Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"My Weaving Workshop...."

I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to sign up for a weaving workshop with internationally known, Jason Collingwood, a rug weaver from England. It was held at Vavning Studio, in the small village of Shopiere, WI, which is about a 45 minute drive from our house in Madison. Juanita, who owns Vavning Studio, was the perfect hostess, making everyone feel extremely comfortable, PLUS giving us all GIFTS! She is a multi-talented artist and gave us each a print of one of her watercolors, along with a set of needles to use with weaving, and has a friend who also give us a special wire to make "G strings". (G strings are "needle threaders) :) It was a whirlwind 2 1/2 days, packed with information and not enough time, but DEFINITELY a great experience.

Vavning Studio is located in a former church, which is perfect for holding workshops. The upstairs, or main floor, still has the church pews (with seat pads!) and makes for a comfortable, roomy, and well lit lecture hall.

Here are some woven samplers of techniques we were shown/taught how to accomplish on our looms. (double click for a larger photo)

The weaving studio is located in the church basement, although it is actually the ground floor and one can walk directly into it from the parking lot, which makes it easier carrying in all the looms, benches, and materials needed for the workshop.

As you can see, there are many shapes and sizes of looms, each one with a "work in progress" on it, too. Beyond this room are, a kitchen, rest rooms, and Juanita's husband's darkroom, and the stairs that lead up to the lecture hall. Norm, Juanita's husband, has been doing photography as a hobby since 1948. I only know this because he, Juanita, and I had a little "show and tell" the last day of the workshop. A time had been set aside for "show and tell", but it was after the daily workshop hours (Sunday night), and since I traveled back and forth from Madison daily, Juanita asked me to bring in something I had woven to show the group. Many of the participants had traveled quite far to take this workshop and were staying in nearby hotel/motels and had shown their things the night before. Norm had somehow been forgotten in all the fiber "show and tell", so he was asked to show his photographs after the luncheon as well. :) Juanita also had another piece of weaving to show. She'd woven a very large rug for Patty, one of the owners of Rainbow Fleece Farm, using Patty's own hand spun yarn from some of her sheep. Patty and Andy had been invited to come to the luncheon, and to bring along some of their "wares". Juanita "unveiled" her rug for the first time and it truly, is a beautifully woven piece.

Another view of the studio....... I think Jason is a very good instructor. He is patient and works one on one very well. Patience is a GOOD thing when learning/teaching weaving......... :)

This is my work area. I was lucky enough to have been offered, by our friend Barb, to use her grandmothers travel loom, a "Baby Macomber". Actually, I borrowed it soon after I moved to Madison, but didn't use it. I was sort of "afraid" of it because of it's size. It is too small/short for me, but I have made a wooden frame for it to sit on, which raises it up about 1 1/2", so it fits much better. It was especially nice to have a floor loom for the workshop, rather than a table loom. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to pack my bench in the car (had too many things to remember, I guess!) the first day, but Juanita had an extra bench that I could use for the day. I did remember to bring mine in the next day (plus mine has a nice fleece to sit upon....).

A few more photos to follow in tomorrow's blog entry.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Birthday Boy Continued....."

As mentioned yesterday, Don's last present was a propane patio you can see, it came in quite a large box. Actually, this was only the bottom part of the heater, the top came in another large box, so you can imagine how easy these were to hide. I basically just told him not to move any sheets that were over boxes in the basement. I'm sure it gave him cause for thought, but if it did, he acted surprised none the less. :)

Thank goodness for someone who really DOES READ directions! Look at that heap of parts! R2D2 on the right, Copper, or myself, for that matter, weren't ANY help either...... :)

It was almost all put together when Don received a Happy Birthday call from Michelle (ex co-worker), who'd recently moved from Madison to out East. An unexpected and happily received surprise....... Doesn't the heater look huge in the room?

After "construction", it was breakfast time. I went overboard and created a "special" omelet for Don. I included crumbled bacon, 3 cheeses, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms, and of course, used our fresh eggs from the "girls" in the backyard. :)

Don Pato was so "impressed" with his b-day omelet, that he took a photo. OH! And his cinnamon/raisin toast was made by my new mixer, too. Now THAT, still needs some experimentation to meet my expectations...... Too bad the milk didn't come from our own goat, eh? :) And the bacon.....NO! That is going TOOOOOO FAR! LOL

Monday, April 28, 2008

"The Birthday Boy....."

Thursday night after coming home from Don's "Birthday Dinner" (he chose to go to Jimmy Buffett's Cheeseburger in Paradise), I persuaded him to open "just one birthday present". Can you tell he enjoys cognac? :) I thought perhaps he'd want to take it for a "taste sip", but the margaritas at dinner had been enough for the day........

The next day, BEFORE breakfast (although I had a hard time waiting for him to be "ready"....ugh!), I finally got him to sit and open his presents! To celebrate "recumbentcy" (a made up word to be sure), he got T-shirts from the recumbent shop in Stevens Point, The Hostel Shoppe. We are, by the way, going to participate in their annual recumbent rally in August.

OH MY! Another present celebrating "recumbentcy"! :) This is a cover for his fairing, this years new addition to his bike.

And yes, another bottle of cognac.......

His next to last present was a "cover", which was for his last present, the propane patio heater, which in our case, becomes a deck heater. :) Photos of that "construction" process, will be in tomorrows blog entry. :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Last Sunday's Ride....."

After arriving home from Michigan last Sunday, Don and I took a bike ride. It truly was a bike ride, rather than a trike ride that day. Don rode his 2 wheeled recumbent and I rode my 2 wheeled upright bike. I need to build up stamina on the "little" seat verses the larger, comfy, trike seat. Things went pretty well in that department. :)

We stopped at Olin Park's boat launch and took this photo. We "think" the guy was loading pier pieces on the boat to be taken to another spot, somewhere along the shores of Lake Monona.

Here is Don riding along one of the entrances into/onto(?) Monona Terrace.

and me.....standing still for the "photo op".

There was a collegiate bike race around Capitol Square. Last year it happened to be the men's race we'd been up there to watch, and this year we watched a women's event.

It was such a beautiful day that Don took this montage from our deck. Interesting, no? :) (click for a larger photo)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Winding and Weaving...."

Much to my benefit, Mary, from whom I bought my Harrisville Loom, has been cleaning closets, and finding all sorts of "extras" that she has been passing along to me. She is one of Don's co-workers, so every once in awhile, he brings home these little treasures from her. Last week, she'd found some roving (another gentle "push" towards spinning, eh?) and yarn, some of which was in the beginning stages of a sweater, thus my rewinding it in the photo. This week, she sent me 2 books. One on tapestry and the other on rigid heddle loom weaving. Nice, eh? :)

I had woven Don's 2 sisters chenille shawls/wraps and was tying the fringe on the last one, which would be sent to Bonnie soon after this was taken. Heather had received hers first, but kept the "secret" very well, by not "spilling the beans" to Bonnie that she had one heading her way, too.

Here are some photos of Bonnie's, with Don as the "model". :) (It seems he gets roped into this role quite often, when neighbors are not available when the "photo shoot" begins)

Thank goodness he keeps his good humor.........

and does more than is expected/asked. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"It "WAS" All About Food....."

As in the title of today's "WAS" all about food....and it still is, although it "HAS" to become better choices for us. Not that I won't be making more ice cream, but perhaps a "less fattening" kind.

I used my new Kitchen Aid to make our first batch of ice cream....a French Vanilla. DELICIOUS!!! Of course, it should have been since it was loaded with heavy whipping cream and half and half. :) My next "experiment" with it will be perhaps making iced milk. :) The attachment is truly amazing. It churns the mixture all on its own, and with just keeping an eye on it occasionally, soon it is finished!

In this photo, it has just begun freezing......

The final product, which is like "soft serve". I put this back into the freezer to have it become more firm......

While the ice cream attachment was doing its thing, I made 2 single crust chicken pot pies. Our neighbor Anna was having foot surgery the next day, and we wanted to take something over for them that would be easily reheated. Michael is allergic to gluten, so I latticed the crust to make it easily removable for him. We heard later, that Anna enjoyed his crust with her portion. :)

I haven't yet tried using my mixer to make pie crusts, although I do plan on doing so. I'd already had the boxed "easy" crust in the refrigerator, and since it was a "2 crust" box, I made another chicken pot pie for Don and I. It was my first attempt at doing a lattice crust. I think they turned out rather well, even if I do say so myself. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Finishing up with Rainbow Fleece Farm...."

I'm becoming more fascinated with the idea of learning to spin. I tried it last fall, but did not have a good experience, as I felt rushed while attempting it. I was also trying to spin on a 2 treadle wheel, which in my opinion, made it hard to concentrate on the business of feeding the roving to the wheel (my description, not the technical one). I "think" I would do better on a one treadle wheel, but I'm sure everyone would have an opinion on that. "Comments Welcome"..... :)

Anyway, back to the farm.....Hazel was demonstrating spinning on her Louet spinning wheel. Unfortunately, we missed her lecture, but we did get to talk and ask questions of her when we went in. The farmhouse had a true farm was huge and had a wood burning cook stove, which thankfully, was heating the room quite nicely. It felt so good to come in from the cold and warm up next to the wood stove. In my opinion, there is nothing like wood heat.....

A view from the side yard. You can see some of the unshorn sheep in the background. I didn't ask, but made the "assumption", that shearing had been postponed due to the colder spring weather.

We saw only this one lamb as well (lying next to the sheep furthest away), possibly a Jacob Sheep. I say this only because it was spotted.

Don holding my tanned fleece that we bought for my weaving bench. The 1915 carding machine is just inside the open door behind him.

And to top off a wonderful day, Don took me to a post birthday dinner at Flat Top Grill, in Madison, which is where I wanted to go when we went out for my birthday, but would've had an hour and a half wait because we had a party of 8. With just the 2 of us, and the time we arrived, we were seated right away. I LOVE that place! CHEERS! :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

"More from the Farm...."

For those of you who wondered why I hadn't blogged the second half of last short hiatus was because I was in Michigan for a visit. I went to sort out more of my parents things and also was fortunate enough to see my oldest son and his fiancee for a short visit as well.

Originally, my sister had planned a visit with them to go kayaking, spend the night, kayak more the next day, and then head back down state, while I stayed at her place (located next to my parents house), taking care of her animals. Since rain was predicted for the weekend, she'd changed plans, suggesting we go up on Friday (the weather being beautiful), haul the big items that Patrick wanted from our parents house, as well as her kayak, and make it a dual purpose visit, albeit a quick one, which we did. :) It was a good time and an unexpected bonus to my trip to MI.

My cousin Jill, from Grand Rapids, MI, had planned on coming down to Benton Harbor while I was there, so that we could visit and go out to lunch. Unfortunately, that did not happen as she contracted bronchitis. When I talked with her, she sounded horrible, but she'd been on antibiotics for a day, and was on the mend, so hopefully, is completely well as I write this. :)

I did take another "planned" trip while in MI, and drove up to Great Northern Weaving Supply ( I'd read about it in one of the Yahoo weaving groups digests that I receive. After going to their web site, I found that they were located just north of Kalamazoo, MI, a mere 45 minute drive from my families home! If anyone has the opportunity to go there, definitely do! They are very nice and extremely helpful. I bought some "loopers" to weave a rug, which are by-products from the sock industry, and some chenille, with which my plan is weave a throw, using double weave. All in good time, of course...... ;)

Now...back to our Rainbow Fleece Farm visit.

These blankets are woven using their fleece/yarn by a company in Canada. The blue is so vibrant and electric! I hope that comes through in the photo.

Some of their rovings...... They had many, many more, but Don took this photo for it's brightness, and after all......we were at Rainbow Fleece Farm. :)

This is Joan, from Madison, who showed how to make custom color blended wool roving batts(?), using a drum carding machine. In the photo, she is showing how to remove it from the drum.

A close up of the drum......

Some batts on display.....

More to follow..... :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Rainbow Fleece Farm Open House...."

Last Saturday, when the weather was cold and overcast, we drove down to Rainbow Fleece Farm, outside of New Glarus, WI, for their annual open house. Unfortunately for them, but fortunate for us, there were not too many people in attendance (which I'm sure was due to the inclement weather) while we were there, so we had more opportunity to talk with the owners and guest speakers. I had heard about it from one of my weaving digests that I subscribe to, and since it is a somewhat local event, I wanted to check it out. I am VERY happy we did, and I believe that Don enjoyed it very much as well. There are times when he does have to be more "tolerant" of my "fiber obsessions". :)

Besides raising sheep for stock, wool, fleece, and meat, Patty and Andy also do custom wool carding, using this 1915 carding machine. It is located in the lower level of a barn/garage, and is the first place Don and I walked into, next to tables of tanned fleece, available for purchase.

Yes, we did buy a smaller tanned fleece. I wanted one to replace the woven rug on my weaving bench. They are EXTREMELY soft, and surprisingly, machine washable! They send their fleece (hides?) to the Pennsylvania Amish, who use a special process to tan them that allows the fleece to be machine washed afterwards. Behind me, is another smaller machine that cleans the wool of chafe and other foreign materials prior to carding.

Upstairs in the same building, are yarns, rovings, books, and other fiber related "stuff". :) This is Patty, one of the owners of the farm.

Inside their house, they had guest speakers. Unfortunately, I do not remember this womans name (far left), who was the "felting" speaker. She had materials available to "take a stab" (pun intended) at it. The process uses fine needles and roving. When the roving is continuously punched with the needle, it becomes a thicker material, turning into "felted wool".

More of our farm visit in my next blog entry.......

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Yet Again Last Weekend....."

Our final deck visitors last Saturday were Tracy, Evie, and Bridget, our next door neighbors (green house in the photo). We had never, ever, seen Evie so subdued. She had just woke up and was still sleepy. She usually has more energy than I can even describe. :) Can you tell Copper loves children? :)

The following day, we took a ride on our trikes. Don spent all that time on Saturday, getting them ready for just this reason. :)

Our ripening cherry tomatoes......

Andy and Angela stopped by after our trike ride. You could certainly tell the sun was under cloud got "chilly"!

While we were out on the deck, our neighbor from down the block, Krista, had stopped by. Her friends Cory and Ken, came looking for her and stayed for a time as well. You never know what to expect, even when just sitting quietly on the deck having coffee. :)