Archive for 2010

We returned from 6 days on the Coast last Sunday, and our dear friends who are currently living in Southern California joined us here for 3 nights before heading back south.  We celebrated a 59th birthday:

They brought their 2 new cats, Tatti (a Maine Coon, still an adolescent and a big, sweet girl) and the Siamese kitten, Neko.  I’m not sure why my best picture of Neko was taken when she was asleep, because that was rarely the case!  She was very playful and hilariously entertaining.

There was only one “moment” when Tatti sneaked upstairs past our barrier and encountered a hostile Teasel (our female Bengal cat).  There was a lot of hissing, screaming and scrambling around.  We raced upstairs to find Tatti cowering in the bathroom, little fluffs of Tatti fur on the landing, and Teasel puffed up to about 3 times her normal size.  No harm done, though.

Rick and I went out for a fairly long ski on Monday which took us onto the Winthrop Trail and a view back down to the house:

Since then it has turned really, really cold – but clear and beautiful, especially in the mornings.

The carport is finished and we have both trailers (the Aliner travel trailer, and Rick’s utility trailer) and both our vehicles safely parked out of the snow now:

carport finished Dec 30, 2010

While away on the Coast, I finished the fourth of the swirl top hats.  This time I used a mosaic pattern from Barbara Walker’s Mosaic Knitting for the band and I am quite pleased with the result.  The yarns are Noro Silk Garden (the one showing color graduation) and Rowan Kid Classic in the same dark brown I used on the first hat.

And this week I warped up my small loom with a new scarf warp colorway that I had prepared before we left for Christmas.  I have finished the first 2 of 4 scarves I will get from this warp, and am working on the third one today.

Autumn warp with eggplant chenille weft

Autumn warp with black tencel weft

Tonight we go down to Twisp to join a group of friends for potluck dinner and ringing in the New Year at the Methow Valley Inn.  Safe travels to all who are similarly out and about tonight, and Happy New Year!


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Kick & Glide

After the Big Snow last weekend, there was a terrific base for the cross-country ski trails, and the groomers have been out in force.  We went out 3 times this week, right from the house (more or less).  The Methow Community Trail that runs the length of the valley from Mazama to Winthrop goes by about 200 feet from the end of our driveway.  We got permission from the neighbor across the road to cut a trail along his fenceline over to the trail.  Here is a picture taken from the trail back towards our home:

We definitely had sore muscles after the first time out, but today we went out for an hour and a half and both felt a lot stronger.

The Methow Valley has one of the top cross-country ski trail systems in the country… check out MVSTA, the Methow Valley Sports Trail Association.

I finished another of the swirl-top hats, using Noro Silk Garden and Rowan Kid Classic in a raspberry pink color.  I picked up one ball of this color from my friend Jessica at a stash reduction sale a year or two ago.  For this hat, I tried out a different mosaic stitch pattern – it’s a slight variation of one I found in Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

We’re off to the Coast tomorrow for 6 nights – for family events, including Christmas of course.  See you in a week!

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Snow is Me

The “Pineapple Express” arrived in the Pacific Northwest this past weekend.  It made for a wet trip to Portland – the roads and passes weren’t bad, but it just rained down in buckets.  We arrived in good shape late Thursday, delivered and set up the headboard for a very happy customer, and then spent 2 nights with our friends who own The Real Mother Goose Gallery of fine American craft in Portland, OR.  Friday was a fun day spent wandering around Portland, finding Christmas gifts for the little great-grandkids, going to Powell’s Bookstore, etc.  Also it didn’t really rain on Friday, so we could actually walk around town without getting soaked.

We headed up to Seattle on Saturday in another complete downpour, all the way up I-5.  We are listening to “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” on audiobook in the car, and the reader is really good, so that helped a bit.

Yesterday I went to my knitting group with my friend Carol.  I hadn’t seen my Seattle knitting buddies since the first of November, so this was a good thing.  I have been working on a couple of hats using a pattern I bought years ago at Weaving Works in Seattle.  Here is the designer’s Ravelry page:  Triangle Topped Hat by Ellen Christensen.

My first one, done last week, used a long discontinued Filatura di Crosa yarn (wool and rayon) plus Rowan Kid Classic left over from my “Come Together” Sweater:

The second one was knit mainly in the car this weekend, and finished about an hour ago.  I used two Mirasol yarns bought at the Ashford Gallery in Winthrop:  the brown one is “Miski” (100% baby llama) and the red one is “Akapana” (65% baby llama, 25% merino wool and 10% Donegal, which are the color flecks).

This is a really fun pattern, knit all in one piece (very few ends to darn in!) but there were a few challenges in interpreting the pattern.  I am probably going to make a couple more.

But back to the Pineapple Express.  We left Seattle about 2:30 and went over Stevens Pass.  The rivers were muddy, raging and very high – it looked like Sultan was on the way to being underwater!  But Highway 2 was open and the drive wasn’t bad except for lots and lots of rain on the west side.  Our housesitter had told us we had gotten 2 feet of snow at the house the night before.  TWO FEET – yes, you read that right.

Our snow-plower had cleared out the driveway, but Rick is out there digging out the truck:

the camping trailer and the utility trailer:

and they are clearing off the carport roof, since the metal roofing is supposed to be delivered today:

Dec 13, 2010 - after the big snowfall

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We’re off to Portland, OR today to deliver and install this:

Twisp River Headboard #2

It is a custom order through our friends’ store in Portland, The Real Mother Goose.  It is the same as the headboard on our bed which Rick made a couple of years ago – based on a picture from the headwaters of the Twisp River.  This version will be hung on the wall using a “French cleat”, at the head of their bed.

It has warmed up 25 to 30 degrees, just at or slightly above freezing, causing much of the snow on the roofs to slide and curl off:

And they got the trusses up yesterday – hopefully sheathing today so it will be covered.

Dec 9, 2010 - trusses in place

We’ve got to run!  It’s a long drive to Portland from here.  See you next week.

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Truss – but Verify

Work proceeds on the carport.  Today the trusses for the center section were delivered, but it remains to be seen how far they will get on installing them (if that is the correct term).  It’s supposed to snow a lot tonight!

Dec 7, 2010 - side roofs framed, trusses delivered

Dad wondered where it lies in relation to the other 2 buildings, so here is a shot from farther out on the driveway:

carport lies to the right of the studios

Last Saturday some of the women from Shear Creative Guild in the Okanogan Valley came over to my house for the bi-monthly meeting.  We had a great time, and the potluck lunch is always a big part of it:

I finished up some knitting projects last week.  One is a poncho that I started in the car on the way to Seattle for Thanksgiving, and finished in 10 days.  It is a pattern from Ravelry:  GarteRing Poncho by Lisa Risager (a $5.00 PDF download).  I used 4 skeins of a discontinued Noro yarn bought on sale 3-4 years ago (Manmosu, wool-alpaca-silk) plus 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss bulky tweed (the dark brown).  In all, about 780 yards of bulky yarn on 7.0 mm (US 10-1/2) needles.  The pattern did not call for stripes, it uses a variegated yarn – but I had to use 2 different yarns so this is what I came up with.  I really like it, it’s very cozy!

Poncho in the snow

I also finished up a sweater I knit almost a year ago:  Come Together by Pam Allen, off of Twist Collective.  This was a $7.00 PDF download.  I used Rowan Kid Classic on US 9 needles.  The top portion is all rib so it stretches out quite a bit and is, ahem, form-fitting (but in a nice way).  I had to fiddle with the neckline, which she does not put any edging on.  It was way too wide and stretchy for my taste, so I did a row of single crochet around, pulling it in a bit, then a final edging of reverse single crochet.  Also the hem wanted to flip up so I had to deal with that.  Finally done and ready to wear to all those holiday parties!


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Snow time

We have a new project underway here at home – a carport!  Our builder said it could be done this winter if we got the concrete work done as quickly as possible.  So Rick put together some plans, we got our building and land use permits, and it was off and running by mid-November.

Nov 16 - pouring the foundations

It snowed for the first time, and was really really cold that week – but the excavator managed to get the back-filling done just in time to protect the concrete foundations after they had set for a few days:

Nov 20 - piers in the snow

They started the framing just before Thanksgiving – brrr!

Nov 23 - begin framing

And yesterday, with more snow on the way, they had a boom truck come and place the beams, plus one of the upper walls that they framed up on the ground.  They would have liked to have the other wall up too, but the boom truck came a little early.

Nov 29 - a wall is up!

It has been snowing here all day and they are taking a break.

We spent 4 nights on the Coast for Thanksgiving with family and some nice visits with various friends.  It was cold and a little dreary in Seattle, so no pictures.  But on our way home from Anacortes on Sunday we were able to take the North Cascades Hwy for probably the last time this winter.  It was an easy drive and quite beautiful, especially in the Washington Pass area around 3:30 pm.  I leave you with some scenes of early winter….

Just west of Washington Pass

Looking east from Washington Pass

Looking back at Liberty Bell

A ridge southeast of the pass

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Cordially Invites You to Our

Annual Show & Sale

Friday, November 19, 2:00 – 6:30

Saturday, November 20, 9:00 – 3:00

137 Old Twisp Highway

(a loop road off Hwy 20 between Twisp and Winthrop in the Methow Valley)

Towels, Blankets, Rugs, Scarves & More  ~~ All hand-woven by our guild members

I’ve been really busy this week getting ready for the above event.  I sold a lot of my work at the Seattle Weavers’ Guild Sale and then the following weekend out at Port Townsend – not that I am complaining, it basically paid for my new e-spinner and camera.  But I wanted to have more to show at our Methow Valley guild sale this weekend.  So I put on a purple warp for 4 more plaited twill scarves last Friday, wove them over the weekend, and finished the ends etc. last night.  They were all woven with rayon chenille this time:

Plaited twill scarves with purple perle cotton warp

The two blue ones are not exactly the same – they were done with different tie-ups and treadling (one is the same pattern as the black scarf, the other the same as the green scarf).

Today I will put together some more shawl pins, as I sold out of those too.  I was out of finished wood rings, but Rick still has quite a few that are cut out and turned, and he sanded them out and put finish on them for me the last couple of days.  Bless him.

And I finished spinning the fiber I started on 2 weekends ago, and will ply it up into yarn on my new spinner today.  Pictures later!  I like to have some handspun for sale at our event, as people really seem to appreciate it, and I often feel the spinning part of our guild name is somewhat neglected in favor of the weaving part.

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A Tale of Two Spinners

First of all, I have my new camera and am back in action in the picture-taking department.  It is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7, and as usual I did my research on the Digital Camera Resource Page website.  I have always found his in-depth reviews to be very helpful.  Read the review of my specific camera here (I went with the blue color, not that it makes any difference).

On our way down to Sacramento in early October, we stopped in Chico, CA for lunch.  There was an antique mall where we parked the truck and trailer, so of course we went on in.  Rick spotted a forlorn object in a corner and pointed it out to me – an Indian head spinner!  These are used to spin thick yarns such as those used for Cowichan Indian sweaters.  I inquired about it, but it was on consignment and no agreement could be reached, and we didn’t have room in the truck for it anyway.

Cut to the return trip north.  We stop in Chico again and go back to the antique mall.  Rick checked it over and said it could be fixed up.  It is not a true antique, but he thinks it was handmade (not manufactured) and may be 40-50 years old or more (based on some of the turned wood parts, like large screws).  We found out why it was so dirty.  The antique mall had an arson fire a year ago and a lot of things were covered in soot.  They hadn’t even bothered to clean it off after a year!  Well anyway, I made my offer, we loaded it into the truck and brought it home, and here is a picture before cleaning and restoration work begin, hopefully this winter.  Then I will spin some yarn for a Cowichan sweater.

What’s in the bag?

My new HansenCrafts electronic minispinner!

I ordered it 4 weeks ago from the HansenCrafts website.  Since I was going to be out in Port Townsend last weekend anyway, for my annual knitting-spinning-eating-laughing-walking etc event, and they are made nearby in Chimacum, WA, I arranged for a field trip to pick it up in person from Kevin Hansen.  Since I was without camera, my friend Rebecca took some and has given permission to use some of them:

test spinning at HansenCrafts

Kevin and his wife Beth had just come back from two shows (SOAR – Spin-Off Autumn Retreat – and the New York State Sheep & Wool festival at Rhinebeck, NY) and he had about 30 of these babies to ship out.

Here is Rebecca trying out the walnut and maple minispinner that somehow wound up going home with her and her sister Peggy:

They only started serious production on these in the last year, and have been overwhelmingly successful.  There is even a Ravelry group devoted to the HansenCrafts minispinner (I think you may have to join Ravelry to see this page, but am not sure).

I ordered mine in bubinga, an African hardwood.  No, it won’t spin any better than the standard maple or cherry versions, but I decided to splurge on beauty and uniqueness.  Kevin said the specialty woods are denser and the unit a little heavier, which can give it some extra stability when the bobbin gets full.  I don’t know which I am more in love with, the minispinner itself  or the WooLee Winder.  I haven’t had a WooLee Winder before – you don’t have to keep stopping to move the yarn from hook to hook on the flyer, or slide the thread guide along, depending on the style of your wheel.  This will be especially useful for plying, where both of your hands are full anyway and stopping to slide the yarn along the flyer is a real pain.  On the minispinner, it is a jumbo bobbin and will hold a lot more than the standard WooLee Winder bobbins that you can order for many brands of spinning wheels.

I did get one extra bobbin, and I think that will be enough.  I usually wind off my spun singles onto storage bobbins anyway (the Leclerc plastic ones used for sectional warping on a loom) – a tip from Judith MacKenzie.  And when plying, I will just be winding the plied yarn off onto a niddy-noddy or skeiner.  So one bobbin for whatever singles I am working on, and one bobbin for plying – that’s the theory.

Beautiful bubinga minispinner

It comes in a nice little hemp tote bag with the HansenCrafts logo on it, but I knew I wanted to get something that would protect it better.  On the way home from Port Townsend, we stopped in Port Gamble to visit The Artful Ewe and the new quilting shop there, Quilted Strait.  That’s where I found the green tote bag, just the right size for the little spinner and its accessories, plus room for some spinning fiber on one side of the internal divider.  I can’t fit the extra bobbin in, but that’s OK.

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Farewell to Benson Creek

With closing only 2 days away, I guess it is safe to say we have sold our first home in the Methow, down at Benson Creek.  We know and like the buyers, and it will be good to move on and not have the responsibility of maintaining the other property, especially over the winter.  It’s a little bittersweet, though.  We were quite happy there, but it was just too cramped a living space (although the shop space was great for Rick) and we were losing our enthusiasm for building a separate house on the property, which was the original plan when we bought it in 2003.

So onward!  We love our new home on Wolf Creek, it is just as if it was built for us.  And all we have to do is finish some things up, not go through the whole building process.  Rick finally has the new shop all set up and he thinks it will have a better work flow and be plenty big enough.  Of course, you all know how much I love my studio – I still can’t get over the fact that I actually have a work space of my own!

I dropped my camera before leaving for Seattle, and when I tried to use it over the weekend, discovered everything is working except the shutter button.  Won’t take a picture – no how, no way.  A blogger without a camera is like:

  1. a fish without a bicycle?
  2. a weaver without a loom?
  3. a cat without a clue?

Anyway, my new camera is on the way but won’t be here until next week.  I am off to knitting retreat on Wednesday, so I guess I won’t be chronicling the event this year, at least not in pictures.

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Have Weaving Will Travel

I am off to Seattle today, to attend the Seattle Weavers’ Guild meeting and participate in the 30th Annual Show & Sale.  I have put a link in my sidebar, as well.  It takes place this week, Oct 28-30 in Bloedel Hall of St Mark’s Cathedral.

I am amazed at how much time it took to inventory everything, create and attach tags, etc.  And I don’t even have that much stuff – a variety of shawls, rag rugs and my new plaited twill scarves.

I will be helping out at the sale on Friday Oct 29th – hope to see a few friendly faces there!

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