In March and April we enjoyed many good times with friends and colleagues. Brenda and Bill Leppo came for lunch and Bill was “hooked” on the ‘you bake it’ baguette that went with our current standard menu of chicken & vegetable soup, pear & walnut salad, and bread. Jon and Barbara Schleuning [Jon is one of the founders of SRG partnership, where John worked for over 20 years] also came to visit. Barbara is involved in learning about watercolor painting, and has joined several international travel groups in pursuit of this new passion. It was great to see them. Sharon and Roger Bolmeier wanted to see the photos from our most recent trip to Australia, so we spent a fun afternoon sharing the adventures from Sydney and beyond.
Meanwhile, we spend our evenings in the studio and things get woven. Sharon put in a request for a table runner, and it occurred to Mar that table runners would afford a great opportunity to experiment with the hook joint learned from Saori websites. It was fairly quick to wind a three-color warp that only required 80 threads, and easy to make it long enough to weave two runners. There was lots of blue-green yarn dyed with Landscapes dyes in the color “ice,” which paired well with a deep maroon. The borders and center sections incorporated some of the yarns we dyed together back in January.
John has completed more than half of his latest weaving, which was inspired by a pattern called “butterfly”. However, Tracy [aka TJ] thought it looked like a beautiful seed pod pattern. See for yourself.
At this moment, John and TJ and friend Jessie are on native land in northern California for the Buckeye gathering. This annual event brings together people who share interest in the ancient arts such as basketry, hide tanning, and fire building. There are many classes to take and communal meals and evening campfires. More about that after they get back next week.
In April we began to believe in Spring again! The sheep are happy with just one feeding of alfalfa [gourmet sheep food] because the grasses are leaping up and full of nutrients. Without lambs to feed, the ewes are getting rather rotund on this lush diet. They also have a lot of wool and I expect it to be excellent, though all the March rain makes it look stringy. These youngsters are about 14 months old.
The rains returned in force, and the valleys have flooded again. Spring break was a washout in the northwest.
The sheep are reasonably comfortable in the barn, and we don’t prevent them from going out regardless of the weather. They seem to enjoy watching the ducks paddle around in what should be the pasture. This morning I saw a bald eagle at the water’s edge, with a bright white head and intensely yellow beak.
Speaking of eagles, John’s eagle weaving is off the loom and he has completed his plan for his next piece, which will be 20 wide by 10 high [landscape rather than portrait]. He will use some Peruvian highlands single ply yarn found in the shop at Cannon Beach. After a few false starts we determined the best source of the edge cord he needs would be to use some of the weft yarn after it has been plied. So Marilyn got busy at the spinning wheel to ply the needed fiber, then washed by dipping alternately in hot and cold water to cause it to pull together, then hung it to dry with a little weight to set the twist. The warp has been wound and today John began to add the twining with the edge cord. After that, it will be time to transfer the warp to his loom.
Two eagles ready to come off the loom
Meanwhile, I finished the two Saori-inspired pieces I had been working on. It was a very nice warp, easy to weave because of the wide sett, meaning the warp yarns were set about 1/4 inch apart by skipping every other slot in the reed. The hook joint, allowing you to change color within a single pass of the shuttle, was a lot of fun to try. I have much to learn about the possibilities of this technique. I also tried a section of free color, using unspun dyed fiber alternating with gray weft yarn to stablilize it. The size of the finished weaving after washing is about 80% of its size on the loom. That is a good thing to know!
Experimenting with the loop joint