Monday, September 28, 2009

The Art Gypsies

The Art Gypsies again celebrated the Autumn Equinox with "Art in the (New) Yard," held on Saturday, Sept. 26th. It was cool in the morning as tents were set up, artwork unpacked and displayed. About mid-morning the temperature dropped noticeably, and you could see your breath in the air. Then the misty rain/light drizzle started, which didn't seem to deter anyone from visiting. We had a steady stream of visitors all day. Later, the sun came peaking through again and it warmed back up a bit.

Here I am, cranking socks, answering questions, and selling socks. When there were men, women, and children watching and I wasn't able to talk right then, I provided a little humor,... "I'm not being anti-social, I'm counting rows so two socks come out the same size!" One of my favorite pieces of weaving sold, too, a huck runner, which now gives me a good reason to warp up for that weave structure again.

The day before, socks are ready to pack up for Art in the Yard.

Six more pairs of socks are waiting to be "finished" and packed up.

Toni Burgeon, of Green Bay and Minocqua, creates beautiful art quilts. She had emailed me a few days ago asking if I would like to share her tent with her, so it was nice for both of us to have someone to chat with in those moments when no one was in our booth.

Louise Engelbrecht, Eagle River, is an award-winning watercolor and oils artist. She also weaves, felts, and enjoys making handmade paper. Louise was weaving on a table loom.

Debra Ketchum-Jircik, Eagle River, creates wonderful clay figurines and birdhouses, and is also a handmade paper artist.

Kathleen Kimball, Arbor Vitae, makes the most wonderful soaps; she is also a collage artist and maker of handmade books.

Amy Higgason, Lake Tomahawk, is a talented potter who makes beautiful, detailed pottery.

Wendy Powalisz (left), Land O'Lakes, makes wonderful jewelry and also does watercolor paintings. Carol Miller (right), also of Land O'Lakes, is a photographer, with an emphasis on capturing the Old Northwoods before it is completely gone. Coffee and homemade goodies were available to visitors.

Toni Burgeon, Wendy Powalisz, Carol Miller, Amy Higgason, and I have our work in Artistree Gallery in Land O'Lakes.

By the time we were ready to leave, there was already discussion of not only Autumn 2010 Art in the Yard, but also of celebrating the Summer Solstice in June 2010. We have a lot to prepare for, and look forward to!

Our thanks to the owners of Fir Tree Cottage in Land O'Lakes who graciously allowed the Art Gypsies to set up next to their shop.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Artistree Gallery Open House

This past Friday afternoon, Artistree Gallery had an Open House with several of the 30+ artists providing demonstrations of the arts. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, tents were set up to shield us from changing weather, and we had a very enjoyable afternoon visiting with people who stopped by. I was there with my sock machine, and took time out to take a few photos.

Mary Jackl, Whataview Farm & Fiber, Phelps, WI, is a rag rug weaver, spinner, and felter. This day she was demonstrating spinning, and spinning yarn with seed beads on.

Shirley Battin of Land O'Lakes, WI was demonstrating plein-air painting. Shirley is also the manager of Artistree Gallery.

Karen Lenhart, of Watersmeet, MI, is an award-winning watercolorist.

Shirley Surges, Conover, WI, is a wonderful watercolorist. This day, she was giving a demonstration of Chinese Brush Painting.

Sandy Hodgson, Land O'Lakes, WI, was working on a folk-art style quilt.

Artistree Gallery is located in the front room of Forget-Me-Not Floral, which was all decked out for Autumn. The following day, was "Art in the New Yard." Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Seasonal Socks

A few days ago I took my camera with on a walk to try to capture some fall color. I only need to look around me for inspiration in combining colors for autumn socks.

I 've been thoroughly enjoying sitting in the afternoon sun cranking autumn socks. Five pairs were washed two nights ago and have been drying on a wood rack in my laundry room. Today they were lightly steamed, given time to dry again, then taken outdoors for photos.

Between my master list of Sock Names & Color Combinations and the photos, I can make any pair up again if someone likes a particular color combination but I don't have their size.

"Copper Leaves," (above) remind me of the various rusy shades of oak leaves in fall and winter. This year there are some that are more red than usual, and I noticed a lot of acorns on the ground today.

Twenty plus years ago, on our way north for a long autumn weekend of fishing and hiking (before we moved up here), we would stop at a particular farm stand on Highway 22. They had so many varieties of squash. These socks, "Harvest Time" (above) remind me of all those colors of squash, and stopping to take a few home, along with a pumpkin or two, honey, and apples.

"Autumn Warmth" is a great pair of socks for autumn days when there is a chilly nip in the air (above).

The area cranberry harvest is about to get underway, and soon there will be huge bins of fresh cranberries in the local grocery stores. This is the perfect time of year to crank "Cranberry Harvest" socks!

A few days ago I took my camera with on a walk to try to capture some fall color. Walking back to the house I noticed the last nice Phlox still standing in the garden. My mother had phlox growing in a garden when I was young, and the fragrance from them the other day took me back about 50 years. Amazing!

Living in the northwoods of WI, winter never seems to be far from your thoughts. We enjoy spring, summer, and fall, but at the same time we're preparing for the coming winter. At our home, we are working on winter wood, and now about to begin washing the exterior logs before applying stain/preservative. There is only so much time left before the snow flies.

Very soon, I'll start working on winter seasonal socks, "Christmas at the Cabin," "Holly & Ivy," "Ice Storm," and many others. Artistree gallery needs wool socks for the winter months. At the same time, though, I'm craving time at my looms. Just a couple more days of feverish sock-cranking and I'll be able to weave again!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

One Step Closer...

I am one step closer to weaving on the drawloom, the reed is finally sleyed. After coming out short on the left edge, I re-counted, found my error, then re-sleyed most of the first half of the warp. Yesterday I sleyed the right half of the warp with no problems. This warp is 64 epi and being sleyed 5-4-4-4- across, in a 15 dent reed.

The next step, later today will be to lash the wood tie-on rod to the new loom apron. Then, I'll be able to tie the warp on, remove the pins from the upper jacks, and see if I have a shed. How I wish I could just stay with the drawloom, and if I can squeeze in more time there I will, but commitments call.

"Art in the Yard" is one week away, the Fall Northwoods Art Tour is two weeks away, and I need to make more socks, then close toes, wash, and finish them. After that, my focus will be on the drawloom, and rugs on the CM loom.

I'd forgotten to post a photo of a new gray sheepskin, purchased at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival. Perhaps someday it will be on a loom bench, but for now, like a nice white one I have, it will be used as background for photographing wool socks. I found light colored socks against the white sheepskin were photographing as very washed out, so a gray sheepskin was on my list at Jefferson.

"The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers" (a UK publication) has published a special edition of their magazine on the late Peter Collingwood, and my copy arrived yesterday. It is available from The Woolgatherers, Ltd., Unicorn Books, and very probably other vendors.

I believe it was after my second or third week-long weaving class at The Looms, around 1983 or so, that Ken Colwell suggested I sign up to attend a Peter Collingwood rug weaving workshop. I wanted to attend, yet feared I would not understand what was being taught, would not be able to keep up, so I did not go. I've been kicking myself ever since. Peter Collingwood left his books, magazine articles, the Complex Weavers interview on DVD, for weavers, and this publication will add additional depth to his contributions to the weaving world.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Good Reed Hook Makes for Easier Sleying

Mid-afternoon today I was back at the drawloom to finish sleying half the threads in the reed, working from the center out, anxious now to get the other half sleyed. When I got to the end, I had three threads left, not the four it should have been. Back to the center to look for my error, found in the second group (of 8 dents) from the center, so a lot of resleying to do. It probably would be okay, but I didn't want to get the warp tied on, begin weaving, and wish I'd corrected it earlier on.

I was working with my old original sleying hook (above). One nice thing about this one is because it is not flat, when you slip it into the reed dents (unless you are working with few dents per inch) you can let go of it and it will stay in the reed leaving both hands free. But, threads also tend to slide off at times which slows me down.

This evening, it suddenly occurred to me I should be trying out my new German reed hook, purchased from The Woolgatherers, Ltd. at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival. Let me tell you, I have retired the old one (for fine threads anyway). With four (or five) fine threads in my hand, the deep indentation on this hook does not let them get away.

I'm looking forward to trying out my new German hook for threading heddles. There is a great deal to be said for having and using good equipment for the jobs at hand.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Day Made for Spinning

It was so beautiful in the WI Northwoods today I just had to take my spinning wheel, chair, and basket of roving out onto the lakeside porch, this afternoon, and sit and spin. With only the peaceful sounds of nature, the breeze blowing through the pines, birds, crickets, a pileated woodpecker flitting around the nearby trees, and manmade sounds, my windchime and the whir of my spinning wheel, it was a pleasure to spin more of the Coopworth roving I brought home two years ago from the WI Sheep & Wool Festival.

The Coopworth roving is spinning up beautifully, and I'm wishing I'd brought more home this year. I plan to make this 2-ply for some winter knitting.

When I look up, this is the view of our little lake, with a bit of autumn color in the trees across the way.

Meanwhile, back at the woodshed, I heard a crash the night before I left for southern WI. As I drove out I found "someone" had been in the woodshed, and knocked over a good portion of the front row of split wood! Weasel? Raccoon? No clue, just hope it doesn't happen again. Tomorrow? I'll be stacking wood before splitting anymore.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WI Sheep & Wool Festival

This past weekend, Sept. 11-13, it was once again time for the WI Sheep & Wool Festival, held each year at the fairgrounds in Jefferson, WI. Here, you could find a variety of fiber classes, sheep judging, handspun yarn competition, Sheep to Shawl display, sheep herding, and more, along with two huge barns of vendors. Raw fleece, roving, yarns, books, spinning wheels, and all kinds of fiber-related equipment.

Sara and Hans von Tresckow, of The Woolgatherers, Ltd., Fond du Lac, WI, had a double booth this year to accommodate looms, spinning wheel and spinning stools, cones of linen , books, and more.

From The Woolgatherers, Ltd., I purchased new German threading hook and sleying hooks,...

a cone of 40/2 linen (Henry's Attic) and two tubes of 20/1 Vaxbo (Swedish) linen for a planned project, and...

a book, "Weave Structures The Swedish Way - volume 1" by Ulla Getzmann, translated and adapted by Becky Ashenden. From another vendor, I picked up "Knitting the Threads of Time, Casting Back to the Heart of Our Craft" by Nora Murphy, which looks like a good read.

I went back to Jefferson on Sunday morning and enjoyed visiting the sheep barns.

On Sunday morning I found a sheep-shearing demonstration. The shearer was so fast the sheep didn't have time to complain!

Off to the right of the shearing demo were pens holding sheep that had been shorn, and those waiting to be shorn.

In another pen were two lambs, one so very small. I heard a young boy say his dad wasn't sure the one on the right was going to survive. When I first saw them they were laying down, but after a bit got to their feet.

Mom and babies, future providers of fleece for handspinners.

Another barn had sheep waiting for judging.

All in all, a wonderful weekend, and something to look forward to again next year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Time Away

The WI Sheep & Wool Festival was this past weekend, so what could I do but go! I'll be updating here tomorrow with photos, people met, books and (small) equipment bought. Already looking forward to going next year, it's always a great time, not to to mention inspiring!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Autumn Socks

Autumn in the Northwoods of WI can be glorious, and the change from summer to autumn has begun. Maples are turning yellow, orange, and red, and those colors next to a stand of evergreens is stunning. In a few days I'll be out trying to capture it with a camera.

Meanwhile, I'm having a wonderful time cranking socks in autumn colors. There is a palette of fine sock yarn colors on my shelves to fit any time of year, but right now my focus is on colors I see around me in nature, hunter green, balsam, chocolate, ginger, evergreen, mimosa, papaya, redland, eggshell, combinations of these and other colors that will blend well together in autumn tones.

In the Sept. 5th post, there were pics of a sock in progress on the sock machine, and a mid-closeup of the socks just off the machine, in a new color combination. The same pair is shown above, toes closed, scrap yarn off the hem and toes, handwashed, air-dried, and lightly steamed, now known as "Signs of Autumn."

This pair, "Weekend at the Cabin," has rich, dark colors, and is a favorite.

If you saw or look back at the Sept. 5th post there is a photo of fall mums with cones of yarns. This third pair is another new color combination, "Autumn Peak," made from the yarns shown in that photo. Bright colors that not only match the colors of those mums, but in two weeks or less will match the maple leaves that are turning colors now.

As a long-time lover of shades of blue, I could not resist ordering cones of the variegated blues shown above, along with a couple large cones of solid indigo blue. 8/2 cotton mill ends that were on sale at WEBS, they will become practical, functional towels for kitchens. These arrived in the mail today, and I'm looking forward to weaving with them.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Autumn Is In the Air

After splitting more wood today, until arms, elbows, and hands were sore from setting rather large diameter sections of cut wood onto the splitter, and it was getting a bit hot under the early afternoon sun, it was time to go inside where it was cooler. Time to crank more socks.

I tried what I think is a new color combination and think it's rather nice. Two pairs were made with these colors, Medium and Large. Another pair in darker fall colors were also made and are in my "closing bag," where I keep socks needing toes closed, needles, and scissors.

The sun is setting in the west, and there is still some nice light, a good time to choose a couple more sock color combinations to crank this evening. The colors of these mums are perfection, and I have yarns to match. Autumn is in the air!

And while there is still some natural light by the front of the drawloom, I'm going to thread more of the 15 dent drawloom reed. The warp is 64 epi so the reed is being sleyed 4 threads per dent, and every fourth dent has five threads. After more of the reed is sleyed, it's back to the sock machine, and later on I'll be closing toes. Pics of the finished socks should be up in two or three days.