Monday, October 31, 2011

Anniversary Ruby (and Other Rocks)

My, how time flies. I can hardly believe that the husbeast and I have been married for 29 years. It's true, life comes at you fast. It's equally true that it's possible to be married for a long time and still be every bit as in love as when you first uttered those 2 little words, "I do". I do, and I still am. I couldn't imagine not having my spouse by my side. And the best part is, it keeps getting better. It doesn't hurt that my other half is a romantic devil. For our 29th Anniversary he whisked me away to our favorite spot on Earth, Moclips. What's a Moclips, you ask? It's an unassuming little spot on the Pacific Coast, a little north of Ocean Shores and just south west of another favorite place, Lake Quinalt. Whenever we need to get away and recharge our souls, this is where we head. And this is the reason I can never move away from this area. I am invisibly tied to the ocean and the rain forests. We invariably stay at the Ocean Crest Resort. Their restaurant burned down last year, but I understand it will be rebuilt. They also had a very nice gift shop which I hope will also make a comeback. We have stayed in many of their rooms over the years. This time we stayed in room 208 which is very near the office. Two things struck me about this room. First, it has the bumpiest floor EVER. Not just in one or 2 places, but all over. It would be interesting to rip the carpet back to see what is underneath. But I will mainly remember it for this lovely art print.

I absolutely adore it. The artist is M.M. Roe (Maggie Row) a native artist who has recently passed away. I am sad to find she is no longer with us, as I had hoped to acquire a print for my collection. The point of this little vacation was to do as little as possible. And that is what we did. We arrived in Moclips Saturday afternoon. We relaxed until dinner time then made the drive to the Quinalt Casino for dinner at Emily's. We stuffed ourselves with anniversary lobsters, then returned to the hotel and fell asleep by 8:30pm. Yes, that's how old folks party. Sunday morning we drove to Kalaloch Lodge for breakfast. The husbeast was quite disappointed to find that they no longer serve their signature French toast. It was amazing. It had a kind of crunchy coating which we discovered was from ground up corn flakes. Alas, it is offered no more. Luckily they still have some delicious offerings on the menu. Here is the view from the cliff near the parking lot.

After breakfast we made the short drive to Ruby Beach. This is the view from the top of the hill, near the parking area.

And about halfway down the trail to the beach.

We love to visit this beach. Not only is it quite lovely but it is where the ashes of my dear mother-in-law are scattered. The beach is famous for its many sea stacks, as well as beach logs and driftwood. But I love it for something else. Rocks. Lots and lots of surf worn rocks.

While the husbeast was busy pretending he was a mountain goat....

...I was unleashing my inner rock hound and filling my pockets with any stones I thought might be lovely once polished. Now all I need is a rock tumbler.

After tromping around on the beach it was time to drive to Lake Quinalt Lodge for lunch.

Once we arrived we weren't quite ready to eat so we decided to have a beer and cigar inside the gazebo.

View of lake from gazebo.

And what I was enjoying.

After splitting a delicious Rueben sandwich and sweet potato fries we made the trek back to Moclips for a nap and then returned to the Quinalt Casino for dinner. Having not learned our lesson the night before, we once again ate too much and went to sleep early. All in all a wonderful relaxing vacation.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Let There Be Light!

I have the best husband, ever. I was mentioning I needed to find some kind of floor lamp to use when weaving, and look what he surprised me with.

It is full spectrum, and adjustable. I can aim it wherever needed. And it's a good thing, too. Now that I can "see", I've had to change my design once more. Seems I don't have enough of that honey colored gold, after all. But on the upside, I have 2 more skeins of the green. I've gone from plan B to plan C. 5" of green, 8" of gold, 34" of green, and then reverse. I believe I have enough yarn for that plan to work (fingers crossed). Do you see the piece of white paper, up to the left of the lamp? Wonder what it is? My super fancy, high tech treadle tracker. I should take it down. I memorized the treadling sequence almost immediately.

That's A Surprise

I realized I wasn't going to have enough of the green yarn to weave a 2 yard runner. Time to switch to Plan B. I have some brown yarn in my stash that would work with the green and gold. I was going to use it and have green and brown stripes. But then I thought I'd put in some narrow stripes of gold for contrast between the darker stripes. I didn't think the design would show up using both a gold warp and weft. I was surprised when the texture actually became more defined using the solid color. I've changed my mind again and will keep the 2 original colors. 5" green stripes and 8" gold stripes. I was weaving along, trying various techniques to keep my selvedges neat and even. I was paying so much attention to that, I neglected to keep my beating even and began beating too hard.

Oh well. I'm not ripping this back anymore. This merino is much too sticky and wants to felt and knot with little provocation. I am accepting that my first project will not be perfect and reminding myself that it's to "learn" on. It will be a runner, topped with family photos. No one is going to inspect it closely. Let it go, Roxi. If you agonize over it too much, you'll never get it finished.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Clam Chowder

I love clam chowder, especially New England style. My husband has to watch his milk intake so I had to come up with a recipe that would make just enough for me. I made this last night and it turned out great.

New England Style Clam Chowder
(makes 3 to 4 servings)

1 1/2 strips of bacon, cut in 1/4" pieces
1/2 cup shopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 potato, cubed
1 cup water
clam juice from a 6.5 ounce can of minced clams (reserve clams)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half & half
1 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a small saucepan, fry bacon until almost done. Add the onions and celery. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add water, clam juice, potatoes and parsley. Simmer until potatoes are tender but don't overcook. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until well blended. Add half & half and milk. Whisk, stirring frequently, until thickened. Stir in the potato mixture.  Add the remaining ingredients, including the reserved clams, and heat through. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And Away I Go

The day I've been waiting for, for 12 years, has finally arrived. I am weaving. But first I had to finish warping. The threads were through the reed and heddles, without a mistake. Now to tie on and beam the warp. First I had to tie it to the back apron rod.

Then the warp is wound over the back beam (the apron rod is sitting atop it) and then down and around the warp beam which is that fat beam you can see under the warp. Once the warp is beamed I move to the front of the loom and tie the warp to the front apron rod. This is a crucial step as you have to carefully adjust the tension.

I chose to tie on with bow knots to make it easier to remove. And also to untie and adjust if need be. Now I was ready to weave my header which serves to even out your warp. See how it is all in v-shaped clumps, above? Now look how even it is above the header I wove using Christmas colored dish cloth cotton.

Here is a view of the loom, warped and ready.

Drum roll, please! Only other weavers will understand the pure giddy joy of this moment. I was FINALLY weaving my first honest to goodness project on an actual floor loom. This weaving has a very loose sett (thread spacing) and at first I was beating too hard and the pattern wasn't showing up as I'd like. I started beating a bit gentler and the gorgeous twill pattern emerged, as if by magic.

And a close-up of the fabric.

I have always known I was a weaver.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Learning To Warp

I'm so glad I bought that 'Beginning Four Harness Loom' video. I would've had a heck of a time warping without it. I am able to watch the different steps, pause the video and preform them, then go back and watch the next step. The DVD has caused me a little bit of confusion, though. When the instructor says something to the effect of, "thread the warp in the same sequence as it went on the warping board", I took that literally. Meaning I thought it was important for that first thread on the board to be the first thread on the loom. But my warp would've been less twisted if I'd made the last on the board, the first on the loom. Also, in her video (and  book) she reads her threading chart from left to right, but in my older books the chart is read right to left. For some reason I believed this was standard but apparently not? I'm still confused on this. Also in the video she ties the entire warp to the breast beam, in one bundle, before sleying the reed. This causes quite a bit of distortion to the lengths of threads as they are warped, In the future I will wind at least 2 separate warp bundles. All in all my warping process has gone smoothly. I managed to get one end per dent with no skips. As I was threading the heddles I would stop after every repeat of the draft and double check my threading order. I did make a mistake near the end of my threading but easily caught and corrected it. As long as I don't have any surprise crossed threads I should be good to go. Thus far my only warping emergency has been a broken warp thread. I think I manhandled it a bit too hard. To correct this I measured another warp thread and added it to that dent and heddle and will remove the snapped thread when I tie onto the cloth beam.

I wonder if it's true and I'll always remember my first.
Warp, that is.
The husbeast rigged this fancy set of hooks for hanging the
warping board. It stays put but is easily removed.

Reed sleyed, front view.

Back view. See the sley hook? You use it to pull
the threads through the reed dents (slots).

Now for the fun (?) part. Threading the heddles. My back was killing me after threading all 216 of them. I understand that some weavers grow to love the warping process. I don't know if I'll ever be one of them. But I appreciate that it's a very important and necessary step.

Heddles all threaded and double checked.

And here is my broken warp thread.

Next step? Beaming.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What To Weave First?

The 'Beginning Four Harness Weaving' video recommends a sampler but I just can't get excited about that. I think it would be a waste of my time (and precious yarn). I want to weave useful items in interesting patterns. I've decided I could really use a new runner for the top of my buffet. This morning I sat down with a pile of my weaving books, to search for my first weaving pattern. I swear, I have no idea what treasures lurk in my fiber studio. For example, I have been packing this book around for at least 12 years. I'm sure I found it at a thrift store. It was printed in 1947. Although the pictures are dated (but fun to look at) weaving is timeless. This book is packed with useful information and focuses on the counterbalance loom. That will be very useful if I ever find myself with one of those in my possession.

This book also includes a nice assortment of 4 harness weaving patterns. I was looking for an interesting twill that I could use with a contrasting warp and weft. Something that would hold my interest and also produce a fabric that I will be proud to display in my living room. I think this one will fill the bill.

It doesn't look too difficult. Now that I've decided on my pattern I need some yarn. I want something in a fingering weight wool, but not superwash as I want to be able to full it. And it has to be colors that won't clash with the rest of my furnishings. I searched my stash and came up with this.

I will use the lighter greenish gold for the warp and the darker green for the weft. The yarn is Jezebel, a hand dyed fingering weight merino from SWTC. This is my actual loom, who I have named Perrito (Spanish for pup).

I need to remove the warp and project that is on him. It's not mine, but came with the loom. Then, as soon as I can get the husbeast to hang my warping board, I'll get busy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Let The Weaving Begin!

I've been waiting for this all summer, and half the fall. The garden is put to rest, the last of the tomatoes have been processed into spaghetti sauce, and I can turn my attention to learning to weave. Let me introduce you to my instructors.

This book focuses on weaving on a countermarch loom.

The book on the right, below, is on warping many different types of looms and the book on the left is about tying up a countermarch loom.

And last I have these 3 DVD's. Truly like having an instructor right there in your living room. The first is very basic. Which is where my skill level is. It shows how to warp front to back, and weave, on a 4 harness loom. The second is a comprehensive course on warping. And the third is another resource for tying up and warping a countermarch loom.

You are looking at approximately $175 worth of instruction materials here. But if I were to take classes, on all the aspects of weaving these cover, it would cost a whole lot more. And, especially with the DVD's, I can take the same class over and over. At 2am if I so desire. I am a beginning weaver with  minimal knowledge. I need to start with the basics. I have woven on a rigid heddle loom in the past, but never on a multi harness loom or one with treadles. Here is my one and only project from that rigid heddle loom. It's a plaid runner for the top of my piano, woven 12 years ago.

I am ready to venture beyond basic tabby weaving. Tabby is what most of us have done in the past, on cardboard looms or with paper strips. Just basic "over, under" weaving. Which is what my plaid runner is. Having treadles which are connected to shafts allows you to easily create more complicated weave structures. The more harnesses and treadles, the more elaborate your weaving can become. I currently own 3 different types of floor looms. They vary in size and complexity. I will start my new weaving career with my simplest loom, a Schacht Wolf Pup. Please click on that link to see a stock photo, as my studio is not yet ready for public viewing. My Pup is about as basic as a 4 harness loom can get. It is only able to do "direct tie up" weaving, meaning treadle one is permanently tied to harness one, treadle two to harness two, and so forth. That will be sufficient for me at my current skill level. Once I've mastered the basics I can move on to my J-Made loom which has 4 harnesses and 6 treadles. Then I can experiment with different tie-ups. And once I have that figured out it will be time to tackle Agda, with her 8 harnesses and 10 treadles. But first things, first. Today I watched the DVD, "Beginning Four Harness Weaving". It was well worth the $19.99. I now feel confident that I can warp the Pup and weave my first project. It was a happy coincidence that the loom used in the DVD is a Baby Wolf which is related to my Pup. Everything will be the same as on the video, except for tying up the treadles, which I can ignore. I hope to warp the Pup tomorrow and have some actual weaving to show you very soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ready For Winter (And Weaving)

I'm proud of myself for staying on track and finishing my yard work. It helped that we had nearly a week of lovely, warm(ish), dry weather. Monday I planted my garlic. Singha is helping to keep it warm.

Tuesday I finished getting the cold frames planted. The cinder block planter holds beets, mustard greens, spinach and bok choy.

And my polycarbonate cold frame, a Mother's Day gift 2 years ago (thanks, Randine!) holds lettuce, green onions, cilantro and basil.

As I've mentioned before, this year is an experiment and my expectations are low. Mainly because I am getting such a late start to my fall planting. But I already have some radishes and carrots sprouting in my little pots. Slugs are nibbling on the radish tops. I added a small container of beer that I hope will distract them.

Tuesday was such a lovely day. The bees were out enforce. I hadn't seen so many of them out at once since summer ended. There was lots of waggle dancing and they were roaring loudly. But I don't think it was an angry roar. More like a raucous party. Telling each other to get outside and enjoy the sun while you can!

Just a few minutes after I snapped that picture the shade came across the front of the hive and there were only a few bees left outside. What had they been so excited about and where were they going? I noticed they were still visiting the sour wood tree, across the alley. Even though it's leaves are turning there are still some sprays of white blossoms for the bees to enjoy.

I took advantage of the sun and hung out some rugs to dry. No, they didn't get completely dry, but every little bit helps. I then grabbed one of those Brazilian black beers and parked myself in the lawn, in the sun, to relax and watch the bees.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I finished the last of my yard tasks, weeding the bee yard. I was waiting for a cool, dry day. Cool so the bees would not be out flying, except for potty flights, and dry so I wouldn't be slogging around in the mud. Here it is, all neat and tidy. I've drained their bee bath and flipped it over so it doesn't freeze and crack.

I also dug up my poor canna and put it in a pot. I had it in the garden, to the right of the bees, and in front of where the snow peas were planted. It survived last winter but never bloomed this year. Perhaps it will like the pot better?