Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Cover Girl and the Centerfold

I guess that post title has you wondering..... then this will add to the mystery!

Yup, we put the house back on the market and crossing fingers and toes that it sells! We need  a much smaller yard and a slightly larger house. This way we can fit both our hobbies under one roof!  It sure would be nice to get a fenced back yard too so even the dog has a place to call her own. We've had a viewing and another today so there's plenty of primping and 'spit and polish' cleaning going on around here!
The sun has come out, the rain soaked ground is starting to dry out and the flowers are out to greet the viewers:

We have  made an offer on another house, which they have accepted, subject to the sale of our present home, so the pressure is on! I'm going to hold off on telling you about the new place until we have a firm deal in place. Call me superstitious. We had another  house deal last fall that fizzled out so you'll just have to take your clues from my first paragraph for now.  :)

We have had Calli five going on six weeks now and we seem to have settled into a daily routine. She seems to be relaxed with us and sometimes, a bit too much so. We have scheduled her into an obedience class which starts April 3rd for six sessions. We also want her to spend more time around other dogs in a controlled setting. The neighbour has a large mixed breed dog which charged at us on our walk the other day and we had a little 'situation'. Their fence stopped the charge thankfully but it sure set off Calli. Raised my blood pressure some too.  Since then we have met other dogs and she now reacts the same way so its a fear/ anxiety aggression thing. So we are going to school to nip this in the bud right now. Hopefully this will work! She came from a home with other dogs and also visiting dogs so this is a new behavior change.

She's really sweet and very affectionate and the house is full of toys again. She loves to fetch and play with balls!  Some she loves a little too hard:

Better than my shoes again!   I can recall Bruce's Airedale Samson sleeping on his back under the plum tree in the summer time and it seems to be a sleeping pose that the breed in general does! Meet our 'centerfold' gal :

 We're trying to watch the TV and she's, um, 'performing' ! Her bikini shave is growing back in since her spaying! She even sleeps in her kennel like this too. All we see is some straight legs sticking out of the door way.

Well, as you can imagine with all this going on, including annual tax time,  weaving has taken a bit of  back seat, but there has been some progress on that front. A new base 'special ordered' for my weaving chair finally arrived and has been installed. It was a bit nerve wracking to spend a lot of money on something we couldn't take back if it didn't work. I'm happy to report that at the lowest height setting of 22 inches for the Louet.... it WORKS!

I just set it as low as it will go and get busy! No more pile of pillows to boost me up. That foot ring sure comes in handy when it's higher. Here's the full height:

You need a stepping stool to hoist yourself up! This is it way up at the top of 32 inches. All I need for the Woolhouse Tools CM is 27 inches:

Here you can see the old bench and the new seat. My weight depresses the chair down a bit. The soft edge of the chair will mean I can weave here again! Once the scarves are off the Louet, I plan to sit here and weave away on the towels while I wind the next warp for the Spring.  I'm still being careful with my back and only weaving for short periods. I am doing my exercises on the big inflatable ball daily to strengthen my core support muscles. The problem is, it's a BALL and we have a dog that is ball crazy, so this is where it's stored when not in use.

 Too funny!  Meanwhile I have sold my Woolhouse commuter loom bench to a local newbie weaver but I did decide to keep the one that came with my big loom so to keep it a set for the day when it moves on to a new home. But not for a long, long time!

So Covergirl? well, I told you how I was awarded the Founders Fund Scholarship by the Guild of Canadian Weavers this past November. (The GCW is about to overhaul their web page and make it more modern but for now, the basics are there.) I was required to write a brief article on the workshop and send along some pictures to supplement the piece. Imagine my surprise when I opened the envelope with the newsletter and saw this:

Yup, my picture is on the cover! and the story is inside...

There was an additional pleasant surprise when I found a neat article on blogging by Lynnette!  Click on any picture to enlarge:

One appeal of being a member of this national guild are the real samples that accompany the newsletter. Each year a group or guild agrees to make the samples, usually with a theme. The Manitoban weavers this year are featuring summer and winter and this one is planned for a baby blanket :

You can read all about the new exchange for 2011 at   DustBunnies. You do need to be a guild member to participate but there are loads of benefits. There was also a colour insert featuring the last exchange for 2010. You wove a scarf and got one back! How simple is that?  :)

Lynnette did a wonderful job of showcasing everyone's efforts and I will be signing up yet again! Exchanges are a lot of fun!

So this was a real mixed bag of tricks for you this time round.... but with spring here now, it's time for some changes. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Little Big Guy

I have a new loom! Its a 12" Mirrix Little Guy tapestry/ beading loom. It came to me unexpectedly this week when I friend decided to reduce her equipment after adding a new Louet Hollandia floor loom to her space.

I have danced around with tapestry and wanted to try it in more depth since I started weaving in 1995. I had been doing embroidery since age 14 and so it seemed natural to me to try my hand at pictorial weaving such as tapestry. I was referred to a highly respected tapestry weaver in the region where we were living then and asked her for her best advise.  Sally told me to learn 'regular' weaving first and then see how I feel. She had done regular weaving for ten years before making the switch.  So off I went to learn regular weaving.

Along the way I did try to keep the tapestry goal alive. At one time, I even acquired a huge Navajo style pipe loom that measured 4' x 6'. It was a great deal and it came along before I was ready. It took a fair amount of room to store and so eventually it was downsized ahead of one move but I  kept the hand made tapestry bobbins!

I took a basic tapestry course with my friend and mentor Gudrun Weisinger back in 2005 or so and enjoyed it very much. Gudrun has found a balance between weaving stunning tapestries and 'regular' weaving so it can be done!  The issue of a loom was always there. I did research and Mirrix looms looked beautiful and strongly made and it went onto my someday wish list. I saw used Leclerc tapestry loom with a shedding device for sale but at the time I couldn't afford it and had no where to put it. Timing is everything....

So its been on a back burner as nice but someday.... and then I heard of the little Mirrix loom at last weeks guild meeting! I told Bruce and I do have a birthday this month so.... next thing I know, its here !

It uses a spring coil to keep the warp threads separate... and the length of the spring determines the sett. It has a shedding device  and you can weave roughly 9 inches by 22 inches. Loom extenders are available and they add another 24 inches in length. You can also get a bottom bar spring kit if you are doing fine close set tapestries or beading.

Here are two other spring coils for varying setts. I'm still working out which is which and there is one missing from a set of four.

Each loom is hand made and quality tested. I was pleasantly surprised by the literature and how to videos available at the Mirrix web site. I've had some questions (most likely stupid newbie questions!) and I get answers back right away at the Ravelry Mirrix group as I build my shopping list to kit this loom out. (If you haven't checked out all the various weaving groups at Ravelry, then you are really missing out!)

My friend had gently used the loom for a couple of classes and so it came along with her work in place. Here's the most recent effort:

Click any picture to enlarge. She had a wonderfully even stitches and no draw in! I should be so lucky....
On the reverse is what she calls her 'accidental Mexican':

It does look  like a little Mexican fellow doesn't it? The image is upside down on the back of the loom and so I had to flip the picture.... just in case you are wondering why there is a light on the bottom left and a weird perspective else where! I'll send him to Toni when the warp comes off; she made him after all!

Okay, now I have to think about exactly what I would like to weave and if my stash is up to the new challenge. So it maybe a while before you see show and tell!

So until next time... we'll mosey off into the sunset!

(Nice job Toni!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Showing Up and Showing Off

I did something on Tuesday I haven't done all winter long. I went to my local guild meeting! I'm a member of the Tzouhalem Spinners and Weavers Guild (pronounced zoo-hay-lem ). There is a large mountain here named Tzouhalem after one of the early settlers. The guild's main catchment area seems to be as far as Nanaimo in the north and Mill Bay in the south, all on the southern half of Vancouver Island, BC. and we occasionally get guests from the Gulf Islands. Its an active guild and they organize many events all year long: a spinning day  for Distaff Day, learn to spin classes, weave study sessions with a guild loom making the rounds and recently even started a spinning study group. They have a month long sale every November which takes a considerable effort to set up, man daily and keep track of sales. In the guild there are active knitters, felters, dyers (mostly natural dyes), spinners (both wheel and drop spindles), and weavers. They are a well rounded bunch!

I wasn't able to attend meetings due to my cranky back and simply not able to sit in old wooden hall chairs without  pain for 2 + hours. This month I felt I could manage the time and it was nice to see everyone!  Just me showing up was my main 'show and tell'.

I wasn't planning on taking pictures but the appointed 'photographer' had her camera battery die on her so she asked me to snap some with my phone. I have forgotten some of the names of who did what but it was great to see that most all bring something along they have been working on to share. The summer and winter tea towels shown above were woven by Gudrun and the little pin cushions were a collaboration between her husband and herself. She said it can be done with small sample pieces of handwoven and that's another reason to add extra inches to your projects!

So what else was there?
A new weavers second project of a scarf made using two types of sock yarns!

Barbara's silk skeins and all were spun up and plied using a drop spindle.

Valerie's fun and unique bathrobe! The flowers are crocheted onto the fabric.

Sandy, who organised the spinning study group, brought along her samples.

Annaliese brought along her dyed swatches and the colours were lovely!

Jan our librarian talked about the new acquisitions to the library, including two videos on spinning and plying. I personally like the Vav magazine but find it expensive to subscribe to. Being a guild member means you get to borrow them and enjoy. Membership also has other benefits in our community too! Local yarn stores give members a discount on their purchases which is very nice indeed!

Jan was also wearing this lovely knit little capelet (not sure what to call it besides gorgeous!) Her daughter  knit it for her and it looked wonderful all draped around her neck.  It would have better to see it modeled by Jan herself (oops!)

Lastly, I took along my twelve guest towels for show and tell. (Its been a long dry winter here weaving wise!)

Last April 2010, I took a three day workshop with Alison Irwin on double weave pick up, Finnweave and mock satin damask. This spring she is offering a workshop on kumihimo in April and inkle looming in May and I signed up for both! She's an amazing instructor and I have no doubts it will be fun and well detailed.  I had applied for a scholarship with the Guild of Canadian Weavers on the basis of the class last spring with Alison and was granted a scholarship! This means that class was covered and I can also attend these two classes with the proceeds. I'm just thrilled! I have had to write an article for the GCW Bulletin about the three day workshop experience, which I have submitted and will be published, with pictures, sometime in the spring or summer issue.

And another reason to go to guild meetings? Its nice to simply be with like minded people!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Learning to Speak Airedalian

I'm still here! Sorry to neglect you, its just that life has been rather busy. When a friend writes me to ask how things are going, then I know I'm overdue!  Now I'm going to tell you a secret: some bloggers have draft posts 'stored' and so are reporting events and stories that technically are a week or three old. It provides a buffer for when life happens and time is tight!  Right now, I have no 'stories in the can' and I'm having to weave to give you something! Trouble is, I'm supposed to be taking it easy on my back, so the weaving is slower. Add to that, my new chair base hasn't arrived and I'm perched up on a pile of pillows and you have a very comical picture. No, I'm not showing you... you'll have to take my word for it.  In the mean time, I'm two thirds of the way through scarf two out of three. I'm making good time all things considered.

I have a nice satisfying roll building on the cloth beam. Click on the picture to see more detail.
I'm using black 8/2 tencel as my weft for the first two scarves and I'll try black 20/2 silk on the third. It will most likely weave up finer and narrower so I'm doing that one last.  But I have a big problem; a 45 pound problem:

Calli loves to play with the cheap street hockey balls and the game is always on! Red balls under the treadles, jammed under the chair legs. What makes it so darn cute is that she doesn't get greedy about hanging onto the ball and will give it to you if you ask her for it. Smart dog! If you have the ball, then you'll throw it.... right?!
So when not throwing the ball, or a stick on our walks, I have been trying to throw a shuttle! In between walking her three to four times a day which is healthy for both of us but does cut into weaving time. (I need to be mobile more so this is a good thing!)

We had a very nasty winter wind storm roll through here yesterday with wind gusts tipping the scales at 162 kph. That's Category 1 hurricane force winds. We broke out candles, filled the bath tub with water to flush with (we're on a well with an electric pump), and battened down the windows. The storm rolled in about 9 am and by 10 am we were in the dark and we stayed that way until 7:30- 8 pm that night. So what to do? weave!
The big loom is right by the bright window and so I climbed up on the bench and got busy. This is all I got done:

 Even with soft pillows the edge of the bench pressed into the back of my right leg and in a very short period of time, say ten minutes, I could feel the sciatic nerve tingling! I stopped right away and went and lay down  for half an hour. So that was stupid  huh? I had no pain before I did that....   My Louet Spring was sitting down in the dark end of the studio and it was hard to see. I put TV trays next to it with candles burning and wove for a time.

When the wind finally died down, we got this instead:

That's a torrent of rain, snow, and hail altogether and you would not be able to take three steps without being totally soaked. But its dry indoors and always  playtime!

Calli is settling in very well and as you can see, recovering from her spaying quite well. From the first morning after surgery, you would never know she had had it done. Amazing recuperation! We are learning to live together and what the house rules are and she's actually doing very well. Her obedience training is terrific and with some calm but firm repetition she's picking things up quickly, which is not bad for 10 1/2 months old and just entering her adolescence. Now we need to learn Airedalian!  I'm catching episodes of the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan and he makes sense! I've been trying his techniques and so far, they work. I need to pick up on the doggy clues faster.  {Connor at his old age of 13+ years knew us thoroughly and I swear most of our communication was almost unspoken. Yes, he has us that well trained!)

So that's all for now and I'm hoping to have some real show and tell for you soon! Now won't that be exciting?

I'll be trying to weave with all this going on!

The best one is the ball you can't reach..... 

Dad has the video camera out... new baby in the house! Don't ya just love it?    :)