Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saying Goodbye to February

Don't step on this quilt!
Maddie has gone undercover.  She loves to be under or in things.
And I know that's why she loves to crawl in my roll of packing paper as it comes off the loom.  I couldn't mind that if I could just train her to stop scratching and chewing holes in it.
I finally tied up all eight of my harnesses and started on this 8-shaft huck lace scarf.  There are a lot of firsts in this project - my first eight shaft weave, my first time to write my own draft with a lot of help from Madelyn's book and a couple of friends, and my first time to weave with 30 ends per inch with 16/2 bamboo.  I made a lot of mistakes and I learned a ton!  I had to add floating selvedges after I started weaving but next time I'll put plain weave on both sides which should eliminate the need for them.
Melissa sent me this care package several days ago.  Someone gave her ten tubs of fiber stuff.  She threw some away, took some and then we went through what was left.  She says she's sending me another box next week.  The remaining stuff is going to her guild.  Lucky me!!
I bought this DVD earlier in the month and took it with me so Melissa and I could watch it together.  We really got excited at his fantastic ideas and techniques, kinda like men get excited when they watch NASCAR.  I'm planning to try a mixed warp with some of the stuff she sent me.

Melissa also included these in the box.  They're her design which she had fabricated in their shop for hanging a warping board.  My door frame is indented so there's no room for the warping board on either side.
So I hung my ironing board on it instead.  In a postage-stamp sized studio, every inch saved is helpful.

After no appreciable snow since with the water year began in October, we awoke to this today.  The forecast was for snow with less than an inch accumulation posssible.  The Weather Service issued a summary of the storm earlier this afternoon reporting the bulk of it was right where we live:  Palomino Valley had 10", we at Red Rock had 9" and Truckee only reported 6".  Truckee is site of the Donner Party which had 20' of snow that winter.  High Desert snow is peculiar in that it begins to melt when it stops snowing so this will be gone within the week.  

It was a perfect day to weave so I finished the scarf.  Actually I cut it off early but still at usable length.  There are so many errors and I feel like I know more about what to do and I want to do it again.  For one thing I know I need plain weave selvedges.  And I know I need to plan the warp around the complete pattern of 55 threads instead of stopping when I hit 8" - it's going to be about 9.4" wide next time.  This is woven in 16/2 bamboo that I ordered to ply handspun singles with and it had some spinning oil stains.  I didn't see them until I was weaving.  I thought about dyeing it but I know they won't be visible when I wear this and it's so so soft, I know I'm going to wear it a lot!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Great Fun

We didn't realize it until the next day but Robyn was touring The Oscar Exhibition at the same time we were and they compressed their visit into 2 ½ hours.   Our allotted time was 90 minutes but we just couldn't see it all in under two hours. I will never watch a movie or commercial in the same way again.  Robyn’s program was on how to make jewelry and embellishments from our stash, but what I loved the most were her lectures on embellishments in historical garments and in costume making. Having just seen the exhibit the day before, I soaked it all up.

I really enjoyed the Southern California Handweavers Guild.  They were friendly and open and were welcoming to visitors.  They were meeting in the newest space they've managed to arrange – the San Fernando Valley Arts and Cultural Center.  They meet in an open area of the gallery which is simultaneously open to the not-so-quiet public.  Saturday morning was taken up with their meeting and an hour talk from Robyn, but we rolled up our sleeves and went to work for the next day and a half.  She brought all kinds of colorful stuff to play with and play we did.

My other favorite thing was earrings from novelty yarn.  Melissa and I became obsessed with them and I confess we made them when we were supposed to be making embellishments and sometimes when we were supposed be listening.  Anything with Robyn is fun.  Somehow we began singing songs from the Music Man because Robyn said she always wanted to do, “One Grecian urn, two Grecian urns” which she demonstrated for us to much laughter.  Our group was “of an age” to remember this musical.  Someone decried the loss of the classic musicals - like South Pacific, so we started singing “There Ain’t Nothing Like a Dame.  One annoying male artist who was installing his work, chimed in from with back with Ezio Pinza’s part.  We laughed and forgave him his noise, because there ain’t nothing like a dame, especially a weaving dame.
Melissa lives in an area called Canyon Country.  It's 2700' in elevation, so it's hot in the summer but cools off at night.  It's very pretty in its own way.Their house looks out over the Vasquez Rocks which is where a lot of movies have been shot.  I was surprised to learn that even an episode of Big Bang Theory was shot here.  

Because Monday was a holiday, the flight was twice as expensive as the same thing the very next day so I flew home Tuesday.  Melissa had to work Monday morning and I used the beautiful morning to sit on the deck and finish my book.  We played Shanghai Rummy that afternoon instead of doing something or going somewhere.  It was the perfect end to a perfect visit.

I really like the Bob Hope Airport.  There are nice pieces of art like this cast bronze of Amelia Earhart and it's small and friendly.  A friendly airport?  Imagine!!  Neither of my flights were full and we accessed the plane from the front and rear with stairs and ramps, the old-fashioned way.  As I was flying both into and out of Burbank I couldn't help notice the many turquoise rectangles of swimming pools in residential backyards which seems odd in a time of drought.  Please tell me that the farmers aren't denied water in favor of pools.

These are the earrings I finished at the workshop.  They are crazy fun to make.  I especially like the odd-shapes on the top right, made by wrapping 18 gauge florist wire with novelty yarn.
I'd like to finish up the towels on Maudie Mae and I really need to make a yarn order soon. This is all the yellow I had left when I finished this towel - close!  I got really anxious near the end, hoping for a towel and not just a bread cloth.  Next I want to try some of the Turned Taquete blocks that I've seen on the Iowa Weavers blog. Still no winter here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Southern California Visit

Aside from changing planes in Las Vegas, hiking from the C terminal to the B terminal which I swear is a quarter of a mile, my flight to Burbank was effortless.  Melissa and I spent Wednesday afternoon playing cards and just visiting.  Thursday was our day to go shopping which we followed up with lunch, eaten on the outdoor patio - in February!  We split a burger and got the $.95 Cajun fries to go with it.  These could be a meal in themselves - fantastic!
Melissa bought us 1:00 tickets to view the Hollywood Costume Exhibit at LACMA on Thursday. A friend told her about it, but neither of us knew what it was - maybe the Red Carpet gowns?  We were allotted 70 minutes to view the collection but it's impossible to see it in under two hours.  It turns out that Robyn Spady, our workshop teacher, was viewing the collection at the same time as we were and she said they felt rushed at 2 1/2 hours. 

We decided to have lunch first in downtown LA at Canter's in the Fairfax district which is a famous deli. We thought we had plenty of time but the traffic was horrific.  I was trying to track our route on my iPhone but somehow I plugged in 877 Figueroa instead of 877 Fairfax which is just two streets away.
Which lead us to the Original Pantry where I have always wanted to eat.  I use their coleslaw recipe from the LA Times Cookbook and swear it's superior to most deli slaws.  We were so surprised to see this and it wasn't until after lunch that we realized my error.  I'm pretty happy with my mistake. We cut the time really close but weren't late.
Edith Head's nine Oscars were the first display and also the only photo permitted.  The rooms were pitch black with the only illumination coming from the displays.  Guards had flashlights if you needed help. Room after room was filled with the costumes, like Harrison Ford's from the Raiders of the Lost Ark, including explanation and a quote from the designer.  A whole section was of gowns worn by actresses playing Elizabethan roles and another with Meryl Streep costumes, including integrated video of her interviews.  I will never watch a movie or commercial the same again.
This display of restored streetlights greeted us when we exited the exhibition.
A short walk away was the La Brea Tar Pits which neither of us has ever seen.  The whole complex is Hancock Park and when I told Ian, he said that made sense.  Hancock used to be an oil company,  In the center left of the photo, note the ring from a bubble of gas.
There is a large ring of concentric ripples in the center of this photo.  Gas burps up and then leaves these rings but my point-and-shoot isn't fast enough to catch the bubble.  This is pit #9 and to date they've dug 100 and are actively excavating #91.  It smells like a gas station, i.e., it stinks.
I always thought the pits were tar but this says they're actually asphalt and the bubbles are methane gas.
The weather was perfect and the park was beautiful.  I realized that this just looks like a houseplant so asked Melissa to provide some perspective.
Thanks to my model Vanna, you can see they're huge.
This is the Levitating Rock which was touted in the information we read online.
We were parched afterwards and thought we could buy a bottle of water at what appeared to be a concession stand but turned out to be a bar, so we ordered vodka/tonics and took a breather.  
I would say it was perfect except for one thing - traffic.  It took us an hour to get through Hollywood to the freeway.  No comment.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Books, Books, Books

I subbed last week and sometime right after lunch, Ian texted me that the power was out and suggested I pick up sub sandwiches on the way home.  A front had come through that morning with terrific winds clocked at 130-150 mph over the Sierras.  Trees and power lines were down throughout the area and over 200,000 were without power.  All of Doyle and Susanville as well as areas of Nevada City were affected.

It started to rain on my way home and the wind buffeted my car so badly that it was wrenching my shoulders.  I passed an overturned semi-truck and knew it could be much worse.  We have a princess phone so we have phone service when power it out.  The recording stated that it would be 24-48 hours before power could be restored.  I am so thankful for those linemen who work in miserable conditions of pouring rain and blistering winds.  We had to resort to our generator as the freezers were starting to melt.  The man we hired to install the transfer box for our generator randomly connected power sockets so this is how we had to plug in our refrigerator from across the room.  We're going to find a licensed electrician on Angie's List this year and have it done right!

This meant that we did a whole lot of reading and looking back I realize that it's been six weeks since I mentioned books.

Here's a list of the ones I enjoyed and would recommend:

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Twenty Miles from a Match: Homesteading in Western Nevada by Sarah Olds  (This was especially near and dear to my heart since their homestead was so close to where we live)

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (I think is a very important book for anyone caring for a parent)

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (Her best yet!!)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - there is a reason this book is nominated for a National Book Award!  The setting is WW II Germany and France but the subject isn't the Holocaust, but rather the citizens who are struggling to stay alive.  This is the February selection for the Tuesday Book Club and I expect lots of discussion at tomorrows meeting.

Okay, the power is on and laundry awaits.  I need to pack my suitcase for summer as I'm flying to SoCal to spend a week with Melissa and she says it's short-sleeve weather at her house.  We're signed up for a Robyn Spady workshop this weekend, and while the time will fly, I know we will have fun.  We always do!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Moving Right Along

I have been using Texsolv as the cord to lash onto the front apron rod because I'm terrible at tying knots and the Texsolv is quickly secured by the pin.  But it's annoying to loop through a wider warp so I've gone back to cord that I wind on a bobbin.  I feed the bobbin end through, releasing more cord as I need it and just make a lot of terrible knots at both ends.  I have already checked for sleying and threading errors but one final check I make is to slide through two venetian blind slats in opposite plain weave sheds to make sure that I haven't reversed any of the colors in the pairs.  Ready to go.
This might be the warp where I went to far with crazy colors. It's bound to happen sometime.
I finished the scarf from handspun yarn and I think it's sold.  It really is pretty and has encouraged me make time to spin some more.
I'm starting with this fiber that I blended together - more crazy color. The reason I blend so many fibers together is to get to about a 50/50 blend of wool and silk or alpaca so the scarf won't be scratchy.
 I don't really feel like taking the time right now to blend more so I drove over to Mim's to see what she had in stock and bought 4 ounces of Panda is a pastel palette.  Panda is a blend so I'm not worried about making a scratchy scarf.  Now I have to decide if I want to ply it on itself or ply it with a 16/2 bamboo.

An unforecasted storm slipped through yesterday and gave us a very good rain, the first precipitation of 2015.  Unfortunately it was a warm storm so also rained on what little snow is in the mountains.  I got a last-minute call to sub yesterday morning and rain days with indoor recess are always a challenge.
I got a free iPad app for Maddie this morning called Cat Toy 3D on the recommendation of Robin Hasty.  It's just a mouse running around making a periodic squeak and at first she wanted nothing to do with it.
I just left it running on the sofa, counting on the curiosity of a cat.

It didn't take long at all for her to become completely engrossed.  At one point she jumped off the sofa to look under it.  Every so often she'd put too much pressure on the screen and close the app but otherwise, she was in mouser training.  And after I took it back, she spent ten minutes looking all over for the mouse, then went into the bedroom for a long siesta.