Archive for 2012

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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2012 Okanogan Fair results

The Okanogan County Fair was held last weekend (Thursday through Sunday, actually).  I had filed my entries online before I left on the road trip, but one of them wasn’t finished before I left – namely, in the category “fleece to finished item”.  This must be something you made in the last year, starting with a fleece, so it could be a felted item or something made from yarn spun after preparing the fleece for spinning.

So anyway, last week I was seized with the determination to pull this off!  I was working from a Corriedale/Shetland fleece that I had washed and carded into batts.  I decided to spin up enough of it, and then make a 3-ply yarn, to knit a hat.  I only got to the knitting stage 2 nights before I had to take my entries over to the fairgrounds, but with one very late night I managed to get it done:

Temptation’s fleece as a finished knitted hat

I picked up my entries on Sunday afternoon and here they are after judging:

handspun yarn – blue ribbon

woven scarf – Blue & Grand Champion

woven shawl – Blue, Grand Champion & “Special Award”

woven throw – Blue & Grand Champion

Fleece to Finished Item – Blue & Special Award

I am not quite sure what the “Special Awards” are all about – there isn’t any mention of them in the fair premium book that lists all the departments and categories and how to enter, etc.  I’ll have to ask at our guild meeting this week – maybe someone knows!

I have been working on some of my “Mosaic Mojo” hats as a simple carry-around project.  Here are the two that I finished in the last couple of weeks (one on the road trip, and the other going to and from Seattle last week).

Noro “Silver Thaw” and gray Rowan “Kid Classic”

Noro “Silk Garden” and blue Rowan “Kid Classic”








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Scenes from the Road

I am home again – arrived here Friday late afternoon, 2800+ miles and 5 days of driving later.  We saw a lot of beautiful country – it was like watching a slowly unfolding movie as we passed from state to state.

We had one layover day in Lancaster, PA before picking up the car and heading west.  We were staying at a lovely B&B in Lancaster, the King’s Cottage B&B.  Our hostesses were welcoming and informative, the breakfasts were healthy yet gourmet quality – in all, “elegant but casual” as advertised.  Also a big “shout out” to Janis and Ann – I lost an earring but didn’t realize it until almost home, and they found it and are sending it to me!

We had a loaner car from the dealership so were able to explore the surrounding countryside that Sunday.  It being Sunday, most businesses were closed, including Amish crafts etc.  But we still enjoyed the sights and the lovely countryside.

Beautiful farmlands around Lancaster, PA

Covered bridge on a back road

On Monday morning we picked up the car and headed for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Actually, we followed the turnpike through multiple states until hitting I-90 west of Chicago the next day.

We spent the first night near Lake Pokagon in Angola, IN.  There is a wonderful state park at the lake, with historic Potawotami Inn on the park grounds.  We took the time for a walk there in the morning before driving again – the Inn would be worth a visit, or at least dinner, sometime in future.

The second night we spent with a friend in La Crosse, WI.  She got a spin in the car, of course!

in La Crosse, WI

The third day was our longest one – we drove up along the west side of the Mississippi River, which was quite lovely and reminded me a little of the drive along the Columbia River Gorge.   Skirted Minneapolis/St Paul and then got onto I-94 to head across Minnesota and North Dakota.  Neither of us had been in North Dakota before.  It was flat, but a lot greener than I expected, with farm lands and pockets of trees.  We saw huge crops of sunflowers there.  Made it almost to the North Dakota/Montana border and spent the night in Dickinson, ND.

On day four we drove into Montana and spent the night in Butte, MT.  We had hoped to see a lot of mountain scenery, but because of multiple wildfires it was all grey and smoggy and you could hardly make out anything in the near distance, much less the far distance!  The roads were more fun to drive, though (and yes, we were behaving ourselves speed-limit-wise).  We had a fabulous and inexpensive Montana beef steak dinner that night in Butte.

Day 5, Friday, it was on to Idaho and Spokane, WA and the air quality did clear up and allow us to enjoy the mountain scenery a little better.  From Spokane, the most direct route to the Methow Valley follows smaller state highways, which were a lot of fun to drive with little traffic (still being good about speed!) with ups and downs and curves.  That Porsche has plenty of power, and really hugs the road.  Because of the time zone change, we made it here by 4:30 and had time to wash the car and enjoy a salmon dinner that Rick was ready to cook for us.  Sweet!

Here is a parting shot from Saturday morning, as my friend headed off on her last leg of driving to the Seattle area, over the gorgeous North Cascades Hwy (Hwy 20 from Winthrop in the Methow Valley).

Back home in the Methow!

Also this weekend was the second annual Feast of Field & Stream, a fundraising dinner for Trout Unlimited/ Washington Water Project that honors area farmers who have earned their “Salmon Safe” certification for their farming and water management practices.  As with last year, it was a fabulous meal using locally sourced food & wine.  We met friends there and had a perfect early-autumn evening with the moon still almost full.

Feast of Field & Stream 2012

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Thelma & Louise

I found out a week ago that I am leaving on an Adventure with one of my best friends. She just bought a pre-owned 2004 Porsche Carrera S but it is located in Lancaster, PA and she wants me to fly back with her to drive it cross-country to Seattle.  So I am leaving this evening from the Wenatchee airport to join her in Seattle. We will fly out of Seatac to Philadelphia the next morning, and will be gone for about a week. The plan is to come back via I-90 and she will bring me home to the Methow on her way through to Seattle.

This is the Porsche, a pretty midnight blue with soft grey interior:

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!  A number of people have remarked it sounds kind of like the movie “Thelma & Louise” – but hopefully without the driving-off-the-cliff part at the end.

I finished up 3 more of the collapse weave scarves – the warp had soft blues, greens and pinks for the cottons with a dark hot pink (“Chanel”) for the wool grid that shrinks more than the cotton and causes the puckering.  The weft colors were lavender, turquoise, and a soft blue-green.

One of my neighbors wants to learn something about weaving, so to get her started (and to have something new to do myself) we wound and tied a cotton towel warp onto the existing setup I have for the scarves on Kingston.  So now she will weave a couple of towels and I will finish up the rest when I get back from the road trip:

I also finished spinning and plying some dyed New Zealand Corriedale that I bought at least 10 years ago from a place in Victoria BC.  The preparation was interesting – it looked like a roving in the bag, but was actually a narrow batt with stripes of about 6 colors running side by side the whole length of it.  I didn’t want to spin it from the end and risk having the colors get all muddied, and I also wanted a more woolen, rather than worsted, prep.  So I tore off about 1-ft sections of the narrow batt, spread it out, then rolled it from the end to something like a rolag (warning … spinning terminology).  Then spun it from the end of the “rolag”, after attenuating the fibers a bit.  So for each of these “rolags” I was spinning across the colors, so they came and went in the singles in a more or less regular pattern.  Clear as mud?  Then I made a 3-ply yarn and just let the colors from the singles work against each other as they came without trying to plan that part out very much.  I am quite pleased with the result!

I have about 650 yards which should be enough to knit a vest:

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Since my last post, we have continued working on outside infrastructure projects.  About 2 weeks ago, our plumber came and completed the hookup of water lines and sewer to the shop building.  On the same day, we had 8 dump truck loads of topsoil delivered and dumped around the perimeter of the house.








The plan is to spread this out on top of our very rocky soil before planting a “Dry Site Lawn Mix” in the late fall, just before it snows.  This should then sprout in the spring.  It won’t exactly be a lawn, but will provide a grassy ground-cover around the house that we can mow, but should require little watering once established.  We also had some crushed rock and gravel brought in to make some improvements to the driveway and create a new parking area near the house, across from the carport.  Rick plans to build some steps that will come up from that area to the corner of the deck.

New parking area, and topsoil spread ready for planting

Somewhere in there, I finished up the 3 collapse weave scarves in brown/reddish tones.  Traded one of these with my friend at Backcountry Coffee Roasters for a “coffee credit”!

We have had more visitors.  Juno loves visitors!  My cousin Ernie and his wife Mary, who live down near Mt. Hood in Oregon, came through on a loop up to Anacortes/Camano and then over the North Cascades to see us:

Mary, Ernie & yours truly

The following weekend, our friends who own the Real Mother Goose Gallery in Portland, OR came for 2 nights.  Somehow I failed to take pictures, but they had not been over this way in a long time and had not yet seen our home here on Wolf Creek.  It was also their 40th anniversary so we took them out to the Arrowleaf Bistro in Winthrop for a nice dinner.

More “visitors” – all the bucks are hanging out together these days.  Some of them are in our yard almost every day.

Last week we went down to the Twisp River Pub for the Wednesday evening “Jazz in the Beer Garden”.  My brother had told us the visiting guitarist, John Stowell (from Portland, OR) was really good.  No kidding!  He was playing with Terry Hunt, who isn’t too shabby either, plus a bass and drums.

Last Friday we went to a moving sale down in Carlton and came home with a little Ryobi electric log splitter.  We tried it out this morning on some rounds that refused to yield to the splitting maul last year.  It is fabulous!  and not scary or dangerous.  It just slowly presses the log against a wedge at the right end.  Irresistible force meets (as it turns out) moveable object!

We still have to get one or two more cords of wood for the winter, which come cut to length but not split.  This is going to make life so much easier!

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