Thursday, December 6, 2012

2012 Stepping Stones

OK, "I Can't Stand It No More"(thanks, Peter Frampton), although Bluto's cry of "I yam what I yam ! and I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!" feels much more appropriate.  

It has been just about a year since I inherited  newsletter and program chair duties from outgoing members of my weaving guild.  Not coincidentally, it has been just about a year since I have written  in my blog, or anywhere else.  Life on the farm has continued on at a rollicking pace - shearing in April and October, sorting, picking,  sending, sometimes selling, carding fleece, and always spinning, knitting and weaving.  But, due to some misplaced sense of duty, the programs and newsletters for my guild have taken precedence over other creative endeavors.

Like trying to cross a stream that is too wide to be jumped in a single leap, I am going to walk across stepping on stones, but I WILL get across!

Some prominent stones:
Last January I started the maze of doctors and referrals which led up to a THP (total hip replacement) in April.  We continued our presence at the Vista Market as long as I was able.

Took a wonderful rug-weaving workshop with Jason Collingwood (Peter's son) in February.

Did a presentation for a local "Art Lovers' Club" in March.  Well received, and great fun to do.  Slide show is ready should there be any calls for an encore!
Managed to spend some time with Bay-area kids and grands before April's surgery,
Finished seven shawls and a rug
The rug was done with llama and wool roving and linen warp, on a peg loom.

Our little flock of hens lost their rooster after neighbors complained, but Michael is their leader now and he takes care of them very well.  By May they are growing and thriving.

In June we had some surprise goat babies - surprise was that I had gotten rid of the bucks months ago!  However, all are simply lovely so will be keepers.
In July Ivy brought the girls down for a visit, and of course a trip to the beach was mandatory.  They were fascinated with the surfers, who didn't seem to even notice them.

The chickens started laying, and by August we were getting beautiful eggs on a daily basis.
We also joined a local CSA, JR Organics and continue to enjoy our beautiful "surprise box" of fruit and veggies every two weeks.

In September my  amazing new neighbor, artist Carolyn Reynolds, invited me to assist with her three-day show in Sausalito.  What a trip!
Carolyn does huge and beautiful canvasses that begin with layers of gold or silver leaf.  On that background she builds many layers of oil paint, so that the finished work is luminous and ever changing.  Very inspiring!

"Real" SAORI from Japan
Later in the month I was able to attend the International SAORI Conference in Los Angeles.  I truly felt like the grasshopper at the feet of the master; knowledge and inspiration were overwhelming, the weavings stunning. 
Kenzo Jo demonstrates SAORI weaving techniques.

My enabler watches the booth.
The second annual Vista Fiber Arts Fiesta was held again in October, with slightly less participation than last year.  Still, it was a fun and fiber-filled weekend.

 Of course I succumbed to some beautiful handspun, hand-dyed singles from TaraSFibers, and was gifted with some lovely wheel paste from the Yarn Marm.  

Toward the end of the month I was privileged to attend my first-ever SOAR (Spin-Off Autumn Retreat) at Lake Tahoe.  Seizing this as my first and perhaps only opportunity, I signed up for weekend workshops with Michael Cook
The silk guru
Judith MacKenzie (luxury fibers)
Judith with her beautiful bison rug

Stephenie and Jacey Boggs
 Stephenie Gaustad (recreating and restoring textiles), and Deb Menz, (working with color on hackles and carders).  Then I  packed my wheel and sweet-talked my favorite enabler to drive up with me.

The picture to the left is sadly a bit blurry, but is one of my favorites because these two ladies are the past, present and future of spinning, and make it possible for all of us to step into that amazing stream of knowledge, skill and history ... and to help keep it flowing.  Thank you, ladies.  Thank you so much.

Got to visit kids and grands in the Bay area, enjoyed (?) the snow at Tahoe, and visited sister in Oceano on the way back.  So rich an experience!!!!

WeFF (Southern California Handweavers' Guild's Weaving and Fiber Festival) was held the first Sunday in November.  Too bad I was pre-migraine, and forgot the cash box and Square (for credit card processing).  It was a lovely day, but sales were the worst ever.  However, that event marked the end of our "seasonal rush," so now things have settled down to a more steady cadence.

I even had time to go visit Gil and Nancy Riegler at Oasis Camel Dairy to see the beautiful dromedaries and to talk with them about developing a market for their fiber.  I came home with a true love for the gentle beasts, and a bag of fiber with which to experiment.  Fun!!  I took my iphone and a camera, but was so caught up in the event that I forgot to take any pictures. Next time, I promise. 

The very same thing happened when Dr. Elizabeth Barber came to speak to my weaving guild.  I was so in awe, and so happy to have her to lunch after, that I never thought to snap her picture.  Not even when she walked over to pet the llamas, something she had always wanted to do.

December seems to have a decidedly more leisurely pace - so far - except that we are now in the throes of packing for our Skeptics' Amazing Cruise , our first cruise ever - amazing or otherwise. 
More on THAT later -- providing the world doesn't end.  ;>

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First Tri

I don't know what happened to November and December.  Oh well.  January has been too much fun to even worry about it.

Sometime during that November/December "fugue state" (does anyone watch Breaking Bad?) I did a lot or reading and research on triloom weaving.  There is a Ravelry group that is very active, and also a Yahoo Triloom Group.  The cover picture for the Ravelry group was the one that finally sent me over the edge.  Eventually, I took a short, one-day workshop in weaving on a triangular loom from Barbara Borgerd Ickler, who has been perfecting this technique for decades.  Unfortunately, her web site is a little out of date, but her workshop was wonderful. Even the show-and-tell part was excellent, and by the time she had shown us all of the beautiful examples of her work, I was sold.  Two days later I drove back and bought a 72" loom.

Unfortunately, the holidays interfered with my enthusiastic plans, so everything had to stay under wraps until all of the feasting and festivities were over.  But during that time, I found a nice easel on Craig's list,  sorted out some yarn, and vowed to set things up as soon as the house was mine once again.  

I decided not to waste my handspun on the first try, so found some mill-spun llama that I had dyed, and added some Noro and a bit of handspun for variation.  Lessons learned here:
  1. Llama stretches like the devil.
  2. Noro breaks and shreds at the slightest pressure.
  3. The handspun was not the same grist, in fact, nothing was the same, so tension was wildly uneven.
Planning took some while, since I had lost the notes taken at Barbara's workshop.  Duh.
But I managed to hunt up enough information on line to get me started.  From there on, things seemed to slowly come back to me.  Lessons from phase two:
  1. It seems to take forever to adjust the easel, chair and loom comfortably.  Had to hunt up some chains to use as reins for the easel.
  2. A 6' triloom and easel takes up a lot of floor space, and tends to frighten the dogs, while being of endless fascination to the cat.
  3. A light is really helpful.
  4. Use something to contain your yarn, in this case, a wire waste basket.

Before I could bind off and make fringe (and several times along the way) I had to stop and try to take up the slack.
  1. It is easier to straighten as you go than to try to clean up stretched and crooked rows at the end.
  2. Don't use 100% llama!
 I soon found that outside on a warm day is the best place to work, at least during daylight hours.

Hubby worried that the shawl was too - what was the word - sloppy?  But I rather like the open, gauzy feeling, especially for spring.  I finally got the shawl bound off with something that unintentionally looked like leno lace, but is actually kind of interesting, and celebrated the last of the fringe with a Kir Royale, sporting a rose garni.

Nothing provides confidence like one hard-earned success, so shawl #2 is well underway.  And this time, I am using homegrown pygora/cashmere handspun with bits of color.  All one texture, smooth as a baby's butt, and such a pleasure to work with!  The addition of a beautiful wooden Tunisian crochet hook really makes it hard to leave the loom.  Just one more round, just one more!