Archive for 2010

Variations on a Towel

Warning – weaving jargon ahead!  But I need to put in the information for those who want to know…

Back in April, our guild had Robyn Spady come and teach a 2-day workshop called “Extreme Warp Makeover.”  I blogged about it here.  To summarize, we chose one of 3 threadings for our looms, then spent 2 days exploring all the variations we could get with different tie-ups and treadlings.  I chose the Rosepath Twill threading and set my loom up with 5/2 cotton sett at 16 epi, 9 yards long and 19-1/2″ wide in the reed, so I could weave towels on the rest of the warp after the workshop sampler was completed.  The main warp color was off-white or cream colored cotton, with 3 sets of stripes in light blue, turquoise blue and charcoal gray.

During the last 2 weeks I have finally gotten around to finishing off the warp and trying out some of the variations we learned in the workshop.  It was fun and informative, and I wound up with six quite different towels.

Towel #1:  Waffle Fashion (warp and weft floats with areas of plain weave) using cream cotton same as warp, except for the twill accent bands which used the charcoal cotton for weft.  This one shrank A LOT but it is nice and spongy and should be quite absorbent.

Towel #2: Summer & Winter Fashion (a simulation of traditional Summer & Winter by using a pair of blocks).  This was a 16-row treadling sequence with some paired pattern picks within each block.  The pattern thread was a 4/2 variegated cotton alternating with tabby picks in the cream cotton used in the warp.  Note how the dark color predominates the pattern on one side, the light color on the other side.

Towel #3: Summer & Winter Fashion using a simpler 10-row treadling sequence without paired pattern picks within each block.  The pattern thread was Aztec Cotton Boucle from Henry’s Attic alternating with tabby picks in the charcoal cotton used in the warp.  Also used the charcoal cotton for some point twill borders at each end.  The 2 sides didn’t look that different.  This towel feels great and should be really absorbent!

Towel #4:  Twill – pattern from Marguerite Porter-Davidson’s book (p. 17, treadling X)  I used the variegated cotton, with a couple of bands using the warp turquoise cotton.

Towel #5: the same Twill pattern, but different bands using the charcoal cotton (treadling VI from the same set of charts in Davidson)

Towel #6: Lace with Simultaneous Warp & Weft Floats using the Aztec Cotton Boucle for weft.  I quickly realized how quickly this was eating up the weft yarn, so I wound up using the lace pattern for a few inches only at each end with plain weave for the main part of the towel.  Love the feel of this one, and it will be so absorbent!

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Alfred, Lord Venison

Just a quick post with a picture of Rick’s “pet” deer, Alfred.  He gets a name only because we can easily tell him apart from the other guys – he has 2 prongs on one antler, and 3 prongs on the other.  He was hanging out in the shade by our house the other day, so I took his picture.

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Rescue Road

We’ve had several thunder and lightning storms, with heavy rain, this past week.  Last Saturday, when I came back from a guild meeting in Omak (sorry, no pictures) it was completely black up to the north.  Ominous looking.  Sure enough, as I headed up to Winthrop it started raining heavily.  Huge big splats of rain, and wind.  The road was awash with water.  Some of you probably know that it was during this storm that George Shangrow, who was a conductor, pianist and radio host in Seattle, died in a car crash en route to deliver a pre-concert lecture at the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival.

On Tuesday I was down at the Spinners and Weavers guild room, weaving some towels on my loom there. Our guild room is about halfway between Winthrop and Twisp, on a loop road off Hwy 20 called the Old Twisp Highway.  It runs along pretty close to the Methow River.

It started blowing and raining heavily.  All of a sudden there were two women out in front of the building, in bathing suits and carrying inner tubes!  I let them into the vestibule and got them some towels.  They had been out floating on the river when the storm started, and were getting hailed on, then one of their tubes started leaking and deflating.  They pulled out of the river and starting walking back north, trying to get back to their car.  They said they had been walking for a while, and a woman in a car had passed them and just ignored them.  They were pretty wet and cold by the time they got to the guild building.

So we threw their tubes in the back of my car and I gave them a ride up to where they had parked just north of where our road comes out on the highway.

Two days later, I am driving up to the guild room again, from Twisp.  It’s a nice sunny day this time.  Two young men in swim trunks were thumbing a ride on the Old Twisp Highway, heading north.  I stopped but they needed a ride to Winthrop and I was only going up the road a little way.  So a little while later, there I am weaving away, and they show up in front of the building.  It turned out they also had equipment malfunction of some sort while floating the river.  So I gave them a ride up to the main highway, where they had a better chance of getting a ride back up to town.

I’m beginning to feel like a river tubers’ taxi service!

I finished weaving those towels, washed and dried them, but they still need to be hemmed.  I promise some pictures, plus ones of the rugs I have been weaving at home, in an upcoming post.

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Family Photos

Here’s a family:

These three went through a lot together earlier this year, when Clara fell and broke her arm.  It’s great to have everything back to normal!  This was taken at a birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago (Rick & Kathy).

Clara – 91, Rick – 62, Kathy – “59” (same as Jack Benny)

And here’s another family that wandered by off our back deck a couple of mornings ago:

So cute!

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I finally seem to be back in the groove with my hiking group.  For many reasons, Tuesdays have been hard to schedule for the last couple of months.  Anyway, last week we went up to Goat Peak, a hike I have not done before.  This is a manned lookout up above Mazama in the upper valley.  Specifically, it is manned by Lightning Bill Austin, who is a poet among other things!   Unfortunately, Monday and Tuesday are his days off, so we were not able to visit with him (which evidently often involves a poetry reading…)

This is a short but very steep hike.  If memory serves, we started at 5600′ after a longish drive up from Mazama, and ended at 6800′.  My valley floor lungs were suffering.  But, despite the warm weather of late, at that elevation and fairly early in the morning, it was not really hot.

Beautiful views at the top (knoll before final ascent to lookout).  Individual photos do not really do justice, so I made a rather amateurish panorama for you:

That’s the lookout on the left, on top of the peak in the foreground.  The mountains are in the North Cascades to the south and west.  We did not continue the final 1/2 mile or so to the lookout, since there were still significant snow patches on the north-facing side of Goat Peak, and we had achieved our other goal, which was to deliver a “travel bug” to its final destination in a geo-cache near the peak.

What is a travel bug, you might well ask?  Welcome to the world of geo-caching – I still have a lot to learn!  Here are the Travel Bug FAQs, but basically it is a trackable tag that is attached to an item and logged into the Geocache.com website, so that it “becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online”.

This particular travel bug originated in Chicago, and it took 3 years for it to reach its defined goal, which was to go to Lightning Bill!

This week, yesterday actually, four of us made it to Black Lake, which is a 5-mile hike up the Lake Creek trail in the Pasayten Wilderness (accessed via West Chewuch Rd out of Winthrop).  Our group thought this hike is in the area burned in the 30 Mile Fire back in 2001, but this trip report from the Washington Trails Association website says it was actually burned in the 2003 Farewell Fire.  It also says it is only 4 miles.  Hmmm… felt like 5 miles!

Anyway, the trail has little elevation gain and follows along Lake Creek most of the way.  Despite all the burnt trees, it did not feel really desolate, since a lot of the understory is coming back.  In fact, the trail could use a good brushing-out!

After the very hot temperatures of last week, we were glad it had cooled off, and we had high overcast as well, so what could have been a long and hot hike was simply a little long.  But it felt good to get out and get that much exercise!  And to our surprise, there were really NO BUGS – amazing!

Our final destination, Black Lake:

It was actually kind of cold and windy at the lake, enough so that we had to put on our windbreakers to eat our lunch.

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Boyz n the Woods

There has been a group of bucks hanging around together lately.  This time of year, I guess it’s what they do, while the does are busy with their newborn fawns.

Two days ago, I started out the back door to get in the car and go do some shopping,  and found 6 of them just lying about in the covered walkways between the house and the shop:

They got up and moved off when I came outside, but didn’t seem particularly alarmed.  Most have two points but there is one 3-point buck:

So I went off, did my shopping and came back home.  A little later I started out to the studio and there they were again!  I guess this is their new favorite place to snooze during the day.

This time, Teasel started down the stairs and caught a glimpse of them out the window on the landing:

What the…?? WHAT’S THAT??!

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As mentioned previously, we recently stopped at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store in Milwaukee, OR (SE of Portland) so I could pick up more selvage material for rug weaving.  When I first started going there, the outlet store was in the basement of the building.  In the last couple of years, they have renovated the main warehouse space and turned it into a beautiful showroom:

Unlike the outlet store in Washougal, WA, which carries mostly clothing, this is the outlet that carries home furnishings (including prototype blankets) and fabrics.  There are huge rolls of fabric that you can buy by the yard (clothing, upholstery and blanket weights) and they also cut some of it into pre-measured pieces that are stacked on tables.  This would be great if you are a sewer, but too expensive for me to buy just to cut up and use in rugs.   What I go for are the bins full of blanket selvage material.  It’s completely unpredictable what will be there – how much, what colors, etc.  So sometimes I really hit the jackpot, and sometimes I go away disappointed.

During the past year they have opened a tapestry gallery in a room off the main showroom, and on this visit we took the time to go through it.  There were some pretty amazing pieces!  It turns out there is a computer-operated loom at the mill, and they work with various artists who design some of the tapestries.  They can scan their artwork right into the computer.

All of these pieces were for sale.  The current exhibit featured a number of tapestries designed by Paul Alan Bennett who lives in Sisters, OR:

We were really smitten by the one of the flying cat, and as it turned out there were some versions of it at bargain prices on a table in the back of the showroom.  We think they may have been test versions, as the colors on some of them were dark, and some had unfinished edges.  But we did find one that had good color and finished edges, and it is now hanging from the railing of the top floor landing here at home on Wolf Creek.

Ah, found one more picture – same artist:

And these beautiful special-edition blankets are produced to fund scholarships through the American Indian College Fund:

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After we left Ashland & Medford, we drove up to Portland, OR.  No trip to Portland is complete (for me) without a visit to the Pendleton Mill Outlet Store in Milwaukee (SE of Portland, on the other side of the Willamette River).  This is where I forage for materials for rug weaving.  We barely got there on Thursday before their closing time, and I picked up some blanket selvage material, but also found out their weekly shipment from the mill comes in on Thursday night, and the pickings would be even better on Friday morning.

We did go back the next morning, and I took quite a few pictures in their new tapestry gallery, which I will save for the next post.

We stayed the night with our good friends who own The Real Mother Goose Gallery in downtown Portland (with a second store at the Portland Airport).  Rick had built new cabinets for their living room last summer, and since I had been there last they had finished the fireplace installation, and furnished it with books and lots of beautiful pieces of art and crafts from their collection:

On Friday we returned to the mill store, and also did some other shopping, at which point the car was so stuffed full of things we could barely move!  By early afternoon we headed north to Lake Quinalt on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula, between Aberdeen and Forks.  This is where our friends own and operate Lochaerie Resort on the North Shore of the lake, actually inside Olympic National Park.

Lochaerie Resort is a real gem – 5 housekeeping cabins that were mostly built in the 1920’s and 1930’s, with one that was built in the 1960’s.  The main house was originally used as a boarding house, and to say the whole place had fallen into a state of disrepair when our friends bought it a couple of decades ago, is an understatement.  They have done what they could over the years, with marked improvements since they bought out their partners.  But they have always had an onsite manager, as they were still living and working in the Seattle area.  This year, they are rebuilding the main house to be their home, and will be living there and managing it themselves from now on.

Once a year, around the end of June, they invite a group of friends to come out, stay in the cabins, and participate in the Quinalt Rain Forest Bike Ride to benefit the Lake Quinalt Cancer Fund.  It’s a 31-mile ride which takes you along the north shore, up the Quinalt River valley to a bridge, back down the south shore and then a couple of miles along the highway in the vicinity of Amanda Park.

We actually had gorgeous weather, sunny with temperatures in the 60’s and low 70’s.  This seemed like blessing given how wet the spring and early summer has been (and, they call it the rain forest for a reason….)  Rick and I made it from Lochaerie around to the Rain Forest Resort on the south shore, just north of the Lake Quinalt Lodge.  That was 20 of the 31 miles.  This was better than we expected to do, since it is the first time we have attempted this ride on our little folding Dahon bikes instead of mountain bikes.  At least half of the ride was on dirt/gravel road so our little tires and our legs did quite well.  Our behinds, not so much.

Here we are about halfway around, at the bridge over the Quinalt River:

Sunday we drove home to the Methow, about 7 hours of driving from Lake Quinalt.  As always, glad to be home!

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We returned Sunday evening from a fast-paced road trip to southern Oregon and the Washington Coast.  We had a great time, despite all the driving – and there’s nothing like a good audio book to help with that!

We stayed one night in Sisters, Oregon on the way down.  This is a pretty little town, with restaurants and art galleries, in the eastern foothills of the Oregon Cascades to the east of Eugene.  We didn’t roll in until almost 9 pm, so everything was closed, but we have been there before.  I found a nice little motel on-line before we left, the Sisters Motor Lodge, a 1930’s era motor court that is nicely updated but has the original flavor.  Their motto, “Cute as a button, neat as a pin, clean as a whistle” pretty much says it all!  Our unit had a nice kitchen, so we were able to fix our own breakfast.  I would definitely stay there again for several days, especially if we wanted to cook our own meals and not eat out.  Plus, there was a wonderful view of the Three Sisters out the kitchen windows:

We drove across the Cascades along the McKenzie River in sunshine with blue skies, then on down to Medford on I-5.

The first evening we were treated to dinner at Pasta Piatti in Ashland, where grandson Brandon is executive chef.  We had a party of fourteen, and 4 generations present.  I didn’t get a lot of pictures, but here is great-grandaughter Eva, who is two years old now, with her mom Sylvia and aunt April:

After dinner we went to Lithia Park so the kids could play in the playground and the adults could visit.

The next day was great-grandson Aidan’s fourth birthday.  The family had a lot of activities planned, so it was a jam-packed day!  We started off at a wonderful farmer’ market in Ashland, where they picked up some food for a picnic and dinner later.  Then we met at a small Ashland city park where the kids could run around and play, and we had a nice leisurely picnic lunch.  Then it was off to the the Family Fun Center in Medford, Aidan’s pick for a birthday activity.  The inside arcade was a bit much for me (lots of noise and flashing lights) but the go-kart run was fun to watch.  Rick took Aidan in his go-kart:

Then it was off to Gretchen & Duane’s house for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Brandon and Sylvia cooked a wonderful dinner, Aidan opened his presents and we had birthday cake.  Rick even played Wii (bowling and golf) which was a first.  We didn’t get back to our friends’ house in Ashland until almost 11 pm, happy but exhausted!

The next day, our last in Medford/Ashland, started out nice and slow.  We slept in, went for a walk, and visited with our friend Denise, who is a print artist (see her website, Drawing on the Dream).  Around noon we hooked up with some of the family and headed off to a wildlife refuge north of Grants Pass called Wildlife Images Education and Rehabilitation Center.  This proved to be a fun and interesting outing not only for the little kids, but the rest of us as well.  We went on the tour, where we were able to see the animals that are permanent residents because they cannot be re-introduced to the wild for various reasons.  Many of them had sad stories, and I was glad to know they had at least wound up in a safe place with a reasonably natural living environment.

I would have more pictures of us with the family, but at this point I need to wait to get image files from Gretchen’s camera.  Here’s Rick coloring with Aidan, though – he’s a very sweet, good-natured little boy (Aidan, that is…)

Thursday we headed north to Portland, OR for the second phase of the trip.  Stay tuned


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Drive Time

A fact of life, if you live in a rather remote area and want to keep up with friends and family, is that you have to make journeys outward to see people.  Last weekend I went over to the coast for 2 nights, on my own since Rick had been over earlier that week to pick up lumber for some jobs and do some things with his mom and sister.

On Saturday I was invited to come for lunch and “show and tell” at a 5-day weaving workshop I usually would have attended – just couldn’t pull it off this year with everything else that has been going on.  It is taught by the wonderful Judith MacKenzie and they were doing some very fun projects this year, including a collapse weave scarf.

The group had gotten together and put together a surprise gift for Judith – gardening tools for her to use at her new home out near Forks, WA:

Judith always has some dyepots going at this event.  Here is fiber turning blue as it comes out of an indigo bath and encounters oxygen:

Judith will be teaching some workshops out in the Forks & LaPush areas in the coming year.  They don’t seem to have a website yet but you can email northcoastfiber AT centurytel DOT net for more information.  Or click the thumbnails below for the full size image of her workshop brochure (2010 through Spring 2011).

On Sunday I spent time with my knitting friends.  The fineness of the day tempted some of the knitters to stay home and work in their gardens, so we were a small but happy group:

Here is the divine Miss Z’s just-finished sweater with ribbon trim:

Tomorrow we take off for southern Oregon to visit friends and family, ending up at Lake Quinalt on the Olympic Peninsula for a couple of nights at the end of the week.  I’ll try to report from the road, but we’ll see….

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