Friday, August 30, 2013

More roving for sale........

I got the 80% Merino/20% Tussah Silk blend roving ready for sale this afternoon, no time to get it listed in the etsy shop at the moment, other things to move on to but it will be listed and ready to purchase soon. I was mostly going for monochromatic colorways but something happened on that orange one.......not sure what, I must have temporarily lost my mind.......but I have high hopes that when I spin up the sample it will look great as yarn.  Update - it's now listed in the shop.

Newly dyed roving for sale

Yes, a shameless plus - roving dyed earlier this week is now listed in my etsy shop for sale. Roving dyed yesterday will be listed as soon as it's dry and prepared for sale so stay tuned.

50% Alpaca/30% Merino/20% Silk

60% Merino/40% Bamboo
100% Merino

New knitting book published

Friend Lucy from my weaving guild has published a book on knitting, it had previously been an e-book, now it's in print and available on Amazon.  Check out Lucy's blog to see what she's up to and to find out more on the book and how to order it. I'm going to get one.

I haven't given a fire update in a number of days because things are going so well here. It's been over a month since the fires started, a tough month for those evacuated and on evacuation notice (many still are) and a really tough time for the fire fighters dealing with danger, injuries and poison oak galore. The fire camps (mini cities) are getting smaller but still staffed by many, the tent is still set up 2 miles from us selling fire t-shirts (I survived the Big Windy) but a large number of fire fighters have moved on to more pressing fires requiring more attention. Good karma being sent to those dealing with threatening fires in other areas of the west right now.

Big Windy - 24,208 acres burned, 67% contained
Douglas Complex - 48,679 acres burned, 90% contained
Labrador Fire - 2,023 acres burned, 0% contained but hasn't grown in weeks
Both the Brimstone & Whiskey Complex Fires are 100% contained

Countdown to rain - 32 days......and it can't come soon enough as we're all really tired of fire season this year.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Final dye day for a while.......

Today was another dye day, then I'm taking a break for a bit. It was a merino/tussah silk dye day. I love all of it except for that orangey one - it's just plain ugly and weird looking........but I'm thinking positive that when I spin a sample up it will be beautiful. Friend Pat came over to dye with me, she calls that orangey roving Hobbs, as in Calvin & Hobbs. I didn't get a picture of the yarn Pat overdyed, that she overdyed last year when here - it was pretty ugly but is not looking pretty nice.

If, a big if, this dries by tomorrow I'll get it weighed, bagged, labeled and photographed.  Then it's back to the quilt project - I really need to get that finished up, the sewing/craft room put back together and then clean up the piles in the weaving room so I can get back to the loom.......I'm having serious withdrawals.......

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Photography Challenge - M is for........

I didn't get as many 'M' photos as I had planned, just didn't get out much this past week....

Manzanita - these bushes/trees are quite interesting, with their twisting bark they make great d├ęcor but they are highly flammable. If an ember from a fire a couple miles away hits one of these it torches immediately and is so hot you can't get near it - take it from one who has thrown some of the branches in a burn pile and ended up with singed hair and holes in my jacket. We still have too much of it on our property but work on gradually clearing and thinning it - the acreage behind our property is all manzanita which is why I only have one escape route in case of fire, could never run out in that direction. Funny there is nothing mentioned in the Wikipedia write-up on that.

Maple leaves

Madrone Tree - these are one of my favorite trees here in Oregon. When we bought our first piece of land here we bought it for the beautiful madrones that would encircle the house once we built it. We lived on that property for 11 years before moving closer to town - we have numerous madrones on this property also mixed in with the firs, pine, cedars and those pesky manzanitas. Madrones lose their leaves in the summer and much of the bark too. It sounds like a herd of elephants on the property when the turkeys walk on top of the fallen, now dry and crunchy, fallen leaves. I'm always sad if we lose one of these trees but that tree goes on to become the best firewood for our wood stove insert ever - right now there's a dead one not far from the house that we will have to cut down this fall and it will keep us warm later this or next winter.

A close up of a peeling madrone.....

......and a even closer-up photo of the peeling bark, it's very fun to find large sheets of the peeling bark as Bailey and I walk each morning - I haven't figured out a use for it yet but once I do I'll start collecting.

Mountains looking to the south

Mermaid - I fell in love with this immediately in a shop in Bandon and had to bring it back to live in the beach cottage

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More dyeing.......

I spent more time at the dye table and steamers today.  Unfortunately my photo isn't showing true color, much prettier in person. One of these days I should take a picture of the roving on the drying racks after it's dried, it's much prettier all fluffy and big. The 4 rovings on the right two racks are merino/bamboo - the 2 on the left tall rack are alpaca/merino/silk - 11 pounds today.  I've got 10 pounds of merino/tussah roving on the schedule for Thursday......need a day off from dyeing tomorrow, it's hard on the feet and back working on the concrete and asphalt.

Monday, August 26, 2013

All in a day's work......

The temperature was below 90 today so I decided to do some dyeing, below 80 is even better for me but that's not going to happen for a while. This is all merino - 11 1/2 pounds of it. Fellow guild member Lucy came over to see my set-up and how I do my dyeing - I warned her it was not scientific (like how I started a number of years ago) but 'by the seat of my pants' dyeing and I'm having so much more fun with it. Lucy helped put some dye on roving and rinse and hang some fiber while here. I was trying for 2 custom colorways on the right, maybe the blue is ok, but the other definitely isn't - I've told that customer I am not a custom dyer so I may not be able to get what she wants. I like everything that was dyed today. I can't wait to spin up baby sample skeins of these.  Maybe tomorrow will be another dye day.........

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fun at the machine

I needed to work at the machine on some birthday gifts and decided to sew myself a petal pouch - I love the funky sheep, the bright red, white and black. Hmm, now what to use it for.....

When I picked up my Bernina after the repair I splurged on a new foot - the 1/4" quilting foot with guide. Today I used it for the first time starting to sew quilt blocks together - I love it - money well spent to get perfect 1/4" seams.

Here's the start of the blocks being sewn together. I'm sewing in 4 block units to start so I've gotten 4 four block units sewn, they aren't all sewn together yet - just laying there to give me an idea of what the quilt will look like. I think I'm going to love it - it's pretty busy but the bedroom it's going in has painted furniture and all white walls - I think it needs this pop of color. This is the glory work after all that time making the individual diagonal striped blocks. Hopefully I'll have some time this week to work on this more but with the temps forecast to be in the low to mid 80's I'm going to take advantage and get 2-3 dye days in.....hopefully the smoke will stay up high and not be an issue.

Rain countdown - 36 more days until rain...........ok, ok, we did have some rain very early this morning but that doesn't count, it was a fluke rainfall and it doesn't lessen the fire danger.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Getting there........

I've finished the quilt blocks - whoo hoo.  Next step is to arrange them and start sewing into the quilt top. I made 208 blocks - 196 are needed for the king size quilt, the remainder will be mixed in with other fabrics for the backside of the quilt. I'd love to get the top all pieced this week so I can take it with me to the fabric store to look for a good border......or maybe I'll decide I don't want a border like the original pattern.......but I do need a binding fabric.

 Fawn that was in the front yard eating weeds with it's momma yesterday evening - sure wish they'd stay and eat more of those weeds. They know it's safe here.

 I love how furry this fawn is

Look at all those spots
Things on the fire front are looking good - fires are still burning but getting more contained everyday. There are still over 2000 firefighters here but many have already left for mandatory time off or to work other more pressing and dangerous fires. The other morning after my fire sunrise pic we ended up having thunderstorms, at least they came with some rain, but there were 16 new fires started, last I heard 15 were totally taken care of, remaining one being worked on, since I haven't heard any update on that one I'm making an assumption it's under control. More lightning in the forecast tonight and tomorrow - what weird weather we have had this summer. Have those in the thick of other fires here in the west in my thoughts........
If you read my blog for the weaving don't give up, I'll be back to the loom soon, and to the dyepots.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just another fire sunrise........

Yeah, it's become the norm here as far as sunrises go.......growing weary of forest fires but I'm afraid this year there's no end in sight until it rains. Firefighting on ours is making headway but so many big ones across the west in so many states - very scary.

Am hoping to spend the day finishing up quilt blocks. I may wait on sewing them together until we get over to the coast again to make sure I want to make a king size quilt out of them, am now starting to worry about if it will look good with the painted furniture.........if not, they'll become 2 twin size quilts for the other room. I probably shouldn't be second guessing my color choices.

Hoping to get back to weaving soon and still have pounds & pounds of roving to dye but temps aren't quite low enough for me to be outside all day at the dye pots...not too mention too much smoke.

Last night I did fill another bobbin on the wheel, ready to start plying from the roving I started spinning at the fair last week.......hoping there's enough for a shawl.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Photography Challenge - L is for...........

Lashes.....hmm, complete with wrinkles, drooping eyelids and bloodshot eyes - where is that editing software???

Lashes - this steer at the fair had really long eyelashes and NO wrinkles, drooping eyelids and bloodshot eyes

Lacemaking - bobbin lace to be exact - Shirley was demo'ing this at the fair

Lavender - I will admit I didn't take this photo this week but it's so pretty I had to include it - I took this up on San Juan Island, WA when we made a Seattle/Olympic Peninsula/San Juan Island trip


 Bandon Lighthouse

Lions International Sign - this was on the front of the booth where we get Lionburgers for lunch when demo'ing at the fair. Friend Cathy always asks the high school kids if the burgers are from free range lions - this year that question had to get through 3 teens and an adult before it was figured out that she was asking if LIONS used for the burger meat were free range. We get a chuckle huge laugh out of this every year - doesn't take much to entertain us.

Lima Bean folk art - I put this in Sam's Christmas stocking one year as he's always complaining that I don't make him lima beans.


Lizard - squished by my car because he didn't move fast enough - no, that is not his guts to the left of him, that's actually part of a pine cone - it does look like guts though, doesn't it?

Love Letters and Locket
Loyal - yes, Bailey got in on a week once again.......what a camera hog

How I'm feeling this morning.......

It's sad but this is how I'm feeling this morning, kind of blah and worn out. I went out front to get a picture of some cheery flowers to brighten my morning but this is all I found.....kind of matches my mood. The smoke is getting me down, we had a number of days where the majority of the smoke was heading elsewhere but it never really left, the smell lingers and this morning it's pretty stinky out there. I seem to have a perpetual sinus headache these days. But things could be worse, we could be evacuated or be on evacuation notice. I am hoping to have a good day in spite of my headache - was thinking of working on the last of the quilt blocks but am now considering putting on a movie and spinning, something I almost never do during the middle of the might be just what I need.

The west is on fire these days - my heart goes out to all those living through it, there are so many dangerous fires right now. Ours thankfully are doing better although there are still thousands of fire fighters working them......many have moved on to some of the newer fast growing fires elsewhere.  I have a fire update on 3 of the fires....of the other 2, one is contained, the other not contained but not growing either.

Big Windy - 19,598 acres burned, 20% contained, $21.8M cost - this one is close to us as the crow flies but they've been working on good containment lines on that side of the fire.

Douglas Complex - 48,643 acres burned, 78% containment, $48M cost - this one's south side is closing in on the other two fires near us but they've made great headway on it.

Whiskey Complex - 16,861 acres burned, 75% containment, $17.2M cost.  This one is to the east of us so not a danger to us but it along with the Northern California fires help keep our region in smokey skies.

No one in this region can thank the firefighters enough, what a dangerous job they do protecting homes, habitat and forests. If you've never lived in a forest fire region you've never seen the fire 2 miles from our house, a mini-city feeding and caring for thousands of fire fighters, you've never seen all the signs along the roads thanking the firefighters and then there is always the tent or two selling fire t-shirts - they must be groupies following the fires........

More thunder storms forecast in the region these next 3 days - argh, give us a break!   At least we got a break this past weekend when we went over the mountain to the coast where we had 70 degree weather, blue, clear, sunny skies and no smoke!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Can't you just smell that piglet breath???

Ok, so I don't really know if piglets have yummy breath like puppies do but I want to imagine that's the case. I would have loved to have snuggled one of these 2 week old piglets today. There are actually 12 of them in the pen at the fair with momma. What is it about piglets that makes everyone ooh and ahh over them?

Today after lunch I walked down to see some of the 4H livestock - slim pickings this year on goats & cows/steers - more pigs and sheep.  I didn't go in the bunny barn or the chicken/rooster house. Thanks to those that commented on my post from yesterday on their county fair experiences. Our fair was busier today because between 10am-noon it was half price to get in but still not as busy as it used to be......and really there is so little to see it's not worth half price. Big disappointment with fair food this year, our spinning group's guilty pleasure, not much to choose from.

On the fire front - fires still burning, some folks still evacuated, some on evacuation notice, fire fighters building lines and working hard, they're here for the long haul. There is lots of back burning going on and today I heard they were using Helitorch Aerial Ignition - I don't know exactly what that is but I'm imagining flames shooting down from a copter lighting areas to back burn where it's too dangerous for fire fighters to be in......but maybe it's dropping something that explodes?  I don't know - anyone else out there know??? 
Countdown - 46 more days until rain.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spinning at the fair

Ashland Bay Merino Roving in the multi-color Baltic colorway - started spinning this today for another knit Milk Run Shawl (pattern free on Ravelry) - I want something that will go with jeans. I normally carry this colorway in my etsy shop but I grabbed the last of it to spin myself - it will be on my next Ashland Bay order.

Today I was demo'ing spinning at the fair. I decided to bring my electric spinner so the public could see a range of ways to spin. It turned out great - I had my electric spinner, someone was drop spindling, several spinners using different types of wheels, someone rug hooking with handspun, someone needlefelting and someone making bobbin lace.......all this was in our little spinning circle in front of our display.

The fair was very sad today, going the way of many county fairs I'm afraid. In the tiny bit I walked around when I went out to get some lunch I could see so many empty spaces along the midway, the food vendors, commercial vendors.....and in our building it looked so empty compared to what it did a few years ago, entries in the arts & crafts division as well as baked/preserved foods were down. The $9 entry fee for adults (children under 12 a bit lower) is pretty steep for the size of our fair, then you add on rides for kids and food and it's downright expensive for a family. And there are no big name music acts in the evenings like in years past - this year there will be more truck things, bull riding, etc. The new fair manager is trying to make it more of a country fair......time will tell if that works or not. I'm not sure what the Douglas Co fair is doing (the next county up) but last week they had 4 big name musical acts, they're obviously doing something different. I hope our fair makes it for another year as next year is the 100th anniversary.

As I walked out I eyed the bulls by the gate for bullriding this evening, I had a fleeting thought of going over to see them as they were resting and looked pretty benign.....then I thought again as I saw they were only in temporary livestock pens, not sure how sturdy those things are.

How are your county fairs doing?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Photography challenge - 'K' is for.......

Key in Keyhole on file cabinet drawer

Key in Keyhole of treadle sewing machine - wonder what a sewer hid in this drawer that a key was needed


Keys found in my Dad's garage stash - someday I'll do something with them

Sam's Knife collection

Antique Knitting bowl a dear friend gifted me

Knitting yarn
Knit socks fresh off the needles


In memoriam - Katie

Fire update

For anyone interested I thought I'd give a fire update. We did have more thunderstorms over the weekend which this time included rain in some areas, we actually got 30 minutes of rain on Saturday, what a surprise. And with the storms the smoke lifted and we had clearer skies - it's been wonderful - still too much smoke smell to open windows but it's such a huge improvement. With the storms came more lightning caused fires, I haven't heard much other than that they are small and being worked on. We certainly have plenty of resources here to fight the fires with the others still active. I'm also going to include the cost to date, in the millions, to fight them.

Brimstone Fire - holding at 2,372 acres burned, 100% contained, $8M

Big Windy Fire - 15,278 acres burned, 15% contained, $12.8M - I was a little a lot concerned when I saw a finger of burned area on the fire maps heading closer to us but my educated (slightly) guess is that it is containment lines on the ridge tops that were burned out to keep the fire from spreading in this direction.

Labrador Fire - holding at 2,020 acres burned, 0% contained, haven't seen the latest $$ figure

Douglas Complex - 45,411 acres burned, 48% contained, $35.5M

Whiskey Complex - 10,947 acres burned, 40% contained, $12.6M

Ok, so the recent scattered rainfall from a trace to 2" with hail does not signal 'real rain' as we're heading back to our usual dry, low humidity summer weather.  So the countdown continues - 50 more days until rain.

On the creative side to the weekend I did work on quilt blocks, sewed up an additional 40 of them. Did I mention that when I figured out how many more I need it was many more than I had guessed? I was ready to be done but I'm not - still several more partial days of sewing to get the blocks all sewn, then on to sewing them all together. I also worked on some small Christmas gifts which I can't post pictures of, and finished up that pair of socks I was knitting. I started the process of research for a weaving guild program for next spring on name drafting - have my list of magazine articles to pull out to refresh my memory on name drafting so I can come up with a fun hands-on program for guild members.....will also need to weave up some fun samples for the program. We have many newer weavers who are not familiar with drafting so I thought this would be a fun program to learn.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

County Fair

Yesterday morning some of us went over to the fairgrounds to put up our display for this year's county fair. It looks pretty good other than the table cloth being a bit crooked, which I'll fix. All of us spinners sit in a circle in front of the display and spin - sometimes there is needlefelting going on, sometimes drum carding.  Usually we also have a 2 step wooden structure in front of the table to hold more fleeces for judging, so many fleeces that there are 3 levels of them and they're spilling out onto the floor. Last year they started charging to enter items in the fair, so in response entries are down. Linda (our very own personal wool superintendent) pleaded with 2 in our spinning group to bring these. Being there for judging very early one morning won't be very exciting this year but it's always a learning opportunity.........we whatever judge has been brought in from out of the area to judge 4-H sheep.

Farm stand yummies

Yesterday morning after setting up our spinning display at the fair with friends I went out to Fort Vannoy Farms (just over the ridge from us) to buy corn. As my father said when visiting and finally moving here all the corn here is feed corn, nothing like the sweet corn from back east. I wish he were still around to try the corn at Fort Vannoy Farms - it is the closest thing to the corn we had back east, very sweet and tender and it didn't disappoint at dinner last night. I thought of my father while cleaning the corn, he would sit on the back porch making sure every single silk was off each ear and wouldn't trust the job to anyone else.

More memories yesterday when I saw zucchini blossoms at the farm stand. My grandmother used to fry zucchini blossoms - I can remember this from a very young age. I had a nice conversation with the farmer about them - he was asked if he had them from a Chicago chef visiting the area so said sure, they could pick them. A few others have bought them since and I bought some yesterday. It's one of those newer haute cuisine foods but I can remember my grandmother making them over 50 years ago (yes, that's dating me), it was the type of Italian peasant food I grew up on, use everything including those male flowers that don't produce zucchini. Just like roasted peppers which have gained popularity over the 15 or so years - I grew up on them, my family would buy bushels of red and green bell peppers to roast at the end of the summer. My father and grandfather would stand out at the charcoal grill, one of those old round ones, and roast the peppers. As each batch came off the grill they'd put them in brown grocery sacks to bring inside to my mother and grandmother to peel the skins off of, slice up and put in containers for the freezer to be used all winter long. Roasted peppers were a staple on the Christmas Eve table.

So, I came home with 8 zucchini blossoms to give them a try. I couldn't remember how my grandmother fixed them other than that they were fried in a iron skillet. After talking with my mother we determined that my grandmother didn't stuff them and I'm thinking she used her frito misto batter recipe which is still used to this day in the family, it's flour, white wine, melted butter and eggs. I looked up some recipes online and many used a batter similar to tempura with flour and sparkling water or beer. I decided to stuff mine with goat cheese, dip them in an egg wash, then in flour/bread crumb mixture and fry. Now I'm wishing I had left a few unstuffed to try them that way......guess I'll have to buy more.

Here are the blossoms straight from the farm stand

I gently opened up each blossom and pulled the stamen out (is that what it's called???)

Then I stuff the inside of it with goat cheese, adding some roasted garlic would be great but I didn't feel like roasting any. Other cheese would be yummy too - I mean, what cheese would be bad in or on anything.......

Here they are all stuffed and the petals twisted back closed around the cheese

All dipped in the egg wash and dredged in my mixture of flour and Italian bread crumbs, I added quite a bit fresh cracked pepper too

Frying in canola oil - I wanted to fry them in an oil without much taste but I might try olive oil next time. I put just enough oil in the bottom to fry them, didn't overdo it

Ready to eat, cheese oozing out. They were excellent. Sam was a little dubious about eating fried flowers but he loved them. Now I need to get over to the farm stand to buy more and give my farmer a report of how I fixed them so he can tell others as he markets them to the area.