Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hoping for Rags to Riches

While I await the arrive of my 8/2 cotton order, I thought I'd make use of the time and warp Miss Millie for 2'x3' rag rugs - at least that's what they are on the loom. This is the first one, taken from the underside because I forgot to take a picture before I advanced the warp. I used two Goodwill sheets and can't say I like the rug as much as I liked the sheets.
This is the third sheet I bought last week. It's lightly patterned and the same on both sides so I decided to use just it for one rug. I'm cutting 3" strips so ended up needing this entire king-size muslin sheet. I think three bucks for weft isn't bad. Preparing rags is just labor intensive.
I love love love how the rug is weaving up and have decided that if it doesn't sell in October, it's going to have a home by the side of my bed.
These are the sheets I'll use for the third rug - a double set of twin sheets, given to me by an artist at the Artists Coop. I think I'll use the red print pillow shams on both ends. The king-size sheet spoiled me. I'll have to do a whole lot more seaming with the twin widths.
I found this woman's rugs on Etsy and have since had several messaged exchanges. Her name is Pat McDaniel from Missouri, a former science teacher, and a most helpful weaver. We're like that I'm coming to realize. She uses hemstitch for fringe and said her daughters wash theirs often and with good results. Her rugs are beautiful and she has a lot of positive feedback. She uses a denser sett and told me as a former science teacher, she can't get past the need for structure to support the cloth. I was just happy to find someone who hemstitches the fringe and so that's what I'm doing with mine. I'll know how I like it in five more rugs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Color Exploration

Every time I drive by the ponds on Ross Creek, I am again reminded how much I love that blue. To me it's the blue of that cone I'm waiting on from Webs. The sales representative told me that they periodically change colors, add new ones, retire old ones. I think on my next order I'll buy several cones of this blue in case they retire it.
I finished another warp of the Fiesta ware series today. I got nine towels from 8 1/2 yards of warp and though there's more loom waste than I'd like, it was comfortable to be able to finish weaving at the fell (by the front beam which is recommended).
I'm so out of yarn that my choices for the 9th towel were purple - no thanks - or a dark turquoise, which is what I went with.
The ninth towel is in the back and it's really not that different from the bright turquoise towels. I just learned today that there's an entry at the Nevada County Fair in the weaving division for items inspired by Nevada County. I think I'd like to try some towels using the colors of the Yuba River, but that's going to require another yarn order. I don't have gray and you can't do the Yuba without the gray rocks. Thinking, thinking.
I trolled for way to long for photos tonight to show what I'd be looking for. The Yuba has a distinctive cast to the water and it's not always this green - click for a full picture. Then then there are the rocks, moss, trees, gold reflections in the water. I think I'm can pull it together, but I have to buy more yarn, and my last order just shipped today.
Why do I think Charlie is getting better? Because he's become obnoxious. He insisted on helping me hem the towels, which made me more than a little nervous since that's a very hot iron to his left.
And he's also become daring and inquisitive. He wants a plant on the shelf up there - right in front of his eyes. Biggify, you'll see it. He does. He's death on house plants and has a couple go rounds with one when I got sloppy about taking it down to water.
Charlie tried several strategies and angles of attack. He poised several times to leap, even trying to launch from a bin that was too rocky for him. Thankfully he came to his senses and decided to take a nap on the window sill instead. I think this plant is doomed, but I really want it to grow since I brought the starter home from my stepson's wedding.

You're not going to believe this - I'm not sure that I do. I posted a picture of my towels on Facebook and during the time I was posting this blog, all those towels sold.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Flash Forward

It's been a week since Spindle Camp. These are my spindles and the ones in use most are KCL from Ken Ledbetter in Tucson. I keep saying that I like my Ledbetters better. This is Black Sheep Gathering weekend, and I know I would have bought yet another spindle that I don't need had I gone. The one on the right is my very first spindle that I ever spun on or owned - a birthday present from Amy, my pusher.
Benita asked me how much spinning I got done at Spindle Camp. Precious little! One of these skeins I had struggled to ply on my own here so knew I would be seeking advice for better ways. While there I filled two spindles and Hermi walked me through plying them. She had me wind both spindles onto the felt ball you see here that she gave me. Once the two strands were secured, all I had to do was ply them onto another spindle. It was so much easier than trying to ply from two spindles. No struggle, only fun. I see spindling and spinning as very different. I spin for quantity, I spindle when being social.
And speaking of spindling, Hermi sent me a photo of the yarn she finished from those rolags. She got a very bright yarn, but she also started with very bright colors of roving. She knits cowls from these yarns and has been successful in her sales - in Las Vegas of all places.
I ordered 15 more cones of yarn from Webs. I know I said I'd never to it again, but they have such great colors. After I finish the Fiesta ware warp I have on now, this is all I have to work with - I'm running out! I'd like to do another sea glass series but I have no more of my favorite blue - in front.
This is my favorite blue on the left and only Webs has it. UKI has something close but without the depth of shade. Kathy Lefevre sent me a link to a UKI vendor who sells direct and has great prices. I'd love to know if anyone has used them and what their experience is.
When I was in town in Tuesday I ran by Goodwill and snagged these sheets. Ian told me he thought that blue and brown would make good rugs so I'll start here. I asked Hillary about tearing them and she thought it was unwise to risk inhaling those particles. Given the amount of dust after I cut them, I think I'll pass on the quick fix of tearing, though it was fun to watch at Spindle Camp. I'd like at least six 2x3 rugs for the craft fair in October. If Webs doesn't ship soon, I'll have to start on them. I'm thinking about doing hem stitching on the ends and leaving a couple of inches as pseudo-fringe. I hate the knots. I don't like tying them and I don't like stepping on them, plus they wear out quickly and fall off. Tell me quick - is there a reason that hem stitching fringe won't work??!!!
I took a picture of our front yard as I left to get eggs from Mim. I was in such a hurry getting ready for Spindle Camp that Ian had to pick up store eggs - pale yellow yolks, eew. We enjoy these plants that have been hearty enough to survive our climate. Those day lilies are very special since I brought them out from our house in town. DS Josh has asked me for starts when they finally get their own house in Oregon. I think he was a freshman when I first planted them. I love plant memories - starts from friends who then become part of our yard.
I snapped this image when returning home. It's been a chilly and blustery June 23rd. My car thermometer registered 62 as I drove out of Mim's gate. I find that ironic after sweltering just one week ago. I'm fine with that. It's easier to put on more clothes than to take clothes off.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Spindle Camp Wrap Up

Saturday evening after dinner we gathered until the canopies for a game of pirate exchange. That's the gift exchange where you submit an item, in this case fiber, that's been gift wrapped and placed on a table. We all drew numbers and the first number, which was me, got to select one of the items. I knew what Hermi brought so chose her's. The next person can open a new "gift" or take one that's been previously opened, up to three times a steal per item. I lost mine within a couple of rounds. I had meant to get over to Mim's to buy some of her luscious dyed roving for my participation, but time got away and at the last minute, I ended up using 3.5 ounces of Mickey Mouth's fiber. His wool is my still my favorite wool to spin, but in this field of exciting colors and exotic blends, I was embarrassed at my vanilla offering. To my great surprise, he was traded up to his third exchange and ended up in Luci's happy hands.
This is my pirate booty. Most of the interest was directed towards spinable fiber but I was thrilled to get some ready to knit yarn. This came from Cindy who is the California and Hawaii rep for KFI yarn company, so has an unusually large stash. Lucky me!

After I got home, I figured out a basic pattern and cast on for a simple shell. I know there are a couple of summer tops here and, well, you know - there's no time like the present since it is already summer as of today.
I'd like to say that I was able to turn a blind eye to the members' swap and sale table, but I only lasted a day - until Sue Flynn came. I caved to this double pack from Cottage Creations. It's about 7.5 ounces and I think if I dye 7.5 ounces in that blue and ply them together, I'll have enough to use in a garment. Thoughts???
I walked by this a couple of times because I'm not a fan of Ashland Bay rovings, but this silk blend was a steal. Again it's about 7.5 ounces. I'm thinking about plying it with an undyed silk blend from Ashland Bay and then overdying the yarn. But not before I knit my summer tops.
And there are the little things that crop up when you're sitting in a circle on a sweltering day, knitting and kibitzing. Eileen Lee showed us a trick she learned from Lily Chen. Use bread wrapper sealers to secure the cast on ends of your knitting, or for that matter, any ends that you have in your knitting so they stay securely out of the way.

We're already securing our places for Spindle Camp IV, and I will pack a bathing suit and swim goggles.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spindle Camp Some More

It was such a hot weekend - off the charts! Saturday was the worst, soaring to the century mark. We invited anyone to come to our deck. we dragged the fans outside and ran the ceiling fans inside. There's no insulation in the cabins so we just opened it up for shade.
The saving grace was Lake Francis. My saving grace was Luci who packed two swimming suits and loaned one to me since I packed none. It's on my list for next year. She's with her dog talking to Heidi, who brought goggles so was able to swim across the lake. They're on my list for next year too.
I've been terrified to swim in water over my head, yet I swim for 40 minutes at the gym. I went right for the platform, and then saw Susan floating on her back. She taught me how to float. I laid back and easily floated for a half hour, watching the trees and letting the cares of the heat slip away.

Hermi and I got caught in road construction for two hours on our way over the Sierras and Eleanor overheated. I know now that you're supposed to turn on your heater in that situation. I was feeling pretty heat sensitive, long before we arrived. Thank you Luci for the bathing suit! Thank you Susan for the float lesson!! I've never been in a lake before so this had never come up. The only lake in my life is Lake Tahoe, and trust me, you don't go in it and you certainly wouldn't want to float. That's a shortcut to Hypothermia.
Barbara Sue let her hair down. None of us has seen in other than in braids. She's been inter-
viewing hair dressers, trying to find someone who can cut her hair. I don't envy her. Finding one and building trust is a long process.
I haven't had a direction for my hair, just been letting it drift, so to speak, so was unprepared for the weight and heat of it last weekend. Hermi loaned me the wet scarf and Luci, who does Ren Faire braiding, got it up and contained. It's coming off on Tuesday.

We packed our deck Saturday afternoon. It was way too hot for the Easy-Ups and canopies at 100 degrees. In retrospect, I realize we probably pushed the structural safety of that deck. We were killing time before walking down to the campground/resort restaurant.
I was excited to see this Humboldt Lily as I walked back from dinner. We've camped earlier in the year the past two years so it's been a very long time since I've seen one of these. I've always thought they look like something from a book of fairy illustrations.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spindle Camp

We began our mornings on the deck of our cabin in PJs with coffee. This is the most unusual fiber event as there is no time call, no place to be, no class start. This particular morning we were fascinated by Hermi's color blending in a rolag, my prior video.

Our main gathering point has been under the canopy of several Easy-Ups. This year we added lights so we could continue past dark and be mosquito targets. Note Barbara on the bottom left reading the restaurant menu from a cell phone with the benefit of her magnifying lenses. We traditionally eat at the resort restaurant one night during our stay. We had grossly high temps and so this area was vacant during the heat of the day.
I borrowed Sara's stool when she was otherwise occupied. I've learned that it's a lot easier to drop-spindle when you're not so close to the ground.
I heard a lot of giggling and went outside to find a couple folks from the cabin above us ripping fabric into strips for rag rugs. The fabric had been snipped at 1.5" intervals, so one took 1,3 and 5 tabs - the other took tabs 2, 4 and 6 and then they ran apart. The result was five strips for rag rugs. I'm not sure what I think. BTW, that's Eleanor, my car.

This is very special gift that Hermi brought me. It's a bar of 60-year-old olive oil soap. She is Swiss. Her father owned a hardware store which he found difficult to stock during the war. After her mother passed away several years ago, she and her family had to get her house in order for sale, which is when Hermi found several boxes of this soap which she assumes was acquired by her father for the store. She's used a couple of bars and says it's fantastic. The rest she is saving but she gifted me with this bar because she knew I would appreciate it. I already have it on display.
Amy's basket of hand spindles. Much to envy here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blending Color

This is a video of Hermi showing us a technique she learned for blending color like Deb Menz does in her book but without the benefit of a drum carder. I have unpacked my clothes and put away the things I brought back from Spindle Camp but haven't yet downloaded the pictures from my camera. I took this video with my fabulous iPhone and thought if you haven't seen this technique before, you'll be surprised at how low-tech and resourceful this is and how effective the results are.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spindle Camp Eve

I finished another set of towels from the Fiesta ware series. I discovered that they're a whole lot easier to wet finish if I put a drier sheet with them. They're labeled and ready to go.

I also wrapped up enough soap to fill this box so it's ready to go too. We'll have a table of stuff for sale and we're also having a fiber exchange, kind of like a Christmas ornament exchange, only with something to spin.
After I got home from the workshop Saturday I started piling stuff that I need to pack on the dining room table. I call this my staging area. I had a CERT meeting last night and had to be in town today for book club so my mind has been pretty scattered. In spite of staying in a cabin, we are camping in a rather remote area, so it's best not to forget anything.

I'm picking Hermi up from the airport in the morning, and then we'll get the food items she wants to take plus ice for the ice chest. We bring all our own food, though there is an abundance and a lot of sharing. We have a Facebook page and the comments have been flying back and forth for the past couple of days. It's a very unusual fiber party, like girls camp, only the girls are now women. We bring fibery projects, however the focus is on hand spindles, hence the name. We enjoy the camping and the lake and eat, drink and be merry. We laugh a lot.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Very Special Day

Today is a very special day. This picture is the first one I had seen of my oldest grandson since he was three days old. Christina found it on MySpace. He is a lookalike of his uncle - eerie. We didn't meet him until the following year. Today is his 26th birthday.

My daughter was a high school sophomore when he was born, a result of date rape. He was adopted when he was three-days old by a fabulous couple in Massachusetts. A mutual friend saw the potential and set the ball rolling. I posted about learning about him here We first met virtually on Facebook which I posted about here. I posted about meeting at the airport for the first time here. For us, open adoption has been very successful.

I was upbraided by a boss years ago for allowing my daughter to go through that. After all, she said, I was the adult and the parent and should have taken appropriate measures. Christina was adamant, abortion wasn't an option. Friends had offered to pay for it and keep it discreet. I remember her saying, but my baby has fingernails. At the point when she realized that the baby she had fallen in love with would grow up on welfare, she chose adoption. I've been proud of her always and in this especially.

Since his parents reestablished contact, Chrissie and John are in daily contact, mostly texting. She said I know I can't be his mom, I just want to be a friend. Recently I had lunch with a friend and somehow this subject came up. I told her how proud I was of my 15-year-old daughter and of her courage. She said, I wish I would have had her courage. Chrissie has been very open with her story and I cannot tell you how many times I've heard friends express regret that they hadn't made Chrissie's choice. I celebrate her choice and my grandson. Happy birthday John!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Pebble Weave Workshop

Our workshop today was in the multipurpose room of the library. We came with warped looms and with an inch of header already woven. Suzanne and Jennifer, fellow guild members, taught the class at no charge to us. I was thrilled to have a learning opportunity, any learning opportunity, right here at home.
All of the looms were table looms except for the Baby Wolf, the Wolf Pup that Elizabeth is weaving on (Jennifer's sister, Jennifer's loom) and then of course, Jeanne's Gilmore Gem that I'm weaving on. I had no idea what this weave structure even looks like when I signed up. I just wanted the chance to take a class.
Pardon my blurry shot, but I want to show that we're weaving pictures. This technique is from indigenous cultures and creates pictures in a background pattern of spots, called pebbles. Jen has collected about a dozen books on the subject and created a workshop book for us with many pages of patterns.
We were all struggling and it was all Suzanne and Jen could do to check in with everyone and keep us on track. Jennifer was my first weaving teacher, and as a retired instructor from the Forest Service, she has turned her skills to teaching weaving. I assure you her skills are top notch. Never a smoke jumper, she instructed them and made them proficient. You get the point.

It was a five-hour workshop and I finally caught on in the last half hour. It just clicked and that felt fantastic. At one point, Kathy said to me, don't you wonder what equipment the Bolivian women use. That made me laugh. They make their superb cloth from looms crafted from twigs and string. Here we were with thousands of dollars worth of equipment and were flummoxed.
I put the loom in the dining room when I got home. As you can, I struggled for the first five inches, but I'm finally forming the pattern and getting the steps. My pattern is taped to the beater bar and I also brought home a couple more to try. The difficult part for me is picking up the pattern out of the ground with knitting needles. Once again, as in Navajo weaving, I have a profound appreciation for these native peoples who have created such fantastic art.
This is the status of our garden and it's June 9th. Morning temperatures have hovered close to freezing and it didn't get above 62 today. I'm all the more thankful for our CSA box of fresh produce every Tuesday. I stopped by Kiernan's baseball game on my way home and watched for about an hour, until I got too cold. It's sunny, so it's deceptive. So the garden has a late start again. I just want tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes. I'm not sure I've ever had more than I wanted. Grow! Oh, and Ian weighted himself and then weighed himself again holding Charlie. Charlie has gained a pound. Speaking of growing things...... :)