Monday, October 31, 2016

Another Hobby?!!

I took a woodcut class over the weekend at A6, a local printmaking gallery.  This is the fruit of my labor on Saturday, my sketch on graph paper, my carved block and my first print.

This is Julie Winter, our instructor, no relation to Joe Winter the potter.  We used this press to emboss our images.  The student woodcut is there in the gig and Julie is getting ready to add printing paper.
We hung our prints on this magnet board as we finished them.  It's a green studio so everything has to be environmentally sensitive.  My experience years ago was with oil-based inks which were beyond messy and difficult to clean up.  I found these soy-based oils to be a dream by contrast.
The other four students in the class have prior experience and art degrees.  I felt like a poser when Lisa sitting on my right whipped this out from a sketch she spontaneously did of the display area of the studio.
This is mine in contrast.
MaryJane on my left really fought with her print so these three were the only ones completed and printed on Saturday.

Jim, a graphic artist, took his home to complete and printed it on Sunday.  The idea was to complete and print our first block on Saturday and then to carve two complementary blocks and print them on Sunday. 

These were the steps that Sue's prints took.  The images are bottom to top.  (Sorry - my laptop has lost it's cursor so I'm managing with touch screen which I've never done before.)  She carved a block for red and a block for green but when she printed them together they became brown.  We weavers know what it feels like to accidentally cross complementary colors.  Brown!
This was my second block when I stopped to eat lunch on Sunday.  I'm so glad I took a pad of graph paper or I would have been lost.  I decided since I'd done diagonals on my first block that I'd do circular shapes on my second one.  I outlined the circles with my water bottle.  I think that's where the pattern started - I reached for a drink of water.
This is the results of my three blocks.  The top print is my first one and then because Julie stayed an extra hour after class, I ran my prints again but reversed the original black block which is the bottom image.  It really changes things.  I held up my graph paper to the light as I was planning my two blocks and my plan held up.  I'm glad I stayed the extra hour even though I was beat because it was a good lesson on orientation, something Julie brought up earlier in our class.
I only own one brayer so was thoroughly entertained by this collection drying by the sink.  I think I'm hooked.  I'm lucky to have a print-making friend in Reno who is fielding my questions.  I've ordered a catalog from McClains, a printmaking supplier right here in Portland.  

I'm not replacing weaving but I am supplementing it as a hobby.  I'm no longer able to weave for hours on end - bummer!  Weaving does pay its own way which is a big plus in a hobby, that and the love of it. I can't explore printmaking any further until after this weekend though.  It's our guild's first annual holiday sale - someone needs to tag and price all my stuff.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Falling in Love with Knitting Again

I got an email from Diane Soucy a couple of weeks ago saying that she and Fred were going to be coming through Bend on their way to the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival.  She didn't know yet what day they'd be here but she'd call when they arrived.  We had to play phone tag and work around my physical therapy appointments but we hooked up at the LYS - how appropriate since Diane is a knitwear designer!  They had never been to Bend before so next we drove over to the downtown area and I gave them the cook's tour.  Diane hit every shoe store :-)

They came back over to our house and we visited some more. They were leaving the next morning but when I sent her a picture of the Kelbourne Wool that I won last year from the Handwoven home textile contest, she said it could be a fantastic sweater.  They were shopping but would come by on their way out of town.
I knitted like a mad woman to get this swatch and Diane showed me how to design the sweater to go with it.  It's going to be fantastic just like she said.  I'm knitting from both ends of the ball with this yarn and will start knitting the raglan from the top with just one color, then the next skein I'll hold two different colors together and on down until I've used all five colors.  I can't wait to start except I need to finish my other raglan first.  It's a good thing the World Series is going on so I will have plenty of knitting time.
We trotted out to their trailer so she could show me samples, and also let their dogs out.  For those of you who know Diane, yes she still has Boston Terriers and yes, she still have three of them :)
I went from not being interested in knitting to falling in love with it all over again.  Twenty years ago Diane turned me into a "maniac knitter" - her term, and it's so good to be back.  This sweater is from variegated yarn.
This is the sweater she wanted me to see because it's what she has in mind for my Kelbourne Wool. She bought the yarn at a show and it's from Happy Fuzzy Yarns.  Scroll down to Gradient Packs. There are five colors in a pack and the yarn is as nice as Malabrigo.  I see something like this in my future, only with different colors.
Yeah, the picture is staged.  We thought it would be funny to sit with our knitting on the sofa.  They're bird watchers too so while we visited we watched the scrub jays fight over the corncob feeder that Ian hung outside our living room window.  They cleaned out one cob so he hung another.  I think we're easily amused.  And a good visit was had by all.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Changing Seasons

I'm attending an evening session of beginning tai chi and like to go to the school early so I can watch the Washu kids.  Washu is a form of martial arts and these are the beginning students.  They're fun to watch and it's encouraging to me.
Master Chen is teaching more than martial arts.  He talks to them about body, mind and spirit.  Neither Ian nor I ever anticipated that tai chi would become such a large part of our lives when we signed up last January for the five-week introductory class through the community class.  Interest is growing and last week was the beginning of COCC's fall five-week session.  The classes are packed!
 I had never seen vine maple before we moved here and these beauties are everywhere.  Our yard is filled with color and migrating birds. This week marks our first anniversary in this house.
Temperatures are still pretty moderate and since we haven't had a hard frost yet our yard is still in the changing over stage, different trees and shrubs are losing their leaves at different rates.  Our huge aspen tree is just beginning to turn but our red maple has lost all it's leaves. And that shrink-wrapped stuff on palettes is our firewood.  The guy we bought it from brought it in from the road on a forklift.  No cutting and stacking for us this year!
These trees belong to a neighbor down the street.  He's going to have a lot of leaves to rake and I'm so glad it's him and not us!  We have plenty already but Ian is trying to do a little at a time to keep up.
The towels are finished and I'm never repeating this colorway again.  It's the last project and with a few housekeeping items, I'm ready for the holiday sale in two weeks.  It's a first-time event.  I'm sharing booth space with two other weavers and have no idea how we'll even set up.  I'm looking at it as a trial run for next year.
This is Ponderosa Elementary School and it's where I've been assigned as a volunteer with Smart (Start Making a Reader Today).  Thursday was my first day and I'm assigned two kinders to read with for the rest of the school year.  All the volunteers went through orientation the previous week but even so the first day was chaotic.  Once a month all the students receive a free book to keep and the October book happened to be that same day - excitement!  The program is 25-years old and has proven to improve reading skills by the third grade.  It's a combination of reading, talking about the book and developing critical thinking skills.  One of my students was an excellent listener and the other has a ways to go. DIL Missy suggested it to me and I love it already.
This is how we vote in Oregon.  Ian filled his out and took it to the mailbox right after breakfast yesterday morning.  I did mine just before lunch and set it on the counter.  Ian headed off the mailbox with mine and I said, hold on a minute Buster Brown.  I'm going to cast my own ballot, thank you very much.  It's nice not to have to go to a polling place but I still want the experience of casting my *own* vote.
And I'm finally knitting again with enthusiasm.  I bought a cone of Bartlett Yarn last spring but never found the perfect pattern.  I spent some time on Ravelry earlier this week using really tight parameters and finally found exactly the cardigan I'd like to wear.  It's not the knitting that's a problem, it's finding something that I will actually wear and enjoy.  The pattern had a link to Interweave and a magazine called Love of Knitting which I bought for $6.99 and downloaded.  I've never heard of this magazine but it had several patterns that caught my eye that might translate into later projects.  It feels good to knit - I've missed it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

And Still Learning

I spent about an hour at Linda's, watching how she warps from the back of her loom using "angel wings" which are really like another set of hands.  She first slipped the end of the warp through a supplementary rod and lashed to the apron rod and then slipped the cross through the lease sticks which are securely held in place by the angel wings.

She didn't have any space at the back of her small loom for her raddle so secured it to the beater bar. Using the crochet chain known as a "counting thread" that separates the warp into one inch sections, she slipped each section between the nails, then removed the counting thread.  A Schacht loom raddle comes with a cap which she subsequently placed on top.
The raddle is a bit too far from the back to spread the yarn out so she spaced the threads by hand.
She reached this point in no time flat, and that included walking around and talking.
Cindie Kitchens sent me this picture she took while recently warping her loom.  For one thing my loom is big and looks much more like this one, including the wooden raddle.  I also watched a Webs video and took away some ideas from it.  I think this is where my raddle needs to be.
Yesterday I decided to try it again.  I'm also moving the cross one peg to the right though as you can see by the ambient thread, old habits are hard to break.  I bought this ball of thick-and-thin at the guild weft-over sale for $2 so am not too worried about the investment
.I had placed the counting thread to the left of cross while winding the warp so wasn't able to put the raddle on the back beam like Cindie did.  Instead I ended up putting it on the front beam - it's too big for the beater bar.  I learned that it doesn't do a great job at spreading the warp that far away.  I'm still struggling to make this a smooth process and I'm getting closer. I get frustrated but I like it that I'm finally understanding this process.  As in all things weaving, there is always something new to learn.
I find that threading the heddles from the front isn't has hard on my neck but there's another reason I'd like to get this under my belt.  To warp from the back I have to remove the warp beam, and Arthur's 40" beam is super heavy.  I can't help thinking that it's only a matter of time before I can't muscle it anymore.

I'm looking at these three for weft.  It's 8/2 Tencel and I have no idea what the warp is, though it's very soft, fluffy and light.  I used most of the ball and have a 12" wide scarf in the reed  It's for me to wear around the house this winter.

Thursday will be the end of of two sessions-a-week of physical therapy and acupuncture.  I'm doing a lot of muscle building exercises and wearing scarves all the time like my therapist recommends.  This is my sixth week and I try not to be sad that I didn't have this caliber of treatment right after my accident.  I'm getting the help I need now and notice it most when I'm backing out of a parking space - because I can!

I finished weaving the ugly towels which was hard to take so was happy to also finish at the same time my red Christmas scarf though I plan to wear it all the time after I take it to the Guild meeting for show-and-tell tomorrow.
I cannot believe how pretty huck lace is - and how simple!  I had to order knitting yarn for Christmas sweaters for my great grandkids and while I was at it ordered a cone of this 16/2 bamboo in white.  I think it will be absolutely exquisite.  Now that I'm done getting ready for the holiday show next month I am weaving for me, me, me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Still Learning

I know I said the last time that I tried to warp from the back that I would never do it again but with 30 threads per inch, I was motivated to make it work.  I read Chandler's chapter on warping from the back and thought I was following along step by step.  The other end of the warp chain was wrapped around the front beam which I thought was well secured, but when I started to wind it on to the back bean, the slick bamboo unwound itself and the metal apron rod hit the floor.  The problem is that the rubber bands on the raddle released the threads at different lengths and produced a tangled mess.
I was lucky that Laura was coming to town the next day so had her take a look at it to see if the warp could possibly be salvaged. I totally lost the cross on the 3" bout but the threads were in pretty good order in the raddle so she put the tape on it to secure it.  I rebuilt the cross one tedious thread at a time.  It's not that I stubbornly refused to learn to warp from the back, I just don't get it.
Once the cross was repaired I found that the rest of dressing the loom was pretty easy.  I was especially concerned about how it would feel to thread all eight harnesses from the front but I think it's actually easier on my neck than from the back (which is done when warping from the front.)
I'm using the same huck lace pattern that I used on the baby blankets but with 16/2 bamboo it's a much different cloth.  I got it in my head that it would be fun to have a red scarf to wear during the holidays.

Once I got the warp secured I was pleased with warping from the back.  I'm still missing a step and will have the same experience if I do this again on my own, but Linda Gettman came to my rescue.  I'm going over to her house tomorrow afternoon because she has offered to show me how you're really supposed to do it.  I can see the importance of warping from the back, especially when weaving with small threads because I had absolutely no threading or sleying errors.  If you recognize Linda's name, that's because she just had her Crackle Weave runner published in the most recent issue of Handwoven.

She also told me that you can use sewing thread as weft for dish towels hems.  She showed me one of her finished towels and boy does it make a nice flat hem.  I forgot completely about that on these towels until nearly the last one.  She said she just slides the spool onto a boat shuttle.  An empty spool on either side should make it even more effective.  I'll empty a couple of sewing thread spools with ugly colors before I get to the other end and see if it tracks better.

One inch of thread and now I'm back to weaving with 8/2 cotton.  I wish I had known about this a long time ago.  I've never been happy with my hems because they're just too thick.  It's one of the things I love about weaving - there is always something else to learn.

Ian had happy news today.  Yesterday he went in for an x-ray and today his urologist told him that the stone is gone.  The next step is an appointment to talk about a lifelong diet and strategies to keep kidney stones from being a recurring problem.  The doctor's parting words were "stay hydrated."

Thursday, October 06, 2016

My Favorite Month

I took a class last Sunday on how to print with Japanese woodcuts which A6 was offering as part of their exhibition of Japanese Prints.  Several classes were offered during the time Ian and I were supposed to be on vacation so I had grabbed this on, the only one available to me.
This was my first try.  While the perfect one on the left is a computer image, mine suffers from a slip in the registration, good lesson.  Using three lino blocks (cut by the staff) we printed three different images. I had so much fun that I signed up for the two-day class the end of this month on how to cut your own woodblocks.  I'm calling it a birthday present to myself.  Oh man, I love October.  Lucky me that I was born in the best month of the year.
I came home to see what wood tools I have and they're pretty dated plus I know they're dull.  I was really into the 60s Mother Earth ideal and made Christmas and greeting cards from lino blocks. I pretty much quit after my divorce but the interest never died, hence all my old blocks. Amy Shannon is making marvelous things with woodblocks so I asked her for advice on wood tools.
She sent me a link to this set which I ordered and now have, so now it's hurry up and wait until October 29th.
I finished weaving the baby blankets and can't help think they look like a cross between bandages and a bedspread.
Very often the magic needed is a press with this dandy mega-iron.
I made three - 30", 35" and 40"

I'm going to tag them as baby blanket/lap robe and see if I can get any interest at the holiday sale. The press sure makes the huck pattern shine and it's disappointing to think that once it's washed, unless it's pressed it will look like a Red Cross bandage because after all, who wants to iron a baby blanket?!
I thought I saw antlers in the brush by the garage when Ian and I headed out to tai chi Wednesday morning.  When I walked around the car to check, this guy stood up and when we drove out, he just watched us go.

There's no change on Ian's medical situation - we're still in a watch and wait mode.  I concluded my fourth week in physical therapy today.  My PT session is now coupled with an acupuncture session. It's pretty exhausting and progress is slow but it's finally progress - finally!