Archive for 2011


I have been weaving another set of 8 scarves the last 2 weeks, in the original warp colorway which I have decided to call “Rainbow” for lack of a better idea.  I didn’t have time to photograph them individually as I wanted to get them out to the 2 galleries, and one was a special order.  But here are a few pictures of the ones I have hanging up at the Winthrop Gallery:

"Rainbow" warp with 3 colors of rayon chenille weft

"Rainbow" warp with black & navy tencel weft (2 on the right)

Yesterday I made my annual batch of krumkake (the only Christmas cookie I make anymore).  My mother-in-law gave me her krumkake iron a number of years ago, and I have been trying to keep up the tradition every year.  It is a “slow food” process because you have to bake them one at a time on the stove top:

and you have to work fast!  They only cook for about 30 seconds on each side, and the temperature has to be just right.  Once you lift the cookie off the griddle, they cool fast so you have to roll them up right away, within seconds.

It was the maiden voyage for the Mixmaster, and she worked great!  Well, there might have been just the slightest whiff of burning motor oil…


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All Mixed Up

When we were over in Seattle the week before and including Thanksgiving, one of the things we did was pack up and move my mother-in-law’s things to her new retirement home in Ballard.  This involved quite a bit of “down-sizing”, and one of things I came home with was her Sunbeam Mixmaster, which she had held on to for all these years.  It worked, but had no bowls, although the beaters were in pretty good shape.  You can remove the mixer from its stand and use it as a hand mixer, so maybe that is what she had in mind.

Mixmaster after initial clean-up

So on the way home, Rick wanted to stop at the antique malls in Cashmere (near Wenatchee).  He half-jokingly said “maybe we can find a bowl for the Mixmaster” (what he is really looking for is woodworking hand tools).  Hmm, sez I, not a bad idea!  I asked the ladies at the first place if they knew if they had such a thing – it is such a big sprawling place I didn’t want to seach it high and low.  They actually knew their inventory and brought me several choices!  Only one fit the base of our mixer, and it is the small bowl, but for 6 bucks at least I had something that would make it usable….

Mixmaster with small white bowl

Then we went across the highway to the other antique mall, equally big and sprawling.  I found a lot of candidates but none that fit my mixer (notice it is now MY mixer).  I really wanted the big bowl, too.  Then I found these two beauties hiding on the floor in one of the booths….

beautiful jadeite bowls for MY Mixmaster


Everyone I have shown this to has said “My mom had one exactly like that!!”  So did ours!  I am ridiculously pleased with this thing and will leave it out on the counter and use it.  It’s not like I don’t have a Kitchenaid (my mom’s actually – thanks Dad!) and that one will always be the workhorse mixer.  But I just love the Mixmaster.

I have since found some information online about Sunbeam Mixmasters.  This one is a model 7 and they were manufactured starting in 1941, with a hiatus in production during World War II, up until about 1948.  It had the largest production of all the Sunbeams, with over 3 million made.  Like previous models it came as 7A in cream with jadeite bowls, or as 7B in black and white with white bowls.

Final picture:  some of the Blue-faced Leicester as a 3-ply yarn:

We’re off to Seattle again this weekend, for various reasons, but the driving should be easy since it remains dry and cold up here in the Northwest.

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December doings

It’s been clear and cold here, with no change in sight for next week.  We still have snow but it is getting to be an icy, crusty affair.  It’s beautiful – but we’re getting anxious about lack of new snow for skiing and snowshoeing!

Meanwhile, since returning from Seattle at Thanksgiving, I finished up 3 rugs.  The first two shown below were done with Pendleton “worms”, a selvage edge trimmed from the sides of the Pendleton blankets as they are being woven (they later bind the edges with a wool cloth edging).  I have bags and bags of this stuff in a variety of colors, and this time around with the rug warp I think I will concentrate on using it and playing with the colors.

By the way, I have had several comments from friends/family that I never showed pictures of our new oak floor after it was installed in October.  So folks – THAT’S IT in the background of the rug photos below!

Pendleton "worms" - black, white and tan with orange accents

Pendleton "worms" alternating dark blue/purple with brighter colors

The next one was done with 9 colors of cotton corduroys and some lightweight denims.  I sequenced the 9 colors by sewing the ends of strips together at the sewing machine – most of the strips were only about 20″ long – and there are 20 repeats of the 9-color sequence in the rug.  A lot of work preparing the strips for weaving, but I like the effect.

9 colors of cotton corduroys and denims

I’ve also been spinning some beautiful dyed Blue-Faced Leicester top that I bought from Briar Rose Fibers at the first Sock Summit in Portland, OR.  I started this project in Seattle on my HansenCraft minispinner, and I am planning to make a 3-ply yarn which I hope will be enough to knit something for myself.  Actually I have finished all the spinning at this point and should be able to get it plied up this week.

Last night we went down to the Confluence Gallery in Twisp for an evening event called “Black Tie Methow Style.”   They had fabulous hors d’oeuvres, champagne and a no-host bar.  People got dressed up – but with bit of a twist in many cases.  Two of our favorite local musicians were playing jazz.  I didn’t get the best of pictures, but it was a lot of fun and we got to see and socialize with many friends we hadn’t seen for a while.  A nice kick-off to the holiday season!

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Holiday Shows

There’s a new show up at the Confluence Gallery in Twisp titled “Exquisite Craft.”  Rick and I both have some work in this show and there are many really wonderful things.  Anyone in or passing through the valley between now and early January, make sure to get off the highway (Twisp’s main street is one block east) and spend a little time there.

Rick's "Tallback Chairs" along with one of Peter Nawrot's tables

A display of my weaving

The Winthrop Gallery also mounted their Holiday Gift Show this week, but I am sorry to say I have no pictures.  Looks pretty good though and there are a lot of nice hand-made items.  This is an artist cooperative gallery in Winthrop of which I am now a member.

And this weekend saw the Methow Valley Spinners & Weavers Guild annual show and sale.  I didn’t get by there until the end of the day today, as I was teaching a knitting class down in Chelan, but it looks like a lot of people came by to see the work of our guild, and many of them also purchased holiday gifts.  So thank-you to all those folks!

We’re off early tomorrow morning for a week on the Coast so no blogging for me until we return after Thanksgiving….

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Short & Boxy

I haven’t been taking too many pictures lately, and blogging without pictures seems kind of lame.  But it isn’t like I haven’t been busy!

I am teaching the Topdown Set-In Sleeve Sweater class again (I taught it for the first time in the fall) – 2 groups, one on Thursday nights here at my home, and the other on Saturday mornings down at Uptown Woolery in Chelan.  I set it up as a 5-week series, although we are taking a break over Thanksgiving week.  With her permission, I am basing it on Karen Alfke’s Unpattern, although in the course of teaching it the first time, I came up with an alternate approach to planning and knitting the set-in sleeve cap.  By the way, these are knit in one piece from the top down – NO SEWING.  I love that.

Here’s a sweater I knit along with my first class – I used 8 skeins of Grignasco “Alaska” which I bought from a friend at a stash reduction sale several years ago.  It is a long discontinued yarn, so there was no chance of getting any more, and it was a close-run thing.  I had about 18″ (yes, inches) of yarn left when I was done!

Top-down Set-in Sleeve Sweater in Grignasco "Alaska"

I think Wilma would have liked it – she was fond of “short and boxy” sweaters!  And by the way, that is MY sleeve cap, not the Unpattern one.

We had a little bit of snow yesterday, and it was beautiful this morning when the sun first came up.



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Scenes from the Sale

It was quite inspiring to see so much excellent work at the Seattle Weavers’ Guild sale.  My head is swimming with new ideas – and, I came home with a few of my fellow weavers’ items as well.

In the “Home” department – towels, placemats and table runners, cloth napkins, etc:

Hundreds of beautiful scarves:

Hand-spun and/or hand-dyed yarn and spinning fiber:

Shawls, blankets and throws:

Basketry (on my “try some day” list):

I sold four of my “peerie blankets” and two of the plaited twill scarves, and am quite pleased.  Not sure yet exactly which items sold, because we left for home on Saturday before the sale was over.  A friend picked up my work on Saturday evening and is bringing it to me this week when we meet up in Port Townsend.

Speaking of which, I need to go pack…..

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More Peerie Blankets

We are dashing out the door for Seattle.  I have 13 scarves, 10 lap robes/throws (“peerie blankets”) and 2 wallhangings for the Seattle Weavers’ Guild show that runs Oct 27-29 at St Marks Cathedral on Capital Hill in Seattle (see sidebar for more info).   Unbelievable amount of work getting them all finished, inventoried and labeled!

Here are the 6 new little blankets, again all done with 2-ply Shetland wool:

Blue Corn Cafe yarns

Purples - last one off the loom!

Shetland natural marled yarns with shades of Green

Greens & Browns with Lemon Yellow

Beach and Surf

Shetland Sheep natural colors (undyed)

I also put 46 yards of rug warp on the loom last week, and wove 2 custom rugs to bring over to Seattle for delivery.  I am pretty happy with this 6-foot runner that my friends’ ordered for their kitchen:

It has been beautiful in the valley this week with lots of fall color, particularly the cottonwoods in bright golden yellow.  There is snow in the high country, too.  Here was the scene when we drove over Washington Pass last week:

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I’ve been pretty busy finishing up my things to take to the Seattle Weavers’ Guild annual show and sale at the end of this week.  I will take and post pictures of the new “peerie blankets”, hopefully by tomorrow.  Meanwhile, here is the information on the annual event for any of you out there who are near Seattle and would like to drop by!

These are images from the sale postcard – but it was quick and easy for this busy gal today!  I’ve also added a link to my sidebar for more complete information.

I will be there Thursday morning for set-up (the sale opens at 5 pm on Thursday) and also on Friday late afternoon into evening.

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Lots happening here lately, family stuff and getting ready for having hardwood floors put down on the main floor of the house.  The couple who built the house divorced partway through – he was the builder – and some things never were finished.  We have been living with painted subflooring for the last year and a half.

But I digress.  I have been weaving more blankets, not yet through the fulling process, and also finished up these plaited twill scarves in a new warp colorway I am calling “Aquarium”.

Aquarium with "Blue Ming" rayon chenille weft


Aquarium with "Blue Ming" tencel weft


Aquarium with Black tencel weft

Aquarium with Navy tencel weft

Aquarium with Teal tencel weft (made 2 of these)

I also made one with Teal rayon chenille weft, but a friend of mine saw these while I was still braiding the fringes, and snapped that one up before I even had a chance to take a picture!  I have been using the tencel more than the chenille lately, because it shows the pattern so much better, but people do seem to like the weight and feel of the chenille ones.

We decided to take up the larch flooring they had put down in the main floor bathroom (which is now newly done with linoleum) and the guest bedroom, so that all the flooring would be consistent on the main level.  Turned out to be an awful job for Rick.  The boards were about 6″ wide and maybe they were worried about cupping, because they glued them down with construction adhesive, as well as nailing them.  He had to cut them into 2-3″ pieces with a saw then chip the pieces up with a hammer and chisel.  Gag.

This left an uneven surface which had to be sanded and filled in the bedroom (new underlayment in the bathroom since that floor had to come up in height a bit).

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Rug Weaving with Judith

I’m back from the rug weaving workshop with Judith MacKenzie at the Rainforest Art Center in Forks, WA.  I brought my little workshop loom, a 20″ Macomber “Baby Mac” (model CP).  I wasn’t sure it was sturdy enough for the tight tension and strong beating for rugs, but it did OK, especially as we were just making samples.

The first thing we tried was flokati, a technique for making a rug that looks like a fleece without having to kill the sheep/goat to get it!  You weave distinct locks from a longwool breed with curl (not crimp), or locks of mohair from a goat, into a background web.  So we put the locks in every 4th shed, then wove 3 shots of plain weave between, with a warp and weft that were soft enough wool to felt (in this case, some of Judith’s 70% Rambouilet/30% mohair yarn).  Then you full (partially felt) the piece to make sure the locks of wool/mohair can’t pull out.

Here’s my sample underway on the loom:

We had three fleeces to choose from:  a Wensleydale sheep, a Lincoln sheep, and a mohair goat.  I wound up using all three, randomly mixed in on each row.

You can see what a beautiful, light-filled room we had to work in.  It was upstairs in what had originally been an Odd Fellows Hall.  We had help (strong men) carrying the looms and all of our other stuff upstairs the first day, and back down when we left.

Here are some of the flokati samples laid out on the floor:

The next day we put on a 1-yard warp of Judith’s bison yarn.  This is 50% bison hair (not the soft downy expensive undercoat) blended with wool.  It is kind of rough feeling but very tough for a rug.  The bison weft yarns had been dyed by Judith so we had a number of colors to work with.  The technique was pick-and-pick, which means you come up with pattern bands that form by alternating colors in the 2 sheds of plain weave.  The goal was to make a limited selection of colors (6-8) look complex by the way they were combined (optical blending) and the various patterns used.

Judith had 2 sample bison rugs, a small one hanging on the wall:

and a larger one she had on the floor at her house for several years.  This one was a lot softer and she said that was just from being walked on, not from washing!

I had some trouble maintaining even tension on my sampler.  I decided this was because my “shoestring method” of tieing on to the front apron rod just wasn’t holding under the tight tension and heavy beating needed to pack the weft down so it completely covers the warp.  So my sample was all wonky towards the end – curved and angled.  This can’t be fixed after the fact.  But at least I got to try the pick-and-pick technique.

Here is a shot of everyone’s bison samplers laid out on the floor (mine is bottom right):

The last warp we put on was 2 yards of a white 4-ply wool warp. This time I tied on to the front apron rod the conventional way (no shoestrings), with a surgeon’s knot that could be tightened until the tension was even across, then a second square-knot type tie.  It worked a lot better!

The idea was to try a number of techniques.  The first one was clasped wefts, a way to get 2 colors in one shed by “clasping” one around the other and then pulling that point through to where you want the colors to meet in the piece.  So you are beating a double shot of each color in each shed.

clasped wefts in a random pattern

Oh, we were weaving with the softer and less bulky Rambouillet/mohair blend yarn that Judith had dyed for us.  Still pretty sturdy but softer feeling on the surface.  I was enjoying this so much that I continued with some pick-and-pick patterns and will repeat the clasped weft pattern at the other end, making a square piece for a pillow top.

This is about as far as I got before we had to pack up and leave on Monday.  I’ll finish it at home.  Judith did demonstrate soumak and some knotted and pile techniques, and I may try them on the rest of this warp, but we’ll see.

On the way home I spent 2 nights with my friends at Lake Quinault (Lochaerie Resort, see sidebar).  The weather was gorgeous and Chris and I went for a hike in the rainforest on the South Shore on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I met Rick in Seattle and we spent the afternoon and evening with our dear friends who are currently living in Redlands.  Then home again after 8 days and 1000 miles on Thursday, back to the Methow!

We were supposed to go camping up in British Columbia with my Dad, but his Rialta RV developed an engine problem when he took it into Anacortes to have the tires checked.  So he had to have it towed to an RV service place and things were up in the air.  But now he is coming over here tomorrow (in his Prius with the cat) and we will just have some good times in the Methow Valley and surrounding areas.  So that’s my story for now!

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