Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pine Trees

Well, let me tell you that tying up 11 treadles on a countermarche loom with a puppy and cat as helpers is time consuming. Even without the "helpers" it took some time. My Dad puts his Louet Spring up on buckets to do the tie-ups and I think I'm going to try the same thing with Hannah Hollandia next time around.

Hey Baby Delta is just too heavy to consider it.

The towels are in process and so far, I'm pretty happy with the pattern.

I am only going to do the border on one edge. I want these to be working towels and I think the pattern at both ends with the floats might render it less sturdy.

We'll only know after a hot wash and dry how it all works out. The organic cotton shrinks like crazy, so while it appears sleazy right now, it won't be once finished. The only bummer is I have to share the temple between this warp and the pillow case warp. I need another temple in this mid-range 22-30 inch size. For now I'll make do.

Stella has graduated from the baby bed (crate) to the big girl bed (ours). She is not yet an accepted member of the Bed Tack Gang, but she's carving out her little niche inch by inch and bad acting growl by growl. She's a noisy little sleeper, lots of moans and little grunting sounds. It makes Gene and I giggle. I have also found a way to play ball in the morning without anyone having to hear the loud rubber ball bounce around.

While I was organizing the studio buffet, I can across two large felted balls that I've had since I took a dye class at the Webster's.

They are perfect and once I'm done with the game I pull them up and give Stella her little not stuffed zebra. It's just too slimy right now for a picture, trust me on this.

On farm news, the weather has been surprisingly cool. The highest temp this past weekend was 62 degrees F during the day. It RAINED yesterday, most of the morning and part of the afternoon. Temps never got any higher than 55F and Gene started Rube up to take the chill off of the house. Summer will be swinging back through later in the week, but it looks like cool nights from now on.

Dandy cut his left rear lower leg and while it isn't deep it's a pretty angry looking wound and we are flushing it daily with cool water, keeping it clean and applying antibacterial agents. It obviously stings. He holds the foot up tight while I'm working on it but has never offered to strike out with it, even when I had to give it a good cleaning out when first discovered. He's always the gentleman. Yes, the doled out treats are truly deserved.

No bear sign, but I am vigilant as we start moving into fall. The raccoon has visited once or twice and left empty pawed. We saw the most beautiful fox trotting down our driveway Saturday afternoon. He trotted into the barn to see if there was anything of interest and then trotted out in a typically foxy manner. It's sad to see my early morning dawn get later and later. I'm back to the hat and headlamp routine and have made a point of making a lot of noise when I head out the door.

Summer, like August, is waning. There is so much frost on the trees this morning that they look flocked for Christmas. I'm hoping for a long crisp fall, promising a good cold snowy winter. The dogwoods are already changing color. Stella's puppy summer is almost over. I've enjoyed it. So too, has she.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Road Food

I've never taken a liking to fast food burger joints. In fact I never even had one until I was in high school and I thought it just awful. The road food I remember was from my childhood. Every summer until I was 15 I spent at my grandparents in PA. I would be picked up the day after school ended, and returned right before Labor Day. And every summer there was a road trip. A magnificent two or three weeks in which we had a loose game plan, a state or two in mind and my Grandfather, with my Grandmother and me in tow would point his Rambler, his Charger or his Impala in some direction and we would be off. Now this wasn't extravagant travel. We stayed at Ho Jo's and motels with cabins like teepee's or with big neon signs in old style fonts that you just don't see an more. Almost always we found a place with a pool. Road food was off the beaten path, BBQ joints or home made pies, ice creams or cobblers and Southern Fried Chicken, little Mom & Pop Italian places, Rye breads and odd sounding dishes. Most I liked, some I didn't. There was chopped sirloin better tasting than most steaks these days. Good handmade hamburgers, grilled and served with heaping slices of ripe tomatoes and pickles and chips. Fish on Friday's always. Local food, neighborhood food almost always served with a smile and bit of conversation. All of it accompanied by new scenery, a lot of it pretty kitchy. Small sad little roadside zoos, big balls of string and rubber bands, giant fry pans, local natural history museums and all sorts of other funky things along any given route. There were few museums of art (my parents made sure that end of American culture was covered also), one summer some of the Smithsonian and of course all the other sites in D.C.. I've seen vast beautiful and buggy swamps, horses and buggy's used still as transportation, great lakes, citrus groves, nut farms, canyons, amazing mountains, miles and miles of corn, all sorts of snakes, roadrunners and scorpions, old growth and lush forests, abject poverty, Indian reservations, plains without buffalo, buffalo without plains, tobacco fields, waterfalls, wide rivers and small streams with bloody histories, steamboats, tractors and all sorts of things I know I've forgotten. I won't even go into some of the crazy, fun and stomach turning tours we went on. I had a fast food Wendy's hamburger Tuesday and while it was certainly nothing to be repeated unless I had to, the trip down Memory Lane was well worth the $2.99 price and resulting mild indigestion. Road food ain't what it use to be!

Now, onto weaving. I can still move when I have to and the towel warp was measured and wound on yesterday.

In fact, the threading has been started and I'm hoping to get it done today; sleyed and tied on for weaving. This is a mixed warp of organic colorgrown cotton and low impact dyed cotton, mostly 6/2, some 7/2 and two strands of 10/2 for a little color. They will be plain weave with a rosepath design of pine trees for the borders. For those that have the book, the design is #118 on page 31 of A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. It uses 8 shafts (surprise surprise), and 11 treadles. The trees will be in dark green, of course!
Sett is 18 epi and it is 21" wide
These were my "helpers" yesterday. Stella actually listened when I told her the 5 yard warp chains were not play toys. Check out the tail in motion behind her head.

Dennett was channeling lots of calming vibes and his wise manner is always welcome in the studio.
And Jack was keeping my desk seat warm for me.

The Hollandia loom is at the other end of the studio, so he took over the vacant chair to keep a watchful eye on me and remind me of the threading pattern should I lose my place. With help like this you know the towels have got to be good!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Studio

Craigslist is such an enabling thing. Just two weeks ago I was thinking that my armoire,
while providing excellent fiber storage, certainly didn't help with counter space.

Wouldn't a large buffet or some such thing be great? Low and behold, the ever willing Craigslist universe provides. I found this lovely solid oak 8 foot long and very tall piece for a very nice price.

My armoire sold the day it was listed and so the weekend was spent cleaning, making room and moving furniture in and out. I lost a little on the fiber storage but gained a ton of counter space.

The drawers provide super storage for my shuttles, bobbins and other geegaw's.

A good trade off and what a lovely piece of furniture the oak buffet is. It gives me pleasure just looking at it.

To back track, Friday was Stella Takes on the World Day, and she certainly did. First stop was the Grange where they know her. She walked in on a leash, got wonderfully excited to see Karen, greeted other customers, invited them to play and just showed what a well adjusted little pup she is. She also showed off her few tricks. Sit and speak and made out well in the treat and toy department too.

Second stop was to meet and greet at the Websters and she didn't embarrass. I worry about all the yarn skeins and balls at Stella's eye level, and then there are the beautiful oriental carpets... But all went well and my good friend Kris got to finally see and cuddle the little imp. During this outing we also did sidewalks, crossing roads, dodging pedestrians and meeting other dogs. Last stop was the dog food store and by then Stella was running out of steam. She rallied though enough to show off a bit and earn a few MORE treats and then it was back in the car on the seat belt harness and off to home. Our only glitch was the amount of treats did her in on the way up the windy mountain road. I was prepared so it was no big deal. She slept until meal time once home.
She's filling up her bed these days that's for sure!

On weaving news I am working on a warp to go on the Hollandia. Gene let me know that the Greensprings Fire & Rescue Harvest Dance wasn't in October but in Septemeber, the 18th to be exact and I need to get some towels done quick quick. I hate when they move stuff around like that! More on the towels a little later. The scarf warp will wait.

Today, I am simply weaving, maybe some spinning and keeping all of us as cool as I can. The temps are expected in the high 90's up here, a record breaker. In the valley they will easily see triple digits. The hot dry ( 10% or less humidity) caused a fire to rip through an Ashland neighborhood yesterday. The story is here for those that might be interested. 11 homes lost. Gene will be staying close to the radio. The fire department is on alert as today is going to be just as dangerous as yesterday. It could only take one spark or carelessly discarded cigarette to ignite the forest with these conditions. Tomorrow we'll see things back in the low 70's for a high and a slight chance of rain coming into the weekend. As they say on Star Trek, "Make it so."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stella Trains the Trainer

No, don't scroll down for any pictures of me fetching or should I say retrieving a ball?Stella has NOT grown thumbs..yet. What she has done is to get me very well trained for after meal ball throwing sessions. The little sprite brings the ball, tail up and quivering, bright eyes shining and hopeful. She then drops it and tucks it discreetly between her front legs, still not quite ready to give it up. When she is, that little needle nose rolls it in my direction. If the obvious hint is not taken quickly, you can be sure a throaty bark will follow. Stella's bark is not loud, it is very deep and gravely. She has the Morgan Freeman of dog barks. It's at that point the training magic happens. I pick up the ball on cue and roll it or toss it. This is repeated until one of us tires. If it's Stella, she trots her retrieved ball past me like a greased pig and hops in a bed. If it's me, I walk away knowing a little dog is standing there, nosing a ball with a very disappointed look. Sometimes she brings a different ball hoping that will entice me back. Most times it does but other times Stella gets a training bonus. I put a little peanut butter in a feeder ball just to get some tossing relief. Keeps her busy for at least 10 minutes. Who is training whom? Terriers almost universally love to play ball. The problem is they aren't always too willing to give the ball back. Stella is no different. A game of ball is part fetch, part keep away and almost always fun.

In fiber news, well, there is none. There have been BIG changes in the studio this weekend and none of it is quite ready yet for public pictures. Next blog posting!

In farm news, the horses busted down the fence. Or should I say Boo did and everyone but Dandy followed. Dandy alerted me with his screaming that all was not right. He was frantic since his herd had left him. Gene got to work on the fence while I haltered the upset boy and took him with me to attract the other 4. Worked like a charm. They were a half a mile away munching dried up grass. I grabbed Cooper and the other 3 followed back to the property. Fence is fixed. It was actually a goat induced failure. They managed to break the ground wire, rendering the fence shock less. Boo must have figured this out over days actually. The fence charger still clicked so I wasn't alerted until the great escape.

On weather news, we went from hot to downright cold. Temps this morning are 37 degrees F and yesterday, it creeped up to a mere 68F. Perfect day I might add for just about anything outside, like fence fixing! ;) Today, it's supposed to climb to the 90's by mid week. UGH! Give me back my 60's! Of course the colder day gave us a clear beautiful evening last night, sweat shirt cool, bat filled and washed in moonlight.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Well my little back deck is just about finished. It needs to get some deck skirt on it, real steps and to be sealed.

Skirting and stairs is DHs job, sealing is mine. We have always wanted deck going around at least two sides to the house but other pressing needs, budget and time have conspired against us. We figure we can add a section on every year at this point. Let's see if it works out. I am very happy to have this little starter section though as it makes my journey to the laundry line easier an much prettier.

In weaving news, there's been some! I am well over half way through the first pillow case and probably have 12-14 inches before I do the other half of the deep black/cream oxford hem. Then start on the hem for the second case. Weaving with 20/2 is just as time consuming in proportion as threading it was.

I finally got a warp ready for Hannah Hollandia using my new to me Harrisville Warping Reel.
I was awfully slow on it and it really isn't as efficient to use as a board on small warps but I needed the practice. There is a bit of learning curve to get smooth
and even on it. The warp is a mix of lace weight J. Knits 100% alpaca and Louet's KidLin linen and mohair blend. The scarf will be plain weave but using different sets and some skipped dents between the two fibers.

Could be a really neat scarf or it could be an utter failure. In either event I have certainly gotten a fair amount of learning from this little warp. I tried Peggy Osterkamp's method of winding the warp off the reel using a stick instead of chaining it.

I was a bit clumsy at it, but it has definite advantages over chaining, especially with a puppy in the house.

And speaking of Peggy, I picked up her new book, Weaving for Beginners An Illustrated Guide. I really didn't need a beginners book and I had given away my Learning to Weave by Chandler with the Murphy loom. This book is just so jam packed with tips and techniques and a great troubleshooting section it had to come home with me. I have never been able to fathom the Chandler book, I find it overly wordy, hard to follow, unwieldy techniques and the pictures cluttered and confusing. It just never made much sense to me even once I knew what I was doing. I still like the simple elegance of the Big Book of Swedish Weaving, but for tips and troubleshooting this Osterkamp book is fantastic.
I am also doing the silk writing prep work for the prayer flags and hoping to get them started early next week.

On farm news, there have been two small fires up here in the Greensprings since Saturday. The larger of the two was not too far from us, about 1.5 miles and erupted at 11 at night after a series of lightening strikes. The guys, both Greensprings Fire & Rescue and ODF (Oregon Department of Forestry) were on it through the night and kept it down to 5 acres. It was in a horribly inaccessible area that required a mile plus hike and some dozer work to get resources near. The second fire was a little smoker that came up yesterday morning after Tuesday nights round of thunder and lightening.
Both agencies again were right on it and were in mop up after only 5 hours and 1/2 acre burned. It was off of a dirt road about 6 miles from us and 4 miles in.

Bob has a new front tire after one of the old original tires finally wouldn't even take an inner tube anymore. The Subaru wasn't quite finished with it's annual meltdown and insisted on a new battery too. The horses all got their hoofy pedicures on Tuesday. Stella is getting her social outing Friday. I'll do my usual shopping errands on Sat. or Sun instead. We have three fun puppy friendly places to go and I'll let you all know how it goes in the next blog post.

She is getting so adult looking. The cute is beginning to give way and she is becoming a very pretty girl we think. And still the camera ham.

Why not, she's awfully photogenic and she knows it. Here she is yesterday, check out the green leaf tongue.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

All Over the Place

This is one of those posts of bits and bobs that seem to crop up here and there. One (or a few maybe), of my old English teachers would say without direction. Myself, I argue that while the subjects are varied there is a clear beginning, middle and end.

Dennett, my 17 going on 18 year old dog caught himself a lizard last evening, twice! He isn't totally blind and with his still great nose can do fair bit of hunting. Yes, I saved the lizard both times.

Stella has passed the jumping on furniture mile stone. She can now get herself up onto the comfy chair (much to Peters dismay) and into my lap. She celebrates each time by jumping on my chest and poking me in the face with her nose, sometimes the tongue is right on with the timing, other times, it's just a wet nose. But a very happy one. She then either goes to the business of bothering Peter (we do discourage this as comfy chair time is for everyone to enjoy) or plops onto available real estate to snooze.
She has also outgrown her puppy harness and is into a new larger harness. She still loves curling up with Uncle Smoochie though.

It's getting tight in that bed! Car ride trips are planned for next week.

I only saw my looms in passing yesterday, but I did get some mighty fine hand spun yarn plied and soaked.

This was all done on the Ladybug spinning wheel and I have to say, I did much better getting a finer even yarn than I have ever done on the Timbertops.

It's not perfect by a long shot, but there has been substantial improvement. The fiber came from Cindie at Eweniquely Ewe and is BFL.

The Perseid Meteor Showers have lived up to all the hype. Between 3:30 yesterday morning and 5:00, I saw over 30 shooting stars. Forget Bearwatch, the eyes were on the sky and we are lucky enough here up in the mountains not to have any light pollution. It was just wondrous. It also made me count my blessings. The recent news from all over the world is both horrifying and saddening on so many levels. How lucky am I that I can sit on my duff, (overlooking one of the most beautiful places I know), and spend time watching stars shoot? Juno brought me back to myself by bringing me a present. I can say without exception, that mouse did not get much enjoyment from the Perseids.

Finally, one thing that has been kind of irritating me and that is the heavy handed use of garlic in what seems like EVERYTHING these days. Now I am not a big fan of garlic but I do enjoy it roasted and as a seasoning to enhance my cooking. But good lord, I don't want it slathered on everything. I like my mashed potatoes to taste like spuds, I like to be able to taste my meat and any other seasonings that might be present. I don't like it snuck into mayo, bread or a hundred other things. If I want that much garlic I'll eat garlic, not something else that has now become completely garlic flavored. I have actually stopped eating at a number of places because it seems everything now tastes the same and yesterday I got to cross another off my list after having a quick (and rather expensive) lunch of something that ended up being nothing more than a carrier for garlic. I saw the roast beef with my eyes, but you sure couldn't taste it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Weave On

The pillow case warp is progressing nicely. So far I am very happy with it and getting excited about having it off the loom and on actual pillows. Of course there is a whole heap-o-weaving that must go on before that happens. I will say I always thought black was hard to photograph, but white on white is just as challenging.

I hope I find a better light/way to capture it because I am seriously thinking about doing nothing but experimenting with white on white or natural on white for a little while.

I would love to do some overshot in a subtle white with cream patterning. But those are future ideas. Right now I have got to get a scarf warp on Hannah and get started with her. The cool days have coaxed me outside to do horsey things. The Julia loom is all ready for weaving and I have but to get the silk writing finished and into strips.

On farm news, still no bear, but I am still enjoying my bear watch. The last few mornings have been cool, breezy and very dark. I see shooting stars regularly and I know the Perseids are peaking but for me the wind has been the magic . Wind in fir trees sounds different than wind in hardwoods. Where maples rustle the conifers bend and sigh. The wind can be high in the tree tops or low enough to blow my hair around. There is utter silence when every little breeze has moved on and it starts up again as a single flow and then others of different speeds and pitch join in. It is one of the Earths most beautiful and ancient music and I have been captivated by it.

Of course some of those trees won't be making any more music, they've been transformed into a small back deck. Gene has been busy building a 10'x10' deck off the back door. Something we really needed as the first step was a killer and has been for 10 years. The supporting structure is up and only the decking need be installed, which came home yesterday. Maybe today it will be finished!

This weekend I need to start my spate of house painting. This time around will be upstairs hallways. New wall paint and trim to be done. And look, I've got at least one eager little volunteer!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Stella, How You've Grown!

And grown she has. What was once a mere 3.6 pounds

has now topped 8 pounds! She's also grown into her big girl collar. An Up Country creation with Jack Russell Terriers on it. How perfect!

A gargantuan, hardly, but she sure is fit. Although her white coat hides it well (and the last couple of weeks have not seen huge growth spurts),she's been beefing up and gaining muscle mass and tone.

When you pick Stella up you know at once this is a dog of substance with great ears. I would be remiss if I didn't add that even with those large ears, her hearing is selective, like most terriers ( and people too). She hears what she chooses to hear.

In fiber news, the weaving goes on slowly with the pillow case warp. I tweaked my neck and shoulder out Tuesday and spent most of it and all of Wednesday resting it. Better now, but throwing a shuttle was out of the question. The Julia's prayer flag warp has been threaded and is awaiting sleying. I should have spent my lay up time writing on silk, but I shamelessly napped instead. I'm hoping to give the Harrisville Warping Reel it's maiden warp this weekend.

On farm news, no bear, but I did surprise the heck out of a raccoon in the barn. He surprised me also and it was a tie as to who jumped higher. I will say I never knew raccoons could run so fast. It made Dennett's walk being able to "track" the coon well after the fact though. If it brings joy to Dennett it brings joy to me had we had a grand time following the trail for a little bit.

The Subaru comes home this morning...thank god! Ride anyone?