Life on Silverhill

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Northwest Sunday

Har!!! No, the PNW hasn't been invaded by pirates! This was a scene out in the water during the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival on Sunday. There were a couple of old schooners out there having entirely too much fun shooting off canons into the water! Wish I could have been out there with them!
Here's a shot of the town harbor. About 200 wooden boats, some old and some brand new came out to play for the weekend. They were amazing to see - such nice lines and so beautiful. I was drooling over all the wooden kayaks. There are even companies that will sell you a wooden kayak kit - very tempting. Only thing is, I know how I end up beaching my plastic kayak to get in and out, and no way would I want to do that to a gorgeous, shiny, varnished wood boat! When we got on the ferry to come back home, we saw a girl with a beautiful kayak covered in some kind of skin, with a hand lashed seam along the top. Turns out she made it herself at a class somewhere in Anacortes. I'll have to check that out!

The ferry ride home was interesting.
Two huge cruise ships passed in front of us, and the ferry captain had to practically turn the boat around to avoid their wakes. Wimp! He should have just gunned it and jumped the wakes the way my cousin does up at the lake! Ha Ha

I checked with our wonderful little town library today, and they have purchased the i-Web book I requested, and I should be able to check it out soon. I'll post the new blog address as soon as I finally figure out how to use the system!

Sending lots of Whidbey Magick your way.....

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Habitats for All

Today DH and I worked on a Habitat for Humanity house for the first time. What a wonderful experience! In addition to making our little inner builders very happy, it is just a very good cause. The project is an adorable one story, 1,000 square foot house on a nice wooded lot. When we arrived at 8AM, there was a foundation, and when we left at around 3PM, we (a group of 8) had installed the cap boards and all the floor joists. It was a nice day to be there, because they also had the official ground breaking ceremony. The partner family (a nice girl and her little daughter) were working right along with us. They are very sweet and I wish them much happiness in their new home, which should be completed by Thanksgiving. We may be going back on Friday to help nail up the siding.

On another note, our yard remains a habitat for coyotes! They still enjoy performing howling operas at night - usually around 1 or 2 AM. But we are starting to get used to this, so they do not always wake us up (completely). They serve to remind us that this is not really "our" land, but we must share it with other creatures, great and small. And that is fine.

My fiber stash has been sorted and organized, and now resides in a lovely habitat of 15 quart Sterlite boxes in the hall closet (except for the fleeces, of course). I will try to post a picture soon. I even bought a Dymo labeler! Scarey, isn't it?

Finally, I've learned that the habitat for my blog is going to have to change sooner rather than later. Blogger has started a Beta blog that requires a Google mail account. Been there, done that, and I refuse to do it again! I found Google mail a nuisance to use and I didn't appreciate the fact that they keep every email you send and receive on their servers for, basically, forever! I have no intention of giving them access to my blog. So I will probably have to give in and spend $25 for an after market manual so I can figure out how to use Mac's I-Web application, which will allow me to publish a blog to the dot Mac service that I already have. It annoys me no end that Mac sells an application with so little documentation that I can't figure out how to use it!

Sending lots of Whidbey Magick your way..........

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fair Photos

Here are some photos of the Fiber Arts department at the Island County Fair on Whidbey Island, Washington.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fair Days!

I've been busy at the Island County Fair for several days now. First I helped to check in the entries for the Fiber Arts department. And, I am pleased to say, we had close to 200 entries, not including items knit with commercial yarn, which went to the Needlework area. We had about 65 skeins of yarn (more on this later). I got brave and entered several items of my own, including a lace shawl knit with commercial yarn, several things woven with commercial yarn, a scarf woven with handspun, and two shawls knit with handspun. I didn't enter any skeins (thank goodness! - more on this later!)

Tuesday was judging day. My job was to play scribe for the spinning judge, recording her scores and comments on the individual judging cards. The judge was very thorough, spending from 10 - 20 minutes on each skein! If you do the math, you will see that there's a problem brewing! Thirteen hours later, at about 10 PM, with 25 skeins left to be evaluated, the judge decided that perhaps she should stay overnight and finish judgeing the next day! I agreed to come back the next morning, and the department Superintendent managed to find a room for her.

Wednesday morning we started working on those last 25 skeins. In addition, there were 15 handspun "garments" (knitted and woven items) that needed to be judged. Thank goodness I had opted not to enter skeins! At 4PM the judge finished the skeins but had to leave without judging the garments, so our poor Superintendent had to really scramble to find a judge for the handspun garments at the last minute. Believe it or not, she actually did manage to find a well qualified judge who arrived at 5:30 and judged the remaining items, which took her a little over one hour. It was actually a blessing in disguise, as the skein judge told me that it takes her about twice as long to judge a garment! We would have been there all night!

Those were two looooong days at the fair, but it was fun and I learned quite a bit from the spinning judge, what I was able to overhear from the weaving judge, and the way that the Superintendent handled all the monkey wrenches so calmly, with good grace and a sense of humor.

The judging was done under the Danish system, which means that each item is judged against a set of standards, rather than ranking one item against another. So, it is entirely possible for every entry to be awarded a blue ribbon. I am amazed to say that I was awarded a blue ribbon for every item that I entered, and I received an additional merit award for my llama triangle lace shawl!

This morning I was back at the fairgrounds to spin in the fiber booth from 9:30 - 12:45. I picked this time because I thought the fair would be pretty quiet on Friday morning (Thursday was opening day) and I was right. DH met me when my shift was done, and we spent the next 7 1/2 hours wandering through the fair! I am pretty tired after yet another 12 hour day at the fair, but it was fun!

I took a bunch of pictures and will try to post them on Sunday!

oops - forgot to mention that DH and I also warped a loom for the booth!

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Wonderful Whidbey Day!

Sunday morning I looked out the back window and saw five coyote pups, eating blackberries! They are very cute, with huge ears, and they bounce around like Pepe LePew when he chases the girl skunk! A little while later, we saw mama in front of the house. This is why our cat goes outside only on her leash, with two large people! (well, large from a coyote's point of view, anyway!)

We went to an art exhibit by a Native American artist, Windwalker, and his wife Mary Jo. Such talented and nice people! They paint, make jewelry, and create Fairy Houses, which are little whimsical dwellings. We must have talked with them for almost an hour. I am sure our paths will cross again.

Next, we went to a sculpture and print show at Froggwell Gardens, which is a private home and garden. The owner has had his gardens for 25 years, and they are spectacular! The hydrangeas are blooming now, in amazing colors. I took pictures, but they are at a high resolution and won't upload to Blogger. I'll have to remember in the future to take some pictures at low resolution for the blog! He likes to have a couple of open house art shows a year, as an excuse to share his gardens with his island neighbors. Lucky us! His partner told me that he will have a quilt/textile show in May when the rhododendrons are in bloom.

Later, we went to the 4:00 showing of the Pirates movie at our amazingly cute little theater, The Clyde. It is owned and operated by a nice lady and her husband, rather than some huge faceless conglomerate. Admission is only $5, and you can get popcorn and a drink for $2. AND, it is the only place I know of on the island where I can get Coke (yeah!) rather than Pepsi (boo!) Their website is worth a visit. Be sure to read the history of the place.

It was such a nice day, spent sharing time with some of the wonderful people who call Whidbey Island home.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Dye Party

What fun! I went to a dye party! There were several dye pots going with an assortment of dyes and colors. A couple pots of Indigo, one of onion skins and Montana goldenrod, a purple/lavender pot, and one that kept changing colors throughout the day. It progressed from a teal-ish color right along to red and fuschia!
This is the onion skin/goldenrod pot. The fleece I tossed in there came out orange, but most of the color rinsed out and I wound up with a pretty light yellow. I had soaked my fleece in water with a splash of vinegar overnight, and gave it a short dip in alum before throwing it into the pot.

There were several stations set up for people to paint roving. This is some wool/silk roving being painted with cochineal, madder, and other natural dyes that I can't remember the names of. I painted a silk roving with these.

The indigo pot was fascinating! It needs to be brought up to a very specific temperature and color (you are supposed to see a yellow tint just under the scum) before you add fiber to it. You can let your fiber stay in there as long as you want, and when it comes out it changes color from yellowy-green, through many different shades of green, and it ends up some shade of indigo blue when it is done oxidizing. I think the way it works is the longer it stays in the pot, the bluer it will end up.

This is the magic dye pot that kept changing colors all day. Everytime the dye bath exhausted, someone would dump another color in (as you can tell, this was highly scientific!) This picture is towards the end of the day when we all decided we were tired of blues and greens, so we went for red and fuscia. It was so interesting to see the different colors that came out of the same pot, depending upon what kind of wool went in. We had everything from deep red to shocking pink to many shades of salmon. Reproducible?? NO WAY!!! But who needs reproducible when you're having this much fun??

Here's some of what we all did.

And here's what I made.

Some people dyed self-patterning sock yarn. It's an interesting procedure - fun to watch, but probably not something I'll ever do myself. Basically, you take your skein of yarn and tie it off into two or four yard hunks (a special pegged board is a tremendous help here), depending on how big you want the repeats. Then you paint each hunk separately depending upon what you want your pattern to be. The whole thing gets steamed to set the dye. Then the real trick is to undo the separate hunks and reskein the yarn without getting a tangled mess!

So now I am all inspired (once again) to set up for dyeing at home. Every once in a while the dyeing bug hits me, and I'll go out and get some of the supplies. I am down to needing a heat source and dyes. Some of the girls were using the base from a turkey deep fryer, hooked up to a BBQ propane tank, with their own dyepots on top instead of the gigantic turkey fryer pot. Seemed like a good idea, so I will think about that for a while. I even found them at the local Ace Hardware.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Home At Last!!!!

I am happy to say that I am home at last! After a 3 1/2 day trip across the country, DH, Cookie and I arrived May 20, on the 10:00PM ferry. Miss Cookie Cat turned out to be quite the little traveller. She had all her possessions in the back of the car - bed, litter box, food bowl and water bowl - plus, my lap in the front of the car. What more could a little kitty want? In fact, she was so content in the car that she refused to leave it until we got to the house, thus the super speedy trip across the country. You see, it was about 95 degrees in the midwest, and we had to drive from sunup to sundown in order to keep the car cool enough for the cat. Made for some pretty long days! Animals are so amazing - when we got on the ferry, I told her that the next stop would be home. And the cat who wouldn't leave the car hopped right out when we parked at the garage, walked right into the house, explored a little, curled up in her bed and went to sleep!

About 4 days after we arrived, the movers arrived with all our earthly possessions. We were happy that everything arrived in one piece, with the exception of some very minor damage to the patio table. Considering that we had some extremely heavy and bulky items, it is truly amazing that there was no damage. We were very pleased with our driver and his crew on both ends of the move.

So now we have been here for seven weeks, and we are settling in quite nicely. The pictures are hung on the walls, the furniture has been rearranged twice, and we are starting to get the yard in order. Getting the yard in order required the purchase of a 50hp John Deere tractor, which is a pretty cool toy! We have lots of brush to cut back from the house (big wildfire threat) and trails to blaze through the woods.

It is so much fun to go get our mail at the post office! The town is very cute, the library is right across the street, and on clear days we can see the Cascade Mountains!

This is a photo of Camano Island, right across the sound.

And such is life on magickal Whidbey Island!