Twisp River Fire

We just went through a big fire event and I thought I would post a few pictures.  It was a fire up the Twisp River Road that started last Wednesday (August 19) and just blew up in a matter of hours.  Both Twisp and Winthrop were put on level 3 evacuation (which means “get out now”).

From our house Wednesday afternoon, looking south towards Twisp

From our house about 3 pm Wednesday afternoon, looking south towards Twisp

Some folks have asked how we knew about the evacuation level.  After some neighbors came around and told us we should start preparing to leave, we started to listen to our local radio station KTRT.  Then we got an automated call on the home phone from Okanogan County Emergency Management with the evacuation notice.  Later, around 6 pm, a state patrol car came around the neighborhood.  By then, we had most of our things out in the car, pickup truck and cargo trailer.  We wound up staying 2 nights with friends about 6 miles south of Twisp.

Looking up Twisp River Rd about 7:30 pm on our way south

Looking up Twisp River Rd about 7:30 pm on our way south

Things were just as bad or worse over the hill in the Okanogan Valley, by the way.  A lot of this was on the national news.   Three firefighters died and another one was terribly burned last Wednesday when the fire first broke out – that is the worst part of this whole thing.

On Friday they seemed to have things under control near Twisp so we decided to head back home but leave our things packed up in the vehicles for the time being.

Smoke column north of Twisp on our way back into town

Smoke column north of Twisp on our way back into town

There was still fairly active fire in a wildlife management area north of Twisp River Road, and Friday afternoon they started up with the DC-10 fire retardant planes and water bucket helicopters.  That seemed to knock it down quite a bit but they are still working on containing that end of the fire as I write.

Friday morning

Friday morning

Friday afternoon about 4 pm from across the valley

Friday afternoon about 4 pm from across the valley

There was a good update on Methow Valley News Online yesterday (Sunday, August 23).  The Twisp River Road fire is just part of the bigger Okanogan Complex and is being managed by a Type 1 Incident Team as part of that bigger complex.

We are mostly moved back in now and I actually got to spend some time weaving yesterday.  We know we are very fortunate compared to what some other folks have been through this past week.

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.














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!


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:


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.


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


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.


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.



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.


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).


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


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!


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