Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What an Eventful Day!

I've been working through the exercises in Marg Coe's tutorial for Fiberworks and can see that I'd like to try weaving something with more ends per inch, but in order to do that, I have to learn how to warp from the back.  I tried warping three ends per dent from the front and ended up with both sleying and threading errors.  I reread Chandler's chapter and started dressing Maudie Mae from the back.
I have to admit that lease sticks are pretty handy.  I always warp from the front, holding the cross in my hand but next time I'm going to use these.
The front beam doesn't come off on Maudie Mae so even though I took out the reed to reach the heddles, it was still a reach.  The front beam comes off on Arthur so the next time I warp from the back will be on him.  I like using a blind slat to give me a firm edge for hemstitching.
I've got my answer.  Plain weave brings out the qualities of a novelty yarn.
Yesterday was shearing day.  It's almost May and normally by this time their coats are huge, but they're about half the normal size because of the warm winter.
I had to make a trip to town so missed Devon.  He talked to Ian about their fleeces and said it's a combination of the warm winter and that old sheep just do grow shorter fleeces.  We've had them start to roo their fleece a couple of times when we sheared late but Devon said that he hasn't been seeing that lately.

"In some primitive sheep (for example in many Shetlands), there is a natural break in the growth of the wool in spring. By late spring this causes the fleece to begin to peel away from the body, and it may then be plucked by hand without cutting – this is known as rooing. Individual sheep may reach this stage at slightly different times."  Wikipedia

Devon came early because he was about to leave on a road trip.  It turns out that Devon Strong is more than a rancher, farrier and shearer.  He's an acknowledged leader in the field of Biodynamics and has just returned from being flown to conference in Switzerland, and he's attending one in South Dakota next.  Who knew?!!
By the time I got home, he and the fleeces were gone.  Ollie is starting to get brown again.  Weird.
I'm currently spinning from an older fleece and I'm sure he's darker than this now.
I checked out his fleece and while it does seem darker, but it's also shorter, and with the sunburned tips, it might be a lost cause.  I'll skirt it next week and wash up a sample.  I'm curious.

I had an email waiting for me when I got home from Handwoven magazine.

Dear  Sharon,
Congratulations! Your project Turned Taquete Towels was chosen as one of the winners of the 2015 Handwoven for the Home challenge. We’ll do the photo shoot shortly and then commence with production. Sometime soon, one of our technical editors will be assigned to your project and may be in touch if she runs into any questions.
Between your submission essay and the materials you sent, Handwoven editor Anita Osterhaug should have enough information for your article, but if there’s anything you want to add, just let her know. I will also be in touch about your contributor information and our contracts person Sonja will email you contract information. Once we have everything together and in layout, Anita will send it to you for final review. That should be in mid/late-June, so please let us know if you will be away in June and we’ll work around your schedule.

Congratulations again, and thank you so much for being a part of this year’s Handwoven challenge!

All the best,

Christina Garton                      Anita Osterhaug
Associate Editor                      
Editor, Handwoven

What an eventful and auspicious day - holy cow!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Plan

I'm still trying to get my spinning mojo back.  I've been working on this skein for the past couple of months, but the problem is not the spinning.  It's that I haven't any idea for an end use.  I don't wear sweaters so that's out.  This will be warp for a scarf - not very exciting.
Then this morning one of the weavers in the 4-Shaft Facebook page posted this of a cloak she make from her own Jacob sheep.  This breed has multicolored fleeces and many horns.  She separated the fleece into three colors before spinning and used commercial warp.  She got her ideas from the book Woven to Wear by Marilyn Murphy.  I promptly ordered it from Amazon and it will be here on Monday.  Now I'm excited because now I have a plan.
This lap robe is the only project I am currently working on.  It's from one of our Shetland sheep and while the sett might be a little too loose, I'd rather err on that side than too tight which I've already done with disappointing results.
The other morning I was racing around, trying to get out of the house when Maddie started calling to me.  She misses our time together in the studio.  Me too.  The school is an hour from here so with the two-hour round trip, they were nine hour days and left me no energy once I got home.
We have had scattered showers and thunderstorms for the past week, all most welcome.  We had a good rain two nights ago and this morning awoke to this.  The Sierras aren't getting much in the way of snow and the drought continues to weigh heavily on everyone.

Wednesday I posted the following story on Facebook:

My last two classes today were both second grade and pretty squirrely. We were about 15 minutes into the last class, with 15 minutes to go until the end of the day when a loud, close clap of thunder stopped everyone in their tracks. There was a moments hesitation, then to a student they rushed to the windows to look out. I told them to get back to business - it was only a sound. In the next minute the sky opened up and rain poured from the sky. The kids went crazy. I wanted them to hear it on the library skylights so gave the universal quiet sign. They stared in disbelief at the thundering skylights and then once again rushed to the windows. If we had been a boat, we would have capsized. I started to bring them to order. then thought - how many times in their seven years have they seen a gully washer like this? I mean, I get excited when it rains. Why shouldn't they? We got our business done, albeit a little loud with lots of dancing, and that is why I like to sub.

Then my friend Carolyn sent me a story of her own:

Loved the rain story today. The exact same thing happened to me years ago in California when our 7 year drought ended. My first graders had never seen it rain like that. We had to stop the lesson to go outside in the corridor and watch the rain come down. They were so excited.

The next morning I bumped into the 2nd grade teacher whose class had come into the library before the storm. I asked her how it went for her in their classroom that last period. She said they had the very same experience. She tried to restore classroom order and then realized that for some of her kids, this was the first rainstorm of their lives. I'm sure people on the East Coast have no idea how this feels.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Time Out

We had a 9:00 appointment Tuesday morning with our vet for both dogs.  Sammy had her stitches out and the incision has healed nicely, though her growing hair seems to bother her.  It was raining when I woke up and by 7:00 the temperature had dropped to 28 and it was snowing hard.  We left early to allow plenty of time since rain under snow means ice.  Unfortunately, someone on our windy road rolled their car on one of the turns and had to be careflighted out.  By the afternoon, it was once again warm and there was no evidence that it had snowed.  Such is the nature of a high desert storm.
Buster had a biopsy on Tuesday and the results still aren't back.  He only had one stitch but it's on his elbow and he managed to tear it out yesterday.  His licking seems to have slowed down today and we think it's showing signs of healing.  We put a warp on it but he tore it right off so I guess this is the way he wants it.
Meanwhile, Melissa sent me another "care" package.  Originally, the person who cleaned out her stash brought Melissa ten black trash bags.  She took the stuff she wanted and when I was down there in February, we sorted through it and I chose the things I wanted.  She sent some in an earlier box and this is the last of it.  We filled three black trash bags with the leftovers and she took them to her guild.

I think some of the yarn might end up in my knitting.
There is also quite a bit of roving in this batch.  When t he weather gets warmer, one of the things I enjoy is spinning in the morning on the deck, before the wind comes up.  This will be fun.

My last nine-yard warp is finished - ten towels on one warp.
I am still fascinated by the variety turned taquete allows but I'm taking a hiatus on towels.  I have a good head start for the fall craft fairs.  I've decided instead to sample on both my looms.  I've picked out drafts from Davison for Maudie Mae and from Strickler for Arthur.  There are just too many things in weaving that are still confusing to me.

But it wont be soon.  We have company this weekend.  Our friend Petey will be here for a few days, arriving about lunch time and then we will go to daughter Christina's for her birthday barbecue.  I got a call on Friday to sub all next week at Van Gorder, which is one of the new schools and will have a nice new library.  It's also very far from our house.  I'll come back to weaving with a fresh perspective, raring to go.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Not What I Expected

 I don't know how much credibility there is to astrology but sometimes I think my Libra sign trips me up.  I always seem to fight a need for balance and order.  These one inch square blocks are distressingly boring to look at and to weave.
 The colors have nothing to do with a high desert sunrise, which was my goal, and look very much like Valentines candy hearts.
 The  two yellows dilute all the colors.
 The yellow washes everything out, while, the pink turns my bright orange into salmon.
 Even my nice bright yellow becomes pastel.  I keep trying to vary the pattern.
 These are my favorite so far.  After the first two boring towels, I gave myself permission to do something different with each towel.

The last towel I started today is just plain stripes - yipes stripes.  I thought this was the 8th out of ten towels but there sure is a lot of warp left on the warp beam.  I'm calling a moratorium on long warps for a while.  I'm tired of being productive and just want to play around and try new things this month.
 I have wanted to weave with handspun yarn for a really long time and this morning I decided the time is now.  I have bins of spun yarn plus this mattress-cover bag, which I originally considered overflow.
After winding warp, I still have this much yarn left and now I'm thinking that a rug might be called for.
This is how I left Arthur when I broke off weaving for today.  I know it looks like a mess but that's because everything is as far removed from Maddie as I could possibly make it.  The interesting thing is that all of  this yarn is from one sheep, our wether Ollie.  That rich chocolate brown is yarn from an early fleece but he's ten now and has grayed out considerably.

Tomorrow is the Tuesday Book Club where we'll be talking about Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  It should be interesting.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Color in April

I finished the towels and the documentation, which I emailed on Monday.  Ian went to town today so he dropped these off at the UPS store for me.  I worried myself silly over the gold towel that came out longer before I got the beat right.  They're gone and it's out of my hands now.  Huge relief!
I decided it was time to move on and picked eight more colors.
I'm going for the colors of a high desert sunrise.
You might have guessed why the warp chains are in a cloth bag, but in case you didn't - here's the reason.  
She pulled the chains out of the bag and replaced them with herself.  It could have been worse.

My Yamaha piano stool (above) works great with my Dorset workshop loom but it's too low, even with that thick book in the lower left of the photo.  Our guild had a Weave-In this past Saturday with five warped floor looms.  It was a fantistic program and you can read about it here.  I was able to try a Schacht weaving bench and ordered one from Bountiful yesterday.  I just learned about that business on Saturday, and since they're located in Colorado, shipping is less for me.  In this case it was free.  I had called Yarn Barn of Kansas first, but for this particular item, the shipping would have been $30.  The catch is that it's shipping from Schacht - in two weeks.  I can wait two weeks for $30 - that's two cones of yarn!

I have money left in my not-saving-for-a-loom account for one more piece of equipment and after winding this 9-yard warp, I've decided that will be a warping mill.  And that will take care of my savings.  Because really - I don't need a 4th loom.  Right?

I had time this morning to thread half of it.  This time the color pairs are an inch wide and I'm planning to weave one-inch squares, but I'm also going to experiment with two shuttles, maybe three.
 I've created a space for Maddie's bed in my wee tiny studio and sometimes I think it's working.
I was really disappointed in how the black weft overwhelmed my variegated silk warp. I think I'm just going to stick to plain weave in the future for specialty warps.  I tried it on anyway just to see how it looked in the mirror and couldn't have been more surprised.  The silk is light and warm and not the least bit scratchy.  Finally - something comfortable to keep my neck warm these cold days!

Friday, April 03, 2015

What a Week!

When I started to weave Tuesday morning, I realized that while I had meticulously followed my notes, they were wrong.  I didn't have three strips and three blocks, I had five blocks and one strip - most unsatisfactory.    It meant that I had to unweave and rethread four inches of the center two blocks to reverse the order of the pairs, from gold/purple to purple/gold and vice versa.  I made myself complete the fix and then took a two-mile walk!

You can see the difference.  It's what makes the mission-style look in my opinion.
It wasn't until I was nearly ready to wind onto the cloth beam that I saw this glitch.  I didn't realize the strap had pulled free on my old loom and it would be impossible to wind onto the cloth beam until it  was back where it belonged.  More time lost and my fantasy of weaving all four towels on Wednesday was popped.
One wonderfully clever and time-saving hint came from Laura Barger as a comment.  She told me to create a string sling, hang it from the warp beam and set my roll of packing paper into it.  As I advance the warp and the paper comes off the beam, instead of going to the floor, it rolls itself up.  Maddie is confused and my paper is saved!
Yesterday morning Ian took Sammie into the vet to have the cancerous growth removed from her back and I drove in for another acupuncture appointment.  It was an anxious day for both of us.  That's not a strip of tape but the area where she is shaved.  Her incision is more than a foot long, but our vet wanted to make sure she got all the margins.  It was a rough night for all, especially in the beginning when Sammie was still coming out of anesthesia and disoriented.  We've put a t-shirt on her so she can't lick and she's doing a ton better today.  The vet said Sammie is the sweetest dog that she has ever treated and I believe it.

Alexia and I spent about an hour and a half this morning getting her new loom set up and learning how to use it.  She seems to really like it but we had arranged to have lunch with Mommy on campus and this is as far as she got.  My concern is that even though this is the smaller of the Harrisville lap looms, it's pretty big for her little lap.
We ate at the new steam punk restaurant on campus so Alexia and I hammed it up with steam-punk Wolfie, who is the Wolfpack mascot.  Daddy took a break and met us there which was a nice treat since everyone is so busy, it's hard to get together.

After lunch, I took a walk around campus with Christina and Alexia, at Alexia's  request.  She went here from infant daycare through kindergarten, and during that time we had a lot of lunches and walks together. That white-pillared building is where I got my degree.  Alexia was astonished.  You have a bachelor's degree - you never told me that!  :)
 My camera had slipped to a different mode and I'm disappointed that these two pictures of one of my favorite areas of campus as fuzzy.  My graduation ceremony was held on this grassy quad and when I worked on campus, this was my favorite place to eat lunch.  
I worked in Getchell Library which was torn down a couple years ago and will be replaced with this one - the Pennington Student Achievement Center.  They built a beautiful new library a number of years ago.  I have always thought this was a pretty campus and it still is, only it's huge and still growing.  Christina says they've had 500 more applicants for housing than they did last year.  I can't think of a better environment to work in, unless it would be a library :)

Alexia talked the whole time - she was really excited about our "date."  As we drove home she said she wanted to work some more on her tapestry and thinks she can have it finished by the end of spring break which is one more week.  Then she said, maybe I will do better when I'm not talking :)  I'm exhausted and gratified - what a week!!