CLSR and Silk

This is a continuation of my saga of enjoying photographing wildlife. Several years ago I bought a Canon 20D Single Lens Reflex camera system that included an L-series 400 zoom lens that opened the world of bird photography to me and enabled me to take wonderful pictures of the eagles in their nest that are posted on my old web site ( The years passed and the system became too heavy for me and I passed it on to my son. I decided I needed a small point and shoot camera as I thought that was all that was available that would be light weight enough for me.

I went to the best source: Precision Camera in Austin, Texas. I asked to speak to Robert Backman, who sold me the Canon system. I was astounded that Robert remembered me after so long. When I told him I wanted a point and shoot camera, he said, “No you don’t, Rheba, I know you and I know your work and you would not be happy with just a point and shoot. But I have a new one you are going to love.” I asked how he knew my work and was surprised to learn he had been to my web site and seen the wildlife pictures I had taken with the Canon camera he had sold me. If you are in the market for a camera, go to Precision Camera and ask for Robert Backman. The day I bought my present camera there were five people ahead of me waiting to talk to Robert, and only to Robert. He know photography and knows his merchandise and matches his customer to the right camera and vice-versa. For me, he recommended the Olympus E-P3 Compact SLR because it is lightweight, has a lightweight telescopic lens and is almost as powerful as my previous camera and I could continue to shoot pictures of wildlife with it. And he told me a little story. He said that after he sold me the Canon system years ago, some of his colleagues laughed and teased him for selling such a complicated system to a woman my age.  After he had been to my web site and seen my photographs he told them ,” You can laugh at me, but you should see what she did with that camera.” I was pleased with his praise and irritated and insulted that his colleagues years ago had judged by my white hair that I would be too dumb to use the complicated Canon System. 

I bought the Olympus E-P3. I am a manual reader. The Canon manual was straight forward and excellent. The Olympus manual has everything one needs to know in it, but it is organized in a manner that seemed incompatible with the way my brain works. I was beginning to be concerned that Robert’s colleagues might have the last laugh. My big talent–persistence–came into play and I kept studying te manual and trying to figure out the very different way this camera works compared to my Canon. I read three reviews and was somewhat mollified to read that one of the photographers reviewing the Olympus states that this is a camera for an advanced SLR user. Somehow a few sentences in those reviews helped the light to go on about using the manual. It has been like untying a knot. If you manage to get one part untied, other ways become obvious.

Today I shot at high shutter speeds in an attempt to stop the action of the hummingbird wings and I got a pleasant surprise gift as well. Let me show  you:

Note the spider silk trailing from her tail. I imagine that came from her nest, as they line their nests with spider silk. Her tiny tongue is protruding a bit as well.

Here she is approaching the feeder with the silk still trailing behind.


Almost there. I have one of her at the feeder with the silk wrapped against her tail but I can’t find it.

ImageThis is just a bonus. I like the markedly different wing spreads and posture of the flying birds and the little head that can be seen through the water that makes it a group of six.

Robert Backman has done it again. He has a customer who is quite satisfied with her new camera system. I told him that he is not just selling cameras, he is selling many hours of joy and pleasure as we chase the birds and animals with our cameras.










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Staying Focused One Way or Another

I began the day with a list of things I wanted to accomplish and reminded myself that the secret of success is to stay focused on what I am doing. I worked for a couple of hours on the in-progress colorwork scarf  I am knitting for Lynette:

Stranded colorwork Cardinal scarf in progress

Oh, here is a picture of my first colorwork effort:

Cinnamon Teal Ski Cap

I discovered I like doing colorwork, specifically stranded knitting because the Eastern or modified Portuguese style that I abandoned Continental style knitting for makes colorwork easy. The threads are in position each time, no need to twist them, trapping long floats is a breeze, the yarns do not tangle, and the purl stitch almost purls itself. But I am getting off focus, sorry.  

I then wound yarn from my hand spindles onto storage bobbins, and even wound some Rambouillet yarn from my wheel bobbin to a storage bobbin. The fiber is from one of the fleeces I was given last year.

Next on my mental list was to replenish the hummingbird feeders. And that was my downfall. As I hung the full feeders, the birds backed off but as soon as they were hanging, the birds came thundering back, feeding eight inches in front of my face and some even fed on the relatively empty feeders that were in my hand. I got my camera and tripod and, forgetting my list, began to focus on taking photographs of the hummingbirds. I used the smaller 14/42 lens of my new Olympus camera that I am still learning how to use. I wanted to change the setting to stop the wings but had forgotten how.  I spent at least an entire hour taking 511  photographs and then spent the next four hours looking at, editing and choosing the pictures I like. Here you see some of the results:

Hummingbird tongue

Have you ever seen a humming bird tongue? Now you have.

I have no idea whether this is a Ruby Throated or a Black Chinned female

 This is the only Ruby Throated Hummingbird I saw today. Last year we had markedly diminished numbers of birds. Whereas I had in former years put out six feeders for around a hundred birds, black chinned and ruby throated relatively evenly numbered, I saw only a few black chinned birds last year. Today, at least, the black chinned birds were in the majority.  It is luck when I get a picture of the bird’s throat showing color; they dart so fast that it is difficult to click the shutter just as the color reflects and before the bird is gone. Here is a black chinned male showing his beautiful color:

Black Chinned male and two females

I may have lost focus on my to-do list but it was more than compensated by the pleasure I experienced focusing on photographing the lovely hummingbirds!

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Saying Good-bye and Saying Hello

For the last two weeks I have been in a creative frenzy and my studio looks like a tornado struck in full force. This happens when I am preparing to begin a new creative activity. It begins with an idea that draws me into myself to contemplate, to think about what needs to be done and how I want to proceed and whether I have the courage to jump into the new and unknown again. For me, that translates into letting the water run in the kitchen sink until it overflows and I have to mop everything dry, misplacing my check book, scaring myself with erratic behavior.

This recent episode was compounded by some difficult decisions I felt I had to make. There are so many creative endeavors that I enjoy but I am older and slower now and I have to face reality even if it is painful to do so.  I no longer have the time and energy to do all the things I love to do. I have set aside knitting for a while and retained crocheting because I find it easier and more fun. But the big decision, the one that has caused me considerable angst is that I have decided to disassemble my cloth doll-making studio. I so enjoy making dolls and the process calls on every skill I ever developed and causes me to develop more. But I seem now to be well entrenched in the fiber arts of spinning and, in process of learning, weaving. In order to have time to accomplish anything in these areas I have to let the doll making go. I think one reason that I have felt such sadness behind the decision is that I did not have the chance to work through that activity until I was ready to move on. I made a number of dolls, took an advanced course learning to design my own dolls, and still had several dolls I wanted to make.  Because of illness I had to set aside  the doll making to take on some of my husband’s chores until he recovered,which he has now. However, I will not return to doll making. Fortunately, my daughter in law Tresa not only used to make baby dolls, but she also collects dolls, so when I asked if she were interested in taking over my doll making supplies she said yes. That helped the pain a bit and even though the decision has caused me pain I know in my heart it is a correct one. And I am confident that my beloved supplies and tools will be in good hands. And who knows? Tresa might even get interested in making crazy art dolls that I like so well, as well as beautiful ones. I set about separating out the things that will go to north Texas with Tresa over several visits.

Another thing that had temporarily been set aside was silk fabric painting, both because of lack of time and because after the wall street crooks debacle I felt I needed to wait for better economic times to buy the expensive French silk paints I wanted. Spinning and needlework could be set down at a moment and returned to easily and that has been my focus the last three years. Some time  during the tearing down process it dawned on me that the Procion Mx dyes that I used to create special fabrics for art doll skin and clothes would also work on silk and I have lots of those dyes. It wouldn’t be the hand painted scarves that I had originally planned to do but it could be fabric decoration and embellishment, and I saw a new door swinging open. I was reminded of the adage that sometimes one must let a good thing go so another good thing can come to take its place. That began the frenzy. While disassembling the doll making studio I have begun unpacking  the supplies to do silk screen printing,  carving my own fabric printing blocks, making permanent stencils, starting my dye notebook, getting familiar with their behavior on silk fabric, taking inventory of what I can use of what I have and the few additional supplies and tools I need to acquire. Then I saw that with an additive those same dyes would work on the wool fibers that I have here to spin and I can have the additional  pleasure of developing my own colors to use for crochet and weaving. I even have the silk screening supplies and just need to prepare the frames and boards to support the fabric. I already have a steamer, a silk frame, and tjantings for silk work with wax. It is as if most of my supplies including a large stash of fabric suitable for collage work were here just waiting for the right time for a new direction. And that is what I see and feel approaching, a new direction in my creative work.

In the process of going through  my fabric enhancement books I found one I didn’t remember reading, yet I know I did, for it was highlighted and underlined. It is on fabric collage for decorating vests, tunics, whatever. That grabbed my attention this time around because I love to collage anything and this would be faster than freeform crochet. Coupled with creating complex cloth (a term I learned from Jane Dunnewold who teaches such creative activities. Take a look at her website here.), spinning, weaving, crocheting, fabric collage, like doll making would call  upon multiple skills of using color, design, sewing, painting, carving, drawing, beading, and I would learn deconstructed silk screening as well. I began to get excited and the ideas began to flow. As usual, that resulted in several nights of being unable to sleep until three AM but somehow, because what kept me awake was creative thinking and ideas instead of worrying about something into the wee hours, I was not tired the next day.

Best of all, I have a friend who is also interested in working with fabric. Barbara is wildly creative and walking into her home is like walking into a new world of color, shape and beautiful design. She can create clothing patterns from schematics, something I have not done, and we plan to work together to improve our skills. It may be that her pattern making will inform my desire to make functional things now, things that will be useful as well as beautiful.  Good-bye is bittersweet, but it may result in increased joy for Tresa as she returns to doll making, and Hello has great potential for joy for me as I plunge into the dye pots and the printing paste and the satisfaction of cutting down on all the spinning fiber I have yet to spin and transform into fabric. And what is better than sharing such fun with a good friend?

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Correction to today’s ( June 8, 2011) update on Rheba’s Reflections

Peggy Osterkamp said on the DVD that one may have to weight the TREADLES of the loom, not the heddles, as I wrote incorrectly.

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The Perils of A Warped Wanna’-be Weaver

It is My sister Lynette’s fault that this is being posted, because she isn’t home for me to tell my learning to weave woes to her. I told her I would not tell my beginning failures to my two weaving cousins Bob and Joyce because they are so good at what they  do, but Lynette is gone when I need to tell it.  She seems to find my woes hilarious, and she admitted that she has wasted tons of yarn learning to weave. They are not truly wasted, I have lots of ready to use discarded yarn to tie my warps with, and a creative quilting friend who asked for any left over yarn I have.  Yet I have to tell these woes  to the uncaring universe to get my perspective back.

I am still a rank (and I use that word deliberately) beginner at the Wolf Pup 4 shaft floor loom, which I have already come to love. I made a beginning sampler that had such dire problems that it ended up about place mat size instead of the lovely two yard sampler I had envisioned and attempted. I call it my sample-sized sampler.  I had warped (threaded) it front to back. I decided I want to learn to warp back to front.  I got Peggy Osterkamp’s excellent DVD on the subject. I wrapped a new sampler warp having no problem with the weaver’s cross and was able to decipher the group cross she likes to have at the end to put in the raddle, a device designed to spread the threads evenly on the loom,  for you non-weavers.  I wrapped it on a stick (for some reason called a kite stick by Osterkamp) to keep the threads straight and took it to the loom. And there the misadventure began.

Yesterday I indicated to Bob  in an email that there was trouble in the paradise of warping back to front using Peggy Osterkamp’s technique. I found it impossible to tie the end stick to the apron rod by myself. It kept slipping and falling off. Husband Farris finally held it for me, but these techniques are touted as one person techniques. Of course Peggy had no trouble at all on the DVD. I had tied the required string across the end stick to keep the warp from falling off. That should have been a huge red flag, the directions to do that, I mean. While trying to tie those blasted things together the warp ends didn’t just try to come off, they ended up riding on the string instead of the stick as they dangled. Repeatedly. But I went to lunch and came home feeling optimistic and began working with it all again. I beamed the warp,  and “yanked and cranked” to tighten it. Of course it didn’t tighten anything like Peggy’s  did in the DVD, straight and easily. But I kept on and then it came time to begin threading the heddles. I discovered that there is no point in having a back beam that is removable in this technique because of course the warp has to travel OVER said back beam. She wanted the shafts raised so I dragged two 25 pound bags of shot and placed them on the treadles (“you may  have to weight the heddles,” she said, as she quickly and easily placed a stick in her particular loom to prop the shafts up.) This is to get them at eye level for easy threading if you are sitting/kneeling down on her little special stool to which I would be permanently attached because I could never get up even if I could sit that low. I “raddled” and measured and centered over and over for what she called a 5 inch warp. Of course, it is off-center after putting all of it on the heddles and half of it through the reed so when I go back to the studio I have to move  50 threads to the right IF I can figure out why the center, which still measures the center of the reed is not the center of the warp, even though I started at the exact measurement she said to start. I worked on threading the reed until 1:30 last night when I discovered that the center of the reed is not the center of the not 5 inch, but (aha!) 8 inch warp that is on the loom. When I went to bed at 1:30 I spent about an hour reading Deborah Chandler’s back to front directions. In order to comfort myself, I had the most wonderful Swiss Omelet for breakfast this morning at County Seat Restaurant, and then when I went in to start transferring those threads in the reed I discovered that one of the bundles of yarn is LOOSELY TRAVELLING BOTH OVER AND UNDER THE BACK WARP BEAM AS IT  UNWINDS!!!!! How can it do that?????I stood there aghast and wondered  how that happened. The best answer I found was that it is the end bundle and although I put in paper folded in one inch on each end to keep the ends straight so they don’t slip off,  according to Osterkamp, they must have slipped off  the stack of wound yarns and I have a mell of a hess on my loom.

There are things I like about back to front warping. The yarn goes through the heddles first, that makes it easier for me to put it through the reed. I like that the yarn only goes through the loom once and one way, instead of going front to back and then having to come back through to the front while weaving. But I found the raddle a pain the neck, at least the one that came for this loom that has the cap. It is extra work  to use the cap; I would only use rubber bands and masking tape in the future if I am crazy enough to ever do this again, and it is difficult to put the raddle on the slanted back beam. I used Quick Clamps instead of putting the adaptation on that came with the raddle–that would have added another 30 minutes to warping time. If I accidentally hit a clamp it tended to slip on the smooth, polished wood. Of course, Chandler says set the raddle in the beater where the reed usually sets if you can’t clamp it to the back beam.

 I just had to try this technique and right at the moment I feel like a dedicated front to back warped weaver. And I shudder when I think that I still have to learn about floating selvedges and extra selvedge threads And supplementary warps, when  despite measuring umpteen dozen times, I can’t even get the warp beamed smoothly and the warp centered properly.

  Joyce once admitted to me it was nearly a year before they were comfortable with warping and threading their loom, and that comforts me much. I must add that they have larger and more complicated looms than I do. However, there must be  a serious defect in my psyche because I plan to go in there and transfer those pesky yarns in the reed one by one, and I may just cut off that end bundle–it is just a sampler, after all. I may never progress past Sampler 101.  I wonder why I love learning new things when it NEVER goes smoothly for me as it does for so many others. Nonetheless, based on past learning experiences, I suspect that one of these days I will be including pictures of lovely  projects woven on my beloved Wolf Pup loom.

I am glad my greatest talent is perseverance.

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Computers, Spinning and Ham

There is never a dull moment at The Lair.  Easter has always been my favorite holiday, primarily because of the religious significance, but also because of the chocolate I used to get in my Easter Baskets as a youngster (the bunny passed me up this year in terms of chocolate, and I felt deprived.) I also loved this one because once again we had a precious time with Mitch and Tresa and Mitch’s former college roommate Stan as they came for the Easter holiday. Tresa had genealogy speaking engagements in Round Rock and Georgetown. Stan walked in and quietly began working on the computers, installing my new printer, generally refurbishing anything having to do with our computers. Mitch, who is now into ham radio, and who has a portable one that he brings down when they come, this time also brought a wire antenna that he wanted to put up in the trees to facilitate reception.

I watched him and Farris try to throw the weighted wire over the top of the oak tree without success until finally they went into town to a bow and arrow store called Knocked and Loaded, intending to buy a bow and arrow to send the wire over the tree, but came back instead with a burly man-sized sling shot. That did the trick and they got the antenna up, pulled it across to a tree at the top of the hill behind the house and although it is not as high as needed to get signals from Europe, he did achieve a 2000 mile radius with it. It was nice to see him get to play with his toys on the screened patio. Poor Stan was laboring over the computers, something Mitch usually  has to do. Stan is the acknowledged PC expert.

It seems that  ham operators now can either  talk over their mikes as usual or the signal can be received by a device that translates it into text. Mitch worked at his laptop using his ham radio much more than doing the old-fashioned vocal over and out thing.

Speaking of translating, Stan had an application on his phone that would translate an English statement into dozens of languages. It will do it either by sound or by text. I could have  used that when we were in Paris a few years ago.  No wonder I love electronics! I also learned that the electronic powers that be are developing “smart cloth,” fabric with circuitry in it so that one can be monitored for various health problems while wearing one’s smart cloth clothing. I hope it is priced so that more than the super rich can have those benefits.

One of my external hard drives had died and Stan took it apart to show me what is inside and how they work and I ended up with several wonderful collage pieces. In addition, there were three very shiny reflective discs that I immediately wondered if I could use to make into workable hand spindles. I liked the idea that I might be able to recycle the disc drives into hand spindles, tools to which I am also quite attached. The holes in the center were larger than those in the CD I made into a spindle, and I had to put a grommet into a grommet but with some pieces of dowel, some sand paper, small cup hooks, some glue, I ended up with three new spindles for less than three dollars. They spin surprisingly well. To put the groove in the side of the  disc for the yarn to travel in as it comes up from the shaft, I used my rubber lined ball vise, another tool I am attached to, and a handy triangular file Farris loaned me. It took maybe 15 seconds to make the notch for the yarn. I let the glue dry overnight and this morning when I took the spindles into the spinning room and was testing them with some fiber, two huge wild turkeys poked along the side yard outside the window, pecking around.

I have been working diligently on a weaving sampler, working through Jane Patrick’s excellent book on rigid heddle weaving. This time I am working with pick-up sticks. This is where the rigid heddle loom shows its power, because with the pick-up sticks one can make patterns that require many shafts on a floor loom. One pattern would have required a ten shaft loom, but with the rigid heddle and several pick-up sticks it was done. As I began to see the more complicated patterns develop I became well and truly hooked on weaving. And I ordered a four-shaft Wolf Pup LT floor loom. A small loom, it will be just right for my studio and it and the Beka both fold for storage if need be. It will be delivered in about four weeks and I hope to finish Patrick’s exercises before it comes in because that is another learning curve to tackle. I also have all the supplies and books and DVDs to learn Card weaving, but have not had the time to begin that learning curve. As I said, never a dull moment.

I have been totally uninterested in the royal wedding that took place today, but yesterday an email from daughter Camilla came in suggesting a game they were apparently playing as they toiled diligently at their respective jobs. It consists of using one’s royal wedding guest name in honor of the bride and groom. To arrive at that royal name,  use terms Lord or Lady and take the first name of one of one’s grandparents, add the name of one’s first pet and then add the name of the street where you lived when you were born. It was fun to see the names various family members and friends came up with.  I need to go start weaving so I can be ready when my Wolf Pup comes in. Until next time I remain
Yours truly,
HRH Lady Anna Charlotte Wendy NoStreets-Meeker
 (There were no street names where I grew up so I added the name of the community instead)

Posted in ham radio, rigid heddle weaving, spindle spinning | 1 Comment

Intuition, Alpacas and a Pup

Years and years ago I was browsing in the public library and the name of an author on a series of books caught my eye. It was the name Anais Nin. I felt unusually drawn to the books even though I had no idea what they were so I picked out one of them based only on the name of the author and that strange interest I felt;  I had never heard of her before that time. I found her novels difficult  to understand but I persisted and learned later that a seven volume set of her many, many diaries was published and I bought the books and read them. It was one of the most positive watershed life-altering things that I have done for myself, for as a result of reading and studying her collection I began my own process of journal writing. Nin believed you could create a life through one’s journal. I just kept a journal. At times I kept several kinds of journals.

Not only did this result in my learning more about myself, it  simultaneously enabled me to develop my own style of writing, it helped me bring out my creative qualities, and at times served as deep self therapy. No one else ever saw the journals. I still write in a journal although not as often.

 Later in life I discovered the “Magic Book” technique, a type of image journaling that pulls from the subconscious, and it also had a magic, life-enriching effect and showed me that often my subconscious mind knew the directions I was heading long before my conscious mind knew. Briefly, although there are other aspects to it, in the Magic Book technique one just collects many, many images from many sources, just because they catch ones attention or one feels drawn to the image or one just likes the image, and they are tossed in a box for later use. After a series of exercises that taught me the technique, I began to create pages  by adding the images to the pages of blank books just as I felt like doing it, sometimes adding words or phrases or watercolor or other media to enhance or further decorate the pages. I seldom had a reason or a plan, I just did it, and it was amazing to see themes develop over time, to see repeating images appear, all leading to contemplation of why this was happening  and what they might mean. Some of the pages I  react to with a  strong positive  feeling  each time I view them, although I honestly do not know what they portray or why I feel so drawn to that particular page. I always feel strengthened after viewing those enigmatic pages.  One image that I cut out of a magazine and eventually featured in a prominent way on a page in my Magic Book was a tree that had lots of computers on its branches like hanging fruit. This was about two years before I gave any  thought to working on a computer, much less learning to paint digitally or to have a web site, etc. There were other “magic moments” that I can trace in my Magic Books that in retrospect, gave a hint or forecast of directions in which I would eventually go. The Magic Book helped me discover symbols that are personal and meaningful to me.

In a slightly different way, recently I have felt that same strange inner pull to something and I am curious whether it will prove to be a new source of enrichment for me. Without having heard of card or tablet weaving, I ran across something about it while researching Inkle looms and Inkle weaving. I felt  a strong inner  pull to learn more about card  weaving even before I knew what it is. At present  I am learning to do Inkle weaving, but  I have not felt that inner pull, or inner recognition about Inkle weaving.  I was researching Inkle weaving because someone gave me an Inkle Loom. Recognizing that intuitive interest or inner pull,  I ordered a DVD about Card Weaving  and immediately felt an inner excitement as I viewed the DVD  so I ordered a book about it and my interest increased as I read the history of card weaving. Because my friend had given me the Inkle loom, I began trying to learn to warp and weave on that loom and set aside the idea of card weaving.

Now I have temporarily set aside the Inkle loom and  I  just received my order of card sets for card weaving and I have turned again to reading the card weaving book and will review the DVD. It looks much more complicated than Inkle weaving so I do not understand why I feel this interior pull toward tablet/card weaving. It will be interesting  to see whether I can learn it, whether I will like it, and whether I will prefer it to Inkle weaving. My past experience tells me that the intuitive attraction has purpose so some time in the next few weeks  I am going to start trying to learn card weaving. I am just getting into learning to use my rigid heddle loom, and do not want to add anything new right now, but card weaving  is rather ancillary to weaving on the loom, so I may add it before too long. Life is such a grand adventure, with so many directions from which to choose!

Not having a fellow weaver or a weaving teacher in this area, I am having to learn all this through books, DVDs, occasional help from cyber friends or my cousin and sister via long distance phone calls, and by trial and error. I had never seen a table loom and wanted to see one.  I don’t even have a good yarn store within a hundred miles. A few weeks ago, though, I sent a letter to the Austin Spinning and Weaving Guild and asked them if there is a store in the area that sells looms and weaving supplies. I got a very prompt reply from a very helpful person who pointed me to the nearest well-supplied weaving store that is located between Dripping Springs and Wimberley, Texas. It is Old Oaks Ranch. Farris and I don’t travel much anymore and I debated whether I wanted to make a 200 mile round trip just to see a table loom that I was not ready to buy because I am still learning to weave on a rigid heddle loom.

One lovely day a week or so ago we did drive down to Old Oaks Ranch. It is a lovely place with spreading oak trees and a sculpture garden and picnic tables in the shade  of the trees and patio tables and chairs in the shade in front of the store. A great bonus is that it is also an Alpaca farm. The animals are ready for shearing that is scheduled for April so they were in full coat and looked so cuddly that I would love to have hugged one. I doubt the alpacas would have appreciated it. We could not enter the pastures but I saw a beautiful cinnamon colored one, and white ones, and brown and a huge sheep dog, and there is even an Angora rabbit there although it was hiding from the wind in its hutch so I did not get to see it. I had taken sandwiches and we enjoyed a cool lunch under the trees while watching the Alpacas roaming about.

All the above is lovely, but the magic is in the store. It is absolutely full of gorgeous colorful yarns and samples and the inventory is huge for this part of the country and well worth the trip down there. Sue Ellen, who owns the shop,  spent at least two hours with me helping me choose warp and weft yarns, and explained the shaft looms to me. Her friendly helpfulness  and generosity is a large part of the warm welcome one feels when one enters that beautiful shop. There was a class in progress when I first got there.  Other people who worked there were friendly and helpful and I felt a pang of sorrow that I was so far away from such a wonderful resource. Sue Ellen said if I have a project, I could let her know the colors I want  and she would snip sample threads and send them to me so I can choose the yarns I want. She also remarked that if I ever want a specific color of alpaca I can specify the animal, such as that cinnamon color I liked. They sell alpaca batts and top and had some “raw’ fleece I wanted to sink my hand into.  I could have spent the entire day there just going from one part of the store to another to look at the beautiful yarns and other supplies. Sue Ellen had just bought a large inventory of silk blends that I wanted to take right out to my car, but I had to resist because I am still building my stash of warp yarns. My sister is planning to visit next week and we have plans to go back to Old Oak Ranch.

It was worth the trip in another way for me because after seeing a table loom I discovered that getting one would present problems to me because I do not have a table that would put the loom at a good height. After returning home I discussed this with my cousin Joyce and I have decided that if I do want to go on to a shaft loom I will purchase a four-shaft Wolf Pup floor loom. I don’t want eight shafts, and the Pup will be faster than a table loom and will enable me to create many patterns and use varied techniques. Joyce has a Pup among her collection and is very pleased with it. It is nice to have that settled. I have been learning hand manipulated techniques on the Beka loom this week and have enjoyed it. With persistence, I may yet learn to be a weaver!

I have been organizing my spinning and I spun and plied several ounces of Himalayan cat hair this week for the cyber friend who sent me the cat hair. One of her beloved cats had to be put down recently so I got busy and spun the rest of the hair and made a keepsake scarf for her. I hope it will bring her some comfort. I tried to add a picture but I kept ending up on a page with just the picture so I will have to study how to do that successfully some other time. Next I am turning my attention to spinning some of wools that I have waiting. Spinning soothes me so I look forward to a serene week ahead.

























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