Busy Days plus a rant…

I beg your forgiveness right up front.  I need to rant.  I don’t normally do this, I never intended this blog for any political forum, but I wandered out to get the morning paper in the 4″ of slush and pouring rain after 3 inches of snow fell last night, and after I got back inside, dried off, settled down with my cup of tea, I opened the newspaper to see the headlines, and I nearly choked.

headlineApparently grant money promised to many of the arts groups in the state is being frozen, and the state doesn’t know when the funds will be released.  This is grant money which has been applied for, granted, spent by the arts organizations and the final installment was a month overdue.  Peters Valley Craft Center is owed $66,000.  They are devastated.  I wrote about my magical visit there in Saturday’s blog.  Tonight, my husband and I attended an amazing performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, at the NJ Shakespeare Theater, which is nearing the end of its season, and has no where else to cut.  No one can make payroll, and I fear for the very life of arts organizations already bled dry of funding and support.  This may be the final blow.

Yes, I know NJ is broke.  We are as broke as California.  I know a new governor was just elected who sent a memo to the outgoing governor, not to spend any more money.  I’m not sure how much of this is a political game, but I am sad, and angry, and appalled at the political mess, ethics, fiscal carnage and irresponsibility that surrounds my elected officials.  And I am really sad that many of the arts venues I have loved and supported for nearly 30 years, may die in a coffin nailed shut by politics.

I am grateful to the Star Ledger for making this a headline, it was higher up on the front page above the latest carnage in Iraq.  I have no words to describe my frustration, my inability to do anything to fix this mess.

Sorry, this has been weighing on me the entire day.  And it weighed in the whole while I watched an incredible performance of Twelfth Night.  I did manage to snap a quick photo of the set waiting for the production to begin.  The floor looked like it was made of glass, or water, the opening scene is of course Viola washing up on shore.  And the walls were all made of, get this, recycled shredded paper.  It was brilliant and effective, and worked for any scene necessary from Olivia’s Garden to Orsino’s chambers.12thNightI spent the day puttering in the studio, working through my vast to do list, trying to clear my cutting table.  After making up the Avoca Handweavers Plaid my husband brought back from Ireland, into a skirt a week or so ago, I’ve been looking at the other skirt length hanging on the hanger from one of my shelves, and I got to perusing the October issue of Burda Style, while I was organizing my magazines.WoolandSibonnedressI dug through my stash, and found a small length of Sibonne, which is a rayon underlining popular in the 60’s.  I found a dozen bolts of Sibonne about 15 years ago, in a fabric store in Florida on a sale table, and brought home everything I could fit on the plane.  Those were the days…  I have only a few bolts left, some odd blue colors and a purple and red bolt, but I did have this two yard length of a color that would serve well as the lining for the plaid.

I found a pattern for an interesting dress, that I thought might look really wonderful in this plaid.  It is one of those things that could really work, or really not.  Don’t know until I try.  And I wasn’t sure I could get the dress out of the fabric, so I traced off the pattern from the sheets included in the magazine.traceThen I did a quick preliminary layout.layoutI think I can fit the dress, if I shorten it a bit, which isn’t a problem because I didn’t want it to come to my knee anyway.  Meanwhile, I have a paprika silk dress I made years ago, I love the color and the fabric, but I never liked the dress and I have no use for a gown at the moment, so I got to thinking…

What would happen if I used these narrow pieces, and cut up the dress?silkdressI’ll have to do some careful ripping apart of the seams, but I think I can get it all out.  I also rooted around and found an additional yard or so of the fabric, still in my stash.  So I have my work cut out for me!

When I take breaks during the day, I jump over to my Google home page where I have RSS feeds of all my favorite blogs.  One of my top favorite blogs, is the Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  She is the funniest fiber blogger on the planet.  She is a knitter, but it doesn’t matter, everything she writes is so right on the money, so insightful, and so hilarious, that I can’t wait until she posts her next installment.  Today was the best.  If you are a handweaver reading this blog, stop right now and head over and check out Stephanie’s latest post.  It involves a loom.  Yes, that’s right.  But the best part, is the comments.  As of this writing there were about 125.  And nearly all of them were from knitters who were desperately trying not to get involved in yet another craft but had to try out this marvelous thing called a loom because surprise, Stephanie knitted a scarf from her knitting yarn in five hours…  I squealed with glee as I read each posted comment, and down along comment number 63, is one from me.

I finished up all the hot mats for my gift exchange, and all the mug mats for the guild mug mat exchange next week.  matsI loved making these, and I think they make hot/mug mats.  I think I’ll make a couple for me to use as well.

And progress is ongoing on the garage cleanup, started  Thanksgiving weekend, the goal was to uncover the woodworking equipment so my daughter could have a wood studio out there.  She wandered out there yesterday, and started playing around with some of the equipment we have, my parting words as I showed her where the safety goggles were, “please, don’t cut your fingers off…”  I’m such a mom…

Today she came in with her first project she found in an old woodworking publication.  It is a clever wood puzzle, connected with a rubber band, painted in bright colors, and she was really proud that she figured out some of the equipment, started to get use to the shop, and didn’t cut off any of her fingers…WoodPuzzle1WoodPuzzle2

And I’m sure if you’ve been following this blog, you’ve been wondering why I haven’t done anything more with all those white warps from a couple weeks ago.  Have you figured out I am procrastinating?

I did go through my dye cabinet today, and to my surprise, I had everything I needed to get started.  I thought I had a least a couple more days reprieve since I figured I needed some chemical I was almost out of.  Nope, all there.  So I have no more excuses.  Let’s see, luncheon tomorrow, drive out to a guild members house on Friday to pick up another little Structo,  ASG holiday party on Saturday and a concert at the IZOD center.  I can push this off for at least a few more days…

Drowning in white…

I am seriously sick of winding white warps.  I’ve solicited the help of everyone in my family and they’ve all given up.  But, I have made exceptional progress, I dare say I am probably about finished winding a huge amount of 10 yard white warps in anticipation of spending a week or two dyeing/painting, and generally turning all that white into some kind of organized color.  Or disorganized, either would work.

I follow a couple of blogs religiously, and one of them is of course, Stephanie McPhee, the Yarn Harlot.  She is hilarious, and one of the best writers, and of course a fiber junkie.  She is a knitter, and I’m really not, but it doesn’t matter, there is always something about one of her posts I find I can identify with, and come away smiling.  Except the one today.  I came away smiling, but I also came away shaking my head.  Stephanie talks about her stash being like an archeological dig, which I can identify with, but then she goes on to talk about “a ritual tossing of the stash spring and fall.  It’s the time of greatest activity for insects and rodents.”  Huh?  She also mentions she finds stuff she didn’t know she had, like the yarn from all the way back to 2005?  Huh?

Let’s be clear here.  This is not a serious stash Stephanie discusses.  A serious stash goes back to stuff from your mother, maybe even grandmother.  From retired or deceased guild members, stuff they got from the original founding guild members.  I’ve got yarns from the 1970’s, and cloth from when I learned to sew in the 60’s.  Not too much of that, but still.  I’ve got a ton of stuff I’ve inherited, and lots of cast off’s from other weavers who were de-stashing… Weavers don’t buy a couple of skeins to whip up into a pair of socks.  We buy by the cone, or by the pound.  So unless we make a couple of scarves here and there, a ball or two of yarn is merely for sampling.  I’ve been known to buy 5 pound cones of something if the price is right and there is a spitting chance I’ll use it before I die.  Even then, some lucky recipient will inherit that 5 pound behemoth if I don’t and it will live on in someone else’s stash.  Weavers are notorious for holding onto stuff indefinitely.  Since I don’t buy a lot of wool, though there is plenty in the older stash, I don’t have insect problems, at least not that I’ve discovered.  And my studio is on the second floor, so rodents aren’t usually a problem.

Winding1winding2Anyway, my recent decision to go through the natural’s stash, and wind copious amounts of 10 yard warps in various sizes, with the intent of dyeing, made me really look at what I’ve got.  And I made a dent, at least a little one.  And the rumor is from one of my guild members, that my stash is pretty modest.

So I wound, listening on my iTouch, to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, her year long experiment buying only local food for her family.  I now know everything I ever needed to know about asparagus, including the fact that I’m most likely never going to start an asparagus patch.

I wound, and wound, and stopped to shop online for Christmas presents, Amazon is a wonderful thing.  My husband has already opened the new Nikon 12 megapixel Digital SLR camera, just to make sure it all works…  🙂

Warps1Warps2I wound and wound, and stopped to make my family food.  I wound and wound and stopped to change over the laundry.  My arms ache from so much winding.  But I have warps wound and ready for color.  And the best part, the upper cabinets, where I keep much of the naturals stash, is clean and dusted, and repacked and organized, and I think I must have reduced the naturals stash by half?  This should keep me busy for the next year.empty_cones There is something very satisfying about tossing (recycling) all the empty cones.

And if there was too small an amount on a cone to really make a warp that would have enough ends to seriously contribute to a 10 yard length of yardage, I wound it into approx 2 yard skeins with my AVL warping mill.

After about the 10th skein I wound, I thought I should check that indeed the circumference of the mill was 2 yards.  I was sort of shocked to find that the circumference was actually only 70″.  I’m not sure why that is, but using the revolution counter made for some tricky math calculations, # of revolutions x 70″ divided by 36″.  Then I’d know how much was on each skein.AVLWheel Of course the first 10 skeins I wound are all incorrect.

I did keep a notebook of all the yarns I wound both for skeins and for warps.  I did a yield calculation with the McMorran Yarn Balance, to determine how many yards/lb. and then noted now many ends I wound for the warps, at 10 yards long, and assigned it a letter which I copied onto a hang tag with a Sharpie Marker, so later I’d know what the heck was actually in that warp/skein.

Anyway, I’m tired.  And I’m cross-eyed.  And I’m really really grateful I don’t do the whole Thanksgiving cooking thing.  I’ll get together with my bonus sister tomorrow (she came with the package when my mom remarried a couple of years ago), she only lives a half hour away, and we will share dinner duties, I get the easy no cook stuff, store bought pies and salad fixins, and we will have fun for a couple of hours.  I could use a break from all this white…

So, enjoy your day of gratitude, what ever makes you happy.  Sometimes it is the little things, like a stash dig.  Sometimes it is getting together with people you care about.  Sometimes it is just knowing that for today, the body parts are working and there is a pile of fiber just waiting for the swan dive into…