Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mistake or Design Element?

 I have finished the second shawl on the purple-green warp, and as I hem-stitched, beading as I went, I saw two errors.  I'd noticed one before, the short floats on one side of one of the "oranges," but chose to ignore it.  The second, and I'm not sure you can see it in this picture, is that there are two warp threads next to each other.
  When I finished stitching and cut the second shawl off, I pondered the errors.  I remember when I was a member of the Tuesday Weavers, we would joke about errors, asking the philosophical question:  Is it a mistake, or is it a design element?  Another way to think about it is the perennial question:  If an error falls in the warp and no one sees it, does it really fall?
  Look at the topmost repeat of the pattern and see if you can see the mistake.  I see it right away, but when I look at the entire shawl, it disappears.  The two threads running together is much more difficult to see, nearly impossible, unless you happen to be hem-stitiching.
  So, after a day of agonizing--slight exaggeration; there was little agony--I decided to go ahead with the third shawl without fixing the errors.  Two already had them!  If anyone notices the errors, well, they are keen-eyed and fierce.
  The next colorway for the flawed, or over-designed, warp is the grey tencel back as tabby warp, and the sage green carpet warp I wondered about last week.  The beads I chose came out perfectly with the warp and wefts.  I'm not crazy about the purple with the sage green, but overall, I think it does all right.  And I'm to the point in this project that I'm thinking about what's next, as usual.  I have some lovely red and purple bamboo waiting in the wings, or what about the fire red and orange warp?  Or should it be dish towels?  Oh, the possibilities!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Measured in Inches or Millimeters

Inspiration photo
Sunday 11-6
Sunday, 11-13
Since last Sunday, and its extra hour due to daylight savings time, I've been weaving on LouElla, the tapestry loom that lives in the great room.  She was easy to ignore in Knoxville, tucked away into a corner of the studio, and overwhelming me with what I don't know about weaving tapestry.  I've woven on the tapestry just about every morning this week, working on the rose occasionally, the leaves in the background when I get stuck on a petal or shading or shaping on the rose.  It's mighty slow progress.  And I am making a lot of mistakes, but I keep reminding myself that it is my first full tapestry, having only made two small ones before, in Tommye Scanlon's class several years ago.  The whole think is 12 inches wide, and will probably be that long.  
Thursday, 11-10
   Last night, I watched every possible tapestry video on YouTube, and there is one in particular that captured my imagination.  It's titled "Un fil sense fi-How to make a tapestry, and I couldn't believe how the artist, Cesc Biosca,, makes his tapestry with huge yarn, fine yarn, big loops everywhere, using white on white and vague color variations.  I want to finish this tapestry now so I can try the stuff he does!  
    But for now, I will carry on with my millimeters of progress, learning as I go.  I'm going to take a class at the folk school with Tommye on my birthday weekend this year, and really learn--again--how to do this better, but one of the things I learned from watching so many videos is that, like many things, there is no one right way.  I don't think I want to do the minute details that they do at Gobelins in Paris, though I did once peak in their windows on a Sunday morning, but I want to try it all, tapestry-wise.
  An easier way to measure progress has been with my overshot shawls.  I finished the first one, with silver tencel tabby weft and the purple slub cotton pattern weft.  I made it 84 inches long, with two fringes of 6 inches each.  It's waiting downstairs to have its fringes twisted.  
Then, I started using some somewhat fragile black bamboo for the tabby weft.  I'm not sure where it came from; it lost its tube somewhere, but I know it's bamboo.  I like the way it makes the internal shapes in the Orange Peel stand out more than the silver did.  And the shapes are less elongated than with the silver, because the black packs in more tightly.  This one will also be 84 inches long, and I beaded it with smaller beads on the fringe than the first one.  This morning, I went past the halfway mark, and then, I'll have to figure out the third one.  I have some 8/4 carpet warp in the exact perfect shade of green, but do I want to use carpet warp?  It seems so...common!  
 Weftie gives the black weft a paws up.  He took my stool over when I got up to use the computer.
I don't know if you've heard about the fires raging over here in western North Carolina, but they are fierce.  The smokey smell is inside the house this morning, making my throat and eyes burn, but I'm pretty far away from any of the fires.  Two of my employees have been on alert for evacuation, but so far, they haven't had to leave.  It makes the sunrises lovely, but it's a threat anywhere around here, since it's so very dry.

This young lady hung out in the front yard Friday, waited while I got out of the car, fumbled for my phone and took her picture.  As soon as I did, she took off, only to be replaced by another, who seemed to wait for me to take her photo, too.
  Let's all hope this coming week brings better things than this past one.  We've lived through worse, right?  Let's all hope so!  Keep calm and weave on!

Monday, October 24, 2016


I'm sitting in the loft of my new "home," a Chalet-style house in the woods.  This past weekend, my landlady asked me think about buying this house.  On Tuesday, the movers brought my furniture and looms and yarn and fabric from my house in Knoxville.  The chalet feels more like home now, with all my stuff around me, but it's clear my stuff doesn't go in a chalet.  My furniture is big and dark and old on purpose.  I love my stuff.  I have relaxed a lot since my stuff surrounds me, but I will not buy this house.  It will never be home, in the true sense of the word.  It's modern and white and not very well built, with plastic bath tubs and slick vinyl floors and stained Berber carpet.  It's not energy efficient or situated well in the lot. It ain't me!

But my studio is big and light and airy.  Now that it's getting chilly outside, the loft is warm and comfy, not blazing hot as it was in the summer.  Jenny and Tootsie have been here for a while, but Jennifer just got here, and is still not put all together.  A friend is going to make a top tray for Tootsie to keep the shafts from jumping out the top.
 Outside, the house is surrounded by trees, and kind of in a gully, without any views.  I think once the leaves are gone, I'll be able to see a little farther, but for now, it's lovely with all the golden light through the autumn leaves.
  I'm off to Murphy this morning to vote early, get new contacts and get out of the gully for a little while.  For now, this chalet is "home," and I'm in this community to stay for a while, and I will keep my eye out for my true home here.

Monday, September 19, 2016


 Fall is coming to western North Carolina, and the temperatures have dropped oh, so slightly.  The trees are dripping outside my window from the rain we had last night and early this morning.  
  I've been very busy, making new friends, exploring the area, getting ready for the Fall Festival, and weaving, finally.  Two of my bosses took me to a wine tasting just over the state line in Georgia, to a winery called Crane Creek, set in the rolling hills that magically transformed from north Georgia to Tuscany when we left the road.
It was beautiful, and a fine way to end the day.  

I have spent most of the month so far smoking pork shoulder butts for the fall festival (
I went in every morning, fired up the gigantic smoker and put 16-24 butts on the grill.  Every two hours, I would go out and stoke the fire, and by 9:00 p.m., the night crew would take them off the grill.  They pulled the meat off the bones and put it all in bags to go in the freezer to chill until the first weekend in October.  I think I have smoked 320 butts, and have decided that that's enough.  Next, it's on to ordering coleslaw mix, cornmeal and buttermilk, baked beans, buns, barbecue sauce...  It takes a lot of food to feed 15,000 people!  I try not  to get nervous about it, but it's not really working.  I'll be so happy to see the back end of the fall festival!  But at the same time, I hope some of you will be able to attend!  LouAnn and I went a few years ago, and we really enjoyed it.

As you know, I think the folk school is a magical place, and this past week, some friends thought so, too.  Michelle, pictured here with her new, hand-made Windsor chair, has been a work-study here, and after her last week, she took a class to make one.  She was surprised, not always pleasantly, to find out that most of it was done by hand, her hands.  She said it was very hard work, but every time she sits in that chair, she will have the satisfaction of knowing she make every bit of it.

My friend Anne spent the week here, staying at my house and taking a class in paper art, which included making a paper "quilt," up in the corner of the board behind her, and some books that she's holding. They batiked on paper, made paper from cornstarch and learned to bind books.  She had a great time, and it was nice to spend time with her.
 The last day Anne was here, we walked along the Rivercane Walk, and she took these beautiful photos.  We'd been to the Brasstown Full Moon party the night before, and the full moon was still lingering while we walked through the mist.

It was a beautiful morning, and the start of a long, lovely day.  After Anne left for Knoxville, I went to Pam Howard's house to meet some new friends, and to take of tour of Pam's house.  Pam is the resident artist for weaving at the folk school, and her studio was amazing!  I didn't take any pictures, but it was inspirational. She has a dye kitchen, lots of yarn storage and three NAKED looms!  But due to the gas shortage this weekend, she was forced to work in the studio yesterday, and I'm hoping she got something on those looms!
  After that, I rushed home to clean the house for our inaugural knitting group meeting.  Four crafty women came, two knitters, one basket maker and a quilter.  We had snacks, gossip and craftiness, and fun.  We hope it will be a monthly thing.
  Then, it was upstairs for me to get something done about my own looms.  Yesterday, I started on Jenny's painted warp, beading the hem stitching before I started weaving.  I posted a photo of the beading on 4-shaft weaving on Facebook, and had almost 250 likes!  It was pretty exciting!  
  I started weaving the Orange Peel design out of some silver tencel for the tabby, and purple cotton slubbed yarn for the pattern weft.  I wove some more this morning, sat down to blog, looked over at the loom, and saw a big fat error, where I must have missed the tabby throw about 1 1/2 inches ago.  Guess who'll be unweaving tonight?
  I also noticed Weft on warp.  His favorite nap spot is on any warp, which is how he got his name.  And how all my handwoven items have a little of him in every one.
  Remember, today is National Talk Like a Pirate Day, so be sure to say ARRGH! at least once!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Looking Up

 Earlier this week, I went out to do yoga on the deck, and I really just did not feel like it.  I unrolled my mat, stared at it for a few minutes, and sat down on a deck chair.  I looked up, and this is what I saw.  Incredible, isn't it?  Well worth not doing yoga to be able to see this.  And I could hear the cattle from Brasstown Beef lowing.  We buy all our beef from them, and they are less than half a mile from my house.  That's what buying local means!

 That afternoon, I had to fire one more person.  That makes four since I've started at the Folk School, and I believe it's my last for the foreseeable future.  I really hope so.  The person I let go simply refused to follow my direction, would not follow any recipe I gave him, and constantly tried to get his co-workers to do likewise.  I finally found a good, trustworthy, hard working and pleasant person to replace him.  And now, he's gone.  My team is now MY team, and I think we're gong to have fun.
  Bella and I went back to the Rivercane Trail yesterday, and had a lovely walk.  This is my new favorite Bella photo!  She loves hiking without a leash, something she could never do in the city.

 I love the way they make hay here in the east!  The big rolls left out in the field just make me happy to see.  We walked past a field on our way to the river, I think the Little Brasstown River.  

There's an overlook, so Bella looked it over.
And this morning, we went to campus at the Folk School and wandered around, exploring.  Afterwards, I started working on the turned overshot warp that has been a pain in my butt since moving Tootsie here.  Today, I was weaving along, following the pattern, listening to jazz, thinking about other things, having a good old time, being in the rhythm.  When I stopped to look at the weaving itself, darned if stupid old Tootsie wasn't up to her old tricks!  Shaft 5 was sitting on top of the castle, just hanging out, not getting woven into the pattern.  Many picks had happened since I'd last looked.  I unwove, fixed the problem, and kept going.  And then, about 5 inches later, it happened again.  
  I haven't unwoven it yet.  I started threading the heddles on Jenny with her hand-dyed warp instead.  Tootsie just makes me so angry!  I know many people love Tools of the Trade looms.  I wish I did.  She clacks and slams and the poor design of the shaft channels is so irritating!  But she's mine, and the only 8-shaft loom I have here, so we will make peace.  I'm going to ask two woodworkers I've met at the school if they have a solution, and how much it will cost.  
  On our walk this morning, at the back of the wood turning studio, I saw this flower.  I think it's a hibiscus, but I'm not sure.  I will scavenge some seeds and see if I can grow one in my yard next year!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

No More Nudity in the Studio

Since I've moved to Brasstown, Tootsie and Jenny have been naked, or nearly so.  Tootsie came with a problematic turned-overshot warp that was only wound on the back beam, but Jenny was, and still is, naked as a jay bird.  Last weekend, I unwound Tootsie's warp completely, and wound the tabby warp and the pattern warp together.  It was already threaded and sleyed, and it was a bit tricky.  It took several hours, and a little cursing and yelling--picture running cats and a dog who always thinks everything is her fault--but I got it done.  Originally a curtain for my kitchen in Knoxville, it will now become napkins.  

Today, I'm giving my first dinner party in Brasstown, but as I clean and cook, I'm going to be working on Jenny's new warp, a blue, green and purple hand dyed warp of 240 ends that will turn into Christmas gifts.  I have to run to Lowe's first to get some parts that I lost while moving, but then, she'll be closer to being dressed. She'll at least have a warp draped on her!  I've picked out a miniature overshot pattern LouAnn gave to our guild long ago, Cat's Tracks.  Appropriate given my usual company at home.

I always mean to take photos of the food we're making at the Folk School, but it's always such a rush to get it out, I forget to have my phone with me.  Some of it is beautiful, some of it is just comforting.  The students fill out comment cards every week when they leave, and some of them are nice, and some of them are just plain hateful.  I try to avoid reading them, but my immediate supervisor takes great pleasure in copying the worst and giving them to me.  This week, she not only did that, but she also read them aloud to me.  It was a rough week, and there are times when I certainly question my decision to take this job.  But I've learned a lot about myself, that I am a pretty good cook, and a good supervisor, and most importantly, that you cannot please everyone. 

Food is deeply personal.  It has all kinds of emotions and memories and wants and desires tied up in it.  I can't make everyone's favorite dish, or make it the way they're used to.  I can't accommodate every person's dietary preferences, and this whole gluten-free thing has gotten way out of control.  But my team and I do our very best, and more frequently as we go on, hit the mark.  There will always be mean people, right alongside the kind ones.  And anonymous comment cards are perfect vehicles for those who want to hurt people without getting caught.  The day I had to endure the ugly comments being read to me, I worked at the window in the kitchen, taking back dishes from the students, and so many were warm and friendly and encouraging, I realized that many more people like what we're doing than those venting their spleen in private.  

So, we will soldier on!  I'm making good friends and getting good things done on my days off.  Life could be worse!  I could still be going to work at 4 in the morning, working two jobs and never having energy left to do the things I love or being with the people I care about.  As LouAnn pointed out last time I was in Knoxville, I see her more now than I did when I was there full time!
After I finish the green-blue-purple shawls on Jenny, she will be covered in dish towels of the Huck lace variety.  I'm warping on an old warping board I got from Mom, that my dear handy sister Liz put back together for me.  It's a little high up, hanging from the bathroom door, so I can only wind about 24 ends per bout, but it will be done soon!  488 ends!  It's some organic 8/2 cotton I bought from Lunatic Fringe several years ago, and I am excited to get started!  I've wanted to do some more Huck lace, and I love the way it looks in natural cotton.

I smell the charcoal outside, ready to smoke a nice fat pork butt.  Time to make some 'cue!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


As you know, if you read Loomy Tunes,, LouAnn and I celebrate our birthdays for at least a month.  She and her sister, Joyce, came to my house last in Knoxville last week, and loaded up two looms, Tootsie and Jenny, and brought them to Brasstown.  I should be weaving by now, but I can't remember what I did with all the bits and pieces I took off to get them in the car.  I know they went into my shorts' pocket, but I don't think they were in there when I was driving.  I suspect they're in Knoxville.  Which is fine, since I'm going back there this weekend, and can get them, but I can't weave until then.
So, they sit upstairs in the studio-guest room-loft, nekkid and unused.  All I can do right now is occasionally fondle them and dream about what's to come.  I filled a large bookcase with all my cone yarns, and was surprised at how much it is, especially since it's minus the carpet warp, that is still in Knoxville.
  I have two warps vying for attention to be the next on Jenny.  I think I'm going with the purple-green, because the orange one is probably too wide for Jenny.  I dyed it to go on Jennifer, who is still in Knoxville.  

 I haven't been doing other crafts, except knitting an occasional round on the socks.  I had another person quit last week, and have been cooking a lot more than I'm supposed to, according to my job description.  We have someone trying out today, and our fingers are crossed that he is good.  
  All around the Folk School is lovely right now, though a bit hot.  Last Friday, I took a break after lunch and went to the Cooking School herb garden.  Isn't it lovely?  And in the shade, it wasn't as hot as the kitchen had been.  
  It was the first birthday in many years that I didn't go to Richmond to be lauded and honored on the actual day, so I tried to make it special on my own.  I drove to Blairsville, GA, because I read they were having a Green Bean Festival.  Well that sounded like fun!  It's not far, and it was easy to find.  But it was just the weekly farmers' market, and they were selling t-shirts, which I totally meant to buy one of, but forgot.  I was on hand to see the kazoo parade, and that's probably why I forgot about the t-shirt!
 Yes, that's a large green bean she is holding!  The funny part is that there were only two stands in the entire market selling green beans!  In my garden, the season is past, but in the mountains, it's still cool enough.  
  After the festival, I went to Blue Ridge, GA, and I suppose I should have taken pictures of it.  It's certainly picturesque enough, but just imagine any other tourist-y town with turn of the century buildings turned into t-shirt shops and "upscale" women's clothing and trendy restaurants, and you've got your own picture.  It wasn't special, judged on those terms.  But it was a pretty drive, and I had a good burger.

That night, Bella wanted out at 1:04 am, and when she went out, so did Leo.  I've been really careful to not let him out during the night, because this place is the WILDERNESS!   It's no place for 15-year-old orange tabbies!  But out he ran, and I couldn't catch him.  I yelled an impolite warning to him, and went back to bed, thinking he'd be out on the deck when I woke back up. 
  Well, he wasn't, and I couldn't find him, and he didn't answer my calls.  I went to breakfast and to Home Depot, and he still wasn't on the deck, waiting for me.  Every few minutes, I looked outside, called, walked up the road calling.  At about 6:00 that evening, I swear I heard him screaming, just twice and not far away.  I ran into the woods, hollering his name, but got stuck on an evil vine over and over again.  This vine in leafless and covered in thorns and kept ripping my flesh.  I stood very still and tried to hear Leo again, but he didn't cry again.  I could only picture him in his death throes out in the woods, alone, and I realized then how much these furry guys mean to me.  Of course, I love them and take care of them, but Leo has been with me since he was 5 weeks old, and imagining life without him was tearing me up.
  I slept restlessly that night, getting up every so often to check the deck and holler for him, but not answer.  At about 7:30 yesterday morning, Bella and I went for our walk, and not 25 yards up the road, sat a sad orange tabby, staring at us, about 10 feet from the road.  I screamed, scared him and off he ran!  But he's old, and I caught him.  He struggled to get out of my arms, probably because I might have been gripping him a little too strongly.
  When we got to the house, he ate an entire bowl of food, drank like a parched sailor and then collapsed on the floor.  He just had the strength to reach and touch my shoe.  24 hours later, he's still pretty tired and isn't up to jumping up onto anything.  I'd love to know what adventures he's had!  But he isn't talking.  He's already eyeing the door, but he isn't getting out any time soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


  After six LONG weeks without internet, I have reconnected with the world, and though it's slow going, with an intermittent connection--because I live in the middle of a beautiful nowhere--I feel so...modern!
  Three months ago, I applied for the job of Executive Chef at John C. Campbell Folk School. Check it out:  Now, you all know that I'm a pastry chef, not a chef of cuisine.  YOU know that, but they didn't know it.  I'd been teaching cuisine this spring, that's true, and I'd learned a lot, mostly that I already knew how to cook better than I thought I did.  But I applied, and had an interview in May.  At the end of the month, they offered me the job, and offered to pay me what I was making at both jobs I was working in Knoxville. 
  So, the pets and I relocated.  I started on June 9, and I won't lie:  It's been a rocky road.  I inherited a staff that was hired quickly when everyone walked out with the former chef, and a couple of people who'd been rapidly promoted out of their depths to run the kitchen in his absence.  Three of those people have left since then, for various reasons, and I'm desperately looking for cooks and dishwashers, but I've promoted two really strong people, and the menus are becoming my own.  You crafty friends out there are very welcome to come to the folk school, take classes, eat my food, and come by to say hi.  
  The pets have settled in, mostly.  Since Carol took the kittens to live with her, Weftie has become very affectionate, and I'll say it, a little needy.  But he's never moved before, and considering all the changes that happened to him in just a few months, he's doing well.  Leo's always a cool cucumber.  He's done a little too much exploring, running outside, into the woods, and not returning for hours.  Scares the be-jesus out of me!  He's too slow nowadays to outrun danger.  
 Bella and I have been making almost-weekly trips to Knoxville, to check on the house, and to bring things I miss back to Brasstown.  This week, she had to ride in the front seat, and got this picture of her, as she stared at me while I drove.  She's evolving into a country girl, enjoying the walks up and down the mountain we live on.  The deer freak her out still, but she loves to hang out on the deck.

Ruby Suby has had trouble adjusting, and had to have her brake rotors polished to stop the annoying squealing she was making as she made her way down mountains.  There is not straight way from Brasstown to Knoxville, and it's all up and down the Appalachians.  It's beautiful, but it's hard on a girl's brakes.

Without the looms, I've been knitting a lot.  I've finished a sweater, almost finished a pair of socks and have knitted a lot of fussy, tiny lace.  

 But mostly, I've been working.  Even though the kitchen has been very challenging, being surrounded by artists has been wonderful.  I needed new soup bowls, and I called the resident potter, who whipped up 15 new bowls in a week.  And they're gorgeous.  His name is Mike Lalone, and his stuff is sold in the Craft Shop at the folk school.  You need some of his work in your house, don't you?
 And the ladle on the right was made for me as a thank you gift from one of the blacksmiths when I made some baked potatoes and baked beans for their cook out.  It is so lovely!  It now hangs by my front door in a place of honor.  

  This past week, LouAnn and her sister, Joyce helped me move two looms to Brasstown, but I haven't had time to work on them yet.  This Saturday, I turn 59, and haven't decided how I'll celebrate yet, but some time might be devoted to getting the turned overshot warp re-wound and woven.  I will definitely take time to enjoy the deck, with the flowers I've rescued from the Near Death Plant Rack at Lowe's.  Here are some examples:

I promise to be in touch more in the future, and hope you can all take a class at the folk school in the near future!