Saturday, January 24, 2015

Taking Care of Things

I spent two more hours organizing my studio space and have painfully removed some books and magazines.  That row of magazines on the right is now all my Handwoven issues in volume and date order.  That was a hard sentence - I had to decide what the subject is.  Is it row is?  Or magazines are?
It's going to be a lot harder to find a home for these, my Vogue Knitting issues dating back to 1988.  I still haven't found a taker, and if my local library isn't interested in putting them out on the free table, I'm just going to have to close my eyes and let them go.  I need that space for large cones of yarn.
 This is what's going out - two sacks of magazines and a stack of knitting books - all have been taken.
I still have my parents ashes upstairs.  I've tried to get my three kids to agree on what we should do with them, with absolutely no consensus.  A couple weeks ago son Josh suggested me put them on the top of our pinnacle that overlooks the valley, so this morning Ian and walked up there to reconnoiter.
When the guys from Fire Safety Council did the fire abatement treatment about three years ago, they started up here but decided it was too steep for their tractors, but they left us a nice blazed trail.
I was surprised at what an easy walk it is.  I expected steep and rocky.
This is the top and the rock is a favorite of red tail hawks, looking for a meal.  Buster had a tough time negotiating the rocks with his stubby little legs but the dogs had a blast.
The spot we're looking at is this protected basin in the rocks at the top.  Josh suggested that we make a memorial by placing the ashes in it and then covering it up with rocks.  We can continue to add other rocks as time goes on and perhaps some pieces of tile.
It's already like a nest, and yes, that is a golf ball.  The crows stole a bunch of them from an abandoned house thinking they were eggs.  They showed up all over the place for a while and I haven't seen any in a long time - until now.
It's not far from the house so will be an easy walk for anyone. It's time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lots of Surprises

One of the goals I have for 2015 is to walk the dogs each morning and so far I'm sticking to it.
My turnaround is just as Joe Winters pottery studio comes into view.  And for those of you who read the 2014 Nevada Reads book, Twenty Miles from a Match, the Olds' homestead is on the other side of those distant mountains.  I realize both photos have those peculiar low clouds.  Huh.
I'm still struggling to learn my electric bobbin winder.  It goes really fast and my coordination doesn't seem to match it's speed.  Nevertheless, the results are fantastic - a firm bobbin or pirn.  One advantage I didn't expect is that the yarn winds on in the opposite direction from the Schacht hand-powered winder.  In other words, the thread comes off the bottom of the pirn and has eliminated any of the tangling problems I was having with my new Bluster Bay shuttle.  That's a nice surprise.
Another nice surprise was that Lorene had more cones of this soft 3/2 cotton so I can easily finish my towels.  She doesn't remember where she bought them, only that she bought a lot and I'm glad she did.  I drove over before acupuncture on Wednesday and I'm back in the towel business.
And speaking of towels, these ten are the first I've woven in 2015, and the first of anything I've finished so far this year.  I wove about 110 last year and gave several as gifts but sold the rest.  I have six left so hope to weave a set a month before the Christmas craft fair season.
I had to do some rearranging to make space for the large bobbin winder.  It's so wide that I had to turn the table around and lost storage space on either side of the table in the process.  As you can see I'm low on coned yarn.  I'm trying to clear out things like old magazines and books I no longer use to make room for yarn storage.  It's painful but if I can't find someone interested in the magazines, they're going out.  I have Vogue Knitting back to the 1980s and I thought surely someone would like them but they don't even sell on eBay.

I found space for my "mini mangle" between my rolling table and the sewing table.  The stuff under the sewing table is headed to the thrift store.  I'm getting ruthless.  The cones on the table are my next set of towels.

I had a much dreaded appointment with the endodontist Thursday morning to remove an old root canal because the dentist who did it left some root above it which has become infected.  It first started bothering me when we were in New York in October.  I endured the "rubber dam" and all the drilling to learn that the root is cracked and the tooth couldn't be saved.  I'm so tired the day after acupuncture that Ian decided to drive me to this appointment.  Then he had to drive me to my own dentist for the painful and protracted extraction.  I'm still stunned that I'm short a tooth and cannot believe how much it hurts when it's not even there.

I was feeling a little sorry for myself this morning as I was awakened early by the throbbing.  I'm on penicillin for the infection but it's the dentist's excavation for the tooth of many pieces that is really the source of discomfort.  I finished my coffee and decided to give my friend Melissa a call before walking the dogs.  I think I just wanted to hear her voice.  She moved four years ago and I still miss her.  I jokingly said that probably the only way I was going to see her would be to fly down.  And then we started making plans, just like that.  We both decided it should be February and then she said I should come the 14th and 15th and take a Robyn Spady workshop with her.  After many phone calls and emails, I'm leaving the 11th and returning the 17th.  Only Southwest Airlines could route you from Burbank to Reno via Phoenix but that's the plan.

Somebody on Facebook asked me what Robyn is teaching and I thought - who cares?!! Melissa and I took a three-day weaving workshop from her about five years ago and I would take anything from her.  I just looked and it's Making Jewelry and Trimmings from Your Stash, offered through the Southern California Handweavers. I have to take "Leftover yarns, ribbon etc. Scissors and old-fashion style clipboard" which will handily fit into my suitcase. This cancels out the bad tooth karma.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Toy

I'm finally finding some time to weave but since I wove so little the last quarter of the past year, I'm having to redevelop those muscles.  Sitting low on the piano stool was creating an uncomfortable strain on my back and shoulders, so I'm letting the Geology of the Northern California raise me up.  I'm turning into my mother!  She always drove sitting on something to boost her up so she could see over the steering wheel.

My first order from the Yarn Barn yarn sample club came last week.  I have no idea what I was thinking because now I have more yarn I don't know what to do with.  I thought the unmercerized 3/3 cotton looked really pretty on the sample card, but in reality it's really fat.  I really thought I could weave dish towels with is - wrong.  I have a 2 1/2 pound cone of 3/2 mercerized cotton which was only $8 a pound and I'm pleased with that.
And then there is the cone of variegated silk.  I don't know how I missed that bit of information.  The thought I was going to get a cone of Army green which is what I thought the sample represented.  I'm going to have to read the descriptions much more carefully.  I have these other two plain silks so as soon as I clear a loom, while see if I can produce a reasonably attractive scarf.  I swore I'd never order variegated yarn again and I just did.
I'm weaving log cabin dish towels on Arthur using 3/2 unmercerized cotton that I bought from my friend Lorene.  The cones were huge but not any more.  I knew I was going to run out but thought I'd be able to use the 3/3 cotton that I just bought.  I'm on towel six and scrambling.
Meanwhile I have been practicing how to wind pirns under tension.  Rae off-handedly mentioned that pirns require this treatment in one of the times I visited her studio.  I've learned a lot from her but never implemented this practice with my Schacht pirns.  I learned the hard way that Bluster Bay pirns absolutely have to be wound on under tension or you can just plan to throw all the yarn away that you wound on one without tension.  I'm using a piece of leather to protect my fingers.
My AVL electric bobbin winder was delivered yesterday, right before I had to leave for book group so all I could do was open it up and look at it.
I had an acupuncture appointment today so was strapped for time again but I did manage to move things around in my studio and make a space for the very large winder.  I had to turn the table so the winder can fit across it, and I pulled the table out so the umbrella swift won't hit the walls when I'm using it.  I'm always amazed that I seem to always squeeze out just a little more space in there.  I have two tapestry looms that still don't have a spot.  I have major dental work tomorrow morning so won't get a chance to finish this job until Friday.
And I'm still struggling with Maddie's love of my packing paper.  You can see the gash in the paper above her head which is from her game of tearing the paper with her claws and fishing through warp threads.  I have a broken warp right now that I'll reattach at the end of my current towel.  I'm going to have to buy a new roll of contractors paper very soon.

For fans of Downtown Abbey and BBC programming, this is the best spoof ever made.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.



Friday, January 09, 2015

It's a New Day, a New Year.

The celebration on New Years Day centers around sushi and tempura, since after all, we're in a Japanese home.  This party started about 1960 and Ian was there for the first one and I've attended since 1995.  Many of the originals still show up, though some have passed away.  The children are now parents, the college kids show up and there's a new crop of grandchildren.
The sake toast is part of the tradition and this year Mineko and Angie passed it around.  There are three sakes, three cups and three participants in the toast to "past, present and future."  The "future" toast this year was coconut flavor, and as we put our cups back on the tray, Diana quipped, "Oh, the future tastes very good!"

Thursday was the only day that wasn't fully planned so we took the girls to see Into the Woods, which we all loved.  Alexia is a voracious reader and when her parents dropped her off, they realized that we hadn't packed any books.  Ian and I remedied that with a trip to the indie bookstore, Frugal Frigate, and let her pick out three books.  Sis declined, saying that she wasn't really interested in books.
We decided to drive home in two days instead of driving straight through, so Ian made reservations in Modesto but we got there right at 4:00.  Alexia had polished off two of her three books, so after unloading our luggage, we made another bookstore stop, this time to Barnes and Noble, where Alexia got the third in her trilogy and helped Sis pick out a couple of books that she was surprised to find herself enjoying. They were sandwiched into the back seat which only got worse after we made our usual stop at the Ideda's, a Japanese fruit stand in Auburn. No room for feet!!
 This was the sunset that welcomed up home Sunday night.
I haven't been knitting in the past couple of months.  I had two projects on needles and I'm discouraged by the moth damage to the sweaters I knit from handspun yarn.  The truth is that I rarely wear them anyway.  The hotel bed hurt my lower back and it hasn't gotten any better since Sunday so today I took some Aleve and just sat.  This shell was almost done so I finished assembling it, all but the neck.  I bound off too tight so hope that it will stretch in the blocking.  Otherwise, I will have to perform surgery.

 And then I realized that I really don't like the other sweater in progress.  Time for it to go.
There are several steps before this yarn will be ready to knit again.  But it feels good to start over.
 And in the pile of mail waiting for me was the first installment of my Yarn Sample Club from Yarn Barn.  I was too tired to order and when I did call on Tuesday, I got the last cone of silk.  My order is supposed to arrive this afternoon.  I keep looking up at the gate to see if UPS has dropped it off yet.  Somehow I think it's like the "watched pot that never boils."  And now I've got another pot to watch.  I just hung up the phone with Ryan from AVL Looms.  He called to let me know that my electric bobbin winder shipped today and could he please get the credit card information again.  You bet!!




Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Happy New Year!

We started our New Years celebration on the Sunday after Christmas when Ian's daughter Margi drove down from Susanville with Sis and my daughter and family drove up from Cold Springs with Alexia - both trips about 35 minutes but in opposite directions.  Because Alexia is ten and Sis is 15 they have never really done anything together - until this trip.  We left the house at 6:00 sharp Monday morning and stopped in Gardnerville for breakfast.  It's a ten-hour trip with stops and the girls couldn't have been more delightful.
I was too tired to go in the hot tub the night we got to Redlands and Margi forgot to pack Sissy's suit so it was a small group, and my one and only chance.
Rochelle's daughter Ali and her family flew out from North Carolina for the week and her brother, sister-in-law and nephew drove down from Utah.  This New Years Eve celebration is probably 40 years old or older.  I've come for the past twenty, anticipating the chance to see family and visit.

Gus's favorite pastime was a Legos catalog, which he poured over for endless hours.  I had forgotten how much my kids loved the Sears toy catalog and would do the same thing with it every fall.  It's all about the anticipation.  He's showing his daddy his favorites and wanted to know what Jason's second favorite was.
Ali is learning the mandolin and Jason has decided to learn the banjo.  He asked Petey is he'd give him a lesson so Petey showed up with two banjos.  They shame me.  I think it's time to dust off my guitar.
The kids always are enthralled by Petey's music and I suspect they'll be learning instruments soon themselves.  Petey and Ian were on the same gymnastics team at Long Beach State, lo those many years ago.  These are long lived traditions and friendships.
Another tradition is to crowd around the table for a rousing game of Left-Right-Center, a mindless game of dice and dollar bills.  Years ago the rousing game was poker, but sadly a lot of the poker players have passed away.  This was followed by the domino game of Mexican Trains at the kitchen table, which all the kids can play.  We appointed Melissa the game meister and tasked her with keeping us awake.  No one made it to midnight last year.  We even play Heads-Up, a charades game using a cell phone app, but we made it to midnight.
We drove down in fierce wind, like nothing either Ian or I have ever experienced.  At Conway Summit, the highest pass at nearly 8,200 feet, and the descent into Lee Vining and Mono Lake, we had to gear down and slow down to stay on the road.  That crazy wind was pushing a fast-moving storm that deposited snow in Temecula and Hemet - unheard of!  It was pouring rain in Redlands for the first day. However, New Years Day dawned crisp and bright.  Rochelle gave Ian and me a book for Christmas, Carlos Santana's autobiography, so I put on a vest and started the new year by reading in her backyard, or at least until it was time to leave for Gardena to celebrate the first day of the new year - more long lived friendships and traditions.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The End of a Month and Year

I was my own Santa and ordered this Logitech bluetooth keypad for my three-year-old iPad.  I've used one made by Zagg since I  bought this and would be lost without an external keyboard, however, that one was heavy and the iPad was only propped up in a channel which means it would fall over every so often as I typed.  This one is magnetic, half the weight of my Zagg, and the magnet keeps it steady as I type.  I gave my old one to Margi, my oldest stepdaughter so don't feel too bad about my extravagance.
I also ordered at 13" end-feed shuttle by Bluster Bay so  now I have two; the other is made by Schacht.  It seems that all Bluster Bay owners are crazy about their shuttles and while I love having an EFS, I don't have that same feeling for my Schacht.  And now I know why they rave, through I do love the tensioner on the Schacht.  Even though it's obnoxious to thread around the hooks, I quickly came to prefer the feel of my newest shuttle.
This is a picture of the two from the side and as you can see, the Bluster Bay is bigger which means it's also heavier.  I've had problems with that chisel nose on the Schacht, slidingunder or over warp threads.  I had two pirns filled with the weft I'm currently using and must have uneven tension on some of my warp threads as I had to unweave a couple of sections because of that problem.  I decided to give my new shuttle a try on that warp and have had no trouble at all.  I'm really pleased.  This has been such a busy month that I have hardly had time to weave at all, so I'm really looking forward to some weaving time in January.

I walked the dogs Tuesday morning.  It's been cold here and what little snow we've had is in the mountains.  The ski resorts have had to make snow and we're really worried that this winter will be another dry one.
The next morning we had this spectacular sunrise which quickly faded to yet another gray day.  It was Wednesday, Christmas Eve day, and by noon a fast-moving storm from Northern California pushed through here with heavy rains for about four hours.  As soon as the temps dropped, it turned to snow and the roads froze.  Most of the people who spend Christmas Eve with us didn't venture outside of their front doors.  My son Matt and his girlfriend Julia were driving down from Bend Oregon and I was a nervious wreck.  They were exchausted by the time they got here.  Seven of our neighbors came anyway so it was an intimate group this year.  We ended up in the living room, just chatting and laughing until about 11:00 which is waaaaaaay past my bedtime.

The anxiety wore me out through and I woke up the next morning about half dead.  We had planned to see a movie and then go out for Chinese food but it just didn't happen.  We exchanged our gifts and then settled into a quiet day.  I surprised Ian with a Kindle Paperwhite and I'm shocked that I was able to pull it off.  He's impossible to surprise.  He's made it a tradition to give me two books, a fiction and a nonfiction.  He spends quite a bit of time reading reviews and trying to figure out what I'd enjoy reading.

One day about a week ago I started reading one of the prepublication books that I got from Random House called The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez.  I was utterly sucked in and couldn't put it down - not a good thing just days before Christmas.  It turns out that it was my fiction book.  Ian pulled his copy out of the closet and handed it to me when I was about halfway done.  He wanted me to have two books Christmas morning so quickly ordered the Anita Diamant as a replacement.

Margi, Ian's oldest daughter, got a promotional job opportunity and is in the process of moving to Susanville, a mere 40 minutes from us.  When she learned that we were going to be home, she drove down to spend the afternoon with us.  We ate leftover ham and sat around, laughing and talking for about four hours.  It's the quietest, most intimate Christmas I can remember and it was lovely.  We sent her home with my old Zaggfolio for her iPad, Ian's old Kindle and a copy of the Book of Unknown Americans - oh, and a bottle of desert wine someone had given us.
I woke up this morning and relaized that I really needed to take down the Christmas tree.  Our granddaughters will be here tomorrow to spend the night and then the four of us hit the road early MOnday morning for SoCal to celebrate New Years with family and friends down there.  I always hate to put the ornaments away for another year because they hold so many memories for us, but I know I am really going to hate it when we get home next week with suitcases full of dirty laundry.  Now that the tree is down, it's official.  I've closed the 2014 chapter and I'm very much looking forward to opening the 2015 one.  Happy New Year to everyone.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blogsy is Back and I'm So Glad!

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You would think that this box came expressly for Maddie. She claimed it as her own and it's still here, mainly because when she plays with her box, she doesn't bat ornaments from the tree.
This is what was in the box, an adjustable Yamaha piano stool. Even at it's highest, it's 2" shorter than my weaving bench so I decided to sley a warp to see if reaching up the 2" additional inches would be acceptable and it was. The thing is, the piano stool costs $30 with free shipping whereas a weaving bench runs around $400, plus shipping. Note the kitty under my rolling work table.
Both my looms have been nekkid and I'm trying to get them warped. I was threading Arthur when I noticed some link squeezing up between the harnesses from underneath. I started pulling and it kept coming. I know I have dust bunnies all over the floor but I never dreamed I'd have one this size *in* my loom. Somehow it was hovering between the top of the jacks and the bottom of the harnesses. Someone asked me if it has a name :)
I wanted to share this very clever idea that one of the ladies from my Tuesday Book Group brought last week. It's simply a brown bag and a page torn from a book with an interesting font. She tore the deckled edges, then glued on the leaf, button and rafia bow. She made the matching ornament by putting the paints inside and tying with another rafia bow. The colored tissue paper completes it. I see inspiring ideas on Pinterest but don't know how they're accomplished. Darlene explained this to me. I get it!
I've been on a buying spree lately and just got this magnetic bulletin board on the recommendation of a friend. I told him I don't have any way to display my photos. He's a photographer and said this is his solution, then sent me the link. He keeps his photos in a portfolio, then the first of each month he refreshes them so he gets to enjoy different ones from month to month.
Playing with my photos also has inspired me to finally get all my electronic photos sorted out and into folders. Over the years I've just let the photos download to a folder labeled by the date of the download, back to 2010. Every so often I'd be spurred to clean up this mess and then get overwhelmed. I've taken an hour a morning lately to get this under control. As of yesterday I've deleted 3 gb of photos and gotten the ones I've kept organized into named folders. I'm finally working on 2013. When all photos are in folders, then I'll go back and review each folder. And because I don't feel rushed, I'm able to enjoy the memories these photos represent.
And finally, both looms are dressed and in business. I'm weaving towels, twenty of them between Maudie Mae and Arthur. I've woven on the piano stool for several hours and while it still feels awkward, it's not an ergonomic problem. I really do like having two benches. This is the first equipment I've purchased since I bought my Schacht end-feed shuttle two years ago. Like I said, I'm on a buying spree. I've also ordered an Bluster Bay end-feed shuttle that's supposed to arrive Friday. We leave for SoCal a week from this Saturday so I hope I'll have a chance to use it in this next week.