Dreary Day #37

Well it seems like it anyway.  The headlines of the newspapers talk about how much rain we have had for how many days straight.  It starts out promising in the morning, but by mid afternoon, thunderstorms, dreary rain, what else can one do but stay inside and play?  🙂

This was a great day for just laying low, and doing a mindless but necessary project.  My goal now is the conference next week, I leave for the New England Weavers Seminar in Massachusetts on Wednesday.  And I’m teaching an unusually large number of very different seminars, all needing specific prep.  There is the Inkle Weaving class, and though I will have students rent looms from WEBS , they may not have enough, and I need fifteen anyway for the following weekend when I teach a class down at the Jersey Shore for the Shore Guild.  So my daughter helped me out with that one.  She is quite the assembler…  Now they are all lined up across two of my looms, like little soldiers looms2waiting for active duty.

looms1Meanwhile, the crock pot is still going.  I gave up drying anything outside, and found two lovely pans that would keep my floor neat and avoid using all my bath towels.  So I’ve got a lovely green cooking in the pot, and the blue and a pinky taupe color are drying on the floor.  The burgundy from Monday is finally dry and in a bag.  I tried carding a little bit of the burgundy color and it is a really nice fleece.  I think it is a Corriedale cross.wool crock

While all that was happening, I worked on the Photographing your Work Seminar, and in this particular version, workshop participants are sending images of their work ahead so I can load them into PowerPoint and then critique the images after the main presentation.  I have a great group of images to work with, but they all had to be sized and popped into the PowerPoint slides.  So that’s finished.

I’m also giving another Color and Inspiration Seminar, like I did in Iowa last Saturday.  All those little quills of yarnmess I dumped on the table for the students to play with, are in a horrid jumble and really needed to be rewound onto the quills and refilled.  Students added to the pile, and those little reelings needed to be put onto quills as well.  I use to just carry a suitcase full of little balls of yarn, but those got just as unruly and it was a huge waste of space in my precious luggage allowance, so I got the idea a couple of years ago to wind off yarn onto bobbins.  There are too many to waste my plastic shuttle bobbins, though a fair windingamount of my plastic bobbins were in the bags.  I really needed to empty them.  I started by making paper quills from business card stock, but it was my daughter who came up with the idea of drinking straws.  They slipped perfectly on my small shank Swedish Bobbin Winder, and weigh almost nothing.  I’m all for weighing almost nothing…

So I sat today, for a number of hours, untangling, rewinding, tidyrefilling, and organizing a massive mess of yarn, carefully onto skinny plastic drinking straws, and turned the above disaster into this lovely organized bag of color.  I still have another bag to go, but tasks like this are what make my mind still and my creativity soar.  It’s like refolding fabrics neatly on a shelf, organizing fat quarters by color, or sorting buttons.  This is meditation for fiber enthusiasts.

In addition, I finally got to vacuum my poor house.  I seriously thought about bringing in the heavy artillary, a rake, but my old vacuum did the job, and I filled a vacuum bag with all the debris, tracked in crud from all the drenched blossoms and tree detritus, tracked yarns and threads from my studio, and general dust.  I’m a bit grateful we no longer have a dog, that would have really added to the mix.  Then I would have definitely voted for the rake…

Success!

The weight of the last nine months has been lifted off my shoulders, and no, I didn’t actually give birth, rather metaphorically, I finished the Website Success seminar that I agreed to put together many many months ago.  I struggled with this, because there is so much information, and much of it is rather technical and dry, and I had so much research to do.  I still want to run it by a few more of my technical friends, and tweak it here and there, but the 80 slide presentation is largely finished, well in time for my August preview, and I couldn’t be more relieved.  And I’m happy with it.  Course I wouldn’t do anything I wasn’t happy with, but I’m also proud.  This was a huge stretch for me, and I learned sooooo much, mostly that I haven’t even scratched the surface.  I think of web design a lot like weaving.  Weaving can take a lifetime of study, and there are so many different aspects of it to consider.  You can have momentary beginner’s success with a very simple project that a teacher helps you set up, but no matter how old and experienced you are, there is always more to learn.

Now I can focus on the next fires to put out…

yarnsurpriseMeanwhile, the surprise box of yarn arrived from WEBS.  (see previous post).  This is an enormous amount of yarn for $139. including shipping.  And the large $5. cones of cotton flake in the background are in perfect colors to overdye.

Which brings me to the current weather, which has been positively ghastly.  I am looking for some beautiful sunny days so I can start dyeing some of this yarn I’m sitting on, into some beautiful warps that will keep me busy weaving all winter.  Alas, we saw the sun for about an hour this morning, after yet again another violent thunderstorm.  The forecast for the next couple days says sunny in the 70’s, but I’m not buying it.  We have had dreary cold rain for so many days now I’m rather thinking I’m still in Seattle…

The only good thing about all this rain, is the gardens, which are positively exploding with color and greenery and lush tropical plants (I’m talking rainforest here…)  And of course, not to be completely depressing, there is the explosion of the weed plants as well, those that don’t belong where they are popping up.  So, even though the sun is non existent, I managed to snap a quick couple of shots before it has started to rain again.

gardens1gardens2In the first photo on the left, there is a glimpse of our pool, which so far no one has used because it has been so rainy and cold.  Somewhere in there is a beautiful iron gazebo, completely covered with a canopy of vine-y things.  And all of the rain has made the climbing rose bush in the foreground, shed all its petals like snow.  We have lots of outdoor sculptures, largely because we love to collect art and fine craft, and all the walls and surfaces in the house are completely filled, but there is always room for one more out door tchotchke.  And they never need dusting!

The photo on the right has a lovely sculpture in the foreground, called “Drunken Wheelbarrow”.  (Actually we needed to keep it turned on its side so it wouldn’t collect 84 gallons of rainwater which will breed mosquitos).  Hidden in the back of that photo, under lush vegetation is a sizable pond complex of spillways and waterfalls.  It is a delight to hear the gurgling of the water, the twittering of the birds, and the tones of the Monogolian Windchimes my husband gave me for my birthday.

Oops, I’m posting this quick, violent thunderstorm just struck…

2 Hours later…

I’m back, whew, what a storm.  Anyway, I was commenting on how beautiful our gardens were, the latest storm caused rivers of water down and across the yard.  But usually there is a lovely eco system happening, fish swimming in the ponds, frogs hovering just below the surface or on a lily pad, chipmunks scurrying all around, and birds everywhere.  From the height of the balcony out my bedroom, I zoomed down and captured these two shots.

frogschipmunkIn the shot on the left, there are two frogs hiding, can you spot them?

And this little creature on the right, scurried onto a pathway, covered with drenched rose petals.

briWhen the storm started, my daughter and I quick shut down our computers, and then played around in the studio, waiting for it to pass, tidying up the cutting table which was completely out of control.  One of the piles on the table was the mats from the Placemat Exchange, so we took advantage of no electronics for a couple hours, and we got the hems pressed in.  Bri, my daughter sat and started handsewing, notice that purple is NOT her favorite color, <g> and the gorgeous 34 strand knotted ankle band she is wearing, which she just completed over the weekend.

And finally, I’m making slow progress on the jacket.  I did get one of the sleevesbackshoulder in, and the second pocket, but I’m concerned with the fullness across the back now that one of the sleeves is in, and I’m thinking I need to remove the sleeve, undo the shoulder seam and take out the excessive ease across the back shoulder the pattern called for, and recut the back armhole.  The fabric is giving quite a bit, and I don’t want it that slouchy.

sandstonejacketI love the colors in this fabric.  The green wash is so unusual next to the rust, and it is so textured.  If you are new to my blog, I should mention I wove this fabric, from hand dyed warps, and there is more of a description in a past blog.  The jacket fabric  is called Sandstone Layers, based on one of the palettes from one of my fabric forecasts in Handwoven Magazine, and the fabric hung in the yardage exhibit at Convergence Tampa Bay 2008.  I cut some of the fabric into a window shade, which also hung in a functional textile exhibit in Tampa.  I had just enough left to create this jacket.  So here is what I have so far, I only need another sleeve, and the large belt loops.  (And handworked buttonholes…)

Stay tuned…

Just Plodding Along…

Well, I’m getting caught up on house work, and paperwork, and I’m actually making substantial progress on the Website Success seminar.  It is coming together easier than I imagined.  So most of my days are sitting in front of the computer, surfing the web for sites I like, plugging in data, using things like Webopedia as my technology dictionary.  I’m learning so much,  that’s never a bad thing.

BUT…

This seminar is costing me a little fortune…

So, picture this….  I’m sitting at the computer for 8 hours straight.  An email comes in, I hop over and answer it.  Especially when I get one granting me permission to use their website home page in my presentation.  And then I get a WEBS alert…

For those of you who don’t know WEBS, it is this wonder of a yarn store, near Amherst, MA, that carries tons of knitting yarns, and more importantly TONS of weaving yarns.  They give nice volume discounts, and I buy a lot of stuff from them.  Hence the “alerts”.  This is a lot like an Amazon.com alert.  “Since you bought this particular book, you might want to know about…”  OK, I’m a sucker for books.  And about 30% of the time, I just have to have the book they are steering me into…

WEBS is just as bad.  The WEBS alert comes into my inbox, appearing on the lower right corner of my screen, no matter what program I’m in, and I’m really torn…  Do I open it knowing full well I’m probably going to have to get out my credit card?  Or do I just hit delete…..

OK, so I glanced at the subject line, BAD MISTAKE…  It said, “…great cone sale“.  That’s all I had to see, and I clicked on it.  So, $125. later, I am back to my website seminar…   It was really the rayon bouclé that did me in.  $15. for a two pound cone.  It is normally $16.95 a pound.  What else could I do?  And there was that cotton flake, in surprise colors (I love a surprise), you don’t get to pick, but it was $5. for a 2 pound cone…

sandstone_layers_jacketSo I’ll get a nice surprise package in a few days…

Meanwhile, I get about an hour in the evenings to sew, which is a nice treat at the end of a long day of staring at a computer screen.  The Sandstone Layers jacket is moving along, it is hard to see much of a change from the last post I did of this jacket, but all the couching (with a rayon bouclé yarn) is finished around the collar, the fronts, and the hem.  And I have one pocket attached.  I’m really liking how this is coming out, at first I thought it was really busy and detailed,  but that’s actually appealing to me in a military sort of way, the belt is very cool, but I’ll know better when the big belt loops are on.  There is a two piece sleeve as well.  Lots of details left, the second pocket, handworked buttonholes, lots of big belt loops, and of course the sleeves.

Stay tuned…

A Dreary Day

UGH!  The weather was awful today.  So cold and rainy, and dreary.  I managed to slip between the raindrops this morning, and check on the garden.  The weeds have taken over, mutant size, covering everything.  The rain is so important for the growing season, but the weeds love the rain as well.  Well there is nothing else to be done but wait for the sun, and get on my knees, and start pulling!

kevinMy poor husband went into Manhattan this morning, to do his annual 5 Boro Bike Tour, with his friends.  The loop, starting in lower Manhattan, and finishing up in Staten Island, taking the ferry back to the starting point, is about 42 miles.  He looks forward to the tour every year.  He called me from the ferry,  soaked through to the bone, kevin_bike_tourwith both knees frozen in pain.  But he was happy he finished and it was worth every minute on the bike.  So he is warm now, both knees braced,  I made him his favorite dinner, and he is watching the hockey play-offs, life is good.  The photo above shows the Queensboro Bridge, and to the right is the route through the five boroughs of Manhattan, at this point he was in Brooklyn.

MEANWHILE…

The mice played!

briannaMy daughter took advantage of the dreary day and finished another placemat, so we are now tied at four each!  We are at the halfway point!  It was a joy to watch her effortlessly throwing two shuttles one after another, and whipping through an overshot structure at 16.  No more broken threads, total control of the loom, lovely rhythm, and while she wove on the placemat warp, I sat next to her working on my other 25″ floor loom, and finished off the tencel warp left from my class last fall with Bonnie Inouye.  The class was on complex structures, called “Advance”.  Most who took the class were intermediate to advanced weavers, and most had 8-12 shaft looms. scarf Sadly I only had eight, which was just fine, and I must say I was shocked at what I got out of an eight shaft loom.  The samples were gorgeous, we explored network drafting, advancing twills, all sorts of complex stuff, and I ended up with about a yard of additional warp, which had to be cleared by Thursday when I do another workshop with Barbara Herbster on Supplemental Warp.

The specs on this might be of interest to the weavers, I am using 8/2 tencel from Webs, sleyed at 36 epi, 3 threads/dent in a 12 dent reed.  I am including the draft below, the technical term would be, “An 8 shaft advancing curves threading (from Bonnie) with an advance of 3, twill tie-up, and an expanded advancing points treadling for 8 shafts.”  Whew!  That was a mouthful.

draft_smThe black on teal tencel is pretty, and wove up fairly quickly, unlike the placemats, this is only one shuttle.  The hardest part was keeping track of where I was in the draft, which I had sort of memorized, with my daughter weaving about 2 1/2 feet away from me.  When she stopped, or her rhythm changed, I looked over, and lost my place!  🙂splash

I also managed to squeeze in some time to start sewing on the dress.  It is really pretty on the form, the color placement, purely chance, is lovely, accentuating the curves of the garment.  The dress really does look like the “Splash” yarns it is based on, and I can’t wait to finish it, and wear it when the weather gets warm.

In case you were wondering about the odd color combination of the blog, the background is now mauve, I am trying to change the code of the template I’m using, to get the blog to look more like my website, until I figure out how to actually build a blog using my own logo and color scheme.  I found the code for the background, but can’t seem to find the code in the CSS style sheet for the header background, so I can changed it to the dark purple.  So, be patient while I search…

The Proverbial Grindstone

So another two days spent with my butt stuck in the chair, my hand paralyzed in the shape of a mouse, and more of the letters worn off my poor wireless keyboard.  But, I did get two important pages done in the new site.  The 1-1 1/2 hour lectures page, and the 2 – 2 1/2 hour lectures page are entered.  What a job.  The worst part was finding the original images I used for the prospectuses, there are just so many times you can save .jpg’s, and they lose a considerable amount of information.  So I always like to start with the original file.  But where among the thousands of images I have stored in about 5 different back up locations, could each of the images be hiding?

It’s like that in my studio, “I know it’s here somewhere…” “I remembered seeing it in 1994″… “Whatever happened to that…”  Then of course I become a woman possessed.  I won’t rest until I find the yarn, fabric, tool, image, whatever is lurking just out of site…

Besides spending the day searching through my vast archives for original files of some of my images, I also hunted around the studio for my supply of upholstery braiding.  I know it’s here somewhere.  I have to do an emergency costume for my son who plays the coachman in a performance of Cinderella.  Yes, the same son with the car in the previous blog.  I have to make a pair of pants to match a very old Lieutenant’s Doublet from Van Horn and Sons Theatrical Costumers.  The jacket is in tatters, I’ll do my best to repair, but they need me to construct a pair of pants that will look like they go with it.  So far, I haven’t found the braid.  Next check is the attic, and oh boy, there are amazing things stored up there…

Speaking of my son, he announced yesterday that he is planning to join the National Guard.  Well, I’ve been a bundle of mixed feelings all day, part of me knows that this would really be great for him, and part of me is scared to death.  So, I’ll just focus on the costume for today.

10-virgins

I am planning an excursion into NYC over my daughter’s spring break, there are a couple of fiber shows I want to catch, one at the Cooper Hewitt called Fashioning Felt, and the other, called Seduction at the Museum at FIT.  While checking out times and which days they are closed, I checked the MET to see if there was anything new of interest, and I found that they have an artwork of the day, which can be posted to your Google reader, or whatever you use for keeping track of such things.  So, today’s image came up The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, ca. 1799-1800
William Blake (British, London 1757 – 1827 London)
British
Watercolor, pen and black ink over graphite; 14-1/8 x 13-1/16 in. (36 x 33.2 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1914 (14.81.2)

Somehow in all my years of Catholic School, and my years teaching Sunday School in the Reformed Church in town, I never came across this parable.  What’s with the 10 virgins?  So I did a quick search on Wikipedia, and got the scoop, it is a really odd analogy for being prepared for the second coming, but I loved the watercolor. And the whole idea of 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins waiting for a bridegroom who is having on-time issues, has got the creative juices really churning.  So now I have something else to look forward to, a new work of art every day, just go to the website for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and subscribe to the artwork of the day feed.  This was number 3,000 something, out of 130,000 plus artworks.  I should live so long…

I went to the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild meeting tonight, and the speaker was Barbara Elkins, the woman who started WEBS.  If you are a handweaver reading this blog, you know about WEBS, “America’s Yarn Store”, a 30,000 sq. ft. facility in Northhampton, MA.  When I do buy yarn, I probably buy from them, and it was really great to listen to Barbara talk about how she and a fellow weaver started by renting out looms in order to get more money to buy yarn.  That was 35 years ago, and in their garage.  It was a great story, and I love the store, I’ve been there, Pioneer Weavers meets in the store, and I taught a jacket class for them a couple of years ago.  Barbara was wearing the jacket she made in the class, tonight at the meeting. They are having their 35th anniversary sale, the email just came in my box.  Beware, their sales can be quite toxic to credit cards!  Seriously, they have a great website for ordering and terrific customer support, and I usually get whatever I order within two days. (That would be east coast).

So as I’m driving home from the meeting, in the cold dreary steady rain, visibility zero, I suddenly had a panic attack.  The placemat exchange is due at the June meeting, this was the April meeting.  That means my daughter and I have exactly 8 weeks to weave 14 more placemats.  You do the math…  So, out with the whip, and lets get cracking…