Archive for the ‘spinning’ Category

Spinning Day

We had a good turnout yesterday at Methow Valley Spinners and Weavers, for our 4th Thursday “focus on spinning” day.  Somehow we had kind of fallen out of the habit of making this 4th meeting of the month truly about spinning, so it was heartening to see all the wheels in motion and a lively discussion of fiber preparations and spinning methods.  There had also been some interest in learning more about crochet finishes so we had a little demo and practice of basic crochet and also Reverse Single Crochet or Crab Stitch.

I am teaching 2 knitting classes now.  The Tuesday night group is learning how to design and knit their own top-down raglan sweater.  Next week is the 4th meeting and everyone seems to be doing well.  I’ll try to get some progress pictures of their sweater next week.  Here is the one I am knitting along with them:

The yarn is some Rowan Magpie Tweed I bought several years ago from a friend who was de-stashing.  It’s nice to see it finally turning into something!  I am quite pleased with the cable pattern down the front and back, and the cabled rib with rolled edge on the sleeve.  I plan to use that around the bottom of the sweater as well, and then work out something along the same lines for the neckline finish.

My other group is on Thursday mornings – they just wanted some help with their projects, and to learn some new skills.  Yesterday I taught them how to do several different kinds of buttonholes.

We’re off to the coast today to start packing up and moving out of our apartment there.  We’ll be moved out by the end of February.  It’s been a wonderful place to come to when we are in the big city, right at the Ballard Locks, but it has become harder to justify the expense given how seldom we are actually there.  Kind of hard to give it up, though…

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Greetings from the soggy Methow Valley.   We have had a steady supply of precipitation – if only it would stay about 5 degrees colder… then it would stay as snow.  At least we got a nice 3-4″ over Saturday night, and some of it is still on the ground, but the roads are once again completely clear.  Last week we twice went on a 2-1/2 mile round trip walk up our road, to the end of pavement, which most winters is a treacherously icy affair, best not attempted.

I hear most of the groomed ski trails in the valley are still in decent shape, though.  There was a big national level Nordic ski race here last weekend, the SuperTour, and they had to change the venue in part from the track near Liberty Bell High School to the north summit of Loup Loup (which has a groomed ski trail system of its own).  By all accounts the conditions were good and it went off well.

Not at the championship level ourselves, we were content to ski some of the trails up at Loup Loup South Summit last Sunday.  It was a little slow but not sticky and we were out for at least 2 hours.  Towards the end we had a light snow mixed with rain, so we got pretty wet, but it was great to be out there and doing it!

Yesterday I went with my Tuesday group for a snowshoe outing.  We drove up the Twisp River Road and tried the Buttermilk Sno-Park (not tracked and too icy), another spot at the end of plowing up the south side of the Twisp River (neighbors known to be unfriendly to parking there, were home, and some of our group were nervous…), and finally the end of plowing up the main Twisp River Road.  There we had luck and saw only that some skiers had been in before us.  We had to “break trail” but the surface was firm so it wasn’t too much work.

This was the turn-around spot for some, the beaver ponds and a rather grey outlook:

Twisp River beaver ponds

Four of us continued on to War Creek Campground for a lunch break and turn-around spot.  We figured we did 5 miles round trip, and I was a little tired!  But had a lovely hot soak in the tub on returning home.

On the fiber arts front, I finished my third Jared Flood hat from his “Made in Brooklyn” booklet.  I used my handspun grey Corriedale plus a strand of grey Rowan Kidsilk Haze.  It is wonderfully soft and springy!

I also finished up spinning some dyed wool roving that I bought from Heidi Parra at The Artful Ewe in Port Gamble about 2 years ago.  The roving was dyed mainly green with some areas of brown-into-black, so the color varies subtly along the length of the spun singles.  I wanted to ply it with something else so I could get more yardage, so rummaged around in the spinning fiber boxes and came up some baby camel/merino (50/50 blend).  So here is the final yarn, it is a 2-ply and about fingering weight.  I have 220 gm total or about 1/2 lb of yarn, approx 850 yds and I think it will be knit into a lace shawl.

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I didn’t make any specific New Year’s resolutions, yet the past two weeks have seen us finishing things up, organizing, taking care of things long postponed, and the like.  Not much of this activity was picture-worthy, and so I tended not to post on the blog.  But we are here and busy!

I started teaching a knitting class last Tuesday based on Karen Alfke’s Top-Down Raglan “Unpattern” (with her permission).  I am leading 5 intrepid knitters through the process of designing their own sweater using a yarn of their choice.  Of course, I am knitting one along with them so I have to keep ahead!  I spent most of last Monday getting my class project started, going through some of my sweater design books and preparing handouts for the first class.  Things went well with the first meeting and I think it is going to be a fun and exciting process for everyone.

I also took most of a day last week to catalog a big box of books that were donated to our guild library last fall.  They have been sitting there on the floor of our home office giving me a baleful look for some time now.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I needed to enter them into an Excel sheet and classify them, print out labels and get them ready for shelving.  We are using the Pourrey Cross Textile Classification Schedule developed at Interweave Press to classify our books.  Sometimes it is a challenge to get the right match, but it is better than nothing (and certainly better than trying to develop our own subject classification method).  So on Thursday I took everything up to the meeting and my co-librarian and I shelved everything and generally tidied up the library.  We needed more shelf space so we had to move some things around and then shift all the books over to fill the newly freed-up shelf.

Next project up was going through and organizing most of last year’s Visa charge receipts and pairing them with their statements.  This is in preparation for entering into Quickbooks which I will start tomorrow.  In other words, starting to get our bookwork done so we can take everything to our accountant hopefully by early February.

Rick finished up some laundry room cabinets and installed them at the house up in Mazama a couple of days ago.  That means he is done with that cabinet job, which occupied him for much of 2009.  We are going to try to go up to the house sometime next week and get some pictures.  The owner has asked Rick to build 3 beds for the house and they are still working out the details on that, but that will be his next project in the shop.

He also took the time to build a new out-feed table for the table saw, and repaired the big sprinkler cart that we use to water out in the field during the summer (“finally got that **** thing out of my way in the shop”).

It did snow for several days last week, on and off.  I decided it was time for me to learn how to use the snowblower, so I cleared out the driveway instead of expecting Rick to do it.  That was actually a workout!   Discovered some under-used arm muscles.  We finally got enough snow to put a layer down out on the alfalfa field, and our neighbors pulled the tracking sled around behind a snowmobile to set a ski track.  We went around twice yesterday (40 minutes) and it was great skiing, although a hair thin in places.  We got a light dusting last night so that should improve things a bit.

And finally, I spun up some dusty green merino top to go with some previously spun singles.  These came from a spinning batt given to one of our guild members last summer in Spokane – she passed it on to me as she doesn’t spin.  It was a beautiful batt (94% superfine merino, 4% bamboo, 1% angelina, which gives it the sparkle) in color “Dolly Varden” created by Laurie Sitkiewicz from Anchorage, AK (ewenique@gci.net, no website).  But only 2.5 oz so I wanted to stretch it a bit to get enough yarn to knit with.

merino & trout before plying

I had divided the Trout onto 3 storage bobbins, originally meaning to make a single skein of 3-ply from it, but wound up plying each one of those with 2 strands of the dusty green merino, resulting in 3 nice skeins of yarn.  The sparkle from the Angelina is definitely there, but not overwhelming.

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Spinning day at guild

It was raining here last night, which we figured was the kiss of death for our remaining snow… only to wake up this morning to maybe 6-8 inches of new fallen snow!  It may not last, but it sure was pretty…

new snow in late February

new snow in late February

Methow Valley Spinners & Weavers meet on Thursday afternoons from 1-3 pm in our very own building halfway between Twisp and Winthrop.  Actually the building was built by our fearless leader, Kay R., both for her own studio space and to make a home for the guild (we rent it from her for a very reasonable amount.)  The last Thursday of the month is “spinning day” – those who spin, do so and the rest weave, visit, etc.


We have a library and lots of weaving samples along one wall, and each of us has drawer space to keep personal items and weaving supplies.  There are at least 10 looms and many of them are currently in use (not everyone has a loom at home, and all members can come in outside meeting days to work on projects.)  The floor is heated and there is lots of light.  It’s a wonderful space!


mvsw-26feb09-4Diana M. is finally making headway on her green chenille yardage.  So happy!

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In addition to the Methow Valley Spinners & Weavers Guild, I am also a member of a fiber-arts guild over in the Okanogan Valley (Omak – Okanogan, about a 45 minute drive over a low mountain range, the next river valley to the east of the Methow Valley).  They meet every 2 weeks in each others’ homes, and a potluck lunch figures largely in the proceedings.  My friend Diana is also a member, as is a woman named Teresa who moved to Twisp from Tonasket last year.  So last Saturday the three of us made the journey over Loup Loup pass to a guild meeting in Conconully, which is a good half hour northeast of Omak; Conconully is a little frontier town on a lake.  Pronounced:  Con-co-NULL- ly. Our hostess, Eve, lives in the woods several miles outside of Conconully, and this was the first time we had been to her home.

Guild meeting at Eve's

Guild meeting at Eve's

Yes, that is a very large stuffed elk head in the background.  There was also a cougar waiting to pounce up on the stairway landing.

There was a lot of show-and-tell, including Sandra’s poncho that she had woven in a shadow-weave pattern with her handspun yarn:

conconully-3and Ingrid’s beautiful rep weave table runner and placemats that she just finished as part of a “color challenge” project the guild took on last year:conconully-21

Ingrid is a very interesting woman.  She is Swedish, and when she was younger she lived in Hawaii and was a marine mammal trainer.  They moved to Omak from Anacortes several years ago, and now live out on the Colville Indian Reservation in a little valley east of Omak, where she raises cashmere goats, Norwegian Fjord horses, and also has an aviary which I have not yet seen.  We have been to several guild meetings at her home, and she is a beautiful weaver.

Saturday night we went out to dinner at the Twisp River Pub with our neighbors up the road, then Rick and I drove up to Winthrop to see our friend Leah Larson play with Brad Pinkerton and Paul Gitchos.  Leah has a beautiful singing voice (mainly bluegrass) but that evening she was just playing the fiddle with the band.


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