Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"August's Crank In......"

Last Saturday I went to the monthly crank in at the Hawthorne Branch Library, over on East Washington. It was a larger turn out then we've had the past few times. Perhaps it was due to being closer to Summer winding down? :)

Everyone was busy either socializing or working......

Pat, one of my mentors, got some work in between my talking to her and others coming over to chat.

It was a nice group of "crankers". A few more stopped by as I was leaving, too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Today's Sunrise....."

Unfortunately, this photo doesn't do the sunrise justice. When I looked outside, the sky looked the color of orange sherbet. I had to at least try to capture it on "digital" (one would have said "on film" back in the day, right?). A beginning to another beautiful day!

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Juicing.....Day 1....."

Here are the ingredients for my Friday morning juice. Seedless Red Grapes (recipe called for Concord, but they were not available), Blackberries, Apple, and Ginger. I'll cut back on the ginger next time, but it did add a nice taste to the juice, which, by the way, was delicious!

Juicing in progress.......

The finished juice and the pulp which I took from the bag lined pulp container. I decided against using a bag liner from then on, as I no longer empty it after each juicing. After the dinner juicing, I take the day's pulp out and feed it to the chickens, who are absolutely delighted with it! If I weren't feeding the pulp to the chickens or composting it, I might continue using a bag for ease of clean up.

A frothy 16 oz. of breakfast juice........

Quick and easy clean up, too.

These are the ingredients for my lunch juice.......Carrots, Pears, Apples, Beets, Cabbage, and Chard. I will be cutting back on Beets in my juicing, too. I like pickled Beets, but fresh ones give a "bit too earthy" of a taste.

I must say that I am pleasantly impressed with how I am reacting to my juice fast. I've not had feelings of being hungry and I've resisted temptation of tasting tidbits of what I am fixing Don for his meals. I even baked a birthday cake for Rob and didn't have any when we celebrated yesterday!! :)

Today is Day 4 of my 5 day juice fast. Some of the juice recipes I have followed and tried have been wonderful....others, not so much. Trying the recipes is good because I now know what vegetables/fruits/herbs I enjoy juiced, and what ones I will use smaller amounts of due to taste........and which ones I will avoid completely. ;)

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Our Breville Juice & Blend Arrives!"

After checking the Fed Ex site daily with a tracking number for our "Breville Juice & Blends" arrival, the day finally came! I happened to be out in the backyard picking up "stuff" prior to mowing when it arrived, but found it immediately when I walked around the house on my way to get the mower from the garage. Oh Happy Day!

Out of the shipping box and awaiting opening.....

Extremely well packed....not a thing could move from its assigned place.

All unpacked and set by the sink for washing, but that was put on hold until after dinner. I had too many errands planned for after mowing, plus I wasn't going to do any juicing until the next morning.

Don took this photo as I began getting ready to wash everything prior to todays use.

Our Breville Juice & Blend in its storage area, ready for making its first juice this morning.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Kitchen Towel #2 Completed......"

It took a fairly short time to weave it, but a long time to get back to sitting at the loom. I finished the 2nd kitchen towel yesterday, using 1" bands of colors. A simple design pattern, easily woven and executed, and nice looking, in my opinion. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Friends From Michigan Visit Madison....."

Friend and former co-worker, Barb, stopped in Madison for a quick visit as she and her husband, Kevin, were driving through on their vacation. I met them on the east side and had them park their car so that I could drive them on a little tour of the Capitol and University. They then treated me to lunch....nice, eh? ;)

We had eaten lunch at The Great Dane in Hillsdale, and were so close to home, that we stopped by for them to meet Don. After a short visit, I drove them back to their car and they set off, heading towards Spring Green to see Frank Lloyd Wright's "House on the Rock" and "Taliesin". Unfortunately, they arrived too late to tour those places (I learned this from having received a postcard from nice is that?!).

They did manage to stop at other fun places in Wisconsin, if this photo is any indication. ;)

I had to include this photo of Barb, too, because we discussed Garrison Keeler at lunch. I'm not a big fan, although Don (who is!) and I did attend one of his shows while on vacation in Bayfield, WI a few summers ago.

It was so nice to see Barb and Kevin, even though it was for just a short time. We had a lot to catch up on. I have to say that I found this hilarious.......Barb had written herself notes on what she wanted to tell me! Now this shows you how well she knows me, eh? She had to make sure I was updated on everything! LOL

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Over the Lake....."

How'd you like to be driving along, minding your own business in downtown Madison, and then see this happen in front of your eyes?!

This was spotted last week over Lake Monona! (sorry for the angled photo, but I didn't take it....unfortunately, I don't know who did in order to give them credit)

Another view of the funnel......

Thankfully, it never came all the way far as I know, that is, but if it did, no problems arose from it doing so.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Educational Happy Hour....."

Terry, a neighbor from "down the hill", brought one of her "pet" projects/hobbies to happy hour last Friday. She raises Cecropia Moths! She'd been given a pair a few years ago and now raises them. This year she has 24 caterpillars from 2 breedings.

She brought 3 to happy hour, but only 2 can be seen in this photo. She said that within a few weeks, they all would be spinning their cocoons and then her work will be done. She has to fill their cage with fully leafed, apple/crabapple branches twice daily, due to their huge appetites!

I took this photo off of the internet to show you what they will look like next Spring. Beautiful, eh?

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Keyena Tries Carding....."

Vertigo update: Some symptoms still present, but each day I get better. I'm "hoping" that by mid week I will be symptom free........

Keyena came down a week ago Friday to try out my drum carder on some llama fiber that she has. She'd not carded before so after some instruction, she set about carding the fiber. :) The llama fiber was easily carded and she had a batt of it very quickly. I suggested she try blending some sheep fiber with it so that she could test and compare its "spin ability". The llama fiber, by itself, didn't seem to have the "gripping" quality of sheep fiber, but I'm sure it could be spun by itself, too.

So in the spirit of experimentation, Keyena spun 1 batt of pure llama fiber and 2 other batts with sheep fiber blended with it. 1 of those batts held 25% sheep fiber to 75% llama, and the other 50%, or equal amounts of both fibers.

Keyena begins by loosing up the sheep fiber before carding. She had already measured out the amounts of llama and sheep fiber that needed to be blended.

Adjusting the brush to keep those "fly away" fibers from getting too out of hand. ;)

And she begins adding fibers to the drum carder.

This shows her feeding the fiber into the carding cylinders from the feed tray.

After carding all of the blended fiber, it is taken off of the large drum, split into 4 somewhat equal portions, and fed back into the drum carder once again. This was done for a total of 3 times with each blended batt. Carded fiber is quite strong. The fibers have been aligned and overlapped, creating a measurable thickness, so a special hook is needed to remove the carded fiber from the drum cylinder.

This is used across the entire drum cylinder......

Until the end of the batt is released and can be removed by hand.

A finished batt. I "believe" this was after the first carding, so it was then divided into 4 approximately equal parts (lengthwise) and re-carded. The process was once again repeated after it was removed from the cylinder, giving the blended fibers 3 cardings.

Here is the batt after it had been carded 3 times. This one was 25% Border Leicester Cross (sheep fleece) and 75% llama.

I have not heard back from Keyena yet as to which carded batt was the easiest to spin. I'm sure she would prefer having pure llama fiber, but I won't know which mixture spun up the best until I get some feedback from her.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Vertigo....Oh My!"

Good morning all.....sorry for not having posted this week but I was diagnosed with Vertigo on Monday after having some "episodes" on Friday and again on Sunday. Thankfully, after Friday's episode, I felt fine on Saturday, which was good because I had planned on meeting former co-worker, Barb, and her husband, Kevin, for lunch here in Madison. They were driving through on their way to Minnesota.

Sunday's "episode" did not get any better so early Monday morning, Don took me into the emergency ward at Meriter Hospital. We spent the day there, admitting me so that I could have an MRI, which I ended up saying no to, and I was released and home by 7 PM. It was 11 hours from beginning to end. They wanted to keep me overnight for observation and so that I could speak with a colleague (not a specialist) of my primary doctor in the morning, but I preferred coming home since they were only going to give me meds for nausea and dizziness, which I can (and have) done here at home. I have been getting better daily and hope to be fully recovered this weekend.

Poor Don has had to take over all of the household chores as well as his normal work. He worked from home on Tuesday and Wednesday, then went back to work at St. Mary's yesterday. I am VERY fortunate to have a partner who can "multi-task". ;)

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Fast Track....."

My goodness, but I must be on the fast track for getting these towels woven! I actually attained yesterdays goal of getting the warp tied on tightly and start weaving. Here is what the first towel looks like so far.

I decided to break the design into a 1" band pattern, using 2-1" bands for the beginning white, while incorporating 2-1/4" and 1-1/2" bands into other 1" segments, in keeping with the pattern sequence. The design will be balanced by repeating what I am doing now, only in reverse, when I reach the middle of the towel.

I get to custom design each of the 3 towels. Obviously, there will be similar results, but each will be different in some way, with the exception of the vertical warp stripes, of course. Still, I think they'll make a nice set.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Kitchen Towels Continued....."

I made good progress yesterday in-between phone calls. I had a nice chat with a former co-worker, Lisetta, and "several" calls to my sister, Sandy. Seems as soon as we hung up, I remembered something else that I wanted to tell her, so back to the phone I went.

After spreading the warp, and then winding it onto the back beam, I was ready to thread the 492 warp threads through the heddles.

A view from the front. The warp spreader is used to separate the warp into groups of 24 threads......1 group per inch. Notice also, the heddles on each shaft are a different color, making it easier to thread the correct heddle, in the correct shaft, as needed.

I tried something a little different this time. I took each bundle of warp threads and tied them to the front rod, "prior" to threading them.

I found by having the bundles tied to the front rod before threading worked for me. I really can't say why, but it "felt good" for some reason. Maybe it was because I felt I had a firmer work surface or it seemed more organized? Don't know, don't care, but do know I will try this again to see if it feels like it is easier. Goodness knows, ANYTHING to make the set up of the loom less tedious is a GOOD thing. ;)

First half of the warp threaded and re-tied to the front rod and ready to begin the second half. Notice, too, how I used the warp spreader upside down with the lease sticks secured to it, bringing them closer to the shafts (and not having any drooping of the warp), so that I was able to see the "cross" of the warp. This made it easier to see which warp thread was next in the sequence.

After all ends/heddles were threaded, I laid 2- 1"x3" boards between the front and back beams so that I could lay my reed flat on it, giving me a firm surface for threading the warp threads through the reed, prior to securing it in the beater. Not only does this give me a good view of the reed slots so that I do not miss a space, but it is much easier to thread the reed while it is lying flat compared to it being vertical in the beater. By the way, I'm using a 12 dent reed, which means I am threading 2 warp threads through each dent because of the 24 warp threads per inch. One final note.....I left the groups of warp tied to the front rod, untying them as I needed to thread them. This made it easy to see where I was and kept them organized.

Another view of the threading process........

Reed threaded and secured in the beater with the warp groupings tied once. This morning, I will finish re-tying the warp to the front rod (it has to be done a few times to get a nice, even, tight warp), secure it with a knot, and begin weaving.

I add this photo so that you could compare it to the first photo, as it shows how the warp has spread out and become parallel after threading heddles/reed and front tie up.

Weaving photos to follow.......

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"My Next Set of Towels....."

I got started yesterday with my next set of kitchen towels, this time using 2 greens and a blue with the white.

Here are the 4 cones of yarn which will be used for warp and weft.

Measuring out and tying the warp in sections.

After measuring the warp, it is then spread along the back rod (left, next to back beam), keeping the "cross" held in place by the lease sticks (center, 2 parallel pieces of wood), and going through the warp spreader (right, where warp disappears under the wood before going through shafts), which keeps warp threads in 1 inch groupings. I have 24 warp threads in each grouping.

A photo from the front which also gives a better view of what the warp spreader looks like. Hans, from Woolgatherer's ( in Fond du Lac, WI, custom makes them. Today I will spread the warp evenly along the back rod, then wind the warp onto the back beam using my tensioning device from Harrisville Designs ( Thankfully, it fits my Oxaback Floor Loom, too.

An update when more work gets completed. ;)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Finished Bucky Towels....."

It hadn't dawned on me when I was measuring out warp threads that I was using the University of Wisconsin colors (it must have been subliminal since I see them so much), but when I had them stretched out on the loom, it hit me......thus, my "Bucky" towels. For those of you who are not Wisconsinites, Bucky Badger is the University's mascot.

This is the first towel I wove, which I actually took off right away after weaving. I was not happy with how the edges were coming out (too loose and flimsy), so cut the towel off re-tying the warp, moving the outside end threads, doubling up the already doubled threads, in the hope that by doing this, I would have nicer/firmer edges when weaving. Double click on the photo to see what I mean about the edges not being very nice.......sewing straight end hems is another thing I am not very good at either.

Here is a photo of the 3rd towel being woven. As you can see (especially if you double click the photo), the woven edge is MUCH nicer looking.

An "under view" of the 2nd towel beginning to be wound onto the cloth beam.

On towel number 3, I strayed away from the pattern and began using more bands of the 3 weft threads (they are the ones woven across, although, the warp threads are the same yarn in this weaving) for variety.

The 2 towels and an extra little end piece (near the floor). Having a bit extra, I played with the color combinations a bit for the experience.

The finished "Bucky" towels....hemmed and hanging tab added.

When I was at the Woolgatherer Weaving Shop in Fond du Lac, WI ( buying the spools of yarn for these towels, I also decided to pick up a few more spools of color for future towels, so I'm "thinking" that I will continue with towel weaving for my next weaving project. I guess I should use supplies from my "stash"......since that is why I bought them in the first place. ;) By the way, Woolgatherer's is also where I bought my Oxaback Floor Loom. If you are interested in fiber arts, check out the link to their shop......and yes, I AM endorsing them as I am a very happy customer! ;)