Archive for the ‘woodworking’ Category

Mazama House in the Woods

Yesterday Rick delivered 2 beds to the house up in Mazama, for the 2 guest bedrooms.  They were built out of aformosia (spelling is correct according to our wood book, but there is some debate…)  The owner has a bed similar to this that he likes and so this is what he wanted.

Rick has been working on cabinets for this place since last summer.   He took some pictures yesterday and we thought we would post some of them to show friends and family.  There is a lot of other woodwork in the house done by the contractor’s crew, so I will try to point out the Swanson Woodcraft portion.  The woodwork throughout the house, including the cabinets, is white oak.

Library desk on the second floor – Rick did the drawers, the case and top were built by the crew:

Guest bedroom closets (identical in both rooms)  – Rick had Foss Furniture in Seattle build the closets, which he brought over and assembled in place, then he did the built-in desks.  There is a bigger closet with no desk in the master bedroom.

Master bathroom:

Sink wall in the kitchen – 22 feet long, he matched the grain across the drawer fronts all the way across:

Kitchen island:

Completely built in Sub-Zero refrigerator (on the left, the upper door is the main fridge compartment, with two freezer drawers underneath) with two pullout pantry units to the right of the fridge.  Also storage cabinets over the fridge.  There was also a built-in wall oven around the corner facing the sink.

The “snug” is around the corner near the kitchen.  The upper doors will  conceal the flat screen TV and drinks cabinet.  He matched the grain vertically across the upper and lower cabinets:

Laundry room cabinets:

The “water closet” or powder room on the main floor near the entry:

And finally, here is an exterior shot of the house:


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Shawl Pins R Us

We’re back in the valley this week after a nice relaxing Thanksgiving weekend visit to Seattle.  After the actual T-day activities, we had a couple of days to just hang out and be tourists in the city.  The weather was great, meaning dry and even sunny on occasion, which meant we could go for long walks.  We got together with friends, also rented movies and stayed in some evenings, and got lots of sleep.

Back in the valley, it has stayed dry and it is getting quite cold.  We could use some snow around here.  The Weatherwatch column in the paper (Methow Valley News) says it will be coming with the waning of the moon… hope so!

I made a first batch of shawl pins for the guild sale using beads and some wood rings I found at a bead store in Seattle.  Unfortunately, they have run out of the rings and said it was a one-time thing and they would not be getting more.  I had explored some other bead stores while over at the coast for Thanksgiving, and came home with some really pretty semi-precious stones that I wanted to use for the heads of the pins.  But, no rings.

But wait a minute, I am married to a woodworker.  So I asked him a couple of days ago if he thought he could make me some rings that were a little nicer and more interesting than the ones I had purchased.  What a guy – the next thing I knew he was down in the shop up to his ankles in wood chips and had turned out the wood for 108 of them.  108!!  Most of them still need sanding and finishing, but he did finish up enough for me to get some out to the shops on consignment for the holiday shopping season.

And he used some beautiful woods – highly figured maple, lacewood, a very dark and dense walnut from either Paraguay or Peru (he couldn’t remember).

So here’s some of the first batch:

Lacewood with turquoise bead

Walnut with bright green stone bead

Walnut with square red semi-precious bead

Figured maple with semi-precious stone bead

Lacewood with orange semi-precious bead

I also finished two longer shawls, having put the warp on the loom before we left for the holiday.  One was woven with rich brown alpaca for the weft, the other with black alpaca.  I took them up to the galleries today (Ashford Gallery in Winthrop and Confluence Gallery in Twisp) and am planning on starting another pair of longer shawls tomorrow.

Blue & turquoise warp with brown alpaca

Blue & turquoise warp with black alpaca

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Home Improvements

First of all, I put up a new header for the site today, in celebration of Spring.  This is looking to be a good year for the arrowleaf balsamroot, which most folks in the valley call “the sunflowers.”  We drove up the Twisp River Road yesterday to visit friends for brunch, and the hillsides were carpeted in yellow, much like the new picture in the header.  Gorgeous!

However.  They are saying it may snow tonight, and possibly even tomorrow morning.  When will this end?

For those of you, friends and family, who are familiar with our little apartment-over-the-woodshop, I thought I would show some of the improvements Rick has made to our living space the last couple of months.  We have decided to use beech for any new cabinetry, as it is a nice warm-colored hardwood that goes well with the clear fir window and door trim, and room doors (we have been slowly replacing the stark white-on-white theme, with white vinyl doors, that the place came with…)

Last January he installed a double-sided bookcase that acts as a room divider between the living room area and my loom.  This allowed us to bring a selection of our book collection out of storage for the living room side:

living room bookcase

living room bookcase

From the loom side, I now have space for all of my knitting, spinning, dyeing and weaving books, plus some handy shelf space behind the loom.  Last month he added on the cabinet with drawers for all of my tools and cones of yarn, etc.  It’s wonderful!

loom-side bookcase and storage cabinet

loom-side bookcase and storage cabinet

He has finally convinced me that it is worthwhile to replace the kitchen cabinets.  As a professional cabinetmaker, he just can’t stand them (standard oak Pay-n-Pak style cabinets).  I have to admit it will be nice not to have to get down on my hands and knees every time I want to get something out of the back of a lower cabinet.  As a start, he replaced the cabinet to the left of the stove and put a new cookbook shelf above that.  We also replaced the cabinet over the stove, which only had a simple exhaust hood, and put in a microwave/hood, which freed up some counter space elsewhere.


Love my new spice drawer!dscf1120It may be “a while” before this project moves further along, but for now I am so happy with the improvements!

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Earlier this week, we went down to Wenatchee so Rick could finish installing a cabinet job at the home of some friends.  This included a  buffet and glassware cabinets in the dining room, extending (thematically) into new bookcases and a fireplace surround and hearth to replace the very dated, 1970’s era fireplace tilework.  The wood is cherry (with a birdseye maple panel over the fireplace), buffet top and hearth are granite to go with their new kitchen.

Dining and living room cabinets and fireplace surround

Dining and living room cabinets and fireplace surround

We stayed over Monday night and went hiking with our friends on Tuesday.  Our destination, Saddle Rock, is a well-known feature in the hills west of Wenatchee.  It is a fairly steep climb, and we also completed a loop trail which involved a lot of steep downhill hiking, so all of our muscles got a workout.  It was a lovely spring day, in the mid-70’s, and we saw buttercups, bluebells, and even arrowleaf balsamroot starting to bloom at the lower elevations.

Here is the fine view out to the east over Wenatchee and the Columbia River:

From Saddle Rock over Wenatchee

From Saddle Rock over Wenatchee

Yesterday morning we were just trying to figure out how to spend the day when I got a phone call from a friend.  She had a tip on a great junkyard down near Brewster that they had discovered while off looking for sandhill cranes.  This sounded like fun to us, so off we went around noon.  Brewster is down near the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers and about 40 miles or so from our place.

I won’t bore you too much with the junkyard (“Apple Valley Bargain Barn”) but suffice it to say I got a number of stainless steel pans, actually restaurant warming trays used in steam tables.  They are a little banged up, but sound, and will make great dye pots.  Compared to the best price I can get in Seattle at the discount restaurant supply places, they were real bargains!  Plus, the proprietor of the place was a hoot.

Then off we went in search of the sandhill cranes.  Following my friend’s advice, we went up the Cameron Lake Rd to the east of Monse, just up the Okanogan River a ways above its confluence with the Columbia.  This takes you up onto the Timentwa Flats area of the Colville Indian Reservation (pronounced TIM-en-twah) .  This high tableland is peppered with lava extrusions which look like strange erratic rocks scattered about the landscape.  There are also a lot of small lakes and potholes.  The cranes that pass through here in March and April are on their way to NW Canada and Alaska, according to the link I gave you above.  Brewster has a Sandhill Crane Festival every spring.

Well, we saw cranes all right.  Maybe 400 or 500 of them, all told.  They make an amazing sound that I can’t possibly describe.  They were also fairly shy and would either slowly move off when we stopped the car and got out with our binoculars and camera – or actually would take off with a great deal of commotion, then eventually circle around and settle again.

Rick managed to get a couple of good shots with the big telephoto lens:

Sandhill cranes - the closest shot we could get!

Sandhill cranes - the closest shot we could get!

Cranes at a pothole on the Timentwa Flats

Cranes at a pothole on the Timentwa Flats

Sandhill cranes in flight

Sandhill cranes in flight

We finished the drive by continuing up this interesting backroad to the town of Okanogan, then home via Loup Loup pass on Highway 20.  A lovely and interesting day!

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Then and Now

Last night we went to the opening of the new show at the Confluence Gallery & Art Center in Twisp.  It is titled “Then and Now: A Historical View of the Methow Valley” and was conceived and curated by Roxie Miller.  Roxie and her husband Carl live in Winthrop, and are very involved with The Shafer Historical Museum, also in Winthrop.  Roxie’s concept was to choose historical photographs and objects from the museum collection, and pair these with contemporary works by regional artists that are inspired by the photograph or object.  She also wrote a number of narratives about Methow Valley history that are displayed along with some of the photographs.

Our friend Michael Neiman, a woodworker who lives in Spokane, brought over one of his beautiful rocking chairs for the show:


Roxie asked Rick if he would make a blanket chest to pair with a little chest they have in the museum that was made out of an old apple box.  He used walnut from a homestead tree in southwest Washington that had a large treehouse built in it; he had to be careful to find all the old nails and screws in the rough lumber before he started milling it down to finished dimensions – there was quite a little handful!  The panels are quartersawn European beech, and there is a layer of aromatic cedar planking inside on the bottom.

Washington walnut & quarter-sawn beech blanket chest

Washington walnut & quarter-sawn beech blanket chest

They brought in a loom that was donated to the museum by Kay Reiber, who set up a warp and demonstrated weaving during the opening.  She thinks the loom was built locally and is about 35 years old.  I brought in three of the shawls I just finished, which they will display with the loom during the show (and hopefully sell…).  The photograph on the wall behind the loom is of sheep grazing in the Pasayten Wilderness – evidently there used to be many large herds of sheep that were grazed in the high country around the valley during the summers.


Loved this old seeder that was being displayed as a possible garden bench/storage box:


Carl and Roxie Miller dressed for the occasion – there are a lot of Millers here in the valley, and most of them are related to Carl!


This is really a terrific show, and especially interesting if you take the time to read the narratives and study the old photographs (the prints in the gallery are for sale, by the way).  It runs through April 11, 2009.

Afterwards, we went across the street to Tappi for dinner and to listen to one of our favorite local musicians, Chris “Breathe” Frue – playing solo jazz guitar on this occasion.  The mural behind him is very personal to the owner of Tappi, whose family came from some small islands off the northeast coast of Sicily.

"Breathe" Frue playing at Tappi in Twisp

"Breathe" Frue playing at Tappi in Twisp

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Our spanking new website is now up for Swanson Woodcraft.  We worked with our ISP – Methownet.com and Medicine Wheel Website Design –  to do the development, and hope to soon add a Quicktime version of the DVD we had made of our Seattle house back in 2006 (it was a real showcase for Rick’s work).

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Busy weekend

Well, I have some catching up to do!  First off, Rick installed the display cabinet last shown here “underway”, and here is how it looked with the art glass collection it holds:


art glass display cabinet

He’s now at work on a sideboard and wall of bookcases for friends down in Wenatchee.

I went over to the coast last Saturday to attend some social events.  Saturday night we celebrated my old friend Chris’s 60th birthday.  I have to be careful not to lay it on too thick with this “old” business, or she will be merciless when it’s my turn… (who am I kidding, she will be merciless anyway.)

birthday-partyThe next day, I travelled down to Gig Harbor with some knitting friends for an annual tradition called “Soup Bowl Sunday” at our friend Suzanne’s beautiful home.  There we knitted, talked, ate and laughed our way throughout a very enjoyable afternoon.  I also got a fabulous arm and hand massage that did wonders for the soreness in my left thumb.  She said it was a combination of massage and rolfing.  Thank you, Carolyn!

The last picture shows Janet’s Grey Mist cowl neck Bohus sweater, and one that Suzanne knit several years ago.  Both gorgeous!  I wore my Forest Darkness but failed to get a picture – it is still without buttons, but hopefully that situation will change soon.

Janet and Susanna had just returned from the opening of the Radiant Knits: The Bohus Tradition exhibit at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.  They brought me a copy of the booklet that Susanna and Wendy J. Johnson published to accompany the exhibit; it is available only from ASI here and had a limited printing, so get your copy now!  They also produced a lovely set of notecards , which are also only available from ASI.



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Shop Cam

Rick is building a corner cabinet for some friends up near Winthrop.  It will be in a corner of their dining room, and be used to display their glass collection.  The woods are maple, birds-eye maple, with wenge trim (pronounced wen-gay) and ebony handles.  It also has interior lighting at the top and middle shelf, so it should really glow!

glass display cabinet in progress

glass display cabinet in progress

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