Archive for the ‘home life’ Category


Yesterday we made a run over to the west side with the truck and utility trailer to get some birdseye maple from a friend who lives in Maple Valley (SE of Seattle).  Rick needs some of the wood for a job that he hopes to complete before Christmas, and we were running up against winter weather for getting over the passes.  In fact, there was a storm forecast to come in by last night.  We had smooth sailing – bare and dry over Blewett Pass and bare and wet over Snoqualmie.  We left at 8 am and got home around 7 pm.

Ken Richards is an incredible woodworker.  Way, way beyond almost anything I have ever seen.  Check out Ken Richards: The Art of Fine Furniture for a closer look!  He was working on a commission for a client that he estimated would take 13 months to complete.

Rick & Ken Richards with the piece underway

Rick & Ken Richards with the piece underway

When we reached Winthrop last night it was just starting to snow.  There were a couple of inches on the ground when we went to bed.  This morning we awoke to this:

First snowfall for winter 2015!

First snowfall for winter 2015!

Fortunately, in the last week or so Rick finished stacking and storing the extra cord of firewood we had delivered:


And just a few days ago he finished clearing out the center bay of the carport and backed the Airstream into its winter home:


So we are all ready for winter.  Bring it on and we hope for a good snow season and plenty of cross-country skiing!  It is supposed to rain later today and be clear at the end of the week, so I suspect this current snow won’t last, but it’s a start!

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A Fine Weekend

Well, the studio tour has come and gone.  It was a lot of work getting ready but we had a good time and enough, but not too many, visitors.  We had a mix of neighbors and friends, people visiting the Methow for the weekend, and “part-timers” here for the weekend.  It was kind of quiet both mornings, but picked up in the afternoon, and never so busy that we didn’t have time to really show people around Rick’s shop and my weaving studio, and get into some interesting conversations.

studio tour 2015a

I set up a display of my work under a canopy out in front of the woodworking shop.  Sales were actually pretty good, so I was pleased!

I did finish hemming the second set of towels on Friday night.

set 2b

set 2a

It was really quiet on Sunday morning, so I set up my big electric dyepot on the front deck of the house and started pre-dyeing the silk scarf blanks for another round of my “tie dye” scarves, which I hope to get to work on pretty soon.

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Twisp River Fire

We just went through a big fire event and I thought I would post a few pictures.  It was a fire up the Twisp River Road that started last Wednesday (August 19) and just blew up in a matter of hours.  Both Twisp and Winthrop were put on level 3 evacuation (which means “get out now”).

From our house Wednesday afternoon, looking south towards Twisp

From our house about 3 pm Wednesday afternoon, looking south towards Twisp

Some folks have asked how we knew about the evacuation level.  After some neighbors came around and told us we should start preparing to leave, we started to listen to our local radio station KTRT.  Then we got an automated call on the home phone from Okanogan County Emergency Management with the evacuation notice.  Later, around 6 pm, a state patrol car came around the neighborhood.  By then, we had most of our things out in the car, pickup truck and cargo trailer.  We wound up staying 2 nights with friends about 6 miles south of Twisp.

Looking up Twisp River Rd about 7:30 pm on our way south

Looking up Twisp River Rd about 7:30 pm on our way south

Things were just as bad or worse over the hill in the Okanogan Valley, by the way.  A lot of this was on the national news.   Three firefighters died and another one was terribly burned last Wednesday when the fire first broke out – that is the worst part of this whole thing.

On Friday they seemed to have things under control near Twisp so we decided to head back home but leave our things packed up in the vehicles for the time being.

Smoke column north of Twisp on our way back into town

Smoke column north of Twisp on our way back into town

There was still fairly active fire in a wildlife management area north of Twisp River Road, and Friday afternoon they started up with the DC-10 fire retardant planes and water bucket helicopters.  That seemed to knock it down quite a bit but they are still working on containing that end of the fire as I write.

Friday morning

Friday morning

Friday afternoon about 4 pm from across the valley

Friday afternoon about 4 pm from across the valley

There was a good update on Methow Valley News Online yesterday (Sunday, August 23).  The Twisp River Road fire is just part of the bigger Okanogan Complex and is being managed by a Type 1 Incident Team as part of that bigger complex.

We are mostly moved back in now and I actually got to spend some time weaving yesterday.  We know we are very fortunate compared to what some other folks have been through this past week.

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We finally found a great guy who is an experienced carpenter, but only looking for small jobs when he is in the valley.  We have a couple of projects to do around here, and first up will be exterior stairs to parts of the deck.  The house wasn’t quite finished when we bought it 4 years ago, and the “steps” were very temporary.

These are designed to match the stairs for our main entry under the breezeway, that Rick did last fall.  Those have wooden treads, as they are under cover.   The rest of them will get snow and ice, which we don’t want to pile up all winter on wooden treads.  The stringers are done and awaiting metal stair treads which we are getting from Alpine Welding in Twisp.

Off the front corner leading to guest and trailer parking

Off the front corner leading to guest and trailer parking

Two stairs off the back porch, one from the French doors and one leading to the woodpile

Two stairs off the back porch, one from the French doors and one leading to the woodpile

Weaving rugs again now, to get some inventory out to the galleries for the summer, and use up my stash of Pendleton wool selvage material.














And I finished knitting this lovely shawlette, using my silk/wool handspun yarn: “Magrathea” by Martina Behm.  I had very little yarn left over!

Magrathea 1

Magrathea 2




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Earlier this week, a friend came by who has started a business making Nice Nests, “breeding boxes made from salvaged scrap wood and reclaimed hardware, designed specifically to provide functional breeding habitat for cavity-nesting birds. He also offers installation and consultation services for landowners interested in enhancing breeding habitat for more than three dozen species of cavity nesters in the Methow Valley.”  The quote is from a recent article about him in the Methow Valley News.

Rick had quite a bit of pine soffit material to give him (left over from building our house), and also a big box of miscellaneous hardware, some of it old.  Patrick was really excited about the hardware – he uses “found objects” and cool old stuff for perches and handles.

Yesterday morning he came by with 4 Nice Nests for us!  They will go up on pine trees around the house next week, and hopefully we will get some bird families to move in.  They all are easy to open up for cleanout, and he uses rough wood or scores the inside face of the doors so the little hatchlings can get a grip to climb out when it is time to leave the nest.

The hole on the green one is 1-1/8″ and he said it would only be used by wrens, chickadees or pygmy nuthatches.  The orange one has a 1-1/4″ hole and would be for red or white breasted nuthatches.  The two bigger ones have 1-1/2″ holes and would attract western bluebirds and also tree or violet-green swallows (but these boxes are also the most flexible, as some of the smaller birds could use these too).  Now we are going to have to get out the bird book and binoculars and learn to recognize these species!

Nice Nests

Here is Nice Nests on Facebook and also his Nice Nests website (very well done, by the way).

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Aluminum Groundhog Day

Miscellaneous news from the home front today.

The Airstream emerged from its winter burrow yesterday, and did not return!  We have projects to do before we take off on a road trip in early June.  Rick almost has the new armrests for the front sofa done.  We want to pull the rear window and clean it up like we did with the others last year.  And, we need to seal the exterior seams – this was done at the factory when it was built in 1973, and the Spokane Airstream folks told us that once it is done again, it will be good for at least another 20 years.


The White Buck Trading Co. in Winthrop (Western themed stuff, and a “museum” of old stuff) closed its doors several months ago.  They have leased half the space, and yesterday re-opened to sell off the old stuff.  Rick picked up some woodworking tools on Saturday, and yesterday we went back and picked up this cool old plow for next to nothing.  It will be “yart” (yard art).


Signs of spring and new life  – the farm down the road has 3 baby Highland cows, and piglets too.


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Done & Delivered

Yesterday we delivered one of the dining tables that Rick has been working on.  It is for our friends’ cabin up in Mazama.  The style is a “Dutch drawleaf” and the method came from a 1977 Fine Woodworking magazine.  He has done 3 tables before using this method, including our own Oregon walnut table.  This table was done with afromosia.   The leaves store under the ends of the main top, and when pulled out the center section drops into place between them.

Higgins table 2

Higgins table 4

I finished a sweater last week.  It is based on the pattern Lightweight Pullover from Knitbot (Hannah Fettig).  This is a plain stockinette stitch sweater worked all in one piece from the top down, starting with the cowl neck and then into raglan shaping.  I used 7 balls of Rowan DK Soft from my stash, which is no longer available.  It’s a brushed wool (no mohair).  I decided the plain stockinette would be a little boring so modified it with a twisted stitch pattern after doing some swatching.  It required a bit of tweaking of the stitch counts especially for the raglan shaping, but I am happy with the result!

Knitbot Pullover Feb 2105

Our weaving guild always has a gift exchange at the February meeting.  This is a chance to pass on some materials, books, tools, or whatever that you have in your stash.  Chocolate is always welcome, too!  We do it “white elephant” style, so a package can be taken away from someone else 2 times before it stays with the recipient.  Much hilarity ensues.



I also got the new rug warp on the loom and wove a black & white rug for someone who wanted an 8 ft runner (she bought another B&W rug of mine at the Confluence Gallery late last year).  I thought I had enough material left to pull it off, but I was wrong – it came out 16″ too short.  I even called down to the Woolen Mill Store in Portland to see if they had any more, which was a really long shot since I bought this particular blanket selvage several years ago.  Oh well, someone will want it some day.

R215 - black & white - 32" x 80"

R215 – black & white – 32″ x 80″

Off to spinning camp on Orcas Island tomorrow!

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Back In Action

The blog post title is kind of an inside joke, because my main focus for the last several weeks has been to  do something about my ongoing back problem.  This has been plaguing me since late summer.  I thought it was just the way it was going to be since my back surgery a year ago, plus we were so busy over the holidays that I just suffered along.  But I started physical therapy a couple of weeks ago and by golly it does seem to be helping.  I can actually stand up straight and almost walk like a normal person!    And I have a lot more enthusiasm for working on projects and life in general.

Nonetheless. when I look back on it, I have gotten some things done since December.


I mentored a group of knitters who meet on Wednesdays up valley who were interested in knitting my Mosaic Mojo Hat.  It was easier for some than others, but a lot of them got through it without too much anguish – and I understand one of them has now knit ten of them, and another one is on her fourth!  These pictures are from one of our meetings – more hats have been finished since then.

Mojo Hats Mazama 2

Mojo Hats MazamaI also knit a new one myself using some miscellaneous handspun yarn.

handspun mojo hat

Here are a couple of cowls I knit during December and January.  The pattern is Rayas Cowl & Scarf available on Ravelry.com.  It uses fingering weight yarn, is fun to knit, and so easy to wear!  I didn’t have enough yarn for either of these to do the exact number of garter ridges in each section, but it doesn’t really matter.

Rayas Cowl using handpaint sock yarn

Rayas Cowl using handpaint sock yarn

Rayas Cowl using Toots LeBlanc breed-specific fingering weight

Rayas Cowl using Toots LeBlanc breed-specific fingering weight

Of the Toots LeBlanc yarns, the gray one was her handspun that I bought years ago at Shepherd’s Extravaganza in Puyallup, WA.  Nice to finally turn it into something yummy.


I have actually been doing a lot of spinning lately.  I upgraded my Hansencrafts electric mini-spinner by buying some breakdown bobbins for the WooLee Winder flyer from Akerworks.  These bobbins consist of a hollow aluminum core and 3D-printed plastic end elements.  The big draw for me was that they can be taken apart for storage or travel, taking up much less room than the standard wooden bobbins.  They come in a bunch of colors and I got RED to go with my bubinga spinner.  I also got the Hansencrafts breakdown bobbins for my lace flyer.  The reason (or excuse?) for these new toys is that I am going to a week-long spinning retreat on Orcas Island in a little over a week, with Judith MacKenzie.

I spun up all of a blend of about 2/3 Corriedale (from a fleece I bought years ago) and 1/3 natural gray alpaca (from an alpaca breeder in Oroville, which I also bought years ago).  I had the Corriedale dyed a teal color and then blended and made into a roving by Taylored Fibers in Quilcene, WA.  I now have a 3-ply yarn that knits to about 5 sts/inch and more than enough to knit the cardigan pattern I have in mind.

teal corrie & alpaca


Finally got back to weaving a couple of weeks ago, and got 3 more rugs off the warp that was on there.

R213, 32" X 47"

R213, 32″ X 47″

R212, 32" X 52"

R212, 32″ X 52″

R214, 32" x 64"

R214, 32″ x 64″

I have an order for a long runner, and I have lots of Pendleton selvages left, so despite the fact that I am a little sick of weaving rugs, I am tying on a new warp this week.  I can weave a few, then let it sit for a while since I do have 2 other looms to get new projects started on!

Home Life

I took this picture a month ago, it has been sunny and foggy on and off, but the snow was actually pretty good this year for cross-country skiing.


Juno and Stormy have been playful and cuddly.  They like to be warm and they like each other!

Juno&Stormy Dec2014 1

Juno&Stormy Dec2014 2

New Year’s Eve we had friends for dinner – here I am with the lemon meringue pie:

NY Eve Lemon Pie

Rick is making a couple of beautiful dining tables in the shop – that will have to wait for the next post.

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Bazaar happenings

My Dad rather pointedly reminded me that I haven’t posted since the one titled “A Month Went By” – and that was over a month ago.  Well, it’s not like I haven’t been doing anything.

The end of October brought the Seattle Weavers’ Guild sale.  I didn’t go over for it this year, but did send my handspun wraps and some Mosaic Mojo hats over to a friend to take in for me.  I sold 4 hats but nothing else – my friend brought what remained out to me at an annual knitting retreat I have been attending for decades.  That was a lot of fun, as always – 4 days of hanging out with old friends, knitting (and going out for some nice dinners in Port Townsend).  There is always a de-stashing sale and I once again pared down my knitting yarn collection – although it is still SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy).  I also sold three of my handspun wraps!  To say I was thrilled doesn’t quite cover it.

4 Indigo warp 3 fibers one colored

5 Peacock warp BFL handpaint roving

6 Sable warp lambswool alpacaGone, but not forgotten.  Of the 9 shawls I made in the late spring with my handspun, I now only have 3 left.  Considering I wasn’t sure I would sell ANY of them, I am quite pleased!

Right after I got home, we went down to Wenatchee for Rick’s knee replacement surgery on Nov 4th.  That went very well and he is now about 3-1/2 weeks out and definitely on the road to recovery.

When we got back to the Methow, I went to work on finalizing the rugs I was making for the winter show at the Confluence Gallery in Twisp – the title of the show is “In A Land of Snow and Indigo”.  Now, imagine a winter wonderland: the quiet of snow, shadows stretching across the horizon, cold, crisp air, and magnificent icicle stalactites. Peer from the warmth of your home through the windows or reflect on a day of snowy adventure – artists tell us what they see.  I made some rugs that I thought would would work color-wise – and there’s nothing like a cozy wool rug underfoot in the winter!

P1040260 P1040266 P1040267 P1040268Rick was actually up to attending the opening on Nov 15th, having moved off the walker and only using a cane at that point.  He lasted for about half an hour before getting too uncomfortable to stand, but I think he enjoyed getting out of the house for the first time and visiting with folks.

The next event up was Methow Valley Spinners & Weavers Guild annual “show and sale”, which is always the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We made some extra efforts at advertising this year, adding some radio ads on our local station KTRT “The Root” to our local paper ad and putting up posters around town.  Don Ashford at KTRT does a fabulous job with his ads (97.5 FM if you are over here).  We also had a reporter from the Methow Valley News come by the guild room the week before the sale, and the resulting picture was on the front page of the MV News:

photo by Laurelle Walsh

photo by Laurelle Walsh

We also had a reporter for the Wenatchee World come by with a photographer and wound up with a story about our guild on the front page of that paper the week before the sale!  The link no longer seems to be working, so you just have to trust me on this one.

Here are some pictures I took of the weaving guild room after we set up for the sale:

P1040291 P1040293 P1040295

For several weeks before the sale, I wove 10 towels on my loom at the guild room, finishing off the warp I had put on for the Robyn Spady workshop in September.  I tried quite a few of the treadlings/patterns we had covered in the class, so each one was different.  My threading was for overshot, what we learned was how to get additional kinds of patterns by changing the tie-up and treadling.


Lace with overshot borders in a cotton/linen blend


Lace with blue overshot borders


Lace with brown overshot borders


Summer & Winter Fashion – Pairs


Summer & Winter Fashion – Dukagang


Monk’s Belt


Double-Faced borders and plain weave in nubbly cotton


Shadow Fashion borders and plain weave in nubbly cotton


all-over Shadow Fashion


one of the Twill treadlings

For the last 6 weeks or so, I have also been on a roll to make these “fiber beads”, which I am making into earrings for the holiday sales season.  I did some up using my handspun yarn especially for the guild sale.  These have been a lot of fun, and something I can do in the house in the evenings while hanging out with Rick and the cats (and the nice warm fire).  Rick made me the display racks a day or two before he went into knee surgery!


Well anyway, we had quite a good turnout for the guild sale, and I personally did very well – 17 towels (including all the new ones), 7 scarves, 5 rugs, 3 pairs of earrings.  That’s the good news and the bad news!  Now I have low inventory and commitments to Winthrop Gallery, Confluence Gallery and the holiday gift show coming up next week at Local 98856 in Twisp.

So now I am weaving more scarves.

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A Month Went By

I guess I just haven’t been in a blogging mood lately, but am shocked to see it has been over a month since my last post!  Here is an attempt to catch up a little.

Our guild had a 2-day workshop with Robyn Spady, something we had booked back in the spring.  I was the chief organizer and it seemed like a lot of work at the time, but it went well.   Robyn stayed here with me and Rick, and she is very personable and easy to talk to.  The workshop was her “Extreme Warp Makeover” class, in which you choose one of three threadings (overshot, rosepath twill, or huck lace) and then learn how you can “make over” that threading by changing treadling sequences and wefts.  It includes a very comprehensive bound notebook that covers all three threadings.

We set up our looms ahead of time at the guild room.  It seems that the usual thing to do is put on a relatively narrow and  natural color warp, but many of us chose to use color or put in stripes of color to see what happened.  Also some of us put on a wide and long enough warp to weave some towels after the class sampler was done.  Robyn seemed surprised and excited to see the color choices!

Each day included two lecture sessions, and a lot of weaving:

MVSW room 5

MVSW room 1

Carolee warp

Cheryl warp

Janet warp

Katie warp

group photo1

In the evening of the second day, we had a potluck here at our house so everyone in the guild (not just those in the workshop) would have a chance to meet Robyn and have some good conversations.

On the home front, we are getting ready for winter – especially since Rick is having a total knee replacement on Nov 4th and he won’t be able to do much of anything around here for a while after that.  There was all the wood, cut into rounds,  from the pine trees we had taken down – fortunately a friend wants that, so he has been coming over to pick it up and haul it away.  We raked up copious quantities of pine needles and hauled them to the burn pile area.  Had a bit of a burn pile going last weekend (VERY CAREFULLY).  The 2 cords of fir firewood we had delivered in August, is now all split and stored in the wood shed.

And we have new front steps!  Still need a temporary handrail to get us through the winter.  These replace the 2 timbers that were just sort of stacked there on concrete blocks, when we bought the place 4 years ago.  They have a shorter rise (3 steps instead of 2) and a nice long deep tread.


And I have still been weaving away on rugs at home – finished the first warp with the below:



R193 & R194 (2 alike)

R193 & R194 (2 alike)

Then I put on a new warp in early September, and the first 5 rugs were at a 40″ width, as I had a special order for one that wide.

R195 (40" wide, special order)

R195 (40″ wide, special order)

R196 (40" wide)

R196 (40″ wide)

R197 & R198 (40", 2 alike)

R197 & R198 (40″, 2 alike)

R199 (40" wide)

R199 (40″ wide)

I had 12 yards on the sectional beam at the 40″ width, so when the extra 4″ on each side ran out, I was back to 32″ wide for the rest I have woven to date:

R200 & R201 (to go with R195 special order)

R200 & R201 (to go with R195 special order)

R202 & R203 (2 alike)

R202 & R203 (2 alike)



R205 & R206

R205 & R206

Still have a lot of rug warp left, so I will keep picking away at these.  But I am planning to put a scarf warp on my other loom at home and do something else for a change!

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