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Archive for 2016

Obliquity

We set up the new show at Winthrop Gallery this week.  The official opening is this coming Saturday, June 4, and it will run through July 25.  The title is “Obliquity:  Our Tilt Towards the Sun”.  The four of us wanted something general that we could work around, and because the summer solstice occurs on June 21 in the middle of our time period, we thought a “summer” theme would be good.

The seasons are caused by the angular offset or obliquity between the Earth’s axis of rotation and a perpendicular to the Earth’s orbital plane with the Sun.  As a result, at different places in the Earth’s annual orbit, the northern hemisphere is tilted towards or away from the Sun to varying degrees.  When the northern hemisphere is most tilted towards the Sun we have our summer solstice and the longest day of the year.   So hopefully this explains the title!

Obliquity posterHere are a few pictures I took at the gallery yesterday:

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4 Generations

We have been gone a lot the last couple of weeks, mostly for family visits.  After Mother’s Day weekend in Seattle, we flew down to Medford to visit Rick’s daughter and her husband, her “kids” our grandchildren (all adults now!) and the great-grandchildren.  We had not yet met the new baby girl born last September, so that was pretty great.

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Four generations!

Last week my sister and her husband were visiting from Colorado and staying with my Dad, so we headed back over the mountains for a visit.  For some reason I took no pictures!  But it was great to see them.

Had a birthday last week.  I loved this card a friend sent me, along with a sweet little pouch she embroidered with a blue sheep!  You have to realize that there was a period when I was a little girl when I insisted on being called “Cowboy Aberson Carr”.  Not sure how I came up with that in the first place, but I had chaps and still have a picture of me on my trike wearing them.

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I am in the final week of getting ready for the show at the Winthrop Gallery that goes up next week.  Here is a picture of four of the plaited twill scarves, all finished and ready to go.  I still have to twist the fringes on three more of them, but this is definitely a start…

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This week I am weaving more placemats – liking these black & white ones quite a bit.  These are all plain weave, but “thick & thin”, alternating picks of cotton fabric cut in 1/2″ strips and folded to 1/4″, with a rayon/cotton slub yarn as the alternate pick.  I like the way this keeps the fabric strips always in the same shed, creating vertical lines in the warp threads that run the length of the mat.

placemat 2 fabric

placemat 2 May 2016

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I finished weaving the new set of plaited twill scarves this week and took them off the loom at the guild room.  There are seven of them, each with a different weft color on the “Sea Scallop” warp – this is a colorway I did once before, about 4 years ago.  Really, it has been that long.

They still need to have fringes twisted, and then be washed and pressed, but I am pleased with how they turned out.  I need to get at least some of these completely done by mid-May for photography, as I am hoping to use this for the poster for the show at Winthrop Gallery that opens June 1.  It will be a bit of a challenge since we are going away for a week, but some way or another it will be done.

sea scallop woven

I also got a warp onto Kingston, my 32″ Macomber at home, to start some placemats (also for the WG show).  The warp is leftover rug warp – I have many little spools with some warp left on them from winding the 50-yd warps I use for rug weaving.  These will be plain weave, but alternating 1/2″ strips of cotton fabric with a novelty yarn.  For the first ones, I am using a length of fabric I must have bought decades ago under the delusion that I would actually sew myself a shirt or blouse!  I am alternating this with a rayon chenille.

placemat fabric 1

placemat 1 May 2016

The flowers continue to come out in the yard – larkspur, some yellow flowers (sorry, I don’t know what they are!) and the bitterroot are just getting started.   Rick took some pictures for the home tour booklet this week:

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and last week we saw a fantastic sunset with Mt Gardiner in the background:

sunset 28Apr2016

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How We Work

The Winthrop Gallery put up a new show this week, with the official opening on Saturday.  Open to all members, it is titled “How We Work:  Winthrop Gallery artists & the creative process.”  Those of us who submitted a piece or two were asked to provide a statement to be mounted on the wall, which could include photographs.  It was left very open so it will be fun and interesting to see what people came up with.  We can’t make the opening on Saturday because we are headed over to La Conner and Bellingham for the weekend, but I will stop by there today to see how it looks.  Here’s the poster:

How We Work poster

I finished off a rug warp last week and have wound a new warp onto the sectional beam, although it isn’t threaded yet.   Here are some of the recent rugs:

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R252 & R253

This is the one I was weaving when we took the picture for the poster – and one of these is in the show

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This is shaping up to be a spectacular year for wildflowers, one factor being all the snow we had last winter.  It has warmed up quickly and melted off fast – the Methow River is a raging brown torrent this week.

Our signature wildlflower, the arrowleaf balsamroot (called “sunflowers” by the locals) have come out strong on the hillsides this past week.  We knew we had to get out to see them before they started to fade, so this morning we did the Lewis Butte hike not too far north out of Winthrop, off the Gunn Ranch Rd.  In addition to the balsamroot, the lupine were well along.  I’ll let the pictures say the rest…

Lewis Butte 4-20-16 a

Lewis Butte 4-20-16 b

Mt. Gardiner in the background

Mt. Gardiner in the background

We did it as a loop, with the steepest part (an old jeep track) at the beginning.  We aren’t in the best of shape but we made it!  Maybe next week we will try Patterson Mtn, as we were told it is a little farther behind Lewis Butte in flower development.

Weaving update

I took 7 plaited twill scarves off the loom at the guild room over a week ago, and have been doing the finishing work at home.

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Then over Sunday and Monday I wound a new warp onto the sectional beam, tied it onto the old warp (the blue/green colorway) and started the first scarf.  I haven’t done these particular colors for about 4 years and I am excited to see it again – I call it “Sea Scallop”.

sea scallop warp

sea scallop started

 

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Last month we took a week away to visit friends on the Olympic Peninsula and celebrate our 43rd anniversary in Port Townsend.  Our friends own a cabin resort on the north shore of Lake Quinault – Lochaerie Resort – which dates back to the mid-1920’s.  They live out there now that they are retired.  We haven’t been there for 2 years so it was high time!

The four of us went into Hoquiam one day to visit the Elton Bennett studio.  Mr. Bennett is no longer alive, but his daughter Barbara Bennett Parsons has a showroom in Hoquiam and regularly does art shows to sell the remainder of his silkscreen artworks.  The Parsons like to come out to Lochaerie to stay in the cabins, so they know our friends.

Hoquiam 1

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Hoquiam 3My mom and dad had a couple of Bennett prints – we used to stop at his studio in Hoquiam on our way out to the coast for winter break vacation.  It was fun to see this whole collection!

In Port Townsend we had beautiful weather and were able to walk the beach at low tide out at Fort Worden State Park.  We also strolled around the fort grounds and ran across the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.  There were some students there and we were able to have a nice chat and see what they were working on.  Rick has been involved here in some plans to create a woodworking shop down at Twispworks, perhaps as soon as next year, so he was interested to see how this shop was set up for use by multiple folks.

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We had our anniversary dinner at The Fountain Cafe in Port Townsend.

Pt Townsend 43rd anniv

 

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Rick just finished a walnut coffee table using a plank of Oregon claro walnut that he had kicking around the shop for about 25 years.  For the legs he used leftover pieces from a kitchen he just did for a house in Twisp.  These were from a homestead tree down in Wenatchee that had been through a wildfire.  One of the pieces had a big split down the middle which he had to separate to keep the leg stable.  When he did that, he found an actual walnut embedded in the crack – the tree must have grown around it.  He managed to glue it back in there when he fashioned the leg!

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P1000830Our friends in Wenatchee stopped by last weekend on their way into the valley for some skiing.  They fell in love with this table and are buying it, so it will never see the inside of a gallery.  We are taking it to them tomorrow when we go down for a medical appointment.

On the weaving front, I put a warp on Kingston, the 32″ Macomber at home, to do my guild “challenge” project.   It needs to be finished by the April 15 meeting and this year it is a color challenge.  We each drew an envelope with a color photograph, and the challenge is to weave something using at least 4 colors from the photograph, and no others.  My picture is of cherry tomatoes on the vine, laid out on a wicker basket.

I had colors in 8/2 cotton from WEBS that worked but it took me a while to decide what sort of thing to weave.  I didn’t want to do a towel for some reason.  Then I remembered a project in Handwoven magazine last Nov/Dec that used a Bateman Boulevard draft to make fabric for a tablet sleeve.  I really liked the mid-century modern look of that fabric and decided to accomplish 2 things – my color challenge, and an exploration of the Boulevard weave to see where it might lead me.

I wound up with 4 napkins for the challenge part, and have warp left on the loom to try some variations.  There are 4 colors in the warp – 2 greens, a warm brown, and tobacco.  When weaving, I used the red-orange for the pattern weft and one of the warp colors for the tabby weft.  So the four napkins are each a slightly different color, and it was good to see what changing the tabby weft did to the overall color of the fabric.

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I have also kept up with spinning, inspired by my time up on Orcas Island in February.

A 3-ply yarn using 3 rovings from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks.  Two of them were merino/tencel and one was wool/bombyx silk, but all three were dyed in the same Autumn colorway.

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A 2-ply yarn using 4 oz. of Bluefaced Leicester purchased many years ago from Chameleon Colorworks.P1000833

On Saturday we are off for a week-long vacation to Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula, and then to Port Townsend and LaConner.  Can’t wait!!

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Spinning Camp 2016

I spent last week on Orcas Island at “spinning camp” with Judith Mackenzie.  Like last year, I went with 2 friends from the Methow.  We somehow managed to get 3 spinning wheels and our personal luggage into my Honda CR-V, and did our grocery shopping up on the island (they give us one meal a day at lunchtime, but we are on our own for breakfast and dinner, and the cabins have kitchens).

3 Methow gals at camp

3 Methow gals at camp

Judith in the meeting room

Judith in the meeting room

The theme this year was “Let’s Spin It Right”.  Basically she gave us a lot of different kinds of fibers to spin and showed one or more ways to make the best use of it. Her new book is out and I would say a lot of things we tried drew on the book.  I did buy a copy as there is a lot of great info in there, not just about the various fibers.

“It’s time to look beyond wool, with The Practical Spinner’s Guide: Rare Luxury Fibers!  The go-to expert for fiber artists, Judith MacKenzie shares insights into working with uncommon (but readily available) luxury downs in this comprehensive, yet practical, guide for today’s spinners. With her natural voice for story telling that is both engaging and informative, she discusses the history of each of these downs, how they are used today, characteristics unique to each, and where to find them. She also dives deep into the specific spinning techniques for each fiber, knitting and weaving rare fibers, and dying them once spun.  From angora to bison, camel to cashmere, there’s a whole world of rare luxury fibers just waiting to be spun!”

The first day she gave us 2 oz. of 60% Polwarth/40% silk roving she had dyed.  I wound up buying a second one in a close but more blue color and over the course of the next day or two made this 2-ply yarn which I will use for a lace project:

JM's dyed roving spun into 2-ply

That day we also played around with spinning silk and ways to combine it with other fibers.  She had just received some beautiful darkish red eri silk from India.  She showed us a way she had just come up with to combine it with yak fiber.  The yak has quite a short fiber length and the silk is much longer, but she laid a light “frosting” on top of the yak and just added some in occasionally.  The final effect is a gilded yak singles that you can ply.  My sample is so small it isn’t worth photographing (and I need to practice to get it to look better!) but I was quite excited by this idea and intend to pursue it.

She gave us some washed camel undercoat which has all the lengths of fiber, the shorter of which are lost when it is made into top.  You can spin this directly, but she also combined it with silk on handcards, which requires cutting the longer silk fiber into shorter lengths.  I brought that project home with me as I am not that good with handcards and want to take my time.

They set up the dye cabin towards the end of the week and I did a fair amount of dyeing this year.  Several folks were interested in gradient dyeing of skeins of yarn.  This involves starting with a low water level, then gradually lowering the fiber into the bath as you add more water.

gradient dyeing 1

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From home I had brought 8 oz of 60% Polwarth/40% silk roving and Judith helped me dye it in the steam table tray.  Basically I assisted and she did the colors!

roving dyeing 1

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She has so many years experience she can just pour the dye stock solutions on and get wonderful results.  The challenge for me will be doing this on my own and not making a total mud pie out of it.  But look at my beautiful roving!

polwarth&silk roving dyed

I also did some immersion dyeing of 6 skeins of wool I bought at camp in 2007 from Island Fibers on Lopez Island.  Maxine always brings her wares (whole fleeces, dyed rovings, undyed rovings, etc) to camp.  They had sent Lopez-Island-raised Coopworth and Romney fleeces to be spun into yarn and after 8 years I had done nothing with it and it was still white.  Now with Judith’s help it is a lovely moss green and I have started swatching for a sweater.

It was another inspiring and informative camp with our lovely Judith, teacher and mentor extraordinaire.

Judith with Abstract Fiber

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One more round of scarves…

I just finished my fourth “mixed warp” set of scarves, just in time to get them into the galleries before Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend, which brings a lot of folks into the valley for the long weekend and cross-country skiing.  Next week I will be on Orcas Island for spinning camp with Judith Mackenzie.  Yay!

This warp was “purple-ish” – I mixed in some maroons, warm brown tones and a bit of pink to come up with 16 different yarns, but it worked out fine.

purpleish warp Feb 2016

purpleish on loom

purpleish scarves

The challenge this time was coming up with good weft yarns for 11 scarves.  I went to my knitting yarn stash and came up with some good ones, plus some coned wool and rayon chenille.

I think we are seeing the spring thaw coming.  It has warmed up and giant landslides of snow have been thundering off the roof.  There is still lots of snow on the ground though, and when I worked at the Winthrop Gallery yesterday, folks were saying the skiing was still good.

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More Shopcam

Rick just finished a walnut coffee table for our friends in Portland, OR.  They had been given the board used for the top – it was from Michael Elkan, a longtime friend and incredible woodworker and designer, who sadly passed away over a year ago.  For the end pieces (legs) Rick used some other spectacular walnut from a tree down south of Wenatchee, left over from a kitchen job he worked on last year.

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