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Archive for the ‘pets’ Category

When it snows…

In a push to finish UFO’s, I completed a knitted scarf that I started sometime last year.  It was about 2/3 done but falling farther and farther towards the bottom of the knitting bag.  The pattern is Noro Knots by the Irish designer Kieran Foley.  I knit one of these about 3 years ago using Noro Kureyon Sock and have found it to be very wearable, so I decided to make another one using Noro Silk Garden Sock in a colorway I really liked (#272).  For both of these I did 6 repeats of the charts, not 5 (well actually, on this one I worked only through chart C on the 6th repeat).  Very happy with it!

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In January I bought a WooLee Winder for my Jensen Tina II spinning wheel.  I like the wheel but was having trouble getting used to having to move the spun singles from hook to hook on the flyer.  I haven’t had a wheel with hooks for a long time.  The Majacraft Little Gem has a sliding eyelet, much like a Lendrum, and for the Hansencraft Minispinner the standard flyers have a sliding eyelet (you don’t even need to pinch and slide, just give it a little nudge with your finger).  I also have the WooLee Winder for the Hansencraft spinner and love it, especially for plying.

I was kind of on the fence about ordering this for the Jensen wheel, as it had gotten mixed reviews on the Jensen Ravelry group.  Some people love it and others have had trouble getting it to work right.  The flyer has a level-wind mechanism in one arm, much like a fishing reel, and it moves up and down evenly feeding singles onto the bobbin as you spin.

Anyway, mine works great in both double-drive and Scotch tension modes and it is making the eternal spinning project go much faster and more enjoyably!  I only bought 2 bobbins as I always wind the singles off onto plastic storage bobbins anyway, for later plying.

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We got a lot of snow the last couple of days, at least 10 inches I would say.

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Cats roasting by the (not so) open fire….

by-the-fire-feb-2017

I decided to put a short warp on my 32″ Macomber and do our weaving guild annual “challenge” project just to put it behind me and be ready when we share our efforts at the April meeting.  The theme this year is Lace and everyone signed up for a different kind of woven lace, breaking into study groups.  Three of us chose to do a project based on an article by Jane Evans in the May/June 2000 Handwoven magazine.  It allows you to weave motifs in Bronson lace using a “split shed” technique on 3 shafts, instead of pickup sticks.  You can either weave a lace motif against a plain weave background, or a plain weave motif embedded in a lace background.

It sounds intriguing and definitely a challenge!  But after reading through the method again I realized I will never in a million years actually choose to use this for a project, so have decided to do just a small sample to try it out and fulfill my obligation for this year’s challenge.  That meant putting on only a 1-yard warp in 20/2 pearl cotton.

These days I almost always warp my looms using my AVL Warping Wheel, which allows me to put a warp on the sectional beam with even tension, and without needing a tension box and multiple spools, then thread and sley from back to front.  But I can’t do that for a warp shorter than a couple of yards.  So I decided to try out Laura Fry’s method for putting a warp (wound on a conventional warping board or reel) onto the back beam under even tension, then threading and sleying from the front as I am used to.  This is shown in her DVD The Efficient Weaver.

Quickly realized that this warp is too short even for that, as it will not be wound onto the back beam at all.  So there seemed no point in trying out her way of rough-sleying a reed to act as a raddle and warp spreader at the front of the loom as you wind on.  I wound up just tieing the cross end onto the back apron rod so I could pull on it as I thread.  The lease sticks are suspended from two string cradles – actually the stick closest to the back rod is suspended, then the two are fastened together so as not to fall out.  Got this idea from Nadine Sanders’ “Warping on a Shoestring” DVD.

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Juno & Stormy meet a toddler

I found a few more pictures on Rick’s camera, and it reminded me of how differently the two cats reacted to a visit from a toddler.  Not too surprising, given what we already know about their purrsonalities (intentional spelling!).

Juno was right down there in the thick of it, playing and chasing the string around the table, rubbing up against her and generally having a great old time.

Claire & Juno 1

Claire & Juno 2

Stormy was much more circumspect.  She didn’t really hide – just stayed upstairs most of the time, with occasional forays down to visit and play with some of her toys.  When the little one went to bed at 8:30, she was right down there on her bench in front of the fireplace, or in one of our laps.

This morning, with the house quiet again, she figures it is safe to hang out in my chair:

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I can’t believe it has been a month since my last blog post.  We have had a lot of things going on, but none seemed particularly blog-worthy or picture-worthy at the time.  But anyway, here’s the news from Wolf Creek.

In early July, we went over to Seattle for family birthdays (Rick’s on July 6, his sister’s on July 10).  Rick’s daughter and son-in-law came up from Medford, so we had a nice long visit with them and Rick’s mom and sister.  Here’s a shot from dinner at his mom’s retirement home:

Towards the end of July we were guests at a paella dinner by the Twisp River.  Our friends had bid on the dinner at a charity auction last winter.  It was a beautiful evening which was actually a lull between thunder and lightning storms (complete with downpours and even hail), so we lucked out:

On July 23rd, the featured-artist exhibit at the Winthrop Gallery came down and I spent a fair amount of time moving things around, rearranging the gift shop area, and bringing some of my work down to the Confluence Gallery.

Meanwhile I have kept moving new weaving projects forward.  I finished off the plaited twill scarves down at the weaving guild room and finally removed that warp setup from the loom.  One of the other women in the guild is going to use my loom for a 12-harness project, then I will figure out what to do on it next.  At home, I set up another warp for the polychrome summer & winter series, this time in shades of blue:

On Kingston, I set up another warp for three of the collapse-weave scarves, which I just finished weaving yesterday, but they still need to be washed and finished.

The past week and a half has been taken up with the 17th annual Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival.  There were 5 main concerts between July 27 and August 4, and my Dad came over from Anacortes for the whole festival.  He “camped” in our front yard in his RV:

Last Thursday, my brother and sister-in-law came over from Camano Island for the last 2 concerts.  We had a great 3 days together:

family dinner at Twisp River Pub

Dad & Andy hanging out on the porch

At the Thursday concert, we re-connected with old friends from Seattle (they were actually one of Rick’s very earliest woodworking clients, so we are talking 30 years ago or so).  They have a cabin up Cub Creek in the Rendezvous.  Well, it turns out they also know my sister-in-law Patti from a long time ago (Harriet taught and mentored one of Patti’s daughters), and Harriet was the officiant at Andy & Patti’s wedding (she was a Superior Court judge in Seattle, now retired).  So on Saturday before the concert we had a wonderful picnic dinner together:

We will definitely all be doing this again next year!

Early August now.  We have diggers and plumbers coming to complete the hookup of the water and sewer lines to the shop building.  The water and sewer had been run over to that building at the time the house was built, but not connected. We also had them move one of the frost-free hydrants from under the breezeway to a spot behind the shop building, and dug a long trench so we can get another frost-free line out to where we plan to put the vegetable garden.  This made it an interesting experience to get in and out of my studio for a few days (I had to walk a plank).

long trench to the garden area

where it all comes together

Also on the home front, Rick finished up the new vanity for our main floor bathroom.  He used straight-grain fir and we are both pleased both with the new look, and the much improved storage space:

He is feeling great and back to work in the shop.  First up were 3 sets of bedside tables, two of them in cherry with ebony handles (one was an order, the other he did on “spec” to put out in the galleries) – the third set he did in afromosia for us!  They are gorgeous:

This is the same wood he used to make the beautiful front door for our house in Seattle (no longer our house, we sold it in 2006 to move here to the Methow Valley).

And finally, the kitties have been doing great and really seem to enjoy having company as much as we do!  Juno is into everything, including this basket:

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Feline surprise

We just got back from taking Stormy and Juno for their first vet visit here in Winthrop.  They were vaccinated at the Humane Society, but not for rabies, and we just wanted them to have a “well kitty” visit and establish some records with our local vet.  We were informed that Juno is probably a little older than we thought (closer to 1 year than 8 months).  Both of them are a little chubby and we need to moderate their food – a familiar theme around here lately.

When Stormy was surrendered at the shelter, he had a collar with a name tag and a rabies tag from 2007, which we had brought along with us to the vet office.  Our vet wanted to find out if it had been a 1-year or a 3-year vaccine, so they called the place that had issued the tag (a vet in Wenatchee).  They found the tag number, for a gray domestic short-hair, but said their records indicated a spayed female, not a neutered male.

Hmm, says Dr. Gina – maybe I’d better check.  Took Stormy back to the exam room and came back laughing.

Yep, Stormy is a GIRL not a boy!  Not that it matters to us, but now we have to get used to calling him “her”, etc.

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Mister and His Sister

I can’t believe I have been back from Orcas Island for a week already.  While I was gone, Rick reported that the new cats were getting along well and playing a lot.  They seem to be firm friends by now:

Spinning camp, or fiber retreat, was a lot of fun as always.  The theme was supposed to be “Fine and Fuzzy” but we did a lot of different things.  Here’s the meeting room where we set up our wheels:

spinning retreat at Camp Orkila

We took apart thrift-shop cashmere sweaters and experimented with re-using the yarn in various ways.  We spun paper! Judith had an article about this in the Spring 2011 Spin-Off Magazine.  I liked the end result used in weaving, or for baskets, the best.

Little mats woven from spun paper on a cotton warp, and a little basket from spun paper, dyed with indigo

The raw material - cut up dress pattern paper

We were also given cashmere, camel, bison, angora bunny, and pygora goat fiber to spin (some of these in different blends, e.g. with silk or with merino wool).  On the last day, Judith made a boucle yarn with recycled cashmere and pygora type A fiber.  Definitely going to be pursuing this one.

There was also dyeing going on in the cabin adjacent to the meeting room.  This year it was mainly dyeing with various lichens, and with indigo, although there was a frenzy of silk hankie dyeing with acid dyes towards the end.  I stayed out of that – just too many ideas and things to try to take on another one!

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This is an update from an email I sent to family and friends yesterday.  It has been almost a year since we lost our 18-year-old gray cat, Pushkin, and then last August our 12-year-old Bengal cat, Teasel.  We decided to try being “cat-free” since it does simplify life, at least as far as taking both long and short trips goes.  But after almost 40 years of being cat owners, we missed having them around and had started looking a bit at shelters and on the internet (Petfinder.com is a wonderful resource).

So we came home from the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society on Friday with 2 new kitties!  One we had seen last Monday on our way home from Seattle.  She is young (5 months) and they say she is a “dilute calico”.  She has a wonderful personality, very friendly, confident and playful, and very soft fur.  We are calling her Juno (“Matilda” wasn’t doing it for us).

 

We also adopted a 4-year-old neutered male who had just been surrendered by his owner (who was moving to somewhere that wouldn’t take pets, or so the surrender form said).  He looks a lot like Pushkin, but he is smaller and more vocal.  He had a rough week being dumped at the noisy humane society, but loves being held and petted. He has been getting more comfortable being out and about in the house as the days pass.  He started off growling at Juno who wants to play and follow him around, but I think this morning he seems a little more curious about her.  We think it is only a matter of time (after all, Teasel finally wore Pushkin down).  He came with the name Storm so we are calling him Stormy.

 

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Goodbye, old friend

I am only posting this because I know there are a few friends and family out there who will want to know that we said goodbye to our cat Pushkin last week.  The last couple of weeks he was obviously failing, and we just knew it was time.

Me and Pushkin in 1994 – both a lot younger!
In 2000 – soaking up some heat
In 2005 – still looking good!

He was a wonderful fella, friendly and confident, playful and sweet.  We will really miss him.

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Weaving Marathon

Yesterday was a 12-hour weaving day – winding warps, tie on to the previous warp, wind on, weave weave weave the next piece for the wall-hangings I am doing for the show at Confluence Gallery.  I felted the first one on Wednesday and it turned out OK!  I was so uncertain it was even going to work.

These are actually a kind of double-weave, each color is woven separately but they interlace.  I am using Shetland 2-ply yarn (the kind you would knit a Fairisle sweater from) – I bought a big mixed bag of colors from a friend at the knitting retreat a couple of years ago at the stash reduction sale.  So I had a lot of colors to choose from and it wasn’t expensive, so risking completely ruining it in an experiment seemed OK.

Encouraged by the way the first one turned out (about 30-40% shrinkage) I went ahead and wove 2 more.  One is blue/green and the other is black & white (with some greys).

Here’s the Black & White before felting:

These are so open and delicate I have to start off with just a soak and then a careful swish in hot water and detergent, using some plastic spoons I use for dyeing:

After about 15 minutes I shocked it with cold water, then back to hot tap water and detergent and using my hands in rubber gloves.  Once they started holding together I transferred them to a table and the setup I used years ago for a nuno felting class:

The blue mat is spa cover material and has a waffle texture on one side, which provides just the right amount of rubbing and friction to continue the felting.  Then you use a “water noodle” (flotation device) to roll the package around.  Sprinkle on some hot soapy water and roll – and roll – and roll.  Take it out, rinse, check, roll some more.  It took a total of 2-3 hours to get these down to where I wanted them (from initial soak to final rolling and rinsing).

But I needed to get the weaving and felting done this week before I leave for Orcas Island and spinning camp with the fabulous Judith MacKenzie – bright and early tomorrow morning.  I am not done with these pieces yet, they are going to be embellished.  I will be working on that part while gone next week, then do the final assembly when I get home.

The show opens March 5 and here’s an article from the Methow Arts website about the show, with a wee small blurb about me and my friend Sara Ashford.

It was an absolutely gorgeous Methow day today – sunny and clear, with many skiers out on the trail across the fields.  Sadly, we were not among them.  But Pushkin came downstairs and grabbed some sun on the back of the sofa:

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Beautiful Snow

We had the predicted big snowfall a couple of days ago.  We had at least a foot of new snow here at the house, and it was snowing hard when we got up Wednesday morning.  It is almost up to the bottom of the Loki sculpture:

and here’s the buildup on the carport roof and in the driveway:

Rick needed to get out so he could go finish installing some cabinets, which fortunately he had transported to the client’s home the day before (because she is up on a ridge and he needed the truck and utility trailer to get them up there).  We weren’t sure when our friend Chuck the snowplow guy was going to show up, so Rick went to work with the snowblower.

Of course, that brought Chuck along – he had been up since 4 am plowing people out!

We got a fair amount again on Wednesday night, enough that we had to ask Chuck to come again yesterday.  I have been organizing a progressive dinner for our community association for this Saturday, and we will have 26 people here for the salads and main course that evening, so we are trying to keep enough space cleared for people to park!

This morning we went out for a nice long ski, about 2 hours.  The trails are in great shape.  We did a couple of loops on the other side of the Twin Lakes road, one of which had great views up the valley, and wouldn’t you know it – I forgot to bring the camera.  Sorry!

My sister asked about the cats, and I realized I haven’t given a Pushkin update for while.  We got him past the urinary tract infection last fall, but he is getting pretty elderly and we have to give him daily subcutaneous fluids now to keep him hydrated (progressive kidney failure, we have been through this before with previous cats…)  But he is still with us and he and Teasel spend most of the day curled up together.  She adores him.

I have been doing a lot of weaving, and  plying up my grey Corriedale handspun singles into the final yarn, and working out a true spiral top hat using short rows, to teach as a class, but no pictures yet – I will post when I have some finished items!

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We returned from 6 days on the Coast last Sunday, and our dear friends who are currently living in Southern California joined us here for 3 nights before heading back south.  We celebrated a 59th birthday:

They brought their 2 new cats, Tatti (a Maine Coon, still an adolescent and a big, sweet girl) and the Siamese kitten, Neko.  I’m not sure why my best picture of Neko was taken when she was asleep, because that was rarely the case!  She was very playful and hilariously entertaining.

There was only one “moment” when Tatti sneaked upstairs past our barrier and encountered a hostile Teasel (our female Bengal cat).  There was a lot of hissing, screaming and scrambling around.  We raced upstairs to find Tatti cowering in the bathroom, little fluffs of Tatti fur on the landing, and Teasel puffed up to about 3 times her normal size.  No harm done, though.

Rick and I went out for a fairly long ski on Monday which took us onto the Winthrop Trail and a view back down to the house:

Since then it has turned really, really cold – but clear and beautiful, especially in the mornings.

The carport is finished and we have both trailers (the Aliner travel trailer, and Rick’s utility trailer) and both our vehicles safely parked out of the snow now:

carport finished Dec 30, 2010

While away on the Coast, I finished the fourth of the swirl top hats.  This time I used a mosaic pattern from Barbara Walker’s Mosaic Knitting for the band and I am quite pleased with the result.  The yarns are Noro Silk Garden (the one showing color graduation) and Rowan Kid Classic in the same dark brown I used on the first hat.

And this week I warped up my small loom with a new scarf warp colorway that I had prepared before we left for Christmas.  I have finished the first 2 of 4 scarves I will get from this warp, and am working on the third one today.

Autumn warp with eggplant chenille weft

Autumn warp with black tencel weft

Tonight we go down to Twisp to join a group of friends for potluck dinner and ringing in the New Year at the Methow Valley Inn.  Safe travels to all who are similarly out and about tonight, and Happy New Year!

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