Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Advice Please: Moths or Paranoia?

Last fall, a retiring weaver gave me a bit of yarn.

I bagged each of the 4 cones of yarn in individual bags and let it sit over the winter in an upstairs closet.

If there were moths, would I see signs of them?

Do the little flecks in this picture indicate moths?? I can't remember if the flecks were there when I stored the yarn. I think they were, which is what concerned me to begin with.

The yarn is rayon, if that makes a difference. I see no other signs of insects. No evidence of damage to the yarn.

Do you think this yarn is OK?

Thanks in advance for your advice!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Horizontal Sleying

If you're not a weaver, this post definitely won't be interesting to you. (No promises that it will be interesting if you are a weaver though!)

Since I sometimes take months off between projects, I'm creating a checklist to remind me about my preferred warping techniques.

For the past few days, I've been sneaking up to my studio to pick up where I left off dressing my Baby Wolf for a doubleweave sampler.

On my checklist, I had a note to try sleying the reed horizontally. Usually I put the reed in the beater in weaving position, and sley the reed that way when warping the loom back to front.

Last spring at Ruby Leslie's workshop, she mentioned that she prefers to sley the reed horizontally. One of my local weaving friends also endorsed that method. Deanna from A Winding Thread is also a fan.

I tried it out, and now I'm a fan too!!!

Deanna attaches her reed to the beater using ribbons from champagne bottles. I am a bit duller than that....I use shoelaces. (We runners tend to have lots of shoe laces that last longer than our running shoes!)

This method is more comfortable than putting the reed in the beater for me mostly because I'm never in a position where I'm looking through the reed at the heddles. Plus it seems easier for my hands and arms to be in comfortable positions with the reed horizontal. Also, I can tell from looking at the photos that I rest my forearms on the loom, which makes it more comfortable too.

I'm trying to develop a typical way of warping so that it becomes automatic for me. But I'm still willing to try different techniques to see if it gets easier, faster, more comfortable, more fun or better in some other way.

Sleying horizontally is definitely worth a try sometime if you haven't tried it yet. I was pleasantly surprised!

Let me know if you've tried it and what you think! Any other tips and pointers to make me a happier warper are also welcome!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry season is one of the pleasures of summer. We still have local berries in season, so this is a great time for berry shortcake.

My favorite recipe is good with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or a mixture of berries.

To me, the best thing about this recipe is the hint of ginger and citrus in the shortcake.

From Gourmet's Parties

Ginger Shortcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 US ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh gingerroot
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 F and lightly butter 2 baking sheets (or cover with parchment).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With your fingertips or a pastry blender (or in my case, your kitchenaid mixer) blend in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together gingerroot, zest, sour cream and milk.

Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring until a soft sticky dough just forms.

Drop dough in 10 - 12 mounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake shortcake 12 - 15 minutes or until pale golden. Transfer to rack to cool.

I've made this recipe with regular milk and sour cream, or with skim milk and fat free sour cream (depending on what's in the fridge.)

These shortcakes freeze well if you can't eat 10-12 large shortcakes all at once!!!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Taylor Mill Historic Site

Saturday we visited the Taylor Sawmill in Derry, NH.

The sawmill does demos the second and fourth Saturday of the month during the warmer months of the year (water levels permitting).

Small sawmills like these dotted the NH landscape in the mid-1800's. Situated along a river or stream that could be dammed, a sawmill would serve the need for timbers and planks for a local market.

The miller would also be farming, so the sawmill was a part time venture.

Looking down at the overshot waterwheel from the mill

By raising the gate controlling the water in the 10 acre pond above the mill, water flows over the wheel making it turn and providing power to the sawmill.

These workings, on the lower level of the mill, convert the power of the turning waterwheel into power to raise and lower the saw blade.

Logs were floated or moved by oxen to the sawmill. The bark would have been removed by hand.

Once a log was fastened to the frame, the miller uses controls to start or stop the saw blade.

The blade can cut at a rate of 50 - 60 up and down motions per minute. Sawdust was flying and the log moved fairly quickly.

The next date for cutting will be July 10, 2010. Stop by to check it out!

We noticed a few picnic tables, lots of people fishing, some dog walkers.

Beyond the 10 acre pond that's visible from the road, there is a 100 acre pond where I think there are walking trails. We didn't have time to explore that area. Perhaps next time!

For more information about the sawmill:
NH Division of Forests and Lands

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Surprise: New Loom!

Maybe the universe is encouraging me to return to my studio?

Thursday, I finished threading a project on my Baby Wolf. Plus I spent hours searching for the perfect lace pattern for my lace sample due in September. (More on those projects another time!)

That night, I got an email about looms and weaving equipment for sale in New Hampshire.

I jumped right on it. Friday morning we drove over to check things out.

My first purchase is this beautiful walnut raddle from Treeditions. I've been using a borrowed raddle for over a year now. It's high time I got one of my own!

I had been planning to make a homemade version, but this gorgeous raddle will help make warping more of a pleasure!

Inspired by lots of cool inkle projects I've seen other bloggers create, I decided to bring this inkle loom home too. I love the portability of an inkle.

Finally, this table loom is the reason I went to check out the equipment in the first place. So far I've passed up a few workshops, or borrowed looms to take workshops. Having a workable table loom for times when I really need one seems like a good idea.

This one doesn't have a reed, but I'm sure the good folks at Gowdey Reed will remedy that situation pronto.

Even though I got this loom mostly for workshops, I can imagine using it for sampling, for on location weaving (at the beach?), and I could probably even get away with taking it to my knitting group sometimes.

I would never have imagined Thursday afternoon that I'd bring two new looms into the fold Friday!

Now I have pretty much a full complement of looms: table, inkle, tapestry, rigid heddle, small floor loom, large countermarche loom. The only thing that might be missing, and way off in the future, is a computerized loom. (Way, way, way off in the future!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chickening Out

I haven't been to my knitting group in months. I miss my knitting buddies!!

I need to have a knitting project I can work on while chatting.

These slippers are excellent to work on at a knitting group. Only thing is I ran out of yarn and started making the toe with doubled purple yarn from my stash.

While the project incubated, I decided to heed the warnings of my fellow bloggers. I'd rather spend a few more dollars to get an extra ball of yarn than risk having a bad felting experience when it's time to felt these slippers. I probably could have made it work, but since it's my first time felting I decided to be more cautious. (Or did I just want an excuse to shop?)

Luckily, the yarn shop still had the same colors and dye lot, so with my newly added ball of yarn and a little frogging, I'm good to go.

Photographic note: Despite my best attempts at color correction or fixing the white balance, I can't get the colors in these two photos to be the same. The second photo is more true to color than the first.

Related posts:
Starting the project, includes pattern and yarn info
Trying to use stash yarn for the toes

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

DPS: Low Angle

At Digital Photography School, this week's assignment is "Low Angle".

A low angle definitely helps highlight the height of this oak tree next to our driveway.

I'm not sure it does anything too interesting in this picture of my Baby Wolf with a partially threaded doubleweave sampler.

My Toika does look sufficiently imposing with its samples at the start of my towel warp showing a bit.

I like this picture of relaxation in our sunroom.

For future photo shoots, I want to remember to get down low sometimes!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Made Something!

Don't faint from the shock!

My mojo disappeared sometime back in March. It seems like the combination of my crazy weekend of warp painting during a power failure, followed by an unexpectedly warm spring that just stayed nice, totally crushed my creative energy.

That's OK though. I've definitely been enjoying this fabulous spring and summer while getting enough accomplished to keep my head above water.

It's sort of surprising what kicked me back into gear.

We had guests over for dinner, so I wanted to unearth the dining room table. It was my sewing room for the winter, but I wanted to clear off the sewing to make room for entertaining.

I decided to make the blue curtain that I so excitedly found fabric for after the Fuzz Fest in January.

This fabric is a curtain fabric that's pretty stiff. It has blue and black threads making up the fabric, and then gold thread machine embroidered in that swirl pattern. I used it unbacked, even though it technically has a right side and a wrong side. It's nice enough on the back that I'm OK with that.

My sewing machine had a little trouble with this fabric. I tried a bunch of different needles but if I was sewing through more than 2 layers my machine had trouble and sometimes couldn't pierce the fabric. If you have any tips and pointers for me regarding that, definitely let me know!

In bits and pieces throughout the week, I finished the curtain!!

Here are the steps I followed (for my reference as much as yours!)
  • Get measurements of finished curtain
  • Sew side seams
  • Sew pocket for curtain rod at top
  • Hang to check length
  • Sew bottom hem
  • Hang to check
  • Store until winter!
We won't hang it until the fall, because it is used to separate our kitchen and sunroom, which we heat well in the winter, from the rest of the house that we let get pretty chilly during the daytime. It's surprising how well a thin curtain can keep heat where we want it.

Bailey immediately figured out how to get through the new curtain. (The old one was short, purchased inexpensively as a test, so Bailey could walk right under it.)

That's one project down.....too many to count to go!!

I even tackled the pile of mending next to the sewing machine before moving all of that gear upstairs. I repaired a pair of jeans, pajama bottoms and a turtleneck.

Hopefully I'll have a bit more creative energy over the summer, if only to hide from the heat and humidity. I have some weaving deadlines in the fall, so I'd better get cracking!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunshine Award

Since today is the summer solstice, with a maximum of daylight and sunshine in the northern hemisphere, it's a great day for the Sunshine Award.

Thanks Lois for giving me the Sunshine Award!

I always need more sunshine in my life and blogs are a great source of that inspiration and light!

Here are just a few of my favorite blogs:

I especially appreciate how you guys have hung in there with me during my blogging lull this spring!!!

Plus, all of the blogs in my sidebar, and all of the blogs I subscribe to in Google Reader deserve this award.

If you are secretly wishing for this award, shoot me an email about it!!! Or just pick up the award here and run with it!

Think sun!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fish Ladder Tour

To wrap up my short series on spring wildlife, let me tell you about a tour of the Exeter, NH, USA fish ladder on a Saturday in early June.

NH Fish & Game operates fish ladders in area rivers so that anadromous fish can return from the ocean to fresh water to spawn. (For more fish pictures and maps, see this Fish & Game PDF.)

Netting herring in the Squamscott River

The area where the Squamscott River becomes the Exeter River has been dammed for hundreds of years. There were sawmills here almost as soon as Europeans arrived.

Below the dams, there's a gradual rise with small waterfalls. This area is where the majority of the herring harvested in the Great Bay Region are collected.

Only about 5% of the migrating herring use the fish ladder, but 80% of harvest is here because it's an easy place to capture fish with a net.

Herring are used for bait, primarily for catching striped bass or lobster.

Fish swim upstream to get to fresh water

Fish that migrate from the ocean to spawn in the fresh water of the Exeter River:
  • River herring (bluebacked herring)
  • Alewives
  • American Shad (only 10 - 30 per year)
  • Sea Lamprey

Fish & Game people on the fish ladder
The gulls are hunting for fish too!

Fish look for swift current, so the ladder produces swift current like a water fall. The flat portions are resting pools for the fish ascending the ladder. This ladder was built in 1970's

On the Exeter River, Fish & Game counts the fish by hand daily since the numbers of fish are so low.

At the fish ladder in Newmarket, 32,000 herring and alewives ascended the ladder by June 4. In the Cocheco River in Dover, 30,000 fish had ascended the ladder by June 4. In Exeter, only approximately 40 herring will use the ladder all year.

As part of the annual fish ladder tour, you can volunteer to visit all of the fish ladders in the Seacoast region and net and release fish with Fish & Game personnel.

Fish ladder and bridge

Many of the towns surrounding Great Bay were founded at a waterfall, so the water power could be used to build mills (sawmills and grist mills at first). The dams constructed at these town sites are obstacles to fish that must migrate upstream past the waterfall to reach fresh water. Below the waterfall, the rivers are still subject to tides and are salt or brackish water.


This particular herring was about 4-5 years old. Herring live up to 9 years. They do not die after they spawn.

To determine the precise age of a fish, you can check the growth rings on scales. Under a microscope, constricted growth rings indicate winter. (Fish grow more slowly in the winter, just like trees.)

Juvenile herring stay in fresh water for the summer, then head out to sea until it's time for them to spawn when they return to a freshwater river.


Lamprey are an old species. They have no bones in their jaws. This lamprey was very strong and wriggled away from the Fish & Game handler. It immediately suctioned onto the side of the bucket at his feet, a common reaction for a lamprey.

Young lamprey live in river substrate for 7-10 years as filter feeders. Then they go to the ocean for about 10 years. When they return to freshwater to spawn, they die during that spawning run. Females actually re-absorb internal organs during their spawning run for maximum egg production.

The Great Lakes are overpopulated with sea lampreys

Two lampreys attached to a rock at the Pickpocket Dam

Despite flooding in New Hampshire in March, by now the water flow is fairly low. Several miles upstream from the fish ladder is a second dam. Because the water flow is so low, the lampreys cannot get above this dam.

To round out my wildlife update, I'm happy to say that the phoebes are nesting again, incubating their second clutch on the back of our house.

The barred owl family seems to have moved on. We had a few sightings of two owls near each other, and heard some calls at night last week. For this whole week we haven't seen or heard the owls. It was a magical spring watching owls every day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In the Garden Today



Sure signs of summer!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Colors of June

Mountain Laurel

June is a beautiful month in New Hampshire. Sunny days, green grass, flowers, many colors, activities and sensations that I dream of through the long cold winter.

Hay Field

I invite all of you to show us the colors of June wherever you are this month!! Not only are your pictures providing inspiration for creative projects, they're also providing a glimpse into your world.


Shade Garden

Please add a link to your colorful post in the list below before July 1 to participate!


Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy the fabulousness of June!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day in the United States. Many other countries celebrate a Flag Day of their own as well.

I'm celebrating Flag Day with this post because as part of a local photography challenge, I received the topic "Flags" for the month of June.

I need to edit these flag photos down to 3 or fewer of my favorites. I shot most of these pictures on a day trip to Salem, MA. I was surprised by the number of flags I noticed. (A few cemetery flag photos are left over from my "Cemeteries" assignment photographed in NH.)

I expected flags on historic buildings, but was surprised by the variety and number of flags around town.

Just like my "Cemeteries" assignment, I stopped shooting flag photos after one day because I didn't want to get carried away with the topic!!

This assignment was a little tricky for was on location, plus I had to dodge cars, pedestrians, telephone wires....Plus, the flags would move around so it was hard to get a good combo of a flag in a good position in good light with an interesting background without elements I didn't want in the photo.

While lunching at FINZ, we couldn't help but notice goings-on aboard "Sugarpants". Since it had a flag flying, I figured it was fair game for the challenge. Unfortunately the boat name doesn't stand out as much as I'd like!

This picture made me laugh because I took about 10 shots of this scene trying to get the flags lined up with the building in the background.

Despite all that work, my favorite shot from the series was when the nose of a bus, complete with a flag decal, nudged its way into the shot unexpectedly.

Hawthorne Hotel

Piscassic Cemetery

India Marine Hall

In the US, Flag Day was established in 1916 to commemorate the adoption of the American Flag on June 14, 1777.

Hamilton Hall

We had Canadian house guests several years ago. They remarked on the number of American flags on display. They viewed it as a bit of nationalism.

View out the window of Hamilton Hall

I do think American flags were more prevalent immediately after September 11, 2001, as a way of expressing grief over events of that day.

House in the Federal Architectural Style

Chestnut Street

I've heard that some towns have Flag Day parades, but could not find any parades in New Hampshire.

There is a a local program to dispose properly of damaged flags. In addition, a local group provides stars from retired flags to service members arriving at Pease Air National Guard Base.

Custom House

You'd be doing me a huge favor if you comment on which photos are your favorites, or if there are any you have a strong reaction to (positive or negative).

Hopefully your thoughts will help me narrow down the photos to the 1-3 that I need for my photography challenge! Thanks!