Saturday, June 29, 2013

Black Sheep Gathering

I saw a post on Facebook while we were in Bend and realized that the Black Sheep Gathering was the following weekend.  By leaving Bend a day early and leaving Washington a day early, we were able to attend for the day on Saturday.  Ian found a room in the La Quinta near Autzen Stadium where the Ducks play.  It was in a little tucked away space near the park and amphitheater and away from freeway noise.   The staff apologized when we checked in on Friday, saying it might be a little noisy because of concerts.  We were on the third floor and by opening our windows, we got to hear live music.  Much better than freeway noise!
We came into Eugene on Friday because we didn't want to miss any of our favorite event - Judith MacKenzie judging the wool show.  There were more fleeces this year than in recent years and she ended up running an hour over because she wasn't willing to slight any of the classes.  Two of the last classes were Shetlands, a breed that she has raised and is clearly still partial too.  She said she still has plenty because they're so special to her, they were at her house and not her warehouse when it caught on fire.

All the time she is judging she is also instructing, and questions from the floor are welcome.  There aren't many because most of the audience has some experience with sheep, but she takes her time with them as she does everything else.  I got so excited listening to her talk about Shetlands, that I decided I'm going to process some of our bright white dual-coated boy myself.  I was surprised when she said that white is rare, and also that it's hard to find a shearer for Shetlands because of the roo line where they naturally moult.  Most shearers don't want to mess with it, because you have to decide whether to go above or below it.  In fact, I looked at one bright gray fleece in the wool sale and decided against it because the shearer had cut below the line and it was slightly felted along the shear line.

There were more vendors this year than I've seen before.  A couple dozen were set up outside and it was rather overwhelming.  Many of the booths were selling similar items, roving, silk and fluff to spin.  It didn't seem like people were buying.  I know I wasn't.  I can buy from Mim or use what I have.  I did buy a large Bolga basket.  I'm not sure one can have enough of them.

I realized as we were leaving that I hadn't taken photos all day.  I ran around snapping like crazy and was glad Linda walked out at just the right time.  She came down from Portland and Laura came over from Prineville.  Doris, Virva and Sharie drove up from the Reno area.  Doris has been raising sheep for 20 years at least but since she retired, she's gotten very serious about developing her breeding stock.  She said what turned her sales around was coating her sheep.  She also bought a new Merino ram last year from Janet Heppler. 
She entered five fleeces in the competition for the Black Sheep Cup.  This award acknowledges the finest small flock entered in the show.  Doris won it!  Ian and I enjoyed spending the afternoon with our five friends and watch Doris sail around on cloud nine. All her sheep are crosses but she credits Janet's ram with bringing new life to her flock.  By the time I stopped for the photo, all the fleeces had sold and Doris was gone. 
Okay, I did buy something.  I went with Sharie into the vendor area because she wanted to take a peek at Ken Ledbetter's booth - KCL spindles.  I looked at the spindles but I told him that I have cops on two spindles and because I hate to ply, I don't know when I'll get them off.  He reached underneath and pulled out this goodie.  He's just started making these lazy kates.  This one accommodates his as well as Goldings, but he's going to make a smaller one for just his spindles.  It's perfect.  The mess and disaster that I used to have when plying from spindles is no more.  I really don't need more spindles.  Since when does need have anything to do with anything?
This was my wheel after Spindle Camp.
I had a package waiting for me from Village Spinning and Weaving when I got home from Oregon with my replacement parts and also a new 1 1/2 yard Ashford nitty noddy.  John from Village Spinning and Weaving was at BSG and I talked to him briefly about changing these bands.  He told me that the secret is to get a square screwdriver tip from the hardware store and put it in my battery operated screwdriver.  Ian already had one and it made the change a piece of cake.  Don't mix up the screws!  John told me that in the future, when the bands get yellow, they're on their way out.  Good to know!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sky Time in Grays River

We left Bend a day early for Washington after I realized that Black Sheep Gathering was the following weekend.  Everyone was back to work and we realized that we could squeeze in a visit to the wool show on our way home by leaving a day early.  We were off to Rosburg, Washington to visit my sister-in-law Georg.  My brother Bob lost his battle with cancer five years ago, I make this visit a priority.  My mom knew Georg in high school!  I feel like I'm tagging up to the base.
Bob was an aggie from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and used his skills to turn an abandoned farmhouse into a working sheep ranch and bed and breakfast.  He and Georg weren't new to the B&B world, having had a successful one on Bainbridge Island.  He planted just about everything that grows here.  Granted, the 100" of rain a year has made the place verdant, but at the same time, that same rain has wreaked havoc.  They've been flooded several times and raised the house and bunkhouse, now guest rooms, 18" to be above the flood waters.  Still during a flood this winter, Georg lost nine sheep.
Their property is situated on the Grays River which drains into the great Columbia River from the north.  It's a tidal river and also where Bob's ashes were scattered.  I'm reminded of the nursery rhyme, when it's good it's very very good but when it's bad, it's horrid.
Ian took this picture of the eagle in one of Georg's trees.  It's right on the river and every year we see an eagle in this tree.  One year there was an osprey in an adjacent tree - he hunted for fish.  The eagle is interested in ducklings and field mice.
It's wet here.  While driving in I had to pull over to the side of the road due to a torrent of rain and hail that obscured all vision.  Yet we enjoyed a gentle rain during our visit.  I'm not the only one captivated.  Robert Michael Pyle wrote Sky Time in Grays River, which I've read and treasure.
Georg has a flock of eight adult sheep.  She's still breeding and selling locker lambs, and in fact has ten lambs almost ready for market.  Her only dedicated moneys is from social security, and she is an absolute genius at creating income .  I forgot to take photos of her - she is still beautiful, of our trip to Raymond, the Willapa Hills Sheep Ranch, and the Goose Point oyster shed - I had my first fresh raw oysters.

Now I get what people rave about.  Ian hadn't shucked oysters in a while and it took a bit for him to get his oyster mojo back.  I always order oysters when we're there, but cooked.  I had no idea what a treat was in store for me.

Jared is Georg's grandson.  Years ago he lived on the farm, a lost young man.  Bob is stern but fair and taught him a ton of stuff.  It was a turning point in Jared's life.  He comes once a month and takes care of his grandma's "honey do" list.  I let his girls draw on my iPad and they delightfully took turns. They were an absolute joy.
Bob was fanatical about trees.  This tree grew from a branch that Georg brought home - a gift from from a European trip - I won't out her and tell you where it's from, but needless to say, he was delighted.  The giraffe is from their import enterprise from the years they lived in San Miguel de Allende.  She shrewdly has kept a finger in that pot and has an active store on eBay, giraffes included.  I feel Bob everywhere when I'm here and it's good. Our visits are always too short.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Our Week in Bend

We spent the first week of our vacation in Bend Oregon where both of my sons now live.  They were able to take several days off so we didn't do touristy things, but just hung out.  It rained most of the time we were there so we managed to turn eating into an activity. 

Our first lunch out was at Worthy, a recently opened brew pub.  They've decorated the floor with beautiful mosaic tile work and this is on the entryway floor.  Bend identifies with their brew pubs.  It's big business because the water is so pure.  We went to Logan's baseball game Thursday afternoon and the talk was about Worthys - was it worthy, or not?  The food was reported to be bad the first few weeks but Matt wanted to give them another try since they'd had time to get their kitchen sorted out.
Matty ordered ribs and he got ribs - probably a couple pounds of ribs.  I got a Reuben sandwich that had to be three inches thick.  I could only eat half and best of all, the slaw was good.  Few restaurants made a good slaw.  It's a good thing I only visit Bend.  I gained five pounds in that one week!
It rained Thursday night so we waited until Friday to go to the Bend Elks game.  This is a summer collegiate league and I love their games.  Bend does too!  Julia and Matt are both wearing Bend Elk hats they bought that night.  Bend loves their team and it's a huge family event.  I'm so pleased for Matt and Julia.  They moved to Bend to start over.  Jobs here hadn't panned out.  My grandson Logan moved into his brother Evan's room and gave them his - the entire family wanted them to move.  Matt said it took a grand to pay for the move, but the gamble paid off.  They both got jobs right away that they like and are committed to making Bend their permanent home.  I miss them here but I think they are in the right place to build their future.
It was an absolutely beautiful night for a ball game and the forecast held - no rain.
We drove to the top of Pilot Butte which is near to the downtown and very close to the elementary school where DIL Missy teaches.  This is a shot of Broken Top and Three Sisters, all volcanoes in the Cascade range.
One of the things that makes Bend unique is that they celebrate their downtown, where so many towns of this age have abandoned it.  They host several races and craft fairs throughout the summer months. I was struck again by this when we drove home through Susanville, a town that has a beautiful but derelict downtown.
Art is everywhere.  You can install a yarn bomb here with impunity.

All the roundabouts have sculptures in the centers and business are also eager to participate.  I think my boys are in the right place.
Matt dug out his clippers from storage.  DS Josh is shaving Evan and the cutest picture of all that I was too late to catch was Evan shaving his daddy's head.  We even squeezed in a game of Apples-to-Apples, sitting in a circle on the deck.  The boys both love that game which makes it extra fun.
Missy is on summer break but still gets up to meet friends each morning for a run.  We pretty much all looked like this by Sunday night.  Monday was a workday and we left Tuesday for Washington to see my sister-in-law, Georg. So that is our week in Bend in a very small nutshell.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Good to Know!

I know, I know - two blogs in one day but we're leaving in the morning and my laptop is not.  Ian and I talked about renting a car when I was at Spindle Camp.  Two things I learned from my cabin mates.  Barbara Sue us asked if we knew that we can go through Costco for a rental.  None of us did.  Hermi said to make sure that we're not paying the airport pick-up tax.  We didn't know about that either.  Ian arranged a rental through Costco at Budget rental and at a site away from the airport.  With Costco we saved $75 and not paying the airport tax was another $60.  Good to know!  We chose a midsize, they said "like a Dodge Avenger" but what we picked up this morning was a Kia Soul..

A ferocious thunderstorm came through on Sunday with plenty of lightening and thunder and it sparked a fire in the south end of Red Rocky Valley.  The crews stayed on overnight to tend the hotspots, including a helicopter.  In the afternoon, a second system came through.  It soused us with blessed rain and the fire guys were able to go home. 

Last year I blogged about a fire abatement program we participated in, offered through the Fire Safety Council.  They brought in Bobcats specially equipped with a "masticating" apparatus on front.  They chewed up much of the sagebrush around our house and planted native grasses while they were at it.  This spring the area where the sagebrush was has filled with a weed called tumble mustard.  We wondered if it would be equally flammable.  You can see in the photograph above that the lightening strike was above Tamara's house to the right.  You can also see where she had the fire abatement done.  That area is a neat square.

This house didn't participate in the program and it's thanks to helicopters and hand crews that they didn't lose it.  The winds accompanying the thunderstorm and the winds generated by the fire were horrific.  I'm a believer.

Spindle Camp

I've thought for some time that my phone takes photos just as good as my camera, so I didn't take my camera to the retreat.  I was wrong!  Anyway, this is our last evening together.  Because of the oppressive heat, we couldn't stand to be under the canopy that was designated as the group area and so were rarely all together in one place.  That was the only disappointing part of the weekend.
Instead of gathering around the campfire, we gathered around the fans.  It was 102 on Friday and 106 on Saturday.  Yet we had fun.

 Those of us who participated in the pirate exchange gathered on the deck of one of the cabins.  This is a fun tradition and a variation on an old party game.  You bring a fiber item anonymously wrapped, then everyone is assigned a number.  The first person opens a package.  The second person can open a new package or take the first person's item in which case person #1 opens a new package, and so on until everything is opened.  An item can only be stolen three times, at which time it becomes booty. 
This was my "booty."  I think the gold will look great blended in bats with my black merino and some silk, maybe with some noils.  The first package I opened got pirated.
Wouldn't you know it - my wheel broke.  I was astonished.  It never occurred to me that these leads to the footman could fail.  I posted it to Facebook and Diane Soucy commented that I could make a cable from yarn and tie it up.
So that's what I did and I was back in business.  I had no idea how to do this but Sara Lamb showed me where the screws are and told me how to do it.  It was a much easier fix than I thought.  I also called Village Spinning and Weaving and ordered a replacement set - also a replacement niddy noddy. 
We had to bring all our food, much of which we shared.  For lunch the first day I tried something Melissa told me about - salad in a jar.  You put the salad dressing in the bottom, chopped items next followed by lettuce.  When you pour it out onto the plate and it all comes out in order.  She couldn't come but told me she had planned to bring four - one for each lunch.  Great idea!
Amy brought her latest creation, her Firebird wheel.  This the third spinning wheel that she has painted and they are all fabulous.
Hermi's plastic footman band broke on Saturday while we were spinning on the deck of our cabin, only she has a single treadle wheel.  She spun up a silk cord on her drop spindle and tied it back up and went back to spinning.  It could have just been coincidence or it might have been the heat.  I decided to not take any chances and put my wheel away.  I had plenty of knitting to last the last day.

I'll leave you with some entertainment from one of my cabin roommates, Barbara Sue, who is one of the funniest people I know.   I wish I had recorded longer because BSue wasn't done.  She concluded by saying - and that's what my parents got for their money.

Ian and I are getting ready to drive into town and pick up our rental car.  We leave for Bend, Oregon in the morning and I'll be taking my camera.  It's a busy month!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Spindle Camp or Bust

I've been trying to get ready for Spindle Camp ever since I got home from the conference on Sunday.  I prepared these bats yesterday.  I have a feeling that I'm going to run out of spinning before Sunday, so I'm taking a basket of knitting too.
And I finished these towels yesterday.  We have a little market of sorts and I wanted to have these ready for sale.
I always take soap for our little market, but this is all I have ready for sale, so when I went into town today to pick up our CSA box, I went by the artists coop, thinking I could pick up the bars that have these labels.  I have a box of soap there with rock art labels, but I'm way off.  The rock art show is next month.  That means I'll be labeling soap in the morning, but there has to come a point when you say - enough.  I did enough for today.  I made chili this morning for the potluck and it's in double freezer bags tonight, going into the ice chest tomorrow.  I made meatloaf for our dinner so I can have it cold for sandwiches.  Enough.
This is a quick shot of our CSA box.  I cooked the beet and turnip greens up to accompany the meatloaf.  Until we started in the CSA program, I shunned greens and I have no idea why.  They are delicious.  The two vague baggies are lettuce greens and that totally changes up my food plans.  I need to take advantage of their short life and pack them somehow. 

I just checked the weather and nothing has changed.  It's going to be a firecracker hot weekend, just like last year only worse.  Look for me deadman floating in Lake Francis in the purple bathing suit.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Conference of Northern California Handweavers

I think this might just be the coolest place ever for a conference - Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 winter Olympics.  The elevation at 6,200 feet was a bit troublesome for some of the attendees but I didn't hear any grumbling.

The weather earlier in the week had been blustery, but the Friday we arrived it couldn't have been better.  This was the first time for a Tailgate Market, organized by my conference roommates who were a committee of two.  They had asked me to help so I arrived that morning to help vendors get to their sites and set up since it only went from 1:00-5:00.  There was no booth fee and a wide assortment of shopping.  I bought two fair market trade baskets and 4 ounces of dyed mohair locks for my crazy batts.  I didn't take any money so I couldn't shop.  I forgot about the Square!
In keeping with the Olympic theme, we had games.  These shuttles are entries in the concours d'elegance.
Toni Lowden from our guild entered this one.  It's called Go Baby Go.  There were four contests, two after dinner Friday night.  The actual shuttle race had a chute, like a minature roller derby.  The shuttle slalom on Saturday was a course with cones that spindlers raced through.  The shot put had three shots, which were three pounds of BBs in padding with a felt exterior.  I took the names and wrote the distances while Rae and Shalet measured.  They were brave ladies as they had to dodge some of the wildly thrown shots.  A common comment was - This is hard!  We were really surprised at how much everyone enjoyed the games. It was rather riotous.
This is Beryl and me at dinner and before the games.  Do you recognize my blue ribbon sweater from a couple of fairs ago?  Talk about a collaboration.  I was trying to decide how to use some silk and Benita sent me the brown Merino all the way from Indiana.
My first class was dyeing with mushrooms.  These are samples from the instructor, Gail Still.  These are colors from a variety of mushrooms.  Our study was just the jack o'lantern mushroom and we got a variety of greens and purples with alum and iron mordants. I wasn't really interested in dyeing with mushrooms when I signed up for the class, but I always want to know more about natural dyes.  I loved the instructor and the class and I hope to collect mushrooms when we go to Oregon next week.
We were at the Resort at Squaw Creek and I took this picture outside my afternoon classroom.    I took  designing clothing using  handwovens with Susan Lazear.  I had looked at her software before hand and was tempted, but it's pricey.  She was also our keynote speaker and as a full-time college professor, she can stand and deliver.  She used to weave and stopped when she realized that her skills were as an Idea Person  We had to bring handwoven samples and she showed us how an idea person thinks.  I was inspired.  In fact, I was so inspired I bought the software.  I realized that I paid $16 for one pattern from Sew Liberated that didn't fit all that well.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of the rocks in the lobby.  Unfortunately, necessity dictates that they mar their appearance with attached signs stating that you can't climb on them.  The lobby was filled with knitters in between all sessions.
My last session was Sunday morning with Lexi Boeger on spinning super coils.  I had no idea what that meant when I signed up for it, but I just knew that I want to know more about making art yarns.  She's demonstrating how to built a batt.  I made four batts today following her suggestions which make it go so much faster.
This is my modified version of her super coils.  I won't do it again because the yarn is just too heavy, but I will use all the techniques she showed us.  The only disappointment of the entire weekend happened at the end of her class.  A lady who had struggled through the entire class, finished early and left early.  We realized after the fact that she thought the knitty knotty I loaned another student was hers.  Other students noticed she had one like mine, and she and my knitty knotty are gone from my life.  I bought it when I bought my first wheel in 1997,  Oh well, it's just stuff, right?

I'll get online and order a replacement tomorrow.  I wanted to finish towels and make batts to take to Spindle Camp.  Tomorrow I'll gather what I need to take - everything!