Monday, August 20, 2007

Off to the Fair, Tra la

This week is all about the Nevada State Fair. For several years now I have coordinated our local Spinning Guild's efforts. This makes some sense, since I am an absolute fair junky. I love the animals, kids, corndogs, cheesy contests and all around excitement. The Fair starts officially on Wednesday, but it has actually been going on since yesterday when the equestrian events began. Today the tents started going up, the carnies started rolling in, and mobs of youth exhibitors came in to have their cakes, pictures, crafts, and whatever judged. These are, in fair parlance, the "Static Exhibits". In other words anything that doesn't moo, neigh, baah, oink, squeek, cluck, or spit. For the umpteenth year in a row I served as a photography judge and spent this evening interviewing droves of kids about their pictures. Some of these kids are extremely talented, and with today's cameras even the Peewees (8 and under) can take technically awesome photos.

The Guild will have a large tent back by the livestock barns. As of this afternoon we had a roof but no walls. I have a promise of walls first thing tomorrow and hopefully will be rolling out flooring by mid-morning. Then the tables arrive, we hang the banner and we start setting up for display. Here's the banner drying after a nice hose-off in my back yard. I'll have lots more to say about the Fair as it progresses.

Another topic: Here is an unusual spinning wheel that has come my way. I once saw an identical one on eBay, so it is probably not a home-built. It looks kinda vaguely like a Country Spinner, but the orifice is off to the left from the treadle. I would love to have more information on its origins.

I'll leave you with one more picture from the Fair. They were laying out carpet in the large indoor arena and some poor slob had the job of vacuming about an acre of it with a standard vacume cleaner (and a really long extension cord). Glad I don't have that job!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spinner's car repair

Emboldened by the success of my first foray into auto repair I turned my mind to the sun visor problem. Both the sun visors on my 1994 truck are broken off. The visors are just fine, but the little plastic thingies holding them in became brittle with time and broke in half. Nissan does not sell little plastic thingies. Instead they will happily sell new visors at $140-some each.
I considered canvassing the local junkyards, but was stymied by the concept that plastic thingies of the same age would also be brittle. Hmmm... Perhaps I could jury rig something.

Long time friends may recall my misguided attempts to build a CD spindle using the directions in Spin-off Magazine. Suffice it to say that after much angst and several visits to Home Depot for varying sizes of rubber grommets and flexible tubing, I ended up with a wobbly spindle that never did spin evenly. I have finally found the silver lining to that experience. I used the leftover grommets, plus rubberbands, to create a sort-of stopper I could shove into the hole in the roof that formerly held the little plastic thingy.
Tada! It worked! Now I needed something to keep the visors from flopping down. Add in some double-stick Velcro and I have functional visors. (OK - add in a particularly hot afternoon and regluing the double-stick velcro with superglue finished the repair.)

Total new outlay: $1.88
Reward: mostly working visors (they flop a bit when down) and just a bit of smugness.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Such a busy weekend!

So much to tell!
Friday Sharon and I drove up (and down) to Grass Valley, CA for the Nevada County Fair. As members of the Foothill Fibers Guild, we were there to demonstrate handspinning, see the Fair, and most importantly, visit with friends.

The Nevada County Fairgrounds are absolutely beautiful with meandering paths and lots of shady trees. Last year I debuted my painted Kiwi wheel at this fair. This year I had the matching chair and lazy kate. The Foothills folks are amazing artisans, so there were many beautiful items on display. My favorite entry was probably Sue's sweater.

It was especially fun to spend some time with Birdsong, who has become a good friend through blogging.

Some other fair entries of note included the duct tape bathing suit and the alien-looking squash attacking a tractor.

Among the displays of antique engines was a 1957 Airstream "Bubble" Trailer. The owner proudly allowed me to look inside. He has done a great job restoring it and was happy to talk vintage trailer with me.

Saturday was the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers' August Guild Meeting. This time it was up at Sharon's farm in Red Rock. It was quite the crowd, but lots of fun. There are lots of new members excited about learning to spin. Lots of folks had recent projects to show and tell. I especially love Linda's felted scarf that looks like something alien. Allison has one too, but I didn't get as good a picture of it.

Mim gave a great demonstration of nuno felting.

All this creativity and friendship in 2 days! I'll have to save my latest adventure in car repair for another post.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Of course...

What does a matching spinning wheel and spinning chair need? A matching tensioned kate, of course!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Eat your Heart Out, Nissan of Reno.

I have always left auto maintenance to the professionals. It is not that I am incapable of learning these skills; it is just that I have put my brain to other uses. Just before my March trailer trip my truck encountered a post, taking out the driver's side mirror and putting dents and scrapes along the door. With no time to wait for repairs before the trip, I over-nighted a trailer mirror that clamped to the fender. So what if it required strapping tape to keep it pointing in the right direction? Until the trailer is painted it just adds a little more to our scruffy low-rent appearance.

Several months later I set out to have this fixed. Only the dealership has the right part (why doesn't everyone carry parts for a 1994 Nissan pickup?). I received a quote of $230-some for just the mirror; over $400 when you include the labor. Highway robbery! Meanwhile I am planning to trade the truck in for a stronger tow vehicle in the next few months and I have been assured by all local dealers that it is not worth more than $500 in trade, probably less with a missing mirror. Sigh.

Time to bravely enter the world of auto maintenance. I went online and ordered an offbrand replacement for $15 (plus $15 shipping). At that price I wouldn't be out much if it didn't work. Then I went out on the internet looking for instructions on how to remove the inside door panel. The range of advice was magnificent. I even found a You-Tube video of someone removing the door panel of a 1994 Nissan Sentra set to music. Anticipating trouble, I set aside Saturday for this task. Imagine my pleasant surprise when the entire operation took about 40 minutes and that included 10 minutes looking for a dropped cotter pin!

OK, replacing a mirror is not like replacing the transmission or anything else complicated, but I still feel triumphant. For $30 and a coat hanger I have accomplished what costs over $400 at Nissan of Reno.

I think I'll go treat my truck to a wash.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I have been puttering along on a bunch of projects. It's been ever so hot here this summer, making it hard to concentrate on any one thing.
I am still hoping to paint the little vintage trailer before winter so I managed to run out at lunch one day to R&E Fasteners and purchased the first installment of 250 size 10, 3/4 inch panhead stainless steel screws.
It is too hot to spend the day out in my driveway, so I have been working on screw replacement for about 45 minutes each day at dusk. This is not a quick process since most of the old 1953 screws are pretty much rusted into place. It does have a sortof meditative quality though, working one screw at a time. I've replaced somewhere around 100 screws at this point, and will have to buy more soon. Why so many? Because the aluminum skin of the trailer is made up of a series of panels that are screwed to a wood frame. Not only are the panels liberally tied down, but every seam has a seam cover that has screws every few inches. And every window has screws all around the frame plus a gutter piece that is screwed on above it. Lots and lots of screws. Anyone want to guess how many? I'll reveal the answer down the road when I find out.

During the weekend I got the urge to dye something and pulled out the tunis roving I bought from Becky. I used a method that is totally uncontrolled. I soaked the roving for about 20-25 minutes, then squeezed it lightly and layered it in a plastic container while pouring dry Kool-ade powder directly on it pretty much randomly. I put the lid loosely on the container and microwaved it on medium for about 10 minutes. Let it cool in the microwave, then rinsed it out. Almost no color rinsed out so it really soaked up the dye. The result was a bit different than my usual as it still has a lot of white. I am looking forward to seeing how it spins up. Intended destination: socks.

One more fibery note: The lace vest is coming along slowly with some surprises. At first my mind kept tripping up on the lace pattern, but with practice it has become enjoyable to work on. The fabric is turning out more stripy than I expected but I am liking it anyway. I just hope I have enough yarn for the project!

And here is a gratuitous cat picture.