Monday, April 28, 2014

Off the Loom

Friday afternoon I pulled the runner off the loom.

 The ends are serged but nothing else is done yet. I am still deciding if I want a plain hem or a fabric bias binding. The warp on Big Sal has been brought forward and re tensioned as much as possible. It still won't be perfect, I don't think I have the trick of this sticky beam yet, but it will likely be better.

 It is, after all, my time to play with this big new toy, try out color suggestions and plan the next warp! And speaking of warps, a new one is in prep for the Louet Delta. This is the start of bundle two of two.( And if anyone wants to know, I love my warping mill now that I have gotten comfortable with using it).

 The first one is waiting on the back beam for its twin. And I am not going to divulge what it is going to be as it is a large part gift weaving and a small part, donation weaving. That of course means I am under a deadline, not my strong suit but we'll hopefully "shuttle" through.

The weather, which has been pretty dreary and wet for the last couple of weeks, is expected to do a 180. We are going to go from the cold,raw damp spring to the almost summer spring with temps getting into the high 70's this week. Perfect for working in the back room where the Delta lives. Good thing since I have 408 plus ends of 10/2 perle cotton to warp, thread and sley.

Traditionally, I have been in MA visiting my folks at this time. But this year is different. I went to visit in Jan/Feb and we decided since Convergence is in the Northeast this year, I would make my exodus to the homeland in July and we would go to it. Boy, summer air fares certainly aren't as friendly as those spring ones, but it is all doable and I'm pretty excited about being in New England in the summer for once.
The clam shacks will be open.....;)

Sewing has been pretty quiet. I have had a couple of things to do for others and that is almost done. I did work on a vintage pattern I picked up on Etsy some time ago.

 This is a muslin and the pattern needs work but it shows promise.

 Those armhole facings are a challenge, as simple as they may look.

I lost my last post in a mishap while tinkering with the blog. Oh woe, but thank you ALL so much for the kind comments about our newest addition. He is doing very well. Peter on the other hand is day to day. He is, after all, 19 and there is no denying that he is in decline and has been for a couple of months. In the present we are catering to him as best we can. Food he likes and only that, his bed warmed and fluffed in the dryer, solo walks and lots of cuddles. I have no magic fountain of youth I can dip him in although I sure wish I did. Don't we all!

Parting shot: Stella as a super hero.....;)

This happened without human intervention, and the binding has been fixed.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hardy Little Hummers

Last week Spring! This week, Winter. Cold, snowy and just plain raw. And while I am complaining only mildly about winter's resurrection, the resulting moisture has been a very good thing. Lots of rain and then 6 plus inches of wet, slushy snow. It is not pretty but if we want a chance of keeping fire season at bay until at least June, it is worth it.

I did feel sorry for the few early arriving hummingbirds. We have at least one pair of Rufus Hummers. This is the little male last week enjoying sunshine and nectar.

There is not much I can do about the weather, but I kept their feeders on the warm side. I have two so we would pull one in and replace it with another that had stayed at room temp in the house. The hummingbirds are up and seeking food long before the first finch, chickadee or sparrow even peeps a good morning call. I hear them buzzing not at first light but first glow, the almost imperceptible lightening in the east. They are the last to go to roost too. Leaving in the deepest of dusk as the bats are starting to patrol. Natures shift change.

And of course as I am sewing and watching great big wet blobs of white slop fall from the sky, I am wondering why I am working on summer garments! Floral linen no less! But it is what it is. If I was working on winter sweater knits or woolens, no doubt it would be blazing sun and 80 degrees. Hm, maybe I can control the weather? ;)

So, here is a rundown of all flax sewing.

A linen dress.

 I don't often make dresses or wear them, but this big bold print screamed hot summer days in something cool and flowing.

 Simple modifications of a slightly dropped bodice, a couple of pleats in the lower portion and loose fluttery sleeves. Pair it with a straw hat and some cool canvas flats and I'm good to go almost anywhere.

Cross weave linen in black and white turned into a Schoolhouse Tunic with some fun reverse applique.

The dog fabric is vintage and likely from the late 50's early 60's. I have used it sparingly over the years since I love it so much and once it's gone, it's gone.

  I had an awful lot of fun with this and it will see a lot of wear with it's season spanning color and fiber.

Lastly, a pair of cropped pants, my standard pant pattern, shortened darted and pleated.

The fabric is a crisp and tightly woven Japanese linen in a color that is sort of grey, sort of brown and sort of deep blue. It will go with almost anything.

 Just a touch of an orange twill cotton ribbon. After all, orange is the new black!

Big Sal has been weaving steadily. I usually have a break in my day late in the afternoon. Traditionally this has been known as "Beer Thirty".

 It's the time after all the dogs and horses have been fed, and our dinner is either in process or easy enough to start at five-ish. I crack my one and only beer and sip and weave. Since I don't have to keep track of treadles and throws with the dobby, it's a perfect zen kind of 30 minutes. I'm getting to the end of the runner. I don't know exactly how long it will be but whatever it is, it'll be long enough.

Parting shots: Shedding is very Zen.

Very, very Zen.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Here at the Ritz

Camp Runamuck sits comfortably on 25 acres at elevations ranging from 4100 feet to about 4500 feet
depending where you are on the property. Of those 25 acres about 6 have been truly disturbed for buildings and paddocks. The rest is a mix of forest and mountain meadow land. Most of our trees are conifers. White Fir, Douglas Fir, Incense Cedar, and a few Ponderosa Pine and Oak trees. We are just a little high for them on average. We have some beautiful wild dogwoods around that live in the shadier understory of some of the forest area. There are more plants and ferns and flowers here than I can shake a stick at or name and that goes for the diversity of wildlife too. The monument area we live smack dab in the middle of stretches over 60,000 acres, right into California. We have been blessed to live here and that covers the deer munching my garden, the occasional scorpion and rattlesnake, bear ( I found some scat in the area we are thinning right now) and bobcat. Pick a season and take a walk and you will see something you haven't noticed before. I guarantee it. Often times the wildlife comes to you. So was the case yesterday when we had new arrivals at our bird feeders. A small flock of American Gold Finches.

 Now these may be common in many areas, but for us these beauties are just passing through. Against our dark green forest backdrop they are like little jewels sparking on the branches. At the feeders, they are not shy about bellying up to the bar so to speak. The Cassin's Finches were a bit put out,

as were the Mountain Chickadees!

But they were especially bright and welcome since it was grey and rainy out. Even if they are gone today, I was lucky enough to catch them yesterday.

Up in the not so exciting sewing room this cute little summer tunic was completed.

 I had some fun playing with reverse applique and have used the technique on another tunic in  process.

Big Sal has been busy, I have probably woven about 18 more inches of the runner and considering all that goes on here on a daily basis, getting that much done is pretty darn good. It's a lovely loom to weave on. I like the chair but I think at some point I will have Gene add a riser to each of the two treadles. It is just a bit of stretch for me on longer weaving sessions and this being a jack loom with 16 shafts, I want all the leverage I can get for those throws that have me lifting a large portion of them. It's an easy thing to do and I'll tell him so! ;)

Earlier in the week the weather was fine and warm and I spent a good amount of time outside with goats and horses. Ben

 and Jerry

 are shedding out and looking a little moth eaten.

 The horses too are still floating clouds of loose hair, but it is getting better.

 As you can see, life is pretty relaxed and easy this spring. Each and every one of us is enjoying the warmer weather in our own way.

The garden had a few more additions, a bright and happy perennial corn flower names Amethyst in Snow,

 a Speedwell named Red Fox

 and Black Mondo Grass.

 I'm filling in some holes and as last year, testing to see what likes it here and what doesn't. I am delighted to report the Epimedium (aka Bishop's Hat or Fairy Wings), in the shade garden is showing signs of life and the Black & Blue Salvia is also growing. This plant was questionable as to its hardiness up here, but the heavy mulching in the fall seems to have done the trick, for now at least!

Parting shots: A horse and his goat.....

Step away from the camera, both of you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Wood Lot Carnage

Now there's a title that will grab you! And not far from the truth either. We have a very dense replanted area close in by the structures. Every spring it is mentioned that it needs to be thinned and every year, I take off for MA and it doesn't get done. Well, not this year! Saturday morning we both went out and started in on it. Me dragging branches and brush (grunt work) and Gene cutting the trees and dragging them out ( better grunt work).

 All told about 12 trees were taken, a path opened up to a very large dead fir and a couple of tight snags that have to cleaned out.

 More still needs to go for this tree stand to thrive but it is a start. You can start to see sunlight coming between the trees, lighting the understory.

 Yesterday I went out and cut 4 more trees and spent a good amount of time limbing up the ones that were staying. Most of these trees are small, all were replanted at the same time, probably about 30 years ago when the property was last logged. We are leaving Douglas Fir and Cedar trees and of course, a good portion of White fir and the occasional Ponderosa Pine tucked in there. More work will be done today. I can say the small chainsaw I received as a 2012 Christmas present has been the perfect tool for the job. Light, small and powerful, perfect for working in tight areas. It's going to be one heck of a burn pile for next week, hoping for some wet weather to damp things down a bit.

In the weaving studio, I tried out a combination of dark brown and red with that pink warp. I rather like it.

This will be a runner, and then we will try out all the color suggestions on towels. I added a floating selvage and stopped using the fly shuttle. It is gross overkill on a 18" wide warp and almost impossible to use with those floating threads.

 So, how am I liking my big AVL Production loom? I love it. Once set up she is fast and easy. The dobby portion has been steady and true. The shed is not what you get on the Louet's or even the Murphy Counterbalance loom, but it is a good shed and with adjustment, might even get better. Looks like Big Sal is in it for the long haul.

Meanwhile, up in the sewing room, things have languished a bit. I did get a marathon cutting session done
and have lots of fun things up and coming, but it was just too seductive to be outside than up sewing. Spring in April, what a concept! Most years we still have wet snow and slush and mud. This year is totally different. Gardens are growing, flowers are blooming, hummingbirds are back and the flippin deer have arrived too. DAMN IT!

I was hoping my plants would get a good start before the pasture rats arrived for their warm weather buffet. I even added some new plants to the garden. I have no qualms about yanking those things that died or are suffering from failure to thrive (nipped last year beyond recovery). Gardens are a living work in progress as far as I am concerned. Here are some of our picks from Friday's plant nursery excursion.

Perennial Geranium (one of two), very fragrant.

Nodding Chocolate Flower- as it says flowers that smell like chocolate. We'll see.

New variety of Santolina/ Lavender Cotton

Hellebore of unknown color. It was cheap...:)

Quince, the one survivor of a tough winter at the nursery. It was REALLY cheap, but should come back and do well up here. It is a thorned variety. Take THAT Bambi!

Sweetbox shrub, flowers in the winter and smells like honey. Should get berries for fall.

Artemisia, Lamb's Ear, more Creeping Thyme of some variety and an ornamental switch grass (Panicum) round out the selection. All of them are "deer resistant" and I can say, the Hellebore at least has remained untouched from last years planting.

Gene and I did jump into action when we spied the first deer. The water scarecrow is out and ready and so are the shocker stakes. I am hoping the double whammy right from the get go will discourage them from even putting my garden on their map. One does always have hope.

Parting shot: Springtime in Jail. So sad.....