Thursday, February 26, 2015

Not a snow picture

Not a snow picture; I'm through with the stuff.
Not to mention, Cargill is no longer delivering salt.
I imagine it will still go to ODOT for interstates,
but all the little players are cut off.
The road super ordered twenty five tons of ice grits today.
Won't the rest of winter be fun!

Back to another recurring topic, 
Laura has been learning how to make a picture using grids.
This one seems to be four plus grids from finished.

Mrs. P will be back in her studio for Laura's next session, in March.
She and Mrs. P seem to have quite a summer planned.
More fashion design, I hear.
Field trips.
That sort of stuff.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Please, no more winter pictures. We'll do anything, please, just don't throw more winter pictures at us.

This house is the sole reason I took my camera to work today.
Can you imagine the amount in insulation under that roof?

OK, on to work, and the donut in the courtyard.
With more snow and no wind to sculpt it, all charm is lost.
Or perhaps charm left long ago.

Some day I'll tell you my opinion of a committee
putting a Jane Austen courtyard on the back of a 1920 schoolhouse,
and then adding those ugly, disproportionate lamps to the entry.
Some day. 

The township is about twenty tons short of setting a record for salt purchases.
Oh, yes, that truckload did not come to us.
Neither has the credit memo, yet.
So, the bill is in the "unpaid" pile.

Snow everywhere.

So many walks are shoveled.

And some are half shoveled.

Look at those icicles.

Ghost lips in the sky.

Sycamore and snow and spot on the lens.
I just stopped to polish it off.

Snow and Mr. Yesberger's trees.
How I love them.

Can you see waaayyy back to the last stand.
Pictures don't do justice.

Deer approaching the third tee.

Deer on the run.

At least three species of creatures got a drink.

If the snow melts there will be pictures of anemone.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The courtyard at work, last Wednesday.
The last day I went to work. Last day the girls went to school.
There have been four more inches of snow since then.
And several days of sub zero weather.
It will be zero in the morning when the girls leave for school.

I put the next warp on my loom,
And enlisted to these two to empty my bobbins when I finished.

The new warp.

I tie it to the ends of the old warp and pull it through the heddles and the reed.
Looks like spaghetti while it's being tied on.

The new warp.
It's two thirds sapphire and a third other blues and greens.
About forty yards.

I tested some of the sapphire to weave. Looks good.
I tried some light blue. Not impressed.
The lime green looks good, too.

The yellow is called "idle weave,"
to close up the V sections from tying the warp to the apron.

Back to work tomorrow.
See what happened to that load of salt.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What we've missed:

How cold is it, you ask? The week that wouldn't end, but did end with Valentine’s day, bottomed out at minus 13, with wind too bitter for breathing. Plus, inches and inches of snowfall that made Valentine’s Day a whiteout. The snow on our road was hubcap deep, in spite of all the passes by the road guys. The “main” roads were little to no better, and I told Emily, as I drove her to work Saturday, “When you’re out driving because you must, have good tires on your car.”  The little red bullet made it through.

A lot of people were on the ski slopes. That surprised me. I guess new powder and lots more falling is skier paradise. There was no paradise on Sunday; with a forecast high of minus one degree and air too cold to inhale, the ski slopes closed for the day. Monday was a school holiday, and Emily intended to learn to ski. But, with a forecast high of five or six, her instructor friend’s father would not let the instructor leave home.

Emily did keep her interview appointment at the garden center across the road on Tuesday, and has been hired to the position of general factotum. She doesn't know that’s what she is, but when she helps after school, starting in March, the greenhouse super told her that’s when everyone is in a hurry to wrap it up for the day and her job will be to help whoever needs the most help close out their day’s job. Sounds exactly like a general factotum to me.

Tomorrow morning’s high will be another minus 14, another day without school. Another day for me to stay home, too. The only excitement at work is a missing shipment of salt. We have been invoiced, but no receiver to match the invoice. It snowed so much last Friday, when salt was being delivered all over northeastern Ohio, I figure some other road superintendent stepped out in the road, flagged down the truck and got the salt delivered to that municipality.

I spoke to the road super this morning, and he is on it. He likes a mystery as much as I do, and he has the salt barons scurrying to find a signed copy of the delivery ticket. We also hear the village just north of us is out of salt. How little it takes to amuse us when it’s too cold to seek other recreation.

A female cardinal and a junco

The female cardinal and a finch

 The female cardinal, the finch and the junco's backside.
Spring must arrive soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

If you had to choose between coffee, chocolate, or Scotch eggs, which would it be and who would you have it with?

Question five and a half from Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering. Hop  over to see her contest.  

Coffee. My friends could have anything they wished. All leaning in around the table, sharing good time stories and bad and in between.

I’ll celebrate with people who spent those twenty years with me. Linda, for eating pizza and drinking beer on the curb in Rochester, and sharing the cheapest room in town at many a show. Ann, always game to  get on a plane from Wisconsin to help at a show. The only person who could navigate me through Louisville.  Beth, who slept all the way home from any show.

My sister Jan, who said to me, in the very beginning, and these are her exact words: “if we’re going to do this together, we might as well live together.” It was getting old, forty five miles up or down the interstate to work out problems.  We turned in our old homes, found this perfect studio, and joined forces.

I see more than coffee is being served. The tea drinker has opened the wine. That Scotch egg is growing on me. It needs a good porter. I wonder if chocolate suits?


I found a picture of Sue, being mauled by Fiona, one of our Cairns besotted by her. It’s posted on question 5.

Although I have no pictures of the jacket from hell, Linda does, and also sent a picture of her mother Alberta, in the longer version of the jacket. You remember Alberta, with the famous garden. The jackets are posted on question 4.

Finally, many thanks to Jacqueline for organizing this; it has been a fun week. 

Our mother, Lenore Lytle.
We lived here only a few months when she came into the studio and said "Teach me to weave."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What is the most time-consuming aspect of weaving?

Question five from Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering. Hop  over to see her contest. 

Folks always wanted to know, “how long did it take you to make this?”  Eventually I devised the answer, “From the time I start until the time I finish.” It generally got a laugh, and deflected the question without an answer.

In the end we had ten looms in the studio, each threaded for a different kind of fabric or weave. That eliminated the need to rethread the heddles. Our brother built us many wondrous jigs and fixtures. We literally could put forty cones of thread on the floor, run the ends through the holes in a fixture he built, put the ends through the tension box and commence turning a hundred and fifty yards of thread into each section. Then we tied the ends in sequence to the ends of the old threads, pulled it all through the heddles and reed, tied the sections to the apron and it was another warp to weave. Jan and I each could put on a new warp in a few hours. She could tie twice as fast as I could, though, and she often took pity on me and tied the new to the old.

Off the loom, the weaving is not fabric, it is “the web.”  It must be “fulled”, made full, all the little spaces between warp and weft brought together. In the old days the web was submersed in a stream, pounded with smooth stones. Put in a “fulling” tub and tromped by many feet or worked by many hands.

We did it in the washer and dryer.

Jan and I each cut out the garments, and sewed in the beginning. We were decent sewers, but not great, and when sewers came into our lives, we let them do what they did best. The first was Janet, who had a degree in sewing. I learned so much from her, from how to make a pattern to using the straight of the grain.

We had Sewin’ Susie, the wife of a childhood friend, and Linda, a costume designer. Linda was among the dearest people in my life. A kind and gentle soul who lived for her husband and sons. She was battling cancer when she came to us, and was a fighter to the end. We finished up our last two years without Linda, for we were planning on retiring and it was hard to think of anyone else sitting in Linda’s seat.

Every job was just part of the process of moving from thread to garments to sell. I never had an answer to “how long does it take you to make this?”, so I answered “from the time I start until the time I get done.

Sue at the serger, greeted by Fiona.
Angus and Fiona adored Sue.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Do you have a favourite piece to weave?

Question four from Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering. Hop  over to see her contest.         

 I had favorite colors to weave for the different kinds of shirts we made. I had to learn to weave red when I’d prefer to be weaving blue or green. Just because I didn’t like red (back then), more than a few people did. I would never be able to sell them a green shirt, and better have a red one on hand if I wanted to make a sale.

My very favorite piece we made for a short time, in the beginning, was a baseball shirt. Cut exactly like a baseball shirt, with tails and everything. It was too gender specific, so we retired it soon. I had one that I wore close thirty years. I lost it twice, and the second time it didn’t come back to me.

I wanted to add a jacket to our repertoire, and bought some soft, heavy cotton in three colors, natural, beige and natural/beige variegated.  I commenced putting the natural on my beam. I liked it so much, I put on a lot. It began running out just a few inches in. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. As the natural ran out I continued with the variegated, and then with the beige. I wove with the beige. From left to right the fabric was natural, natural and beige variegated, beige.

What could I possibly make with it? I set it aside and thought. Eventually a raglan jacket came to mind, with like colors running into each other at the raglan sleeve and tying the jacket together. It worked. But the softness of the yarn was the big hit, not my clever salvaging of a stupid beginner’s mistake. 

It is called softball yarn, one unspun strand of roving plyed with a second fine cotton thread. We made it into a hooded jacket with a zipper and full facings. It was the most constructed garment we made. For twenty years. It was “the hook.” It was thirty percent of our business. 

We could not wean the public from it. By the end, as we slogged through weaving another run of fabric and sewing the jackets, we came to call it the jacket from hell.  Shhh. The customers  never knew. Then we retired. I gave the patterns for the jacket to a customer who intended to learn to weave to keep making it. I wanted never to be tempted for any reason to deal with that jacket.

No pictures today; I never used a picture of that jacket for a jury picture.

Update, 2/17/2014 

Although there are no jury slides of that jacket, I have friends with files. Linda has owned her jacket since the mid nineties and kept it in her van for emergencies requiring more clothes. Here she is in 2006, on her way to Race for the Cure in Cleveland.

Cara, helping a customer select rugs at St. James Court in 2011. Cara now owns the jacket, having borrowed it without returning it.

I have another picture of Alberta, Linda's mother wearing her jacket. It is embedded in an email; I'll post it if I can figure out how to  isolate it.

Alberta, Linda's mother. The shorter jacket did not suit her, and she bought the longer version. You would be right in thinking it came about by popular demand.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What kind of yarn/thread do you use? And why?

 Question three from Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering. Hop  over to see her contest.         

After a while, Jan and I wove exclusively in cotton. It is so reliable; the cottons we selected made lovely fabric with “good hand.” “Good hand” is old weaving terminology  that simply means the cloth feels good. It is woven well, using appropriate pics and ends per inch for the thread selected, properly processed after weaving. Done right, I suppose distills the idea.

We wove our shirt fabrics with eight/two or smaller cotton threads, in plain weave or twill. We built interest with colors; blending tones, using bold colors or stripes.

Almost all our cotton thread we bought as mill ends; thread left from big jobs in big mills and sold by brokers. We selected carefully and seldom paid more than two dollars a pound.

Because we kept our material cost low we could sell our shirts at a price customers did not mind paying. In truth, there was no possibility we could order thread from a big mill, with minimum orders of hundreds of pounds.

Right now I am weaving with thread left from ten years ago. But, the odds and ends I am putting together are dwindling, and in April I will be in Boiling Spring, North Carolina, in the converted spinning mill Sheldon Small has converted to a thread warehouse. He warned me it is thousands of square feet; wear comfortable shoes.

Before we settled on cotton, Jan and I used a lot of different threads. Rayon, synthetics, novelties. They simply are not cotton. But one novelty thread taught us a valuable marketing lesson. The thread was boucle.

Boucle simply is French for “bump”. The thread can be cotton or synthetic; the latter have all the bling and jazz. It’s a time consuming thread to work with, but it makes an eye catching shawl or scarf. Jan, who was far more technically proficient that I, mastered the yarn and produced beautiful shawls with a V back.

At the first show we displayed them, we had no good place in the booth to hang the shawls, so I put them outside. People reach out and touch things as they pass. When they touched the lovely yarns they stopped to look, and often to buy. We soon called the shawls “the hook.” I set up every booth from then on with a “hook.”

And in tomorrow’s post about a favorite piece to weave, I’ll also tell you about my least favorite piece, and how it was “the hook” for twenty years.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

What do you enjoy most about weaving?

Question two from Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering. Hop  over to see her contest.

Weaving is just a means to an end. Ancient woven fish traps. Woven baskets for storage and carrying water—yes, that well done. Penelope unweaving a day’s work every night, avoiding those pesky suitors and remaining faithful to Odysseus. A thought that boggles my mind—until the industrial revolution a mere three hundred years ago, every thread was spun by hand, loaded onto a loom by hand and woven by hand. Every thread for clothes and blankets, yes, but also every thread for every sail for every ship for every navy and merchant marine in the world.

I like the physical act of weaving; I like listening to books in my ears while the inches of fabric roll up under my knees. I like considering and solving all the problems of the universe as my shuttle travels back and forth. But most of all, I like the fabric.

I’ve always considered myself an artisan, a worker in a skilled trade. I am not artist—I do not weave diaphanous yardage and drape it fabulously around a runway model. I make good, pedestrian cotton cloth to make into casual, soft and comfortable shirts. But so different that they are not at any casual shop in America. “Where did you get that shirt?” “At an art show!”

And that’s the other thing I loved about weaving, back when my sister and I earned a living through our trade. I loved exhibiting and selling at art shows. We had a company called The Ewe Tree, and that was the flag that flew above our booth. I loved hearing customers say to friends, “We need to stop here; it’s my weaver.”

In the day, Jan managed the studio, I travelled to shows. Considering the nature of what we made, it’s not surprising we were popular in the east, or in liberal leaning cities. The national character of our country surprised me, though; it was not unusual to see the same customer in New York City and in another season in Kentucky or North Carolina.

A fun customer story and I’ll leave off. I was at a show in the Washington D.C. area, and a vaguely familiar woman with two small boys in tow stopped in my booth. She immediately phoned her husband. “Remember those two shirts you bought in Vermont that your brothers took?” I’m standing in the very same booth, looking at them. Do you want a blue, green, red, brown or natural colored one?” 

She bought him several and then several more for the brothers, to forestall losing the shirts she bought. At the end we were working out the details of shipping the very large purchase home when one of the little ones chimed in, “Mommy, take the blue one home. Daddy will want it!”

 Beth and me; show at Lincoln Center

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Contest

Jacquelineand… at Cheapskate Blethering  took me on as a project. She offered to show me how to do a better job with social media to promote my Etsy shop, and for an example for me to see and learn from, dreamed up a little contest with a prize.  It’s a grand little contest, I am impressed. But you must click on the link over to her place to see the rules and the prize.

Jacqueline also suggested I provide some more information about the premise of the little Etsy shop, weaving, and gave me five questions to answer via my blog, Cup on the Bus. Since she actually gave me five and a half questions, and the name of my blog came right out of a weaving incident, I’ll make its story number six.

The questions are:

1. How did you get started weaving?

2. What do you enjoy most about it?

3. What kind of yarn/thread do you use? And why?

4. Do you have a favourite piece to weave?

5. What is the most time-consuming aspect of weaving?

5 1/2. If you had to choose between coffee, chocolate, or Scotch eggs, which would it be and who would you have it with? 

Since the contest runs several days, I believe I’ll answer them a blog at a time. There’s a good story behind every question, and a good story teller can spin a story out forever. Or, tell it a day at a time.

How did I get started weaving?

I came to weaving much the same way my Aunt Laura and Uncle Frank did. By accident and fascination. Aunt Laura was my dad’s oldest sister. I’ve written several stories about her. Aunt Laura and Uncle Frank never fell out of love with each other. I wish that for every couple.

Uncle Frank was casting about for something to do in retirement. He played the organ very well; perhaps restoring them would be interesting. He and Aunt Laura looked at an organ to restore in Lima, Ohio, and after lunch explored to the other end of downtown, The Oriental Rug Company. Aunt Laura said he just walked from loom to loom, besotted. She attributed it to the loom treadles, like organ treadles.

For whatever reason, looms came to their tiny house and took over the living room. The big Newcomb was delivered through the framing of the family room addition they built. Aunt Laura and Uncle Frank became excellent weavers, gave classes, sold at a local art show. Uncle Frank wove rugs on the Newcomb Loom that my sister eventually acquired. Aunt Laura wove placemats on a little Gallanger and exquisite scarves and runners on her favorite loom, a thirty inch Fanny LeClerc.

The only reason I know about these looms is because my sister and I eventually bought them.  I saw my aunt and uncle at family gatherings, but paid little attention to their weaving. Then my sister told me Aunt Laura was selling all the weaving equipment—Uncle Frank’s dementia was progressing to the point he could not weave, which depressed him more. Aunt Laura wanted all reminders out of the house.

My sister already had the Newcomb, and I was fascinated watching her tuck right into making all sorts of rugs. But, that Newcomb was overwhelmingly big. I couldn’t imagine sitting behind it and weaving a rug. Jan reminded me that Aunt Laura still had the LeClerc, the Gallanger and a table LeClerc for sale, plus all her weaving thread, yarn, and the rest of the stuff in a weaver’s repertoire.

In 1983, with the help of my brother-in-law’s truck, those beautiful looms came to my house, together with boxes and bags of tools and thread. The Fanny still had almost a full warp of Lily 20/2 cotton threaded Star of Bethlehem. If any of you are weavers, you will know I came home with the prize.

Our dear aunt turned away from weaving as completely as my sister and I turned to it. We quickly learned not to ask her questions, they were painful reminders of a happy recent past. Not until after Uncle Frank passed away could she discuss weaving, and by then my sister and I had turned to weaving as a career. Aunt Laura came for a visit to the home and studio Jan and I purchased together and went from loom to loom saying how happy she was to have visited “this little piece of heaven.”

And that’s how I became a weaver.

I made this vest for Aunt Laura from the first fabric I wove.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Snowman rules

In my occasional pursuit of barns I've posted pictures of the old Lazy Daze camp in my township.
I first ventured onto the property in search of a barn back in 2013.
The original owners were gone,
the inheritors had the property "posted"
and up for sale.

The next spring I learned the property was purchased.
The new owner intended to build two homes on the several acres.
First the demolition:

The demolition began in March, last year.

Snowstorm on March 30th! 

Work commenced in the spring, and focused mainly on some grading and a lot of brush removal.

Over the course of the summer I watched a long access road go way to the back of the property.
The sort of road accessed by construction vehicles with lots of tires.
Not by old grandmas who really had no business poking round,
and certainly no business interfering with big construction equipping.

I've taken a good long look every time I've passed, and noted materials staged at the back of the lake, barely visible. Later on, the shells of houses. The construction has continued all winter.
December was mild, and saw the exteriors up. Work has continued this month, in spite of  three feet if snowfall.

Emily saw this first, on the way home from work yesterday.
A snowman in the middle of the lake!
You can see one of the houses behind him, on the right.

Mother nature put an inch of ice over the snow last night,
so I did not exit my car.

I have no idea who built a snowman on the ice in the middle of the lake.
But, I hope one of the houses belongs to such a wonderful sense of humor.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Remember what mother said about patience!

My front yard.

Paths to everything.

A Junco found the spilled niger seed.

You're welcome.

Meanwhile, in the studo, I bit the bullet and attempted buttonholes on an ancient Kenmore we have. 
It can zig-zag, 

In spite of half an hour's practice they are not the world's best buttonholes.
I won't use that machine again.
I'll wait for the Singer attachment in the green rubber box.

 I found five vintage buttons to use.
A rose and four hearts, purple.

It's a nice, casual shirt.
I'd wear it as a jacket, unbuttoned.
I'm about to list it on my Etsy site.
Because I am not wholly pleased with the button holes,
It will be at a reduced price.

And look what came in today's mail.
Well, I'll be practicing this afternoon and sewing this weekend.

And before I go,
I have to tell you
Quite an undertaking.
I'm involved.
That's most of what I know about it now,
But before she's done I may understand how social media works.