Defining Moments

Life took a strange and dark turn 2 weeks ago, and I left Florida to fly home.  I went home to be with my oldest friend as she entered a very dark period of her life.  She has lost someone very dear, someone who was dear to me as well.

During the past weeks I have watched my friend navigate very troubled waters with a strength and grace I did not know she has.  You can always learn something new about anyone, no matter how long you’ve known them.  She has become an inspiration for me.  Life throws unspeakable challenges at us, but I’ve learned a lot from my friend’s deep, still waters.

Along the way I’ve finished reading The Paper Garden, a biography of the 18th c. female artist, Mary Delany.  The author, Molly Peacock, was known more for her poetry than her prose, until she wrote this book.  The book is so popular now that the British Museum has had to limit access to Mary Delany’s paper collages in order to preserve them from the sudden rise in people requesting to see them.

My friend has been an artist since before I met her.  Growing up together, she painted and drew while I wrote things and dabbled in handwork.  Later she began sculpting and got her fine arts degree in that medium.  This quote from The Paper Garden makes me wonder where my friend’s artwork will go next:

Black pigment is made from charred organic matter—and that includes burnt bones. This chilling fact contributes to the black background of Mrs. D’s Rosa Gallica… Not that burnt bones necessarily produced the pigment that Mrs. D. used to create the black backgrounds of her flowers—her pigment could have been made from tar, pitch, lampblack, pine soot, anything charred to get a noir so deep it looks as if it came from the mouth of Hades. But whatever the composition of the dry crystals she ground with a mortar and pestle, then mixed with liquid and adhesive, its source is something burnt. Carbon. Organic. Ashes. Is being burnt a requisite for the making of art? Personally, I don’t think it is. But art is a poultice for a burn. It is a privilege to have, somewhere within you, a capacity for making something speak from your own seared experience.

So, for me, regular life begins to lurch along once again.  I am back in the Bahamas with Bob, in a beautiful spot that we have not visited before called Great Harbor Cay.  When we left the harbor for a short sail yesterday, three dolphins found us and played in our bow wave.

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The sunsets have been stunning, the Bahamians are the friendliest people I have ever met, the cruisers have been pretty friendly too, and Bob is letting me rest.  The days are warm and slow.

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My biggest wish is that my friend could switch places with me.  I would take a couple weeks of her grieving and the growing responsibilities she has taken on to care for others in her family, while she could spend some time here– healing.  Life is so thoroughly unfair….

 

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Change of Plans

Today was the day we’d planned to sail to the Berry Islands in the Bahamas, to Great Harbor Cay which has a rather nice marina. Anyway, as luck would have it the weather window is not great, with winds from the east that are low enough for motoring, although this landlubber doesn’t do well motoring straight into waves stirred up by 15 mph winds. And the window is short. By tomorrow the winds will be much stronger, so we decided to wait for what may prove to be a gentler and longer weather window at the end of the weekend. Beside, we don’t have our funds for Cuba entirely set in place, and Bob has one more form to submit for our permissions for Cuba. Every time we think we’re finished we hear about one more thing….we wonder if this is truly the ‘last’ thing—sending our forms to the Coast Guard.

In the meantime, Bob has checked that he has all the necessary courtesy flags for the countries we’ll be visiting. The other day he spread them all out to photograph them, and my heart jumped! Are we really going to all those countries??? That will be quite off the deep end for me–all that ocean in between each island, each passage requiring sailing overnight.

So, in case these flags are unfamiliar to you, I’ll name them, clockwise from upper left (the center flag is our yacht club burgee which we’ll fly in each country):  Cuba, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Bahamas.  Like I said, YIKES!!

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I’m finally to the point of enjoying the process of tatting. It has become quite relaxing for the most part. I still can’t get my picots even and I still have some awkward moments, but less and less. I do a little each morning while having coffee and then again in the evening after dinner. It’s definitely easier in the morning in good sunlight! I now have 50 rings and 50 chains!  I have a little gadget to measure the distance for even picots, but I just cannot manage that thing yet! With the ring around one hand and the shuttle in the other hand, where’s my 3rd hand for that little gadget??

And speaking of tatting—I just love having beautiful accessories for all my projects. I have some wonderful, handmade bags that people have given me over the past few years, and I love to keep my little projects in them. The felted bag is from Latvia. The embroidered bag is new this week! It’s from France and was sent to me by a wonderful friend in England who knows how much I love special little textiles of any sort. It’s very special to me, and now it holds my tatting project. The knitted bag is also new, and was given to me as a kit by another friend who knows me well. She knew I’d love the bag, and she also knew I’d want to knit it and embellish it myself.

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Lastly, I have a picture of Bob and our friend Linda who now lives in Florida. When she moved down here over a decade ago, we gave her an offshoot from a banana tree that we bought back in the early 70s, when Bob and I were newly dating. It’s an OLD banana tree now! Linda’s offshoot has now grown bigger than ours ever did. It is very happy in Florida and has spread into a little grove of banana trees in her tropical garden. The day I took this photo there were at least three pendulous flowers, with more bananas than I could count! You can see one of the flower stalks right behind Linda on the left side.

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So, while we’re not sailing (which is mostly fine with me!) we are enjoying the sights of Florida and I’m becoming a better tatter.  Nattering and tattering…

 

 

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Celebrations

It’s Tuesday afternoon.  Bob and I are sitting in a Starbucks in Ft. Lauderdale while he downloads new charts for Cuba and updates his ‘Active Captain’ app.  I am looking through photos from 2015 and realizing how much we celebrated over the past 6 months.  It was a very celebratory year, and my 60th birthday (just a few days ago) finished up the family milestones as the new year begins.

After Bob turned 60 in June (I was busy cooking and did not get any photos), I had some wonderful old friends visit in July.  We’ve known each other for about 25 years, and we made plans to spend part of our weekend going to the NEWS (New England Weavers Seminar) conference in Northampton….. 4 women of a certain age going to a weaving conference!  It was awesome! Here we are at dinner in Middletown on our way back to my house.

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Then came our older son’s wedding in August.  We almost never get photos of our two sons together.  It was a rare and wonderful moment.

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Right before Thanksgiving, Bob threw me an early birthday party since it was going to be one of those once a decade birthdays, and I would not be able to see my friends and family when the actual birthday happened.  Here is chef Michael, just starting the hot hors doeuvres before dinner.  What a night!

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A photo with one of my old friends and three of my new friends–all weavers!

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Michael is about to cut the cake…

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And my favorite pairing:  white wine and chocolate cake!

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A few days before my real birthday last week, Bob and I had a marvelous dinner at Pistache in West Palm Beach.  This photo is all about the dinner: duck breast in cherry sauce with truffle polenta…and the harbor park in the background.

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While we are waiting for the weather window to sail to the Bahamas, I’ve been slowly honing my tatting skills.  I’m definitely improving…and now I’ve got enough tatting to go across the back of my green T-shirt and start going down one side of the front V-neck!  Only about a million more little rings and chains to go!

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I worked on it a bit this morning before we came ashore.

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A Quiet Day Onboard

It’s anything but quiet outside today, which is exactly why I’m hiding down below.  We’ve had gale force winds since last night, and squalls bringing horizontal rain.  The wind in the palm trees is quite dramatic, reminiscent of Winslow Homer’s paintings of the Bahamas.  I don’t know how such tall skinny trees can withstand these winds.

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 We are anchored in a little ‘teacup’ harbor called Middle River, in Ft. Lauderdale.  It is surrounded by elegant, Florida-style mansions, and each house has a dock with a large powerboat tied up to it.  There are too many of us cruising sailboats anchored in the middle of this little teacup, and when the winds are this strong no one feels safe.  All the boats are on the verge of tangling so no one got any sleep last night—perhaps Bob and me most of all since we dragged rather dramatically in the late evening.  It was odd because we’d already been here overnight with no incident.  This anchor has surprised us twice now so we did not sleep worrying about dragging yet again.  Anyway, no loss of life, and no damage to anyone—but until this front gets through here we will not feel safe.  If any of us should drag too far we will be tangled with the large mega yachts on the docks.

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 Knowing this dramatic weather was coming, I had planned to make the warp for my next tapestry today, but it’s a bit too uncomfortable in this much wind to attempt that.  It’s better for me to sit still, so I’m trying my hand–for about the 6th time–at tatting.  Tatting is such a simple technique!  It’s just making slipknots that slide along a loop, which gets closed to make a ring, or slipknots that slide along a straight cord that gets pulled tight to make a chain.  Rings and chains are all you need to know, along with a little embellishment called a picot.  A picot is a pair of slipknots that are not pulled tightly to the previous slipknots.  By leaving a small space between sets of slipknots you get decorative little picots when you pull the foundation ring or cord at the end of each ring or chain.

Making these little elements is still so awkward to me that it feels like some kind of hand torture!  I keep dropping the shuttle, and/or I keep turning the work the wrong way as I tat.  The little picots that occur throughout the rings and chains are not consistent–but I forge ahead.  I am going to attach this little bit of frivolity to a V-neck T-shirt I own.  I think it will be quite feminine, in spite of its irregularities.

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 I have to thank my lace guru Mary for showing me the fundamentals of tatting (she’s not the first, but clearly the most successful at getting me to understand!), and I hope she will not take it as a slur against her teaching if she ever sees this pathetic little length of lace.  I just know that someday it’s going to feel natural to do this.  I have a memory of seeing my great aunts’ hands flashing back and forth as their tatting grew while I watched. Surely, it’s in my DNA somewhere.

And during the breaks I’ve been taking (to give my hands a rest and assuage my rising frustration) I’ve been reading The Paper Garden which is about an 18th c. artist who did not make her first truly original artwork until she was 72.

Today being my 60th birthday, this book is resonating with me.  Long before Mary Delany made her first unusually constructed botanical image that became known as the precursor to paper collage (she called what she made ‘mosaiks’), she had spent years painting in watercolors, drawing, and embroidering in cross stitch and other techniques.  She was also quite good at the piano.  She was no stranger to creativity.  She loved fashion and often designed her own gowns (made by others) before embellishing them herself with lavish floral embroidery.

I’m certain I’d feel quite connected to her even if I weren’t struggling with my novice attempt at tatting.  The fact that she surrounded herself and her home with beautiful things made by her own hand, and always had a garden wherever she lived, connects me to her with my own love of filling my home with handwoven and embroidered textiles, and having fresh flowers and greenery in the house from my gardens.  But since I am tatting, it’s that particular thing that makes me think of her every time I pick up the shuttle.  I’m embellishing a simple little t-shirt that I’ll wear on any given day—she embellished stunning 18th c. gowns that she wore on any given day.  What a difference three centuries makes….yet it still connects us.

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Meeting Friends along the Way

The past few days have brought some nice surprises in meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends.  A woman who sometimes leaves comments on this blog let me know that she arrived in Ft. Pierce on her boat.  We just missed each other last year, and this year we almost missed each other again.  Bob and I had already left Ft. Pierce, but as luck would have it, we had to return to revisit the yard that did some work on Pandora that did not get finished.  After a half day there we decided to spend a night at the marina where Laura is spending the winter.

Laura is a weaver who also writes a blog called Laura’s Loom, where she chronicles her weaving and living aboard their 44′ SeaRay each winter. The tapestry weaving community might be an even smaller world than the sailing community, so I should not have been surprised to learn that Laura knows Don Burns (from the Wednesday Group) and had taken a class with him years ago.  When I visited Laura on her boat Dream Weaver I found her spinning some handpainted silk roving on her sweet Hansen electric spinner.  That gave me quite a pang that I left my spinner and some new silk roving at home.  Sigh…

That evening she and her husband stopped by our boat and I had a great time learning more about Laura’s weaving getting to know her and her husband a bit.  I don’t really want to show this photo, where for some reason I am wearing the ugliest shirt I own!  Egads!

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 Yesterday morning I met another Wednesday Grouper, Rita, who spends her winters down here.  She and I were the only groupers who did not make it to last week’s WG reunion.  We commiserated a bit over that, but mostly just enjoyed catching up with each other.  Rita recently finished a wonderful tapestry for her granddaughter — the New York City skyline at sunset in beautiful oranges and golds, with her granddaughter leaping over it in a bright red dress and black Chuck Taylors with red shoe laces!  It’s a fun piece—sorry I don’t have the image!  You’ll just have to trust me on that!

Then last night we had old friends from New Jersey onboard for dinner.  Bob used to work with Linda, before she retired and moved down to Florida with her husband.  Now that Bob has also retired we try to see them each year as we head south.  It was a beautiful night, though a tad breezy, for watching the sunset behind West Palm Beach and then to see all the lights come on in the buildings.  It was a dramatic sight! –although this image came from the internet, not our camera.  Good wine, good conversation and a stunning view made for a great evening.

This morning I visited my favorite fabric store on the ICW–Mac Fabrics in West Palm Beach.  What a shop!  I had a great time there last year, which resulted in a tote bag that I take everywhere.  This year the plan was to find fabrics for new throw pillows for new Pandora.  I love what I’ve put together–only possible at a place this great!

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The small monk’s belt weave will be used for the piping on both fabrics.

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As  I write this Bob is buried in the back ‘workshop’ of Pandora, storing all the things he’s bought over the past couple of weeks.  We have a replacement part for just about everything onboard—from engine pieces to hoses for the sinks, filters for every item that has filters, belts—you name it.  It’s a lot of stuff and everything has its place.

Tonight we will have dinner in my favorite place along the entire ICW—a French bistro called Pastiche.  I’m sure it will be the best dinner of our whole trip because it always has been!  Bon Appetit!

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Cuba from a Kiwi’s Perspective

In the serendipitous way that living onboard can be, Bob overheard a woman talking about cruising in Cuba last spring while he was in the marina laundromat a couple of days back.  You just never know what you’ll find when you go ashore in a cruising community.

The woman’s name is Jules, and she and her husband have cruised the world in their Ingrid 38’ ketch named Bounty from their homeport in New Zealand.  They are interesting people (obviously!) and generously willing to share their knowledge with us as we make plans for Cuba. YET it’s never a good thing when Bob meets people who have done such extensive sailing.  Look out!

Jules and her husband Gary visited us that evening and carefully went through our charts of the southern coast of Cuba, giving us valuable information on various harbors and how to fit into Cuban culture while ashore.  There were some significant things that differed from what we have read.  There is nothing like information from people with first hand experience!

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On the other hand, there is a lot of scary stuff (Bob would say ‘exciting’) hurtling toward us.  Where do I begin??  Like the Bahamas, we will only approach a shoreline in daylight hours with the sun high overhead.  This is good news to me because I really don’t like night sailing.  Even so, there will be a fair amount of night sailing—just not when we go into harbors.  Ugh.  The swells will be large, but the wind should be mostly on our backs, which is more comfortable than other directions.

We will need to be tucked into good harbors at night because Cuba is a mountainous country, with katabatic winds at night–quite strong katabatic winds.  (from the Greek: katabaino – to go down– is the generic term for downslope winds flowing from high elevations of mountains, plateaus, and hills down their slopes to the valleys or planes below.)

And speaking of winds–we have heard from good friends who have already crossed over the the Bahamas that there have been terrible winds there lately.  In particular, there was a cold front earlier this week that brought sustained winds of 105 mph through an area of the Exumas.  Our friends were anchored between Great Exuma and Stocking Island where the winds were 65 mph.  A number of boats were thrown ashore and badly damaged in this blow.  I was horrified to learn about this.  We’ve had some bad winds there the past two years, but nothing like this! At least there are protective harbors in Cuba, unlike in the Bahamas.  So—we will want to be well tucked in each night, or well offshore.  I’m hoping for the former!

Also, we will need to be sensitive to situations onshore.  Sometimes we will be welcomed and sometimes not.  We need to read the signs of whether we should be in a particular shop buying items that the Cubans want to buy or whether we’ll be welcome to eat in particular restaurants that are for the locals.  I’m so sensitive in this regard that I often over react.  I’m certain that Bob and I will run into differing impressions when these situations arise.  All in all, Jules and Gary gave us a wealth of advice and information.

A sobering bit of info is that our visas, which will only be good for 30 days, really cannot be extended.  We have to leave Cuba for at least 24 hours in order to get a new visa for another 30 days.  Since it’s impossible to sail the coast of Cuba in only 30 days we will have to face this dilemma.  I was hoping that we could just anchor off the mainland someplace safe, but that is not acceptable.  We need to check out of Cuba and check into another country to prove that we left.  The most obvious choices from the southwestern end of Cuba are the Caymans or Jamaica.  Either of these will involve another overnight sail in big ocean.  Can you imagine the kind of dreams I had last night?

So the next few days to a week will be focused on finishing up our repairs and provisioning.  High on my list is getting my cartoon sorted for my next tapestry.  I am going to weave the final line from a favorite Robert Frost poem called “Mowing.”  The culmination of that poem is “The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.”  This is moving to me on so many levels, and I envision that weaving this phrase will be quite enjoyable.  The piece will go to my son Chris when it’s finished, so I asked him to work on the font and the spacing of the letters.  After trying a couple of fonts, we both decided on Adobe Caslon.  Here is a small version of it.

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This is what it look like printed out full size, spread out on the floor at Staples in Vero.  Don’t you like Bob’s foot for scale?

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I made a little sample of the text in a different font some time ago.

Tapestry loom 1 and 1:2 inch marks

In the real piece the background will be lots of blended neutral colors woven in small shapes.  I hope that will have an interesting visual effect, as well as being interesting for me to weave.  I hope to get warped soon!

It is now Saturday morning, and there is a large farmers’ market here in Ft. Pierce, so we’re off to check that out.  We’ve been told it’s the largest, and best, market in the state.  It takes place every Saturday all year long.  Also, it seems we had a new guest onboard last night:  a raccoon.  That’s a first!

I’ll end with this silly photo Bob took of me yesterday as we walked around Ft. Pierce. I could have fun with my own jewelry store!

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Ringing in the New….Remembering the Old

This is the end of our first week onboard, and I am beginning to get used to boat life once again.  It was a HOT New Year’s in Vero Beach, which is a very odd experience for us!  We left our family in Baltimore on the very day that cold weather hit the northeast, where our part of Connecticut had its first snow.  This is the first year that I won’t see any snow, unless there is still some around when I return in May—unlikely!

Some hot scenes from Vero Beach…

New Year’s Eve lunch at Cobalt, the restaurant in the Kimpton Hotel that looks out at the Atlantic–quite a luxurious spot for a New Year’s Eve lunch.  I had no interest in going out to dinner because that would entail a late night dinghy ride back to the boat in a dark harbor.  It gives me the shivers to think about drunken dinghy drivers in an unfamiliar harbor.  I chose lunch!

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Traditional holiday decorations look rather out of place down here to me.

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But there are plenty of lovely sights to see, like resurrection ferns which are flourishing right now since there has been plenty of rain.

1-2-16 029 Along one of the streets we walk  we saw these large shrubs in bloom.  What are they?

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 I’ve spent some time arranging our things, especially Christmas gifts from our kids that I simply could not leave behind, in order to make our new Pandora look homey.

After 20 years of celebrating New Year’s Eve with our good friends Kari and Gerhard our current celebrations have not been nearly as fun and interesting.  Change is inevitable, and I’m not saying we didn’t have a very nice evening this year….I just couldn’t help also feeling such a fondness for our past New Year’s gatherings with dear friends.

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During our second day here we visited a nursery and farm stand in Ft. Pierce called Nelson Family Farms where I bought some herbs and a pink geranium that Bob planted together in a window box. Nelsons is now my new favorite plant nursery in this area.  There were so many choices of plants, and the fruit and veggie offerings on display were really tempting–I wanted to buy way more than we could store in Pandora’s galley.  One thing I found really tempting was chick peas still in their seed pods.  I’ve never seen that before!

I bought a phalenopsis– a hybrid color break white/magenta, and a rosemary plant in its own pot since it needs drier conditions than the other herbs (parsley, chives and thyme) that I wanted together in the window box.  Along with these I also have some paper whites from home that were a gift from my friend Tina.  So we have quite a bit of garden going for a boat!  It makes me happy, and most of all I am always amazed at how quickly things grow in warm, maritime conditions–and how sturdy they get after a week or so in strong breezes.  It will only take a few weeks before I will be able to harvest as many herbs as we need everyday.  At home it would take from early May ’til mid-July before I could do that.

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To bring a little holiday cheer onboard since it was not yet New Year’s, Bob picked some greenery with red berries from an empty lot, along with some long stemmed white begonias.  Rather festive–though certainly not in the vein of traditional ‘northern’ Christmas decorating.  We tried hard to come with something that would NOT  look as silly as a red bow and bells on a palm tree!

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To put a fine point on the kind of slow internet we cruisers experience, I’d like to explain that every photo I included in this post took from 20 – 30 minutes to upload.  Then some of them just failed entirely and had to be redone.  One of them–the window box planter– has uploaded sideways, and I’m far too exhausted to fix it at this point.  I started this post at 8 am, took a 1 1/2 hour break to go out to lunch, and it is now somewhat after 4 pm.  Really, I wonder why I bother!  It’s got to be my maniacal stubbornness.

For this last photo, when I truly thought I would lose my cool waiting, I decided to untangle a mess of size 20, 6-cord cordonet that I’d like to use for a project.  Because of the high twist it had tangled into quite a mess.  How’s that for manical??  While highly frustrating with the internet I chose to use my downtime doing another chore that was equally highly frustrating…. For most of the time I was detangling it looked like the detangling event would win over the uploading-photo event.  At the last moment the photo won, and thank heaven, because I might have cried.

I have more news but no more patience.  So until I recuperate enough for another frustrating, slow internet moment I’ll stop here.

P.S. I fixed the window box photo.  Whew!

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Final Day

This evening I am celebrating that I finished winding on the warp for my next project: fabric with JOY’s Almaza in quite a vibrant colorway.  The warp is muted shades of colors from the cool side of wheel–somewhat greyed blues and purples, with an occasional stretch of an almost bright pink.  I wound 16″ of this in 2″ sectional pieces, 6 yards long. The vibrancy will come when I add the very bright peach painted weft.

I did encounter a problem–due to my hasty math.  I have three hanks of this colorway and should have made the warp 5 yards long in order not to exceed my 3,000 yards of materials (each hank is 1,000 yards long).  However, in my excitement to get started, I left my warping wheel set at 6 yard length.  Ahem….  I realized my mistake after the first 2″ section was wound.  I quickly revisited the math and saw that I would come up 456 yards short!  Yikes!  I quit for the day then and decided to sleep on it….

My warp would be narrower than I needed for fabric.  I wanted fabric 16″ wide for my project.  I was only going to get 14″ now since every thread was a yard longer than it should have been.  When I woke up the next morning the first thing I thought about was adding some single colored warp threads to get the full width I needed.

456 threads out of a total of 3,456 is 13% of the warp.  I decided to add these threads to the second back beam on my AVL dobby and then mix them evenly into the main warp when I thread the pattern.  I need an additional 72 threads added to the 504 threads already wound on.  The solid color threads are medium grey and, as I mentioned, will constitute 13% of the total warp.  I hope it will look good!  It was my best guess on how to get the width I need!

By the afternoon I had the  the smaller warp on the supplemental beam–just 12 threads each in six sections.  Since tomorrow is my last day here, and I have plenty to do to close up this house ’til next May, I will have to leave threading ’til I return.

The weave structure I’ve chosen is an overshot lace that I found in the book 60 Scarves for 60 Years from the Weavers’ Guild of Greater Baltimore. It was designed by Carol Bodin especially to use with a painted warp.  Her project uses a solid color weft, so I am really looking forward to seeing how my project will work with a painted weft in an entirely different colorway….it will certainly be an exciting project to come home to!

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After bringing both warps around their back beams and putting in the lease sticks I tidied up my studio so it will entice me to get to work when I return.  Bob and I headed out for our last walk along the CT River until spring.  It is the first cold day of the season here, and the sky was a clear winter blue with large fleecy clouds.  Two sights surprised us.  First, there were two big draft horses with an open carriage on one of the quiet residential roads that leads to the river.  I guess these horses were giving carriage rides in the center of town earlier in the day.

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And a last good bye to the sheep who live on the corner of the street that leads to the river.  They aren’t too sure about Bob and me, so every time we try to take their picture they generally run for cover into the barn! All our photos show them running away!

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We’ll be running away ourselves on Monday.  Future posts will look much more tropical.

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A Bit of Holiday Foolishness

Each year the quest for 10 sheep presents is never far from my mind.  My sheep group has been meeting for 37 years now, and I have been a member for about half that time.  The group has renamed itself a number of times, but the most colorful name is the “Flockettes.”  As the years have passed we have now become rather good sleuths at finding sheep Christmas cards and sheep wrapping paper and ribbon.  I kid you not, this is major holiday sheep hunting and can make or break my mental stability!

So let’s start with the sheep tableau at the porch door to my house. They are a recent gift from my good friend Susan, who is not a member of the sheep group.  She just knew how much I would enjoy this little flock.

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One of the most popular gifts for our sheep group is tree ornaments.  Most of us now have a ‘sheep’ themed Christmas tree somewhere in our houses.  Our mantles, front doors, and dining room centerpieces are usually based on sheep.  After 37 years of getting 10 presents each year we have a LOT of sheep!

This year, as Thanksgiving approached, I was getting fairly nervous that I still did not have my sheep presents OR any  appropriate sheep wrapping paper and ribbon.  What’s a sheep lover to do???  In a panic I may have come up with lamest gift ever–but at least I was not running around all the shopping venues in my area, or trolling  the internet.  I was home having a bit of fun with one of the gifts I got years ago from “Flockette” Karyn!  I made a desk calendar of “Lambie” doing various weaving and handwork projects for 2016.

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Here are a few images of Lambie doing projects.  In February she is working on some bobbin lace hearts.

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Lambie at the loom working on a boundweave project

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Lambie learns to dye from some expert mushroom dyed gnomes (dyed and knitted by mycologist Susan Hopkins)

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And Bob made Lambie some reading glasses so she could do close work like embroidery.

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Do you think I’ve gone a bit overboard??

And in other holiday fun that did not involve sheep–but did involve kitties which I also love– I made a several of these little knitted bags.  My oldest childhood friend Lea Ann (oldest as in in how long we’ve known each other, NOT how old we are!) gave me a kit for this precious little knitted bag.  You can get these kits at Creative Fibers in Windsor, CT.  The shop owner designed the pattern and calls it “Button Jar’s Chump Change.”  You can also just get the purse frame  from this shop and use your own yarns and fabrics to make these little gems.  The only other thing you might need is Nicky Epstein’s book Knitted Flowers.

This is the first bag I finished for a gift exchange in my bobbin lace group.

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These are the other two.  The red bag is from the kit my friend gave me, and the purple one is for my sister.  It’s a great little bag for knitting tools (I put a collection of stitch markers in my sister’s bag) or it could be a little project bag for small things like tatting.

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LeaAnn included a little kitty pin to embellish my bag.  The kitty is encrusted in ‘diamonds’ and is playing with a ball of yarn.  Initially I attempted to embellish my bag with knitted balls of yarn unraveling across the bag, but I wasn’t happy with that.  Now he is playing with his ball of yarn in a flowering vine.

Front.

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Back.

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I hope each of you has bit of time for doing something you love during this busy, busy season.  And although there is no snow yet in this part of the world, I hope your holidays are beautiful.

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It’s Official….Let Panic Ensue!

Yesterday afternoon, while I was enjoying a holiday lunch with two of my dear friends from New York/New Jersey, Bob got word from the State Department  (specifically someone in the OFAC office–Office of Foreign Assets Control) that we have been approved to visit Cuba this winter.

I am now officially excited and scared to death.  There is a 350 mile ocean crossing from Turks and Caicos to the first landfall just west of Guantanamo, Cuba.  I know that’s only 1/5th of what our sailing friends do when they sail to the BVI, but it’s more than this landlubber is ready to tackle….

Meanwhile, here is a little Christmas cheer from the Delamar in Southport, Connecticut. Whatever you’re celebrating this month, I hope it’s wonderful….

Kari and June Southport 3

 

Postscript:  I may have spoken too soon.  Bob and I have been approved to visit Cuba, but our boat has not!  And we need permission to sail on our boat as much as we need permission for ourselves.  Stay tuned.

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