Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Productive Procrastination

  I started to wind on the curtain warp, but I think I've done something wrong!  The design part, the colors, aren't supposed to take up so much space.  I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I'm sure it will come to me if I leave it alone for a while.  I also think I'm going to have trouble splitting up the purple and green to distribute them in the design, but as Scarlet O'Hara said, I'll think about that tomorrow!
  And you can see that I have the white on one set of lease sticks and the colors on another.  I'm not at all sure that will work!  But I don't have a supplementary beam on this loom, and hate the idea of hanging a bunch of stuff off the back of the loom to weight the colors differently.  We'll see...
 Since I can't be idle, and I had most of yesterday slated to wind that warp, and I couldn't find any other project I wanted to work on and I'm thinking of making some cute pajamas and I have 1000 pounds--slight exaggeration, but only slight--of bamboo thread, I started knitting some lace inserts for sleeves or hems on those pajamas.

  I knitted lace two Christmas's ago to edge pillow cases for gifts.  I've shown a photo of them before on this a couple of months ago, the post called Tedium.  I loved knitting that lace, though it is incredibly hard on the hands.  The needles are so thin, wires, really, and sometimes quite slick.  It's difficult sometimes to get them to pull two stitches, or worse, three, through a loop, which is something one needs to do often to make lace.
  The bamboo thread isn't as slinky as I though it'd be; in fact, it's kind of rough and lumpy!  I thought it would be much smoother, and finer, too.  But it's okay, I think.  I think it'll look pretty on a nightgown hem.  And I'm hoping it'll soften in the wash.
  And you can probably see that I've made an error, three motifs in.  I suddenly had one too few stitches, about 8 rows into the design, and kept trying to fix it.  Well, it didn't fix, but I figured I'm going to be cutting it up to fit  hems, anyway, so I'll cut that part out.  Ripping out lace is not for the faint of heart, because picking the stitches back up NEVER works!
  The book I'm using, Barbara Abbey's Knitting Lace, is a great book for learning how to knit lace.  The first third of the book is how to, the meat of the book being patterns.  If you embiggen (thanks, Stephanie Pearl McPhee, for that technical term!) the photo of the lace on the book, you'll be able to see that the patterns are written in symbols and numbers, which at first is confusing, but it's just like learning a simple language, and you'll memorize it quickly.  Unfortunately, I can't get the photos to rotate correctly, so you'll have to tilt you head to read it!
  They're great portable projects, too, unless the cone is too fat for a purse.  The only drawback to knitting lace while waiting for an appointment is that it's difficult to just put it down anywhere.  That's why I have a floating post it, to follow the line.  If interrupted, you can always say, "Wait until I finish this row!"  because they're short rows and nothing is THAT important that it can't wait for the end of the row, is it?

Monday, June 28, 2010


  I'm wondering why weaving and sewing feel like accomplishments, and knitting feels like I'm wasting my time?  It shouldn't feel that way, but when I sit down to knit, I must have something else going on, like a podcast or movie or something.  I can't possibly weave or sew with the t.v. on, or I'd make too many mistakes.  But knitting feels like a guilty pleasure, one not nearly so necessary.
  It's not that I'm not good at knitting; I am pretty good at it, though I do wish I could improvise more and make my own patterns.  I do that fearlessly with sewing, and have begun to feel brave enough in weaving to do so.  Every time I try to make my own patterns in knitting, I end up having to rip the whole thing out.  I've been knitting since I was nine years old, and I should be much more fearless with it than anything else I do, but the fear of wasting yarn and time make my creativity freeze up.  I follow patterns to the letter and still can only hope for the best.
  Case in point:  my current project.  I have ripped out the scarf from the Knitting Olympics and begun a garter stitch cardigan.  I've finished the back, and started both the fronts, knitting them at the same time.  It looks a little small, but I've already ripped out the top of the back.  It was way too small, wouldn't even fit around my neck!  It does now, and I don't mind if it's a bit snug.
  Now, I know if I would actually take paper and pencil, knit a swatch and chart an actual pattern, I would be more successful.  The only excuse I have to offer is that I just don't feel like it!  So, disappointment might follow, but I sure do like knitting something so mindless and easy.
  On Saturday, I promised photos of the tapestry class and Bloomsday, but I don't actually have any.  LouAnn posted many photos of our fun tapestry class on, so any that I would have taken would have been redundant.  It was a great class, a great group and a lot of fun.
  Bloomsday was just too darned hot!  We got there at 1:50, and we were warned that it would end at 3.  I assured the kind women selling tickets that there was no way we would last that long!  Mom had her sun hat, but we both forgot sunblock and water.  Even the plants looked sad and dry!
We didn't take more than 25 minutes to blaze through the displays.  We go almost every year, but it's never been so hot before.
  I've taken 4 days off this week, and have spent today cleaning and weaving.  I've also got to blog for Tuesday Weavers, so it's a busy, but very enjoyable day.  Check out my weaving news on  Happy weaving, knitting, cleaning and whatever else fills you day today!
 P.S.   LouAnn just sent me a photo of my tapestry adventures in Carl's class this weekend, as you see from her comment below, and here it is!
So much fun!  I will try to finish this sampler and perhaps post it later!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Not so sweet

This cotton flake warp is starting to make me cranky.  Two broken threads in this rectangle alone!  After I took this photo, I finished Carmen's two colors, which turned out quite beautiful, and started Cathy's color, same rose as Pat's.  If Nikki doesn't bring her yarn to the Clinch Valley meeting today, I'm afraid I'm going to have to weave two rectangles in my yarn, and cut this sucker off!  I only have two looms, and I need to get on with the two challenges for Tuesday Weavers, the six mug rugs that are supposed to match a mug, and the two scarves, using embroidery thread.  I have 5 months to finish them, but I know how summer and fall fly by in my job!  Everything is ripe and ready to go NOW!!!   Blueberries wait for no woman!
  Blueberries will be coming to the back door this week, and I've been promised a flood of wild blackberries starting on Wednesday!  No rest for the wicked!
  And speaking of no rest, Bella is waiting to go for her two mile walk.  After the Clinch Valley meeting today, with Carl Bretz teaching tapestry, Mom and I are off to the UT gardens and Bloomsday.  Photos and post to follow!  Have a fabulous Saturday!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New, new, new

  A few years ago, my son called me and, sounding slightly concerned, said, "I think I'm part crow.  I like everything shiny and new."  He would like my day, then.  It was filled with new things, some shiny, some not so very shiny.
Newly threaded warp, at the Center, of bleached linen, my first linen warp.  It looks ready to go, but there were a few errors.  I startled everyone at lunch when I said quite loudly, "Oh, for crying out loud!" the third time I still hadn't fixed a threading error.  My mother congratulated me on keeping it clean, but inside, the curse words were flowing.
Ah, that's more like it!  The beginning of my finger-manipulated lace towels, sans errors.  I need to remember to bring a proper pick up stick, rather than using this shuttle, but it was what I had to work with today.  I've forgotten all the different lace patterns I learned earlier this year, and the one-one leno was all I could remember today.  I'll have to bring that issue of Weave Craft to the Center, too.
  I went home and made a big mug of tea, got two cookies and headed into the loominaria to finish the kitchen curtain warp.

  I'm still not crazy about that yellow, but I do like the way it goes with the green and purple.  There are 504 ends of white, 60 of purple and green each, and 144 of yellow.  It's 24 epi, with 48 in the design.  I'm looking forward to getting it started to see if I charted the design correctly.  It's a lot more complicated than the previous turned overshot, the bathroom curtain, and I moved the tabby to shafts 1 and 2.  We shall see...
  And lastly, Carmen's color started on the afghan today.
   It looks a lot like Bonnie's color.  The difference is that Carmen actually has two colors, the other being a lovely dark purple.  Cathy's color is next, the same pink as Pat's.  I'm still waiting for Nikki's color, and I wonder what it will be?  That will finish my afghan rectangles, and I will be so ready to start something NEW!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My week in fiber

  This week, fiber was the focus, though Abby and I did manage to get a lot of stuff canned.  At the beginning of the week, I started my first sewing projects in my beautiful new sewing room.
The first project was a peasant blouse made from leftovers from a skirt I made a couple of years ago for Matt's girlfriend, Dana.  The skirt was long, with eight godets, making a lot of scrap fabric.  Here it is cut out, with my furry friends keeping close watch on the birds outside.
  I also cut out another peasant blouse from some batik fabric I bought many years ago, and haven't used because the right project refused to present itself.
  It's the same pattern as the orange blouse, but longer, and with short sleeves.  It's what I will start working on as soon as I've written this!
  Friday, Abby and I finished work at one, making both of us very happy.  She just had an early day off, but I was on my way to the Tuesday Weavers' Weaving Retreat at LouAnn's in Oak Ridge.  I went home, roasted some chicken and finished the orange blouse.  Bella and I packed up, and were on the road by 5:30.
  The first night was pot luck and friendship.  What a great group of cooks!  Everything was so delicious, there was talk of a Tuesday Weavers cookbook, and it would be a good one.  Most of the group left after dinner, but Mom and I stayed over, since Oak Ridge is quite a drive for each of us.
  Saturday was the Lavender Festival in Oak Ridge.  Hot as it was, we ventured out.  We found some beautiful plants, including lavender, and stayed just as long as we could stand it.  LouAnn and I were dreaming of some pool time, but as soon as we got in, we heard thunder rumbling.
  After the storm passed, the weavers started showing up, some with guests.  Bella was happy to have some friends of her own to play with.  She herded Wally and Scout most of the afternoon, while weaving was going on inside.

  Tina had handouts in binders, with patterns, articles and instructions for her inkle  weaving students.  Everyone got right to work, choosing patterns and winding their warps.  I've missed some of the students --sorry, Ann!--but you can see it was serious stuff, with everyone very intent on their inkles!  Tina hopped from one student to the next, and got everyone off to a good start.
  But where am I, you might ask?
Right here!  Yes!  I am spinning!  After the spinning wheel from the center sat in my living room for over a month, ignored except to move around to vacuum under, I finally set myself down to learn to spin.  Tina was there to guide me, and off I went!  Below is my first actual spun yarn, very exciting!  I had toyed with the idea of inkling, but I really wanted to get the spinning bug under control, so chose that as my focus for the weekend.  I love it!  It's so meditative, yet challenging enough to be interesting.  I spun all the roving Tina gave me weeks ago, and am ready for more.

  I can't close without saying a huge thank you to Joyce, LouAnn's sister, our Kitchen Wench.  She kept us fed and cleaned up after all weekend, and we so appreciate it!
I caught her by surprise last night as she loaded the dishwasher yet again.  Thanks, Joyce!
  The rest of the gang is probably just starting to gather again at LouAnn's but I had to head home this morning to check on the cats.  All were fine, and I'm happy to be back.  We're planning another retreat in the fall, though, and I will definitely be there!
  Happy weaving!  And spinning!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In a Jam

  I had great plans Saturday:  Above you see 210 pounds of cabbage, and some store-bought zucchini and yellow squash.  They were going to become Chow Chow.  And to the right are two bushels of cucumbers for Bread & Butter Pickles.  There are 4 buckets of sliced cucumbers that did become B&B's, already canned, washed, labeled and put away.  And from 8:00 a.m. to noon, I chopped and sliced and flung cabbage far and wide, but then, after everyone was done working the farmers' markets, farmers started knocking on the back door.  Mike Z. and his adorable son, Charlie brought another bushel of gorgeous cucumbers.
  Bobby Shelton and his wife knocked next, with these black raspberries that I had completely forgotten ordering earlier in the week.  They are so beautiful and so fragrant!  There is batch number one in the background, cooking to a lovely jamminess.  Twenty five flats, eight pounds to a flat, made 183 twelve ounce jars and 48 eight ounce jars and one tired jam maker.
  I did manage to get through almost all the cabbage, minus the last nine heads that I just couldn't bring myself to shred by 7:00 p.m.  It's all salted and layered with peppers and onions and the squash, sitting in the walk in waiting to be chowed today.  Is Chow a verb?  It is now!
  Today, Mom will be watching Bella for me so I can pickle my heart out.  I passed my June production goal with the jam, 1175.5 units, so everything else is gravy, pickled gravy.  And then, two blissful days off, filled with weaving, cleaning, laundry, mowing, out with friends for dinner and sleeping in past 4:00!  Hurray for Sunday, my Friday!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The sewing room is ready for action!  I've started hemming the place mats, all 15 of them!  But before that, I finished the bathroom curtain.

I love it!  The pattern, in pearl cotton, didn't shrink as much as the background, and it puffs out a bit.  It's clear why the instructions in Weaver's Craft recommends putting the pattern threads in a supplementary warp.  That said, I don't think I will put the pattern warp for the kitchen curtain in one.  I think it will look fine.  I've started winding the warp, and have finished one-quarter of it so far.
  It's been a less-than-enjoyable week at work so far, but I'm deep in pickling mode.  Last week, I made 90 jars of bread and butter pickles, and today, I will probably crank out another 90.  Dear Ila, the blueberry farmer from down the road, brought me 210 pounds of cabbage on Wednesday, and I will be turning it into Chow Chow today.  It's only the 11th, and I'm past halfway in my production goals.  The first black raspberries should be delivered tomorrow, and I've never made that kind of jam before.  It should be pretty yummy!
  Meanwhile, I'll keep my head down, my mouth closed (that should be a task in its own right!) and my eyes on the end of the week!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Playing Hooky

It's Tuesday, and I should go to the Center to weave with my friends.  But, friends, I have a new sewing room, and I have new fabric and new patterns, and only one more day off to play with them!  And Miss Etta wants to hang out with me today.

Okay, it's a mess right now!  And the AVL is right behind that chair, taking up 2/3 of the room, but I will whip the room into shape this morning, and get at least one project going.  Let's see, what should it be?
What about the beautiful white metallasse I bought at Textiles last month?  It will make the yummiest long sleeved shirt!
Or what about the gorgeous skirt fabric?  That would take about two minutes to make!  But I don't think I have a black zipper, and I don't have time for a trip to JoAnn's today.

Here are the two new patterns, and the luscious fabric to make the dress on the left.  But I don't have underlining to start that.  There's the bathroom curtain, waiting to be wet finished and hemmed and hung up.  That's a definite possibility.

Okay, here's the real job that must be done, and it will make me feel as if I'm at Tuesday Weaving!  These are the many, many placemats I made on Linda's warp at the Center.  They've been washed and need serging, separating and hemming.  That is the first thing I'll do, then.  And while I do that, I'll dream up other things to sew.  
  I'll miss my Tuesday Weaving friends, but I know LouAnn and Tina will blog about the action on, and I'll catch up with everyone later!
Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In the larder this week

Today, Abby hulled all these strawberries, while I made apple chutney for the Chef to take to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival.  These are the second-to-the-last strawberries we'll make into jam this year, about 150 pounds of them.  I have to pick up more tomorrow, and that will be it for the year.
  But that's okay, because the woman who grows our blueberries a mile away from the farm called this week!  It's almost blueberry time, followed quickly by wild blackberry season.  Yesterday, I picked up two bushels of pickling cucumbers, after Chef Josh sent me a photo of them:
They look beautiful, and they're just in time for me to make Bread & Butter pickles for Chef Joseph for an event he has coming up.  Our chefs travel all over the place, and it makes me jealous sometimes!  But at least my food gets to go with them!
  The apple chutney took us three days to prepare, but came out beautifully.  It smelled up the whole building with its garlic and curry flavors.  It's cooling tonight and I will vacuum seal it in bags for its flight to Aspen tomorrow.

Bon Voyage, Chutney!