Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

I decided last week that I would not spend my last days at home running around doing stuff. My packing needs were simple, 4 shirts, 4 pants, a light jacket, undergarments and toiletries. Add an extra skein of yarn, a prayer flag and I'm done. Anything I need I can buy there or borrow from my Mother.
Instead, I have walked Dennett many times over the last few days, both alone and with some of the other dogs, loved up on the horses and goats, made sure the cats had plenty of attention and basically just hung out.
I have also given in to the urge to monkey with the inkle loom and start Gene's sweater.

The sweater pattern came back to my fingers like an old friend. This picture doesn't capture at all the lovely green of the yarn.

I love this pattern though, both in looks and in the knitting. I am not worried that I have yet a third sweater to do in it. I might just do a fourth for myself, you never know!

The inkle was another matter. The first attempt was gawd awful. Mistakes were made, a tear was shed and then the scissors came out.

I think I made the band too narrow for a first attempt. The second attempt I corrected that and got better results. Like anything there is a learning curve. I can see why people enjoy it though. It's a fast, easy warping process and the weaving does go quickly once you are proficient enough not to have fiddle with it. ;-)

The Schacht loom is sturdy, simple and very friendly to use. They even have a great tutorial on youtube here. I had questions, they had the answers. Priceless!

So today, I'll sit in the comfy chair, cuddle with the critters, knit a little, nibble a little and serve up a simple dinner. Tomorrow's frantic travel pace will come quick enough.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A New Little Pet

Okay, I know what you all are thinking, is not 7 dogs, 3 cats, 5 horses and 5 goats enough? Yes, it is, but really how much trouble can one little Ladybug cause?

The long awaited birthday gift arrived home Friday and while the frantic pace of trip packing continues I have managed a little "getting to know you" spinning time in.

It was quite fun getting to assemble her down at the Web-sters with some help from Liz. I broke all the rules and left the box behind! Of course the first thing we did was find the Ladybug. Each one has it in a different place and here is mine.

I've been playing with different fibers in my stash. Basically a hodge podge just to get the feel of the wheel. She is very smooth and I think we are going to get on just fine. The plus is I can grab her easily, and move her around. She fits nicely upright and belted in in the back or front seat of my car and is quite sturdy. So far I haven't had a chance to test her out in the double drive mode, but when I get back from Massachusetts you can be sure we'll have more experimentation time.

Pogo thinks that each wheel should come with a little Chihuahua, or at least a pair of ears. ( This photo reminds me of circling sharks...)

Admittedly there are some days I would like to Velcro him somewhere but on my spinning wheel.....hmmmmm.

On farm news, the crappy weather is back and will be back for the remainder of the week. It will be a messy ride down to the airport early Thursday morning. I leave everyone in Gene's capable hands for the next two weeks. I won't be updating this blog but you can be sure I'll be keeping up with all the blogs I read and enjoy. So those of you who found yourself here somehow and it's seems to be languishing, PLEASE go check out some of the wonderful blogs listed to the right. See you all again here after May 14th!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Bet They Wonder If I Have Anything Better to Do

Frankly sometimes I wonder that too, but there it was, the camera, the boots at the door ready and a partly sunny day. I'll take partly sunny. In fact I'll take about anything that isn't wet. This wee bit of knitting has brought about more enjoyment for me (and likely only me) than anything I think I've ever made. So without further ado, I bring you the most recent wall of Anti Firecracker Balaclava shame.

Miss Taffy, who simply froze and glared, and you know it when a goat glares at you.
Hm, maybe a new movie, Goats Who Stare at Women.....

Dandy, formally known as the horse who use to love me (and really got over any embarrassment once the treats came out).

Imp, poor Imp, this particular style is exceptionally unbecoming to him. Might have something to do with that big long glow in the dark white face.

And last, but never least, the Lolita look. Remember, this is Nick of fly mask failure fame, so no one should be surprised.

Note: No animals were harmed in the taking of these pictures, no matter what they tell you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Food for Thought

Well, it is Earth Day and Newsweek is on it.

It Might as Well Be Spring-April Colors

Well, it might as well be winter too. Sunday was warm, sunny spring like, leaves budding, mud drying, just a wonderful day. Then....( can you hear the music to Jaws)
Monday night the rain started, Tuesday wet snow mix and yesterday, let's just say if it wasn't for summer fire season, the 10 inches of snow were MOST unwelcome. Gene spent three quarters of the day out running from one disaster to another. A huge power line down on the Hyatt Lake access road, then a tree across Highway 66, and a local run off the road by an over sized truck load. Highway 66 is a narrow windy kind of scary road that has a length and weight limit. Big rigs are not allowed, but it doesn't stop them from trying to avoid the I 5 chain requirement or resulting slow down. I don't know what they are thinking. Really are they?

So we went from this.......

Lilac Bush

Arctic Willow


To this in a matter of hours.

This was the scene of the downed 13,000 volt power line. Pacific Power shut it down so the guys could direct traffic around it (and they could fix it). Not only was it snowy, it was windy. We had gusts up to 40mph. You only needed to stand outside to have snow packed onto your body. The horses had a condition we fondly refer to as snow ass. It means they have all had their heads in the shelter with their butts sticking out. All the horses had white bottoms like Cooper. There was one that enjoyed the weather and that was Dennett. He LOVES snow and insisted on his walk yesterday morning and enjoyed it thoroughly. I enjoyed it because he did. Today the wind is still blowing, a flurry or two, but the D man will have an interesting walk. A raccoon was around last night and another unidentified set of tracks. We'll have fun following them.
Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shake, Raddle & Roll

Aren't we having a musical week so far? Just when one ear worm might have given up, another one comes along!

The homemade raddle has been completed and if I do say so myself ( read pat on back), it works very well.

My old raddle was a loop raddle and I liked it very much, more so than nails hammered into a board, that's for sure. I always get nervous using something with nails in it sticking out around the animals. Something dropped or knocked by accident and you know, I have watchful eyes and bodies all around me when I work, always. Often times under foot so the likelihood of a slip up is enhanced. Using eye screws for the dividers was an idea I jumped on and ran with. I can't take credit for it either. Nadine, my steadfast weaving teacher and mentor, e-mailed me the idea in passing and before that it was from a Peggy Osterkamp book, so it's been around. Eye screws are a lot easier to use than trying to find and bend wire for a loop and certainly safer than nails and not much more expensive. There was a lot of hole drilling and some swearing and I might not have every one quite perfect in line, but the inch sections are accurate.

With the addition of a metal rod I can lock in the warp threads easily. Julia's third prayer flag warp is on and being woven. This one will be all small single thought flags. I also have found that threading Julia is a dream. The shafts are held in a sling of sorts to lock them in, but you can tilt that sling allowing your shafts to be at different levels, making picking out correct shafts for threading quite easy.

You can also loop that sling closer to the breast beam making the reach less. All quite nice to work with.

The mixed green and blue scarf is off the loom and finished.

I love it. I've made notations that this combination at a slightly tighter and more even set would make lovely fabric for a jacket. I think if I do a little searching and maybe splurge on one more large skein of Nature's Palette I would have enough to do a two to three yard warp at about 36". I'm going to have to do some more formal calculations to be sure though. It plumped nicely after wet finishing and although quite a mix of fibers nothing puckered or stretched. It played nice.
The scarf itself is the first one of a bunch for the humane society's annual auction and ball.

The prayer flags from the last warp have been completed. They have their bells, the fringe has been knotted and thread ends clipped.

The silk itself does like to shed, but this is just part of the character of the flags themselves. I am still very happy with the all white warp and think I will keep that and the present threading for the time being.

On farm news, we've had two glorious days. Notice the "had" in that sentence. We'll be paying for those nice days with the rest of the week calling for a rain and snow. I did get out and do some planting. Lily of the Valley, which is my very favorite flower and some sort of thing with the name Lucifer in it. If it comes up it will be bright red.
Sadly the farrier is due out today. Pity he didn't come yesterday. We'll be slopping around in mud and pouring rain. Oh joy. Morgan is pretty easy to work with. Instead of taking each of the horses out of the paddock through the field of mud and muck, we'll bring the trim tools into the high and dry (it's all relative you know) part of the paddock and just trim them up there, under the trees or in the shelter. The hardest part will be keeping Imp and Nick from making off with a rasp or nippers no doubt.
The hay arrived Saturday and instead of unstacking we just backed the horse trailer into the barn and I'm feeding out of that. If we need it, we can always throw the hay out. 50 pound bales feel light as a feather compared to the ones I've tussled with all winter. A full one fits right into the front end loader like a charm. Life is good!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Every Breath You Take

Every move you make...

Every step you take....
I'll be watching you.
or not! ;-)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Need A Bigger Plate

Because I certainly seem to be piling more stuff onto the one I got! Last week before the neck went south, I managed a quick drive by in town. I have been awfully inspired by Annie over at ASpinner Weaver and her inkle woven belts and sashes. In fact I was thinking how nifty it would be to make fancy bindings for my handwoven blankets and of course that lead to other ideas and uses for narrow bands. You all know how it goes down the slippery slope of fiber pursuits.

Needless to say, I was primed to just take a peek at Schachts Inkle loom when I stopped in the Web-sters. As DH would say, "Peek my a**!" It's like going to a shelter and leaving without a dog. It's just not happening. A few library additions were also made although not all on this particular trip.

Our time together was rudely interrupted, but I'm optimistic that I can manage some monkeying around on him before I go. And then there is the tapestry loom sitting up in the bedroom with a warp on just waiting for me to experiment.....

The neck and shoulder is feeling better. I'm being careful because it's at that stage when you know it's calming down but could easily be woken up again and it's best to let sleeping injuries lie! :-) It hasn't stopped me from gathering the stuff I need to make a raddle for Julia. I like to leave it as an insistent reminder in an obvious place to someone (who won't be named), that I need a couple of cuts done and some holes pre-drilled. Please! ;-)

I'm also going to mention that a cause VERY near and dear to my heart, Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue, has been trying to win at least fourth place at the Animal Rescue
Site. It means $3000.00 for rescue and I know they could use it and they could also use a vote or two to get there. If you have a moment, click on this link and vote for them. You don't have to join or anything, just click and do their security thing and you're done. The contest ends tomorrow at midnight.

Along with the inkle loom, I'm itching to start Gene's sweater. This is the project I'll take on my trip and to that end I bought some of the newer Addi Lace needles.

I like these much better than the Knit Picks interchangeable ones. They are pointy without being too sharp. With luck I'll have the sweater done by the time the snow flies next November or so. And let me tell you, the snow better fly next year because this years meager offering was a bust as far as I'm concerned, even if I did run out of hay before May!

Leigh had questions about the art of hay buying. Obviously I'm not the one to answer them. Some years, I have left over, some I don't. A lot depends on weather, and of course, numbers. I've added horses after the yearly hay purchase has been made. That always makes for a fun spring hay search. If I was to run out any year, this was a good one in which to do it. There was lots of tonnage stored since so many people dumped horses with the bad economy and outrageously high hay prices the year before. I had options this year. My shortage is due in part to the really wet winter. A wet horse is not a happy horse and a horse that is wet on and off for the better part of three months really needs a lot of hay to generate heat. I fed generously even though the temps weren't terribly cold. That went for the goats too. Dry cold sunny weather is easier on everyone. They only have to stay warm, wet weather means they have to stay warm while being soaked. I am happy to report we had no rain rot or grease heel or any other malady that comes from being too wet for too long and for that I am grateful to the farm gods and all of my farm animals for being such a hardy bunch. So Leigh, in closing, just buy at least a third more than you think you'll need. ;-)

Lastly (but certainly not least), my heartfelt sympathies go out to Jill and her family both at Yarns in the Farms and home on the passing of Chaco on April 9th. You would have had to go really far and wide to find a sweeter shop dog. He always made my annual treks to the store especially delightful.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Not So Deadly

My Deadliest Crab isn't coming along as quickly as I had hoped.

In fact nothing is. I managed to pull a group of muscles in my neck and right shoulder, (tossing hay) and have been crabbing around here for the last few days, head held at a tilt, shoulder scrunched up and Advil on demand. Knitting seems to make it worse. A little weaving has happened though as the warps are all very narrow and no stretching is needed.

The white prayer flag warp was woven off and I'm very happy with the results. I like it!
They have not been finished with fringe or the bells added, but that goes quickly.

I also did some smaller single color prayer flags with just one prayer or thought on them, much like the typical string of flags you see.

I didn't have enough warp left to do a full set of 5, but another warp was prepared and is waiting for me to get the shorter raddle finished up before I can spread and beam on.

The pillowcase warp is one third of the way threaded. The shoulder & neck really put the kabosh on that. It's just enough reach to make it uncomfortable. Hopefully I will get back on it this weekend.

The green warp is almost ready to come off too, but has seen little action for the last two days. I need to get everything either off the loom or threaded and waiting since I leave for a second trip to Massachusetts on the 29th of April.

DH has been calling me "One Ton Shy Theresa" since it appears we have come up at least one ton shy of making it to this years first cutting. I'm down to my last 6 bales
and he is heading out Saturday to pick up two additional tons to get by until we line up the big haul sometime in June. We're all a little happy that these interim bales are 50-60 pounders. I've spent the winter wrestling and complaining about those 125
pounders and a lighter bales will be a nice change!

We've had two decent days up here, in a row. Hopefully I can get out this weekend with the camera and get something that closely resembles spring pictures. Think early spring....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Exactly IS That Green Warp?

You had questions about the green scarf warp and I have answers!

The pale smooth yarn in the warp is Nature's Palette Lace weight silk and wool. 30% silk/70% wool. The ribbon type yarn is a cotton (85%) and polymide (15%) ribbon blend made by Filatura Di Crosa called Malva, which I think may be discontinued. I bought this on sale along with a hot red salsa kind of mix of the same stuff. The lovely loopy boucle yarn is a Curious Creek Fibers yarn named Shira and it is 54% mohair, 23% silk, 18% wool and 5% nylon. I have used this before in scarf for both warp and weft. It was called Poodle in a Pond. I love the name of this color way; Birches in Norway. Do the birches look like that in Norway?

The sett is varied but around 10 epi. I skipped some dents with the boucle, crammed the ribbon and basically did what I felt like when I sleyed it, just to see what it will do.
Loom Hannah is wonderful to weave on and I am enjoying this second warp on her
immensely. It was a good call to move the pillowcase over to Hey Baby and spend some really fun weaving time on the Hollandia loom

The weft is also Nature's Palette silk and wool but in soft shades of turquoise blue.

The hand dying process and natural dyes produces beautiful almost solid colors. There isn't a color way they have that doesn't inspire some longing in me to bring it home.

So there is the skinny on the scarf. :-)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Get set...GO!

Finally, now that all other warps are threaded, sleyed and either ready to begin weaving (or the weaving has commenced), the pillowcase warp is getting some much anticipated attention. It is the first time I have used 20/2 yarn to weave although I've had that huge cone sitting around taunting me for a year. I have new appreciation of those that tackle 60/2 or finer for their weaving. No more than threads.

It has no weight on it's own to speak of and being so light, every rough part of my hand (and that would be most of it) catches as I am spreading into the raddle. Otherwise, it's behaving fairly nicely. A good tug at the next tie point usually brings the bundle all in order so I can go back and with claw like hands, continue counting and spreading. I got just about half done yesterday morning before I had to leave for town. Today is finish spreading and wind it all on. Might even get to a little threading before I start in on weaving the green scarf warp.

The Prayer Flag warp is in progress. I am doing some sampling and have what I think will make a prettier finished flag.

It's been slow going getting the prayers written as the next ones to be woven are Rainbow Bridge flags and the prayers always make me puddle up. There is something wonderful and healing in putting those sad beautiful thoughts down on silk though and when I'm done writing them, I feel lighter and cleansed of spirit. A meditation.

On farm news, we have had some interesting tracks around the place. A few raccoon paths, lots of squirrels, rabbit and a fox. Dennett and I have been taking some fun morning walks along the riding trails I use. Unfortunately, the ground is so muddy I dare not ride even on the occasional sunny day. It's just too dangerous for both of us. The horses have been enjoying the renewed brushing and work on their coats with the shedding blade though. The goats seem to have found a spot or two that has new growth to nibble and the arctic willow by the front porch is breaking out in thousands of small leaf buds. Spring is going to come this year sooner or later, mud or not and I am waiting for it with happy anticipation. It's a very short season up here in the mountains, often we go right into summer with just a week or two of spring, most of which is spent drying out. The birds think it's spring already and are filling in the still barren landscape with chirping and song. They know a thing or two I reckon. Blink and I might miss springs entrance all together.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Where is That Wabbit Twail?

No wascally wabbits here and I would bet Elmer J. Fudd isn't terribly popular with the Easter Bunny crowd. But we have warps! Three warps to be exact, one for each loom.

The scarf warp is done for Hannah,

the pillowcase warp on Hey Baby

and Julia has a new prayer flag warp already being threaded.

Now, with the change over in looms, some equipment has also left. My much loved 36" loop raddle went with the Murphy, as did my second pair of long lease sticks. The swedish way of warping has you use the reed as a raddle and it has it's benefits but for me it's too fiddly having to sley twice. I've spent a good long while streamlining my warping process and I like it. So regardless of how silly this looked it's what I had to do to get the warp wound on Julia.

A smaller version of this raddle will be made up and Hannah can have hers back for good!

The shortage of lease sticks also means I have to think about the order I beam on my warps. I'll get Hannah Hollandia's narrow scarf warp done first since it will go fast and then move the lease sticks over to Hey Baby. They will live there the longest while I thread the 736 something ends for the pillowcases. Julia came with her own pretty set.
She now is also home to my favorite little lamb.

I think he arrived spring of last year and he needed a new home since the Carolyn loom left. We just couldn't have any displaced lambs!

He also needed to be kept high up since he looks very much like a plushy chew toy to a certain segment of our population. If you wind him up he plays
Hush, Little Baby. Drives Jack nuts with the slow head movement while it plays.

As you can see by this picture,

we still have snow and while I haven't checked the weather site, no doubt more snow predicted. Old man Dennett has a cushion and blanket behind the spinning wheel. He snoozes while I thread. The rest of the dogs are still nimble enough to jump up on the bed. The horses and goats are all quite grumpy, even the barn cats are a little uppity but there is a silver lining. This series of storms has certainly staved off fire season in a very good way.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter, spent in the way that delights you most.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Stash: It's All About Inspiration

I'm "fall on my knees and thank the powers that be" blessed to have such a deep and varied stash. Weaving has allowed me to buy many yarns in small quantities that I normally wouldn't for knitting. It's like picking up fat quarters in quilting, fun stuff in manageable amounts. So, since I am snowed in for the weekend ( yes, folks December in April), it was a delight to shop my stash for suitable scarf and shawl material. Never too early to start in on the humane society weaving and I need some nice, fast, fun and colorful warps to plan. I came up quickly with 5 different projects.

Most to be done in plain weave, but the black and yellow/green silk will be an 8 shaft pinwheel color and weave design for myself. I've decided to put the pillowcase warp ( which is just about measured out completely) on Hey Baby and do my quick 3 yard scarf weaving on Hannah Hollandia.

I can't think of a better way to get comfortable with a new loom addition than to do a lot of warps. The Julia loom will get her chance too. I did indeed cut off my wonky warp after two flags and have already prepared her for another warp. The hold up in all of this is getting the pillowcase warp done ( only 76 more ends....), so I can ditch the guide thread.

Now, some updates on the Julia, I have solved both the bench problem and the creeping problem. I am using an unused swivel counter stool that we have cut down to the correct height. It also has stretchers which make for a handy foot rest. I won't say someday I wouldn't like a bench for her, but this is fine and certainly being able to swivel to get up is a lot easier than moving a bench back. I have a few other small adjustments to make as I warp her the next time, nothing major. I have to say I am starting to love this little loom. Murphy left some big warps to fill but I'm missing him less and less and those times I do really miss him, it's for sentimental reasons rather than weaving issues.

Dennett continues to do well. He was supposed to get his two little stitches out today but he'll have to keep them until Tuesday when hopefully the snow will have stopped.
His test showed no cancer, and while not normal for a 6 year old dog was not abnormal for a 17 year old who's systems are, well, old. All in all good reports but we have a second blood test to do Tuesday now that his infected tooth has been removed and his course of antibiotics completed. Everybody enjoyed piling on the back porch bed for a nap and read while the snow flies. If the Easter Bunny makes an appearance, we'll certainly be able to track him!