Tuesday, April 19, 2011

K9 Kindergarten

This is Calli enjoying a sunrise earlier this week. She loves to sit and watch the birds and squirrels in the trees. I only had my cell phone close to hand so its not as sharp a picture as I would like.... but I got the shot! She and I were up early as she couldn't sleep due to the bright daylight at 5:30 am, so she whimpers and whines. (Yes, her kennel was covered.) Calli is apparently an early riser. Others here, not so much!

So we have moved her kennel into a corner in our bedroom where roll-down blinds darken the room and  keep the sun at bay a bit longer. Presto! No more morning whine!  That's as close as she will come to our bed as I don't hold with animals sleeping on human beds. You only have to find one tick on your dog to understand the why-not's!

That just leaves the one remaining issue of being 'testy' around other dogs and we've been working on that. We just had our third session at the Intermediate classes at Petsmart. She is good with the basic training and so looks like an ace in the class with the younger dogs. We're there because of the other dogs.. she needs to be around other friendlies so to show her that not every dog wants to charge and challenge her.
So, first up, my apologies for the fuzzy pictures but the session can get to be be crazy with 4 dogs, well, doing a dog pile! None of the subjects stand still for long and you need 4 pairs of hands at times, so perhaps I can get better shots another class.

This little cutie is Hayden (aka Romeo) who has decided that Calli is the love of his life and dances all around her. He's a miniature Schnauzer and must weigh 7 or 8 pounds tops and she weighs 50.

I'm surprised that this picture looks as good as it does and both of them move at lightning speed playing!

This is Baby and she's a St. Bernard and only 7 months old. She weighs 70 pounds. Her companion is Junior and he's also 7 months old but weighs a lot more. I didn't get a shot of him but he looks almost identical to Baby but a bit larger. They move S.L.O.W.L.Y and only do a command if there is a treat at the end of it. They play too but they tend to wait until Hayden and Calli are tuckered out and tired. A successful training moment from Baby and Junior get a round of applause! They have their own personal ramp to get in and out of the car!

It appears that simple repetition and consistency with commands and routine is winning the battle and its been easier of late to get what we ask of Calli each day.  When it comes to 'other strange dogs' she still acts up (and sometimes even starts the fight) and so we have an electronic collar for when she lunges and barks. That's the only time we use it and it's a matter of  precise timing. (As one trainer said, its the dogs across the street that needs it... I thought the owner might like one too!  :)

Spring is in full swing here and we are doing a bit of yard clean up. Seems some critter chewed through the lawnmower cables so its gone to the shop for a tune up and repairs!  Bruce's tractor got stuck mid field and sat for a few days until he rounded up some scrap lumber to  use to get out of the muck. During this time in the field he found a lone small white rabbit tail and so it seems that little Peter was caught by a cat or coyote.

It's sad but Nature is a revolving cycle of life and death. The fiddle heads are up again..... and the trillium has bloomed again. I can't reach it to take a picture since the deck staircase was moved and maybe that's a good thing. It will last longer that way if it is left alone. I can see the white blossoms from the kitchen window and that's good enough for me.

On the fibre front: I have wound and beamed a warp on the Louet and will share more on this next post. I have been weaving on the towel warp and I think it will be far more interesting for you to see a finished project as they all look the same on the loom. I must admit that I don't get much time on either loom due to a variety of reasons, including back pain on occasion. I did get my CAT scan done this week after 4 months of waiting. We have been wading through documents for annual tax time and such. We also have continued viewings of our place, so housework is almost a daily thing. Then we are searching for a new home to go to and that has meant some re-examination of our wish list and our reasons for staying local or moving a bit further afield. Discussions happen daily but we seem to have found a happy balance and narrowed our search as of today.

So with so many stressful things going on, sometimes you can indulge in a nap.

or just plain old relax!

Clearly life is good!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Necessary Diversion

With all that we have on the go around here lately, I was caught a bit off guard by the reminder email for the workshop I signed up for! My first instincts was that if I had some down time, I'd rather stay home and weave, but I started to think about it. It was just what I need right now. Something new and fun and..... a day away from home. Besides, it's another workshop by my friend Alison and she makes them informative and fun!

I had signed up for two of her classes, with the second one is all things 'inkle looming' to be held in May. In this workshop we are learning basics of Kumihimo and in particular, Konga Gumi (which means small round braid). You will want to click on some of these pictures to see detail better!

As usual, Alison had meticulous notes with many clear diagrams, all neatly presented. There was a basic card neatly notched, a weight (a film canister with pennies!) and our warp materials. We marked our cards with the compass points and the direction to turn, then warped up eight ends (four light, four dark) and got started. After an inch, we added in eight more ends of four light and four dark and adjusted to the increase. The basic moves didn't change, just the number of threads we were were working with. Then we altered the colour sequence, sometime by moving only two threads and created quite different pattern. 
Here is my braid well under way!

You can see quite a difference between the eight end braid and the sixteen ends by the big jump in physical size of the spiral near the bottom! We worked our way through six pattern changes over the course of the morning.  During the lunch break, the sample table up front was a popular spot:

There were twelve participants from all over the southern island. So what are they looking at? It seems that Alison loves kumihimo  and its potentials and has been creating samples for years. Apparently there is even an article by her on this subject in a past Handwoven.

That plastic storage container is *full* of zip bags *full* of braid samples, along with short notes on colour and pattern arrangement. (Yes, that's an inkle sample featuring pick up!  That's the next class in May....)

Here Alison is showing some of the class the various samples. She is wearing a Japanese vest featuring warp and weft ikat.

There was a selection of her reading materials and sources of inspiration.....

All those samples have been made either on the simple card stock, foam disc or this unique invention! Click on the picture and see..... Its a slide carousel! There's a card stock on top to reduce the size of the centre hole but the notches are perfect for holding the yarn in place. The stand also was a thrift store find and is a round metal ring with four metal legs. In its former life, it held a glass for a candle. Beside this is a marudai  that friends gave her, which is not in use as yet. Even her tama's are also unique! Tamas being the weights that hold the yarns.

Normal tama's are hollow and filled with a set weight of lead. These are little wooden 'cups' which I think she said are candle holders from a craft store (now long closed) that she fills with coin. There is a small wooden knob she found that acts as a lid. Smart!

Different coins add up to different weight! I just love the ingenuity.... It seems that fibre artists of any ilk, all have a bit of the inventor to them as we quite often borrow tools and make them our own.
You'll never guess what this is.....

There was no real way to photograph this well! First of all, it a foam kumihimo disc and its upside down. I hesitated to touch it given the delicate warp. The braid is tight and features a spiral and its being made from horse tail hair! Its a bit of a challenge and Alison took it on. 

After lunch we got back to work... and this is just a sample shot of other students, Diane and Anna working, but everyone was equally very focused on their cards or charts!

We all used 4/8 cotton 'warps', all had light and dark combinations but below is Cynara's braid with sharp contrast black and white which really shows the pattern! Nice transitions too...

The pace became more relaxed in the afternoon as we all braided away and looked at how to compose patterns. Alison has developed her own system that is quite simple and makes sense. The graph design looks much like the braid. Can't give you more than that as its a trade secret!

 Alison passed around some interesting braid projects. Above is a braid she made for a birder friend. The thinner braid has a long red wood thing with a screw in the bottom. When you twist the red wood 'knob' (for the lack of a better word) it makes a noise just like a robin!

This braid was simply beautiful! The picture doesn't do it justice. It was a soft variegated cotton yarn that ranged from violet mauves to a soft green. What Alison did was cut a given number of ends (8) starting at the mauves and an equal number (to total 16) starting at the greens. As the pattern progressed they reach a mid point, the soft pale green with no apparent pattern and then reversed. The blue/purple diamonds shift to green diamonds. I found myself thinking of some nice variegated tencels I have at home when I saw this one!

Here's one that is for my Canadian ~ American friends! A braid that looks somewhat similar to the red maple leaf and then transitioned to the red, white and blue. I thought that she must have added in the blue but Alison said she used a clasped weft technique!

My class mate Barbara brought along her Rodrick Owen book and I recalled that I have a copy of this fabulous book! I mentioned to a friend Linda at Ravelry that I had taken this workshop and she beat me with this!

"Hey! What’s the chance! I spent yesterday and will [be] heading back within an hour or so to a class run by Rodrick Owen. A friend of mine had taken his class a number of years ago and told me that at his age, he’s going to get to the point that he doesn’t travel well anymore….so I needed to take the class! So I took the plunge.
We did 8 strand braids yesterday and will do 16 strand braids today. He is quite old now, and his hands shake so much that I think we all held our breath as he demonstrated finishing the ends with that needle. But he didn’t come away bloody and has such a well of knowledge that it’s just an honor to be in his class."

......Okay, you win!    :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Worth the Wait

A friend in Scotland surprised me in the extreme with a lovely gift! I had sent her a kitchen towel for her birthday this past November, so when I got a 'soft' package, I assumed she had sent something similar... but no....

It's this stunning 12 shaft table runner with cotton warp and soft pearly natural linen weft. Beautiful selvedges, and lovely trellis hemstitching...  its beautifully woven! I was gobsmacked!

Here's a close-up of the hemstitching and hem. This is now gracing my dining room table and already some realtors have commented on it. (More on realtors later...)

Does this pattern look a little familiar? I sent Dorothy some 12 shaft drafts so she could have some to hand to chose from for her first time using all her new shafts and treadles. I started my scarves before her runners but she finished sooner. I lost time to back pain and sciatica and waiting for a new weaving chair. But slow and steady does eventually cross the finish line!

Ta Da!  Manikin Madge is wearing the scarf that is tencel 10/2 warp and 30/2 black silk, sett 28 epi. By using black along both selvedges it throws the emphasis to the centre of the scarf. There is no doubt about it, its a busy pattern and I think the 'tone on tone' as in Dorothy's runner works nicely and having solid edges in my scarves also  takes it down a notch. Here are some 'work in progress' shots:

Here I have two of the three scarves pinned out on my foam board for fringe twisting. This was the first time I had been able to put my new twister from Leclerc to work and I must say that having a quad did make things go much faster. The fringer squeaks and sometimes binds but once you get the knack, it goes quick!

Next up, beading! I found some real nice sparkly Swarovsky beads in black, silver and a smoky gray. Each scarf was beaded at either black side with an accent in the centre. 

Click on any picture to enlarge. The hand of the two all tencel scarves was quite thick and dense, with the silk weft scarf being half their weight. All are now soft as butter after wet finishing and a good pressing. If you are new to my blog then you can find links to my older posts on fringe twisting and beading in the side bar under the heading of 'Topic Shopping'.

12 shaft gebrochene / hind und under

There are other posts related to this project but it seemed simpler to post the draft again for you. I found this draft at as I quite often cruise there looking for 12 shaft drafts or something I can play with and reduce down or increase up. Great web site and a wonderful resource for weavers! 

I'm still having to be very careful with my back as at my days end, it aches. So weaving is still important but I can't weave for hours or even every day. I am also looking for ways to maximize my efforts so I had planned to wind up a warp for runners and use the same threading and tie up again. With Dorothy's runner now on my table, I can see how they will look once done! In the mean time, I have started weaving the towel warp on my big Woolhouse loom. My legs must depress down further and so pulls on lower back muscles. So short 10-15 minute periods of weaving. Hey! its all good... I'm still weaving which beats the heck out of not!

On the personal front we have been having showings of our home every other day and three in two days this past weekend. Seems the market is very active! Sadly, the offer we had on another house fell through. There were some issues that could not be seen with a casual walk through and only the house inspector could find.
So we're back to looking once more. Its a tough job as we are looking for some very specific things in a home and in a certain price range...but I'm sure there's one out there for us. So if I seem to go a little long between posts, my apologies but life is pretty darn hectic here! I'll try and post shorter notes and more often.

So Calli has been here two months now. Wonder if she likes it here?

Bruce was lucky enough to capture the tail action with his cell phone camera!