Monday, July 29, 2013


I put on a three-yard warp of 8/2 unmercerized cotton in two colors.  I've never sampled before and I decided that it was time, before I wasted any more yarn.  A friend who teaches weaving recently told me that is how she starts her beginning weaving students.  I learned a lot by using a light and dark blue. 
I also discovered that I'm not all that crazy about art yarn as weft.  It's really not all that interesting.
I also learned that you need a contrast warp or you lose the yarn entirely.  It's been suggested that plain weave works well - let's the yarn be the star instead of the weave, but I like the point twill on the left too.
I also learned that if you use a warp that's the exact same color as part of a variegated yarn, that color, in this case, royal blue, just becomes a solid color and the pattern disappears.  Same for the baby blue in the hand spun yarn.
I learned that the wrong color of warp is a complete waste of a beautiful handspun yarn.  This was a variegated silk that I plied with black wool.  I also can see that the color changes aren't going to be any more attractive in a scarf than they are in this sample.  I'm still going to use it for a scarf but as the warp , with either an apple green or black Tencel for weft.  I also twisted the cotton to see if it would be okay in a fringe and it's not bad.

This is the yarn but it has long runs of color that looked weird in the weft.  I also learned that fewer picks per inch make a much more drapey fabric.  None of the samples were stiff - finally.   It was like a study group of one - I learned a ton!
Our last CSA box was huge and I'm glad we have two weeks to eat of of this.  It's Christmas in July!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Unwelcome Surprises. Snake!!

This is not what you want in your front yard and especially under your front step.  I was reading on the deck and thought I heard Ian pouring coffee beans into the canister through the open window I was sitting in front of.  It seemed to go on a long time and that's when I noticed our black lab interested in something under the step.  I called both the dogs to me and then I yelled for Ian to come help me get them in the house.  He started to follow them in and I said, no - listen.  As soon as he walked to the front of the porch the snake started rattling again.

The snake wasn't coiled at first or Sammy would have been bitten. Ian changed to long pants and boots and by the snake was coiled and ready to strike.  Ian couldn't get to him with a shovel and called Tom to come down and dispatch him which he did handily.  He shot the head right off and launched it somewhere deep under the porch where the dogs can't get to it.  He said it was a juvenile, but it's my understanding that they're more toxic than adults.  That was our excitement yesterday morning.

We've talked about getting a gun but never followed through.  Ian said that was just crazy, to have to call a neighbor to do what he could do for himself.  It's time to get a gun and I think it will be a .410 shotgun - for varmints.
Changing the subject, I've finished this Knitting Pure and Simple pattern.  This is the second time I've knit it and I sent for CotLin from Knit Picks to make it again.   I knit this from Cascade 220.

I've started another Knitting Pure and Simple sweater in CotLin.  I really like this yarn.  I was knitting on it when the snake disrupted my morning.

I wonder if anyone has some suggestions.  I'd like to weave with the Dorset loom I bought last spring, but I don't want to use these string heddles.  I bought Texsolv to replace them with but I can't get to the harnesses to change them out.
The harnesses are attached to a metal post and at the bottom of the post is end of the cord that runs to the treadles.  You can see the arrangement in the first picture.  It's secured by a pinched metal band.  Ideally I should be able to undo the knot on the bottom of the treadle, but it's so old that it won't budge at all.  I think I can probably cut this off and substitute Texsolv but I hate to change the original loom.   Does anyone have an idea how to loosen a knot that's probably a couple decades old?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Hot Time

I finally finished another warp of towels, only my fourth this year.  Again I congratulate myself for recognizing that the craft fair deadline was a burden and I've settled down to enjoy weaving.  I had an email a while back from another CERT volunteer, requesting some towels from a neutral palette.  I finished these on the eve of our volunteer fire department fundraiser and barbecue so I emailed Norma to say I'd bring them in case she was still interested.  She bought two.
The Red Rock Rattlers CERTs (community emergency response team) are volunteers who feel our first line of duty is to support our VFD and we always work the picnic.  Alexia once again volunteered to help with the childrens games.  Saturday morning she woke up with an extreme case of bed head so the first line of business was a bath.
Her chief responsibility was to staff the face painting booth and the theme seemed to be vampire.
Care Flight arrived as part of their public outreach.  Several of us haven't been certified in helicopter landing protocol, so the crew agreed to provide onsite training.  I was fascinated by what they do and can do, and while I'm glad to receive the certification, I'm not sure how relevant it is.  I mean, they come out here and land without help securing a site all the time. They did it the very next day.

They welcomed the kids to check it out and Lu jumped at it.  The crew is the pilot and two nurses and they can do everything except x-ray and lab.  They go everywhere and were onsite at the Hawthorne Depot disaster earlier this year.  It's nice to know.
Ultimately Lulu succumbed to the temptation and painted her own face.  This was not her best work.  It was a 100 degree day and by the time we left, we were both exhausted.

There is a farmers market of locals out here in our valley.  It's every other week and residents volunteer their yards.  Currently the site is Steve and Sunny's - announcements are by the massive group email by which we valleyites are connected.  I set up a table the next day, Sunday, and in spite of the extreme heat and minimal attendance, I had good sales.  This might be the venue I was looking for.
Today was my trip to town.  It was CSA (community supported agriculture) pick-up day.  Delivery comes from Fallon, about an hour east of Reno in the most improbable place to grow anything.  At the turn of the last century, the Newlands Water Project was approved in Congress and water was diverted from the Truckee River and piped to the high desert in Fallon.  It shows the complete lack of regard for the Indians who lived at the end of the river at Pyramid Lake and thanks to an endangered fish, they were able to reclaim their water in court.  This has led to a perpetual tug-of-war between the farmers in Fallon and the Indians in Nixon.  It has also made the farmers shrewd about water use.  I visited Lattin Farms last year, where our box comes from, and they have developed an impressive system of giant hoop houses and drip watering. 

It continues to be a friction point, and I know people on both sides of this conflict.  My contemporaries in Fallon are trying to make a living on their farms, and small farms are always marginal.  On the other hand, I want so much to preserve the natural beauty that is unique to the high desert.  Pyramid Lake would be a wetlands, had our native tribes not won their case in court. 
This is what the delivery looks like.  It's accomplished by a huge network of volunteers at multiple locations.  St. Mary's Hospital has been onboard since the start and that's my pickup point.   I'm sure this is different from other CSA programs as this is the only game in town.  Nothing grows here and we who subscribe are grateful.  Actually, that top box is mine, now that I think about it.  Mike is always our delivery guy from Fallon and this summer he's enjoying the company of two of his grandsons. 
Every box is like Christmas in summer.  I'm in awe of what the Lattins are able to produce.  Each box comes with a page, listing the produce, suggested recipes and a note.  Today for the first time, the note was from Rich Lattin, thanking us in all humility for supporting them and for helping them move into this new generation of food.  It was a risk they took when they accepted the CSA challenge.  They had to step forward to organic food.  I have no doubt they did it with trepidation but I'm so thankful they did.  The remarkable thing is that they have actually dropped prices.  You should see us all cluster around the delivery truck.  It's like "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" in daylight.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Just Another Day in Paradise

For the longest time I thought Desert Peach was named for the color of their early spring blossoms,  The name actually comes from the fruit that looks like tiny peaches, which is a little bit of pulp around a large seed.  The birds don't seem to be interested in it, but I've read that Indians made medicinal teas from the leaves and twigs.  So what the heck is the point of the fruit?! 
I finally finished another towel warp this morning.  I got sidetracked by my scarf quest, i.e., obsession.  I'm going to table that for now and get some towels done and uploaded to my Etsy store which is nekkid.  These are washed and cut apart for hemming in the morning.
I'm playing around with cones for my next warp.  I'd like to do another sea-glass theme.  I'm using pictures from Google images but there's a lot of variation.  I haven't decided if I'll go with these yet -  still pondering.
Robin and I went over to Mim's after lunch.  She let us know that the indigo pot that they used last Saturday at the guild meeting still had color.  We jumped on the opportunity.  It looks so green and icky, it's hard to believe blue comes out of it.
You have to be careful to not swish or stir and to remove the skeins slowly so you don't disturb the bath because it's important to not introduce oxygen. The color is faint at first.
The blue comes with exposure to oxygen.  Don't ask.  I don't understand it.  I just follow the instructions.  Robin is holding her skin of merino and Mim is holding my skein of blue-face leicester.  The merino took up the dye much more quickly.
We just kept at it, one skein at a time, taking turns.  More dips in the bath built a deeper blue.  The bath is near exhaustion but we were still able to get some nice color.
These are the things that Mim dyed at the guild meeting on Saturday.
And it's my turn.  I had a pound of handspun skeins that I had spun a couple of years ago and didn't know what to do with. I'm glad I had them because today was their day.
These are my skeins.  I'm not sure yet how I'll use them, but I'm thinking a scarf warp with various blues might be awfully cool.
Robin and I are going back after lunch again tomorrow.  We're going to dye more skeins with what's left of the bath before Mim discards it.  Even light blue will make a nice green when overdyed with rabbitbrush.  We're taking our spinning wheels so we can make more yarn and enjoy this view.  I love the view from Mim's front porch.
But wait.  The day wasn't over.  We've been in the throes of  refinancing our house for two agonizing months.  The mortgage company sent a notary public to our house tonight to sign the closing loan documents.  She had no idea where we lived and said she couldn't believe that this is still called Reno.  I know this county goes all the way to the Oregon border.  I wonder when it stops being Reno.  Anyway, it's done, and the closing is on the date the rate was set to expire.  Talk about under the wire.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mid Something Summer

Here it is the middle of July and we still have wildflowers.  These are Prickly Poppy.
I was driving by and had to take a picture of these - Composite.  It's been such an unusual weather year.  It was muggy again today with late afternoon clouds and thankfully, so thunderstorm activity. 
At the same time we're getting early rabbit brush flowers, which means that I need to start thinking about whether or not I'm going to have them in a dyepot.  Hey time - stop crowding me!
I decided that I need to take some downtime and follow the example of my dogs.  It's been a busy spring.  I'm very excited though following our guild board meeting on Friday.  I followed up on the suggestions and met with the library managers since the library was right on my way home.  We have a for-reals weaving outreach event in the spring that the library has adopted and will advertise for us.
In the interim, I've had some grandchild knitting to do.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I finished the three scarves on my warp and as I suspected, they're much too firm.  I honestly felt like I was beating lightly.  There is a recent group on Facebook called 4-Shaft Weaving so I posted my frustrations there along with a picture.  I got a lot of helpful comments, but the one that struck a chord was from a woman who said her weaving instructor cautioned - don't squash the bug.  I need to try it again and save the bug.

I thought these looked really cool while I was weaving them but they really aren't all that interesting.  I'm going to make small purses out of them, add some beads and long kumihimo straps
so it's not a total loss, but I obviously have a long way to go before I get then hang of scarves.

I had a little warp left at the end so I sampled with some of my handspun yarns and I have to tell you that I'm not excited about the results.  I especially didn't like the thick and thin yarns in the weft - again, not that interesting for the work invested.  It's been a day of self corrections.

I woke up this morning with the realization that I have three months before the three-day McQueen Craft Fair in October and I am nowhere near ready to fill a booth.  I laid in bed for while, mulling over my options.  I finally got up and emailed the program contact, opting out.  I'll get a 50% refund for $83 and the other half will in essence be a donation to the high school band program and I'm good with that.  I had no idea what a huge relief that would be.  I celebrated by reading on front porch all afternoon and it was a perfect day for it. 

Meanwhile, I made soap on Monday and cut them into bars today.  I'll cut these in half to hand-soap size before they finish curing.  They've been commissioned as wedding favors for an August wedding.  Kelly, bride-to-be, has purchased seed-impregnated paper for the labels.  When her guests plant the labels, they'll have a living memory of the wedding.  Is that not the best idea or what?!
I decided to be safe that I'd make a second batch today.  I'm very excited about this as Kelly is my running partner's daughter.  I met Pam b.k. - before Kelly.  Pam got divorced, we moved and life moved on and even though neither of us run anymore I've only had one running partner. 

Ian and I are invited to the wedding barbeque.  We're going to pass on the wedding.  It's being conducted on a peak in Yosemite. I'm excited.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Playing Catch Up

I hate it when I make things harder for myself than I have to.  I've been trying to figure out how to make art yarn.  After spending the past ten years making all my yarns uniform, I want to shake it up.  I've read a couple of articles and I've tried several techniques, but it wasn't until a couple days ago that I realized that I had this book in my library.  I'm sure it's been there for ten years and it's never been opened.  It's fantastic!!  Reading it could had saved me so many hard lessons.  And she's a weaver so talks about using art yarn as weft.
Varney suggested knitting your yarns into samples.  She was thinking like keeping a notebook, but these hats are my samples.  I've been pretty random in my fiber blending and have used varied spinning techniques.  I still have so much to learn.  The huge hat in the center bottom was from my Lexi Boeger class at conference on super coils.  I think it's safe to say that is a technique I probably won't repeat.  It's heavy.
Since I really want to use my yarn in weavine, I was anxious to get a warp on and weave some practice scarves.  I'm having a hard time understanding how to enterlace different grists of yarns in weaving. It's bidirectional so not quite as simple as knitting.  A couple of years ago a woman contacted me and said she was no longer weaving, did I want some of her stash.  Well, duh.  I met her at an agreed place and she gave me tons of undyed cones of yarn.  This warp is from that stash.  I don't know what it is.  It's about the same grist as my 8/2 dishtowel cotton and it's shiny.  The warp is a variegated thick-and-thin cotton someone gave me to get it out of her house.  Hmmm.  I'm using a M and W pattern and I don't know how it's going to wet finish, but I suspect it's going to feel like a dishtowel around my neck.
So the second scarf on this warp.  I don't know what it is either.  I bought it from a friend who was selling at the conference tailgate market.  She said needed to destash.  Does this sound familiar?  I bought four cones from her at $5 a cone.  This is one of them and I think it's rayon.  I have a feeling that after wet finishing, it's going to feel like a strip of upholstery around my neck.  I hope I'm wrong because it's pretty.

There was so much going on the week after we got back from vacation.  We had to drive into town to return the rental car and buy some groceries.  The next day we had to take my car into town for service, which is why we took a rental car in the first place.  I forget how fracturing those trips are - always have to allow two hours road time.   I had an email on Monday from my old running partner, asking whether or not I was going to be able to make the brunch on Friday?  I didn't realize we had one, but yeah.  My head is still reeling.  Four of us who were friends from 30 years ago sat and talked forever.  We had belonged to a tight group of several dozen and then life spontaneously changed and we all went our own ways, many of us out of state.  I was exhausted after I left but I felt really good.  I was thankful that I had scheduled lunch with my favorite woman on the planet - my daughter!

I needed some steadying fiber karma.  I've dabbled in getting a towel warp on Maudie Mae and realized that I was hung up on the final step.  I like to lash onto the front beam on a wider warp, but  I hate pulling through the lash across all the bouts. I realized that if I use a bobbin from my Kumihimo kit, I can wind all the lashing cord onto it and reel it out as I move across.  I was done in a couple of minutes.  Zounds Batgirl!  I'm awesome!!
And just like that, it started again.  This was about 1:30 yesterday and the fire appears to have started on Hwy 395, a north/south corridor between Reno and Susanville.  We are exactly halfway between both.  There were a couple of fire planes on it, but they seemed to think they were going to knock it down quickly with the absence of wind.
And they were wrong.  By late afternoon, we had a steady steam of fire planes flying over the house since we've also in the flight path to the Stead airport, home of the Reno Air Races.  That's another story.
With an unusual absence of wind, the fire crept down into the valley.  That's not two demon eyes you see.  It was an uneasy sleep last night.
I snapped this shot of a group of fire trucks at the base of the seven sisters.  That's why they call that formation.  I was overwhelmed by the support and took no more pictures because I'd be in the way.  There were semis on standby, having brought in the dozers that worked through the night to establish the fire line that kept the flames from our valley.

There were over a dozen more support vehicles, including sleeping units at the top of Red Rock Road.  I crept through the maze to get onto the highway and choked up as a firefighter waved me by.  I'm so grateful that they go out in this miserable heat to keep us safe. 

My DIL Missy is in town with my grandsons to help her mother post surgery.  We visited for a while, checked out some knitting, and played a rousing game of Apples to Apples - more goodness.  I left to see my doc and polished off the day by stocking up at Costco.  It was 102 when I left there and I got soon heard one of the disaster alert messages on the radio for flashflood warnings.  Huh?  I hadn't driven another five miles when the sky opened up.  It was like driving through a car wash.   By the time I reached our highway, my temperature gauge registered 66 degrees.  Welcome to the high desert.  I can image the fire crews were doing a happy dance.  The smell of smoke still lingers tonight.  Heroes?  You know my answer.