Saturday, December 27, 2014

The End of a Month and Year

I was my own Santa and ordered this Logitech bluetooth keypad for my three-year-old iPad.  I've used one made by Zagg since I  bought this and would be lost without an external keyboard, however, that one was heavy and the iPad was only propped up in a channel which means it would fall over every so often as I typed.  This one is magnetic, half the weight of my Zagg, and the magnet keeps it steady as I type.  I gave my old one to Margi, my oldest stepdaughter so don't feel too bad about my extravagance.
I also ordered at 13" end-feed shuttle by Bluster Bay so  now I have two; the other is made by Schacht.  It seems that all Bluster Bay owners are crazy about their shuttles and while I love having an EFS, I don't have that same feeling for my Schacht.  And now I know why they rave, through I do love the tensioner on the Schacht.  Even though it's obnoxious to thread around the hooks, I quickly came to prefer the feel of my newest shuttle.
This is a picture of the two from the side and as you can see, the Bluster Bay is bigger which means it's also heavier.  I've had problems with that chisel nose on the Schacht, slidingunder or over warp threads.  I had two pirns filled with the weft I'm currently using and must have uneven tension on some of my warp threads as I had to unweave a couple of sections because of that problem.  I decided to give my new shuttle a try on that warp and have had no trouble at all.  I'm really pleased.  This has been such a busy month that I have hardly had time to weave at all, so I'm really looking forward to some weaving time in January.

I walked the dogs Tuesday morning.  It's been cold here and what little snow we've had is in the mountains.  The ski resorts have had to make snow and we're really worried that this winter will be another dry one.
The next morning we had this spectacular sunrise which quickly faded to yet another gray day.  It was Wednesday, Christmas Eve day, and by noon a fast-moving storm from Northern California pushed through here with heavy rains for about four hours.  As soon as the temps dropped, it turned to snow and the roads froze.  Most of the people who spend Christmas Eve with us didn't venture outside of their front doors.  My son Matt and his girlfriend Julia were driving down from Bend Oregon and I was a nervious wreck.  They were exchausted by the time they got here.  Seven of our neighbors came anyway so it was an intimate group this year.  We ended up in the living room, just chatting and laughing until about 11:00 which is waaaaaaay past my bedtime.

The anxiety wore me out through and I woke up the next morning about half dead.  We had planned to see a movie and then go out for Chinese food but it just didn't happen.  We exchanged our gifts and then settled into a quiet day.  I surprised Ian with a Kindle Paperwhite and I'm shocked that I was able to pull it off.  He's impossible to surprise.  He's made it a tradition to give me two books, a fiction and a nonfiction.  He spends quite a bit of time reading reviews and trying to figure out what I'd enjoy reading.

One day about a week ago I started reading one of the prepublication books that I got from Random House called The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez.  I was utterly sucked in and couldn't put it down - not a good thing just days before Christmas.  It turns out that it was my fiction book.  Ian pulled his copy out of the closet and handed it to me when I was about halfway done.  He wanted me to have two books Christmas morning so quickly ordered the Anita Diamant as a replacement.

Margi, Ian's oldest daughter, got a promotional job opportunity and is in the process of moving to Susanville, a mere 40 minutes from us.  When she learned that we were going to be home, she drove down to spend the afternoon with us.  We ate leftover ham and sat around, laughing and talking for about four hours.  It's the quietest, most intimate Christmas I can remember and it was lovely.  We sent her home with my old Zaggfolio for her iPad, Ian's old Kindle and a copy of the Book of Unknown Americans - oh, and a bottle of desert wine someone had given us.
I woke up this morning and relaized that I really needed to take down the Christmas tree.  Our granddaughters will be here tomorrow to spend the night and then the four of us hit the road early MOnday morning for SoCal to celebrate New Years with family and friends down there.  I always hate to put the ornaments away for another year because they hold so many memories for us, but I know I am really going to hate it when we get home next week with suitcases full of dirty laundry.  Now that the tree is down, it's official.  I've closed the 2014 chapter and I'm very much looking forward to opening the 2015 one.  Happy New Year to everyone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blogsy is Back and I'm So Glad!

You would think that this box came expressly for Maddie. She claimed it as her own and it's still here, mainly because when she plays with her box, she doesn't bat ornaments from the tree.
This is what was in the box, an adjustable Yamaha piano stool. Even at it's highest, it's 2" shorter than my weaving bench so I decided to sley a warp to see if reaching up the 2" additional inches would be acceptable and it was. The thing is, the piano stool costs $30 with free shipping whereas a weaving bench runs around $400, plus shipping. Note the kitty under my rolling work table.
Both my looms have been nekkid and I'm trying to get them warped. I was threading Arthur when I noticed some link squeezing up between the harnesses from underneath. I started pulling and it kept coming. I know I have dust bunnies all over the floor but I never dreamed I'd have one this size *in* my loom. Somehow it was hovering between the top of the jacks and the bottom of the harnesses. Someone asked me if it has a name :)
I wanted to share this very clever idea that one of the ladies from my Tuesday Book Group brought last week. It's simply a brown bag and a page torn from a book with an interesting font. She tore the deckled edges, then glued on the leaf, button and rafia bow. She made the matching ornament by putting the paints inside and tying with another rafia bow. The colored tissue paper completes it. I see inspiring ideas on Pinterest but don't know how they're accomplished. Darlene explained this to me. I get it!
I've been on a buying spree lately and just got this magnetic bulletin board on the recommendation of a friend. I told him I don't have any way to display my photos. He's a photographer and said this is his solution, then sent me the link. He keeps his photos in a portfolio, then the first of each month he refreshes them so he gets to enjoy different ones from month to month.
Playing with my photos also has inspired me to finally get all my electronic photos sorted out and into folders. Over the years I've just let the photos download to a folder labeled by the date of the download, back to 2010. Every so often I'd be spurred to clean up this mess and then get overwhelmed. I've taken an hour a morning lately to get this under control. As of yesterday I've deleted 3 gb of photos and gotten the ones I've kept organized into named folders. I'm finally working on 2013. When all photos are in folders, then I'll go back and review each folder. And because I don't feel rushed, I'm able to enjoy the memories these photos represent.
And finally, both looms are dressed and in business. I'm weaving towels, twenty of them between Maudie Mae and Arthur. I've woven on the piano stool for several hours and while it still feels awkward, it's not an ergonomic problem. I really do like having two benches. This is the first equipment I've purchased since I bought my Schacht end-feed shuttle two years ago. Like I said, I'm on a buying spree. I've also ordered an Bluster Bay end-feed shuttle that's supposed to arrive Friday. We leave for SoCal a week from this Saturday so I hope I'll have a chance to use it in this next week.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Books, Books, Books

It's again been a while since I've posted about books and since I'm reading quite a bit these days, I'm just going to post the ones I really liked, starting with

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney.  This is the first American release from this seasoned Australian author and I hope it's the first of many.  The setting is a sheep ranch in the outback where a family struggles to hang onto their operation even after they've been forced to sell off the sheep, by turning it into a tourist destination.  The strain of constantly fighting to keep their heads above water hurts every one in the family, each in their own way.  But when something even more threatening than financial strain hits the family, they learn who and what matters.  The title comes from their annual Christmas letter.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes.  Simply put, if you loved this movie, you will love this book.

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud.  The biggest criticism I saw in Amazon was that the characters were unlikeable, so let me get that right out there.  However, if you liked Seinfeld, these are the same kind of people and they're as real as New York City, which the setting for this book.  I was reminded of the The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.  The reviews are mixed but mine is one of the 5-star ones.

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin.  This is Toibin's seventh novel but my first time to read him, which means I have six more books to look forward to.  Nora is widowed and heartbroken at the age of 40 with four children, two of them young boys,  She  is also broke, forcing her to return to work at her former place of employment.  The time is just as the IRA is rising in Northern Ireland and Nora lives in a small community where everyone knows everything about everyone.  She feels alone and utterly friendless unable to help her sons in their own grief,  Sleep walking through her life, she begins to find her way back through the power of music.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  This is another Australian author and the third book I've read of hers this year.  She has a way of taking flawed people in compromising circumstances, inserting a little humor and keeps you flipping the pages.  In the beginning I almost put this down because I thought - who wants to read about rich petty kindergarten moms.  Were it any other author, I really would have stopped reading, but  I suspected she would deliver and she certainly did. And again, she inserts a moral quandary into the story. The quotes from the police reports at the end of each chapter are an interesting touch.

I would recommend any of those five books.  Make yourself a cup of tea and go sit by the fire.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Getting my groove on

Blogsy, the third party app I've been using on my iPad to blog, is no longer talking to Blogger so I've had to go back to using my camera and posting from my laptop.  I downloaded the pictures for this post and found this one lurking, something I obviously took last summer since nothing is green now.

These are the colors of my next set of towels. I wove over a hundred last year and only have eight left and they're pinks/purples.  I need fill my towel inventory so am starting with some Harvest towels.
I've been wanting a way to listen to music in the studio, apart from my iPod and ear buds.  I love the music but the cord gets caught in my shuttle and when I stand up, I forget about the iPod and it drops to the floor.   Ian found this little jewel for me at Costco for $40 bucks.  That black box is the blue-tooth speaker.
This is the dock, plugged in and not in my way.  When I'm done weaving I just put the speaker right back here and let it recharge.

Like this.
I was listening to music via bluetooth from my iPhone but I haven't bought much music from the iTunes store and it was getting repetitive.  Then I realized that I could cable in my iPod which has my whole music library.  Oh my.  So I wound two towels this morning listening to Verdi's Rigoletto.  My mother bought me a WebCor high fidelity record player at FedCo in San Diego when I was in grade school, and then bought me a series of records in green cases of classical musical - kind of the best hits.  I listened to Rimsky-Korsikov long before I heard of Glenn Miller, whom I also love. This little device is perfect for my needs.  Ian scores a ten!
An update on my first attempt at lace.  I thought ice lilac and lace would be a sweet combination.  It's less than boring, and since I sell more towels five to one than scarves, I don't think I will revisit this draft.
It was an exciting weekend.  My daughter graduated.  She says she was on the 26 1/2 year plan.  She accomplished this while working full time and never missing her kids's activities. We think she's a super hero.

 We now get to wear these :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

December? Already?!!!

I was assigned this space for the craft fair that benefits the Silver Lake VFD.  I guess you can tell we're in a firehouse.  It's not very aesthetic and I was completely upstaged by the fire hoses.  I sold enough here so that I can order a AVL electric bobbin winder which I'd like to do this week.  I'm still recovering from all the fun, family and food at Thanksgiving!
Don't you think this would be a great calendar page?
It's not unusual for us to get a snow storm right after Thanksgiving and when we used to cut Christmas trees the day after, there was snow on the ground and sometimes falling on us.  Instead this year we're getting soaking rain.  Not the typical gully washer that leaves channels in our driveway but more like the rain in Oregon.  
In spite of the mucky muddy conditions Ian decided to drive up into the Sierras yesterday and cut a tree before today's story arrived.  There's no snow up there and he had to drive through a number of puddles.
This is our tree for 2014.  It's a little wonky but all natural trees are.  The only perfect ones are plastic.  We brought it into the house just as the latest storm hit so we got a little wet.  It's rained since this morning and is supposed to rain clear through tomorrow.  It's also raining in the mountains so again, no snow.
I've been in a weaving funk lately.  I think part of the problem is that I got focused on weaving stuff to sell for Christmas.  Sales are always best this time of year and my inventory is low, so instead of weaving for me, I was weaving for a purpose.  I wasn't happy with the last iridescent scarf I wove but I did like the teal, so put that on for warp.  I studied my sample gamp and also Deb Menz's color book and chose the color on the left.  To make a long story short, I ended up making it a sampler and have come to the conclusion that I'm not wild about iridescent cloth.
Now I decided to just weave for me and pulled out a skein of yarn I had spun up last spring.  I enjoyed weaving this scarf and I'm happy with it.  I've decided against listing scarves on Etsy as they have to be felt to be appreciated.  While it doesn't look it, this scarf is soft and drapey.  This is my first item for next years Christmas market.
I also have started my first lace, a six-shaft huck scarf.  It's a draft I got from someone on the 4-Shaft group but I hadn't seen it as cloth.  I'm disappointed as I expected a more traditional appearing huck. At the same time, I'm glad I didn't do anything more complex for my first lace.  It's a different kind of weaving and it was hard to think in terms of six harnesses instead of four.  I had a half dozen threading errors which weren't easy to fix on this pale lavender Tencel on a gray day, in spite of being in front of a big window.  It's not what I wanted it to look like but at the same time I'm very pleased.  

Being at my wits end, I decided to give acupuncture a try and started on November 4th, going once a week with the blessings of my GP and also my GYN oddly enough, whom I routinely see in November.  My insurance pays for the sessions the same rate as for physical therapy.  I'm seeing Raina Ferran, who is the only acupuncturist on my insurance company's preferred provider list and I have had four sessions to date.  I still have a stiff neck but more mobility than I've had since my accident.  The down side is that for two or three days afterward, I am exhausted.  There's no information on acupuncture other than that it has not been researched or medically proven, so I don't know anything more than what I'm experiencing.  My reasoning is that if after each session I experience less swelling in my neck and a loosening of the muscles, there must be materials that are flushing out that my body has to deal with.  Who knows?  No one apparently. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

On the Loom Again

I finished the scarves and didn't enjoy weaving them one bit - just plain weave and not at all interesting. I'm very low on stock for the craft fair this weekend and know that I need inventory to attract people to my booth.  I'm getting ready to throw them in the washer but at this stage they look like medical gauze to me.
The scarves have done well for me in the past and they certainly are pretty when all finished.  I took advantage of the dye pots and dyed four of the cowls my daughter has ordered.  She would like each one to be a different color.  Three more to go!
I haven't put a warp on since early October.  I originally used a draft that's been floating around 4-Shaft Weaving, broken twill with basket-weave selvedges.  I hadn't woven very far when I realized that I hated the basket weave, tore it out and rethreaded the edge threads for more broken twill.  I use the blinds to help me check for errors and there were many.  I love lashing on with Texsolv because you simply pop off the pin, fix the error and put the pin right back in place.  The piece I used wasn't quite wide enough so instead of cutting more Texsolv, I just added another short piece by pinning them together.  Worked great!
I have finally been able to start a project using the information from my recent workshop.  I chose broken twill because I liked it best of my samples.  I know that dark yarns like this deep purple are processed within an nth of their lives.  Changing the warp at the beginning caused some fraying which shows up in this fabric.
In addition the heddle eyes are abrading the yarn and that's also showing up in the cloth.  I thought I had made a treadling error and when I tried to correct it, discovered the only thing wrong was the lint and frayed yarn had piled up, producing a stripe across the cloth - very visible but I doubt I would have become aware of this problem had I sampled.
I'm fascinated by the color play.  Is it teal or is it purple??  I'm going to weave these two again, but this time I'll use the teal as the warp and try the Walls of Troy draft.  Broken twill really isn't that interesting or fun to weave.  Meanwhile, I've tied up two more harnesses on my big loom, added heddles to the harnesses and am getting ready to start on 6-shaft Huck Lace.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Some Catching Up to Do

I finished the dishtowels and got them in the mail last weekend, though I was racing around like a mad woman trying to get them shipped before I left for my book club.  I'm happy with them, especially with the tracking in this plain weave - not happy enough to weave this fiddly pattern again though.
I received an email on Sunday from a blog reader in Florida, asking me to clarify why I didn't like the Texsolv heddles on my Dorset.  She also has a Dorset and had been thinking about changing her heddles to the Texsolv.  I learned when I visited Gayle that there are two generations of Dorset studio looms.  The first, which mine is, was made from a light wood and is a very light and portable loom, also why I needed heavier heddles.  Gayle has the second generation Dorset and it's very heavy. I explained this in my email response and then offered her mine.  No one in my guild could put this size to use and I had planned to offer them in a blog post, but she beat me to the punch.  I dropped them in the mail Monday on my way to work.
I had been called to sub last week for a librarian who was in the middle of a family crisis and when she called me from California Sunday evening it sounded like she was also in the middle of a personal meltdown.  She didn't leave lesson plans and while trying to explain her schedule to me, she let me know that the library was a mess.  "The books are flat - flat on the shelves."  And indeed they were.
I have never seen anything like this and don't quite understand how this happened.  For one thing, her narrow shelving is probably original to the school library which is 50 years old this year.  I had my work cut out for me and managed to wrestle it into shape in between class visits.  Friday she had seven class visits as well as a lunchroom duty.  I have no idea how she has time to run a library.  When I turned the lights out and closed the door, I had managed to shelve all but one row on a shelving cart and the books were sorted and in order.  It was the best I could do.
My sole weaving project is pretty uninteresting and looks a lot like medical gauze.  I've woven these scarves several times in the past because they do well at craft fairs and I have one coming up this Saturday.  I need to finish weaving these four so I can dye and press them.
I'd like to finish the fourth of these cowls so I can dye them at the same time as the scarves.  My daughter asked me if I could knit seven of them as gifts for her belly dance troop.  Actually she asked me what I'd charge since she didn't want to spend more than $20-$25 and so that's what I'll charge her.  I bought this Merino at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show about ten years ago.  I only purchased a pound of wool and have never been able to find a project for the yarn.  I'm pretty happy to finally use it. The roving was a blend of butterscotch and natural so they're going to look great after I dye them.
Time to start a new project!  I'm finally going to be able to put the information I learned in my workshop to use.  These Tencel yarns are analogous on the color wheel and I'm hoping will produce an iridescent cloth.
Someone on 4-Shaft Weaving suggested that next time I wind a solid warp that I first wind a small cone and hold two threads together.  I don't have a cone winder so this is my adaptation - a large bobbin in a heavy shuttle.  It took forever to wind that bobbin, which is when I decided that this is week I will order the electric bobbin winder - before I experience a repetitive motion injury.  I am very much looking forward to working with color again.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Getting back to Normal

I took my winders to the guild's two-day workshop on iridescence, taught by Bobbie Irwin and you can ready my post on our guild blog here.  It was everything I had hoped for and I look forward to implementing the things I learned.  By the time I got around to weaving Wednesday morning, I discovered my winders were no where to be found.  I decided maybe it's time to think about buying an electric bobbin winder, so I called Gayle, a production weaver, for her insight.  She said she was one of the last to leave the workshop and noticed my winders and packed them up, meaning to email me that she had them.
I told her - I'll be right there, which is relative since she lives in south Reno.  Gayle showed me her AVL winder and explained what I need to look for.  She also demoed her 40-harness AVL loom.  I've never seen a computer driven loom before - fascinating!  So my winders are back in the workshop and I have some time to think about an electric bobbin winder.  They are very long so I may need to move things around to fit one in.
This is as far as I've gotten with my gamp.  I washed and wet finished it today but still need to attach the tassels of weft colors so I can decide which combinations I like the best.
I finally finished weaving these towels and also washed them today.  I have to clip all the threads at each stripe and hem them, wash them again and then wet finish - whew!  There are a lot of steps from thread to towel!!
Maddie is absolutely obsessed with my packing paper anyway, but today she was giddy with happiness that I was finally back in the studio and simply would not leave it alone.  She kept hiding a toy in the center of the roll and then diving in after it.  I would pull her out, scold her and tell her no, sometimes a couple of times, she would cry then finally sigh and lay her head down for a nap.  It was an endless cycle so when I finished for the day, I pulled the paper up on top of my loom.

October was a busy month and November has started out the same with the workshop this past weekend, then a sub job on Monday and on Tuesday I had my first ever acupuncture appointment. She explained that I would probably not notice results right away.  I understand that.  The good news is that my insurance pays at the same rate as for physical therapy.  They wouldn't pay for massage therapy but Raina is also a massage therapist and plans to introduce that into my treatment down the line.  I'm optimistic.