Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"We're off to see...."

Tomorrow we're going to visit my husband's family in Kansas. Kansas is where we grew up, where we met, where we married, where we clicked our red shoes together and left.

Kansas is the home of the world's largest prairie dog.

Kansas is the home of the world's largest ball of string (thrums, do ya' think?).

Kansas, believe it or not, is the home of the Garden of Eden. (The cement one - pronounced 'see-meant' - I know, I have been scoffed at for my Kansan pronunciation even recently.)

Kansas is the great American prairie.

Since we are flying this time, we will see none of the above wonders of the state of Kansas. So I will have to take my own entertainment. I have the new Jan Karon book; I have my grand-daughter's Christmas sweater to knit (as the World Series did not last long enough for me to finish it, OR for the Rockies to maintain their dignity); I have my sketchbook and paints; and I'll see my grandkids along the way and my best high school bud while there, plus a raft of Kansas in-laws. Unfortunately, the 6-ft. Shannock with the Fall tapestry in progress will not fit in the overhead compartment. Otherwise, it would be coming along! I'm just to the difficult bit of weaving a face/head. I HATE leaving my work at a difficult place... It makes it so hard to come back to! But, in about a week's time, I'll talk to the man behind the screen, click my heels together, and find myself not in Kansas anymore.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

100! and two lighthouses...

...and sixteen talented students!

This is my 100th post. I don't know that that is significant, but I noticed it, and thought I'd mention it. No champagne, but some small tapestry photos, which don't tickle your nose, and last longer.

Here are the two lighthouse demo tapestries I finished. They are woven at the same sett, with the same yarns, with the only difference being that the first one was woven from bottom to top, and the second was woven side-to-side (with the cartoon turned). The students were amazed at what a difference it made, and at how much there was a definite preference for the one woven bottom-to-top. The hatching in the sky is where the difference shows up, and it is why I would choose to weave this design that way. It was, I believe, an effective demonstration of some of the things that need to be considered when deciding how to weave a particular design. In addition, I also showed them some of my small tapestries that were woven sideways, and why I chose to do them that way.

Today was the last day of the three Saturdays workshop. Again, I was so impressed with the way the students just jumped in there and created wonderful small tapestries! I'm always a bit worried that the work and somewhat tedious nature will discourage beginners, but none of that here! I loved the work that came from their hands! Here are a few photos from the workshop:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Off to see the wizard...

Today I am packing and shipping two tapestries, "Rockport Skiffs" and "Dama con Mangoes," to go off to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina. So, if you're near there, stop in and say 'hey' to them! It is always a bittersweet thing to ship tapestries to a commercial gallery. You know that they could possibly not come back; that there they may meet the person they were created and meant for. The lovely person who will fall in love with them, and will be willing to exchange some cold hard cash for them; cash that a portion of will come back to me, to allow me to buy more yarn, to create more work, and possibly to do a few other wonderful things with (visit my parents and kids, buy Christmas presents, support a Honduran orphan, and build a castle in Madrid... well, maybe some of those things anyway.)

The first game of the World Series was not even fun to watch. It was painful. You could hear groans all over Colorado. But I did get some weaving done on the second lighthouse tapestry. I'll finish it up tonight, and will cut it off at the final workshop day on Saturday, where I'll use them to demonstrate my finishing process.

Well, must head out to UPS, then back to the big loom, where I am at the halfway point on the Fall tapestry (am I 'already' halfway to the end, or 'just' halfway from the beginning?) Then back to the little lighthouse tapestry and the Red Sox and Rockies tonight. I'm hoping the game will be a little more enjoyable now that the Rockies have warmed up, and know what they are up against!

Monday, October 22, 2007

of Cabbages and Kings...

Well, it's now a Rocks vs Sox World Series! Woo-hoo! Will I ever get some TV weaving time in this week! I started the side-to-side version of my lighthouse demo tapestry while watching the last playoff game last night. Here's my World Series prediction: I will finish that tapestry and will complete knitting both of my grandchildren's Christmas sweaters. (Ha! You didn't think I was going to predict who would win the Series, did you? I don't think I would even go there this year!)

And now for breaking news in New York (and, no, it isn't about the Yankees manager problem.) If you go here and put in "tapestry" in the search space, there is an article about the amazing tapestry exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. Be sure to look at the slide show, on the left of the article. I am still trying to figure out how to get there to see it. I know it would be mind boggling, and probably even life changing, for me. I love this quote from the article; I love that the writer saw this: " realize that the tapestry — so anonymous, so enormous, so specialized — really comes down to one person performing a task: the artist drawing the design, the spinner spinning the wool thread, the weaver passing one thread past another."

I taught the second of three workshop days on Saturday. My students always totally amaze me! Being self-taught, I remember struggling to learn each technique. I remember it being a looooong, slow process to learn to weave something I could call a tapestry. But they pick it up so quickly, and are weaving away at little tapestries by the end of the first session! Here they are, working away - I am quite the slave-driver as a teacher! And speaking of driving those workers on, I must now do the same to myself. To the loom!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lovin' this autumn stuff!

We took a day to go up to our cabin. I will be teaching again tomorrow (Saturday), so we could only stay the one night. But we needed to get away and relax. And we needed to get up to the Colorado fall. There is still a bit of color on the aspens and cottonwood groves. And the wildlife are lovin' this time of year, too. From the cabin window we could watch zillions of chipmunks, and the jays and chickadees that inspired the "Winter" lower border, and a passing fox (look out, chickadees!), and one big yellow dog with a bandanna who was pretending to be 'wild' for a bit, until he decided to come in and curl up in front of the fire. There was a bit of snow, but it melts fast at this time of year.
We watched the playoff game on our very snowy, blurry TV. How can you not cheer for a team whose relief pitcher can dance like this?
The Red Sox did good - they will play again tomorrow night, and if they can keep it up, they'll meet the Rockies in the World Series! Woo-hoo!

Cally tagged me to give me a "Nice Matters" award for the blog! Thanks, Cally! You can visit her equally nice blog here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Of baseball and lighthouses...

Being a person of fertile imagination, I can imagine that there may be a few folks out there that neither know nor (do I say it) care that the Colorado Rockies have made it into the World Series. We are fair-weather fans here in Colorado. For the most of their short-lived history, the Rockies have been cursed and grumbled about, and you'd have been hard pressed to have found anyone who admitted to being a hard-core fan. But now we are ALL Rockies fans, wildly cheering them on and scrounging through our wardrobes to find something purple to wear! Now, I must say that I would like to see them do well. I am a Colorado gal, after all, and I do possess the loyalty gene. But I confess that I have never been to one of their games. I do have a son who goes to their games, and has been a pretty loyal fan, even when they have stunk (stank? -well, you get my drift).
I have, however, been to a Red Sox game. And my other son lives in Boston. And the Sox games have actually been on a TV channel we can get in our non-cable household. So we have been watching the Red Sox, and cheering them on, though obviously not loudly enough. I would really enjoy a Red Sox vs Rockies series. I would watch it like a true baseball fan. I might even wear purple with a red hat (or red socks)!
So what does that have to do with lighthouses and tapestries? Well, I decided to weave on the small lighthouse tapestry during the Sox game last night, instead of pulling out my knitting. If the Sox had done better, and the game had had just one extra inning, I'd have finished the sucker! But they did not. As it is, I got it mostly done. They do play again tomorrow night, so I'll finish it then, and probably start the other woven side-to-side version. As you can see, I am doing it very simply - hey, you try to weave complexity while watching someone named Coco Crisp or a guy named Manny, who has long dreadlocks, hit a home run! But I wanted it to be simple, anyway, as I want them both to be examples of work beginning students can understand, and be inspired by.
Hope it works. And I hope the Red Sox play better tomorrow night!

Monday, October 15, 2007

More leaves from the loom...

Here are some more woven leaves. I have woven 4 so far. There will be a total of 12 leaves; six up each of the side borders. As these are on the side edges, there are some pins showing, which hold the cartoon to the tapestry. Of course, as I'm weaving leaves, I'm also weaving the body of the tapestry. Knowing I have done only 2 of 6 leaves from each side, I realized I have only 1/3 of the body of the tapestry done, with a large-ish upper border yet to weave as well. I'm thinking my 'quota' of 4"/week is not enough. I will need to step up my weaving to at least 5"/week for some of the weeks ahead. But since I have 2 more workshop Saturdays this and next week, I'll probably only be able to weave 4" these two weeks.
The first workshop day went well last Saturday. There are 16 students, so I did not get any time to weave on my lighthouse tapestry, and I also forgot to take any pictures!
I found this cute poem today, and since it's about "weaving leaves" (sort of), I thought I'd share it. (The author was not attributed)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Missin' the grandbabes...

...missin' the water. Looking at my millions of photos of both, I found this one, which I think I'll print up in an artistic way, and will call "In Grandpa's Hands." ¡Me gusta mucho!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Awesome Autumn...

"October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."
George Cooper

I know I've said it before, but Autumn is my favorite time of year. And there is noplace on earth, I believe, that can out-Autumn Colorado. The trees from my front porch take my breath away, I could sit there all day and just watch them float down; their golden dance before the bright blue of the Colorado sky. The days are so warm and perfect, I can hardly keep myself in the studio. I take breaks from weaving to partake in such ludicrous delights as cleaning out the lavender beds. (I, who dread yard work!)

And when I weave, I am weaving Autumn.
How perfect is that?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rockport Skiffs...

I finally got slits sewn and slides and photos taken of the "Rockport Skiffs" tapestry, so here it is!

I've never done a tapestry small enough to
hang above our livingroom mantle, but this one fits! It may hang there...for awhile, anyway.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sewing slits and missing the ocean...

Today I'm finishing the slit-sewing (finally!) and blocking of the Rockport Skiffs tapestry. I should be able to post a photograph of it tomorrow. But, especially since I'm working with boats, I guess, I'm really wishing I were able to walk along the water's edge again. Or maybe it's the occasional whiff I get of all the shells, little driftwood pieces, and rocks that made it into my pockets. I filled a basket with them and it is sitting nearby, smelling quite ocean-like.

I've also been putting together some of the photos I took, to put into my Journey Book. I'm finding that I really am liking the woodcut look you can get with Photoshop on some of these photos. So here are two of them... to make you wish you could walk along the beach, too.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Lighthouse tapestry...

I have decided that I will weave the small lighthouse maquette myself as my in-class demo for the workshop I'll be doing. In fact, I will weave it twice. The design is simple, but has some interesting challenges as far as which direction it should be woven. I've always intended to do a sample/demo of this, so now seems to be a good time. The design would have technical challenges whether I chose to weave it from bottom-to-top, or if I chose to turn the cartoon sideways and weave it side-to-side. So I will do both, so students can see the challenges each choice gives me, and they can then see the differing results. I always weave on two looms while teaching; one is strictly a 'demo' loom, to demonstrate techniques that I'm teaching them. The other one, I weave my own small tapestry during the times that they are all weaving on their own. That way, I can also show them how I face the challenges I face in following a cartoon, and making technical and design choices. So, the two cartoons I'll be using for my own small tapestries will be the one in the previous post, and this one. I'll weave them one right after the other. Since the workshop is 3 Saturdays, I'll have some home weaving time between classes, so should be able to complete them both on a small scale.

When they are completed, I'll post the results.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I love lighthouses. Needless to say, we don't have them here in Colorado, so they are a real rarity for me to see. We saw four of them while in Washington. One of them, we only saw through the binoculars, so I didn't get a photo of it, but I shot way too many of the others! Here are a few of them.

I'm going to be teaching a workshop for the local guild for the next three Saturdays. In 'honor' of the lighthouses I saw recently, I made up a very simple maquette and cartoon that I'll have available for the students to see and/or use if they can't come up with their own design (which I'm hoping they will before the class ends). The last two photos are what I'll share with them. This is actually a lighthouse from the east coast, from a photo I took while visiting my son and daughter-in-law a year or so ago. It is a simpler design, so I'll use it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Life is lovely by the sea!

Our week on Whidbey Island is more than half over. It has been drippy, cloudy, and damp here the whole time - lovely, to a pair of desert rats like us. We haven't needed to use umbrellas, which is good, as I'm not sure I even remember how to use an umbrella! But we've both worn hats to keep the hair and glasses drier most of the week. I find I kind of like wearing a hat. Not so much worry about how awful the hair might be looking in the wind and rain.
I have taken so many photos, I've had to add my second memory card to the camera. Many are for my album, but a few are with painting in mind. Perhaps even a small tapestry will result. Here is the Coupeville waterfront. We are staying a short block from here, and we eat in either the red or the blue buildings every evening. Coupeville is on Penn Cove, and it is famous for it's mussels, which we've pigged out on several times. There are also berries for the picking wherever we go - my husband's hands may be permanently purple. So I'm sharing a picture of the best Loganberry pie I've ever eaten with you... sorry you can't taste it. Here's also a photo I like of my husband's distinctive profile as he looks through the ferry porthole. Just a few snaps of the hundreds I've taken - I'm sparing you!