Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's That Bug?

We have a lot of strange and beautiful bugs here in the Northwest, and this is just one of them. It's known as Buprestis aurulenta or Golden Buprestis and it is a wood boring beetle. It is a native species and considered a pest. The fresh cut wood for the window framing has brought out a few curious beetles and this is the most beautiful.

The bug I miss most from the Northeast is the Lightning bug or Firefly (Photinus pyralis) . There are none west of the Rockies. I spent a good portion of my childhood summers in PA with my grandparents each year and dusk as always a magical time as the Lightning bugs came out. I don't remember seeing them in Vermont or Massachusetts.

The lavender is going into full bloom and with it, a horde of butterflies and skippers. Mostly dozens of Hylephila phyleus or Fiery Skipper and there are also a few Neophasia menapia or Pine White butterflies. The six big plants that I have are a hive of activity. It's one of the few plants the deer won't touch that likes our dry hot summers.

Speaking of deer, here is a picture snapped yesterday of the doe with twins. She is a very protective Mom. I have only to go out there and she is on alert, she hisses and takes a stomping step forward toward me, daring me to just try and come closer. The twins make ready behind her for flight. I tried for pictures the other day, but she was too far away for my terrible camera skills. I got a threatening few stomps then too!

The blanket weaving is about 3/4 of the way done. It's slow going since a full pick is really 4 throws, top, bottom, bottom and top again to complete the double width. I'm at the point where I am excited to finish and get it off and see the whole cloth opened up. With the addition of the extra yarn it looks like I'll have just enough to finish it up.

The window framing is also about 3/4 done with only one opening to left to be framed, but it's a big one. One window is 72" in width and like all the others 60" in height. We'll have to get another strong set of hands to set the windows. They are all very heavy and must be installed from the outside. There is no way Gene and I can lift them alone safely.

Lastly, it's been hot, damn hot even for Southern Oregon. We got up to 96 degrees on Wednesday and close to it yesterday. Thunderstorms have been rolling through late afternoons for the last two days and more expected every day through the weekend. Seattle and Portland broke records and I know from keeping up with some of my blogs, BC Canada is having a wicked heat wave too. So far the west has been pretty quiet as far as major fires, but that all can change in an instant.
It makes Jack worried

and Pogo and Rodger, not so much...:-)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baby Steps

Finally, we are starting in on the huge window installation project. We have the first window area rough framed in, with 4 more of the same size or larger to do.

Wood has arrived and been stacked by the back porch. It never seems like this much work when I'm planning it. I seem to forget a whole bunch of necessary steps when I imagine the opening going from windowless to windowed! Gene reminds me often though. :-) In fact he wonders if I spend 50% of my time mentally dreaming up projects. Why, yes, yes I do Gene and dang, if I was half as handy as you, I might even do one or two of them myself!

The reality is, I am terrible at building stuff. My forte lies in the finish work. Fine sanding, endless painting, matching colors and clean-up. Gene's efforts more than not go unseen and sometimes unappreciated by those looking at the finished project. No one comments on what a beautiful job he did putting in the plumbing, the fine solder joints, the hours of venting that damn wash room sink, the miles of wire and dozens of junction and outlet boxes for electricity. That stuff is all hidden from view, doing what it does with nary a thought until something needs repair. And we know who will get that thankless job don't we?

I suspect my husband isn't the only one with a long Honey-Do list and I'm sure I'm not the only wife to utter the words that strike fear into the hearts of spouses universally, "Hey Sweetie, I have an idea...."

I'm thinking landscaping next year.....;-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Double the Fun

Okay, I am having a blast with this double width blanket I'm weaving. While all weaving is a form of self created mystery at times, double weave is simply magic!

I love it. Good thing too since I have a lot of blankets I want to weave now that Hey Baby has arrived.

Remember all that Harrisville Shetland I ordered? I was pawing over it this morning, dreaming of maybe doing a triple weave. Part of the fun of doing this new magical thing has really been the equipment. How do I love thee, let me count the ways....That's exactly how I feel about this new Louet Delta. While the verdict is still out on sectional warping, I'm smitten with everything else about this loom. The shed, the fact I don't have to get up to advance the cloth, the feel of the treadles and the quiet clack of them as I weave. I could weave at 5:30 this morning and no grumbling from on high about the noise. A big plus as I love to do busy work early.

As to weaving the double width, there is a lot of room for improvement. I have a fair amount of draw in. I tried a temple and didn't really like using it for this but I will next project if I must. I was out to lunch on the math part too. I doubled the warp, but neglected to do the same with the weft. OH NO!!!!! The Classic Elite Four Seasons yarn I am using is long discontinued, so little hope of finding it again without a lot of time. A solution has been found though. A quick trip to Web-sters and the expert help from both Dona and Wendy got me fixed up with a yarn close in weight and feel. In fact I had a couple of good choices. I came home with a Jo Sharp yarn, some in navy and some in white which I will work into the blanket along with the Four Season's navy and white marl yarn and the hot pink. It was a great solution and I am truly grateful.

And because this post is about doubles, I should also mention that two of my favorite people are celebrating their birthdays today. Gene heads deeper into geezerhood and yes, since it is birthday week, he gets to do what he wants. He'll be unfurling that paragliding wing and taking to the skies, and staying up until he's ready to come down I hope! ;-)
The second birthday of note is my dear friend Linda's, who is probably one of the kindest people I know, full of talent, creativity and just spilling over with joy and good cheer 24/7. How does she do it I sometimes wonder?
Happy Happy Birthdays!

Monday, July 20, 2009

And the Warp Goes On

Well, after slogging through with winding the warp on, the threading is fast and easy.
Finally a loom I can get right inside, that's a good height and has Texsolv which I love working with.

After getting all 36 bouts wound on, my biggest challenge was how to get the lease sticks into the crosses on all the bouts.  Most looms come with their own pair, but Hey Baby came with bobbins and tensioner, no lease sticks. I borrowed the pair from the Murphy loom and they worked but were too short to rest across the loom. It was a real pain to slide each cross over, in order and not twisted onto those sticks. I managed with some creative string and some warp sticks but it was a balancing act that I would rather not repeat. The first time I had all the bouts on two where twisted the wrong way, close to the middle of course! One half had to be taken off to fix them. The second try was a charm and threading has been simply wonderful.

 The breast beam comes off the loom as does the beater. I can take the cloth beam off as well but it's high and makes for a nice elbow rest while I'm threading. The footrest on the Delta loom is also high and I can roll my wheeled chair base right under it.

  None of these things are removable on the Murphy loom and while Barbara V allows for the breast beam to come off, the cloth and knee beam don't. They keep me from really getting into the loom and she is a long reach to get to the back 4 harnesses. I've never threaded a loom so quickly and comfortably. I started yesterday on the 432 ends and have only 65 more to go. Texsolv heddles are a wonderful thing! I certainly didn't work all day on it, but threaded in drips and drabs as I had time.

All that easy threading ( straight draw 1-8) allowed me time to think about sleying. Most double weave is sleyed 2 to a dent. I have 12 epi, so it would be ideal if I had a 6 dent reed, but I don't. I have an 8 and a 12.  Cindie, over at eweniquely ewe kindly provided an answer to my quandary as to which would be best. Due to the thickness of the yarn and possible abrasion issues, I am going with the 8 dent reed. I'll start sleying today after cleaning and farm chores. Might even get the warp tied on and the treadles set!

 Like Peter, I'm always hopeful,

 but sometimes I end up like Smoochie instead.

Friday, July 17, 2009

If You Make It, They Will Play With It

While I am poking along with the blanket warp, my Dad has been busy finishing off his rug. I am so lucky that he sends me pictures pretty regularly of his weaving both in process and finished in use. Predictably, the dazzling duo of Omar and Foxy are captured being curious kittens in at least one or two photos and often in all of them.

 Let me tell you, these two kittens are about as entertaining and sweet as it gets. I had a grand time with them during my visit and tried to talk my folks into letting me stuff them into my suitcase when I left. No go. ;-)

The rug was woven a 60" Harrisville/Collingwood Rug loom. The loom itself is set up at A Loom With a View in Newburyport MA. (This loom is for sale at a very nice price if anyone reading is interested.) I know it was warped in linen and that he did use shaft switching on this piece. I really don't remember the sett, but my guess would be around 8 epi. He stranded 3 different colors together of Harrisville Highland wool for each weft pick. There are 3 different shades of orange, 3 of grey/blue and 3 of white/tans. 

We spent a fair amount of time picking the colors because they needed to match the inside of his beautiful boat.

 He finished the edges in two different ways, one plainly the other a Damascus braid which he stated he liked better. 
It's not a big rug, around 20x40 inches. It will be fun to see what he does on the Harrisville loom he purchased. 

Not much else to report, it's hot and steamy here, climbing into the low 90's during the day.  The horses, goats and cats are all taking long siestas in the afternoon. About noon I go out and hose the horses off when I refill water tanks. Everyone seems to appreciate it but Dandy, who is convinced I am trying to drown him. It's rather funny too since he crosses water easily and without worry. Silly boy!

The large flock of turkeys have been sited twice since the first posting. I ran out with the camera to take a picture or two and by God, I can say they move pretty darn quickly. Nary a flock member to capture. Drats! I'll keep trying.

I've found a couple of owl pellets on my morning walk to the barn and one really large fresh pile of bear scat on the driveway. We've had our barrels tossed and raided rather badly, so now there is no mystery as to what's doing it. Gene is building a big sturdy bin to hold them, this weekend I hope!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Slow as Molasses in January

Maybe I'm even slower than that right now warping Hey Baby! I am using a modified sectional warping technique put forth my friend Susan on her beautiful blog Thrums. It's not the technique per se, more so the one executing it! 
Each inch bout needs to be measured and tied. 

Which while time consuming is further belabored by having to deal with hanks of yarn. Small yardage on these skeins too. So, I need to make a ball, then measure, then tie, then warp. This loom was barely used. For each section a leader needs to be made. Then of course there is the lining up the tension regulator so it winds on correctly, all compounded by a fairly heavy yarn. You get the picture. :-)

There were reasons I started this way. The first and foremost is a space issue. I simply don't have room to set that bobbin rack up correctly without pushing everything out of the way. The Murphy is warped and in process, so no folding him up. Barbara is pushed to the wall as it is and there is no making her any smaller. The second reason is that all the equipment is new to me and I wanted to get familiar with each piece at a time. I'm getting quite comfortable with the tensioner and the sectional beam. The third reason is the math involved with figuring out each stripe of color in double weave and putting the correct amount onto the bobbins for the whole blanket. I just haven't wrapped my head around it yet. It's not hard once you have a system I'm sure. We are about half way through the warp being wound on. I need to make more bouts, about 15 more. So far, other than being snail slow, I am loving the way the loom feels and acts winding on. It looks like good tension, and with the tensioner set and left, each bout is the same.

I've also managed to get Gene out on his trusty steed. Sunday morning we went for a lovely ride. It wasn't more than an hour and a half, but neither Gene nor Dandy is in riding form and we all enjoyed a relaxed walk in the woods. Monday I got Cooper out again and did some serious conditioning for both of us, lots of trotting and posting.
We spent three hours out mostly cruising along the irrigation canal that brings water down to Talent from our mountain lakes. At our half way point is a lovely little meadow where we both took a break. He got to graze and cool down and I got to stretch my legs. We did see a fair amount of wildlife, mostly deer. One big buck was startled as we rounded a corner and we watched him bound in one leap over the canal.
Very handsome! We spied a weasel of some sort, martin, fisher, ? who scooted into the woods as we headed down to our little meadow. Quail, assorted birds and a small hawk
were also seen. It was a nice ride and we beat feet home by noon when it really started to heat up for the day. Cooper enjoyed being hosed down and making mud by rolling heartily afterwards in the paddock. "Look Ma! No more white spots!!"

In other news, Puck, the black cat hasn't been seen in over a week. Someone started a fire about a mile from our house on monument land. The Greensprings Fire and Rescue and ODF ( Oregon Department of Forestry) both responded and it was put out quickly after only covering less than half a wooded acre. It was spied by a local resident bicycling and two other folks called about smoke shortly afterwards. We have a great community that way, thank god!

I picked up some very interesting new yarn last Friday at, you guessed it, the 
Web-sters. I hadn't been in since my trip and there was all sorts of new goodies to look at. I did show restraint, as Bea needs a new knee and I have enough stash that I really need to weave and knit my way down some.

Anyway, the yarn is Plymouth Earth Hillside Linen. 80% natural Alpaca and 20% linen. I thought it an intriguing combination and will warp it onto the Murphy loom for a scarf and see how it performs. It only comes in a few natural alpaca colors. There was a soft medium grey also, but I preferred this brownish black with the tan. Yardage is 219 which is pretty ample for the price ($12./skein). The weight feels like a dk weight, although the label says US size 7 for knitting.

The orange cape is also on the planning board. Fall and hunting season will be here before I know it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This is Some Loom I Got HERE!

I've waited 9 long months for this loom! I put a deposit on it in November of 2008 and paid the balance owed in January of this year. From that point to this point, weather and obligations have kept Gene from picking it up in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He gets the husband of the year award for driving 28 hours in 2 days to pick this beauty up.  It surely wasn't something on his long list of things to do before you die. ;-)
This is a ten year old Louet Delta. She is 43" wide in weaving width and made of ash, has 8 shafts and 10 rear hinged treadles,

a parallel countermarch system and with a sectional beam. She came with some goodies. The bench, 3 stainless steel reeds, bobbin rack and bobbins, tensioner and counter. 

 She's been used exactly 3 times in her life so far and looks brand spanking new.  The guild that owned her wanted to move her along as no one had any interest in weaving on her.  Before she left one brave soul wove a couple of rugs on her.
She's a heavy loom, while not as weighty as the Barbara V, she's plenty sturdy and in my humble opinion, darn pretty too. The Scandinavian sensibility shines in every detail of this loom as it does with all of them made in that general region. It was love at first touch. 

The couple of treadles used were still tied up when she arrived and I had a chance to check out the action. Quiet, light and easy accompanied by only the nicest wood on wood click as I depressed it. I was transported to a heaven like place.  After coming off cloud 9, I needed to do a few adjustments and go through her to make sure everything was as it should be. Today I'll tighten all her nuts and bolts as a 14 hour drive in the back of a pick-up is enough to rattle anyone up. I'll also start familiarizing myself with the steps of sectional warping. A few nifty gadgets to get use to and a new skill set to learn.

 Things are tight in the loom room right now. The Murphy is waiting on the sun room to be done and he'll go out there to live with the lovely view. The Delta will take Murphy's place in the loom room.  Oh, and she's been named. I call her Hey Baby!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

That's Some Loom Ya Got There....

From what I hear it was also some loom to take apart and put back together too! I would imagine getting the shaft switching set up would be tedious and time consuming. My Dad had a little help. Another retired engineer friend of his came over to lend a hand.

Now, those of you who aren't engineers or have never lived with engineers could possibly be missing the point, but putting together a loom MUST bring back all those good memories of erector sets and the joy of building something without a lot of dirt and dust as in remodel building. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall while they both undoubtedly complained about directions, compared photos taken before it was dismantled, argued and corrected each other and just spent a rainy day using a mental skill set neither has probably trotted out since the last bicycle was put together for a child. They probably had a lot of fun.

 I can also see my Mother, who has the neatest house in the world ( really) just biting her tongue while debris and parts are strewed from one end of the downstairs to another. 

 I am bound to get a "Your Father..." phone call Friday morning recounting the mess. She has no idea the part I played in this one but if she did, I am sure she would have a few choice comments. Dog crates had to be moved, along with some other items. Order will need to be restored and she will have to come to terms with that behemoth of a loom to clean around because, that's some loom he's got there! ;-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

But Can You Weave with It?

The answer is  why yes, yes you can! I was doing  a little clean out of some of the basement yesterday, looking for something unrelated, and there in a box, was surveyors tape. Hot pink in color, but we have some day glow green around too. I'm sure of it.

 It's all in one inch width although I think there may be a wider width you can buy also.

 Now, why would I want to weave with this? I have always adored the mats and bags made from recycled plastic bags, but (and this is a good thing) we just don't get plastic much anymore in Ashland. The supermarket I shop at simply doesn't have plastic at all. In fact it's rare when I even get paper since I use the nice little reusable bags most places sell.
The few places that do use plastic all have a paper option and I can't remember the last time I opted for plastic. The small shops, as far as I can tell, pack everything in lovely handled paper bags of one sort or another. So the likelihood of me ever amassing enough plastic bags to cut and weave is slim to none, but this tape I can get and in some pretty jazzy fun colors too! 

As you can plainly see, there is another prayer flag run on the Murphy loom. I did this warp a wee bit differently and there still may be changes the next warp. 
Now, for some exciting news. My Dad wanted a Harrisville Rug loom, the Collingwood shaft switching one. New these things cost a small fortune. With a little help from Dawn we found him a used one in Syracuse New York at a very nice price. He picked it up yesterday and is putting it back together today I would imagine.
The second piece of exciting news is that Gene is finally making the trek to pick up my new-to-me Louet Delta in Idaho Falls. I'm hoping to have her in house by the weekend. Warp planning is in process. :-)
On critter news, Miss Bea has blown out her knee and will need surgery to repair it. We'll be looking into doing it in the next month or so since it is both costly and unplanned. She is on light pain medication and actually doing well. Perky and vocal as always. Peter ripped a dew claw. We had 40 wild turkeys strut through the property Monday evening, 2 toms at least, a bevy of hens and tons of hatchlings. Baby turkeys aren't so pretty, but they were fun to watch.
We also seem to be getting a second spring. After a hot last week, our temps overnight this week have averaged around 40, this morning it's 35 degrees and daytime might see us warming up to 70 or so. Perfect weather as far as I'm concerned

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Boott Cotton Mill

This probably will be the last of the Beverly trip posts. For those who are in the Boston area or who may be traveling there, the Boott Cotton Mill Museum in Lowell is a must see, especially for those that love textiles.

Lowell has recreated some of it's industrial history under the auspices of a National Park and the Boott Cotton Mill is one such place. Set up as a mill would look and run in the early 1900's ( about 1918 or so) for a small fee you can go in and learn how a textile mill was operated, from roving down to weaving. They have a hundred or so looms, even a couple of dobby looms that all run and weave. Upstairs are displays of fabrics made at the mill and many many exhibits to read and study. Some fun hands on stuff too. The towel was woven on one of the running looms in the exhibit.

During my visit I had an opportunity to watch the dobby loom in action ( had to ask special as I guess it is a bit fussy) and talk to some of the people running the weaving looms. What the book doesn't tell you is that in 1954 when the mill finally shut down, all the equipment was sold, scrapped etc and to recreate it all, they had to purchase every one of their looms from a textile mill closing in TN.  There is some question about how long they can run the looms even today. The large warps now come prewound, ready to put on the looms. The company making them is closing and unless another maker is found, those looms may again fall silent. So if you are going to visit I would do it soon. They only had abut 10 or 12 of the looms running at a time, but believe me, it's enough to give you an idea of the conditions. The noise and the dust must have been overwhelming and these mills ran every day for 12 hours or more.  For some more information on the mill this is a nice  http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/21boott/21boott.htm

You can also see my completed sock! The second one is underway and looking good.
I've also included some items my Dad wove and gifted me with. The linen towel and napkin is lovely. These were the first items he wove on his Louet Spring and what a great job he did too. The colorful napkins his very first weaving project on his own. He bought a gamp kit from Lunatic Fringe and made about 8 of these, all in different patterns.

 It's likely he will far exceed me as a technical/complex weaver. It makes it all so interesting to exchange ideas with each of us having a different focus and approach to our weaving. I certainly am pleased that I was able to pass the love of creating cloth onto him. 

Of course now we are both working on my Mother! She has been a singer for years, since a small child on radio actually and at 70 something has just given it up. She no longer feels inspired to sing and the standing for hours at long concerts has become an issue. She did mention that when she was young she use to rug hook. My plan is to have a simple rug hooking kit here when they come to visit and we'll learn together and see if it's something she might enjoy again.

On the farm front, Puck is still slinking about. I see him every few days. It's been hot and dry. The horses spending most of their time in the shade, head to tail, swatting flies. The goatie girls are fat and very sassy and have been doing a good job with keeping the browse down. We have two does that we see regularly, one with twins and one with a single who is easy to spot. The fawn is very light in shade, unusual really. It's a small fawn but she is very active and playful. A little later in the season the two does will hook up and graze together which gives us endless entertainment watching all the babies play.  

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Independence Day and weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wretched Excess

Okay, so I went overboard a bit on the Beverly bootie. As Gene has always said, I should have found a job in procurement. My Dad had another way of putting it, Oregon stimulus dollars coming to Massachusetts. 

I did not get to any of the places I thought I would get to. No Webs, no Harrisville and sadly, one of the places I did a lot of shopping at was going out of business and had some not to be passed up deals. Everything was 75% off by the time I walked through the door in her next to last week.  Angora's in Wenhem MA was a lovely little rabbit den of yarn set in a little blue cottage off the main street. It was one of my favorite stops when I went home to visit. I walked out of there with all that merino in varying shades of golds, greens, oranges and purples. These were Strickwear kits for sweaters and at 75% off a steal for all that lovely hand dyed merino.

 The book Doubleweave was also an Angora's purchase. There in dead stock, still in its wrapper, were two of them at 75% off the cover price of $40.00. I bought both, one for me, one for my Dad as a Father's Day gift. The Rep Weave book rounded out the purchases.

At my second favorite yarn store in the world (Web-sters is my first) Yarns in the Farms in Beverly Farms I found that wonderful hand spun angora goat and wool yarn, titled Curly Begonias.

 Look for it as an accent in a blanket. I always feel so welcome and happy in that little shop, Chaco the dog was there at his greeting post and Tink, the owner has that big Texas way of making you feel right at home. I had to leave all the beautiful Lobster Pot yarn but this homespun was shouting out to me and couldn't be ignored.

The black silk came from my Dad on his early spring trip to Halcyon along with some of their wonderful two sided sley hooks. I added the multicolored silk when we visited A Loom With a View in Newburyport, MA.

 Betsy has a wonderful weaving and knitting shop and it was also the place we took our little afternoon wire weaving class. I think there are plans for some spinning wheels in the future. The 8/2 cotton cones came from there also and I enjoyed being able to use the loom to weave on while I visited.

Dad picked up the two cones of Harrisville Shetland for me also when he took his rug class. On a side note he is weaving a rug himself on Betsy's big Harrisville Rug loom at A Loom With a View and it's coming along wonderfully!

The red fleece is a long swing coat and was my Mother's. I have coveted this since I saw it two years ago and she gifted it to me this trip.It was cool enough on one of the days I actually wore it!  We had a grand time shopping, going through bookstores new and old and one afternoon ducked into the new Nordstrom's department store. We couldn't/wouldn't afford a thing and found ourselves over at Macy's where our dollars went a bit further. My Mother feels she must send me home with shoes. I usually have only two pairs, boots and smelly sneakers. This year we actually found two pairs of footwear I liked. Last year I resisted.  We lunched, we went to our favorite little store North Coast in Manchester by the Sea, drank wine and gin and tonics with abandon, had our usual disagreements and spent a lot of time giggling. The big box arriving yesterday signified the annual trip truly was over. I can now look forward to their visit in late October!

On farm news, Nick suffered from a mild colic on Friday and Saturday. He is fine now but it is never a happy place when you have a sick horse. After getting up and checking on him ( and medicating him) all through Friday night, Saturday I found myself coming down with a cold. It's been a really low energy week so far. I'm ready for this head cold to get gone, but everything in it's own time I guess.

I have started measuring a small warp for the Murphy Loom, maybe I will finish that off today and get it on the loom, or at least near it! :-)