Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fixing to Get Ready Some More

Steve and Kelly are mountain climbers and wanted to married on a peak in Yosemite.  They were married Tuesday, six hours before the Rim fire broke out.  I took these pictures from a slide show they had running at their reception last Saturday. 
When I met Pam she was pregnant with Kelly, who is now 36.  I'm flanked by her daughters, Melissa and Kelly, Pam on the left and our friend Kelly on the right. Life has moved us all in different directions and being together again made for an emotionally charged afternoon. 
And what kind of wedding cake do mountain climbers have?  Why, a mountain of course.
I hardly recognize my soap, all dressed up like that.  They were so creative with the wedding favors.  The soap is wrapped in seed impregnated paper and the colorful balls are seed balls.  The paper on the right explains what seeds are in which ball.  Kelly also wrote up a virtual tribute to me as the soap maker. 
This was the first time Pam has been back to the house since her divorce to Bob, who is teasing me by taking of picture of me as I take a picture of him.  He humorously refers to Pam as his starter wife.  Pam and I ran together during the construction of this house and subsequent landscaping.  Many conversations were about plans and plantings.  It was great to see Bob again, comfortable to meet his wife and just nice in general.
I spent three hours this morning, powering through the scanning of the last of the slides.  I think there are about 600 all together.  People have expressed interest in the scanner I'm using.  I bought it online from Costco for about a hundred bucks.  The carriage holds four slides but you can only scan one at a time.  I'm sure there are slicker scanners but for the price, I'm pleased with the pictures.
I got a painful cortisone shot in my foot on Monday for plantar fasciitis and am supposed to take it easy on my feet for three days.  I'm wearing an air cast to help massage the ligament so I figured I might as well get these done.  We're getting ready for our Gathering over Labor Day and  my goal is have these scanned and copied onto flash drives so the kids can take them home.  The slides date from 1971 to 1979, pictures they haven't seen of themselves.  We haven't had a slide projector in about 20 years so when we moved here, I transferred all the slides into brown paper bags and that's where they've been ever since.  I'm feeling very virtuous.  I also have a kink in my neck.
Ian ran up to Doyle this afternoon to get ice so I took the opportunity to wind on this ten yard warp.  It was hanging from the front beam and I know someone is going to be sleeping in my studio so the looms will be pushed around.  I had hoped for a moment to wind this on and out of harms way.
I'll weave four scarves from this warp in plain weave and then dye them individually so they'll look like these two.  I've sold about eight of them and these are the only two left.  Christmas craft fairs are coming and I'd like to have several of these ready before then.
Petey is the first guest to arrive and he always likes to park down here and away from the night action.  My sons and grandsons are driving down from Bend tomorrow, but "the girls" have to work tomorrow so will drive down Friday morning.

The air quality from the Rim fire is problematic.  It's far worse in Reno and Lake Tahoe but it's not great here.  The burn area is now 187,466 and only 23% contained.  BTW, if you're ever interested in fire information in the west, the best site is YubaNet, hands down.  The American fire that plagued us a couple weeks ago is now 94% contained. 
Ian will take Buster to doggy camp in the morning, on his way to the airport to pick up his son Dougie.  Due to a surprising number of conflicts in schedules and life occurrences, this is going to be a smaller Gathering this year.  All three of my kids will be here but three of his won't.  I always look forward to it and every one is different.  The air is supposed to improve by Friday and will certainly be a topic of conversation for years to come. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What Friends Do

Melissa and I had two-person grrl camp, much of it right here on the front porch.  We had two full days in town but started mornings here and ended evenings here.  One evening Ian stayed out with us and we just chatted and watched the full moon.  We crammed in visits to Joe Winter's and Dale Pappas' pottery studios, a intro class on canning at the Great Basin Food Coop, lunch at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, a visit to the art museum,stuff I forgot and two separate shopping sprees at Macy's.  I need clothes to wear while subbing. That was my excuse.
We had no shortage of material to spin as Melissa brought up two bins crammed full.  She lives very close to Redfish and insisted on leaving some of her stash behind.  Lucky me!  As much as she wanted this to be a get away, she had to spend one day with the accountant for their business, plus phone calls to put out small fires.  In spite of that, she insisted that this was a great retreat and that she slept well.  We sure laughed a lot.
When she offered me this wool/silk treat I could not say no. 
It's shaping up like this - I'm spinning for another scarf.
Melissa and her husband are in an industry that builds things so she wanted to take a look at my Dorset and see if she could get it to the point where I could lift out the heddles, and she did.  I still have to replace the string heddles with Texsolv and clean the heddle bars but now I can.
We had a little excitement for her last night here.  An electrical storm moved through and started a fire on the same mountain as the last one, bringing the total up to three fires along that ridge in the last two years.  I can't imagine that there's anything left to burn, should lightening strike there a 4th time.  We live close to the Stead Airport, home of the Reno Air Races, and they deployed three tankers and one helicopter.  They didn't mess around and had it out before dark.
Mim caught this image of the fire helicopter getting water from our valley pond, which is very close to her house.  Click for big - it's pretty dramatic.
Five days just flew and we prepared to leave at the same time this morning, me to sub in a high school library and her to drive back to SoCal.  She spontaneously bought a Subaru Forester a couple months ago when her old car needed expensive repairs.  I'll probably buy another one in another 150,000 miles or so. Melissa named her's Rosy.  Eleanor looks a bit diminished parked next to her but she's not diminished in spunk.
This is what Melissa left me from her stash.  I forgot to say that we watched a Jacy Bogg's video at the same time while trying to make thick and thin yarn.  Melissa has done it before but it was my first and very frustrating first time.  I feel like the Little Engine That Could - I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can..  We visited the heck out of these past five days and get to keep in touch by FaceTime until the next visit - it's what friends do.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


I took this picture yesterday afternoon at 4:00.  You can barely see the sun or Petersen Mountain.  The smoke is from the American fire, named for the American River where it's burning.  The last I checked it was up to 84,000 acres and with almost 2,000  personnel on it.  Friends in town and on the other side of the Sierras assure me that they're getting the same treatment.  The area is very remote and containment is only 45%, though the wind has shifted and today isn't as bad for us.
Today is completely free.  Melissa is driving up from SoCal to see her accountant and we'll get a couple of fun days.  I decided to weave while waiting for her arrive.  I put on a Tencel warp and am sampling some Navajo-ply handspun silk that I did years ago.
This is the yarn and when I showed it to other weavers, asking for advice, I didn't get much encouragement.  I's really not lovely.  Rae Stuart helped and while I could tell she didn't love the silk either, she gave me a suggested ends-per-inch count.
Here's the scarf in progress.  I really like point twill and since Rae suggest 24 epi, I found a pattern in Anne Dixon's book that is threaded over 24 ends.  I'm beating, oh-so-gently.
This is the scarf just done.  I'm so in love the way the colors travel.
I have the scarf wet-finished on the ironing board.  Okay, technically it's wet and not finished, but the selvedges straightened up in the process and the already drapey scarf is sinuous.  I did it!  I got the beat.  I now have three beats in my repertoire:  dish towels, rag rugs and scarves.  I wish someone would have told me this a long time ago.
Next project?  I suspect it's going to be this "art yarn" I spun while demonstrating at the Nevada County Fair.  I thought it would make a cool hat.  It's just not cool.  Once I unravel the hat and determine my yardage, I'll know if it's going to be warp or weft.  Apparently I like to torment myself.

It's going to be a while before I start it however as my dance card is filling up.  School just started and I already have two weeks of subbing at a high school library.  I love to weave but subbing pays.  Meanwhile, when Melissa gets here - I get a play date.  I just looked up and she's here at the gate! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Home Again

Thursday morning over coffee, Sue and I got onto the subject of kitchen knives and then realized that we had both heard the NPR American's Test Kitchen episode where they tested chef's knives.  We were both astonished that Swiss Army Knife had been their hands down winner - again.  It's been their winner for several years in a row and comes in at under $30.  Sue remembered that the model is Victorinox so I went upstairs and ordered it on my iPad.  I was astonished when I arrived home Friday to find an Amazon box on the counter - it was my knife.  The blade isn't better than my Henckel but the handle is what seals the deal.  In case you're looking to upgrade~
Pam and I got together after church on Sunday and went to work on Kelly's wedding-favor soaps. We spent the first hour trying to get the little cards printed with their names and the wedding date.  I had done the cards in advance and had them on my laptop but Pam struggled to find her WiFi password - a little setback.  We finally got that resolved and printed the cards and Pam sent Kelly a picture for approval.  We had misspelled the groom's name, after printing and cutting apart half the cards - on special limited paper. 
We had a wing-ding of a mess on our hands, tearing the seed-impregnated paper into strips,  cutting the little cards into precise 1.5 x 1.25 squares to slip in the back and then there was the rafia.  We had left off Kelly's requested line - Hand-in-Hand Soap.  It was supposed to be a pun and bypassed both of us.  Kelly was so upset that she said that she and Steve would print the cards and slip them into the soaps themselves.  I told Pam - no.  They're on overload, leaving for his family in San Diego in the morning and back to their hospital shifts when they get home.
Pam and I have been friends for over half our lives, from before Kelly, and we have absolutely nothing in common, other than the experiences we have shared.  She is one of the most artistic and creative people I know, but these soaps were her Waterloo.  I was counting as we went, stacking in piles of five.  Finally I said - okay.  I have forty here, what do you have?  She looked around her and counted the various bars - nine?  We both laughed.  That's my Pam.
The final step is to hot-glue the flowers onto each soap.  I wish I could help Pam with this step as school starts this week and I know she'll be be swamped.  Steven and Kelly have purchased little clay pots and will place a seed ball and a bar of soap into each one.  They have done this entire wedding on a tiny budget.  The actual ceremony is on a peak in Yosemite and the reception is in her dad's backyard. I haven't seen her dad in years.  I'm looking forward to the reception. 
I picked up this roll of corrugated cardboard when I was at Ingrid's last week - her with a non-functioning well and me with an overheating car.  Cindie Kitchens asked me how I was going to cut it.  Well now, that thought had never crossed my mind.  I got the end of a roll from someone who was very willing to share.  Cindie suggested a box cutter on a concrete floor.  I can see that this isn't going to be a simple task.
I've finished the Knitting Pure and Simple shell from Knit Picks CotLin.  It turned out great, fits well and I can see is going to be easy to maintain.  I don't know how to work in ends on a fiber like this so they're pretty unsightly.  I guess as long as they're out of sight, they're out of my mind - anyway, I'll knit this again. 

I finally finished my scarf.  This is from handspun BlueFace Leicester and dyed with indigo.  The warp was a light blue that I dipped back into the pot on one end to get two colors of blue in the skein.  I used a darker blue for the weft.  My struggle has been with gently pulling the beater back.  Imagine a bug and don't squish it, was the advice from one weaver.  When I left Ingrid's, she said - remember.  And she gestured a tiny pull back.

I learned a lot on this project.  I think it looks great but handspun wool doesn't make a great neck warmer.  I'll still wear this with my winter coat because I like it.  I sampled at the end of the project - next time I'll do it at the start.  This would probably have been better in plain weave.  Cindie sent me samples and I can see their value.  I used a flashlight and periodically shown it back up to see if my beat was even.  It's necessary to have a space between each weft beat so that the cloth isn't rug-like and keeping it even is a challenge.  I have a sample from this project and I'll continue to collect them.  It's the best way to learn.  I'm sorry I've been so slow to catch onto the value of samples.

I wanted to read this morning in the area we created a while ago but this gorgeous caryopteris has asserted itself and alas there's no room for legs.
I had Ian help me relocate the furniture to this spot.  It's on the east side of the fruit trees and I just checked - it's totally in shade.  When we moved here there was nothing but sagebrush.  We've grown our own shade over the past 11 years and it means that we have to adapt each year as the shade changes.  I'm not complaining.  Shade is good.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sue Camp

I drove over to Grass Valley Wednesday morning.  It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive but I like to participate in the spinning demonstrations at the Nevada County Fair since we no longer have a fair here.  My four-hour shift that evening was at AgExperience, a recent extension of the main guild display area and in the heart of the agriculture area. I ultimately had four four-hour shifts - long story.

I've been a member of the Foothill Fiber Guild for the past ten years and have made wonderful friends in spite of the distance.  Sue has offered me her guest room on a number of occasions and since Ian wanted to stay home, I accepted.
Jane Milner demonstrated the art of basket weaving. 
The display area wasn't big but it was varied, including fleece entries.
And inkle looms for those who wanted to try them.  Kids are fearless.
Bhakti Banning was brilliant with wet felting.
She was making a bowl and this is how she finished it - with a needle-felted face in the bottom.

I love Sue's back porch.  My car malfunctioned and my simple trip became more complicated.  I got to spend more time in Grass Valley than I had anticipated, and thanks to my friends, it was fantastic.
Eleanor needed a new thermostat so while she was in the hands of Sue's mechanics, I spent mornings enjoying coffee and grrl talk on her deck - sleepover!  When I think of all alternative scenarios, I cringe  - dead car in a cell hole somewhere crossing the Sierras. I still find it hard to believe that I had such a great time when it could have been so terrible. I loved Sue Camp!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Life is Full of Surprises

I'm still experimenting with art yarn but I'm coming to the conclusion that the best use of it is in hats.
I'm really not sure which is the best way to present them either.  As Diane Varney points out in her book on designer yarns, the nature of the stockinette stitch is to put the thick areas and slubs to the back of the work.  I'm trying to decide if they are more interesting wrong side out.
We have a market twice a month out here in our valley.  It's advertised by the massive group email that Sandy McGill manages for us and astonishingly is well attended.  Mim has encouraged me to participate so I went my first time two weeks ago when it was 100 degrees.  We set up together under my Easy-Up.  Even with the meager attendance, I did as well as I've done in many one-day craft fairs.
Last week I sold out of rag rugs and got a commission for a runner and matching mat.  I'm down to four towels, and two scarves.  I took my wool hats, ostensibly to see if there was any interest in my art yarn hats before I invest any more energy into creating more and I sold three.  I have two weeks to generate more inventory, but I'm leaving in the morning for Grass Valley to participate in the Nevada County Fair.  It's confusing.  I live in Nevada, but we don't have a fair.  This fair is in California.
I've been experimenting with scarves from handspun yarns and this will be the last of it until after the local market season closes.  This yarn is from the indigo dyeing we did several weeks ago.  I put the end of a light blue skein back in the dye to create two shades of blue and used that skein as warp.  I'm trying to finish up so I can put some commercial yarn scarves on instead. 

I spent two hours that I probably should have been weaving in cleaning up the guest room.  Melissa  is coming for a visit in two weeks and I wanted to make space in the guest room closet so she can hang her clothes.  These four bags are what I removed.  I will never be that size or shape again - it's time to move on.  I dropped these off at Goodwill today.

I finally got an email from Kelly with how many soaps she will need for wedding favors in two weeks.  She's been waiting for RSVPs.  I cleaned them up a little and stacked them - I needed a bigger box.  Kelly is getting married on a peak in Yosemite so these will be for the reception in her dad's backyard. 

Kelly's mom is my long-time running partner Pam, whom I met before there was a Kelly.  We've been out of touch for way too many years but finally this year we've reconnected.  We ran together every morning before work, no matter what the weather conditions, sang Christmas carols while running in the snow, commiserated about the stress of returning to college as adults, carried each other through the traumatic years of our teenagers and ultimately our own divorces which led us in different directions.

I went to Pam's house this afternoon with the soaps and we talked about how we'll wrap them.  Kelly is on overload and we're picking this up to carry it to the finish.  We chatted about the soaps, sampled some wrappings and then fell into just being ourselves, like old times.  We going to get together after our different church services this Sunday, have breakfast and then tackle the soaps.  I cannot tell you how it filled my heart to hear that old laughter that I knew so well.  I didn't see this coming.  Life is full of surprises.