Saturday, August 23, 2014

Substitute School Librarian

The Verdi library is where I've been this past week. It's a joint use facilty, a partnership between the department of wildlife, the public library and the school district. Verdi is a small community west of Reno right on the California/Nevada border. The school is equally small, one classroom for each grade, and all the children know each other. It's my favorite school to sub for even though it's an hour from our house. Nothing is close to us and I enjoy the change-up and challenge. Days are a mixture of class visits and kids coming in on recess and lunch hour. They're a reading group!
The school is located on Bridge Street, named for the one-lane bridge that crosses the Truckee River which flows from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. I took this from the bridge looking west at my own peril. It's a busy bridge!
The department of wildlife has supplied "wildlife" as part of the decor. I was straightening books on this shelf of easy-readers and didn't enjoy the frog just above my eye level, sloshing around in its jar. One of the children asked me if it was real and I said yes. She asked me if it was dead. I said yes.
This cougar nicknamed "Top Cat" is perched above children's fiction. Children who have attended here are accustomed to the wildlife and other than the frog question, it was largely ignored until the kindergarten class visit. I was ready for the children to settle down so we could begin story time but I was sadly mistaken if I thought I could begin without first addressing the wildlife. One girl asked me if he was stabbed or shot - not sure why that would make a difference. A friend who used to work here when the library was flush and could afford a fulltime staff told me that she always told the children that the animals died of old age.
And then there's the mountain goat perched over the staff desk. I'm standing in the area of adult books and had to shoo some sixth graders away from it - they got themselves into a giggly scared state, insisting that the goat was winking at them. I found the wildlife a little creepy myself. A third of the building belongs to the department of wildlife which also serves as meeting space for the community. I was a little unsettled one afternoon when their staff had a table piled with rifles that they were checking and blank firing, getting ready for the hunter safety course. I found the stack of picture books that I was reading against the clicks of weapon checks an odd combination.
I read dozens and dozens of picture books, reacquainting myself with old favorites and looking at some new ones, getting my story times in order. The librarian I was subbing for was actually present but testing children in the computer room for learning competency which is why this is such an unusually long sub job. Each morning I'd pick up the key from the office and return it at the end of the day. Friday as I was leaving the principal come in, gave me a big hug and said "We love you!" It's that kind of school.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sagecreek Madness

The lady from Florida who bought my "Fiestaware" towels sent me a photo demonstrating that I had indeed nailed the colors. Even though she also is a weaver, she has her mothers classic Fiestaware and knew the towels would complement them, and thus she complemented me.
I finally got my looms dressed. This scarf is the Walls of Troy draft in 8/2 Tencel coral and pink, the same as my all white one.
I had more mistakes just on his towel warp alone than I have had all this year and maybe even longer. It's made me think that perhaps it's time to try warping from the back again. I haven't done it in five years but after being refreshed through the guild on the technique to teach our newbie weavers, maybe the time has come. And just when I thought all was well, I discovered these two blue threads, side by side. I can't remember the last time I was this frustrated.
I've been second guessing myself on these colors for a "seaglass" colorway and then with all the errors, I finally reached the point where I considered cutting it off, all ten towels worth, and throwing it in the trash.

I've gotten past that and I'm proud that I stuck it out. I do think the light pink is going to be okay. I used Google images of seaglass and light pink was clearly one of the colors.
I had a table at our local farmers market today but before I went I chained my two painted warps - my painted ladies :) It's going to be a couple of weeks before I have time to do anything else with them as I have a school library sub job this week and part of next. More hurry up and wait.
Maddie says she doesn't know anything about a ball of yarn.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Painted Warps

I went to Rae's this morning to learn how to make painted warps. I've wanted to do it for a long time but learning how to mix and use fiber reactive dyes and also the mechanics of applying the dyes to chained warps was just too intimidating for me. This is one of her examples - I love her fringe!
This is a 9" wide scarf but she wound the warp in 1" bouts before dyeing. The color movement up the scarf is wonderful.
I took the dyes I had purchased from Dharma,, and Rae showed me the Dharma catalog where she had marked the dye powders she owns. This was an older catalog and she gave it to me. Her teacher had recommended no more than three colors and I can tell you that picking just three colors was torture. That took the most time of all. I borrowed moss green from Rae and need to order some of my own.
I ultimately mixed up four colors and when I still couldn't select just three, I used them all. She uses 1/2 teaspoon per one cup of water. The hot water is the only hot part with fiber reactive dyes, so different for me than dyeing protein fibers like wool and sillk with acid dyes. I just realized one disappointing omission - I changed out colors and rearranged so much but didn't write down my final choices and I can't remember now what they are. I think the above are Cayman Bue, Plum, Bronze and Moss Green. Or not.
We started first thing by immersing my two warps in soda ash water, which is a mordant of sorts. It's recommended that you soak for at least a half hour and it was longer than that because I was stymied by color.
I had wound my warp in 2" bouts for an 8" scarf and labeled them 1 to 4 to keep them in order for later when it's time to weave. Once the soak was completed, we opened up the three yard warp chain and slipped both ends through dowels. I'm using 8/2 Tencel, a form of rayon.
We blotted the excess dye from the plastic wrap and covered the top with a second sheet of plastic wrap. This is to keep the color from unintented bleeding. It's rolled up tightlly to keep the yarn wet for the next day or two.
The color on the yarn is really dark and looks terrible. These are the colors that I blotted up so I'm hoping my results will be closer to them.
I chose analogous colors for my second warp and just a word of caution. When mixing dye powders, it's imperative that you wear a dust mask. You may not see anything in the air but the risk is serious. I think the colors here are Raspberry, Lilac and Fuchsia Red. Or not.

We put the warp ends on dowels again but this time I scrunched them together and then painted sections on the diagonal. I'm trying hard not to focus on how ugly the warps look at this stage and just believe the colors that are on the paper towels. This is definitely not for someone who requires immediate gratification.
The two warps are wrapped securly in plastic wrap and are batching in the garage. They recommend at least 24 hours and 48 is even better. I'll probably rinse these out sometime tomorrow afternoon. I'm going to our local farmers market on Sunday then have a school library sub job all next week so I wanted to write down the steps that we took today while they are fresh in my mind. And then I need to do it again as soon as I can.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Doyle Days

Our neighbors bought the Winge's grocery store/hotel in Doyle in January. When we stopped by to see what they were doing, Eileen talked me into signing up for a booth at Doyle Days. And now it's Doyle Days.
The day begins with a parade. Doyle is a Northern California railroad town that time almost forgot, but not quite. Lassen County is populated with the truly forgotten towns - Termo, Wendel, Standish, Ravendale. At least Doyle still has a post office. It's in California. We live right on the stateline in Nevada and are ten miles south. If you look at a map, we are where California and Nevada abut.
All parade participants toss candy and everyone scrambles for it.
The parade is at 10:00, followed at 11:00 by the three-man outhouse races. This team is the winner this year - The Reading Room. The rules declare that a crew shall consist of 3 members: 2 pushers, driver, rider, and/or 2 alternates - All of whom should be of basic humanoid ancestry. No dogs or other animals that cannot make a reasonable choice may not ride in or push/pull the outhouse. There is a long list of specifications but I like: Minimum size - 8 square feet; Outhouse must be completely enclosed with an operating door - Curtain closure OK; Outhouse must contain a toilet seat, roll of toilet paper and be a functional outhouse; Steering and brakes are optional.

Lizard races follow at noon, and it's all about boys and lizards.

A boy releases his lizard onto the black disk in the center of the ring and at that moment the timer starts. When the lizard reaches the ring wall, time stops. I heard times varying between 1.7 seconds, upward to 12 seconds. This event went on for over 90 minutes! I was starting to feel sorry for the lizards.
The next event is the frozen t-shirt contest.
The first person to thaw and wear their frozen t-shirt is the winner, not as easy as it sounds. A couple dozen people tackled this challenge.
I got a kick out of this craft booth. We give ours away.
I realized quickly that it was not a good venue for crafters. At the last minute I had tossed some wool and drop spindles into a basket so ended up doing more spinning demonstration than anything else. I met fun people and enjoyed the day, but I was really happy to be home and put my feet up.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Nevada County Fair

Wednesday morning I loaded Jane up for her first trip over the Sierras. What a difference that trip is with this car! No more deafening road noise or down shifting. This is the first of all my four-cylinder cars, and they've all been four-cylinder, that hasn't required down shifting on the grades.
I dropped my stuff off at Sue's first, and because I arrived at the fair in the afternoon, parking was horrible. I ended up parking at the far end of the lot near the exit and would have had to go further but managed to squeeze in next to this rock. It was close to a half mile walk with my load and I would certainly do it differently another time. One of the young parking attendants said - I love your license plate! My dad does libraries. We both laughed. My plate says BOOKIST.
My first demonstration shift was in the Ag-Sperience area. It's an ingenious use of farm pens to expand the fair display area and my favorite of the two areas that Footfhill Fibers Guild sets up to demo weaving, spinning, felting, knitting and basketry. We are next to the Master Gardners and FFA.
This is our area. Everyone was getting food when I thought to take this, and let me tell you that the food on Treat Street is not your usual fair fare. Shan is teaching her six-year-old granddaughter Tula to spin.
One of the huge hits in Ag-Sperience is the chick incubator. Kids keep come back to it all the time they're at the fair to check on the hatchlings. Shan also had her 12-year-old grandson with her. He came racing up to his cousin and said - Come on, let's go check out the chicks. Oh man, we laughed. He'll be saying that soon enough but with an entirely different meaning.

One of the things I love about this fair is the vintage farm equipment display.
It shares an area where hobbyists display their gas-powered, belt-driven machines. Grass Valley is in the heart of Gold Country and many a mine required pumping from something like this.
This is a whatchmacallit. On the left you see a stone sharpening wheel and on the right in the back you see a hacksaw, which was sawing back and forth into the air.
Looking through my pictures I realize that my bias toward spinning in Ag-Sperience is reflected in my absence of photos of our magnificant display area in Ponderosa Hall - beautiful tihings! I had two shifts yesterday, the last ended at 10:00 in Ponderosa when we closed it down. My favorite part of the entire day was my afternoon Ag-Sperience shift. We get a lot of families with children and have baskets of fleece to feel and storyboard that that explains shearing. On occasion one of the kids will ask if they can try our equipment. We direct them to the display and suggest they visit Ponderosa where they can actually weave.
This little girl stropped by with her family. She watched me on my drop spindle for quite a while and then with an intelligent open face asked, Can I try it? Most kids want to try a wheel. Of course you can! I explained what she needed to do but she had been watching and intuitively got it. Her family went photo mad, taking pictures, and told me that she has been displaying an interest lately in fiber arts. Later she returned to thank me and then - can I do it again? Of course! They had to drag her away. In all my years doing this, that was a first and it was awesome.
And yes I did enter something and yes I got a ribbon. I came in behind Ingrid Knox who took first place but she is such an accomplished weaver and warm friend, I was busting buttons on my proud chest when I saw this hanging on my scarf. I love this fair so much and am so lucky to be able to be a part of it. I love it all - staying at Sue's and talking into the night and then getting up in the morning and talking again over dark coffee.
I got home this morning and after lunch (cottage cheese and beautiful tomatoes that Sue sent home with me from her garden), I got things ready and packed the car for the Doyle Days craft fair tomorrow. It should be interesting - lizard races and three-man outhouse races?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Getting Warped

This is the storm system that has been slowly moving over our house for almost 24 hours now. It's coming from the east so hasn't lost any moisture crossing the Sierras. In the winter we call this system a Tonopah Low and it dumps a couple of feet of snow on us. This is the first time I've experienced this system in August and it's most welcome.
I rely on natural light to work in my studio and it's been so dark that the only thing I've been able to do is wind warps. This warp will be my next set of dish towels.
I agonized over colors for about a week, adding and taking away cones, and I had some misgivings about this pink but all the Google images I looked at of "seaglass" had a pink glass. I think it looks better in the warp chains.
And I wound enough of this coral 8/2 Tencel to make two scarves. One of my favorite sample scarves at Webs used coral and pink. I'll use the Wall of Troy draft for both.
The last warp, actually two warps, I made today are undyed Tencel. Melissa is coming up next week and Rae has offered to show us how to make hand-painted warps. Rae suggested I wind in small bouts so I made four 2" bouts for an 8" scarf for each of us. I've wanted to do this for a long time and am really looking forward to it. I can't get my head around how fiber reactive dyes work so I'll get two lessons at once
I'm leaving in the morning for Grass Valley and will spend a couple of nights with my friend Sue. I have looked forward to this trip and visit for months. I enjoy the Nevada County Fair and to showing the public the art of hand spinning. It's a wonderful fair and wonderful fairgrounds, always a pleasure. I especially look forward to seeing old friends.