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We finally found a great guy who is an experienced carpenter, but only looking for small jobs when he is in the valley.  We have a couple of projects to do around here, and first up will be exterior stairs to parts of the deck.  The house wasn’t quite finished when we bought it 4 years ago, and the “steps” were very temporary.

These are designed to match the stairs for our main entry under the breezeway, that Rick did last fall.  Those have wooden treads, as they are under cover.   The rest of them will get snow and ice, which we don’t want to pile up all winter on wooden treads.  The stringers are done and awaiting metal stair treads which we are getting from Alpine Welding in Twisp.

Off the front corner leading to guest and trailer parking

Off the front corner leading to guest and trailer parking

Two stairs off the back porch, one from the French doors and one leading to the woodpile

Two stairs off the back porch, one from the French doors and one leading to the woodpile

Weaving rugs again now, to get some inventory out to the galleries for the summer, and use up my stash of Pendleton wool selvage material.

R216

R216

R217

R217

 

R218

R218

R219

R219

R220

R220

R221

R221

And I finished knitting this lovely shawlette, using my silk/wool handspun yarn: “Magrathea” by Martina Behm.  I had very little yarn left over!

Magrathea 1

Magrathea 2

 

 

 

Nice Nests

Earlier this week, a friend came by who has started a business making Nice Nests, “breeding boxes made from salvaged scrap wood and reclaimed hardware, designed specifically to provide functional breeding habitat for cavity-nesting birds. He also offers installation and consultation services for landowners interested in enhancing breeding habitat for more than three dozen species of cavity nesters in the Methow Valley.”  The quote is from a recent article about him in the Methow Valley News.

Rick had quite a bit of pine soffit material to give him (left over from building our house), and also a big box of miscellaneous hardware, some of it old.  Patrick was really excited about the hardware – he uses “found objects” and cool old stuff for perches and handles.

Yesterday morning he came by with 4 Nice Nests for us!  They will go up on pine trees around the house next week, and hopefully we will get some bird families to move in.  They all are easy to open up for cleanout, and he uses rough wood or scores the inside face of the doors so the little hatchlings can get a grip to climb out when it is time to leave the nest.

The hole on the green one is 1-1/8″ and he said it would only be used by wrens, chickadees or pygmy nuthatches.  The orange one has a 1-1/4″ hole and would be for red or white breasted nuthatches.  The two bigger ones have 1-1/2″ holes and would attract western bluebirds and also tree or violet-green swallows (but these boxes are also the most flexible, as some of the smaller birds could use these too).  Now we are going to have to get out the bird book and binoculars and learn to recognize these species!

Nice Nests

Here is Nice Nests on Facebook and also his Nice Nests website (very well done, by the way).

Yet More Silk Scarves

Last week my back-door neighbor did a “tie dye” silk scarf day with her Friday bicycle group, and I went over to help out.  It was a lovely sunny day, and they were very nice women who were a little trepid about the whole thing.  The main concern was if they were choosing colors and arrangements that would work – we told them you couldn’t necessarily tell what colors were going to transfer anyway, so just go for it!  They all turned out well and of course I was so busy I didn’t take any pictures.

But it did inspire me to do some more myself, using the silk ties I had picked up over in the Skagit Valley when I went to visit my Dad, brother and sister-in-law a couple of weeks ago.  Some of these were from “second use” tie pieces, and although the scarves came out somewhat paler in color, I think it worked.

May 2015 set 1

May 2015 set 2

I have these for sale at the Winthrop Gallery in Winthrop (obviously) and down in Twisp at the new D*signs Gallery (that is how she spells it).  No website yet, but it is an added location for one of the partners in Methow Gallery at Twispworks, where she will do her graphic design and sign painting, in addition to running the new gallery space.  It’s really well done and a great addition to the arts scene in Twisp – you locals, go check it out.

This week I am pre-dyeing some scarf blanks a variety of colors, so will have some more on a colored background (instead of white) sometime in the next week or so.

After several days of chilly, cloudy weather, we are back to sun!  It is supposed to be in the low 70’s for the rest of the weekend at least.  Lots of flowers out now, and we hope to get back up in the hills while the arrowleaf balsomroot are still glorious, and the lupines are coming on.

This coming weekend brings ’49er Days in Winthrop and also the annual Sunflower Marathon and Relay sponsored by Methow Trails.  We will miss all that fun because we are headed over the mountains for Mother’s Day weekend and family visiting.  It should be a glorious trip over the North Cascades Highway, with snow still in the high peaks.

More Silk Scarves

A couple of weeks ago I followed up on our guild’s silk scarf project by doing 11 more at home.  I had purchased a dozen scarf blanks and had picked up a bunch of neckties already, so was ready to go.  I also wanted to experiment with a couple of things, like re-using the necktie material if it seemed like it still had enough color in it, and pre-dyeing the scarf blanks before doing the dye transfer part.  So it was a week of play in the studio, and a break from weaving!

This layout:

P1040564led to the scarf on the left below.  Notice that the scarf on the right has some white areas.  It turns out the trickiest part is rolling them up so that no wrinkles form in the scarf blank, as this leads to undyed areas.  I later fixed this scarf by putting it through the process again, laying pieces of necktie across the undyed areas only.  It added more visual interest, so all was well!

P1040582

The next was an experiment with woven, as opposed to printed, necktie material.  In our workshop, I learned that the woven ones don’t transfer their dyes as well, but I had already purchased some and was hoping to not completely sacrifice them to the waste bin.  The problem is that the dye is in the thread the material is woven from, instead of being printed on the surface of the tie.  Only one of these came through very strongly.

P1040566I later put this through again with some additional pieces that I knew would transfer dye, to make it more interesting. It is the scarf on the right.  The one on the left is the first one I did at our guild’s workshop.P1040581

This layout used some of the wide end pieces that have lining on the back (so that side won’t transfer dye).  I found that I could open up the narrow end and lay it on the back side of the wide end, thus getting printed fabric on both sides.  For these scarves, I pre-dyed the scarf blank a pale turquoise color first, so I didn’t have to completely cover the scarf blank with necktie material.

P1040571This led to the one on the left:

P1040576Another layout on a pre-dyed scarf with the wide end of neckties:

P1040573

which is the one on the left:P1040579

Loved this orange tie!  I think it has enough dye left to use at least one more time.

P1040583

It, and this one, led to the 2 scarves below.

P1040584

It’s interesting that the olive green tie above only came through as lemon yellow on the scarf.

P1040589Here are a couple more that I didn’t get layout pictures for.

P1040591

I have taken 10 of these up to the Winthrop Gallery.  I found a neat old broom display at the White Buck Trading Co. sale last weekend, and fitted it up for a scarf display.

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P1040600

Aluminum Groundhog Day

Miscellaneous news from the home front today.

The Airstream emerged from its winter burrow yesterday, and did not return!  We have projects to do before we take off on a road trip in early June.  Rick almost has the new armrests for the front sofa done.  We want to pull the rear window and clean it up like we did with the others last year.  And, we need to seal the exterior seams – this was done at the factory when it was built in 1973, and the Spokane Airstream folks told us that once it is done again, it will be good for at least another 20 years.

P1040594

The White Buck Trading Co. in Winthrop (Western themed stuff, and a “museum” of old stuff) closed its doors several months ago.  They have leased half the space, and yesterday re-opened to sell off the old stuff.  Rick picked up some woodworking tools on Saturday, and yesterday we went back and picked up this cool old plow for next to nothing.  It will be “yart” (yard art).

P1040595

Signs of spring and new life  – the farm down the road has 3 baby Highland cows, and piglets too.

P1040598

A friend of mine showed me a cool way of draping my new shawls last week, and I thought I would share it.  Often when you just wrap a shawl around your shoulders, you have to hold the ends with your arms, or pin it in some way.  It doesn’t want to hang down straight or stay on your shoulders all by itself!  This method achieves that, if you are just wearing it as a large scarf, not wrapped around you for warmth.

Start by folding the shawl in half across the middle:bias drape 1

Now draw the bottom edges away from each other.  The goal is to create a fold that is on the bias of the fabric.  You may have to play around with how much of an angle you want:

bias drape 2

Now hang it around your shoulders, so the crossed edges are against your neck and the bias fold is hanging across your shoulders.  This is the tricky part.  On a person, we could get the bias fold to run straight across the back.  On the manniken, I had to drape it a little differently, but it still looks nice.

bias drape 3

Now the ends hang down straight in front.  On these shawls, it also shows off the 2 sides of fabric nicely!

bias drape 4

You could do this with a narrower scarf as well, and any kind of shawl or scarf – not just handwoven.  I also tried putting it on with the bias fold up against my neck and the crossed edges hanging below towards my shoulder blades.  You can make a kind of “shawl collar” this way, and the ends still hang down straight in front.  So play around with it and see what you think!

Four Shawls & A Cowl

This week I finished the four shawls for my guild’s challenge project.  As previously noted, these were all done on the same warp of 20/2 mercerized cotton, and the same threading (extended manifold twill) and tie-up.  But I used different treadlings for each one, and different materials and colors as well.  They seemed rather stiff right off the loom, but after washing and pressing they have a lovely hand and drape.

Pattern weft:  brown 8/2 rayon used doubled, Tabby weft: 20/2 mercerized cotton, changing color every pattern repeat

1 brown rayon a

Pattern weft: variegated 8/2 tencel used doubled, Tabby weft:  10/2 tencel

2 gold meadow a

2 gold meadow b

Pattern weft: solid teal 8/2 tencel used doubled, Tabby weft:  10/2 tencel

3 teal tussah a

Pattern weft: variegated 8/2 tencel used doubled, Tabby weft:  10/2 tencel

KS spring meadow shawl

I had enough warp left to weave this cloth (table mat?) in black 5/2 pearl cotton with a 20/2 gray pearl cotton tabby weft.  Used the same treadling as the 4th shawl above.

black&white mat a

front side

 

black&white mat b

back side

 

On the knitting front, I just finished a cowl using some of my handspun yarn.  It was a 2-ply and approx. laceweight.  One of the singles was spun from a merino/tencel dyed top from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks.  The other was merino/cashmere in the same colorway.  These are dyed in a regular repeating color sequence, which I was careful to preserve in the spinning.  When plied together, the same colors lined up pretty well so I got this nice soft striping when knitting with it.

Zuzu Petals Cowl

The pattern is “Zuzu’s Petals” by Carina Spencer (available on Ravelry or her website).  I was pretty much getting gauge on the recommended needle size, even with the handspun.  But I tried it on when partway done and decided it was fitting a little too close around my neck, so I took it back to the point where you quit knitting back and forth and join in the round to begin the lace chart.  Then continued the stockinette part with the same increases until I had added 24 more stitches (two 12-st repeats of the lace) then went on and joined in the round and finished it up.  I think it works much better for me, or at least in this yarn.

I just love this little cowl – it may be my favorite thing I have knit this year!

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