Friday, February 27, 2009

The Taming of the Warp

Okay, the title is my little tip of the hat to Shakespeare. It is after all Ashland and the bard is alive and well in our little community. The more appropriate imagine might be
me holding a chair and whip and pointing them at Barbara V.  She's a big loom and has proven a challenge for me on a number of levels to become fast and efficient when warping her up. I'm pleased to say, I think we're almost there. The addition of aprons went a long way towards that goal and then, I had a custom raddle made for her. A nice woman on Etsy makes them. Her name there is Handywoman I believe, but if you do a search for raddles you'll find her. I wanted 1/2 inch spacing and the raddle needed to be longer than the spacing pegs. I sent her the measurements and a very reasonable payment and my raddle arrived three days hence all the way from the Lone Star state. I spent 6 years in Texas, but that is story for another day.

I finally got the 5/8 linen warp ready to go on and Gene put together two brackets
for me so the raddle can live on the loom. I like the raddle behind the
lease sticks and cross so I can neaten it all up and get my sections pretty before tying it on. There are as many ways to warp a loom as there are weavers. This one works best for me and with the addition of the new raddle I found that step going much faster than usual.
Makes the winding on nice and even too. The method came from Jane Stafford and
Louet looms have a built in raddle on the castle. This is as close as 
I can come with BV. Murphy gets a loop raddle clamped to the back of his castle.
I can then sit in a chair at the back of the loom and lash on in one inch increments
using texsolv and the grommets in the aprons. I just tie on in the front again through
the grommet in the one inch bundles. It was a weighty decision to take this fine old loom and make modifications that would leave permanent marks and drilled holes if someone wanted to put her back to the original set-up In the end, a loom is a tool and I needed to do these things to make her work better for me. Form follows function.
The linen itself is stiff and springy for these saddle blankets. Worlds away from the Maysville cotton carpet warp I was 
using for the rugs, which was very soft and had little body.
Today I'll wind it on and leave it for a couple of days while I resume painting. I'm sad
to say I will need a 3rd coat to really cover up the grey well and allow the new color to have the depth it should. 
Well, caprine and equine breakfast time has arrived as
have my two escorts. Time to suit up!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Up and Adam!

A couple of years ago my Dad asked, "Why do you get up so damn early?" I quipped back that the dogs got me up. The truth is, I've trained the dogs to be early risers along with me.
So that brings me back to the original question of my very early awakenings. I've always been an early riser and run well on 6-7 hours of sleep. My work I structured around an early schedule when I could and employers could count on me to be there early, every day. I think the world is simply divided between those of us who are more productive early as to those who work better late. Now, I have no alarm going off telling me to be some place at a certain time. I haven't needed an alarm, since well High School. So why do I drag out of bed at 3:30 in the morning ( 4:30 when the clocks spring forward)?
The quiet mostly. I can putter, write, knit, think and do it all with no noise, no interruption. I also love going out into the darkness to feed the animals. There
is no light pollution up here, only the brilliant night sky or the swirling snow or the patter of rain. I get a two kitty escort every morning. Juno and Buzz meet me at the front door to walk with me to the barn. I only have a headlamp. The barn has no lights
and neither does tractor Bob.  I check for Bond the Skunk or anything else that might want to get out of the barn and feed the escorts and then load a bale of hay to tractor up to the paddock. As I'm riding up I catch the numerous sets of disembodied eyes waiting for me to bring breakfast. Sometimes Dandy has a soft inpatient whinny for me and sometimes Cooper. The boys wait while I get in, politely milling around their feeding stations. No kicking, no grabbing hay off the flakes while I sort and deliver.
It's all quite wonderful really and I forget that maybe I was dragging ass to get out there 10 minutes before. After the boys are tucked in and the eating is in earnest, I go through and give everyone a pet, check legs and just hang for a bit. In the summer deer
come into the paddock for water and I catch them in my light, other times we all stand
in the wind and snow. Afterwards, it's onto the goatie girls, who have begun to wonder if the maid is ever going to arrive with her pile of hay. They jostle and push each other around my legs like fat furry little hassocks. They spend a few minutes pushing each other around and then settle to breakfast. I check water, fill if need be and then back
the tractor around for the trip back to the barn. Many times I walk down the driveway, headlamp off, listening for owls, or watching the sky. Often I see a shooting star especially in the clear winter sky or I look in the fresh snow (or mud) to see what might have travelled up our driveway. In summer the the start of dawn and chorus of birds greeting the new day follows me back to the house.  I get up early because I wouldn't want to miss any of it. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taming Those Tribbles into Twill

Yesterday was a lost day as far as house cleaning was concerned. Mondays are the usual cleaning day around here, just so when folks drop in over the weekend, it looks like I don't own a broom or vacuum. In another life, when I actually left the house to go to work for too many hours to count, I had a lovely, wonderful ( and well paid) cleaning lady who came on Friday mornings. Weekend drop ins must have thought I was a domestic goddess. Now, they know the gritty truth. I am marginal housekeeper at best and the only things eating off the floor are the dogs and I will remind you, dogs have pretty low standards when it comes to what and where they eat. Now don't you cat people get all smug either, because sometimes I walk out on my back porch and it looks like some sort of a rodent snuff film has gone on overnight. 'Nuff said!
So what did I spend my cleaning time doing? Warping on and weaving the little tribbles into a wide twill scarf. This was meant for me and I wanted to experiment with just how wide a sett I could go. If I could do it all again ( dang, those
tribbles did NOT multiply) I would do the sett a bit closer than the 5 epi I did 
use. I would use 8 the next time.
I do like the lightness for myself  but unless care is taken with the piece in general the floats will catch and pull. I had in mind a light scarf that would keep my 
shoulders and upper arms warm while I read in bed. Nothing so wide it got down my back and would pull when I moved. Simply a little confection with a plump fuzzy soft feel. This fit the bill perfectly. I felt quite princess like
last night while I read. I'm working my way through Paul Theroux's "The Great Railway Bazaar" I read "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the
Great Railway Bazaar" this past fall. The trip in GRB was done in the early 70's and in the Eastern Star he goes back and does the trip
in reverse.
Both books are simply marvelous.
Well, off to find that vacuum!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Paint Can Runeth Dry

So, we have a half finished room. About 10:00 yesterday morning I was done for the day. First time I have ever run out of paint. Usually I buy too much. The local paint store is wisely closed on Sunday so today one of us will run to town for another gallon and I'll get back to painting later in the week.

I did manage to get a warp started for the Murphy loom and once that comes off the board the linen will go one for the saddle blankets. I also organized my stash. I threw
a big old quilt on the floor and chucked all my yarn out of the armoire it's kept in.
Geez, I got stuff I forgot about. Everything has been put back nicely in some semblance of organization. It doesn't even include the coned yarns which Gene built me a tall shelf for an odd shaped area of my work space.  It's not quite finished. The hold up is me getting to some sanding for fancy trim on the sides, but it is sturdy and usable right now.

Skunk Bond has proven worthy of his name. (every time I think of him the music to Mission Impossible starts up in my head) He has figured out the new arrangement
in the tack room and if he drags himself up onto the saddles, steps over onto the small
shelf, walks to the other end, uses the tops of the grain bins, Wala! He is on the high table with the cat food bowl. Needless to say, I moved saddles and grain bins yesterday morning but my hopes are not high that I will have tricked this Einstein of a skunk for long. I am, after all, a not so swift human who just happens to have opposable thumbs
as my claim to fame.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Trouble with Tribbles

Or maybe, mohair madness! Seems I have my own tribbles that followed me home
Friday from the Web-sters. Sale tribbles, the best kind! These tribbles look suspiciously like Adrienne Vittadini Natasha yarn, something with a bit of mohair, of course.
As yet they have not multiplied( and Miss Bea is making sure) but they are cute and cuddly just the same. It must have been a 
weavers day to hit Ashland as no less than 3 other weavers where perusing
the shop when I arrived. Miss Cindie from Eweniquely Ewe was there with some friends from the Saturday Guild. I can't wait to see what she makes with some of the gorgeous booty she left with!
It wasn't just Natasha that felt compelled to hop in the back of the wagon for a wild ride
up into the Greensprings, there was some Prism Big Kid in Blue Lagoon that needed a 
home too, it was no tribble at all! ;-)
The painting goes on and on. It may be another 6 years before I forget just what a miserable space the master bedroom is to paint. Dove grey certainly hid the dirt well. The new color is much  lighter. 
What I really want to know is why they don't make tall
ladders with a shelf to put paint cans on. The 5 and 6 footer has it, the 10 footer does not. It means a lot of running, or in my case slowly crawling, up and down the ladder.
In any event, one more day/one more coat. I'm tired of the bedroom being torn apart.
Every night I have to put some things back into place mostly for Dennett. His eyesight is so poor at this age that I try not to move too much around on him. He has two beds,
one under ours and one near the radiator and they need to be just so. He's never liked
sleeping on the bed all night and now that he is 16 and practically blind, jumping off the bed in the middle of the night is not an option. He still manages stairs pretty well
but I stay close as we head down for the day to make sure. He'd do the same for me.
The looms stand empty except for Carolyn who has had a scarf sitting on her since November. Lots of plans AP ( after painting) but today it is windy and raining. A good day to finish up and put the brushes away for a few weeks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gorilla & Twill

The manly scarf is off the Murphy and finished. It got guy approval. Husband Gene said he would wear it, but then again, he'd wear almost anything that someone hand made.
The scarf itself was disappointing in parts but the whole turned out to me my favorite of the three. The twill is not apparent until you hit just the right angle and light, partly due to the texture of the yarn and partly due to the sett. The gorilla part tamed down quite a bit. Weaving it was challenging because the three yarns had totally different give and the pattern was different for each. There is a brown mohair in there and a black mohair, different manufacturers and totally different in structure and feel. I don't think I will ever use the
Kidsilk Haze again for warp, although it is a beautiful yarn. The dogs have been running around with fuzzy black shed stuck on their noses. The stuff is
all over the loom room.
I will however be working with mohair again. For right now, there is something magical in such a light open structure. I love that it comes off the loom with substance but next to nothing in weight. Like a big sturdy cobweb. Artists are know for their blue period and such, so I'm feeling it's okay to have my Mohair Period. :-)
The painting goes on. This is a big room, the biggest in the house actually and I want to know what fool (that would be me) designed it with 2 windows, 1 skylight and 4 doors. I managed to get all the primer on and the first coat of 
paint. The second coat will go on tomorrow and then finally, the pay off, painting the walls in their new color. The room is a medium dove grey at present, and it is a lovely color, but it's time for something lighter and brighter for this dark north facing room.
This third picture shows the last two scarves, some BFL wool I spun up and Gene's favorite hat I knit him last winter. It was sitting on the chest so I figured why not throw it in there. It's my one item of true color knitting. I really should make more. I enjoyed it and the book the pattern came out of  ( 45 Fine & Fanciful Hats to Knit by A. Zilboorg) has many, many fantastic hats
to choose from.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sheepy Goodness

It didn't snow yesterday. In fact it was quite nice for mid-Feb. I was able to slip down the mountain
for some town time and to use up that lovely gift certificate. Those
things just burn a hole in my pocket. 
The shopping excursion was for a project for Barbara V and I knew just what I wanted.
Our local yarn store carries a house brand, if you will, of wonderful Romney sheep wool. This is what I always think of when I think of wool. Well twisted, springy, the faint scent of sheep and hard wearing. This is lovely wool. It will stand up to years of use and abuse. Grown really locally (Ashland) and in great heathered colors. Price and yardage are excellent.
It knits beautifully and I've used it for a gift sweater that will keep the wearer warm and dry outside in winter weather. Having grown up in New England, where winters are much colder, this is the type of wool we crave for outwear and to keep us warm in those drafty old homes.
The project at hand is for saddle blankets, one each for Cooper and Dandy in a boundweave rosepath threading using 3 colors with a 4 shed treadling sequence on a 
8/5 linen warp sett at 6 epi. I have deep saddles with a modified rigging on them and I
like my blankets to be a bit wider so all of the girthing parts are kept off the horse. The blankets will be 36x36 inches instead of the usual 30x36. The colors called for are light,medium and dark. I have done light, dark and color. Dandy will get green
and Cooper has the purple since they each have that same color for their bridle.
I was also looking for something wonderful to keep all my bobbins and pirns in. I found some nifty Ashland Sky bags, in pink with the breast cancer ribbon. I have a few of these bags for knitting needles and they are great.
The Gorilla and Twill scarf is almost threaded and ready to sley. I think rather than paint I'll get that woven and paint in earnest tomorrow. Sounds like a plan!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Super Cooper

I think every horse owner, sooner or later, gets their heart horse. We can wax poetic
about our mounts and I have good horses all of them, but Cooper is something special
indeed.  I purchased Cooper as a 4 going on 5 year old, a not much handled pasture stud with no training other than what was required to halter him and do his feet. And everyone told me what a bad idea it was since I had not had a horse in 15 years.
I'm pretty hard headed. I found a wonderful trainer, the 3 of us worked hard for 4 months, every day. I brought the boy home in early spring to a local boarding stable and we have never looked back. 8 years later we are a team in every sense of the word.

 I ride alone, not many riders up here to go with, and Gene maybe rides 5 times a year.
Cooper and I have covered a very good portion of this national monument together.
We've seen bear, bobcats, deer, free range cows and just about everything else that
lives out there. I've gotten completely lost too and Cooper, like most of his kind, knows exactly how to get us home from any given point. I've also gotten us onto some pretty scary ridges and into some terribly deep ravines and each time my steady mount will find a way to get us out safely. This is a thinking being on all levels. If he doesn't deem something safe, he isn't going to do it. If need be we'll find away around or go another way. Part of being a team is allowing input from both members. In all the years we've been riding together he has only totally refused to go somewhere once, on a known trail to us. He hit a point in the trail where he stopped dead, and lifted those front feet up and turned us around 180 degrees. Not typical for my mellow boy. I pushed the point and got no further with him. So, we went back the way we came. I could have made it a battle but I think he caught a whiff of something, cougar or bear take your pick. When a good brave horse refuses a known track, you have to listen, you have to trust in their judgement. He is a kind horse, and always takes the new babies under his wing, he comes when called and even if you fall off, he won't leave you. He'll come back over, check to see if you're all right and wait for you to collect yourself. I thankfully haven't hit the ground in a number of years. Now I get off, take his bridle off and let him graze while I wander around and stretch my legs in the middle of our rides. It should be fun for everyone. He stays put and if I wander off too far, he trots over to be closer and goes back to eating.  So, I've waxed enough on Cooper. I could never say enough about such a wonderful horse really. To know him is to love him.
 The pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Pleasures of Tabby

I hope everyone had a lovely Valentines Day. I know I did. Got to weave, had chocolates, and a gift certificate to my very favorite yarn haunt, the Websters in Ashland. Woo hoo. Now, if it would only stop snowing I might get down to use it.

I have finished off the long rug warp. The 12 foot long piece had a ton of take up on it
but I got a sweet little wool rug off of it and one rather fugly heavy small
rag rug for the kitchen. I enjoyed my tabby time thoroughly, but now it's time to move on to something that will force me to get that Texsolv cut and do the tie-ups on all of Barbara's beautiful 10 treadles. I have some nice saddle blanket drafts with 3 colors and let's face it, I can use saddle blankets! I think a linen warp would be best instead of rug cotton and I'll need to get some nice heavy wool. Saddle blankets really take a beating when used as intended. 

Another humane society scarf was completed and finished. This one with alpaca and some novelty yarn. It was a lot of fun doing it although it will be a cold day in hell before I work with super fuzzy alpaca in a warp again. Another scarf is on the board being measured. Hopefully, a guy kind of scarf. The yarn used is Filtura di Crosa Collage which is sort of a fine boucle yarn of wool and llama in a brown/black/green fleck. It's quite soft. I'm mixing it with some stripes of black mohair. It looks pretty strange and I've dubbed it Gorilla and Twill. We'll just have to see how this one turns out.

Most of yesterday was spent painting the ceilings in the master bedroom in prep for it's full trim and wall job later this week. I have painted over 90 % of the inside of this house twice, that includes staining, painting and stenciling floors and of all the work I despise doing ceilings. Gene will do the really high walls and ceilings if need be, but since this falls under "Theresa Criteria" it was my cross to bear. What is Theresa Criteria? Well, anything that doesn't require power tools except a drill or sander, no ladders over 8 feet, no outdoor stuff unless it is barn, animal or garden related and usually something not really necessary by Gene Criteria! I was told the paint was just fine by the other half. It wasn't. After 6 years of living and doing finish work in the house, all the paint needs to be redone. Simple as that. Last summer was spent doing the down stairs, this year it's the upstairs. 

And speaking of the barn ( known here as Big Blue Betty) her tack room got a make-over. After 3 years some things just weren't working for me, so we moved and reorganized and it is working out nicely. Bond is still dropping by but has been unable to reach the cat food dish in it's new location. Yeah, cause for celebration since I might have outwitted a skunk! ;-) Life is good.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lincoln Celebration

Isn't it nice to have a President, that when he opens his mouth, you can puff up with
a little pride, a pride that hasn't been felt in oh so long? One that can make us look
at our history with a clarity about the great strides we have made as a nation
and the tragedies equally?
Forgiveness is probably one of the greatest and hardest
things  for a nation and when President Obama spoke about Lincoln allowing Confederate soldiers to go home to their farms and families with no pound of flesh extracted I was moved and I was reminded that hope is a forward looking gift, not one that dwells in the past.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Slow Roll-Out

The other day I really did make an attempt at getting pics of the horses and goats. It's
hard because of the contrast, dark horses, white snow. The camera has a hard time and
I am clearly deficient in adjusting it. I did get a couple and I'll at least start to tell
you about the cast of characters that reside outside the house.
First up is Dandy, or Mr. D as he prefers. The smallest of the bunch and like his copper color, a bit hot and very gregarious. He is the herd leader and while there may be jostling around for 3rd and 4th banana, there is no question who is in charge when I'm not there.
He is the husband horse. An honor in any household. He's the horse that is expected to
babysit the novice, take the jingling on the bit, the poor posting on the trot and make sure the clueless are kept safe. I ride him fairly often to keep him in shape and for a more experienced rider he'll match you happily. He's a handy little jumper and quite the showman should you want to work in a dressage frame. He can get fussy and be a little  temperamental when asked to do harder things but rarely do we have to have
 a come to Jesus talk. Gene adores him and the feelings are obviously mutual.
Next up is Boo, my big and growing "baby" boy. I got Boo when he 
was just weaned and we speculated that he "might" reach 16 hands high. HAR, jokes on me, the boy is not yet 4 and heading into the 16.2 hand range. He, of all the horses, listens to me the most and has a very soft and willing to please mind set. He is a little flighty and a little hot, but has never offered anything other than to do what he thinks I want. Gene refers to him as the giant goober. He is heading off to training this summer. It's time. They all grow up so fast. He's almost done though, he's no longer the sink hole for feeding. He'll even let Taffy lick his bucket!
Last photo is of at least 4 headless horses. It is impossible to get full shots at feeding time. The goats are in there too. Silly girls all of them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Welcome Back Mr. Winter!

I can't tell you how happy you've made me. I love snow, cold and the absolute silence
that a good snowfall brings with it. I can stand out on my front porch and hear the horses
munching their morning hay. 
I've been extremely busy this week and a couple more days of getting some stuff done
on a dead line and then back to the looms with me. Until then I'll leave these pictures
from this morning for your viewing pleasure. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Horoscope Rug and the Weeks Weaving

The cast of characters is down to the outdoor crew and they are a vain lot. All my really
good pictures are stuck on my old broken computer waiting to be transferred by a 
bench tech. So it's either wait for those or wait until I snap some more nice ones. Either way, it's a wait. 
I am jazzed though, Bonnie Tarses, who has a beautiful blog, has put a rug I just finished weaving up on her site. Go on over and check it out, the link is right there in the blog list.
Some other weaving has been accomplished this week too, a Summer & Winter runner
for a weave along on Ravelry and a mohair scarf with some yarn I've been chomping at the bit to use. It was an experiment on my part, I have never used mohair for the warp
and had a very open weave in my mind. I was hoping the self sticking properties of the mohair would allow me to do it and it did. Pictures of both projects are below. The stripes in the scarf are nothing more than packing in the weft with a harder beat. Gene commented it was the quietest weaving I've ever done and it certainly was the fastest.
I had the warp measured and on in under an hour, the weaving took maybe two hours
with stopping and wandering off to do other things. I liked working on this so much
I know I will do a few others and it has inspired me to try some collapse weave projects. I also had a chance to get comfortable using a fringe twister! Woo hoo!!! This scarf is destined for donation to the local humane society for their annual auction/sale and I'll do a few other things for that over the next few months.  The specs for both projects are as follows:

Summer/Winter runner:Warp- Louet Euroflax sett at 12 epi in color Pearl I think.
Weft-Jamieson's Shetland DK in color Gentian, pattern was out of Davison's book.
9.5 inches in the reed and darn close to that coming off.

Mohair Scarf: Warp and weft done in Filatura Di Crosa Fancy Multicolor, a mohair/acrylic blend sett at 6 epi, 13 inches in the reed, finished scarf about 12.5"
after wet finishing.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cast of Characters part 2 House Critters

And have we got house critters! 9 of the little grit sponges live indoors with us.
I am still complaining that we didn't install a central vac when we built this house 7 years
Jack is on the header of my blog. He is without a doubt my weaving partner. The rest of the horde either losses interest or moves along from the room due to the noise. Jack's
other name is THE GOLD BRICK, because after getting a toy stuck in his stomach 2 years ago, it cost us plenty to operate and rehabilitate him. Sadly he had some damage to his esophagus which is permanent.  I hand feed him every day so he doesn't gulp his food.
Dennett, who is the lovely little thumb nail by my "About Me" section is the old man of
the group. He's turning 16 this year and we have enjoyed every single minute of it! I make them all sign on for a 17 year stint and he may actually keep the contract. He hails from Texas and was picked up after being thrown from a car on the highway, loaded with heartworm and fearful and aggressive. I took him in 14 years ago and we changed each others life in so many good ways.
Peter, is second oldest and every one's darling and I can understand why. He is such a happy sweet dog it is infectious. Peter is 13 and going quite grey. He too was a rescue (they all are) from Texas. Some nut shot him when he was a wee pup and shattered his lower jaw. When I sprung him from the shelter two days before Christmas 1996 he was slowly starving to death because of the unhinged break. Surgery to
 remove bone fragments and teeth that were gouging into his upper palette as done along with neutering the day before. Even now after several dental extractions he gets along just
fine with small kibble. Good back molars! 
Next up is Pogo, a little devilish Chihuahua mix. He's simply trouble, all swagger and attitude. He's about 4 now and worships my husband Gene. I am just the hand maiden as far as he is concerned and the evil lady with the toe nail clipper. He does rally
 everyone daily for a good play session, and is a winsome little fellow in many ways.
The last of the boys is Smoochie. The Smooch Man is kind and probably not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he is the most affectionate of all the dogs. He smiles too
and his goofy ways are so endearing. He was a Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue dog, came here right out of a puppy mill and just never left. I flunked
 that foster! He's  the Cairn sleeping on the couch.
The girls start with Miss Bea, who is the little blonde bombshell in one of the cubbies.
She is such a funny little dog. We can't decide if she is Cairn mixed with Schnauzer or Poodle. Either way, she has been dubbed "Sneaky Bea" because she knows how to steal a toy from even the most protective hoarder. Bea is about 10 now and was a pound pup. She is a bit cheeky at times and quite the talker.
Charlotte is my very own Velcro puppy. She who must always know where I am always. I go to the bathroom, I come out, there she is waiting. She likes Gene but rarely ever goes to him for attention and while interested is stand offish with all strangers. She is the serious one of all the dogs. All business all the time. Charlotte is now about 8.
We believe she is a Cairn/Schipperke cross. She has no tail! We ask her often where she might have left it, but as yet, she's kept the secret. She's very smart and always anxious to please. You can see her watching me from the top of the right side cubby in the picture. We fondly refer to her as "The Pork Roast" because darn if she isn't shaped like a nice tenderloin!
Rounding out the girl band is Angel, a Border/Aussie mix who came to live with us because she was too busy to have around a local-to-us riding stable. Angel lives to herd my goats. Since that isn't allowed she'll fixate on butterflies and other moving objects,
usually the cat. I do let her out once in a while to work the goats. Neither of us is very good at it but when they are being troublesome and jumping on cars or eating bark off the trees around the property, a little herding is a good thing.
The dogs have a large fenced in pen off the side of the house. The trustworthy ones get
to romp off leash on walks, the escape artists enjoy a 25 foot leash.
Last but not least is Rodger, the lone cat of the household. He will hold his ground with the most obnoxious of dogs and 
everyone respects the velvet claw.  He likes sleeping 
in the Barbara V's bench. He is a sweet mellow boy, who believes everything and everyone is his friend for life. That's it, that's all of them. I couldn't resist slipping another pic of Dennett in. Good pictures of old dogs are precious.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cast of Characters part 1

It really is time for some introductions! I have 3 looms at present, two of which are oldies but goodies.

The first one up is the Murphy Counterbalance loom. He's all oak, solid and has a 42" weaving width, 4 harnesses and 6 treadles. This loom was made in Seattle around the late 40's/early 50's and I'm told patterned after the Allen Looms of the same period. He'll fold up but not with a warp on. This was my first loom and he is sweet, friendly loom to work with and priced right for a starter package at $400.00 with bench and other goodies! Good shed, easy tie-up and treadling and such a good sport with fussy warps! Murphy is my go-to guy for anything except rugs. The picture shows him with a curtain warp on him. The curtains are a canvas weave out of Davison's book and grace my studio window.

My second loom was a gift from my father. I saw the ad for it while I was visiting last year and we both thought it a pretty neat thing! She's a Thought Products Barbara V
loom and is like the transformer of the loom world. I can set her up for free form tapestry, 2 harness tapestry, counterbalance, countermarche and jack modes. She sports 8 harnesses, 10 treadles and is solid cherry. She was built in the 70's and purchased new by a weaver on Long Island NY. Her name was Joan Rague and Barbara proudly carries the brass plate with Joan's name. After Joan passed on the loom went to someone who (horrors) packed her up and let her sit in their garage for
quite a long time. She was purchased by a tapestry weaver who kindly cleaned up
all the tapestry components. He decided she was really too big for his needs and I am where she ended up. BV has a 64" weaving width and lives in my home as a countermarche loom. She came to me across the country in pieces and we spent the summer putting her back together, attending to her 8 cloth weaving harnesses and giving her 1600 new inserted eye heddles. Restoring this older loom has been a labor
of love and awe. Honestly, the commuter bench that came with her has given me more fits than the loom herself. I have her warped up for doing rugs right now. She's heavy, robust and that overhead beater is ideally suited for a good hard beat.

The third loom I'd like to introduce is a wonderful Woolhouse Carolyn 12 harness
table loom. She may be small (23" weaving width) but she's a smooth weaving little powerhouse. She came to me from a lovely weaver up in BC Canada ( see Susan at Thrums on the blog list) with all sorts of goodies, many of which I have not had a chance to try out yet! Carolyn has a long bamboo warp on her for two scarves. I am very slow on this loom and the pattern has 56 shots to complete one repeat. What was I thinking!!! It was so wonderful (after the summer -long slog of putting a loom together), to pull Carolyn out of her small group of 3 boxes, put a few screws in and have a lovely loom all set up in front of me ready to go! She was purchased as my workshop loom but she i
s so pretty and quiet to use, I have her up in our bedroom. I can weave and look out over our back 20 through the big windows. She is also light enough that I can move her up and down the stairs easily without help. That was the point wasn't it.
The studio is rounded out with a Timbertops
Leicester Spinning wheel. This was one of the last wheels James Williamson made himself. The spinning wheels are now being produced in Wales I think and
Anne & James have finally started a true retirement.
It is a beautiful wheel and spins like butter.
One note, please forgive some of the photo placements, I am just learning how to navigate around
this blog so things don't always come out how I plan them. Not just true of blogs either!

Bond Update: He left a calling card so I would know he had visited. Clean licked cat bowl and the piece of wood I had placed at the break in point had been moved.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bond, James Bond

I was going to make my first ever blog post about my looms, but I think that will have to wait for another day.
Every morning I go out to feed the horses and goats at 5. The barn cats have access to
the tack room and their chow via a window but we have an almost daily uninvited visitor.
So, headlamp on, I creep into my own tack room to check and see if the local skunk is still in residence. This morning he was. Bold as black and white up
on the table finishing off the cat chow. This is not the first time we have met. We have
developed  a set of protocols. I slowly back away from the tack room door, take my bright headlight off of him directly and he politely gets gone through the hole he dug under the wall. The floor is dirt, the barn is full of hay and it is too darn cold to be pouring cement. We've put boulders outside, wire, pieces of metal siding and tarp.
It looks pretty darn awful. Every day I block the most recent hole and every evening my stealthy James Bond of a skunk finds a new way to B&E my tack room. He has become such a routine fixture that the two barn kitties, Buzz ( because he starts purring when he sees you) and Juno seem to think sharing with their little black and white friend is just fine.
In fact, Juno was curled up on her bed not more than 5 feet away from Bond having a nap while he scarfed the rest of the food. She looked at me like I was daft for my oh so poor pussy foot imitation as I backed out of the room. Come spring we'll cement the floor of the barn. There will be less hay so we can back a mixer in and the temps will be warmer.  Until then, I'll no doubt be outsmarted many times over since I suspect that Bond has a very able Q working for him.