Archive for 2012

Winter is Here!

We returned from 6 nights away to find at least 18″ more of snow (we had about a foot before we left).  Our snowplow guy had come, but Rick had to do quite a bit of snowblowing yesterday to clear the path to the woodshed, etc.

Here is the scene from the back deck – there is an amazing curving icicle formation coming off the roof:

icicles 28Dec2012

We made a couple of antique shop finds in Seattle and on the way home.  Mainly this cool vintage (?) bread store rack that has a Pillsbury Co. metal plate on the bottom shelf.  Fortunately it disassembled or else we would have never gotten it into the Honda CR-V.  Once put back together yesterday in my studio, I immediately filled it up with boxes of weaving yarns etc.


And in Monroe, WA I found another wicker mannequin head…I like these for hat display and photography.  Very reasonably priced, too, compared to what I am seeing on eBay (if you can find them at all).

wicker head Dec 2012

I finished another Mosaic Mojo Hat while on the road:

grey-brown Noro Silk Garden and violet Cascade 220

grey-brown Noro Silk Garden and violet Cascade 220


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We returned home last night, from almost a week away at the Coast (aka Seattle/Anacortes).  Took the cats with us and they traveled very well – we stayed at the La Quinta Inn near the Seattle Center, which is a pet-friendly hotel, and very comfortable too.  Spent a lot of time with friends and family, and we saw The Hobbit in 3D at the Imax Theater at the Seattle Center.  Loved it!

While we were gone, I had an inquiry about the Mosaic Mojo Hat pattern from a blog follower.  So I made it a first order of business today to get my designer and store information set up, and put the PDF pattern up for sale on Ravelry.

Here is the link:  Mosaic Mojo Hat

and it is also listed in my blog sidebar under “Where to Find My Work.”

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Denim & Diamonds

Last week I turned my attention to making two items I had promised to the Confluence Gallery in Twisp for the silent auction at their December 8th fundraising event.  This year it was called “Black Tie:  Denim & Diamonds” which gave folks a chance to dress up (or down) for the evening.  I actually didn’t attend, as I was headed to Seattle that day for a get-together with friends and various errands – but Rick went and he said it was well attended and a lot of fun.

I was asked for a denim rug for the auction.  Well, that meant I had to put rug warp on the big loom!  I usually put about 50 yards on the sectional warping beam, enough for at least 30 rugs.  This time I remembered to try an idea I had seen on the Macomber Looms and Me blog (it’s also in her PDF manual that you can buy and download from her blog).  This is to use short sections of 1/4″ plastic tubing to “fence off” the sections on either side of the one you are winding, so the threads can’t jump the tracks, as it were.  The original tipster said they bought the tubing at a pet store (used for aquariums).  I got mine in the plumbing section of our local hardware store.  For about 50 cents it solved all my problems with having to watch the section-winding like a hawk to make sure the threads didn’t get into an adjacent section.  I needed 8 pieces of tubing, each about 4-5″ long, so I could place two on each fin of the beam on either side of the section being wound.

rug warp Dec2012 1

rug warp Dec2012 2

I still have several boxes of pre-washed denim strips that came with the loom, which I purchased from a woman in the valley in 2007.  I pulled out 6 shades of denim, from white through pale blue to dark blue, then black and charcoal, and sewed them in sequence.  This produced the rug below:

Denim & Diamonds Rug

Then I turned my attention to finishing the polychrome summer & winter scarves that have been “underway” for months on my Baby Mac (Macomber model CP portable loom).  I had put on a warp in shades of blue and it was perfect for the Denim & Diamonds theme.  There was enough warp for 3 scarves and I wanted to finish them all if possible, rather than cut one off and then re-tie.  I had finished the first scarf quite a while ago and was partway through the second one.  So I did get them all woven, but only finished the fringes and washed/pressed this one, to have it ready for the Confluence event:

Denim & Diamonds scarf 1

Denim & Diamonds scarf 2

I really love the colors in this one, and wove a second one like it that I am planning to keep!

Also finished one more Mosaic Mojo Hat:

Mojo Hat 1107 a

handpaint Blue Face Leicester held with Kidsilk Haze, plus charcoal Cascade 220

I am now taking a rest on these and actually <gasp> KNITTING SOMETHING ELSE.

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A Bulky Spinner

No, not me!  I may have had a little too much Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s not THAT bad….

Back in February 2010 I attended spinning camp on Orcas Island with Judith Mackenzie, and the theme was “Ethnic Spinning and Knitting: Cowichan, Aran and Icelandic.”   We spun Icelandic fleeces for Icelandic lace or the more bulky Lopi-style knitting yarn.  We spun Clun Forest wool to make a 5-ply yarn for traditional Aran sweater knitting.  And we spun on an Indian-head spinner to make the loose, thick yarn used for Cowichan sweaters.

Here is a picture of Judith spinning on her Indian-head spinner at that workshop:

Indian head 2

Later that year we took a trip to Sacramento, CA to attend my niece’s wedding celebration.  On the way down we camped in our pop-up trailer.  From Mt. Lassen NP we went through Chico, CA and in an antique mall there I spotted an Indian-head spinner!  There had been a fire at the antique mall about a year earlier, and it was sitting forlornly in a back room all covered with ash – they hadn’t even bothered to clean it off.  I was tempted but didn’t buy it that day.  But it kept calling to me, so on the way back north we stopped into Chico again and the bulky spinner came home with us.

Here is how it looked when we got it home and before it was vacuumed:

Indian head spinner dirty

Since then it has just sat in my studio.  Last week Rick took it down to the shop and really cleaned it up – put on new finish and everything.  It is beautiful!  Looks like black walnut.

Indian Head spinner restored 1

Indian Head spinner restored 4

Underneath the treadle he found the maker’s mark.

Indian Head Sid Sharples label


It turns out these wheels were made by Sid Sharples and another man in California in the 1970’s.  They are retired now.  They were made from black walnut or dark maple.  It was called the California Bulky Spinning Wheel and also known as a “Cowichan Spinner”.  I have found a few pictured on blogs or Flickr on the web – and one was listed on eBay last January, but the guy didn’t get any bids on it.  As an added surprise, I was talking to my friend Sara down in Twisp last week, and it turns out she used to have one of these – it was the very first spinning wheel she owned!

So now it is going to live with Judith Mackenzie.  Why?  Because my teacher and mentor in all things spinning, weaving and generally fiber-related suffered the loss of her ENTIRE STUDIO due to a catastrophic fire in Forks, WA in late October.  I mean everything (it was a teaching as well as a personal studio).  Looms, spinning wheels, all kinds of related equipment, not to mention all her fiber (fleeces, yarn, etc).  Due to the age and nature of construction of the building she was unable to get an insurance rider.

Three of her friends immediately put together a website and are spearheading an effort to raise money and donated equipment to help her rebuild her studio and continue with her career as a fiber artist and nationally known teacher:

Rebuild Judith’s Studio

Check it out – and donate a little if you feel so inclined, to help this wonderful woman recover from a real blow.



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A Week’s Work

I went into production mode last week after returning from Thanksgiving weekend in Seattle/Anacortes.  Fifteen scarves from 3 different warps, plus 2 knitted hats (the knitting I do in my “spare time” mornings and evenings).  Yikes!  I am still having a lot of fun playing with the colors in these “mixed warp” scarves, and it is exciting to see how each one of them turns out using different materials for weft, but it still these were long, long days in the studio and I did get tired.

One of the warps (earth tones with some copper shiny rayon) was wound before we left.  Here are the scarves:

mixed warp #6 brown & green 1

They were woven (L to R) with:  natural brown alpaca, a nice kid mohair blend with copper glitter in it, blonde rayon chenille, and dark green Finnish wool.  There were two scarves from the dark green wool for a total of five.

Next I turned these yarns for the warp:

blue-green warp yarns

blue-green warp yarns

Into these scarves, which were woven (L to R) with:  natural black alpaca, turquoise Finnish wool, Blue Heron rayon/metallic in color “Deep Space”, teal rayon chenille, and teal rayon flake held with a strand of Kidsilk Haze (this last one felt particularly yummy once washed and pressed).

mixed warp #7 bluegreen 1

Then the third warp was wound from these yarns:

red purple colors 1

red-purple-pink-copper warp

and this turned into these scarves (L to R): magenta rayon flake held with kid mohair, Naturally “Woodland” purple mohair with flecks of glitz, a handpainted kid mohair in pink/purple/lime green held together with dark raisin-colored rayon, Naturally “Me” 80% merino/20% cashmere, and another one in the handpaint kid mohair plus rayon.

mixed warp #8 1

Sold 3 scarves to friends from Wenatchee on Saturday, the rest are going to the two galleries (Winthrop and Confluence).

Also finished these 2 Mosaic Mojo hats:

Mojo Hat 1100

Rowan “Tapestry” (discontinued yarn) and burgundy Kid Classic

Mojo Hat 1106

Handpainted Blueface Leicester wool with soft green Cascade 220

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10 Hats…and counting!

As promised, here are pictures of the more recent handknit hats – “more recent” meaning from early October to date.  Most of these are from my own “Mosaic Mojo Hat” pattern, which I sell locally in hardcopy.  And yes, I do intend to get it out there on Ravelry but I haven’t set up my designer account yet.

I never really intended to knit these to sell, but had a few hats displayed with the pattern at the Winthrop Gallery so people could see how it turns out.  People started buying them, and  I have odd balls of nice knitting yarn laying around (and picked up more at the stash reduction sale at knitting retreat – real cheap!)  So for now I am having fun coming up with different color combinations and putting them out at the two galleries for sale.

So here they are, more or less in chronological order:

Mosaic Mojo Hat – handspun dark brown with silk flecks & rust Rowan Kid Classic

…and a vintage button on top! SOLD almost immediately.

Mosaic Mojo – violet Cascade 220 & Rowan Tapestry (soy silk & wool) – SOLD

Crown of Leaves in Welcomme lambswool & angora tweed yarn I have had for about 30 years – SOLD


… had to finish with darker lambswool yarn and a vintage metal button

Mosaic Mojo in Noro “Silver Thaw” variegated wool/angora & pink Rowan “Kid Classic”

Mosaic Mojo in Noro “Silver Thaw” variegated & olive Rowan “Kid Classic”

There was another one right about here, but I failed to get a picture, and it was sold last weekend.

Mosaic Mojo in bright purple Cascade 220 & Noro “Kureyon” variegated wool – SOLD


Mosaic Mojo in dark red Cascade 220 & Noro “Silver Thaw” variegated


Mosaic Mojo in olive Rowan “Kid Classic” & Noro “Kureyon” variegated wool


Earwarmer hat knit with hand-spun yarn from a merino/tencel roving I dyed at a workshop

They sold 3 hats last weekend at the Winthrop Gallery, so I am just soldiering on here – until the end of December, at least.

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24 Scarves…and counting

So the good news/bad news, coming out of the Seattle Weavers’ Guild sale and knitting retreat at Port Townsend, was that my weaving inventory was seriously depleted (not complaining!).  I had the Methow Valley Spinners & Weavers guild sale coming up.  Also, both galleries where I show my work here in the valley have their holiday gift shows starting up.  So it was time to get really busy!

I had been planning to try some simpler scarves using the idea of a “mixed warp” from a 1992 article in Handwoven magazine.  The warp is, obviously, a mix of colors and textures and fibers – of which I have an abundance.  Both coned yarns (from a friend who was closing out her studio), odd balls and skeins of hand-knitting yarns I have picked up over the years or at stash-reduction sales, etc.  Also, the ends will not be twisted or braided but just left as fringes, which saves a lot of time in the finishing and also shows off the warp yarns at each end of the scarf.

This has been a learning experience and I have to say it is a lot of fun, and also I am getting better at it as I go along.

The first batch of 6 scarves were done on a mohair & mohair boucle warp using yarn I purchased wholesale from Fiber Trends in East Wenatchee.  I wove them using a variety of wool knitting yarns, approximately worsted weight.  They came out a little too short after washing but are OK for basic scarves to be worn under a jacket or coat.

Next I used a similar warp, also from Fiber Trends.  This had originally been a bright “tequila sunrise” colorway but I recently overdyed it with indigo down at my friend Sara’s dye studio in Twisp, thus turning it more of a mauve color.  I changed the sett from 6 epi to 8 epi and added more threads to the warp, for a total of 48 ends (i.e. 6″ wide on the loom).

These I wove with rayon chenille in 4 different colors.  I wove them quite long on purpose (84″ – 86″ after washing) so they could be tied with my favorite method.  Colors are delphinium, topaz, navy and silver chenille (from L to R).

long chenille scarves on a mixed mohair & boucle warp

Fold scarf in half and drape around neck. Put one end through loop. Give loop a half-twist and put the other end through.

Moving right along, I next used a combination of coned yarns and miscellaneous hand-knitting yarns in a gold, brown and magenta colorway.  These I also wove long with 4 different yarns: black alpaca (Kid Silk accent stripes at each end), red baby alpaca, a chocolate colored rayon/metallic yarn, and purple rayon flake coned yarn held with a fine kid mohair yarn.

Next I decided to go for a more “normal” length scarf (about 70″ after washing) which also let me get 5 scarves instead of 4 from a 12-yard warp.  The next warp was also a mix of coned yarns and hand-knitting yarns in a blue-green colorway.

Blue-green mixed warp on the loom

From L to R these were woven with: black alpaca (Kid Silk Haze stripes at ends), dark blue rayon/metallic yarn, teal rayon flake coned yarn held with kid mohair, cobalt rayon chenille, and Rowan black wool (bought at the knitting retreat stash reduction sale only a week before!) with accent stripes at each end:

Blue-green mixed warp scarves

So at this point, after 10 days I had completed 19 scarves and it was time for the Methow Valley guild sale, held just this past weekend.  My friend Sara set up the display this year and did a fabulous job – she arranged things more by color than by type of weaving, so as you went around the room it was very stimulating visually, and lots to discover.

at the MVS&W Show & Sale, Nov 16-17, 2012

Again, the good/bad news is that I sold 10 of the 19 new scarves!  My work wasn’t done…. I still had to bring things to the two galleries this week before leaving town for Thanksgiving.

Over the weekend I put on a new mixed warp using black, grey, white, some softer tones and a bit of gold glitter.

black & white warp on the loom

Again I wove 5 scarves, but one was bought by a friend who stopped by the house while they were still hanging to dry yesterday.  So I only have pictures of four (hers was also the cream alpaca, though).

From L to R these were woven with: a gray-green 2-ply wool & silk yarn that I dyed several years ago for another project, white mohair and synthetic blend yarn, fine grey rayon tweed held with a variegated merino/kid mohair yarn, and natural cream alpaca from Henry’s Attic:

black & white mixed warp scarves

So that’s the 24 scarves finished in the last 2 weeks.  I have wound these yarns for the next warp, and also show them on the warping board as I compose my palette:

on the warping board

Today I brought what I could to the Confluence Gallery in Twisp and Winthrop Gallery, and plan to keep at this through December as long as I am having fun with it and they are selling!  Oh by the way I have been knitting a lot of my Mosaic Mojo hats too, but I will have to show those pictures in another post.

We’re off to the Coast tomorrow for 4 nights – Seattle for Thanksgiving with Rick’s mom and sister, then up to my Dad’s at Anacortes for the rest of the time, when we will also see my brother and sister-in-law on Camano Island.

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Weaving & Woodwork

First, a “shopcam” update.  Rick built this beautiful walnut table for some neighbors.  He got the matched boards from a friend in the valley who has had them for a long time and was threatening to cut them up for the stack laminate, sculptural work he does.  Rick rescued them from this fate and replaced them with some “regular” walnut that will do just fine for our friend.

We were in Seattle for 4 nights, three weeks ago, for many reasons including my participation in the Seattle Weavers’ Guild annual sale up at St Marks Cathedral.  It always amazes me how quickly they put it all together, and how much work is on display in the room.  I sold all 7 of the dishtowels I brought, plus 2 scarves, and had a good time just hanging out and socializing with the other weavers.

hundreds of towels on display

one of the four “scarf tables” arranged by color

We also had good visits with Rick’s mom and sister, and got together with several friends for dinner and/or visits over the course of the long weekend.  On the way out of town on a Monday morning, we picked up a U-Haul trailer for a one-way trip from Seattle to Twisp, so that Rick could pick up some wood at Specialty Forest Products in Algona-Pacific (Kent Valley south of Seattle).  He got a fabulous deal on a big pile of cherry rippings, among other things.  These are cut-offs from lumber when a customer order wood cut to a specific dimension.  The pile turned out to be even bigger than he expected, and many pieces were 12-14 ft long but had to fit into a 10-ft trailer.  So he spent many hours at their cutoff saw getting it all to fit.

Rick and the big pile of wood

The following weekend found me out in Port Townsend for my annual knitting retreat, an event I have been attending for over 25 years.  It was great to see my Seattle friends, as well as some folks from all over that I only see there once a year.  The weather was warm and dry (enough) for long walks to the beach or into town.  I sold 6 more of my scarves, plus a blanket and some “pre-owned” sweaters.  Picked up some great bargains, mostly for use in weaving, at the stash-reduction sale that has become a treasured part of this event.

Two of my friends had ordered Hansencrafts miniSpinners so I went along for the ride to pick one of them up at the Hansen’s new manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Port Townsend.  When I picked mine up 2 years ago, they were still operating out of a side room in their home.  This new building takes it to a whole new level – they are obviously enjoying a great deal of success!  Much of the operation involves computer operated machinery and their dust collection systems are fabulous – the place was incredibly clean for a woodworking shop.

computer operated routing table for end pieces

drill station with jigs

computer operated lathe

finished e-spinners waiting for a happy buyer

with my buddies at the Hansencrafts manufacturing site

By the way, I just love my miniSpinner and use it for almost all my spinning these days.  I picked up a third Wooly Winder bobbin during the visit, and a cleaning kit.  Got a lecture on not cleaning or oiling my spinner for the last 2 years (oops! sheepish grin…) so now I will be sure to take care of it a little better.

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Where We Were a Month Ago!

I’m not sure what happened to October – it’s almost over!  It took me forever just to get the pictures off my camera, but here is a belated look back at our 2-week whirlwind trip to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas for a wedding, and up along the eastern Sierra Nevada and through central Oregon via Hwy 395 – the last 2 weeks of September.

We took only 3 days to get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Not all that bad with 2 of us to drive.  We had lots of smoke from forest fires all the way down through SE Washington and into Idaho.  But we had beautiful clear weather once we arrived at our destination, although it did get cold at night, which had as much to do with the elevation (6000′ – 8000′) as anything.

We camped at Jacob Lake in a commercial campground, which turned out to be almost an hour’s drive each day to the scenery and trails at the rim.  Next time (if there is a next time) we will probably go for the park service North Rim Campground.  No water or electric hookups there, but it looked quite nice and has showers, laundry and a basic grocery store.

Camping at Jacob Lake near the Grand Canyon North Rim

The obligatory pose at the rim

We were there for 4 nights, and got in several short to moderate hikes.  The scenery is spectacular, but almost a little overwhelming.  The light was often flat so it was a challenge to get really good pictures (not that it held us back!)

From the Grand Canyon we drove to Las Vegas to attend the wedding of the daughter of some long-time friends (I have known the bride’s mother since the 7th grade).  We parked our little trailer at an inexpensive RV park in Las Vegas where we felt it would be safe – and we could hook up to electricity to run the refrigerator and the fan.  We stayed 3 nights at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino so we could be with our friends and the rest of the wedding party.  About 55 people actually came down for the wedding, which was held about an hour’s drive east of Las Vegas, at Valley of Fire State Park.

They got everyone there in 3 limousines:

Our friends, the mother and father of the bride

A spectacular setting for the wedding ceremony

Afterwards we returned to Las Vegas for a lovely dinner at The Venetian.  This hotel/casino has an artificial “sky” over the “canal” with real water and gondolas.  It was both over-the-top and kind of cool!  Our dinner party was on the second floor overlooking the “canal” and you could almost believe you were in Venice.  Sorry – no pictures.

We had never been to Las Vegas before.  I was expecting the casinos and gambling, but had NO IDEA how much of a theme park the whole place is.  We did enjoy some things, though, like the Fountains at The Bellagio:

Fountains at the Bellagio during the day

Fountains at night (they play music when the fountains are on – this time it was Elvis singing “Viva Las Vegas”!

By Monday we were ready to pick up the trailer and hit the road.  The rest of the trip was more or less a whirlwind tour of places we want to go back to, and spend more time.

Death Valley – more beautiful than we expected.  What a fabulous landscape!  but too hot even at the end of September.  Best to go back in March or April and do some camping and hiking.

Death Valley

We spent one night up in Yosemite National Park at the Tuolomne Meadows Campground (where we camped many times when I was a child).  Did a drive through the park and remembered how much we love Yosemite, especially the high country.  We will definitely be going back there for at least a week in the next year or two!

camping at Tuolomne Meadows

Rick in Yosemite Valley

We spent a couple of nights on the way home at the south end of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in SE Oregon.  This was our third visit there, but we have always gone in the spring to enjoy the bird migrations.  This time we took a day to drive the scenic 50-mile loop on Steens Mountain.  This is an uplifted tableland (escarpment) which lifts from west to east.  There are numerous deep U-shaped gorges that were formed by glaciation.  It is a somewhat austere landscape, but quite beautiful.  We saw antelope but not the wild horses that also roam there.

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Arizona Bound

We’re off on a 2-week road trip tomorrow, with our Aliner camping trailer.  We will be attending a wedding in Las Vegas in a little over a week, and decided to make a camping trip out of it rather than fly down.  By next Monday we will be at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for 4 nights.  I was there once before about 40 years ago, and Rick has never been, so we are excited!  After that comes 3 nights with the wedding party at a hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas (can you say…. “and now for something completely different”?)  Then we will work our way home via the east side of northern California and central Oregon.

I finished another of my Mosaic Mojo hats, this time in a handpainted Blue Face Leicester yarn from Chameleon Colorworks, plus some lovely plum-colored Elsbeth Lavold “Baby Llama”.

It is interesting how the fairly regular color repeat in the yarn played off against the number of stitches in the mosaic band, causing a “swirl” of colors through the band.  This was completely unplanned and uncontrolled on my part, but I sure do like it!


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