Friday, March 29, 2013

March Over and Out

The sunny weather we enjoyed in San Francisco turned to cloudy the day we left and we got rained on driving over the Sierras.  That weather is now here.  I'm trying to walk two miles every morning and the dogs approve heartily.
We found Kinder eggs in a corner store on Steiner.  I knew the kids would be thrilled so ended up buying eleven.  Josh managed to get rooms for both their families in our hotel and on the same floor.  I took the eggs to them before we started anything else.  They're so silly, you just have to laugh.  The toys in the center are often in pieces with assembly required.  Matt worked diligently and produced a boomerang that was so effective that we ended up hurling it around the hotel room.  The boys chased it, to no avail.
This is my collection that I've been adding to since we went to Germany in 1995.  They were illegal for years and just recently an American version has been released.  I think we actually got illegal eggs.  I wish I  bought more!  About half of them have moving parts.  I bought one for me too.  I'm waiting to open it until I deliver the last four.  They're more fun to open together.  These are the ultimate Easter egg in my opinion.

I was a passenger for only six hours so this is all the trip knitting I got done.  I'm still working on a baby sweater and need to step it up a notch, since we leave a week from tomorrow.  I love these and hope they fit a real baby.  They're supposed to be six-month size.
I'm back to working on the rag rug runner which is working up much better with a temple.  I'm happier with 6 ends per inch and 2" strips which I fold in half, right side out.  I think I'll try thinner strips one of these days, just so I'll know.

Books read in March:

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison
The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe
A Country Year: Living the Questions, by Sue Hubbell
Prince of Fire by Daniel Silva
Good Grief by Lolly Winston

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Ian and I drove to San Francisco last Thursday to spend time with his youngest daughter Sharon and her family and to attend grandson Noah's Grandparents Day at his Waldorf school.  After a general assembly we all went to our student's classroom.  Again I'm taken by the focus on developing the person, and within that framework, education happens.  His numbers book looks like an art book but that's because they use art to teach numbers.
The third-grade class visited a farm and came home with a fleece.  They demonstrated how they washed and carded it with handcards, then spun it with hand spindles that they made, and finally they knitted the yarn.  That's what the children on the right are doing. 

Ian's oldest son had planned to spend a weekend with his sister last month but when he learned we were coming this weekend, changed his plans and flew in on Friday.  Then my son Josh saw my postings on Facebook and texted to see when we were leaving as they were arriving on Monday to spend a few days with a friend.  He and son Matt had cooked up a weekend on the Russian River with their families.  Much texting later, we extended our stay by a day and both my boys arrived Saturday.   Spontaneously we had a family weekend with four of our kids and three of our grandkids.  Matt used to watch a TV show called the A-Team.  One of the lines was "I love it when a plan comes together" and I couldn't help think of that this weekend.

Saturday morning we went with Noah and his daddy to the California Academy of the Sciences in  Golden Gate Park.  Noah's favorite part is the "shake house" which simulates both the Loma Prieta and the 1906 earthquakes.  We experienced 30 seconds of the latter quake which we were told actually lasted 90 seconds.  There was a whole lot of shaking going on.
Noah also loved the "living roof" and got a personal explanation from a docent on how the many layers of the roof work as well as how the portals provide air circulation by opening when the interior becomes to warm to release the hot air and let in cool air in exchange.  In five years since the installation there have been no leaks and in spite of all the people, the interior is completely comfortable.  I was really impressed.  Plus it really looks cool.
We did the touristy things like ride the cable car from downtown to Fisherman's wharf and eat dinner in Chinatown - no small feat with a party of 12.  Here the car paused to allow us to take pictures of Lombard Street, the crookest street in the world.  For breakfast Sunday morning we arranged to meet at Chow, an eatery in the Castro, with Mineko, daughter of a longtime friend, and her boyfriend.  Party of 14! 
We visited the Maritime museum on the wharf again this year and added a tour of this WWII submarine, which I think was the crowd favorite.  DIL Missy said that as much as she loved touring the sub, her favorite thing was a sea lion who surfaced and swam around in front of us with a big ol' fish in his mouth.  He was pretty entertaining.

 Ian and I bought seven-day transit passes so we parked our car at the hotel and used public transportation all the time we were there.  We had drinks in Vesuvio's, the North Beach beat bar next to Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore.  Then we walked a couple of blocks to eat at Original Joe's.  I used to read about it in Herb Caen's column and have always wanted to eat there.  I'm really glad we did. 

We were on the go constantly.  I have miscellaneous pictures but after we left I realized that no on thought to get a picture of our group, very disappointing.  We did so much, including collect sand dollars on the beach, but I'm going let it suffice to say that a good time was had by all.

I had recently posted to the Foothill Fiber Guild Yahoo group that I was looking for a portable floor loom, and while we were in the city, I learned of a Dorset workshop loom for sale.
It's in great shape and the price was right.  It was a short detour to Lincoln and then we were back on the road.  It's on top of our suitcases so you can see how little space it takes up.
We got back last night so for now I'm going to leave it folded up outside my studio door.  It used to live in Pacific Grove so I'll have to sand the rust off the heddle bars..  I'm really happy to finally have a workshop loom - what a nice surprise and finale to a surprising weekend.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I only had one student for the first ever rigid heddle loom weaving workshop at Jimmy Beans Wool.  They've just started carrying Schacht products.  Sandy is a yarn rep and purchased her Cricket last year at TNNA.
Because she represents Lopi and has a lot of sample skeins, she chose to weave her first scarf using it.  Lopi is from Iceland, from Icelandic sheep and is generally considered a fiber for outer wear.  It's overdyed, which means the dye is applied to natural colored wools.  It's lovely in appearance but is a bit hairy and not really apt for weaving but her colors are working up beautifully.  Sandy chose a yarn that is "sticky" meaning the fibers interlock and unweaving to fix an error is nearly impossible - what an ambitious yarn for a first project!  She did great.  I told her that we all have one selvedge better than the other and suggested she evaluate what she does on the left side since that's her good side and then try to repeat it on the right side.  The right side was looking much better by the time we left. 
These are the samples I wove over the past month.  I've been busy!  They're remodeling at JBW, making room to display bolts of fabric and in the corner there will be a little shrine, a display area for the Cricket.  If you weren't aware of it already, JBW now carries fabulous cottons.  Check it out here.  I have one pattern already cut out and ready to sew from Kaffe Fassett fabric, but I've been too busy.  I'm retired - I should never utter those words!
At the same time, I'm trying to get the shop loom warped and ready to leave for customers who'd like to throw a few pics.  I'm using the Lamb's Pride yarns that Schacht provided in the kit and it's ironic that they're the same colors that Sandy is weaving.  She chose to stand - it does give more control.  She was pleased with her work and the loom, but said she'd work on trying to do it seated after she takes it home.  I had a great time and I hope I planted a seed in Sandy's fiber journey.

There's an opportunity to participate in an arts event this summer.  I just got the email, but I would need a portable loom.  I think it's time to get serious about finding one, even if I have to drive to bring it home.  If I can't get it in the back of Eleanor, then it's not the loom for me.

I just finished three more days of subbing in a different middle school library.  In this school, the librarian is also responsible for teaching junior great books so I've had a session each day.  Just one session of loud hormonal teens a day is a challenge.  I admire the teachers who do this every day, every week.  It's like herding cats, but then I love cats.  This is a neat age.  Though I do wonder how they managed to turn "why" and "please" into a whine.  It sounded the same at all four middle schools I subbed for this month.  How do they do that?!

In the Monday class, one of the mouthy boys taunted a boy passing through the library, disrupting us all.  When I told him to shoosh, he said - Whaaaat - that's Just Smiles, the crazy guy on Facebook.  He added more but I just wanted him to stop disrupting.  Today my aide in the last period was visiting quietly with a couple of students and I heard Just Smiles in the course on the conversation.  After her friends left, I asked her about it.  She told me that Just Smiles is a student at their school on Facebook who is scary and has been threatening students but no one knows who he is.  He keeps changing his profile picture and she said he has even posted a picture of a dead body.  I asked her if she had spoken to her counselor and she said she hadn't because she's scared.  I put that all into an email and sent it to the librarian who will be back tomorrow. 

We take teachers and school staff for granted because they've always been there and we expect they always will be.  We need to pay them for their dedication and sacrifice.  I've learned in a short course that keeping 24 13-year-olds on task for an hour is no small feat.  People throw the word hero around quite loosely too often it seems to get attached to a sports figure.  I think teachers are heroes.  That's my thought for the day. 

Gotta pack.  We're leaving in the morning for San Francisco - it's Grandparents Day again and we get a weekend with the fantastic Noahsan.  Can't wait!

Friday, March 15, 2013


It's been too cold to make soap. My supplies are in the garage so I set up there to measure oils and mix the lye.  My soap oils are solid and even the olive oil was semi-solid when I was getting started..  I had to set the oil on the deck in the sun to thaw before I could begin, but here's ten pounds of Lemon Bar and it smells fabulous.  I doubled the essentials oils - this may be my favorite.  Trendy artisan soaps haven't tempted me.  I like great lather and I don't want to itch.  I need to make twenty more pounds of soap soon because it takes a month to cure.  I won't have time to make soap for another ten days and that worries me. 

I hope I never tire of how the inter-
lacements of color works.  When these two towels are finished, I'm not sure anyone would realize they come for the same warp.  The green muddies the purple to nearly a brown.

I got a panicked text from my daughter - did you see my email?  I checked and found her frantic request that I pick up Alexia from her Grandma Karen's and take her to her fencing lesson. Mike had to work.  He would normally have finished up on Saturday but he's fencing in a tournament.  She's the one in pink.
Lulu has tried many things - judo, ballet, gymnastics, but she is passionate about fencing.  Her daddy is an accomplished and competitive fencer.  She said in the car when I asked about her interest, You see - I have my daddy's body so I'm sure I'll be good at his sport.  She's eight years old!  If you know anything about fencing, you can see that her stance is perfect.

Her lunge is the best in the class.  She is methodical, often holding up the class.  Initially I was concerned that the instructor had to remind her to catch up and then I saw the look on his face.  He knows she's a good pupil.
From exercises they go to fencing with facemasks and noodles.
And on to body protection and swords.  Ian has gotten the biggest kick out of DD Chris and husband Mike, a belly dancer and a sword fighter.  And their daughter follows suit.  Her older brother used to call it fenking when he was a toddler and we still do.

Today I subbed at a middle school library, the newest in Reno. These were the nicest and most interesting kids yet.  It was "hat day" so if someone paid a dollar, they could wear a hat - very fun.    This is an entitled $$ school  but the students wear it well.  Every period the library had a teacher with a reading class and they couldn't have behaved better.  The highlight was during second period when a student Mariachi band came in and asked if they could play for us. 

Oh, and I do have one student for my rigid heddle class tomorrow.  I'm going to teach it like I mean it and then leave the warped loom and samples in the shop, trolling for prospective weavers.  My grandma used to say - How can you have mo'lasses when you ain't had no'lasses. And I say, how can you have mo' weavers when you ain't had no weavers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Marching On

It's March in the high desert, the snow is gone and many mornings are warm enough to walk the dogs.  This is my least favorite time of year.  It's dry - this is desert after all, but it's still cold.  There are still days where it hurts to breathe and the dogs don't get walked, something they are obnoxiously capable of complaining about.

I finally got a new warp on Maudie Mae, the first one in two months.  Spring colors - I'm exploring a hyacinth palette from a Google images photograph.  At this point I realized that in correcting a threading error, I had left an empty dent.  Melissa said, what you weave will stay woven for a long time so it was unweave, repair and start over.  Dang, I hate that.
Moving on, I can see how the values of the hues are shaping up.  If I had my value finder when I was arranging the order, I would have shifted the dark purple so that the light values weren't in a set of threes.  I really do love how color and value work.  This is my Prozac.
I'm really excited about the cutting board I just bought at Costco.  For 30 years I've used the counter cut-out on the left for pie crusts and for kneading bread.  My mother found it when she was taking a walk through an area where new homes were under construction.  It was in the waste pile so she went back with her car and picked out two - one for me and one for her.
The surface is fantastic and I have no idea what I would have done without it all these years, but the problem has become the particle board undersurface.  Over 30 years and with exposure to moisture, it's disintegrating - deteriorating quickly.  The last couple of times I baked bread, I had to clean up a whole kitchen counter full of sawdust.  I tend to hit Costco - in and out - too much temptation, so I don't know why I was in the kitchen aisle. 
A shopping misadventure - I drove out to Jimmy Beans after book club on Tuesday.  I said - I need to knit an adorable baby sweater that I can knit in nine days.  Skye was awesome.  She thought of this book,  - all patterns are from Cascade 220 Superwash wool, which is affordable.  After I got home I realized two things.  I hated the colors I had chosen and I hadn't bought sufficient yarn anyway.  So back I go to rectify the situation.  My class for Saturday didn't fill so I think I'll stop by after subbing on Friday.

On yes, subbing.  I got a phone call yesterday from a friend who asked me to sub for her and I shall - next Monday through Wednesday.  It's middle school so I'll be teaching two classes of great books.  Is that awesome or what?!  Years ago she was my boss.  She's leaving me real library work to accomplish while she's visiting her son.  Pinch me.  Life is good!!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

All's Well That Ends Well

Last night was our guild meeting with presenter Joan Johnson from the Hangtown Fiber Guild talking about the not-so-rigid heddle loom.  Sadly because of the snow, attendance was poor.
She brought six looms but I really took to this one.  It looks like a backstrap loom in a truncated portable form.  I sure could see the connection between the two.  She shared projects, books and possibilities.

 My favorite project was this scarf, woven from the same self-striping yarn as in the mitts.

My own rigid heddle class is a week from this Saturday and I still have to finish this scarf which I want to use as another sample.  The class is for absolute beginners and will essentially be how to get the yarn onto the loom.  It's just a two-hour class so I want to have their project started to the point they can complete it on their own.  I haven't had time to work on it this week and am starting to feel anxious about the deadline.

I've subbed in two very dufferent middle school libraries all this week.  What a difference the neighborhood and principal make. The school where I will sub again tomorrow is fantastic.  I would sub there again in a heart beat and I won't go back to the other one again.  Middle school starts at 7:30 so I have to get up at 4:45 to have plenty of time.  The last two days I've had to drive in snow and on icy roads. 

I wanted to share the tool that I just got in the mail.  It's called a Ruby Beholder.  Beryl had one in her purse and used it at a guild meeting.  As you can see it's a value finer.  When I'm placing my eight colors, I want to separate like colors and also values.  I know I'm supposed to be able to squint and find the value, but I can't.  I realize that not everyone needs a value finder, but if you do you can order one inexpensively through Amazon. 

And this is my eticket for Southwest Airlines.  We decided yesterday that I should go with Christina and Alexia to meet Olivia Grace next month.  They're going the week of Alexia's spring break.  Ian was able to get a seat for me on the same flight this morning and I'm giddy with anticipation and excitement.  We'll be there for a week.  It's the most time that we will ever have had with John, on top of getting to hold his baby.  Never has it been more apt, all's well that ends well.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Olivia Grace is Here!

I know everyone thinks their baby is the most beautiful, but in this case she is and on so many levels.  If you're new to my blog, Olivia is my great granddaughter.  My daughter, pregnant at 15, surrendered her baby for adoption and I posted about meeting that baby again as an adult here.  I posted a follow-up to that post here.  Thanks to the love and sharing of her baby's adoptive parents, we get to celebrate this event, born three, one, one, three - 3/1/2013, what a great birth date.

I'm in awe of this moment, so thankful and filled with pride in my daughter in her courage to say no to the friend who offered her money for an abortion - no one will ever know, he said.  I look at my beautiful grandson who is a total goofball, like his mommy, and who looks like both my boys.  I look this this gorgeous baby and give thanks to God.  Awed.  I am in awe.