Saturday, September 30, 2017

Where did the summer go?!

We were trapped indoors for weeks on end because of the thick wildfire smoke, and now here we are, with the turning leaves, chilly mornings and the end of summer.

And the end of the garden.  The forecast was not for frost and because I've been so busy this week I believed it and didn't pull my basil yesterday - it was fine.  I came home from my class this afternoon and it was no longer fine.  I have two batches of pesto in the freezer but a third would have been nice.  This is the first year I've started garden plants from seed so I'm still pleased.

My time has been overwhelmingly devoted to working on the project for my art class which ended this morning.  I'm pleased in spite of everything that I have this set of towels completed.  I used to have a basket that I used to display towels in a condensed version at craft sales.  I'm using this peach box and hope the peaches last a few more days at Costco so I can at least buy one more box.  I'd love to have three boxes and four would be even better.

This is the current set I'm weaving in my new color way, "sunrise."  I used two different oranges though I can't really see the differences with the other colors.  I'm still pleased with it though I probably need to tweak the color way before I weave it again.  I hope to finish this and two more towel warps before the holiday sale on November 4th.

I probably won't have time for another scarf after this.  I'm focusing on towels just because they make such good gifts right before Christmas.  Scarves are a harder sell with their different sizes, materials, colors and customers' tastes.

I bought this picture at a garage sale yesterday.  It was on my morning walk so I came back to the house afterwards and got the car because it's too big to carry.  The guy said the lady they bought the house from had left it behind in the shed and there's some mouse pee that needs to be dealt with.  He said he'd give me a deal, 50% off - $5!  I took it to my class this morning to ask Pat how to clean it.  She saw it set aside as she walked back to the studio area, and boy was she pleased when I brought it over to her for help.  She thought it was a piece that someone in the class was going to submit today and was trying to think of something nice to say about it.  It's painted on raw canvas but it's kinda sculptural.

And that's because the back looks like this!  The sculptural part is stuffed and then backed by pieces attached with machine stitching.  I can't figure out how it's done.  Pat said she could see how it would appeal to a fiber person like me.  Oh, and the cleaning, she said to use denatured alcohol and a brush.  The framing shop in Wilmington Delaware that did the work used non-acid free paper and Pat thinks the work feels like something from the 60s. It's quirky.

As for my class, this is my copper plate and the proof.  It's 5x5" and I took a lot of thought.  Most of the plate is done with electroetching, a nontoxicc etching process using copper sulfate.  I added some texture later with etching tools and drypiont.  The plate is finished and I learned a ton!  As in weaving, I learn by doing.

I used two different inking and printing processes here and this is before the drypoint work

And this is after.  I really think the extra work to get the deep blacks and good value contrast was absolutely worth the extra time I spent.  The class goes for the next two months but I told them today I'm taking October off to weave.  I know I'll enjoy having both weaving and printmaking this winter when the days get dark and short, but I can't do them at the same time and I'm relieved to have made that decision.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Changing of the seasons already

We went from summer into fall with very little transition.  The tomatoes still haven't produced anything and and we still have peppers and basil so Ian put the covers on the what's left of our garden.  Tonight is another frosty one and then we'll have some Indian summer for a couple of weeks when the covers can come off.  I really need to get serious about getting a small hot house next year.

I think the change feels more dramatic because when the smoke finally cleared the Cascades had already gotten their first dusting of snow, and Mt Bachelor ski resort did a brisk business while the powder was still good.  It's just nice to see the mountains again.  We've had several good rains whidh helped the firefighters and it's really nice to be smoke free - finally!

I told them Friday that I was making that my last day and the spinning wheel was returned yesterday.  The future plan is to retain my role as rancher's wife who spins and knits but I'll take a basket of washed wool, wool combs and a drop spindle.  I had wanted to use a drop spindle in the first place but I don't think Linda could see how that would work.  I think a drop spindle allows better eye contact than a wheel, since you're always looking down at the wheel, adjusting the fiber, adjusting the wheel.  I'll know when school breaks are after I get the SMART schedule at the October 5th orientation and plan to continue to volunteer at the High Desert Museum when school's not in session.

Laura called yesterday morning to say she was going to be in Bend and could pick up the wheel then, which was good news to me since that meant I didn't have to drive up to Prineville to return it.  The bobbins are huge and hold four ounces each, so I was still plying off my singles when she arrived at the house - yikes.  I think I've got about a pound of spun wool at this point and have no idea what to do with it.

Today I tried to get a handle on all the loose ends I've left dangling, like pricing and inventorying my scarves, getting ready for holiday sales.  I also made some more little hangers to hang more little sweaters.

But my real objective today was to get both looms warped and things were going swimmingly until I realized that I had made the same mistake on this warp as I had on the last one.  When I warp from the front I make six small bouts because I sley from my hand and cannot make a mistake in the color order since there's only 2 1/2" worth of warp in each bout.  I thought since I was putting the cross on lease sticks that I could make bigger bouts.  I thought wrong!

This cute little fella is in front of a bike shop by the Bend Art Center.  I think he needs a caption.  Maybe Stoner Dude??

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Kicking it into high gear

This is the costume I'm wearing for the 1885 time period of Silver City.  It's really a remarkable work by some anonymous volunteer seamstress, but I've given my notice and the 29th wil be my last day for this season.  SMART starts the first week of October for the 2017-2018 school year and I will once again be reading to kindergarteners on Thursday afternoons.  I've told the museum I'd like to return after the end of the school year and once again be a living history interpreter.  I have absolutely loved it.

Many years ago I bought this box of various bits of Jamison jumper-weight two-ply wool from Alison Judge for $80 but I have never known exactly what to do with it. At some point organized the mess into related colors but the many grocery sacks are almost as messy and disorganized.  I finally have a project that is perfect for this yarn.

I'm knitting miniature Christmas sweaters for our guild holiday sale which is the first weekend in November.  Mary, Gillian and I are once again sharing a booth and I think these will be good eye candy.

Mary suggested I display them on a Christmas tree so I ordered one from Amazon which came today.  Cute!

I've been lollygagging about but now it's time to put the pedal to the metal and get serous about weaving some saleable inventory.  I've finished these dish towels which I washed and pressed today.

And I wound this warp today and have it ready to go on Maudie Mae tomorrow.  I only have one raddle so have to take it from the scarf I've weaving on Arthur.

This scarf.  Mary weaves a lot of chenille and is comfortable with the crazy twisty nature of the yarn.  I on the other hand am a newbie and wish to goodness I didn't pick a two-shuttle weave when I'm still trying to master the peculiarities of chenille.  I'm not going to weave more chenille for the holiday sale since we're boothmates and I don't want to put myself in competition with her.

I took another class from Bend Art Center last week on a technique I've been trying to figure out on my own called chine colle.  This class came along at just the right time.  At the intaglio press is Sterling Gorsuch, our teacher, with Helen his class assistant (and also mother of Nick who my granddaughter Alexia took flute lessons from). I'd take another class from him in a heartbeat.  Six hours was not nearly enough time for the material, but I'm going to practice the techniques so I can be ready for his next class.  He is from Portland so I don't expect it will be until next spring.  Fall is here and we'll be back to freezing roads in just a matter of weeks.  Yikes, this year has flown.

This my favorite of my pieces from the class.  I am fine tuning the juggling between weaving and printmaking.  I love both and wish I had more time for both.  Helen said she has discovered the secret to being a successful artist and that secret is -Time.  It is always in short supply, isn't it?

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Getting through the smoke

I planted basil from seed last spring and thought it would never grow, and when it did, bugs ate the living daylights out of it.  And then all of a sudden it grew faster than the bugs could keep up with.  I've never been so successful with basil and made my first batch of pesto yesterday.  I put it in ice cube trays and freeze it so I can have pesto all winter.  I'll make another batch tomorrow and I think I'll still have enough for a third, and this is just from the four plants that survived.  I ate it for lunch yesterday with linguine and it's delicious.

It was smoky enough that Linda Evans moved me inside yesterday to the Spirit of the West exhibit.  The area Ethan and I sat in is modeled after Silver City, Idaho in 1885 so it required a new costume since I was moving back in time by about 20 years.  I'll try to remember to get a picture of me standing in it next week.  One of the volunteers in the prop department made this and it's an impressive piece of work.

School is back in session and the number of visitors has slowed down more than usual because of the smoke.  Ethan always takes a book when he's in the role of a living history interpreter.  He's a medical doctor and also doubles as a dentist.

But when you open the book you find something else.  He said this has saved him during the low times,  especially during the winter.  He think there's another one in the prop department and will try to locate it for me before next week.  Linda is talking to me about changing my living history interpreter role, possibly a schoolteacher or seamstress.

I finished my wool scarf and couldn't be more pleased.

I have another skein of this ultrafine Merino from Webs that I bought several years ago when I visited their store in Northampton.  It was on sale for $16, a deal I couldn't pass up, and it's just been sitting here, waiting for me to get inspired.

But first there's another chenille scarf in the offing, this one woven in Log Cabin.

Meanwhile work continues on the dish towel warp.  The error and repair really took the wind out of my sails, but I'm closing in on the end of finally.  What you see here are two kitty hacks.  I have the supplemental warp in a large beer stein to keep it from being batted around.  The second one is less apparent.  She loves to chew and tear up my packing paper so it's hanging in two slings which automatically rolls itself up as it comes off the beam.  I would have had to buy new paper a long time ago without out this handy little trick.

We've had some rain and though yesterday was still smoky, today was much cleared with the first sunshine we've had in weeks.  I was thrilled to pieces to finally be able to take a walk.  You can see the bank of smoke in the distance which still obscures the Cascades.  The forecast is for a return of warmer days with more high pressure on Monday.  But for today I'm thankful.  It did wonders for my spirit.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Under house arrest

Today is Labor Day and for eight years we celebrated it at our place in Red Rock Valley with Burning Man-style camping with our family, friends and neighbors.  It was so much fun that one year everyone chipped in and bought us this monument because it never occurred to anyone, let alone us, that we would move, but indeed we did, and 2014 was the last year.   We brought it with us when we moved, the only remaining relic of those times. This weekend we're hunkered down at home, along with many people in our region as smoke from the 25 fires wavers between very unhealthy and hazardous.  The good news is that the smoke is acting as a cap reducing fire behavior to some degree, whereas clean air could have the potential to move fire very quickly, so I try not to complain.

I'm thrilled with the rayon chenille scarves.  I struggled with the selvedges and finally put a floating selvedge on the right side which cleaned things up considerably.  However, the first one is too messy to sell and I'm thrilled to keep it.  Now I understand what all the hype about chenille is and I'm planning to weave more.

I immediately wound another warp, this time was some ultrafine Merino yarn that I bought at Webs years ago.  I'm sure it was meant for knitting shawls, it's very springy, and is certainly meant for knitting of some sort, not socks.  I wanted to see if I could warp from back to front this time without referring to the Web's video.  I didn't rush and thought through each step carefully.  It was on in no time and error free.  I can safely say that I am a convert.

I'm weaving as many hours in the morning as my back will let me, about three most days.  I think I'll keep doing scarves on Arthur and dish towels on Maudie Mae.  At this rate I should be well on my way to restocking my inventory for the Guild holiday sale in November by the time the fires are out, sometime in October.

I finished two more bears and found them far too fiddley for my taste.  Quoth the raven, nevermore!  Maybe some baby hats?  There's still a lot of Cascade 220 bits and pieces in that basket.

Someone asked me about these rod holders that I used for my "supplemental" warp.  I hope these pictures are adequate if you want to order some from your own local woodworker.  They were designed to hold the warp on the front beam for warping from the front.

My scarves have all been priced at $100 but I've had a nagging feeling about that so spent a couple hours on Etsy the other morning, reading descriptions and noting prices.  I'm getting ready to catalog and price these for the sale and have decided that I'll feel better pricing my smaller and simple scarves at less than that, maybe $75 or $80?  I wish I could go for a walk because that's the kind of stuff that I would noodle out while walking.

The living history part of the High Desert Museum wasn't staffed last Friday because of smoke so I stayed home, but I know I need to empty these bobbins before I go on this Friday.  They hold 4 ounces and are massive and neither of my lazy-kate's are wide enough.  This morning I spotted this drop spindle lazy-kate that I bought from Ken Ledbetter at the last Black Sheep Gathering I attended.  I haven't used it much, I haven't used my drop spindles much.  However, it was ideal for my perpose.  I skewered both bobbins with the pins from my Kromski lazy Kate and ran the singles through the eye which provide some tensioning.

It turned out pretty darn good considering my poor fiber preparation and all the talking and interruptions that occur while I'm spinning.  The next thing I need to do before Friday is prepare more fiber!  I have no idea what I'll do with the yarn and will cross that bridge when I come to it.

This was the headline in yesterdays paper and his face says it all.