Monday, November 29, 2010

All Alexia, All Day

Alexia looked forward to her bath yesterday morning and just did not want to get out, so much singing in that room. Finally I reminded her of all the things we wanted to do and she was out in an instant. She was very anxious to start weaving on the new looper loom I got from Hiliary. She wouldn't have gotten dressed except the hook kept getting caught in the towel.

She couldn't be bothered with sitting at a table to eat breakfast so ate cold cereal out of a baggie. Notice the method she devised to keep her loops in the color order of her choosing. She kept talking about making a pattern and "my design." I thought we'd get started on the loom and she could come back to it. She was also anxious to start decorating the Christmas tree.

The placement of every ornament was carefully considered. Progress was slow but I knew we wouldn't finish the whole tree anyway. It was about her having fun. Suddenly she looked at me in utter panic - Grandma! Are we going to have time to make cookies? Would you rather make cookies, I asked. Silly question.

All cookies require sprinkles. In the future, I think sprinkles on only one side would be my choice. These are Jello cookies again, this time in lime. I used to make these with her mother and the recipe card is written in my friend's hand. The stamp we used is long gone but the recipe remains.


3/4 c Crisco
1/2 c sugar
1 3 oz pkg Jello
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
Cream together and add:
2 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
Roll into balls and flatten with a stamp. Bake 8-10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. (Sprinkles optional, unless you're Alexia)

She's whispering to herself, "over, under, over, under, over, under....."

Alexia did an astonishing amount of the work just with my supervision. I only needed to help when she got stuck. She became quicker at putting the loops on and finding her mistakes. She wanted to finish it so she could give it to her mommy when she came to pick her up. I was doing the crocheted edge as Christina was coming down the driveway. Alexia is very proud and so am I.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Laura is visiting her sister in Minden for a couple of days and drove all the way out here to visit Mim and me. I wish I had been a little less distracted because I see Laura so seldom. As always I learned something new from her - she gave me a quick lesson in i-cord edgings. I know it has a real name but that's okay. I know how to do it now, and I want to use it to trim my vest. Laura is one of those people I'd have to say has forgotten more than I've ever known.

She brought me this box of goodies. These are things that had belonged to her mother, Jean, who was a life-long fiber artist and its in that environment that Laura grew up. I met Jean on a number of occasions, and am thrilled to own her copy of Mary Black. Laura popped those two balls of "fiber play" in as an extra treat: superfine Merino, silk and alpaca. Drool~~
These are the rag rug shuttles that were in the box. There's also a metal temple. It's pretty overwhelming. I need some pegboard so I can hang these on the wall. I want to see them, even when I'm not using them.

Our next get-together won't be until next June during Black Sheep Gathering, which is a pretty distracted time for everyone.
We didn't get to the big agenda item today until after lunch. No ornaments can go on the tree until the lights are on, and Papa was pretty busy this morning clearing snow. When we finally starting stringing lights, we discovered that the last string in the box was dead. Alexia and I headed for the store - she wanted juice and raisins anyway and we both wanted to go to the library which is by the grocery store. A squall came through here and dumped another 2" of snow while we were gone. We were south of the weather band so only had to drove back on it, not in it.

Ian and I finally finished getting the lights strung about 4:30 which was disappointingly late for hanging ornaments. Lexi and I did get other decorations up though, and I let her hang a wooden sheep on the tree, which she gamely did her Vanna White to display.

This is the book I had placed on hold and was picking up from the library. I have read a couple of excellent reviews, and while I'm not really interested in knitting books much, I was glad the library had a copy for me to see. I read it cover to cover while Alexia watched more Angelina Ballerina on my laptop. I can't say I want to own the book, but I think it's a must-read for everyone interested in the history of American knitwear.

I read Alexia a couple of the books we picked up from the library, and now that I'm back in possession of my laptop, I'm going to look up the website of this mill. I recognized my life in that book. I think every knitter will, and perhaps non-knitters as well.
I finished this alpaca man-sized hat while Laura and I were visiting. Laura kicked off my hat-knitting thing years ago, and I'm always interested in her ideas. She makes hats that will twirl your eyeballs. She suggested an idea for an i-cord top and I can't wait to cast on for my next hat!

Cutting Trees

This is the 8th year we have gathered early at Hallelujah Junction and then driven up into Sierras to cut trees in the national forest above Frenchmans Lake. You have to go up high to get a silver-tip spruce. We drove on 14" of snow but it was 17 degrees, so crunchy and doable with care. We stopped here when we could go no further.
Grandson Evan blazed the first trail. His new duck-
hunting clothes were perfect for this. We had nine permits and five trucks, but we picked up an extra truck. A guy and his family saw an opportunity to go in with a group - safety in numbers. They were quite relieved to join us.
Carol snagged the first tree of the day. She had five permits, cutting for friends who couldn't come along, and this one was for Gayle. The forest service checked our tags on the way out and all nine trees sported a tag. I wonder how many trucks they had to help pull out before the day was over.
Once Evan realized that his clothes really were water-proof, he was in the snow as much as he was out of it. The rest of didn't fare as well and had wet pant legs, but not enough to dampen the fun. This is the most fallen snow we've had in our eight-year tradition.
Ron and Allie brought there son Ryan, who was the youngest of our troop this year. He brought dogs too. Labs seem to love water, even if it's frozen.
Amy found her tree! It's perfect for her little house. This was an inaugural off-road trip for her new Toyota. We had to drive through five mud pits that were quite nasty (Ian had to use compound low) and when we got back out, her little truck was covered in mud. Christened!
The diciest part of the drive was negotiating around vehicles of incoming tree-hunters on the drive out. The roads were getting a little slushy and some people lacked good sense. Driving up out of a valley, we were trying to maneuver past some incoming vehicles when one guy stopped us, asking Ian how far in we had to go to get the "fancy" tree. Grrrr. All the trucks behind us were stuck and DS Josh and to use a tow strap to free Carol whose new used truck needs new tires. Grrr.
Josh got their tree. They wrapped in up a tarp and put in their camper shell to take back to Oregon. They spent $70 on a tree last year and you can't knock a $10 forest-service permit tree, plus they collect another memory. It's a great deal!
And this is our tree. Part of the memory making is stopping in Chilcoot at the Wood 'n Rose for lunch. Because we're the earliest tree hunters, we get the place pretty much to ourselves. They are wonderful to us, plus they write individual tickets. It wouldn't be complete without this meal and the visiting.

We are usually home by 1:00, but the difficult snow added hours and we weren't home home late afternoon. Everyone but us was headed to the UNR/Boise State game, so we were on tap to babysit Alexia. SIL brought her out and then he and grandson Kiernan were off the game.
I just discovered Watch Now on Neflix last week and so set Lex up with Angelina Ballerina on my laptop and on her bed. We were using the TV to watch the game. Sadly, we both fell asleep right after half time and by then Alexia was already asleep. We missed the upset of the year. UNR won! Go Wolfpack!!

Alexia and I have a full day ahead of us, starting with a tree to decorate. I'm anxious to try out the new looper loom, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile, it has snowed since we awoke and is supposed to snow all day. It's a good thing it didn't snow yesterday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nervous Day

I took this picture today as week 5 of my photos from one location. I missed week 4 as Alexia was here last week and, well, I got distracted somewhere between the peanut butter cookies and the knitting and the spinning lessons. It snowed all night and the wind was absolutely punishing. It woke me several times.
Ian went to feed this morning and was stunned to discover that the wind had picked up the llama shed and tumbled it over the fence and onto it's roof. The animals are coated in snow so it didn't just happen.
The llamas are much more comfort-
able with snow and simply kushed down. The sheep were not happy and begged us to do something. Anxiety of the unknown took hold as tonight the temps will be sub-zero and they need to be able huddle inside.
As you can see, it went up and over the fence. It had to flip it in a complete somersault for it to land on the roof. The real anxiety was just how much damage had been sustained and if it would remain intact in an attempt to right it. Fortunately DS Josh is in town from Bend for the holiday. He built the shed and is the best acquainted with the structure.
Neighbor Tom called right after daylight. He'd seen the situation but had to go to town - said he would be down with his tractor after he got back. Meanwhile Josh drove out. The highway had been closed due to blowing snow so he chose the back way - just a couple of dicey spots and fewer crazy drivers. They pow-wowed in the garage and this is what they decided on. The shed looks pretty battered.
And down it comes. Josh plans loads and weights in trucking and his plan here was right on. The shed is now in a different place, but it's in a place and tonight there are five furry animals cuddled together inside. It's 8:30 right now and 16 degrees outside. I think this was a happy ending.
I couldn't really concentrate on any one thing today - too many things going on, but I did knit in the in-betweens and finished this hat from alpaca. It's luscious.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I slipped outside the door the night before last to catch the "action." I won't bore you with the next day pictures - it would have just been more snow. We dodged a bullet with the weather that was forecasted - about a foot of snow. It was so slow moving that it partially exhausted itself on the western slope. My friends there are reporting power outages of 12 hours and more on Facebook - by cell phone.

Meanwhile, I dyed my too-blue yarn in a black- saddened olive dye bath. Huge mistake. I wish I would have just have dumped it into yellow. I got a dark blue-green yarn. Still apples and oranges, just different applies.
So today I put my poor tortured skein into a yellow bath, which is what I should have done in the first place. I'm concerned that it's over-dark at this point. I'm trying to decide if I want to wear a vest that is trimmed in this green. I'm thinking it's going to scream HOMEMADE. I'm thinking.
I've decided to knit a couple of hats from natural colored wools. Mim and I have elected to participate in the local craft fair. It wasn't an easy decision. It means we won't be able to attend our guild Christmas party. We met a number of our neighbors at the last craft fair in the valley south of us, and so we decided to gamble on this opportunity. There just aren't many occasions to meet neighbors.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What I'm Doing

Yesterday Ian and I made an event out of our trip to town. We ate lunch at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant and saw the current exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art - Audubon prints on loan from the New York Historical Society, complete with bird sounds available through cell phone call. We kick ourselves for not getting to the museum more often. I love this sentinel Don Quixote-ish horse made from sagebrush.

I just finished spinning the last of the pound of blue-face Leicester that I took to the Foothill Fiber Guild dye-day last spring. I had dyed three quarter-pound batches in almost the same color ways and when I realized that, I tried something else. It's very blue-green.
The other 3/4 pound I spun randomly together and am knitting the yarn into this vest. I need the stuff I'm spinning to be in color agreement so I can use it for the edges and neck since I have limited yardage for the vest body.
The yarn and the color were looking so good during the spinning but there's nothing in common here - apples and oranges. I went over to Mim's for some fiber-cave time this afternoon - needed eggs and friendship. We're supposed to be snowed in this weekend and I'm out of eggs. When I came home, I put this yarn in a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants dye bath. The skeins are drying now - I hope they lighten up.
I picked up a UPS package that the delivery guy had tossed over the gate on my way to Mim's. My looper loom is here! I'm chomping at the bit - cannot wait for Alexia to come out so we can play with this. The colors are just as bright and vibrant as they are on the Internet. She's very excited about it. So am I.
Ol' what's his face was pretty interested too, and this is where my camera battery died. I really do need to buy a backup. Meanwhile, it's pouring snow outside - such bad timing. Tomorrow is my monthly knit date and also a lunch date with my book club. I expect I will be at neither occasion.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We've Been Busy

Ian met DD Chris at the craft fair on Sunday and brought Alexia home to spend a couple of days with us. She attends year-round school and is currently off track. This is a whole generation who won't understand "off track" as we do. I heard many voices conducting many conversations before bedtime and checked on the state of play - no shortage of imagination.
Alexia is so easy to have here, although I must say baking a batch of cookies each day could use some rethinking. All cookies went home with her. She loves to watch a movie on my laptop under the dining room table and it gives me a break. This weekend she wanted to learn to make origami boxes, knit and spin. Yikes!
We did try the knitting this morning and while she did very well, her hands are tiny so it ended up being three-handed knitting. Her attention never strayed but her hands need to grow I think. To be continued. We tried spinning after lunch.
She can barely reach the treadles and she absolutely loved it. I started with Shetland but the staple length was too long so went to Merino. She did pretty well with it but wasn't getting the why of what her hands were doing - and then suddenly her hands made an instinctive move and she changed from the direction that I use and put her left hand in front as the guide and her right hand to feed the fiber.
I'd reach in when the fiber drew apart and reconnect it and then say - back to your hands - treadle, treadle, treadle, and she'd be back at it. Treadle, treadle, treadle was my constant line - she'd get so excited that she'd forget, and pull her feet off the treadles and draw her knees up - lots of laughing. Treadle, treadle, treadle.

It was awesome. I am so excited at how well she did. We were both wearing down and suddenly her hands got it - the right hand started pulling back with loosely held fiber and the right hand guided it onto the bobbin. She's a natural! I am exhausted and can't wait to do it again.