Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The mad rush to get everything done by the 25th of December has come and gone. Most things got finished, but the sewing did not. That will be something to do when we get back from Salt Lake City.

Bob and I went to “early Midnight Mass” at 10 PM after spending the day baking cookies (Bob), and last minute Christmas and grocery shopping (me). Christmas morning we were going over to our son Dustin’s home for brunch along with his wife’s Dad and Step mom, and watch Paige open presents at her first Christmas. At 10 months she didn’t quite understand what the big deal was, and was easily distracted from the presents.

We left in the early afternoon to go home and start cooking dinner, and finish wrapping presents. Dustin, Erin and Paige were coming over for dinner and to open more presents at our house. It seems like I only really cook from scratch at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The rest of the year cooking doesn’t seem as creative, more of a necessity. We had a spiral ham, with a variation of au gratin potatoes, asparagus, whipped sweet potatoes, Cole slaw and an apple Danish with ice cream for dessert. The apple Danish and the au gratin potatoes were from scratch. Usually Betty Crocker does the potatoes, but we’re trying to cut down on the sodium. Once you start making the dishes from scratch, you really notice the salty taste of the box mixes. So I’ve started making my own mac and cheese too, something I thought I would never do.

Bob bakes the cut out Christmas cookies in the family and a good share of them are Christmas gifts to the neighbors. This year I actually baked some peanut butter clusters with the candy kisses, easy fudge and chocolate covered peanut clusters. The peanut clusters were by far my favorites as I made them with Hershey’s dark chocolate.

Tomorrow we’re driving up to SLC and help Carlee and family get settled in their new home. They moved yesterday and today, sleeping in the new house for the first time tonight. Hopefully we won’t run into snow on the way over the mountains by Beaver, Utah. We’re probably take a peek at the house, although we may wait until the trip back. The builder emailed us last Monday that they had shoveled about 18 inches of snow out of the basement, and were breaking for Christmas on Tuesday. So I don’t think too much has changed since the last pictures we’ve seen.

I’ve shown some pictures of our Christmas tree and a couple of the hand painted Christmas ornaments that my mom painted. She passed away over the holidays in 2003, so the ornaments are especially dear to me. We don’t plan to return until just before New Year’s so this will be my last post of 2008. Best Wishes to ALL.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting Ready for Christmas

The picture to start off this post is our Christmas cactus, which is blooming so nicely this year. This year when we have put it in the corner of the sunroom and left it alone. We had tried following the directions we read in a book that said to put them in dark room a month or so before Christmas, and to do this and that to the plant. We tried to be good about following the directions, and nothing happened-no blossoms. So now when we leave the plant alone, it does great.

Bob and I spent Thanksgiving in Salt Lake City with our daughter and son-in-law and their two children, Jack and Katie Jane. The time spent there was enjoyable. We drove up on Wednesday and counted 15 state highway patrol or sheriff vehicles on the road, along with the cloudy, somewhat rainy weather.

Wednesday night was spent catching up on gossip and watching Carlee work on some of the food preparation for the next day, but she had everything pretty much under control already. We brought the pies and cranberry sauce, and some small gifts to keep Jack and Kate entertained.

Thanksgiving Day after breakfast and Starbucks coffee I started ripping up bread for the dressing, while Carlee started messing with the turkeys. Tom was in charge of the turkeys, one was going to be grilled and one was going to be cooked traditionally in the oven. Jack helped me finish ripping up the three loaves of bread into two huge bowls. One for dressing with meat and one for the meatless dressing, mainly for the vegetarian Grandpa Bobby.

The evening meal was huge with Tom’s family and Carlee’s family and an invited couple and their two year old. Dustin, Erin, and Paige had changed their plans on coming up from Las Vegas as Erin’s step dad had become ill unexpectedly and was in the hospital. So we ended up taking a package of turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes back to them, so they wouldn’t miss out completely. Especially Dustin who looks forward to my mom dressing recipe every year.

Talk about traditional family foods, one year I made the dressing out of whole wheat bread instead of the usual white bread, and did I hear the complaints from the kids. So Carlee carries on our family traditions by serving Bob’s mother’s 24-hour fruit salad recipe that I’ve always used, and a lime Jell-O, with pineapple and cream cheese salad, that is my addition. And we have to have cooked cranberries not the ones from the can. At least we’re not locked into green beans and mushroom soup, we usually have asparagus. Grandpa Bobby has to have sweet potatoes, preferably candied, and mincemeat pie, that’s why I usually get stuck bringing the pies. No one else wants to deal with mincemeat pie, let alone eat it. He usually gets the whole pie to himself, unless there is a brave, adventurous soul willing to try something different.

The day after Thanksgiving is when the mother learns from the daughter. For the second year in a row Carlee and I got out of the house around 7, not terribly early as Christmas shoppers go but not bad for us. She had her yellow pad with the list of stores to hit and what toys/gifts were on sale there. When a person has a plan of attack it really isn’t too bad. We were in and out of stores without too much of a hassle and the bargains were amazing. We were done by about 11:30, picked up lunch and bombed on home.

That afternoon Jack and I spent doing some painting on an Advent calendar. He loves art and painting, and we had a good time sharing the painting on the project. We finished up the next day, and you can see that he was pretty proud of the results.

Katie Jane at two doesn’t have the same powers of concentration, but now she is sitting still for longer periods of time. Sometimes that is not always good news. Her painting skills tends towards body painting rather than on the paper, but she does seem to “get into” her projects. But it is fun to watch them interact. Thanksgiving morning while the cooking was going on both Kate and Jack were working on a Christmas sticker project, and that actually went pretty well. So I can tell that Katie is growing up.

I’ve started a sewing project for Katie and Paige for Christmas. It’s a corduroy outfit, pants and pinafore top-shorter version, green for Kate and red for Paige. If I don’t get moving on it, it will be an Easter outfit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

By this time you have probably heard about the snow storm in Las Vegas. That’s not very big news in the rest of the country, but here in the desert where our annual rainfall is 6” it was headline news. It started snowing seriously on the Strip about 2:00 PM and didn’t let up until mid evening. By that time McCarran International Airport had shut down about 4PM because of poor visibility, only a quarter mile, and those mountains are kind of close. There was a nice traffic jam of people heading south on Eastern Ave. into Henderson. Interstate-15 was closed to Barstow, CA, so Prim and Jean casino/hotels were full of Californians and tourists who couldn’t get over the mountain passes, as was state route 160 to Pahrump. Even Railroad Pass to Boulder City was closed because of slippery conditions. And the best news of all was that the Clark County Schools would be closed today.

Part of the problem of the snowfall is that we just can’t handle it. There are no snowplows out here, and no one owns a snow shovel. That’s why all we all moved out here, to get away from snow shoveling!

On the way home from our Weaving on Wednesday get together I took some pictures on the Strip from Flamingo going south on Las Vegas Blvd, just after the heavy snow fall started and the driving wasn’t too bad. The other photos of our neighborhood were taken several hours later when we had more of an accumulation.

This morning it was a bright and shiny day, and much colder. Most of the snow in the streets is gone, but the temperatures stayed low enough that the snow stayed in places in the shade. So it still looks pretty wintry for Vegas. It was beautiful last night, a memory for the record books now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Progress on Our Hole in the Ground

The Lace Workshop finished up on Monday afternoon. Since Bob teaches an evening class Monday evenings back in Las Vegas, he had made arrangements to fly back Sunday afternoon. So Tuesday morning Mac, our dog, and I started the 6 hr. drive back to Vegas. I had planned to stop in Cedar City for lunch and gas, and thought I might as well stop out at the property and see if anything had changed since our trip up on last Thursday.

You can imagine my surprise when I approached the property and saw the huge piles of dirt on our corner lot. Finally something was being done. The person digging out the basement was still there. He had finished the digging and was setting out the stakes for the footings. I took some pictures, walked the dog a bit, met some of the curious next door neighbors, and called my hubby on my cell to give him an update. Finally got back on the interstate and finished the rest of the trip home, believe it or not, without stopping at one yarn or weaving shop on the way home!

Since then the builders have keep us informed of their progress and sent us some photos. Luckily the fall weather in southern Utah was been unseasonably warm and the cement work is coming along. The basement floor and footing were laid, and the beginnings of ICF construction can be seen. ICF stands for insulated concrete form. The exterior walls of the house from basement to roof are concrete surrounded by Styrofoam on both the inside and outside. It’s more efficient on heating and cooling, good against wind, fire and sound. Once the house is built, the exterior is similar to a normal house and it’s hard to tell the difference between an ICF and a wood constructed house. There are several different types of ICF, our builder is using ARXX in the construction of our house.

Last week the basement ICF walls were put up and the middle of this week they were due to pour the cement for the basement walls. In a week or so Bob and I plan to drive up to Cedar City and see the progress first hand. It is kind of exciting to see the house going up finally.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lace Workshop - Part 4

For the three day lace weaving workshop I ended up with five samples to take home. The largest was my own which took me all of the first day to weave. The other 4 shaft pattern was the Window Pane or dented lace I talked about in my past posting. The Basket Weave on 6 shafts was another rather simple, straight forward pattern. I rather like it as it was done here in 3/2 cotton Astra Uki Supreme in a natural shade. I could see the pattern done in a plain table runner or set of placemats.

In the 8 shaft patterns that I got a chance to weave was a variation of the Diamond Huck, the Heart Huck. Some participants had time to weave both huck patterns and you can see the similarity in the designs from the photos. The example of the Heart Huck that I wove was 10/2 deep rose cotton warp at 24 epi using a 12 dent reed at 2 per dent. The effect was quite delicate looking.

The other 8 shaft pattern was a bit of a challenge, but fun to do, the Bronson Lace Alphabet. In this pattern the letters of the alphabet were based on squares 6 high by whatever number wide you decided was a good proportionally looking letter, and the letters were spaced with a block of tabby. I’m much happier if I can plan ahead. So the night before I was hoping to weave the Bronson Alphabet I got a piece of graph paper and did some doodling as if I was cross stitching my initials. The sketching on the graph paper did help when it came to the actual weaving.

At the start of the weaving it was confusing until “the light bulb went on” and then it was easy enough to weave along and correct mistakes fast enough. Except when I forgot the bar for the letter A and didn’t realize the lapse until I was almost done and had to do some reweaving. The technique would be fun to make a banner for the holidays. I wonder if the warp floats could be used to thread a contrasting ribbon so that the letters would show up more from a distance?

As I mentioned in an earlier post Suzie Liles passed along a quicker, simpler hem stitch technique that I intend to start using. It certainly was quicker and just as secure as the one I had been using. I’m just going to have to come up with a good graphic of it to replace the ones I’ve got attached to my looms. I put the starting hem stitch on the front of a business card and the ending hem stitch on the back, laminated it, hole punched it, and hung if from my rigid heddle looms and put it in my weaving bags. A new project for 2009...

Here is the hem stitch directions, as I remember them from my workshop notes.
Use a #18 tapestry needle, start on the right side of the weaving leaving a warp length of 3 times the width of the fabric. The warp length is left dangling at the beginning, weave 5 to 10 rows of the beginning of the hem or fabric. Stop weaving to do the hem stitch to secure the beginning threads, then continue weaving. (If ending a piece of weaving, stop on the right edge, allow 3 times the width of the fabric in weft thread length, cut the weft. Thread a tapestry needle and proceed with the hem stitch.)

A). Wrap the warp around the first group of threads, about 4 warps depending on the thickness of the warp, twice, right to left, because the bundle is the first and it’s on the edge.

1). With the needle on the top of the fabric go up 2 rows of weaving between the two groups of warps, the wrapped warps and the unwrapped warps. Take a stitch with the needle angling down and out beneath the edge of the fabric under the next 4 warp threads. [Therefore the hem stitch pattern for this fabric would be up 2 rows and over 4 warps. The two numbers in the hem stitch vary depending on the thickness of the warp and the effect you want to achieve. The numbers are not etched in stone.]

2). Pull the needle through and put the needle point back to the space along the fell, where the warp threads are unwoven, where the first bundle was separated from the warps and insert it. The needle will be pointed in a right-to-left direction going under the second group of warp threads. When the point comes out *this is the important part* the point of the needle should be within the loop of the hem stitch so that when the thread is pulled through, a half hitch knot is formed on the bundle of warps.

3). Push the knot up to the fabric fell and pull the knot tight. Now you’re in position to start the next stitch.
1). Go up in the space between wrapped and unwrapped warps two rows and insert the needle diagonally down toward the edge of the fabric under four warps.
…Continue onto step #2 and so on…

The workshop was over, the warps were unwound, and the samples cut off and distributed. Suzie Lilies evaluated our efforts and encourage us to weave with linen and not be afraid of it. She was very encouraging and convincing, the caution was use quality linen and you’ll be fine. Here is a photo of our entire group for one last time. A pretty happy group from all the smiles on our faces.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lace Workshop - Part 3

The next two days of the workshop went much better. I was able to move on to weave on someone else’s loom and try some other lace patterns. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to kill myself trying to get all nine lace samples of the workshop done. I wasn’t really interested in doing the Danish Medallion, Spanish Lace, Brooks Bouquet, and Leno Lace patterns. I had taught those patterns in my beginning weaving classes and instead I wanted to weave lace patterns on 8 and 4 shaft looms that I had no experience weaving. The above photo illustrates some of the afore mentioned lace patterns that could have been done in the workshop on two shafts.

One of the side benefits of the round robin weaving was that I was able to weave on several different types of looms. One that I especially enjoyed was the Baby Wolf when I wove the Window Pane Lace in white. Not only did I like the lace pattern, I could see using it in a pantry door window, or as a room divider, or covering storage shelves in our new home.

It was the first time I had woven on a Baby Wolf loom. About two weeks earlier I had purchased a used 8 shaft Baby Wolf from a LV guild member and still had it folded up in our garage. I had wanted to buy one when we moved to the new house and would have room in my basement weaving room. But I started thinking that perhaps instead of buying a new loom maybe I could find a used one and spend less money. As long as it was an 8 shaft loom I could deal with the rest of the items on my wish list later. So when I put out an email about some looms for sale I added a request about looking for a Baby Wolf loom. I was quite surprised to get a reply back from a guild member who was considering selling her Baby Wolf which was an 8H and had most of the bells and whistles I was interested in. When she got back from a long weekend vacation we could connect. I was ecstatic.

Upon her return we agreed upon a price and a pick up date for the following Monday. My big concern was where to store the loom once I picked it up. My present weaving room was maxed out, my tiny storage room was full, that left the third stall of the garage which was a disaster area. I still hadn’t told my husband I’d bought “another” loom, a statement sure to get a rise out of the non-hobbyist hubby. But if I cleaned the third stall of the garage there would be room to store the Baby Wolf. So with a burst of energy on Sunday I did a massive clean up and straightening of the third stall.

I must be honest and admit all of the mess was mine to begin with, guild door prizes, weaving class looms, yarn, and wood working materials. It’s surprising what a shop vac and throwing some things out can do to improve the looks of things. I also collected fame looms for storage, and repacked yarn in storage bins. The end result was a vast improvement, Bob was so proud of my efforts, little did he know…

The other hang up was the method of payment. I wanted to pay in cash and it didn’t dawn on me until after the banks closed on Friday that Monday was Columbus Day and the banks would be closed, even though it wasn’t really observed locally as a holiday. So all I could access would be an ATM, which meant $20 bills and dealing with a daily withdrawal limit. I also found after trying our branch bank ATM on Monday that ATMs run out of money on long weekends. Thank heavens for grocery stores and their ATMs. I was able to get the rest of the needed cash from their ATM, for a slight fee--but who was quibbling at this point, and then go to Customer Service and trade the fist full of twenties for less hundred dollar bills. And I was still able to pick up the loom on time.

The lady’s husband loaded the loom in the back of my CR-V and off I drove. When I got home I didn’t want to leave the loom in the car, so I slowly rocked it back and forth to edge it out of the car. It was heavy! Once it was out and upright, it was easy to handle as it was on wheels (strollers). I pushed it back into the third stall area and waited for Bob to come home from teaching his Monday evening class.

When he came into the house in his normal manner I knew he hadn’t noticed the loom. So I figured I couldn’t put this off any longer, and told him to go back into the garage and notice what he missed the first time he walked through. When he came back into the house he was very quiet, not saying anything. He now knew why I had cleaned the garage so thoroughly the day before.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lace Workshop - Part 2

While the rest of the household was barely waking up, I was up packing my lunch and setting off early, of once, to the lace workshop. My workshop experiences have been very limited and I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

About a month earlier I had received a call from Judie, a member of the SLC guild, asking what loom I would be bringing and what lace pattern I would be interested in warping on my loom. We finally settled on a huck lace pattern on 4 shafts that she later sent me the draft to use to warp my loom.

I ended up using a #5 crochet cotton, Cable 5 by Karabella, for both the warp and weft threads. For some wacky reason I just didn’t want to warp the pattern in just one color, so I did three: purple on the edges, medium green on either side and a lighter lime green in the center. Definitely eye catching.

The pattern was on 4 shafts using 123 threads and a 15 dent reed with one thread in each dent. My Leclerc Voyageur loom had a 12 dent reed so I had to sley the warp threads with this pattern 1-1-1-2 to compensate. We were to warp our looms with four yards of warp for the workshop. Below is my warping pattern for the loom, the arrows show where the color changes would occur.

One the way back to SLC from the Guild meeting in Provo Thursday night in Kathleen’s carpool van, I found out from Deanna and Litza that the workshop was a round robin. We would weave the pattern given to us on our own loom and then move to someone else’s loom and weave their pattern, thereby getting a variety of pattern samples.

It then dawned on me that I had only brought stick shuttle to weave with, thinking that I would be the only one using my loom and I was comfortable using stick shuttles since I weave on small rigid heddle looms so much. But I know other weavers prefer boat shuttles, and I did a small internal panic. Finally I decided if people wanted to weave with a boat shuttle they could use one of their own since I didn’t have any, and just wind the bobbins with my warp thread. I did learn a lesson for future workshops, bring boat shuttles even if I’m using stick shuttles, just in case.

Suzie Liles was an enjoyable teacher, kind, down-to-earth, very practical, and had a good sense of humor. Besides the basic lace weaving material, I learned to use up less warp in spreading the warp before beginning to weave, an easier, quicker hem stitch, and how to tie an additional warp onto the loom using the same threading pattern. The hem stitch was almost worth the cost of the workshop.

I also learned that I must be the world’s slowest weaver. I’m the kind of student I never really wanted to have in class, the last one done. I guess now that I was on the student end and much older, and it’s not for a grade, I’d rather do it right. I can remember a time when I would never redo a section, now I will take the time to tear it out, if it’s weaving or knitting and redo it. Maybe I’m more critical or maybe I know I can do better, anyway I now don’t rush through projects.

It took me all of the first day of the workshop to weave my huck lace pattern with it’s variations as given to us by the instructor. I even took the loom home and after Jack and Katie Jane went to bed I did my homework. After the bowling birthday party the parents and grandfather were wiped out so by nine o’clock everyone was in bed but me. I finally finished weaving the huck pattern and doing the hem stitch to separate the pieces so I would be ready to start weaving on someone else’s loom tomorrow. I stuck a piece of painter’s blue masking tape with my name on it to the weaving, put the loom and stand in the back of the car, and went to bed about midnight.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Lace Weaving Workshop - Part 1

While the trip to SLC was to celebrate our grandson Jack’s 5th birthday, I was really there to attend a three day workshop presented by the Mary M. Atwater Weavers’ Guild in Salt Lake City. I had joined the guild last year so that I could attend the Utah State Weavers’ Conference in April, mainly handled by the SLC guild. As part of the Conference, Daryl Lancaster, a well known weaver and clothing instructor was a featured lecturer and workshop instructor, pictured above.

Daryl had been an instructor at IWC (Intermountain Weavers’ Conference) in August, 2007, where Jan a member of the LV guild had been a participant of her workshop and highly recommended Daryl as an instructor. When I found that Daryl was going to be holding a workshop in this part of the country, I found that only way I could attend the state convention would be as a member of a Utah guild. Since my daughter lives in SLC that could solve the accommodation problem. So after find the SLC guild’s website I was able to join the guild without a problem. I found, once I received a membership roster, that the guild has members statewide, so it wasn’t unusual to a member living outside Salt Lake City.

The state conference was a great learning experience with Daryl Lancaster’s pre-conference workshop and the other shorter conference workshops. I enjoyed meeting new acquaintances with similar interests, and felt very welcomed by the group. It was such a good experience that I decided to renew my membership in the guild for this year. Even though I can’t attend many meetings, they offer opportunities for interesting workshops. If I plan ahead carefully I can participate in the workshops.

The SLC guild offered a terrific basketry workshop in Sept. that I was unable to attend. The irony was I was in SLC when the workshop took place, but Bob and I were babysitting Jack and Katie Jane white their parents were taking a long weekend in NYC. I did see some of baskets from the workshop and they were great, modernistic rather than traditional. Definitely one of a kind. Kristine the owner of the weaving/knitting store,Three Wishes, 7130 Redwood Rd. West Jordan, UT, 84084, showed me her baskets.

When the mailing came announcing the opportunity for a 3 day lace weaving workshop I really got excited. Here was a workshop I could participate in. In August I had had to cancel my spot in a freeform embroidery sewing class taught by a national instructor that I had signed up for in April! I had no one to blame but myself as it was the same weekend as Katie Jane’s birthday, something that didn’t dawn on me in April. Luckily I didn’t have to pay a penalty for canceling as there was a waiting list for the classes I had to miss. I was really disappointed though.

Then it occurred to me that the lace weaving workshop was going to be the same weekend as Jack’s birthday. I was going to be 3 for 3, three misses on three workshops with trips to SLC. However, hubby Bob did come through and the workshop was on with Grandpa Bobby as our bowling team leader.