Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Wood Lot Carnage

Now there's a title that will grab you! And not far from the truth either. We have a very dense replanted area close in by the structures. Every spring it is mentioned that it needs to be thinned and every year, I take off for MA and it doesn't get done. Well, not this year! Saturday morning we both went out and started in on it. Me dragging branches and brush (grunt work) and Gene cutting the trees and dragging them out ( better grunt work).

 All told about 12 trees were taken, a path opened up to a very large dead fir and a couple of tight snags that have to cleaned out.

 More still needs to go for this tree stand to thrive but it is a start. You can start to see sunlight coming between the trees, lighting the understory.

 Yesterday I went out and cut 4 more trees and spent a good amount of time limbing up the ones that were staying. Most of these trees are small, all were replanted at the same time, probably about 30 years ago when the property was last logged. We are leaving Douglas Fir and Cedar trees and of course, a good portion of White fir and the occasional Ponderosa Pine tucked in there. More work will be done today. I can say the small chainsaw I received as a 2012 Christmas present has been the perfect tool for the job. Light, small and powerful, perfect for working in tight areas. It's going to be one heck of a burn pile for next week, hoping for some wet weather to damp things down a bit.

In the weaving studio, I tried out a combination of dark brown and red with that pink warp. I rather like it.

This will be a runner, and then we will try out all the color suggestions on towels. I added a floating selvage and stopped using the fly shuttle. It is gross overkill on a 18" wide warp and almost impossible to use with those floating threads.

 So, how am I liking my big AVL Production loom? I love it. Once set up she is fast and easy. The dobby portion has been steady and true. The shed is not what you get on the Louet's or even the Murphy Counterbalance loom, but it is a good shed and with adjustment, might even get better. Looks like Big Sal is in it for the long haul.

Meanwhile, up in the sewing room, things have languished a bit. I did get a marathon cutting session done
and have lots of fun things up and coming, but it was just too seductive to be outside than up sewing. Spring in April, what a concept! Most years we still have wet snow and slush and mud. This year is totally different. Gardens are growing, flowers are blooming, hummingbirds are back and the flippin deer have arrived too. DAMN IT!

I was hoping my plants would get a good start before the pasture rats arrived for their warm weather buffet. I even added some new plants to the garden. I have no qualms about yanking those things that died or are suffering from failure to thrive (nipped last year beyond recovery). Gardens are a living work in progress as far as I am concerned. Here are some of our picks from Friday's plant nursery excursion.

Perennial Geranium (one of two), very fragrant.

Nodding Chocolate Flower- as it says flowers that smell like chocolate. We'll see.

New variety of Santolina/ Lavender Cotton

Hellebore of unknown color. It was cheap...:)

Quince, the one survivor of a tough winter at the nursery. It was REALLY cheap, but should come back and do well up here. It is a thorned variety. Take THAT Bambi!

Sweetbox shrub, flowers in the winter and smells like honey. Should get berries for fall.

Artemisia, Lamb's Ear, more Creeping Thyme of some variety and an ornamental switch grass (Panicum) round out the selection. All of them are "deer resistant" and I can say, the Hellebore at least has remained untouched from last years planting.

Gene and I did jump into action when we spied the first deer. The water scarecrow is out and ready and so are the shocker stakes. I am hoping the double whammy right from the get go will discourage them from even putting my garden on their map. One does always have hope.

Parting shot: Springtime in Jail. So sad.....

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Domino Effect

Oh yes, this runs rampant in our house and thanks to friend Mary and a wonderful gift, it has caused quite the effect felt round the house. After a winter of warm weather travels down south,
Mary arrived back in Oregon with some great news. Her and hubby had bought a place in AZ and the present house was hitting the market. Would I like that mid century dresser I had been drooling over?

 Hell yes! We'll just pack that sucker in the Subaru when I come for a visit, and so we did. I will say that getting it from basement through garage to back of car was WAY easier than Gene and I lugging it up 2 flights of stairs, one with a corner landing. But it arrived in it's new digs just fine and looks fantastic.

 Thank you Mary AND Ross, so very much!

 The problem of course then becomes what to do with the old dresser? Since I'm at it, a few things need to be moved around the bedroom anyway. So out came the old dresser and the Ladybug spinning wheel, the chair I like and of course, spinning fiber. The lamb dresser moved to the weaving studio to hold loom stuff.

Lots of AVL bobbins, pegs and bars, spare parts, weights etc. Other drawers hold general stuff, shuttles, texsolv, manuals and I should probably make room for the temples hanging around on the open shelves here.

 So that meant that the table that provided some counter space in the weaving studio had to go somewhere. It ventured out into the back room where the Delta is living. Took the place of the little nightstand.

 Oh and the bed had to be moved around and might as well get the loom into a position that allows one to warp it and weave on it. Nice sunny place for the spinning wheel and chair too.

 The bottom shelf on that table will provide fiber storage. The only thing that hasn't found a new home, of course is the old nightstand. It will go to the furniture warehouse in the basement. You never know when it will be resurrected again, happens all the time around here.

So when I haven't been moving furniture or cleaning out and refilling drawers, I have been doing a little weaving on Sal. Looks like something that should grace a bordello in pink and red, but it is what it is. If anyone has a suggestion on a color to put with that pink, PLEASE let me know. BTW, a yellow-green is a no go with this. :)

A good deal of time has been spent in the garden, getting the weeds knocked back, looking at plants that took a heavy frost hit last week and pulling stuff that just didn't make it.

 There is a lot of life out there though and I am so thrilled to report that my much loved dark blue Salvia's have come back. There is new growth under the mulch. I peeked. But for right now, this is what we've got to show in our spring garden.



Lady's Mantle


Arctic Willow

 The temps have been riding in the low to mid 60's this week, drying things out and warming them up.

No sewing go on, but a few things have been cut and are waiting for some free time. The back door is open for the dogs to come and go to the pen as they please, clothes are line drying and the breezes through the house are soft and warm right now. Oh and I saw a hummingbird, a beautiful little Anna's male. As lovely as it is, we are hoping there is still more rain in our future, warm rain of course. ;)

Parting shots: Cat like Jack, captivated by twittering birds and sunshine.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tickled Pink

Big Sal is officially weaving!

 Now I know the weaver's among you are going to cringe at the tension problems with this warp, but that is easily fixed by cutting the practice section off and re-tensioning the warp.

 Frankly, I had no clue how that sandpaper breast beam worked so I was happy when the threads did indeed stick to that thing like glue. Impressive! The hard things to fix check out, the pegging and the threading. I've had my share of learning mishaps. Caught a harness with the fly shuttle rope, sent the shuttle out of the gate twice, missed some passes etc. Sal seems to be a pretty easy gal to get along with and is being a very good sport while I build up the proper hand/eye/foot coordination that is needed for working a dobby loom with a fly shuttle.

 I can't say I love this pink warp, I don't, but it makes it easy to experiment with no worries about wasting precious yarn.

But wait, there is  more pinkness to come! I have a number of Japanese pattern books.

Love some of the simple styles but these are really for the Asian market and are just being released in English. That means the sizing is for a much smaller stature. An XL in this book is a 36" bust and that certainly isn't going to fit me. I really wanted a raglan sleeve T type pattern in wovens, so it was time to hit the drafting table.

It didn't need as much as I thought and lets face it, it is an extremely simple pattern. The neck came out just a little too wide on this first version, so I took some creative liberties and did a couple of pleats, one front, one back.

 That in turn provided an opportunity to use what little bit was left of Stella's cute strawberry bandanna fabric. Now I know this version is bordering on the "twee" factor.

 It was meant as a muslin and I certainly wasn't ever going to do the little sleeve ties, but for in the garden, on the horse and general summer wear this is a great top.

The second version is Plain Jane by comparison.

 Along with the raspberry stripe, I've had this pretty soft woven plaid in stash for over a year. No frills just a couple of pockets. The sizing has been corrected but truth be told, I like the options the over sized one provides for pleating or pin tucks. I will likely use that draft in the future. I was also surprised that this beautiful shade of soft green does NOTHING for me. It does have a fair amount of tan/beige tones but I didn't think it was going to wash me out like it does. Again, made for daily summer wear so not critical. The dogs and horses have never commented on what I wear and DH knows better.

We're not done with pink yet though....Some cute new Japanese cottons arrived at Fabric of Vision and one caught my eye. I couldn't see myself in an all over garment of this, but maybe just a little.

 Cut me a yard and a half please! The Sew Liberated Schoolhouse Tunic provided just the right balance of pink and brown.

(the one large center pleat has been modified to more flattering side pleats).

 I love these retro combinations. Brown and aqua was another favorite. My old living room curtains again to the rescue with their lovely dark espresso color. Just right for this over the top print. Add a little leftover pink linen for a lining and we're good to go. When I was done I was picking up the scraps and noticed the printing on the selvage. I just had to use that cute portion with the sewing machine on it. Had to!

Yesterday I made it out to the garden finally to do some weeding. The weather has been pretty crappy but we need the rain. Simple as that. This week spring temps return along with sunshine. It might even be warm enough to wash a couple of scruffy looking horses! We'll see.

Parting shot: A troublesome foursome for sure!

Stella,(green Timmy), Jack, Pogo and Robin

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hitting the Books

Well, finally the list of reading for those on the hunt for another author or title to try. This list goes back to mid January and I have to say, while many of the books are good reading, a lot are also easy breezy reading. After Miss Bea died, I simply wanted soothing light reading. Some spa treatment for the soul so to speak and some of my choices reflect that.

Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley was my first pick and I fell in love with the story. It has everything I like in a book, a little mystery, a good bit of well researched history, a touch of romance and a very well written story. I liked this one so much, I ended up reading every one of her books right in a row. Talk about a serial reader. I would finish one and immediately down load the next.  I think there are 6 or 7. While some were not quite as good as Winter Sea, I enjoyed them all. Marianna and The Shadowy Horses where other favorites by Ms. Kearsley.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo. This was not a light read and I struggled with the writing style, but was worth the effort.

Ever by My Side: A Memoir in Eight Pets by Nick Trout. A feel good read all around. Honest and heartfelt.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I need to try another book or two by Ms. Morton. I liked this one.

Rest Not in Peace by Mel Starr. Yes, a guilty pleasure. Mysteries set in medieval times. The Hugh De Singleton series has been a winner with me.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. A fun read. This series with Flavia De Luce is also on my list of authors to get back to.

Right now on the kindle is Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade by Adam Minter. It is fascinating reading. I am about 2/3 through. What an eye opener. If you want to know what happens to all the stuff ( and I mean all, metal, wire, plastic and junk you never even thought of), that is recycled and where in the world it goes and how, THIS is the book.

I think that about covers it. All the books are available through Amazon and of course you can read all the reviews and decide for yourself if any are worth sitting down with.

Parting shot: Look! Up in the sky. SPIDER!!!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Zombies, Piranhas and Strawberry Shortcake. Oh My!

Well, it IS an eclectic household after all. But let's start with Strawberry Shortcake. On Sunday, March 30, 2014 Stella turned 4 and of course, a little photo shoot was in order to commemorate the milestone.

She decided she was too old now for all the frillies so we just stuck to a newly made strawberry and polka dot bandanna.

In case anyone missed what would become her signature style of camera posing, I offer this as a reminder.

Happy Birthday Stella, may there be many, many more annual photo shoots.

So, lets get to the Piranha's! Stella wasn't the only one to get a bandanna for her new collar, everyone did.
I tried to match fabric to dog, so it was a no brainer that Jack got one out of piranha fabric leftovers.

(yes, Jack has just been reprimanded for attacking the sheep)

As you can see the photo shoot scene disintegrated rapidly after I let everyone up.

 And the zombies? Well, a little bit was bought for Robin's kerchief since it was such a perfect combination of horror, sweetness and humor for the youngest of the pack. The fox stuffie survived, but not without intervention.

In the weaving studio Big Sal is already for sleying.

 Again that learning curve is slowing me down some. I took apart the beater to try laying the reed flat. It was awkward

and the beater is back together now with the reed in it and upright. I am still figuring out the easiest way to sley. They really mean it when they put "production"  into it's name because it can be a lot of work to change out things on this loom. It was made to handle long warps so that once you are done with the fiddly bits you can weave for yards and yards. This past week I was invited into a local weaver's studio to see her AVL in action. Hers was about 10 years newer and had been upgraded to a compudobby, but the mechanics and structure were pretty much the same. I even got to weave a little bit on it. A run of double weave wool blankets in twill that are absolutely gorgeous. Thank you E!

So, in the sewing room a new pattern was tried out: Decades of Style Matinee Blouse.

I loved the neckline but the peplum just wouldn't work for me at all, so from the bust down I redrafted a simple slight a-line shape in one piece and used up this sky blue slinky rayon floral from stash.

 I had bought a yard of a very light weight cotton/lycra blend and used that for the cowl neck.

 I've found these patterns very nice to work with and the sizing spot on. It's always good to have something a bit fancy in the closet!

Coming back to the usual style sewing is this last tunic. I fell in love with Robin's zombies while I was sewing his collar kerchief.

 Of course there was only 1.5 yards left when I went back to Fabric of Vision for more, but one must learn to make do when it comes to zombies I guess. Another fun everyday kind of top.

 Makes me smile and no one will be surprised these days to see me wear it either! Robin has promised not to wear that bandanna should we go out together.....;)

I know I promised a book list post and I have some good ones to share. Next one, really.

Parting shot: Picture taking can be so exhausting.....