Friday, July 31, 2015

Another shawl......

I started to weave the second shawl on the alpaca shawl warp this time using the same black alpaca for weft as I used for warp. I would have finished it up but the phone kept ringing........but it was fun to catch up with friends so that's ok.

No 'pretty' pyrocumulus cloud today, everywhere in the region is smoky - can't see a thing, the smoke is hanging down low, it's just plain ugly out there. The fire blew up yesterday afternoon within a couple hours from 200 to 6000 acres - not sure of the status now. I'm feeling very bad for the fire fighters working out there in 108 degree temps.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Holey Moley

I was just thinking about the fact that fire season is almost half over and I'm not sure how to live stress free through the second half when I saw this out the window. This is a pyrocumulus cloud from a fire that started around 30 miles northeast of us. I haven't heard details yet as to how it started.

This is a view off our deck - off in the distance under the cloud is Mt. Sexton - our view these days is really obscured by the trees.

Here's a close up of that angry smoke cloud - it is gigantic. Am thinking good thoughts for those that live in the fire's path, there are level 3, meaning GO now, evacuations right now.

We've tried to be ready for a fire but I think tomorrow I'll be working on getting even more prepared. The suitcases and rolling carts to load the most important stuff in will just have to sit out in the guestroom for the rest of fire season. I told Sam it's time to put the 5th wheel hitch back in the truck so we can load it up and pull it out if we need to evacuate due to a close by fire. I'm also thinking it's time to put those sprinklers back up on the roof - better to do it now than to wait until a fire starts. I hate living like this.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This and that......

After the debacle on Monday of my discharge paste being too old to work I tried again with the new container - success. I buy my discharge paste from Dharma Trading Co.

Here I'm about to silkscreen the gingko design using the discharge paste.....

....the discharge paste is still wet here so it can be seen.....

....after it's totally dry I hit it with a steam iron until I see the amount of dye pulled out that suits me....

....and here's the chenille scarf washed and dried. It takes a bit to get the sliminess of the discharge paste off the scarf but it's not too bad. I wish it were easier to photograph chenille, especially black, it's so yummy. (just noticed I took pix of two different scarves - one of the scarves had large gingkos, the other a medium size)

I wove the first alpaca shawl that I put on the Macomber last week. Black alpaca warp, charcoal grey alpaca weft. I'm thinking the second shawl might be black weft.

And here is one of the popsicles I made yesterday - the perfect afternoon pick me up on a hot day. The white grape juice makes them a little tart but I like it. These get a thumbs up for yummy and also a thumbs up for being healthy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


We've had a reprieve from the extreme heat for a week but it's returning - starting tomorrow temps are to be over 100 for at least the next 10 days, a couple days showing 107-110 - yikes. We're under a Red Flag Warning for fire danger - there's always fire danger but with the extreme hot and the windy conditions fires could be explosive........I hate fire season........

So, today after being excused from jury service for the day I stopped by the store and bought some popsicle molds. I cut up kiwi, a white peach, strawberries and added some blueberries to the mix. A friend  recently sent me a link to how to make these, I think it was off Martha Stewart's website but don't quote me on that.

I stuffed the molds with fruit. I cut mine in small pieces unlike the instructions online. They'd be really pretty with full size pieces but I think harder to eat.

Here's I've poured in white grape juice to the top of the molds. I'm sure any kind of juice would work, or maybe even pureed fruit - yum, a thought for the next time.

And here they are getting ready to go in the freezer. Can't wait to try them....hmm, wonder how long it will take for them to freeze.

Hmm, I wonder if root beer would freeze well. Does anyone else remember enjoying root beer popsicles growing up? They were one of my fav's. When one of these molds empties I might have to give it a try.

I already checked online to see if I have to show up for jury duty tomorrow - good news, no trials so I check again late tomorrow to see if I have to go in on Thursday.  There was a trial scheduled for tomorrow but maybe they settled out of court sometime today. Looks like I'll be weaving tomorrow - whoo hoo.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Another loom warped........

Another loom warped - this one at the beach. I'm using up bits and bobs of cottolin. I'll do some plaid now that I know how many grams it takes for the weft.......a few colors are almost gone. But this will sit and wait until next time over as we're home again......just in time for the heat to go back up to 107.......and for jury duty.

Bailey was happy to walk the beach looking for treasures........

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I got an alpaca warp on the loom this morning for a couple huck lace shawls. I don't weave with animal fibers that much but I have customers looking for warm winter shawls so I browsed my small stash of wool and found this lovely black alpaca from Henry's Attic. I'll use a dark charcoal grey for weft on one shawl and am assuming I have enough of the black left for another shawl..........I'll know for sure once I get the grey one woven. This is going to make lovely alpaca shawls - the yarn is incredibly soft.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A bit of this and that......

Today I got the fringe twisted on the recently woven handspun yarn shawl. For some reason I can't get a good representation of the colors - it's much prettier than my photo looks.....and so yummy feeling.

I moved on to stenciling on two ice dyed silk scarves. Very simple, understated. A dragonfly on each end.

A sand dollar and starfish on each end of this scarf. I used Shiva Paintstiks, which I love, but they need a week to cure, then the paint gets set further by ironing. This looks much prettier in person.

The AVL is now ready to tie on the front beam - more gingko scarves to come. When I thread the heddles on the 40 harnesses I let the loom raise the next shaft so there's never an error in threading..........but when I reached harness 39 & 40 it refused to raise them. I was hoping there wasn't a major there are too many of those in life this month......I shut it all down and restarted it, worked just fine for the rest of the heddle threading job....phew.

And a big failure this morning. I silkscreened three black chenille scarves with discharge paste. Two with gingkos, one with abstract designs. After the discharge paste dried I got the iron out to steam  the silkscreening which will pull the dye out. Nothing happened, nada, absolutely nothing. Sometimes depending on how a fiber is dyed it may not be effective but this is the same Silk City chenille I've used before so I know it works. Then I started wondering if there's a shelf life to discharge paste - I've had this gallon for a long time, and I'm down to the last cup. I did have a newer container, although not terribly new but it's never been opened so I got a little bundle of the chenille yarn to give it a try. It discharged. So, at some point I'll be re-silkscreening those scarves with the new container of discharge paste. So, yes, it has a shelf life. When I get in the mood to tackle this again I'll post photos.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More scarves and shawls....

More hand-dyed scarves and shawls finally up for sale in my etsy shop. It certainly is a time sucker taking photos, editing them, tagging with inventory numbers and listing in my etsy shop.....but all a part of the job. I did put aside 2 ice dyed scarves for some surface design/stenciling - I deliberately dyed those two very pale colors. I'm drawn to so many of the colors but only set aside one for myself out of the batch of 20 - I didn't take a picture of that one, maybe I'll get to it. There are at least 5 scarves I'd love to keep but being realistic I wouldn't wear them all so I settled for one. The shawls are lovely and there's one I have my eye on but need to think on if I'll really wear it - hopefully that one doesn't sell before I make up my mind.........I won't tell which one as having done that in the past someone I know then bought it immediately.

More ice-dyed scarves
Hand-dyed Devore Rayon and Silk Shawls

Thursday, July 16, 2015

When things go awry at the loom........

Best laid plans. I put on a handspun warp for a shawl, it was the leftover handspun from the knit shawl I recently made for our county fair display challenge. I put on an advancing twill thinking I'd use a solid color bamboo for the weft. Although I've used this combination together before it didn't look right with this particular handspun so it was on to Plan B.......once I came up with a Plan B. I don't have much to pull from in thicker fibers, especially wools as I usually weave finer. I looked at my shelf of handspun and pulled one down that had similar colors as I had no solids in the right color. Of course my advancing twill is lost because of all the color but it was already threaded so I went ahead with the treadling for it. It's now ready to wash, should be interesting to see how it turns feels really nice and soft right off the loom........oh, and color really isn't true in this photo, just couldn't get good color today.........

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What's for dinner.....

One of my favorite summer meals comes from the June 2000 issue of Cooking Light magazine - Sesame Shrimp and Couscous Salad. It's hard to tell the size of this bowl but it's huge - I doubled the recipe and even then added more shrimp. It's even better the second day. It's really simple and quick to make it even easier you can buy already cooked shrimp at the grocery but I like to cook my own. I take liberties with the recipe not measuring anything and being generous with my favorite ingredients but this is the official recipe that serves 4 (1 1/2 cups each).

Sesame Shrimp and Couscous Salad

3 1/4 cups water, divided
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I use more shrimp)
1 cup uncooked couscous
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I use more - I love cilantro)
2 tbs finely chopped unsalted, dry roasted peanuts

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add shrimp, cook 3 minutes or until done. Drain and rinse with cold water, cut shrimp in half. Bring 1 1/4 water to a boil in saucepan, gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, cool.

Combine vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add shrimp, couscous, lettuce, bell pepper, peas and cilantro, toss well. Sprinkle with peanuts.

Enjoy the yum......

Currently on the wheel......

Yesterday I start spinning some of my hand-dyed merino - I had stashed this colorway before anyone could buy the last 8oz, am wishing I had set aside more for myself. I'm not usually not attracted to blue but these days I love seaglass or tropical colors. Since I don't have much of this I'll ply it with another color to make it go further. No idea what it will grow up to be yet.........spinning what will probably be fingering weight when plied.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ice-Dyed Silk Scarves

So far I've gotten 12 of the ice dyed silk scarves photographed......more to come soon.......and all those silk devore shawls too.......too much to get done, too few hours in the day. These are all available in my etsy shop now.  There are a couple I'm really tempted to keep for it thought........

Sunday, July 12, 2015


I decided to do a little dyeing. here's where I've got some ice dyeing going - there are silk scarves (first soaked in soda ash) hidden under those piles of ice, then fiber reactive dye powder sprinkled over top the ice, then they sit there overnight to batch. I bought some frames at the Salvation Army, took the glass out and had Sam staple some leftover screen from another project in them.

 I love the designs created with the dye as the ice melts

 Look at these squiggly designs
 Here are the 4 scarves rinsed out this morning hanging to dry - they take no time to rinse and dry

 Here's a close up - I find the designs created with the ice dyeing fascinating

 And here they are dried and ironed

And here are the silk/rayon devore shawls I dyed yesterday - these took forever to rinse the leftover/excess dye out of.

 This little lizard came to watch me today - good thing he was up on the fence rail out of Bailey's range who loves to chase the lizards - never caught one but it's a great activity.

 And this dragonfly kept lighting on my drying rack and let me get really close

Here's a beauty head shot. This one had a buddy that looked to be blue and grey but it would never stop so I could get a picture of it.

I've got some more scarves sitting under the ice and dye - the great reveal tomorrow after they're washed out. After that I've got 12 more scarves to ice dye but alas I've only got 4 frames at the moment so it will take a few days to finish up.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Thinking of autumn

Yep, thinking of autumn already which means the end to fire season......yes, I digress, fire season is always on my mind June thru September.  But back to the towels, I got these hemmed and photographed yesterday, they're now up for sale in my etsy shop. I was shocked at how much these shrank in the washing process - I expect up to 15% on towels but this cottolin (cotton/linen blend) shrunk 25% in length. I should have snapped a picture of the lint in the dryer lint catcher - it was a record amount on a first washing........these are some thick and thirsty towels in spite of leaving what seems like pounds of lint behind.

We had a storm last night that came with tons of lightning, hits right down the road from us, hopefully the rain was enough to keep fires from starting close by - spotter planes will be up looking for smoke today. I heard there were 10 fires started but not sure where or if they were already snuffed out, no morning updates available yet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


I spent the better part of the day fondling roving. I had a huge order to weigh, bag and label that I had ignored for two weeks......decided today had to be the day to deal with it since my original plans changed. Then there's the administrivia of putting it all into inventory records and updating my etsy shop - phew........overload........
I have two new colors of multi-colored merino - I can't wait to spin up the samples. Above is Cabo, below is Granada.  I love both of them.  These are now available in my fiber etsy shop.
Now off to finish up with more administrivia and on to other mundane chores........

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Into the wash

We're back from escaping the 108 degree heat - we spent 5 days on the coast, 60-80 miles as the crow flies over the mountain from us and it was only 63 over there - it was great. We returned to the heat yesterday afternoon......although it's down around 100 now (can't believe 100 feels like a relief) and may be down to the upper 80's by the weekend - whoo hoo.

While on the coast I finished up the cottolin towel warp. I just finished quickly sewing the ends and threw them in the washer.....hemming is next up. I wove 8 of them in solid colors, 4 multi-colored - all autumn colors. Can't wait to see them finished out of the washer and dryer. I've got another cottolin warp planned for over there.....will see if I can fit in some time to wind a warp next time over....but there's also a lot of trim painting to do.......

Hoping later this week I can start on some ice dyeing - I have many silk scarves I'd like to ice dye. I've also got many silk shawls to dye as I sold out a while back - not sure if I'll ice dye a few or not, most probably will just dye them in color gradations.

Now off to browse my personal fiber stash for something new to spin, maybe some of my opposed to browsing the many bins of fiber that I sell.....oh so tempting......

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's too danged hot.....

It's too danged hot to do much these days. Even winding a warp or weaving is a challenge. My studio is downstairs which is partially underground along with the garage - there's no air conditioning down there but most of the time it stays cool enough even with our hot temps in the summer but when it's continually over 100 it just can't stay cool. (separate furnace downstairs with no heat pump so no cool air)

I've been cutting fabric and serging napkins early in the day before it gets hot - a big pile of them to match the new quilted placemats at the beach and after looking in our napkin drawer here at home I realized I needed to replace the faded worn out napkins we've been using so a big pile in the works for here at home too. Fun part is that I pulled from my fabric stash, that's way too big, sitting in piles all over that room. I used many Downton Abby fabrics I bought for who knows what I'll get to see those fabrics every day in the kitchen.

Yesterday afternoon two friends came over to learn how to make a 'woven' bracelet we learned how to make at guild this past spring. We each made two bracelets and ate almond cake.......with fresh strawberries.

I don't think I've posted this almond cake recipe a friend found online earlier this year. It's easy, very yummy, and doesn't make a ton of cake for those of us that don't want a ton of cake in the house.

Almond Cake

1 stick (1/4 lb) butter
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1 TB sliced almonds

Heat oven to 325. Grease a 8" cake pan (I still had problems with a little bit of sticking so next time I'll add parchment paper too)

Melt butter in the microwave. Wisk eggs into butter.
Add flour, sugar and extract - mix well, pour into a pan, sprinkle with almonds

Bake 45 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired (I don't do this, it's plenty sweet without it)

I'm thinking I might have to try this recipe substituting lemon extract and adding some lemon zest.