Friday, July 27, 2007

My Fireplace

I am terribly proud of my fireplace. Five or so years ago when I bought my house, I told the real estate agent that the most important criteria was that the focal point of any prospective home had to be a great fireplace. I love the house I ended up with, especially the floor plan. The fireplace was larger than average (for 1956 houses) but REALLY ugly. It was faced with white painted brick and someone had glued down odd sized pieces of black slate on the hearth leaving wide dirty white grout lines. For a year or two I lived with it, plotting its reinvention. Tile was the answer. Now some folks would hesitate before using the focal point of their home as their very first tiling project. I am made of more foolhardy stuff. After only a brief Home Depot tiling demo I went ahead and jumped into the job.

Here is a "before" picture of the fireplace, as I set up to start tiling.

Tiling turns out to be easier than you might think as long as you apply a little math and you count on lots of spare tile for breakage. Oh and remember to get out all the cat hair before sealing the grout. I ran into a slight conundrum when I tiled above the opening. The Home Depot demo didn't cover vertical surfaces and the effects of gravity. Luckily I had a little table and a length of 2X4 of just the right size.

I finished the fireplace a long time ago, scraped the popcorn off the ceiling, and painted the walls orange. I am ever so pleased with my livingroom. But for over a year now I have had a blank wall over the fireplace. It is directly opposite the couch so I have had huge opportunity to contemplate adding the perfect piece of art. I have even fantasized about maybe painting the right picture myself. Yesterday it hit me - the print I have had hanging in my office at work for about 10 years might be just the thing. Here it is, now hung over the fireplace. It is not perfect (it is too small) but it definitely will do for now. And the subject matter goes great with my small herd of folkart farm animals on the mantel.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Late addition

And here is tonight's pretty sunset...

Now back to the Battle of Hogwarts...

Holding Pattern

I know... slow to post. Not too much to show for the week, though.

I started a new knitting project, but with the swatching and the calculating (and a small bit of frogging) I am only a few rows in. I am trying a simple lace pattern that I made up. I won't go so far as to say I invented it, since it is so simple it must be out there lots of places. It is going to be a cardigan vest made from some green yarn I spun last year.

Garden-wise I spread a dozen bags of mulch, but it was to replace what had evaporated since last year, so no new progress.

Trailer-wise I set out to replace large numbers of loosened screws, only to find I had bought the wrong kind. Darn. A trip to Home Depot later and all I have to show for it is a referral to a specialty bolt and fastener outfit in Sparks. Apparently 1953 travel trailers used an odd size.

I'll try to have more to report once I have finished reading Harry Potter. Meanwhile, here's a pretty sunset from last Monday.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Saturday was meeting day for the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers. We met in Heidi's shady front yard and had a lovely time chatting, meeting, and chatting some more. Sadly I didn't have my camera with me, so no pictures. The workshop topic was hand spindling and it was great to see all the folks who brought their spindles! I was the workshop speaker, so after lunch we passed out more spindles and lengths of roving. By the end of the workshop everyone was spindling away. Several of the spindleless went ahead and purchased guild spindles, so hopefully I have hooked a few more on the portable magic of handspindles! Now everyone is encouraged to go out and spindle at ArTown events. (Reno holds artsy events all over town every day of the month of July, so there is no end to the venues suitable for spindling.) For the workshop I went through all my bags and bins and collected up all my handspindles to show the variety. The total, including top whorl, bottom whorl and supported spindles, came to 28. Hmmm... could it be an addiction? At least they take up less space than the 4 spinning wheels, 2 charkas and 3 inkle looms. Let's not talk about my wool stash...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Spin-in in Calpine

Once again I must apologize for being slow to post. At this point Sharon, Birdsong and Sara have all blogged about our lovely Dual-Guild Spin-in at Anna Harvey's ranch near Calpine, CA last Saturday. Sharon gets the credit for putting it together and having the stick-to-it-ness to pick a date and make it happen. The Harvey Ranch was around an hour's drive for most folks and well worth it. Beautiful country no matter which road you took. Despite the smoke from multiple wildfires, the views were fantastic. Some of the big open west at its best. There were attendees from both the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers and the Foothill Fibers Guild (and a few of us who belong to both). It was good to see some folks in person that we mostly talk to online.
For me the best part of a day like this is the total relaxation that comes with sitting under the trees with friends and no expectations whatsoever. We chatted, looked at fleece, talked to the chickens, did a little spinning and chatted some more. Good times!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Another Stash-Buster Project

I have been admiring the lovely fulled and felted purses that Sharon, Mim and Allison have made. Although I have made several knit-than-felted bags, none of them were of a suitable size and shape to carry as a purse. In my continuing quest to use up the stash bits leftover from other projects, I paired up the leftover handspun from my green shawl and a blue sweater I made years ago. Both are approximately 50-50 wool-mohair, so they should felt up fairly consistantly and very fuzzy. Sharon's lovely purses are always an interesting, yet subtle combination of colors. Very elegant. I decided my personality lends itself more to funky stripes. Perhaps I lack subtlety. Hmmm...

I knit the bottom, plus about an inch up the sides with 2 strands to add a bit of strenth to the bottom. Then I knit up to the top with one strand, knit 1 row with 3 strands, then cast off with 3 strands. This gave it a fat lip, so to speak. I made a patch pocket for the front to hold either my iPod or my cell phone. The strap was a bit trial and error. Since I wanted to use it as a shoulder strap, it needed to be a bit thick for comfort, yet still be able to thread through the sides to cinch the bag shut. After trying several combinations of stitches and strands, I ended up making 4 stitch I-cord using 3 strands and size 11 needles. I am very pleased with the result. Here is the pre-fulling bag with a book for scale (I am rereading book 6 in preparation for book 7).
After putting both bag and I-cord through the wash for a couple cycles, and blocking it around books in a plastic bag, I put it outside to dry.
With our current heat wave still in force, the bag dried completely in about an hour or so. I strung the I-cord through the bag's sides and grafted the ends together. Since the I-cord is now a circle, I can use it as either one long strap or 2 short ones.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Record Heat in Reno

July 4th at my (non-airconditioned) house:

And today Reno officially tied its all-time record high for any day of the year at 108 degrees (at the airport).

I am making frequent use of squirt bottle and fan. Yikes!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Deceptive Packaging

In order to create a little more space for some of my many handthrown pottery mugs, I purchased a couple of corner shelf kits. The packaging showed the little white shelf happily holding up a few knick-knacks and the instructions said it would be a snap to install, all hardware included, quick and easy.

It lied.

Installation of these two little shelves took 3 hours, a drill and 8 drill bits, 6 screwdrivers, plyers, a rubber mallet, a 2-inch pallette knife, a level, assorted extra screws, washers and nuts, a pencil, a size 3 knitting needle, and lots of swearing. Somewhere in the process I lost one of the drill bits. Hopefully it didn't go down the drain, since most of the installation required sitting in the kitchen sink. It didn't help that I had to keep evicting the cat from the stepstool. Apparently she didn't mind the swearing.

So I say to you: if you buy a cute little shelf kit with simple instructions, be very skeptical.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Has it been a year, already? plus a Report from the Garden

Here it is, my one year Blogiversary. I am told that it is customary to make a celebration of it. Some folks hold contests or put together a sort of best-of memoire.
I prefer to let you read my blog's archives if interested. One point though: When I started this blog I fully expected to get bored or distracted and let it languish after a few postings. No one can be more surprised than I (me?) how it has developed. Keeping it has put me in touch with new friends and helped me to focus my creative efforts. Nothing like needing something to post to get me moving!

Now for a quick report from the garden. The lavender is in full glorious bloom. I am especially pleased to report that it is filled with the increasingly rare honey bees. There must be a hive nearby and someone may be getting some lovely lavender honey this year. There are also my favorite bumblebees. The whole garden is buzzing.
The Perovskia (Russian Sage) has gotten bigger than I expected and is even overshadowing some of the Blue Queen Salvia. I am not unhappy about it because it is also gloriously blooming. My two pallettes of rock are still filling the purpose of... er... yard sculpture, and today they have been joined by 15 bags of cedar mulch. The mulch will be put in place in the next week. The rocks won't.

The misplaced bog plant (Lingularia X palmatiloba) that came with the house has once again beat the high-desert odds and is blooming merrily.