Re-Entering the World of Weaving

If you have visited our lodge sometime in the last year, you may have noticed a large piece of equipment when you first walk in the door:

The only place it fits!

Thanks to a chance opportunity, I acquired a new-to-me loom, about a year and a half ago.  Greg and I went to pick it up with his big pick-up truck, and dis-assembled, it literally filled the back.  We brought it home, stacked all of the pieces in the store, and there it stayed until Paul put it back together for me.  It was during a time that I had to be gone for several days at a stretch. It was wonderful to come home and see it all set up.  Since then, it's been a real journey to put it into actual use.

It was many years ago that I began weaving.  While in college, I needed a fine arts credit.  I like to put it this way:  I don't sing or dance or paint or draw, so it was a little intimidating to find a course.  When I saw one for beginning weaving, I decided that was a safe choice.  I always enjoyed working with my hands, and I was already a knitter, amongst other things.  That was the start of several classes and independent studies that I ended up taking to learn this.

In my early years at the lodge, I had a different loom set up.  First it was in the little cabin Agate, then the lodge, and eventually I moved it to the little log cabin we refer to as either the studio or old number four. That served me well as a place to work, but eventually, for a number of reasons, I stored everything away.  It just wasn't the time in my life to be trying to pursue weaving, between work, family, and homeschool. 

Now I am working on starting again.  When I am asked what I weave, my standard current answer is rectangles.  I started with a project that used some yarn from my stash, and wove up a scarf.  It was a little frustrating, but a good starter project for re-learning what to do when the tension goes bad or a warp string breaks.  From there, I turned to my old friend, cotton yarn, and made two more scarves.

Next up was a longer warp, destined to be dishtowels.  It may seem like a crazy thing to take the time to weave an object that is destined to be used for the task of drying dishes.  But it ultimately is quite satisfying, both in the process of making it, and then in the using of them once they are finished.  This loom has the capability to do much more patterning than my old loom.  My future projects include learning more about how to accomplish this, again starting out with basic dishtowels as my vehicle.

It's wonderful to be back in the realm of this hobby that I love.  I am fortunate to have a beautiful corner to work, with awesome views out to the woods and the lake.  What better inspiration could I have than the Northwoods?

Journal Making

Last week, Sharlene and I joined in with some of our neighbors to participate in a journal making workshop.  The purpose of it was to learn how to make these small books to be used at Chik Wauk museum next summer, as part of a children's naturalist program.  Karen, a fellow fiber guild member and book maker extraordinaire, guided us through the steps necessary:  fold, glue, tape and tie.  In no time, we had several journals piled up in a box.


The next step was the fun one--collaging the covers.  The table was filled with old calendars, outdoor magazines, and colorful papers for us to choose from.  We did more cutting and gluing, and soon had a nice little display, ready for photographs. 

Next summer, when you visit Chik Wauk, you may see one of these books in the hands of a budding naturalist.  Or watch for announcements about journal-making workshops at the museum, and make one of your own.  But remember, as Karen told us, it won't be a book until you write something in it.

There Be Pirates Here!

October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween, Everyone!  If ever there was a handmade holiday, I'd say that this one is it.  We have had our share of homemade costumes through the years, that is for certain.  As a kid, I remember seeing the pre-made costumes in the store, complete with plastic masks. I actually thought that I would like one of those, at one moment or other.  We sometimes ended up with a mask, and soon found out how uncomfortable those were!

Like most of the rest of the crafty moms out there, my strongest memories of October 30th include sewing at the last minute, trying to finish costumes for everyone to either take to school for a party, or just for trick-or-treating.  I have to admit that I did look forward to the year when I wouldn't be swamped by that task at 9:30 p.m.  The good news is that now if any of us need a costume, we can make it ourselves, and we can start a lot sooner.  Most of what we come up with is just makeshift, but hey, that works, too.

As a blast from the past, I found this photo to enjoy this Halloween Day.

Oct 31.jpg

Pirates were easy costumes to make, and always in vogue. Other ideas we used through the years included woodsmen, trappers, and of course,  the traditional scary stuff.

We were fortunate to be able to trick-or-treat right on our side road. The neighbors were very generous in handing out candy to the few little goblins that came along. It was much easier to do that than to drive all the way to Grand Marais and back.  It was also a nice opportunity to visit.

Although we don't have a need to trick-or-treat any more, we do still occasionally enjoy coming up with a costume or two.  Soon I will write here about a spectacular pirate party that took place this summer.  What fun to go down the road of the scurvy dogs, complete with plunder and treasure! Stay tuned, but until then, have a safe and happy Halloween!

Picnic Time

July 27, 2012

If a picnic opportunity presents itself, we like to grab it.  Our trek on the Centennial Trail was the perfect example.  Since we were going in the evening, I planned a simple menu of delicious food, we packed it up, and off we went to eat al fresco.

The proper knapsacks are important, but mostly, we just use what we have on hand.  Paul has a cool old sack that he has repaired himself.  It has lots of character, and I'm sure it has served many folks well.

Addie opted for the basic white canvas.  I just used my old trusty Jansport. It served as a table as well. The only problem we had was that the fresh loaf of ciabatta did not like to be carried vertically.  It ended up sagging a lot, but it still tasted great.  I had just baked that morning, so it was about as fresh as it could be. 

To accompany the bread, we had the most delicious piece of smoked salmon I have ever encountered in my life.  We love salmon, and most often we buy it from Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth.  We really love Eric's recipe, and the various ways that he seasons it.

This salmon was a gift to us from our friends Ron and Keli.  They had visited relatives in Seattle, and Ron hand-carried this fish from Washington all the way to Gunflint Lake.  It was seasoned and smoked perfectly---the flesh was like succulent flakes, somewhere between lox and the traditional smoked texture we are familiar with.  It was heavenly with the ciatbatta, and we think that Ron and Keli should go back to Seattle soon to bring home some more!

Devilled eggs, kalamata olives, salty potato chips and some fresh tomatoes and carrots rounded out the feast.  The only thing missing was chocolate!  I firmly believe that one should have a bar of good dark chocolate tucked in whenever taking an adventure in the woods.

Of course, beverages were a part of the journey--all that hiking causes one to work up a thirst.  Some of us enjoyed our drinks on the rocks:

We had a few mosquitoes join us, but they were manageable.  For the most part, we are seeing the seasonal decline in their numbers, so being in the woods is a lot nicer. 

I think we have found a new favorite picnic spot.  How about you?  Do you have a notable place that you like to go for a picnic?  Let us know where it is by sharing it in the comments section!