Saturday, April 30, 2011

No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition

My yoga teacher is out of town for a month but I'm still trying to keep up with at least 15 minutes of yoga a morning. I don't remember the asanas quite right, and yesterday I felt a wrench in my back. By the end of the day, my back was officially sore. Getting out of bed was interesting this morning, but it seemed to work itself out over the course of the morning.

I decided that if I don't have warp, I can at least cut strips of fabric. I reached down this box from the shelf and set it on the weaving bench, but when I bent slightly to lift it and it's companion box, my back went into spasm. This is a new and unwelcome experience for me. I am out of commission and will rest until this passes, though I hate it. My mother used to say, "Can't you sit still?!"

The only one enjoying my fabric today is Charlie. I'm still thinking about placemat fringe. I like the way it looks - a lot! On the other hand, she had warts - that's what my mother would have interjected. I'm saying however, on the other hand, hems are serviceable and look it. I'm taking Pooh approach for now - thinking, thinking.
These are oyster mush-
rooms from our CSA basket. Until I read the accompanying sheet, I had no idea they even existed. They are the strangest looking fungi, but they're supposed to taste like smoked oysters and I wanted to see if that's true. It's true! I sauted them with onion and asparagas, added diced ham and made a simple 2 cup white sauce with only salt and pepper, served over pasta. Five ingredients - that's it. It was crazy good.
Ever since I redis-
covered the joy of cooking in January, I've become increas-
ingly more obnoxious about it. Tonight I snagged this bowl to serve in. We bought it years ago in Oregon and it's been on display in the entry ever since. But no longer~
One of my favorite things about the San Francisco Chronicle is the pink sheet. I pick the paper up after church and then spend rest of the week digesting it. I love this part called All Over Coffee, where an artist's submission is displayed. If you click for big and see the print across the bottom, you'll see why I've contact the artist to order my own copy. I know it's just a print, but I want it anyway. It speaks to me. (p.s. My title is a Monty Python reference, in case you're unfamiliar with them.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Almost May

And we got a dusting of snow last night. I finished tying fringe on the last placemat and someone has staked a claim. I'm new at tying fringe and the first mat took fully an hour. I got much quicker by the end. I asked Hilary how to wash them and she said she didn't recommend it, that it caused the fringe to fray and get ugly.
This is what she was talking about. I used the gentle cycle with almost no agitation and this is what I got. I can't imagine what it would have looked like in a regular wash. So instead of being finished, I had fringe to trim.
I absolutely love the denim mats. All our plates have cobalt blue in them so they are perfect. I made six for the dining room table, which is currently covered with hat kit makings. And by the way, I've placed a link to my Etsy store in the sidebar for the kits I've added. How subtle was that :)
These are the hit-and-
miss mats with strips I had left over from the last rug. These are Ian's favorite. I elected to not weave the 4th mat because I wanted to leave a generous amount of warp to tie a new one onto.

And today I was merry winding that very warp, and when my spool ran out and I went to get the next one, discovered there was no next one. I had a mini-meltdown when I realized that I hadn't read the shipping receipt and my rug warp was backordered. I've straightened that out and rug warp is on its way. Breathe.

Lauren just sent me these photos and I thought you'd like to see high school students learning to drop spindle. She said they did great. I started with her by spinning the whorl while she got her hands oriented and it appears that she has set her students up in pairs the same way. Awesome, Dude.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hats Off

It was an absolutely lovely morning, sunny and 60 degrees. I spent about an hour here, just being one with the universe, or whatever. It's the first time this year I've been able to spin here, so I chose this environment over my S.A.D light. The forecast is for possible snow tonight and a low of 17 degrees in the morning. I will be one with my grow light tomorrow morning for sure.
Mim and I took a drive up to the Doyle post office to check on the best way to ship hat kits. I told her to meet me at the mailboxes at 1:00. The P.O. is closed from 12:30-1:30 - oops - and so we waited. Mim noticed the rail across the roof to prevent sheets of snow from bombing patrons. Interesting.
We thought it would be nice to drive home on a loop of the old highway that threads its way through old established ranches. We were the only car on the road so I stopped to snag this picture of Long Valley. It is a very long valley and especially pretty this time of year. I love our clouds. They are such an adornment
I came home, inspired to get hat kits finished and uploaded to Etsy. I have a bin for my Shetland skeins and so sorted through and started building some completed kits. I hadn't realized it, but some of these skeins are several years old. All three of these are from Ollie - that's now much he has faded in the last three years.
I have completed four kits so far. I have more yarn, but I had no idea how many steps and how much time it would take to make just one hat kit. I thought I'd just pop them up on Etsy. What was I smoking??

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Start of Something Big?

I was letting down more warp on the floating selvedge weights when I saw a UPS truck come barreling up the road, followed by our dogs excited barking. I knew it! I just knew our jars were here and they were. Look at the size of that box. Fully 40% of the cost of this order was the shipping.
And here they are - 80 jerky jars. The initial outlay is a bitter pill to swallow, but we felt strongly about choosing reusable containers over landfill fodder. Mim came over today, bringing eggs - of high importance. We divided up the jars and finalized the elements and yardage for each kit. Now we're on our own - 40 kits each to create. It's exciting and scary at the same time.
Lauren and her husband came out this evening to collect Goldie and take her to the Reno High arts room. I have had the pleasure of seeing Lauren with her students. She is amazing and they love her. In her quest for affordable drop spindles, she ended up creating her own whorls with polymer clay, adding sticks and a cup hook. This is just one of the many and the colors are fun - so high school. I took this one for a drive and it does very well surprisingly. I've offered to come in and help on spindle days and she said - I thought you'd never ask. I hope she means it.
Lauren asked me why I hadn't sold the loom. I knew about the fiber arts program she has been developing. My brilliantly talented fiber friend Linda Lu learned to spin and weave in a Portland high school. I decided I'd rather invest the loom in students. Oh gads, that does sound sanctimonious and I've retyped this a dozen times and it doesn't get any better. Anyway, I was thrilled that she bought yarn. No, I did not twist her arm. She selected these skeins. Thanks Lauren!!
And there she goes. Lauren has promised me photos of her students on Goldie in the future. I'm so excited to be a part of this developing program. It has the capacity to change the face of weaving in our community, like Little League to the Yankees. Who knows where this will go. Linda Lu is working at making her living on her weaving. It can happen. Dreams do come true.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I've had my "grow light" and have used it long enough now that Charlie knows the drill. I had set my station up and went to pour a cup of coffee - look what I found in my place when I came back.
I was finishing up the last of the triple-ply blue wool/
mohair this morning and don't like to stop in the middle. I'm guaranteed kinks and knots if I do. However, Charlie has appointed himself the gate keeper of his dog and always lets us know by mewling when she's at the back door, wanting to come in. I was determined to fill my bobbin and ignored Charlie but he's an insistent 8-pound ginger cat. At the point he reached yowling, I could no longer enjoy spinning and let Sammie in. She was most grateful and I had an irresolvable kinky wad in my yarn.
I've finished that yarn. It's fulled and drying upstairs. This is what was leftover, and for starting with a pound of fiber, I think I did some pretty good guessing on bobbin fill. I've started spinning my Shetland again, getting ready for hat kits. Our jars should arrive tomorrow!
I've finished the denim place mats and have started on the hit and miss. These are strips that I had already sewn for my last rug and didn't end up needing. I can see that 60" wide fabric doesn't make of a hit and miss, more like a hit. I'm looking forward to seeing what these look like off loom.
I'm especially intrigued by how the stripped fabric (near the top) looks in the mats. The repeats were lost in the rug, but I think they're really interesting here. I've also got some reds and turquoise fabrics I bought because I thought they'd look great in a rug, just not in my house. Now I'm thinking I'd like to try them for mats in a clasped weft pattern. Notice how the threading error as disappeared. It had something to do with the lumpy denim.

Hiliary said that placemats are "wicked fun" but I wasn't feeling that with the denim. These hit and miss are completely taking over my brain. I can hardly stay away and when I'm working, I'm thinking about what I'm going to try next! NOW I know what she meant. They are wicked fun!
I took this photo on Saturday. I could have taken it yesterday or today, and there is a possibility of snow tonight. The sun is supposed to make a showing tomorrow and then Wednesday night, the next storm moves in. I wasn't planning to move to Portland. Did it move to us?!

As part of my indoor rehabilitation and therapy, I have read *and* recommend the following books:

South of Broad, by Pat Conroy: It has all the elements of a traditional Conroy, including the brilliant writing, but this one is a bit of a romp/thriller. It's the one I was reading on the deck when the sun came out one Sunday last month - I remember the day - and I sunburned my face because I lost track of time flipping pages.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore: This is bildungsroman at it's best, the young lady being a college student in Troy, New York, from a small town and trying to bring her nativity into a world she had not been prepared for. I remember being that lost clueless college student, bumbling through the situations as they arose, like ducks in a shooting gallery. Not many will get the ducks she did and that's what makes this story so great and so unforgettable. I'm still thinking about it.

Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress: I faltered after the first couple of chapters because I just wasn't making friends with the protagonist. I find it hard to read a book about someone I don't like. I loved Crazy in Alabama so gave Childress a couple more chapters and then I was hooked. This is dark comedy and great stuff for dark days. I needed the laughs.

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton: I had read the first chapter of this book as an essay in the New Yorker earlier this year and put myself on hold at the library. Apparently everyone else read that same essay, because I had a very long wait for this book. It was worth it. The author is nothing short of a remarkable woman and a survivor on the scale of 1-10, a 10. Along the way in her journeys she picked up an MFA in fiction writing - no wonder the book reads with the pace of a novel.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jeans Rug, Part Deux

Goldie and her parts are on the balcony, ready to go and I'm looking forward to having the space for yoga. The only other thing I need to remember is the bench. I'm including the LeClerc shuttle that came with her and which I like very much, but I feel that Goldie is LeAnn's loom and that as such and in her spirit, I think it all needs to go together. There's also a Deborah Chandler book, but it was published when her name was still Reedy.

Lauren and her husband will be here Wednesday evening to pick her up and take her to the high school art room, where she will be joined by another loom. Lauren is commited to developing a fiber arts program with her students and has taught every one of them to knit this year. She has donated fleece from a teacher - nice stuff - and Melissa gave me a bag of roving to pass on to her students. We met again Wednesday in her art room for another drop spindle session. She started off struggling, just like last time. I isolated the steps into four parts and showed, then she tried, and I showed, and repeat. And then she got it. She was absolutely giddy and can't wait to start teaching her students.

Our guild makes drop spindles which we sell for $5 as part of our mission "to promote the fiber arts." Lauren has ordered 35 of them! Nancy emailed me this morning and says she is on it. We are all pretty excited about Lauren's vision. Her students love her!
I've got the failed denim rug draped over Maudie Mae and am mining it for it's strips. I have to cover my looms anyway since the studio is open to the great room and ash from the woodstove gets on everything.
I want so much to be able to weave rag rugs and thanks to Hiliary, I have made a couple that I absolutely love - the limitation is my loom. Hiliary is my weaving midwife. She birthed me! I emailed her after looking at the placemats on her site and asked for suggestions. She emailed me wonderful directions and invited me to call, which I did. The denim is much more suited to this sett. I learned yesterday while winding the warp why people have warping mills. My warping took on the aspects of an aerobic exercise. I wound the top yards standing, and the lower yards sitting, using both arms to warp yarn on the pegs. Up, down, up, down, arm up left, arm up right. I'd like a warping mill but I can't complain about this form of exercise.
It wasn't until I took this picture that I realized I have an error running right up the center of the warp, so I've decided to call it a design element. I wound on that ten yard warp today and now I know why people have tension boxes. That's the longest warp I've put on the loom and it was more aerobics and an absolute fight to keep it tensioned. There's not a lot of weaving equipment being sold around here - there are probably a total of 50 weavers in our county and that would guessing high - so I don't imagine I'll find these items used.
I took this image about 3:00 today and as you can see, we are still gloomy. It's been raining off and on all week. Very unusual for this time of year in the high desert. I'm so glad I didn't wait to buy the S.A.D. light - it has been a life saver. The plants are greening up in spite of little sun. They're like - Mother may I? And Mother Earth says - Yes, you may.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Little Light Dawns

I was startled last night to see moon shadow outside the window. We've missed at least the last five months of full moons. I tried to catch the image but can only represent the effect. I'm afraid my camera doesn't do full moons, however, let me tell you that my heart was full as I viewed. It's been a long difficult winter for me.

You asked me to tell you how my S.A.D. light is working, and first of all, I'm calling it my Grow Light. It has made an astounding difference from the very first day. I set it on a stool within the suggested range of 18" so it can bathe my face in light, and then I spin for 30 minutes. About half way through the session, there is a very recognizable click in my core. I go from being a zombie to become animated and interested and anxious to get on with the events of the day. In case you're interested, this is the light I ordered. I know it could be psychosomatic, but you know what? I don't care. I feel like I've been handed my life back and I'm willing to get up that extra 30 minutes early to accommodate whatever time I have to leave the house.
I finished winding a 10-yard 8/4 cotton rug warp today and have it hanging on Miss Millie's front beam - placemats! I washed this sad relic of a rag rug, woven without the tension a rag rug loom, and am going to recycle it. Thanks Julie! I would have tossed it without your advice.
The container sample I ordered arrived today. There was a mix-up so they sent it to me for free. I think it's what Mim and I have been looking for. I'm not sure we can get any better price for the size we need. I have an in-town day scheduled tomorrow, starting with Reno High School, teaching the art teacher how to drop spindle, and the long overdue haircut and then hopefully, we can get Melissa's spinning wheel unbroken and humming again. But no fiber for Sharon.
The jar is perhaps a little roomy, but I think it's an attractive display of our one yard skeins. The red lids were the cheapest option, but Mim thinks they'll be perfect for the bulk of our craft sales which will be in the Fall pre-Christmas season.

I fixed the best Seared Scallops with Lemon Orzo for dinner tonight. I love Cooking Light. Their recipes make up the wholesome and tasty food I want to eat.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sheep to Shawl

Yesterday I did a fiber program for the library. They have had a knitting club since we opened the facility in 2005, and it was the sponsor of this group who asked if I'd be willing to do a presentation. The group has grown and become much more skilled at knitting so this is the array I brought to cover in my talk.
At my suggestion they called the program Sheep-to-Shawl - lots of wiggle room. I was a little taken back when I saw the flier noting that I'd be talking about everything, from raising llamas to making felt, since I know little about either. I planned to start with sheep breeds, S crimp and M crimp wools and fiber preparation. I also wanted to show the simple and invaluable tools like a lazy kate and a niddy noddy.
From there I wanted to move to drop spindles and then the actual spinning wheel. At that point I took my Lendrum its bag and set it up. On the second semi-nice day of Spring, 29 ladies had come to listen to me, and about at this point they became comfortable enough to volunteer questions. I moved to making color in your own yarns and everything was a sample to be passed. If I skipped a step or was unclear, I'd get a question. After showing how the wheel works, I was asked about plying. I had the three bobbins from my current project and thought - really. How much yarn would I lose if I showed how this works. And then I moved into felting, an area I'm not comfortable with. Thanks to great instructors like Mim and Amy, I actually did a credible job with both wet and needle felting.

I had been adding things to the dining room table as I thought of them when I started getting this together a couple weeks ago, but nothing more happened while Alexia was here. I finalized the presentation and what I needed to bring while I was taking my shower yesterday morning. Yea for shower thoughts!

This table was just a display table to demon-
strate how I have used handspun yarns. I hadn't planned to pass these articles around, but the questions I got were better demonstrated by showing, rather than telling.
One of the library staff took this "action" picture. I was flattered when they asked if I give classes. I told them all I know - Fiber 101. I think the ultimate form of flattery was that people hung around to talk and ask questions for another hour. Between my drive time and set-up, I missed lunch. I gassed up at Costco at 4:00 and then ran inside for a hotdog. Does that tell you hungry I was?!!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Farm Daze

Alexia and I went over to Mim's after lunch on Thursday. Mim has 16 lambs and 6 kids at this point and Lexi Lu has been looking forward to this visit all week. Mim has a Netherland Dwarf that's quiet enough that Lex could hold it.
She's a little tenuous but the rabbit behaved perfectly. Mim's newest guard dog Casey, only four-months-old, has the instincts to protect her charge, which she understands is the rabbit, and is yet so gentle. I'd want that dog except for all the hair and that she's going to grow to be the size of a washing machine.
Alexia was so hopeful to hold one of the miniature La Mancha kids, but Mim admitted that with all the babies dropping these days, she hasn't had much time to work with the goats. JoBeth has visiting privileges but alas we did not.
This is the most recent addition to Desert Peach Farm, a one-day-
old twin lamb. Mim told Lex to wait at the fence and she would hand him over.
He's the sweetest little thing. Alexia can hardly breathe, she's so excited. Mother was more troubled by this event than the baby - he didn't squirm.
Who knows what his fleece will look like by the time he grows one, but his coloring right now is interesting and I especially love the pattern on his face.

The other twin is solid black and a bit more squirmy. I had to assist on a couple of occasions. I wonder what stories she will tell about today to her parents. She is a big story teller and asked me if all vampires from Pennsylvania.
Mim didn't collect the eggs so Alexia could. She was so excited but one laying hen we didn't see was startled and flew out of her nest. Alexia almost fainted. I'm sure there's going to be a vampire chicken in the story she tells her parents. She got to have one of her eggs for breakfast yesterday morning.
This is Mim's flock, staying their distance from the vampire human girl. I think they're beautiful and most of the most reassuring things on my brother's place was his chickens, running free in the yard, turning over mulch and going about their business. If my watercolor ever gets good enough, I want to paint chickens. That's my highest art goal.