Sunday, May 26, 2013

Saying an Early TaTa to May

I'm still experimenting with making batts and spinning art yarn.  This is what I finished this morning.  One week from today I'm taking a class at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers with Lexi Boeger.  I figure this yarn is practice so I'll be a very good student next week.  The conference is at Squaw Creek in the Sierras, the same place as the 1960 winter Olympics.  Lucky me!
I've tried making some hats with the yarn but I think I need to beef up the colors.  I say that because this looks washed out on me, but I got to thinking that it might be nice with dark hair.  I'm still trying to figure out what I can make in abundance for the three day craft fair in October.  I realize that I'm just not as productive a weaver this year as I was last year so I'm starting to turn my attention toward my yarn since I spin for an hour every morning with my SAD light.  I had thought I'd weave scarves with my prodigious output, but perhaps hats and skeins of yarn with hat patterns might be a healthy addition to my booth.
Thank you all for your comments and suggestions as I've foundered in the scarf sea.  I appreciate everything and every bit of advice - much of it stowed in a folder for future reference.  As a rag rug weaver, I cannot believe that I didn't realize how sett affects how the weft packs in.  I went to a 6 epi sett for rugs to make them as weft faced as possible.  Doh.  Thanks to an email from Cindie, I realized that my 10 epi warp sett would be more weft faced than 12 epi, and I also realized that I would never be happy with it.  So I unwove all 10 inches, resleyed and started over, still using straight twill which was still smothering the warp.  Then I decided to try a point twill and suddenly the warp showed up at the party.
So I unwove it - again.  This is when I realized just how sturdy my handspun yarn is.  I'm using a cotton/rayon yarn from Henry's Attic for weft.  Laura called this morning, just to say hi from Oregon.  In our conversation I told her how the undyed weft was stealing my warp's thunder and how I thought I'd have to put it in a dyebath after it's off the loom.  She said no, that the cotton/rayon wouldn't take acid dye.  I said I had fiber reactive dye and she said no - that is death to wool, too alkaline.  I'd have to use Ritt.  It was after that conversation that I unwove and changed my treading to this.  I think it might work - hope so.  I hate being a beginner.
This is our new wind chime.  Kerry and I kept hearing an interesting clacking while we ate lunch in the courtyard at Sopa last Tuesday.  We asked the waitress what it was and she explained that they were something the owners brought back from Thailand.  The owner told us that they brought them back in their luggage and had four left, so we both bought one.  The wind catches that palm frond strip, which giggles the chime below.  Two arms dangle on the outside and clack again the center piece which the owner explained was mango wood.

I'm excited because we have company coming tomorrow - our friend Petey is going to visit us for a few days.  When he leaves, I also leave for the conference so I suspect this is the last time I'll have a chance to blog in May.  Ian and I  really enjoy documentaries but somehow don't seem to make time to watch them.  We've decided that each Saturday night we'll watch one from Netflix.  We call it DocSat.  I've included our viewings in my summary.


Undefeated - Academy Award winner 2011
Jig - think Riverdance
A Life Apart: Hasidism in America - another face of fundamentalism and thought provoking

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Crept Out a Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson (it's Liz Salander meets Forest Gump)
Eventide, by Kent Haruf
The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat, by Edward Kelsey Moore
The Madonnas of Leningrad, by Debra Dean
The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Moshin Hamid
A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I got home last night and realized the only photo I took all day was at Sopa, a Thai restaurant in Nevada City, where Kerry and I ate lunch.  She is the neighbor I talked into accompanying me to the Not 2 Square weavers meeting yesterday.  I've virtually belonged to this group for a couple of years but this is my first meeting and boy was the trip worth it.  It's an informal gathering of weavers who sit in a circle and share their projects and then answer questions, and was I ever full of questions.  It was a five-hour round trip, but I drove home feeling like I had attended a class.
I came home through Reno so I could pick up our CSA box.  This is our second pick-up and the third week for weekly subscribers.  Already the box is bigger.  I try to work the pick-up around other appointments but Nevada City was a pretty big work around.  We're going to have the fresh greens tonight - one day old.  Yum!

I like how blue glass looks when the sun shines on it so I hung a couple of bottles on the tree that I had emptied of essential oils.  Then I decided to try some orbs of recycled glass that's I've hung inside our windows.  They're heavy and ultimately the suction-cup hangers lose their suction and they drop to the sill.  Not only do they look great in the tree, they twirl in the breeze - such a happy surprise.
The Not 2 Square group has some extremely talented and experienced weavers.  I took my iPad, expecting to take photos and make notes.  I was so absorbed I completely forgot.  There was so much give and take and tips, like this one.  I had been measuring the warp as I progressed with a pin on the selvedge, then I'd measure the distance between pins as I advanced the warp.  My towels are not quite the same length.  Igor uses grosgrain ribbon and Ingrid uses bias tape, premeasured and pinned along the right selvedge.  Since I had already cut this measuring tape to 30" for convenience, I'm using it instead.  Ingrid said she doesn't wind it on but lets it dangle so she can remove it and use it for every towel.
I took all my handspun skeins and when they got passed around the circle, I got some admiration but more importantly I got some direction.  I'm always in awe of Dee Jones, as a person and as a weaver.  I want to grow up to be just like her!  From her comments I took the initial steps of creating a scarf.  I tried off-white commercial yarn but it washed out completely so I'm trying some hand dyed, handspun silk I did years ago.
Someone suggested a 2/2 twill but I felt that smothered my warp.
I remember Cindie saying that sometimes the best solution for an interesting warp is just good old plain weave and so that's what I'm doing.  I have a feeling that I'm going to be weaving a lot of "projects" before I finally get my scarf sea legs.  I had it in my head that my novelty yarn had to be warp (the up and down threads) but this is looking a lot like upholstery.  I'll finish this off and the next project scarf will be using my novelty yarn as weft (side to side).  I was called this afternoon to sub tomorrow so this is in limbo for now.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wild Flowers

I spun up a couple of my batts this morning and this is my singles.  Next I plied, or rather bound it, with a silk thread.
 I took my camera this morning when I walked the dogs, hoping to catch some wildflower shots.  I'm always surprised to see them thrive in dry sand.  This is desert lupine.

We are inundated with wild mustard, which looks kind of pretty right now, but when it's dry will become a serious fire danger.  It's overwhelming.
Mim posted a picture on Facebook of the fiber she recently dyed.  Robin and I decided we needed to see it for ourselves and buy some, of course.  She picked me up at 11:00 and I made her stop the truck a couple of times for wildflower pictures.  Mim's end of the valley is wetter and the Mules Ear are prolific.
As are the wild iris.  Mim's husband Bob hates them because they're useless.  Cows and horses won't eat them, but they really are pretty. 
I have no idea what these are but they remind of a Victorian postcard.  I've only seen them on the road to Mim's.
And here they are close up.
These are some of the things we wanted to tempted ourselves with.
Robin and I stayed too long, talked a lot and spent too much.  We had a great time.

I chose these rovings to make into future batts.  I bought one of them to take to my class next week.  I'm taking Spinning Coils from Lexi Boeger at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers.   I'm looking forward to have someone show me how instead of trying to figure it out on my own.

I washed my skein and let it hang to set the twist.  It's in my bag to take tomorrow to the weaving group.  This is the closest I've come to intentionally spinning art yarn instead of accidentally getting something weird.  I'm finally starting to get the hang of what  my hands need to do to get the results I want and I'm pleased.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Clean Up

The fourth and last looper rug is done.  I think I might have had room for a fifth on the cloth beam, but I'm glad I didn't warp for it.  I want to clean up my mess and try some scarves.
This is the mess I'm talking about.  One side of a looper is a raw edge where it was cut from the loom.  I have looper lint everywhere and suspect I will for months to come.
I hauled our heavy vacuum cleaner up the stairs, shoved Lilith back to the wall and sucked up this mess.  And then of course, since that part of the rug was clean, the rest looked messy.  I ended up vacuuming everything and I realized when I moved Maudie Mae and found a half inch of lint that it's probably been over a year since I've done it.
 I recently realized that when I used this kind of knot (I don't know what it's called) when I lash onto the front apron rod, when I'm done weaving, I can quickly pulled it open and I don't have to cut anything.  The loom is clear in minutes.

I bought eight ounces of silk noil in my Yarn Barn order.  I've never worked with it and didn't know that I had just purchased a life-time supply.  Not knowing the first thing about it, I thought I'd just do some lumps using Gaywool dyes.  It only took a few crystals in hot water for a lump.
Today I blended more stuff together.  I've spun up my other batts and I'm still learning how to make ugly yarn.  My soil noils are on the left behind the pile of silk.  The lavender fluff is mohair and the white wool is badly processed, neppy Cormo which actually does well in these blends.  I'm using the last of the dyed roving I bought from Mim and need to get over to her place soon for more.
These are my first batts.  
These are the second.  I left out the mohair but added sari silk.
These are some of the yarns I've spun up and want to weave.  I'm driving over to Nevada City on Tuesday to attend the Not 2 Square weavers interest group.  Instead of taking something I've woven to share, I'm planning to take these yarns and ask for advice.  The drive will be five hours, round trip but I've talked my neighbor Kerry into going with me. 
Ian loaded up the bark from the firewood he cut and was taking it to dump.  The dogs waited in the cab while he went back into the house.
Was that the front door?!!!
Oh it was and he's coming, he's coming, he's coming.  It's been two minutes!!
Oh happy day, we're going to haul the bark away.  Happy dogs.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Haste Makes Waste

This is haste.
This is waste.
I haven't changed my tie-up in over a year but I recently changed to standard tie-up for one project.  I went to change to the Texsolv system yesterday and realized that I didn't remember what it is for the turned taquete draft.  I dug out the old newsletter from my file box and in my hurry to get started, I didn't stop to make sure I was using the right one.  There are two drafts in the newsletter and I used the wrong one.  

I realized today what needed to be done.  I wasn't happy about unweaving but I was thrilled with the ease of the new system.  The lady at Yarn Barn suggested that I leave a length dangling from each lam but I thought that was too messy.  Forget messy, I'm doing it.  Changing is just a matter of moving the peg from one cord to another - that's it.  Minutes!

Now we're cooking with gas.

I posted a picture on Facebook of my looper rugs and a friend from the library book group asked to buy one.  She didn't even flinch when I quoted her $50 so I guess that's the price.  I took it to the meeting yesterday and she sent me this picture last night.  I called them bathmats but she wanted it to put under her husband's chair to preserve the carpet.  I never thought of that, but it's a great addition to their family room.
Desert Peach and Bitterbrush bloom at the same time.  Ian caught this pretty display on the side of our road with his cell phone.
Last year we participated in a program funded by a grant through the Fire Safety Council.  They brought in two bobcats with "masticator" attachments and ground up about half of the brush on our property while spreading native grass seeds at the same time.  It was really dry and barren looking through the winter, but this is the greenest spring we have ever had. 
Cherlyn, the gallery manager from the Artists Coop, called me Monday and asked if I would think about making some soap labels that would contribute the Rock Art show in June.  I thought about it while walking the dogs and decided to draw them on my iPad.  But first I had to learn the program.  They are in order from left to right as I made them, getting steadily worse.  I used InspirePro which is a neat program but there are so many things to chose from:  graphite pencil, oil crayon, air brush or paint brush, and what width, what kind of brush, what recharge rate and more.  It took me four hours to make these - most of Monday afternoon.  I wanted to photocopy them yesterday when I was in town so Ian can take the labeled bars to the gallery tomorrow when he goes to the dentist.  I'll revisit the right image.  He's never prone in the petroglyphs. I was running out of steam - he looks like road kill.

Friday, May 10, 2013

In Flux

I took my three bobbins of singles to the guild meeting on Wednesday night.  This was the last meeting of the year and it was also show-and-share.  I'm the newest weaver in the group so didn't pull these out until after the meeting.  I want to weave scarves from my handspun yarns but I need to know so much more.  I placed an order with Yarn Barn last week and was disappointed that they don't have 60s/2 silk which is what I had wanted to order for binder for my singles.  Guess what?!  The trunk sale at the meeting was for hand dyed 60s/2 silk from Just Our Yarn.  I bought the skein on top at a dear price.
I just dove in.  I taught myself to spin from Karen Raven's book and apparently she is left handed because I spin left handed.  That means all the articles I read and videos I watch are backwards, but somehow about halfway through the last skein, my hands caught on to the concept.  I have a long way to go but I'm not nearly as frustrated about my spinning as I was.  Now if I can only figure out how to translate this yarn to weaving.  Warp?  Weft?  I suppose I'll have to do it and find out for myself
I have the Fiesta warp on Maudie Mae and it's interesting how the colors influence each other.  You need to click to see the red.  I'm stuck at this point until next week.  One of the things I ordered from Yarn Barn last week was Texsolv tie-up.  I am not doing the Gilmore tie-up one more time.  It's just too gymnastic and requires flexibility I no longer have.  My order arrived but without the pegs that will make this happen.  They weren't on the order invoice.  I called in a panic.  They're shipping but not charging shipping.  I love those guys.
This is what Gilmore tie-up looks like.  Mr. Gilmore invented the jack loom in the 1940s and this system dates back to then.  It's archaic.  You have a piece of clothesline dangling from the lam tied in  a single knot and then a piece of clothesline coming up from the treadle, which you tie in an overhand knot and slip over the knot from the top.  Are yours eyes glazing over yet?  And then each has to be adjusted until all the harness are lifted to a uniform height.  We are not amused.  I'm crippled by the time I'm done, and that's why I'm done with this system and I should have ordered the Texsolv at least a year ago.
Ian and I have been talking about where to put our battered wicker furniture.  It's second hand from a neighbor who moved away.  I realized today that one of our trees is big enough to give shade so took out one of the chairs and the table from the garage as a test drive.  This is the nicest afternoon we've had this year.
I read for a while and then had Ian help me bring out the rest of the set.  I can't explain it, but it's not the same as reading on the porch.  My book and I were in another place.  We only have one more day before the weather gets back to normal but I look forward to a summer of afternoons here. 
This the time of day that the birds come to feed and they fussed and scolded me, trying to get me to leave.  I saw them run a rabbit off earlier today.  The California quail were more forgiving. 
Two Kindle Touches, that's what you see here.  Since Massachusetts and seeing Paul's Paperwhite Kindle, I've been lustful.  It means reading in bed without a heavy book light.  I was sitting on the front porch yesterday morning when Ian came back from the mailboxes with two packages.  One was our onions, the other the Paperwhite he bought me.  He gets the hand-me-down Touch.  He says likes his original hand-me-down and has given my "cast off" to one of the kids.

Reading is so rich.  Books and information are in in a state of flux and we're just on the crest of this wave.  My job in resource sharing involved the physical shipping of articles and books and that was just five years ago.  It's an exciting time but a lot depends on licensing agreements.  As for virtual delivery, we need to keep our eyes open - pun intended.  Meanwhile, I have a stack of physical books on my nightstand as well as the four I've checked out from the library.