Thursday, February 11, 2016

Flavored water

A few years ago at the ANWG weaving conference in Bellingham, WA the cafeteria had big containers of cold fruit infused water. Each container, each day, was something different. Walking in the cafeteria that's where I looked first, what kind of water would there be that day.

I've always put lemons and limes in my water but up until that conference I had never considered using apples, blueberries, strawberries, melons, peaches, etc.  Since that time I've made my own glasses of fruit infused water but when on Amazon one day I saw these pitchers with a separate section in the middle for adding the fruit so you're not fighting with it trying to pour the water in your glass. And lo and behold there are many books out there on the subject.  So, of course I bought myself a pitcher and book.......and bought a couple more for gifts.

The water I made for tonight's dinner & card playing with our neighbors is pear with cinnamon stick. I'm anxious to see how it tastes. It's only been melding for an hour in the fridge so far, a small taste looks like this combo will be a winner.........at least for me.  According to the directions the fruit will last for several days, many fillings of the pitcher - I haven't tested that theory out yet.

I'm not a soda drinker so this will be a nice way to change up my glass of water. I can't wait until we have fresh fruit this summer...........



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

So unlike me..............

It is so unlike me to sit and read all afternoon but that's just what I did.......in front of the fire........with hot cocoa........and popcorn. I had planned on winding a warp after dealing with administrivia and mundane chores but instead I gave myself permission to goof off.  It's not that I don't want to weave but I also want to do other things.  I tend to be driven when it comes to selling fiber but it's coming to a time in my life where I want to enjoy doing so many other things........there's limited time, if not now, when will I do these other things???

Yes, I will still sell my handwovens but I will be slowing down on the spinning/felting fibers which are the beefy income part of my business. Then I'll have the time to focus more on the handwovens, not just for sale but for myself.........there will be more time to design drafts to weave, drafts that have been in my head but have not gotten any further than that.

So, today I sat and read a book!  I finished 'Everything I Never Told You' and I'm just starting 'The Book Thief'. Both of these became available on the same day through Library2Go for digital download so I do have a deadline to read them unless I wanted to put one back on my list. Usually I'd be beating myself up for not being productive but I'm quite ok with it today....hopefully I can keep up with this slowing down and enjoying life a bit more.......and yes, I will be back at the loom shortly.......

And Bailey was quite ok with all this - he was laying just out of site in 'his' chair to the left of the fireplace.......





Sunday, February 7, 2016

New giftwrap

The past several years my go-to gift wrap is Trader Joe's paper grocery sacks that I sew into gusseted gift bags. I've found some more gift wrap in a drawer in my bedroom dresser.  Old t-shirts.........old t-shirts, many of them never worn, that won't ever be worn because I don't like crew neck shirts......I don't like that tight feeling around my neck.  I always wear scoop or v neck tops - no turtle necks for me either.  So, it's time to clean out that drawer so my other drawers can be spread out and not stuffed to the top.


This is my test gift/tote bag. It's not 'as' functional as it could be because years ago I had cut this t-shirt off and re-hemmed to be waist length rather than below the hips......I still didn't wear it due to that crew neck. So, this bag isn't as big/long as it could be..........but it was a test so that's ok.

I first cut off the sleeves leaving the sleeve seam intact to add strength to the handles. Then I took a plate to mark a half circle and cut a scoop out of the neck. I would have made it a bit deeper if I wouldn't have cut the fish heads off.  Then I turned it inside out and sewed a bottom seam and gussets at each bottom corner. That's all there is to it.


Here it is holding 16 yards of cotton fabric all folded up. So, even though it's not as big as I would have liked it's still holding quite a bit of fabric and weight.

Now off to clean out that t-shirt drawer..........I've got some really great shirts in there that may have been worn once, or maybe not at all..........

And yes, I've gotten sidetracked from something I should be working on........gathering tax stuff together, personal and business........




Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fish soup


In my Italian family (on my mother's side) we celebrate Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes - our first course is fish soup. My grandmother's peasant recipe for fish soup is basically broth, tomatoes, celery, onions and cod. It's yummy but my cousin Jim came up with an even better recipe......sorry Nani, wherever you are but Jim's is better........  I'm not sure if he made it up from combining ingredients out of several recipes or if this was a recipe he found.  This one calls for cod and it's great but tonight in addition to cod I added a bag of Trader Joe's blended shellfish (shrimp, bay scallops, calamari rings). It was outstanding but in the future I'll just buy the shellfish I want to add from the fish market - I'm thinking the shrimp, scallops, clams and crab in addition to cod. We have more than enough leftover for tomorrow's game watching.........yum.   I hope you try it.........

Fisherman's Soup

6 slices of bacon, chopped
2 tbs butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tsp Old Bay seasoning
3 tbs fresh chopped cilantro
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (I didn't have any tonight so I used a bit less dried)
1 bay leaf
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (I didn't have any tonight so used a can of chopped tomatoes)
2/3 cup white wine
2-3 cups fish stock (I used a whole box which was a bit more than 3 cups)
11 oz potatoes, diced
1 1/2 - 2 pounds skinless white fish fillets cut into chunks (I used 1/2 pound cod and a one pound bag of mixed shellfish from Trader Joe's)

Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, drain off most of the fat, leave just a little.

Add butter to the pan and cook onion and celery until soft, add garlic and herbs and cook for one minute. Add tomatoes, stock and wine and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add potatoes, cover again and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are almost tender.

Add chunks of fish and other seafood and bacon pieces. Simmer gently uncovered for 5 minutes or until fish and seafood are cooked.

Garnish with additional fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.  You don't have to do this but it really makes the soup.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Auditioning........

I'm auditioning yarns for a warp of summer shawls.........may still have to work on these selections......hopefully the warp will get on the loom soon if I can put down that blasted bow loom........if it can be called a loom as it's just a 1/4" 48" long dowel........

Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's addictive.........

.....bow weaving that is.......well, chocolate is pretty addictive too but I'm trying to stay away for it at the moment.....not sure how long I'll last......

I wove a couple more bracelets that go around the wrist twice - findings and toggle clasps still need to be put on them.  The top one is using another variegated yarn.  So far all the bracelets I've done are with 6/0 seed beads because I wanted lots of examples to put on tables when I teach fellow guild members how to do this. But I had to try a bracelet using all different kinds and sizes of beads from my stash - that's the bottom one in the sea glass colors. I love it and might have to do a few more using a variety of beads.  I just placed my order with Shipwreck Beads for supplies for the class and found a toggle clasp with a seahorse and one with a mermaid so I had to order both to audition for this sea glass bracelet. I do need to break this addiction and get back to other weaving........soon......

Saturday, January 30, 2016

New roving in shop

I've spent the past two days fondling roving..........only it's not as fun as it sounds. I've been weighing, bagging, tagging, updating inventory and listing in my etsy shop - too much administrivia. Thank goodness for Sam's help since working together makes the job 3 times faster than me working alone.

I've got some new items like the green bamboo (above left) and these 5 new colors of merino.  The rest was just restocking sold out fibers in my shop.  Check out what I've got to offer here.  Of course I couldn't resist setting aside a couple colors for a future project - Mink & Plum - I need to decide what else to mix with them.......that will come when I'm ready to start playing with the blending board or drum carder......too much else on the to-do list at the moment........

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

More bow weaving...........

A bit more bow weaving going on here

A hat band using variegated cotton spacing the beads out a bit more. I have a shelf full of hats in the closet but I never wear hats........might have to start making an effort to wear them this summer.......or find homes for them to clear up closet space.

I bought a couple bags (50 in silver tone, 50 in gold tone) of key fob pieces last year with plans of making key fobs out of inkle woven and card woven bands but, like many other things in my life, I just ran out of time. Today I scrounged up a few pieces of leftover inkle bands and gave it a go to see how it worked out before I used a piece of the beaded bow weaving (on top of cotton strapping).  Sam created a 'process'........something he's famous for.......for me to close the fob ends using a vise with a couple pieces of wood on each side as to not mar the fob end.......worked great. I'll have to do some more inkle and card weaving this year so I can make up lots of key fobs............

I have a few more bow weaving samples I'd like to make, then it's on to putting together the kits for guild members and creating a handout..........then it's back to the loom for other weaving..........



Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bow weaving

I'm such a bad weaver at times. I took a class on bow weaving with Marilyn Romatka last June at the Black Sheep Gathering and never finished my project on the bow loom. I thoroughly enjoyed the class, Marilyn was a great teacher, easy to follow and understand and delightful but once I got home I just couldn't get back into it. And this is bad because I got a scholarship from my guild to take a class but in return I had to come back and give a program on what I learned - my program is in April and I hadn't done a thing up until 2 days ago.  I decided before another warp goes on any floor loom I was going to start weaving samples on the bow loom and get moving on this project. You see, I'm not one to do this type of thing last minute..........I'm one of those that likes to be prepared well in advance so I don't get last minute panic attacks.

So here is my double wrap around bracelet from the class last June - I love the way it turned out.  Next up was to make some bracelets that just go around the wrist once as samples for my April program. This will be a hands-on program and I want everyone to be able to finish it before they go home.........unless they visit a lot........then they're on their own to finish up at home. To make sure everyone gets moving quickly on weaving I'll be preparing the warps and threading the beads on........it's not something that takes very long but it can be a challenge for some people. So one day I'll put on a movie or two or three and sit and thread warps..........we have 45 guild members....yikes. And then I'll make the bow looms out of dowels, paper clips and duct tape.

Next up was this chartreuse - my favorite color.......I'm using 5/2 perle cotton..........

......then 3 more........these are all awaiting the jewelry findings. I might make a couple more bracelets so there can be one on each table for people to look at as they weave their own.........

.........this one is just started - I'm using a variegated 8/2 cotton from my stash and I'm spacing out the beads. I really like it. Originally it was to become a hat band but I'm thinking it might end up being another bracelet long enough to wrap around my wrist twice..........I'll decide for sure once I get more woven.

So, an activity I was dreading has now turned into an activity I can't wait to get back to tomorrow. I'm going to try some thinner cotton, maybe 10/2 with smaller beads........maybe I can find more novelty/space dyed yarns in my stash to try out.

Now to think of more uses for these bands - I've already thought of bracelet, necklace, headband, hatband, trim on clothing or bags.........a friend just told me someone she knows made a lanyard to hold her scissors so I'll add that to the list and most probably make myself one.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New towels in the shop

We spent some time on the coast, in the crazy horizontal rain, so I went to the loom and finished up the cottolin towel warp over there. My goal of weaving off the huge box of cottolin is coming along......of course now I'm left with some strange colors that I'll have to figure out how to put together.
Very spring/easter themed towels.....of course they'd be good anytime of the year.

They can be found in my etsy shop.
 
 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

New books

 A box arrived this week with some new books I'd had in my Amazon wish list for a while. I can't wait to knit up some of the new shawl patterns in these books.

Friends JoAnn & Dee gave a guild program for their guild on the coast weaving ribbon to put in travel mugs. JoAnn sent me pictures and I immediately remembered I had 2 similar mugs in my stash that had been there for years and I was considering giving away..........not now, thought I'd play........

 I pulled ribbon from my stash and started weaving it overtop a piece of doublesided fusible. Not sure why pictures turn the wrong way when I've taken them with my camera, even though when I edit them they are fine...........oh well.........

Here's the finished mug - color is off, again from taking the photo with my phone. That will teach me for being too lazy to run up the stairs for the camera. Sometime this week I'll do the other mug - I've got some sheep ribbon to try out for that one.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bits and pieces in my life........

This week I'm spending most of my time getting together with friends.......well, with the exception of the dreaded tooth sharpening (cleaning) stuck in there. I have several get-togethers planned for the month so although I won't be getting much weaving done I will be having fun.

Right after Christmas I started knitting on a Ione Shawlette in blue - that one is done, awaiting blocking. I've got this one in progress in this pretty rose color. Both of them are in a merino/alpaca/silk noil blend I picked up a couple years ago at a local yarn shop sale, I think it's a Louisa Harding yarn. I'll eventually show these again after I get them blocked......whenever that is........the two recipients of these don't read my blog so I'm ok posting them. My goal this year is to work on holiday gifts throughout the year - I'm not sure how long I'll keep up with it and not get sidetracked but already I'll be miles ahead of where I was this past holiday gift making season when I was in panic mode come November.


Last week at our spinning get together I started spinning some Ashland Bay merino I've had in my stash for a while. It was one of their specials a few years ago and I had the sense to put some aside for myself.....which I often forget to do before limited colorways sell out.  I had wanted to get some blending done on the blending board for spinning but that didn't happen so pulling from stash was a good thing. Not sure what this will grow up to be - I've got a pound of it to spin.

Now off to knit and gab/catch up with a friend that just drove up the driveway........decisions, decisions......can I knit on that shawlette without errors, resulting in ripping and correcting errors while watching a Netflix movie and gabbing. Yesterday another friend came over to sit and knit and catch up and I had trouble concentrating on the lace pattern while gabbing and we weren't even watching a movie. I might have to pull out the simple sock knitting or spin instead..........



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Yummy chenille........

Black chenille shawl warp wound today, awaiting the threading of the heddles and reed........kind of boring to weave all black but the end result is a yummy black classic shawl so it's worth it.

Just as I was downloading the warp picture above I glanced out the window and saw this great double rainbow........

 .......here's the other side of it.......
.......and here's a close-up. Have you ever stood at one end of a rainbow? I've never been that close but my husband has been and said it's warm. I wanted to chase one down a couple weeks ago a we were driving home from town but he nixed that idea as it would have been many more miles than it was looking.........one of these days......
 
 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Updates in the etsy shop

 Newly listed hand-dyed, hand-woven scarves available in my etsy shop

Newly listed Mix & Match Citrus Towels available in my etsy shop

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A bit of this, a bit of that........

....to start the new year. We decided to head to the coast after Christmas for a week. We walked the beach each day looking for treasures, Sam painted, I wove, knit, finished listening to an audio book and read......I've had it with painting at the moment.

I finally finished up the cottolin towel warp that was on the loom over there - brought this stack home, have washed them, they're now waiting to be hemmed and photographed for the etsy shop.

In my continuing effort to blow through my cottolin stash I put this towel warp on. I don't know if anyone will like pastel towels but they're really pretty, I might even keep 1 or 2. It's getting tough mixing colors from what cottolin I have left but I'm always up for a challenge.

Here's the first of the towels - I'm guessing I'll get 4 of them in this plaid design, the rest will have solid color wefts using up spools of the colors I've got.

In my effort this year to be ahead when the holidays come at the end of the year I'm starting to work on gifts - ask me again in a couple months how this plan is working out. Here's a knitted shawlette in the works. It's a very fun pattern to knit, soon I'll be at the stage where I do short rows to shape it. Not liking these Lantern Moon circular needles - they're beautiful, feel great in my hands but, and this is a big but, the join to the cable is horrible, not smooth at all so I'm fighting with them as I knit. I think I've got another size 5 circular in my stash so I'll be looking for it this evening.

We had to take a different, way too long, route to the coast due to a huge landslide. The upside to it was seeing different scenery including at least 60 elk and hundreds of geese at an elk viewing area. Unfortunately on the way over we didn't stop for pix when they were all standing majestically for photo ops, today they were all laying down. I'm still trying to figure out how they know to congregate in the area where the viewing stations have been built.........

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2016

Another year has come and gone..........no new year's resolutions here, they just set me up for failure so I do what I do all year long, re-evaluate and work toward change......I don't always get there but I do set goals and work toward them. Right now my biggest issue will be remembering to write 2016 when I write checks until it's ingrained in my little pea brain......

My best to you all in the new year............

Monday, December 28, 2015

Melt in your mouth cookies......

These cookies are not what most people think of as biscotti but they're what I grew up with in my Italian family. My Nani (grandmother) told me that Biscotti meant little cookie - not the twice baked Biscotti we all know of in the stores and bakeries........actually I never knew about the twice baked ones until around 20 years ago. These Biscotti are melt in your mouth cookies - one of my favorites. In our family they were only made for Christmas but I've been known to make them all throughout the year using different colored sprinkles, such as reds & pinks for Valentine's Day.


Biscotti
5 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup butter
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tbs baking powder
1 tbs almond extract
1/8 tb salt
 
Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into bowl. Cut butter using fingers into dry ingredients until mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal. Make a well in flour and break eggs into it. Add flavoring. Knead dough about 2 minutes or until smooth.
 
Add a little more flour, if necessary, should the dough seems too soft and sticky. If too stiff, add about 1 tbs milk or as needed. Dough should be medium soft.
 
Take a handful of dough. Roll out into an 18 inch rope, ½ inch thick. Cut into 1 ½” pieces. Place on a greased cookie sheet about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes – do not let brown, bake until right before they brown. (Caution: it’s best to watch cookies after 8 minutes) Remove from oven. Cool 5 minutes and frost. Sprinkle with multi-color sprinkles. Sit to dry. Store in an air tight container.
 
Basic frosting for Biscotti
1 lb confectioners sugar
4 tbs boiling water
¼ tsp almond extract
1 tbs butter
 
Mix until smooth and spread on cookies. If frosting is too thick, add more boiling water, a little at a time. Decorate with multi-color sprinkles.
 
Note: you can substitute anise extract for almond extract. My Nani put drops of yellow food coloring in the dough – I don’t. My Nani also split the icing into two bowls and put red food coloring in one, green in the other – I don’t do this either – I like my icing white. I have fond memories of helping my Nani make the Christmas cookies each year – we usually had around 15 different kinds that came out Christmas Eve on huge silver trays. There were tins and tins of cookies that kept filling these trays throughout the holidays. These are one of my favorites – they just melt in my mouth.

 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mele Kalikimaka

This years inkling ornament is my little hula dancer, Lahela, which translates to sheep's friend. Some family and friends have been getting my inkling creations for years, there are 24 different ones in the collection.  And I'm sorry if some of you that read my blog haven't gotten them but they are a limited edition and in order to get on the list someone has to die and no one wants to wish that on anyone. I've decided that this year is the last year I'll be making them - I'm out of ideas after 24 of them.........if I ever come up with new ideas I'll pick it up again but right now I'm spent..........



Saturday, December 26, 2015

It was a good holiday..........

Santa was good to Bailey this year......hmm, what's this?

 .....oh, it was a rawhide granola bar........but wait, what's up there????

 ......it's a new Buster!!!!
 
 Bailey said he's not sure why he got a new Buster because his old one was broken in just right......he just couldn't see that old Buster was threadbare and had a stink about him that no one in the house could stand any longer.......and he wouldn't have made it through another trip in the washer........

......ah, life is good.........Bailey hopes you all had just as wonderful a holiday as he did...........


Thursday, December 24, 2015

On the loom.........

In-between massive loads of laundry I got another painted warp on the loom. I threaded it to an 8 harness two block twill, both warp and weft are 8/2 tencel.

Here's the first scarf - I'm using a black tencel weft

Second scarf which I almost got finished I'm using a sage green weft
 
 

A White Christmas

This is what we woke up to this morning, still snowing hard......looking like we'll have a white christmas this year. Looking at the forecast for today we had decided to postponed our traditional Italian Christmas eve dinner as getting to our house will be difficult as it is, and cousin Jim would be coming from 45 miles south having to come over a pass to get here. We'll try for Saturday as the weather should be better by then.......should be.......

Now to think about what to do with my new found time since I'm not cooking today.........maybe getting a painted warp on the loom and hope the power stays on so it's not too dark to weave...........

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another great day......

I've been having some good studio 'nesting' days lately. Today was another great day as I finally wove off a painted warp that's been sitting on the AVL for months. Obviously selling roving is getting in the way of my first love......weaving.

I found this draft on handweaving.net. I don't remember the name of it off hand and would have to walk down the stairs to the studio to get it.......and I've already gone up and down the stairs 3000 times today.......if someone is interested in knowing the name of it please leave a comment and I'll get it posted later - it is a 16 harness draft. Fuchsia weft here.

Here's the same fuchsia weft at the next color change on the warp. I forgot to take a picture at the final color change.......oh well........

Here's the start of the second scarf on the warp, rust weft here. Warp and wefts are 8/2 tencel.

This is the next painted warp to go on the loom. This will be woven in an 8 harness two block twill. I'm loving these colors I dyed........if one of the finished scarves speaks to me once woven I may have to keep it for myself. This is the next painted warp in the queue but might not be the next warp to go on the loom. I also want to get a shawl warp on the loom. But then there are the holiday cooking and get togethers so nothing will be happening right away.......

Sunday, December 20, 2015

New towels in the shop

I spent a little time at the embroidery machine this weekend getting some towels done and up in the etsy shop. I'm actually a bit ahead of time for Valentine's Day - what a novelty!

I had a crisis Saturday when the machine decided to go wack-a-do. The needle would get stuck down, the machine would shutter and shut down. I got it running again to finish up the towel I was working on but when I started the next towel it happened. I love this cheap little Brother machine, it's been great, no trouble at all.....until yesterday. I called Sam to the rescue. He did what we should never do - he opened up the top of the machine, studied it to figure out how it works, cleaned and oiled it but it was still hanging up. Then he brought out the canned air and started shooting it in there. He spotted half of a very thin washer sitting on top of a gear.......but where was the other half??? More canned air and the other half fell down into the bobbin case. No way could he figure out where the washer was supposed to go but being so very thin it doesn't do much other than to act as a spacer.........and the machine is working perfectly again! Obviously that little piece of washer was sitting somewhere it shouldn't have been causing the problem.  I've put the washer in a zip lock bag so whenever the machine needs to go in for service I can bring it along. So Sam was the hero yesterday........what does one do if they don't have a handy husband/partner???

Friday, December 18, 2015

Nesting.......

I've been doing some long overdue nesting and have been having a grand time. I did a bit of this and that today and then late in the afternoon I decided I should start embroidering some towels. I'm actually thinking ahead, very rare, and working on some for Valentine's Day. Tomorrow I'll get back to them - in addition to Valentine's I'll be stitching more sheep, spinning wheels and trees. All will be listed in the Etsy shop as soon as they're finished.

Starting to think about getting back to weaving and have another sewing project planned, an afghan/throw for me.........need to shop for fabric for it so it may be a while.




Thursday, December 17, 2015

It's been a grand day

It's been a grand day even though it's been raining pitchforks and shovels as my friend JoAnn would say. After getting orders boxed up and to the post office, yes people are still shopping for gifts, I edited many photos of a total of 8 scarves so they could be listed in my etsy shop.

An ice-dyed, stenciled dragonfly scarf is one of the new scarves listed.......

.....and an ice dyed, starfish and sand dollar scarf........other scarves listed but not pictured here are hand-dyed, stenciled and handwoven/discharge dyed.

Oh yes, I did go out wearing these leggings and no, I'm not 20 years old. Of course the only place I went was to the post office wearing a knee length coat over them. They're kind of fun for wearing around the house but a little out there for me.

And this was what I've been looking at all afternoon while knitting and listening to an audio book - perfect activity for a chilly rainy day. I'm really thinking I need to do this more often, usually I'm so driven.........it's time to relax a bit.......