote the fiber arts. Many of the homeschooling families that came through today were interested in the Waldorf School concept of teaching knitting as math readiness, and by extension, were interested in teaching their children the whole process.
I think our best fiber arts convert was Terry. He lives in Tohopah, which is just about half way in between Las Vegas and Reno and has been raised by his grandparents since he was born. He's in 4H and is at the fair with his pig and chickens., but he fell in love with weaving. He got it. He even understood how to change the treadling to change the cloth. Needless to say, he wove the sample off. Sue is going to put another warp on tomorrow for Terry so he can keep going. The good news is that his grandparents have a family member's loom at home and are going to get it going so Terry can keep going. I was tired, hot, gritty and thirsty when I got tonight, but I couldn't stop thinking about the smile on Terry's face. His grandparents were so appreciate and kept thanking us, but really - it was Terry.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


DIL Missy and I got together last Friday for our third and final scrap-
booking session. She's a teacher and is back in the saddle this week. She has been a scrapper for 10 years and taught me a lot. All the stuff in the foreground was loaned to me by a friend. It's not a cheap hobby but my kids have really responded positively to my first album.
Missy is working on sports albums, recording the boys games, team members, scores and friend-
ships. She helped me thread my way to through the bewildering and expensive paraphernalia and select just the things that I need. Those three Fridays were so rich, because I got to spend time with my young grandsons as well. Periodically they'd come to the table to draw or work on their own books. I'm going to miss then when they move to Bend, Oregon. Josh's job as FedEx terminal manager starts on the 1st - next week! Missy and the boys won't be able to follow for another three months. Yipes.
My first album is finished! It's a record of the trip that DS Josh, DD Chris and I took to Germany in 1995. It was during Desert Storm and SIL Mike was in Bahrain. When they got orders to return stateside, I realized it was now or never. If we didn't go, we never would. Josh and I flew over in March - it's just plain cold in Germany in March. Many mornings found us scraping the car windows with credit cards.

I had 11 days of annual leave available and used it all. Our flight was 16 hours long to Frankfort so we really only nine days in Germany. Chrissie took us right from the airport to our first castle at Heidelberg. I kept a journal so was able to note what we were doing for all the photos, but the magnetic album they were in leached the colors terribly. Our albums get pulled out at family events and Missy was one who recognized what was happening.

We drove Chrissie's Geo Storm through as much of Bavaria as we could, staying in youth hostels at night - Bavaria by Storm. We saw as much as we could in the time we had until they were just as exhausted as I was. We joked that we castle-hopped until we dropped.
It took me three shots to get all of Ulm Cathedral and we walked all 768 steps to the top. That was almost 15 years ago and I'm so glad I have the notes because I certainly wouldn't remember that otherwise.

Photo albums are important to our family. I'm horrible about printing out photos - I'm not sure I've printed any in the last five years - but it's albums that my family gather round, joking and reminiscing. I know I'm retired and I already have too many hobbies - certainly didn't see this one coming.

Meanwhile, I've extracted all the photos from the rest of the magnetic photo albums, storing them in a photo box until I can get to them. Sometimes it required slicing the pictures from the pages with dental floss. A word of warning to those of you who think your photos are safely stored in albums - if they're in magnetic albums, they're not safe. It's about keeping those precious images in an acid environment, and there's where the expense begins.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Making More Color

I decided yesterday to oven dye some roving. I spun natural colored yarn when Amy and I went to the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley, California last weekend - not to be confused with our fair here in the Reno, the Nevada State Fair. The public had a clear affinity for the interesting fiber that the other demonstrators were spinning.
Our fair starts tomorrow and I need some color. I haven't dyed roving in a long time because every time I did, it felted. I'd stand side by side with Mim, use the same technique and dyes, but she would get beautiful results and mine were barely spinable. We put the roving on plastic wrap, applied dye, then steamed the packets. She sells hers and I can't spin mine. Something not right here. I've been thinking about dyeing in the oven so phished on the Internet and found information here.
I bought two 8 ounce bumps of undyed combed top from Mim a couple of weeks ago and I divided them both. The first two batches I dyed are Corriedale. Pardon my color notes, but they're for future reference for me. The first was lily, honeycomb and raspberry. I used too much dye, so while the results were intense color, I also threw away a lot of expensive dye. The second was mulberry, hibiscus and cycleman.
The last two batches were Merino and will be socks for me. The third is mulberry, olive and honey-
comb. The saturation of the olive isn't as intense as the other Gaywool colors so I need to consider that in the future, because I really like olive with purple.

I baked each batch at 355 degrees for about 30 minutes. Fortun-
ately our temps were a little cooler yesterday so I didn't heat up the house. I was in and done in 2 1/2 hours.

I dumped the wool into the small side of our sink after it had baked, and it cooled while I prepped for the next batch. The secret to not felting is a minimum of handling. The roving soaks with no agitation and then the rinse water is drained. The water doesn't fall onto the roving and I don't manipulate it. It looks terrible in the lasagne dish, but boy oh boy, does it look good here.
My last batch is myrtle, raspberry and olive. I had started to run out of ideas since I don't know what any of them are going to look together. I know I want to try this again but I won't until I have finished spinning these batches and have a better idea of color choices.

And here they are, my lovely ladies - ready for their debut. I cannot believe I never thought to try this before.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow? I took this picture of our front yard in September 2006. I was pleased with how much the trees had grown in the couple of years since we planted them.

I took this picture today when I realized that the honey locust tree is taller than the spruce. The spruce was the first tree we planted and looked quite forlorn all alone. The locust came from the State nursery and was a mere twig in a quart milk carton. You have to buy plants from them in fives: all five lilacs and all five cottonless cottonwood trees survived. Only two of the locusts made it and the other was is just this summer putting up a leader branch. I'm thrilled by my star pupil however. It's going to be a wonderful shade tree.
Last weekend when I was at Amy's, she showed me all her lavender, saying that it's time to harvest. Her lavender heads are full of those fragrant kernals and I decided that mine must be read too. However, this morning when I looked at it, I was stunned to realize that's not a bit of lavender on the plants and none on the ground. Now I know why they were so popular with the tiny gold finches and now I know what they were eating and it wasn't bugs. I had no idea that birds eat lavender.
I'm pleased with my tub of basil though. The volunteer weed at the base is purslane, which according to Michael Pollan, is one of the highest sources of anti-oxidents in leafy greens - even though it is a weed. We've been adding it to our salads and it's actually a tasty addition.
I just made another batch of pesto which I will freeze so it's fresh for each use. Two cubes to a handful of linguine makes a lunch - yum. I got my recipe from the Great Basin CSA Basket website and I like it because it uses so little olive oil.

Great Basin Pesto

1/2 c lightly packed chopped basil leaves
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1 clove minced garlic
3 tbl olive oil

I double the recipe and add 1/2 tsp salt and extra garlic. I didn't want to turn on the oven to toast the pine nuts but found online that I can toast them in the microwave by spreading them flat on a plate and adding a little bit of butter. Nuke them for a minute on high, stir and repeat in one minute increments until they're toasted. It worked perfectly.
Ian is still playing with the sign - "Gateway to the Internet."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pushing the Fair Deadline

The fair is next week and I'm still trying to get my four entries ready to go. I don't enter for the competition as much as the hope the entries will generate interest from the public. The fair is our guild's biggest fiber outreach of the year. I spaced the deadline so was frantically trying to think of things I could enter but could only think of four. I didn't even enter a skein. This is not retirement behavior.

I've entered my second Sonnet sweater, as pathetic as it is. My scarf is done and well modeled by the glass head. I think the shot shows both the color variegation and the pattern.
The pattern is Falling Leaf and I spun the yarn from 50/50 Ram-
bouillet/ Alpaca with a little bunny added in for halo. It's about three yards long but only weighs 4 ounces. That's all the yarn I had left. I feel like I'm wearing a cloud. I am so pleased with it, unlike the scarves I made from silk. I don't care if the judge shares my sentiment or not.
I also entered a pair of socks, thinking I'd have the time to spin up some yarn and knit them up. Remember now that I almost missed the entry deadline. This goes under the category of "What was I thinking?" What was I thinking!! Then I remembered that I had started these at our guild fiber retreat in September last year - a month after the last fair. Phew.
The last item entered is the TV lap robe from handspun and I know I seem to be dragging my feet. This is by far the most challenging project from handspun that I have engaged in to date. I sett it very loosely, only 8 epi and ppi, because the yarn is so spoingy. I am anticipating that once it's off the loom and given a bath that is will pull in and full up, big time. But I don't know that, hence my reluctance. Tomorrow is scrapbook Friday with DIL Missy so I won't be back to the loom until Saturday. Sunday is out - granddaughter Lexie's fifth birthday party. Why do I enter things in the fair that I haven't even started on anyway?!!
Guess who got new catnip added to his scratcher~

I heard a rumor that Ravelry added weaving to their options last weekend. Upon checking just now, I can tell you that is not a rumor, it is a fact.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And More Color

I've been working on beefing up my one ball collection for making hats. I'm pretty happy with my collection so far, and I'm even more happy with what I got by using Gaywool Dyes - I recently ramped up my colors. I have a miscellaneous collection from a variety of dye days with friends, but as much fun as I had at those events, I ended up with colors that didn't mesh.

The four balls on the left were the most intensive of all my dyeing labor and I will not do that again. They were the most work and all I got was solid colors. The three balls on the right were dyed in the locks and then blended with purchased dyed mohair locks. The very cool skeins in the front, the most effortless of all, were spun and then dyed in the pot. They are all hat fodder.

Ian is still at it - this is this internet mobile unit, reference interview.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Favorite Beer

I hadn't thought about this being regional beer, but if you're from the East, then this certainly would be a West Coast regional beer. It's brewed in Petaluma in the Napa/Sonoma/Mendocino wine country. The brewers have a delicious sense of humor as well as a delicious beer.
Printed around the perimeter of the label: "Thanks for choosing to spend the next few minutes with this special homicidally hoppy ale. Savor the moment as the raging hop character engages the Imperial Qualities of the Malt Foundation in mortal combat on the battlefield of your palate! Life is Uncertain! Don't Sip!"

My third blogiversary slipped right by me in April, so I thought I'd celebrate by tricking out my blog when I retired, but that didn't happen either. I will just celebrate by saying that this is my 500th post. I kinda like that it also coincides with being about my favorite brew.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What was I thinking?!

I got my dummy warp on and lashed it to the apron rod to check for errors, which, of course, I found. I've been wondering about lashing on versus tying on, but because the dummy warp was so short, lashing on was my only option.
What a chore. The dummy warp, which you can see in the heddles, needs to be attached to the handspun warp with an over overhand knot. Dummy warp is so believably tedious and not for the faint of heart - it has to be coaxed through the reed and then again through the heddles. I kept reminding myself of how much handspun I was not wasting.
I finally got my warp tied on but there were so many interludes. Theresa loaned me a warping video that came with her Louet loom - oh yeah - watching it gave me loom envy, big time. I do appreciate the warping information however. I needed to watch it again before tying onto the apron rod. It was so helpful - I finally felt like I knew what I was doing.

I flagged in the proofing and ended having to change a third of the warp in the heddles and then re-sley it. I am having the third of my favorite beers. It was a nasty job.
And where was my weaver's appren-
tice? Actually he was on the floor next to the scissors that he batted off my bench. He is very helpful.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sockapalooza at Home

When I ordered my dyes from Carolina Home-
spun, I said - oh, and by the way. Do you sell sock forms and she said yes, two kinds: a molded plastic one, for more than I wanted to spend, and also a cedar form, which just came yesterday. They're kinda funky but for $14.00, they smell great and do what I want them to do - form socks.
And what a co-inki-dink, I happen to have a pair of socks to form. These socks are a gift, but I really like this yarn. It's tightly spun and the color runs don't cluster and puddle like I have experienced on some other sock yarns. It was called Indie Dyer, a custom colored sock yarn for Jimmy Beans. I thought - right on. Next time I'm in town, I'm going to get a couple more hanks - one hank makes a pair with plenty to spare - great deal.
I kept looking through the sock yarns until I finally realized that the reason I couldn't find it was that it wasn't on display. Jeanie said that they had sold it out but she'd check to see if there was any inventory left. I was able to get these two hanks and now I'll have to find a new favorite sock yarn. When they said custom dyed, they meant it. Sigh.

As for our trip to New York, we're going October 13th through the 22nd. Ian chose these dates so we could be there during the New Yorker Festival. This will be their 1oth anniversary and they still haven't announced the line-up. Meanwhile, tickets go on sale September 18th - oh so New York. We're staying at my BIL/SIL's place on the Hudson - a genuine treat. SIL Rochelle thinks she might be able to join us. It couldn't be more up in the air.
Ian is having a lot of fun with this sign. Is there such a thing as re-pranking? I think Carol and Tamra have unleashed a monster. He's already planning the next "internet station" - don't hold your breath. It's not that exciting. This might be the garden gnome in every picture - until the sign wears out. I hope he isn't planning one of me sitting in the snow with it. Oh - I'll bet he is.