Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Well is the first cousin of so. so? so! soooooo~ only well can be, well? well! wellll and the two syllable we-yell. I think my towels are the latter. They are done, hemmed, washed and dried. They almost don't look like a set, yet I tried to chose solid colors related to the variegated weft. They're more like step-siblings than sibs. I'm not a fan of variegated weft - too bad I rashly bought three cones at one time.
These both are from the same M&W pattern. I love the pattern but it just doesn't work well here. These wefts is peacock and beige. I'm not sure what I should have used to promote the warp but this wasn't it. I'm already thinking about the next set and how to make this pattern shine.
The left towel is a M&W variation in teal and the right is tabby in the variegated. It's a good thing that these towels are for our kitchen because I wouldn't be pleased to give them away. On the other hand, I knew that I was experimenting.
I think I was experi-
menting here too. I've been working on this hat for grandson Kiernan. I'm using some handspun alpaca because I thought it would be warmer. I can't control the rippled brim. I kept knitting thinking that it would get better but it has gotten worse, or perhaps it always was worse. I've phished through Ravelry to see what other flap hat knitters are doing for the brim and haven't come up with much direction. One woman said that you must knit a very tight cable cast on. I guess I'll try that after I rip this out. I saw another hat that does a row of knit, two rows of purl and then back to knit for the body. If you know the solution, please do tell.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I decided to weave off the last towel after breakfast and was about 10" into it when there was an explosion at my loom and stuff went flying everywhere. The wooden dowel that I had substituted for a steel rod (that I haven't bought yet) just splintered and flew, taking stuff piled on the castle went with it. I had to cut the loops and tie on with overhand knots. Warp lost.
I hate always learning things the hard way on every project. Somehow I had a bunch of heddles on one side of my third shed. I have no idea why that shed or how that many could even accrue on a shed. They rubbed selvedge threads mercilessly and caused multiple breakages. I just wanted to be done with this project so I could redistribute the heddles correctly.
I bought this cone of 8/2 cotton when we were at Woodland Woolworks last summer. I'm not sure what color to call it but once I got it home, I couldn't find a use for it until that last towel.

I love how it works with this variegated warp. It's my favorite of the four-towel set, but with the loss of warp, I can't get the full length from this towel that I would otherwise have. Yes, I know. I was on borrowed time with the wooden dowel. And I'm buying a steel rod when I'm in town this week.
It's been like this all day. I hadn't planned to stay in the studio for five hours, but it's what I ended up doing. I'm into my third placemat but need to cut more strips tomorrow. I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon catching up on blogs and email. It's still snowing.
Here are the towels. Tomorrow I will cut them apart and stitch the hems. I'd like to get the placemats finished as well. I have a two-day color theory class on Friday and Saturday and know that nothing will get done for many days following it. The teacher is Laura Viada. She's from Houston and the class list I received today said to wear old clothes because paints can be messy. I have no idea what to expect. I Googled her today and found that she is an attorney and complex weaver. Interesting~

Friday, March 26, 2010

And Still More Indoor Activity, Dangit

And finally I have made myself start on the rag placemats. Everything that could go wrong, has. It's a great learning experience however, and one thing I've learned is that you really need to cut some of your rags, weave to see if you like the width and if not, adjust. I have had to recut already cut strips, which is much harder than cutting from the original cloth.
The first mat is completed. I thought I had threaded for Double Bind, but this doesn't being to resemble the picture - more unanswered questions. These are for DIL Missy who was visiting from Oregon this week. I showed the project to her and she was thrilled. She was taken by the weaving process so I explained that the pattern is a combination of threading, tie-up and treadling and showed her on this project how those three are represented. She stayed with me and asked really good questions. I ended up telling her when she has space, I have a loom for her, and for the price of room and board, she can have weaving lessons.
And while I'm on the subject of learning, have you ever wondered what would happen if you put variegated yarn in both the warp and weft. Well, wonder no more. It looks like this and it's a good thing I'm weaving this towel for myself because I would be embarrassed to give it to anyone. It is in a word - ugly. Moving on....

Oh, and we awoke this morning to more of this. Over the course of the day it warmed enough to melt it all. The good news is that the moisture was absorbed into the ground with no run-off. The bad news is that we have three more sets of dog tracks throughout the house. If weather can be bi-polar, then we have it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Indoor Activities

I finally got Maudie Mae warped and am weaving dishtowels again. This time I used the variegated yarn for warp that I used for weft in Little Sharon's towels. You can see how the colors drift but don't pool. I warped back to front, now that I'm comfortable with the steps, and was surprised at how quickly and effortlessly the warp was on. I didn't have to comb out the tangles as I wound on, and I also caught a threading error while I sleyed. I think I'm a convert.
I am back to the M and W twill pattern. I love how subtle it is until you catch the right angle and then you see the hidden treasure - diamonds!

My current spinning is in prep-
aration for weaving a rug. I found a couples of sacks in the studio - white border leicester locks and brown Romney locks. They were washed so I carded them together. I have somewhere between 2-3 pounds of yarn already spun. My goal is to have enough that when the weather finally does warm up, I'll be ready to overdye everything with natural dyes in the still of a morning.
I have pounds of luster long wools in the garage, partial fleeces from spontan-
eous purchases years ago before I understood that they're just not great garment wools. My goal is to use them up - rugs take up much less space than storage bins!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Farmers Market Produce Delivered

I finally finished as many of these as I am going to for now. Ian really liked them in the bowl, so I may have to knit some for him too. Little Sharon and I are going to collaborate on a birthday present for a very special little girl who is turning two in September, but we haven't gotten to the point of deciding who is going to knit what.

I wanted enough of them to made a showing in a market bag. I found this pattern in the online Knitting Daily. It's supposed to be made from linen but I held two strands of unmercerized 5/2 cotton together and it did the job. Linen would be better at holding the shape. I thought I had some, but you know how that goes.

I was in town all day so had lunch with DD Chris and Alexia on campus. I gave Alexia her market bag when we picked her up from her campus school. She was thrilled and wanted to show all her friends (who were still in session) all of her produce. The teacher wasn't as thrilled as Lexie.

She wore the bag to lunch and only took it off long enough to eat. She's mugging with the poster. They used her picture from a couple of years ago when they put this together. Chrissie works in Residential Life, i.e., dorm and food management, which is why we eat in the dining commons and why Alexia can go to the campus school. I'm not sure I will ever knit another baby sweater. There's a whole world of 3D knitting out there and a whole lot more appreciation for toys than clothes.
When I got home, there was an Amazon box on the counter with these two books. More 3D knitting! Beryl Moody recommended this rag rug book to me, saying it's been praised by the rag rug weavers in the Foothill Fiber Guild. I'm really excited to dig in. I would never have gotten off the ground without Hilary's help and the book she send. I'm progressing at glacial speeds, but tomorrow I throw the shuttle - again, but this time with the corrected strips.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Different Kind of Battle

The story of the West is a story of water and water rights. It's the gold that fuels development, think the movie China Town or Marc Reisner's book, Cadillac Desert. We live in Red Rock Valley, which is one valley west of Long Valley, a basin that receives Sierra runoff and its snow melt. It means we have a good aquifer in addition to occasional small springs.

We drew the attention of developers who quietly bought the water rights for a alfalfa ranch in lower Red Rock Valley. They petitioned to have an easement so they could subdivide and build houses and get out of the hay business. They received the easement, and then the horns came out. Actually, they said - we're going to build a pipeline with that easement and export your water. Their pipeline would place pumping stations right next to existing houses.

The water rights to that parcel were granted before Dickenson Ranch was subdivided into 400 parcels, which are now all small homesteads with individual wells. Nevada has a law that personal wells have a priority, but the developers have deep pockets. We raised money like crazy and hired an attorney to represent our cause. Our attorney emailed us yesterday with the following:

"Just received notification that Judge Adams ruled in our favor this morning and denied Red Rock LLC's petition to throw out the county commissioner's ruling. Spread the good news that we won! I will forward the decision as soon as I receive the order. "

It's a relief. We've won for now because they ran out of money. The concern is that they will be back, which means they'd have to take it to the Supreme Court, but for now, we've won!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Colors of March from Big Sky Country

Sue at Life Looms Large has called for the colors of the month. An old growth juniper against the Sierra Nevada.

Marking the entry for Joe Winter Pottery.

Marking the entry for an abandoned property, someone whose hopes were not realized.

Early Spring stream, runoff from high desert springs and snow melt.

On occasion, a steam forms into a pond, not big enough for fish but big enough to reflect the big sky.

Tinder dry old sagebrush, highly flammable and a huge wildfire risk, but also great kindling for the wood stove.
Big Sky Country.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not Quite There

The weather has finally warmed up enough that I think I'll be able to make soap. I have to measure and weigh in the garage where I keep my supplies. I also have to mix the lye solution in the garage. However, I first have to thaw out my olive oil. We had planned to go into Nevada Museum of Art yesterday to see the Gees Bend quilts, then discovered that the museum is closed on Tuesdays. We'll go tomorrow so that leaves Friday for soap.
I finally got the warp on to begin the rag rug place mats and discovered that I had cut the rags too thick for this project. Linda loaned me A Rug Weaver's Source Book so I read Inga Krook's chapter on rag rugs and realized these wefts had to come and and be cut thinner. I have unwoven, but I haven't re-cut. Instead I started winding a warp for Maudie Mae. I need some comfort weaving.
Even though I'm not able to weave yet, I was able to test the anti-spin device that Bob Allen sent me. It works and now I can see how it works. A small thin piece of maple is screwed into the inside of the back beam support arm. (It's just below the brake holding the cog.) The spring installed on the outside applies pressure and creates just enough friction to prevent that unwanted spin. I am now in love with Miss Millie. Suddenly all the loom lust I was feeling has dissipated.
I came down for lunch about 1:00 and found Charlie guarding my knitted produce. I've added a couple apples and pears. I joked that I pared down the pears to a pair. I had to stop and think how to spell it - our language challenges me and I'm a native speaker!
It's always cooler downstairs so I added a shirt, fixed my lunch and sat down at the table to eat. I was antsy to get back to work, but when I realized that it was actually warmer outside the house than inside, well - that all went out the window, and I went out the door, heh, heh. I noticed this morning that I got a bit of a rosy glow yesterday. We may not have anything growing yet, but we do have gorgeous skies.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Has Not Sprung Here

About this time of year, we experience migrating birds as they stop over in our wetlands. The bird in the foreground is either a sand or sandhill crane. They're pretty spectacular - big! I waited until it got above freezing this morning to take a walk. I figure Sue is going to call for the Colors of the Month any time now, and I'm not ready.
Yesterday morning I took my walk with the grandkids - it's part of our tradition. They like to look for chips of chert which are really quite pretty. This is what Alexia collected. You'd think they were hunting for Easter eggs. I found one! Grandma, look at this one!!
Chert is used to make arrow-
heads. DS Josh found both the complete and partial arrowhead in Sage Creek, just below our house. Chert is naturally occurring here on Porcupine Mountain, and more chips wash down after each rain. Indians from Pyramid Lake passed through here on their way to summer camps to trade with other Indians in California's Sierra Valley not too far west of here. Kinda eerie. As Alexia would say, "It creeps me out." I know what she means, but I probably am more in awe.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vegetables are Fiber

I dyed some white Patton's superwash Merino the other day. I've had this at least 12 years, purchased from Diane Soucy's stash sale. (I have to say that my stash, along with my animals were all previously owned.) Somewhere along the lines, the moths munched on it, so vegetables is the a perfect use. My dye liquors are at least five years old and when I tried to make the colors I wanted from the formulas I have, I found out why you can't keep the solutions this long. I kept having to make "adjustments." The green is for limes. You'll just have to pretend.
Ian and babysat this weekend. I know they're not babies anymore, but use that for lack of a better term. Kiernan has decided to grow his man hair and even though I was a child of the 60's - okay, the 70's, I don't get this. He is passionate about Legos and was completely absorbed with the set of wheels and gears we got for him.

I finished some carrots for Lexie's play kitchen while they were here. These are really fun to make. Little Sharon sent me the patterns but in looking around, I think she got them from Peachcake Knits. She has a lot of patterns on Ravelry and they're also on her blog. If you're interested, clink on her link for her patterns.
Alexia brought all her pretty ponies in their special roller bag and played for hours, doing all the voices for all their fantasy conversations. The one that made us laugh was, "Heather, you are grounded for two weeks." Notice what's on the floor behind her, already part of the play.

She's so excited about these. She asked me where I got the idea because they are very cool. I told her she can't take them home until I finish the set and make a bag for them. I've since divided my patterns into two classes: fruits and veggies. In the future, I'll just knit one set at a time. I think my grand-niece is in line for the next set. She turns two in September.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Terribly Disappointed

My morning spinning for the last couple of weeks is summed up in these two bobbins. The right one is merino blended with snipped sari silk thrums. The thrums were equal blue and fuchsia but they appear very blue here. The left is plain Tussah silk.

I weighed 1.7 ounces for the merino blend, so guessed that 1.5 of the silk, since it weighs more, would be close to equal. It was pretty close.

The goal of this yarn was to dye it pink and then knit a pink scarf for a breast cancer survivor by October. Starting now that gives me six months to knit, but I'm concerned this morning that the ply is so blue.
I put the skein in a pink dye bath, but the blue sari silk wasn't even close to exhausted and it over-
whelmed the cyclamen pink. I honestly don't know what to do now. I still want to gift someone in October with a pink scarf - that was the whole point here. I guess I start over. I have six months still. I did get some yarn dyed for more vegetables, so the dye day wasn't a total bust, but close.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Loom Woes

I have had a problem with my warp unreeling from the back beam when I tap the brake to advance the warp. I finally put this backhoe tooth on the outside of the beam to add weight and reduce the problem. I realized that sooner or later, the dowel would break from the weight of this tooth and I emailed Gilmore looms last week.

I exchanged a couple of emails and also had a couple of phone conversations with Bob Allen, the current owner and loom builder. He explained that there were two design flaws that he inherited. Bob built Miss Millie in 2003 and by then had eliminated the notorious dipped shed that prevented taut warps, but he hadn't as yet devised a method to stop unreeling warp from the back beam. I had learned to tap the brake to keep the action to one cog tooth at a time, but I knew that wouldn't work for rugs.
When I originally talked to him a few years ago, he said that he had developed an anti-spin device and that if I would bring the loom back in, he'd install it at no cost. When I emailed him last week, he said that he had created his device as a kit and I could order one. I ordered two - one for Miss Millie and one for Maudie Mae. Ian and spend some time getting them installed this morning, but if you have a Gilmore, you know that yours doesn't look like this.

I warped like crazy this afternoon but couldn't finish before dinner. I have to spend the day in town tomorrow, so I won't get to finish and start weaving until Friday. I hate the whole thing about waiting. I am so anxious to see how this works.
Meanwhile, I've started knitting the fruits and vegetables for Alexia's toy kitchen. I'm at three tomatoes and a banana as of tonight.

And tonight, Ian and I watched an astonishing documentary from Netflix called The Hobart Shakespeareans. I was reminded of Stand and Deliver, only these were real kids with real tears, some of them mine. What a difference one person, one teacher can make, who chooses his passion to teach over the passion to make money.