Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'll be be the Porch!

If you're looking for me and it's warm out, I'll be on the porch!!

Perfect spot for an afternoon nap or glass of iced tea

Blogging with people all over the world really helped me this winter. I realized that while I live in a fairly northern, cold part of the US, there are plenty of people living far north of me, facing much more severe winters.

Our porch in February

One of my favorite comments over the winter was from Jennifer being surprised at how much we do outside during the winter. That's a compliment!

The unfortunate corollary is that a day that feels warm and nice to some one southern, feels downright hot to me. Over the weekend, we had unusually hot weather and I was practically wilting.

First warm day with no bugs

We set up our porch furniture. After less than 24 hours, black fly season started with a vengeance, so we put up our Mosquito Curtains.

I've raved about Fran's Wicker in the past. Their outdoor vinyl wicker is as comfortable as their indoor real wicker.

Doesn't that couch look perfect for summer-time lounging, napping, reading, blogging???

Check out this cool little table. We've had trouble fitting a dinner table out here - the porch is pretty narrow. This cafe table and chairs is great. We can eat an elaborate dinner, without it taking up too much space.

Cafe Table from Fran's Wicker

The other thing that makes our porch great is the mosquito curtains. For years, Jim and I dithered back and forth about what to do about bugs. (We have a lot of bugs in the spring and summer in NH.)

We thought about screening the porch. I really, really wanted a gazebo....but we couldn't figure out where we'd put one and how to really make it work.

Jim finally found this great solution....mosquito curtains. He emailed the couple that makes them some pictures and had some phone conversations. For a few hundred dollars our bug problem was solved!!!

We installed them Sunday in 20 minutes. Velcro and snaps hold the whole system in place. This is our third summer using them. Last fall I washed them for the first time and hung them to dry - no big deal.

Tricky section with different heights and attachment systems

They look pretty. They work great. They're cost effective. Love them!!!

Mosquito Curtains from front of house (inside railing)

The Mosquito Guy helped us figure out how to have them inside the porch railing so from the front of the house they're not as noticeable, and outside the railing on the side so we don't feel quite as boxed in on our narrow porch.

Side of house (curtains outside railing)

I cannot say enough good things about the company or the's always great to solve a problem in an elegant way. (In the computer sense of that term.....not so much the beauty/style sense....although they're beautiful and not having bug bites is even more beautiful!)

View from the wicker couch (or what I'm looking at when I'm blogging!)

Writing this post makes me want some quality porch time....but I'm heading out on a yarn mission today.

I've got my camera. I'll report back soon!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Fond Farewell a favorite cactus. Yes, this is me getting sentimental over a plant.

8 feet tall, 4 feet wide....waiting next to the garage for its new owner

12 years ago I saw a large cactus at Home Depot for a very good price. I really, really wanted it....but couldn't figure out how to bring it home.

I phoned Jim at work, and being such a wonderful husband, he brought it home that very evening.

That cactus and I have been very happy together for 11 years, and it grew and grew....thriving on my strict houseplant protocol.
  • Plants in our household must be able to survive low's in the 50s on winter nights
  • Plants in our household must thrive on being watered once a week or less
For a long time, our sunroom was full of plants and inexpensive but uncomfortable wicker furniture. Last spring we purchased super comfy wicker.

Now that we actually use this room, the plants have been scattered throughout the house. Except the giant cactus.

Don't be alarmed by the snow in some of these pictures. They're from a previous post. (I confess that I find it a little alarming though!)

One of the four projects I planned to quickly finish in January, was re-potting and relocating the cactus. It was still in the plastic landscaping pot it arrived in.....and while I was OK with that in the sunroom - especially with other plants surrounding it....I wasn't so OK with it in the living room.

I searched for a blue and white pot that didn't cost too much. No luck. Friends suggested painting a pot, trying different stores, modge-podging fabric to a pot.

Yesterday, I started to wonder if I was making this project too hard. The cactus wouldn't really look right in our living room. I couldn't find the kind of pot I wanted for it. I decided maybe we should find a new home for it.

Jim listed it on yesterday, and this afternoon my beloved cactus left for a new home. The new owner was very knowledgeable about plants....and said she would trim it and plant the parts that she trims, so that our cactus will turn into 10 or 12 cacti. I'm so happy that it will thrive, and I'm happy to not have that nagging "what should I do with that cactus" feeling.

Plus, Jim, Bailey and I will enjoy walking through the sunroom without getting snagged on cactus spines! A replacement plant snuck downstairs into the vacated cactus spot.

I'm sentimental.....and my family has strong packrat I'm a little sad. But all in all, I'm pleased with how this thorny issue got resolved.

What cacti are sapping your energy? What can you do to resolve those thorny issues?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


So nice to be home, on a beautiful sunny spring day with a beautiful array of samples that I wove at Ruby Leslie's Color Workshop Monday - Wednesday.

The New Hampshire Weavers Guild put on a great workshop!!

Today will be a peaceful day at home, enjoying the sun, the blooming magnolia and letting the cascade of ideas from the workshop percolate into my brain.

There might also be some cleaning up, catching up, and definitely some running!!!

Related Posts:
Day 1 of color workshop
Day 2 of color workshop

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

So Many Colors, So Little Time

Today was Day 2 of Ruby Leslie's color workshop. Even more fun than yesterday (no schlepping of looms), plus I'm not so exhausted tonight!

First, I am proud and psyched to say that I wove an advancing twill, and it really wasn't harder than other things I've woven. It's by far the longest treadling sequence I've ever done, but it was fun. I can see why people play with this weave structure....and I feel much less intimidated by it now.

Plus, Ruby talked about some of the ways she designs with color and talked about her design process with piles and piles of samples. Really, each sample could be a great blog post of its own.....but they're her work not mine.....if we're lucky, she'll start a blog some day!!

I also was able to do a false damask block weave that helped me understand blocks better. (Not saying I fully understand them, but I do feel like I understand them a little better.)

Hmmmm.....I'm writing a lot about weave structure when this workshop is about color. I think that's because I feel like I learned quick things about weave structures, that are easy to write a few lines about. What I'm learning about designing with color is still sinking in.

Tomorrow we'll finish weaving samples and cut the samples off the looms. Exciting!!

Related Posts:
Day 1 of Color Workshop

Monday, April 20, 2009

Awash in a Sea of Color

Just a quick post from me tonight because I'm tired!!

Today was the first day of a 3-day color workshop with Ruby Leslie, "There Must Be 50 Ways to Weave Your Color."

20 weavers. 20 looms. Various weave structures. So many colors!! So much fun!!!

I'm learning a lot, having fun, and I will have a nice set of samples at the end of this experience!! (I will share better photos with you once I bring the samples home to my good camera!)

Hope your week is off to a similarly great start!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Down South

Jim and I spent a day in Boston, about 60 miles south of us.

April is a nice time to visit Boston for us, because spring is usually a bit farther along there, and the brown grass and mud that engulf New Hampshire at this time of year aren't a big part of Boston's spring.

We took a walking tour lead by a volunteer from Boston By Foot. I highly recommend this way of learning a bit about the city. Here are a few of the sights from our waterfront tour.

Custom House Tower (original building 1849, tower added in 1910)

Gardiner Building: Dates back to 1760. Oldest building still in use on Long Wharf. Once housed offices of John Hancock, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Dolphins (1977) by K. Lane Weems

Boston Harbor

Quincy Market: A Market Completed in 1826, Still Full of Stores Today

Faneuil Hall: Market and Meeting Place Since 1742

Of course, we also had time to have delicious Italian food in the North End, walk Bailey through urban parks, and stop for ice cream!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Photography Exhibit

This morning we got a rare treat. There's an exhibit of photographs of famous writers at Phillips Exeter Academy. This morning, the photographer, Nancy Crampton, spoke about her photographs.

Sculpture outside Lamont Gallery at PEA (Science Center in background)

We both loved the talk, loved the exhibit, loved the photos. The exhibit includes photos of writers and a few paragraphs where each writer tells a story or shares thoughts on life and writing.

Photographs on Display in Lamont Gallery

I think you'd like the exhibit too if you like photography, writing or art. Check it out while it's here (until May 9)!! (Exhibit details can be found here.)

View of the quad outside Lamont Gallery

Phillips Exeter is a private boarding school in Exeter, NH for grades 9-12. Many PEA students go on to attend top tier universities.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Few More Prayer Flags

To celebrate spring, a couple of friends and I wove a few more prayer flags at Sarah Haskell's studio.

It's great fun playing with all of that yarn!

This flag is extra special because it is the very first time that one of my friends has woven!!

It's not too late for you to send in a message, or visit Sarah's studio in Maine to help weave flags!!

Related posts:
Woven Prayer Flags

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


At Digital Photo School, this week's assignment is "in the city".

Luckily, I was in Concord, NH today for the New Hampshire Weavers Guild meeting. Afterward I ran errands in town, and snapped a few pictures for the assignment.

Concord is the state capital of New Hampshire, so I'm counting it as a city - even though that might be a stretch. The population is something like 43,000 people. It's not much bigger than Portsmouth, which is much closer to my house.

The NH State House was constructed from 1816-1818. Being frugal Yankees, the NH legislature still meets in the original chambers - the oldest original chambers still used for legislative meetings in the US.

The NH House of Representatives has 400 members, making it the third largest English-speaking legislative body in the world. (We are a small state - each representative represents about 3200 people.) The state reps get a small stipend (about $200), but are basically volunteers.

The granite used to construct the statehouse is from the Swenson Granite quarries north of Concord. The side steps and mailbox post at our house are also from Swenson Granite.

The dome is made of steel and covered with 16.5 pounds of gold leaf.

Driving down Main Street


Beautiful Lamp Posts


I can tell that these photo school assignments are affecting my photography in a good way. Driving around town today, I was surprised to find things that seemed beautiful or interesting to my eye. The pictures that I thought would be good, as I drove toward Concord this morning, were really boring and didn't make the cut. (Such high standards I have for this blog, eh?)

I secretly hope the assignments turn back toward something textile related....although I guess I could have walked around and taken pictures of any interesting textiles I found in Concord. Maybe next time!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Send Yarn, Please!

Advice needed, really - I'll spring for the extra yarn!!

I started knitting this fun multi-directional diagonal scarf to use up an extra ball of Regia sock yarn. I weighed my yarn and thought I had plenty to make a scarf.

Unfortunately, the yarn is running low. The scarf is way too short. I've done math (thanks high school geometry!) and there's no way to make this scarf long enough with the yarn I have.

I think my best option at this point is to find a complementary yarn, and combine them into this scarf. I will probably rip out a lot of knitting....but I'm OK with that. There's a long time between now and the next scarf weather!

I'm also tempted by Leigh's socks. She alternated 2 skeins of sock yarn to get this fun pair. Unfortunately, I'm not loving how my yarn feels in the pair of socks I already knit. I'm not keen on making another pair of slightly scratchy socks.

If you have words of wisdom for me, I'm all ears!!

(And for whomever had the brilliant idea that I should find another ball of the same yarn, I'm using Regia 4 fadig, 50g ball, Farbe (color) 5382 Partie (lot) 34906, which I purchased in St. John's Newfoundland on vacation in 2004. )

Related Posts:
Starting out so optimistically

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

A chocolate rabbit is always part of my Easter celebration!

Often, that bunny is from my favorite local chocolate store, The Chocolatier, Exeter, NH.

Just walking in the door and being overwhelmed by that chocolate-y smell. Yum!

They make some cases using their antique chocolate molds.

On Wednesday afternoon, the shelves still had plenty of bunnies. I know they expected the shelves to be almost bare by Saturday afternoon.

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Finish for Fifteen: Upholstery Purse

Starting at the beginning of this year (sounding suspiciously like a New Year's Resolution, isn't it?) I promised myself I'd spend 15 minutes at the start of my three weekly studio sessions finishing a project.

So far I've finished some fleece headbands, and a tapestry during my 15 minutes of finishing. I do set a timer and work for exactly 15 minutes. That almost guarantees that I stop at a good point of the project and am eager to get back to it the next time! (Instead of that nagging, gross feeling of being stuck and not wanting to work on the project that often occurs if I don't use a timer for these babies.) Plus, I can pretty much force myself to do anything for just 15 minutes!

Up next, I'm going to make a purse out of upholstery fabric.


Last winter, my local weaving group decided to focus on rep weave for the year. I had trouble coming up with rep ideas I really liked, but decided on a series of items: a small purse, a carpet bag, and a set of placemats.

For the small purse, I decided to make the pattern, but with fabric I had on hand. I chose an upholstery fabric from a field trip to Boston Design Center, purchased lining and other notions.

Last summer, our weaving group learned that we wouldn't have space to exhibit our group project at NEWS. We drifted off in our own weaving directions. We still meet monthly - but we're not working on themed projects together at this point.

I tabled the project since I wasn't especially motivated. I'm fine with the fact that I tabled it in August. At that point, I didn't have good studio habits, and working on projects that didn't inherently motivate me wasn't helping me develop good habits.

Now I want to finish this project so I can reclaim the space taken by this unfinished project in my studio and in my spirit.

I could just return the various pieces to my raw materials bins, but the trim that I purchased to go with the upholstery fabric goes with it well enough that I'm going to finish up the bag.

Fifteen minutes at a time will get this project finished!!