Thursday, July 29, 2010

Next Rug

I'm finally getting around to winding warp for my blue jeans rug. I only have two tubes of blue so am working from the outside in. When I run out of blue, the rest will be orange. Julie at re'New mentioned that she put ankle weights on her beater bar so she wouldn't have to beat so hard. I bought three pound ankle weights at Target yesterday and strapped them on both ends. They seem to fit okay, but I'll just have to wait to see how they work. We were in town for Ian's doctor appointment yesterday. All his lab work was excellent but since they didn't point out the underlying cause, more tests have been ordered. He is starting to feel like he just might live and the doctor has assured him of it.
I sewed jean strips together this afternoon so I could wind them into balls while we watched the opening season of Project Runway. I am randomly pulling the strips from the sack to mix up the shades of blue.

The strips look like like streamers or flags until I cut them apart and snip the corner from the seam. I had no idea that working with denim like this would be so dirty. Rolling the strips while sitting on the sofa is something I won't repeat.
I'm really pleased with the variety of blues in the strips and I'm chomping at the bit to see what this rug is going to look like. We have our family gathering here in about five weeks and I'd love to have two more rugs on the floor by then.
Meanwhile, Charlie has found a game he can play with this rug. If he runs at full speed out of the laundry room and leaps onto the rug, he can get a couple feet of slide out it. He's developed his own amusement ride and I hope the thrill goes away soon, because I'm certainly over it.
Something has been eating out of our garden and it's not us. Four days ago Ian set this "Have-a-Heart" trap between the tomato and potato boxes. Since then he has caught four pack rats and three squirrels.
This squirrel got caught mid-day so Ian put him in the back of the truck so he wouldn't cook to death in the heat of the afternoon. When the sun sets, he'll take him down the road a couple of miles and release him.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Colors of July from the High Desert

I've thought about this for days. We have always done colors of the month for the fun of it, but I haven't been able to let go of the other side of July in the arid West. Five strikes of lightening did this damage. If you click for big, you can see the crew trucks lined up, waiting to snag flare-ups.

I have cried over this fire as so many of us have. In those blackened trees is a family residence in ashes. It was an error in judgment from the fire crews. They saved the house, though they had lost a shed and boat, and moved on to save another house. It's called re-burn. The fire came back and took the house after all.
I know you're looking at this picture wondering what could burn, but what you see in the foreground is growing on the hillsides. Sagebrush is a hot fuel and we are always warned to keep it away from our homes for the sake of defensible space. That red stripe is retardant from an air tanker. They ran multiple tankers and helicopters and they all flew over our house - it was nerve wracking!
It's a quiet evening but you can see the sagebrush on the lower part of our property. Two years ago a lightening strike ignited a fire that could have easily surged up the hill to our house, but our VFD volunteers were so fast, their trucks were here, they cut through the fences, pulled hoses and quenched the fire. I am in awe of fire fighters, especially those who volunteer. The VFD from our valley were on that Constantia fire. I am in awe. I guess I said that. Color that bright with awe - that's my July color. Awe.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


When Evelyn said she thought there was a story behind Goldie, she certainly was right. I bought this LeClerc Nilus Artisat loom that I completely didn't need on a total whim. Even now I'm surprised at me. I named her Goldie because she's in her golden years. Where to start?

I have been the newsletter editor for our guild for probably eight years and so also the online contact. I received an email asking if I'd advertise a loom for sale. After several email exchanges, I ended up purchasing it myself. I didn't need this loom but the story made my heart ache - I blame that. Ken was a recent widower. They had bought Goldie in upstate New York and Lee Ann wove on it for 20 some years. Sometimes Ken, an engineer, would share a project with her. They retired from the Bay Area and bought their dream house in the very pretty little community of Gardnerville. Three months later she was t-boned in an intersection and died instantly, thus my opinion on traffic rotaries.

I realized from our emails that Goldie needed to not be put out for advertisement - you know what that's like. I told him I worried that people would dicker with the price when he told me wanted to place an ad for "best offer." After days of thinking about the story, I arranged to buy it and Josh and DIL Missy picked it up for me - they were camping close by. I was still working, didn't have time to weave and Goldie got stuffed in the dormer.

Last fall I got the bright idea to replace her wire heddles with Texsolv heddles. I wasn't crazy about how hard it was to slide the wire ones after working with the wonderful big-eyed heddles on my Gilmores. If I thought the wire ones didn't slide, I was in for a surprise. These puppies were constipated! On top of that, this is a light weight loom. I know Lee Ann wove rugs on it and I have no idea how, but with the fiber heddles, the harnesses popped out of the sheds like bread from a toaster. I wove two sets of towels and stuffed her back into the dormer.
Lee Ann had every-
thing, including these extra bunches of wire heddles. I set about replacing the fiber heddles with these. What a job, a long and dirty job. I do love the wide open shed and ease of tie-up. I've decided this has to be my dish towel loom. Change of tie-up on Gilmores is rigorous and athletic. I realized when I got ready to weave my last rug that I had changed the tie-up for the baby blankets last year and had not been weaving twill ever since, even though I thought I was treaddling it.
And the heddles are done, ready to go. I'm not quite ready however, as my attention is focused still on weaving another rag rug, but it's good to know that Goldie is back in business. Benita admonished me a couple months ago to "free the loom." The loom has been freed :-)

I believe the day will come when Goldie will become DIL Missy's first loom. Goldie is important to me - she gave me into the weaving spirit.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Coast is Clear

We have had torrential rain and thunder boomers overhead for hours this afternoon. Eddie has sequestered himself in the bathroom and even after the coast is clear, it's not clear for Eddie. We're reading: Me, Innocent by Scott Turow and Ian, Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd.

We got a substantial downpour and it was enough to make us wonder what to do in the next ten minutes if it didn't let up. Flash floods are real and not good.
It was an antsy day of air fire defenders, and I decided to ignore that all by cutting my new-found pants into panels and into strips. I sent Ian into the closet and rustled myself up even more pants.

Any math folks care to help me here? I want to make a 10' rug but when I put on a 4 yard warp, I only got a six' rug. What am I doing wrong here? Honestly, I wish I had done my homework in grammar school.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The winds from the thunder-
storm and electrical activity at the airport prevented the firefighters from attacking this fire from the air until mid-morning today. It got a pretty hefty head start by the time the Type II Incident Command Team was called in. The highway was closed about 2:00 and remained closed at 8:00 at last report.

There was absolutely no wind this morning so I used the time to sit on the deck and pick through the last of this dirty fleece. I hope the fleece that's soaking now isn't as dirty as this one.
Throughout the afternoon we heard the drone of fire planes and choppers. It's ominous and comforting at the same time. I grew up in the arid West and am conditioned to get agitated and uneasy during a fire.
By mid afternoon, the fire had crested and was coming down the Eastern slope (click for big). This is out of the reach of anything but the air crews. All we know at this point is that one residence and two outbuildings were lost, one firefighter was injured and evacuations are in place. We are safe and also sad.
This is how it looked at sundown tonight. The air crews can't fly at night so we just hope the wind will die down overnight and give the crews a break. Our valley VFD are part of the crew.
This is the photo I showed you on Thursday from my ill-timed run to gas up Ian's truck. This is the valley that is burning. This is the highway that is closed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rich Day of Friendship

This morning a group of fiber-nuts met at Walden's. It was pretty sponta-
neous and I do think we had an great turn-out, but you know how fiber-nuts are. We want to make this habit - not fiber. It's already a habit. Getting together!
Everyone split afterwards to see an art exhibit but my book club was meeting in an hour so I decided rather than race through the exhibit, I'd take my self to my favorite nearby county park. It's a very large and wonderful complex of native plants. I had the pleasure of living within a mile of it for almost 20 years. My running partner friend and I ran through here and brought our sketch pads on occasion. I haven't been back in a long time - many memories.
I took my drop spindle to my favorite bench by a Douglas Fir. A quiet 30 minutes of spindling seemed to be in order, though I found myself chatting with folks as they walked by, fascinated by what I was doing. I thought "my" bench was hidden - guess not. One woman and her two teen-age boys were absolutely fascinated and both the boys were openly interested. I gave the Mom a gold star.

I love my book club and the ladies in it. We all come from such different backgrounds and the group is small enough for an easy-paced discussion - I guess I do need two book clubs.
We meet in each others homes every other month and then a restaurant. BTW, my quiche was awesome - really. The secret is to scald the half-and-half. Okay, that's half the secret. I'd have to kill you for the other half.

Betty, our hostess today, is an accomplished basket weaver and in the conversation about weaving, I mentioned my hunt for cheap rags. She ran down to the basement and came back several pair of mens twill pants, saying that after the Quilts of Gees Bend exhibit, she thought she'd do something, but here - you do something. I've seen Julie's rugs from twill pants and they're terrific.

I put them in the dining room when I got home, and then when I went to set the table for dinner, found that they had been adopted. Thanks Mom, says Charlie. I love these. You want me to move?? Move where? When? Now?
When the temps climb to 100, I know we're going to have electrical activity. We unplugged and waited. Ideally, thunderstorms bring rain, but for us in the arid high desert, dry lightening is always a danger.
Ian saw the lights from the VFD truck leaving our valley and then saw the fire. This is burning where I was stuck in roadwork just yesterday. There are hundreds of head of cattle there. This is a terrible time for ranchers in Long Valley. They've suffered from these strikes many times. I wonder why the weather systems are so mean to them.

Meanwhile, at our house we have a golden sunset and rainbow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Heating Up

I started this morning by skirting another one of Mickey's fleeces. The timing is tricky because I want the fleece warmed up, but I don't want me warmed up. Today was supposed to reach the century mark. One more fleece to go and I'll put the whole shootin' match in the mail to Morro.

Before it got any warmer, I wanted to get on the road to Doyle and gas up Ian's truck. My timing was terrible. They're repaving this stretch.
Ahead of me and behind me, as far as I could see, vehicles were lined up. We waited about 20 minutes for the pilot car and my needle was buried in Empty. I could practically see the gas station! I turned the truck off along with the music. My music was birds and trains.
A road runs along the back side of Long Valley. This basin gets nice run-off from the mountains which supports a number of large working ranches. Whenever you see a cluster of trees like those in the distance, you can be sure there's a ranch to go with it. It's all about cattle and hay here. I decided to take that way home and leave the pilot car for someone else to follow.

I passed fields still in irrigation but as you can see, some of the hay is cut and ready to be put away or sold. There are a couple hundred head of cattle just on the other side of this field.
This old house is on a large and viable ranch. There are three other abandoned houses on the property, and in spite of this ones condition, it's filled with stuff. All the ranches have "boneyards" but I think this is the only one I've seen littered with relic houses. There's a nice newer one behind those trees. Shakes head~
I had just one more hot thing today before my tasks were done - make quiche for book club tomorrow. We just read Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I'm using my new pie plate that Joe Winter made for me. It's more shallow than either of my other ones but perfect for quiche. The zucchini is from our garden. Finally something has ripened enough to eat! I hope it's as good as it looks.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Ian is still in his vampire existence, avoiding heat and sun. I am thankful to Benita for all her help, support and suggestions. She too is married to a Scot who probably was mean to live on the moors. She said Scott's heat sensitivity has spoiled the meaning of "go soak your head" because when she says that, he replies - Good Idea - and dodges back into the house.

And so this morning I ended up making a run to town in Ian's 16-year-old truck with no air conditioning for a couple bales of hay to tide us over until ours is delivered next week. And while you're at it, he said, how about getting a lube and oil change? Sigh. He's terrible about these things so I had all the fluids changed for a huge price tag. The only fluid I forgot was gas - serious problem. I'll have to run up to Doyle in the morning and fill the tank - for .15 more a gallon that I could have paid in town. Sigh.

When I got home, I got onto my agenda, which today was making more pesto from the gorgeous basil I bought from the Hmongs on Tuesday. Our garlic cloves are pretty small and I was pretty generous with the cloves. I sampled and my eyes watered - just the way I like it!
I only got 16 cubes from my batch, and I figure one cube is a nice modest lunch proportion with linguine. I have some cubes already in the freezer from my own basil, but I think I need to go back and get more for at least one more batch. Basil is insanely expensive in the winter and is synonymous with pesto to me, so much that I find myself using the terms interchangeably.

My waiting room knitting has begun to look like a sock. Ian's kidney ultrasound took over an hour and I simply cannot concentrate on a book in a waiting room. I was so happy to have my knitting and avoided the bewildered stares - I knit pretty fast. I'm going to have a lot of yarn left over. I could make a third sock! Four ounces of wool makes a pair of socks. This is a silk blend so I'm getting more yardage. What a waste!
This is my yarn from the other roving I bought at Black Sheep. It too is 4 ounces and it will probably be just enough for a pair. I'm half of a mind to frog the semi-sock and look for a more suitable project for that gorgeous yarn. I know for a fact that this is socks. It told me so.
Ian helped me lay the rug tonight and I'm frustrated to see that it's only half as long as I'd like. The optimal length would be 10' and this is a 3'x5' rug. I'm not sure I can muscle a 10' rug so am wondering about making two 5' rugs on the same warp and just abutting them. After book group on Saturday I'm going to hit thrift stores and look for potential rag rug material.

For you rag rug weavers, I've been thinking about using orange in the warp on my next project with jeans. I see that Hilary's jean rugs use all-blue warp, but Levi Strauss has that orange thread running throughout and I have a tube of orange that came with Goldie. Has anyone incorporated orange in the warp? I'll probably do it anyway since I'm not sure I have enough blue. Just curious. I really do need to tell you about Goldie. Evelyn is right - there is a story.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'm fixin' to get ready to send fleece off for pro-
cessing. Of serious and nagging business are the dozen (or more) fleeces in the garage which are becoming an increasing storage nuisance. Skirting is a warm weather business and unpleasant at best. I like to have some sun on the fleece as it warms up the lanolin and makes shaking out the nasty bits a little easier.

I've set up my skirting table on the west side of the garage and I'm started with this years shearing of Mickey. When I've skirted all of Mickey's fleeces, I'll box them up and ship them off for processing and start on the next group. I'm fixin'.
It was a day of fixin'. I'm soaking fleece here, fixin' to wash it. Mim told me she'd gotten a tip from Judith MacKenzie - put your fleeces in a cold water soak before you wash them, leaving them in the water for several days, and a week is even better. I guess something happens in the nasty water that helps break down the lanolin? Anyone, anyone? Ferris??
I carded the dark gray fleece that I had washed. These are great things to do on a laundry day since you can get them done in between loads, and it does make laundry seem a lot less thankless. I was fixin' for my spin-in today at a noon fiber play-date in town.
There were a half dozen of us at Allison's today. I spun this while we chatted and I cannot tell you how much good that did my heart. She has this in her home every Tuesday, from 11:00-1:00 and I realize just how important it is to make time for it. I left feeling like I had taken happy drugs. It was good medicine. I finished the day with a long over-due pedicure. I have to take Ian into town in the morning for an ultrasound and x-ray. He's still pretty rocky, but a much more compliant patient than he was a week ago. Thanks for all your comments and concerns on that front.

And of course, one of laundry day tasks is putting fresh linens on the bed. But there seems to be something under the covers. Will laundry day never end?!
It's the chief snooper-
visor! He's checking to see if I made mitered corners and if you can bounce a quarter off the sheets. Yes and no. Oh, and I am going to bed tonight with lime green toenails which still make me giggle.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Big Rug

I finished the rug finally late this afternoon. I ended up having to sew more strips and almost exhausted all the fabric on hand. I read somewhere that you need to plan on 3-4 pounds of fabric for ?? size rug. It was a borrowed book I read, and I wish I would have made a note of what that measurement is. Sammie is all over it - really. I weighed the rug, with me on the scale, and without. It weigh in at a little over five pounds. What did the scale way without the rug? None of your bees wax!

I managed to resist my Libra urges to make the stripes symme-
trical and am clapping myself on the back. I love the way the warp turned out. I washed it - it's a Libra thing - and it's hanging upstairs to dry. I can't actually use without an anti-skid mat anyway. That will come home with from my Tuesday trip to town.
I've also started washing fleece. This is Limerick whose fleece is not quite black and not quite gray. I bought a pound from Mim and have another pound of red/brown soaking. I really want to knit a sweater with the different colors of Shetland this winter. I realize that I have conveniently spaced all of my own fleeces that need my attention in the garage. Sigh.
I've tried to stay in the house with Ian as much as possible - he still can't tolerate any heat. This evening we've moved to the front porch and are reading when I see this. Do you see it? The tip of an ear?

Eddie does love his hidey holes and has a number of them in the yard. He's such a funny dog. I had to turn the camera on in the house in order to get this picture or he would have run away. I wish I understood dogs better. I'm headed to bed - long day. Tomatoes and pines fed, trees soaked, weeds pulled, 'nother trip to town. I'll update my reading later.