Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.

Ashley Smith

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Sister's Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to you... Happy Birthday to you...
Yes, it's true.  My sister had a birthday last month and I have been dying to write about the placemats I wove for her!  But, I didn't want to spoil the surprise- now she has them and I can show you all photos!!

It all started a year ago, when she asked me to weave her new placemats for her birthday this year.  I tormented her with photos, questions- What colors, what pattern, what size?? And she dutifully answered everything, picked a pattern, suggested colors... so I went ahead and did something totally different!! I know, I know, I'm like that.

Four Placemats
I wanted to use the warp that I painted in the class I took with Kristie at Blue Flag Handweaving Studio.  It was originally supposed to be for scarves, but my sister didn't want scarves... She wanted placemats!  The painted warp is perle cotton and the colors don't show up very well in this photo, but they are the lighter stripes.  Then I had to buy some blue perle cotton for accent stripes and weft.  I did use some of my stash for the green and yellow (can't really see the yellow...) stripes.  This is also cotton, but it is cotton rug warp.

And then, I suddenly got tired of the blue perle cotton and was forced to buy some beautiful dark green- thus 2 blue napkins and 2 green napkins.
2 blue, 2 green

Things I learned:
  • a plain weave border looks nice, but takes up differently than a twill body.  Next time, use basket weave for the border (thanks Kathy!)
  • Perle cotton and rug warp cotton are not the same, they have different stretch and shrinkiness (yes, I made that word up!)
  • I hate sewing.  Well, not exactly true, I don't hate it, I am just not good at it- even seams, I couldn't sew a straight line if my life depended on it!
  • Napkins and placemats don't HAVE to be square...
  • 6 yds of warp is A LOT of warp.
  • I love packaging things! One of the most fun parts was folding these up and tying them with pretty twine and a label.
Pretty twine and label (complete with pink kitty button accent!)

Beautiful placemat!!
Napkins and Placemats
So there they are- Birthday placemats!  (plus bonus napkins)

Next up... Crochet mania

Hope you all have a very Happy Holiday!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I wanna go to Summer Camp!

Yes, you heard me- I wanna go to Summer Camp!  Not right now (although the idea of summer already sounds fantastic...) and not just regular camp, where you swim in a stagnant pond and make wacky key chains out of braided plastic strips.  I am talking about HORSE CAMP!!!

Yay!  Doesn't it look super fun???

Here is the description from the Excel with Horses website:
Come join us at Horse Creek Ranch for a complete immersion into horsemanship. These fun and educational camps are a learning event of a lifetime.  Horse Creek Ranch will be your home for at least 5 days as Steve leads you to a higher level of understanding and communication with your horse. The things that you learn during your stay at the ranch will permanently change the way that you handle horses, in a positive way. This is a small group atmosphere that will insure lots of personal instruction from Steve.

Five (5!) whole days of horsie bliss... Steve is Steve Rother.  One can even stay in a teepee (well I think it is a teepee, on the site it is listed as T.P. and I recognize that abbreviation from my shopping list...).

Here's more details if you are interested: The School of the Horse: Horse Camps. I know, I know- it looks awesome, doesn't it?
The mule says "no thank you" to camp.

That brings us to... (wait for it...)

My bullet list of things that need to happen to pave my way to camp:
  • Time off- shouldn't be too big of an issue, as long as my dear husband doesn't mind manning the fort while I am off goofing around learning important stuff.
  • Trailering my buddy sour gelding (a.k.a "Big Baby") by himself to NE Washington (this issue is multi faceted as it also involves me driving the big Dodge and horse trailer...because, even though he offered, it doesn't seem fair to ask Brian to drop me off and pick me up)
  • And lastly, the big obstacle challenge: the cost. It is a totally reasonable price for the experience, I am just presently at a loss of how to come up with the dough.
The reason I am writing this post (aside from letting you in on a what looks like a great horse camp!), is because I am practicing asking the universe for what I desire.  The law of attraction and all that.  Also, and more practically, if I make it real by putting it out there, I will be motivated to make it work.  Yay me! 

This idea (horse camp) also encompasses my 3 life words; Love, Hope, Trust (you know, the blog name?)
Love the horses, Hope to learn better horsemanship, and Trust that I can make it happen.

Anyway, I would appreciate any ideas of how to make my dream a reality and your support by way of positive thoughts, prayers (if you do that sort of thing) and general optimism!!

Isn't he cute?  Shouldn't he go to camp next summer? 

  (and he is not as skinny as this photo makes him look! Yikes. I think it is the angle)

Oh yeah, and if you happen to find a big sack of cash, you know where to find me :)! Just kidding! (mostly...)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Winter- weather we like it or not!

Winter weather.  Ho hum.  I usually love the first snow storm, but I usually love it more when it happens in December...

Here's our forecast, courtesy of NOAA

Snow, snow, snow, snow and snow! Oh yes, and "Wintry Mix" whatever that is (I am guessing it is not like Chex mix.)

Anyway, even though it has been cold (14 degrees when I walked to work this morning!) it has been supremely beautiful.  When I walked through the field this morning, it was like walking through a field of beautiful, sparkly diamonds.  And then, a little tiny breeze came up and the diamonds turned into sparkle lights... I was a little late to work (imagine that!)
This photo doesn't do it justice- Sparkle lights!!!
 And walking through the field is so enjoyable due to this:
Beautifully mowed path
My husband spent last Thursday (pre-snow) harnessing horses, hooking up the sickle bar mower, mowing this path and then raking it with the side delivery rake (which decomposed during the job and had to be repaired- ho hum, the perils of junk equipment).  I feel very well loved :)

The bison like it as well- they have made it their main thoroughfare.

Next up- Crochet projects!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bear Paw update!

Lovely "throw-down" yarn!
 Well, I finally took a photo of the yarn I am spinning from the picker throw down.  Isn't it beautiful?

Here are some more!:

I'll post more when it is plied.  Currently, I am torn between plying these singles together or plying them with something a little less wild!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bear Paw Spin In

Ok, so the spin-in was almost 3 weeks ago.  What can I say?  I've been busy enjoying this beautiful fall weather.

For those who don't know, a "spin-in" is not like a "sit-in" or anything.  It is an opportunity to spend time with a bunch of other fiber fanatics doing whatever fiber activity you were able to cram into the car that brought you there.  Depending on the size of your vehicle, this ranges from knitting (you can even bring this on your bike!) to needle felting (also highly portable) to weaving (definitely need something a little bigger than a bike...) to the main featured activity at this event: spinning! Yay!

This is Kristie weaving on painted warp

Look at all the different kinds of wheels!

Oh yeah, shopping opportunities as well!
This yearly spinner's retreat is organized by the Pend Oreille Fiberarts Guild of Newport, WA.  It is super fun and is held at a camp (I told you I was going to summer camp!) right on the Pend Oreille river.  The setting is simply fantastic and you don't have to actually camp, there are cabins and dorms with bunk beds.  
You can stay for the whole weekend for $50!  This includes meals from Friday dinner (potluck) through Sunday brunch.  Yes, truly a screaming deal and sooooo worth it.  You do need to bring your own sleeping paraphernalia (I brought my summer weight sleeping bag and favorite pillow- worked perfectly) and the bathrooms are campground bathrooms (yes, hot showers!!) meaning communal. To clarify, the bathrooms are communal, not the actual showers.  Unless you want to share, but we don't need to talk about that here...

This particular spinning event also promised something mysterious:

with equally mysterious instructions:

I had no idea what any of it meant, but imagine how delighted I was to find out it meant this:
silver, white and purple...

two shades of blue...

fluffing the fiber- I helped at this table for a couple hours and it was so delightful.
Isn't it lovely?
and finally- the picker!
 I found out the way the throw down works is you bring CLEAN, ready to spin fiber which gets weighed and added to the appropriate pile (purple/white/silver or blues).  Then the big piles are fluffed some more and the picker is used to gently blend them all together!

One of the many boxes filled between picker and scale.
Then everyone who put in some fiber, gets the same weight of mix back to spin.  Luckily, I had some freshly washed and picked white fleece from Snowball, so I was able to participate.  I have started to spin my take and it looks great (even if I do say so myself...)  I would show you a photo, but I forgot to take one (yeah, I know -BIG surprise)
I am not positive this is Snowflake (photo was taken at Skylines), but she looks just like this.  But dirtier now.
 All in all, it was a great weekend and I met lots of friendly and interesting women.  I would highly recommend this for anyone who has even the slightest interest in spinning or knitting or felting.  I am definitely going back next year!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I love our sheep...

Really, how could I not?  They are the peaceful trimmers of lawn, providers of wool and they come when I call them. Such beautiful and elegant animals.  And sometimes silly too- sproinking around and fake head butting each other, they really are a delight.

We felt bad for them in the spring and fall with no run in to get out of the rain. They do have a small house (in which Jasper was born) and a small stand of evergreen trees, but the house is only big enough for one or two at a time and while the trees provide shelter from the rain, they are less effective at blocking the wind.  The snow seems much less of a problem for them- they can shake it off.  The rain soaks in.

Snowy sheep (that's their little house in the background)
So plans were launched to build a sheep shelter.  Nothing extravagant...

Hand built (by Brian) log hay barn
But somewhere they could get out of the weather.

Maybe a little better than that... (besides sheep get tired holding umbrellas)

How about this?

Northern side
Western side (actually the back) Brian cut these big planks on his sawmill!

Front- facing east

Keepin' it tidy!

He's so cute that he gets another photo!
Brian and I spent one day this summer augering holes and putting in the 4 enormous corner posts.  Then it sat for a few weeks.  It was kind of fun, because people kept asking "What is that?!"  Sheep toys...

Finally we put up all the roof timbers and plywood for the roof and side boards, and when I came home from work one day, Brian had all the big timbers in back and the plywood and wire for the feeders done!!!

So cool!
The next step was getting the tin for the roof and sides.

We chose white and green. Very pretty.

Here, Brian explains how to put the trim on, instead of standing there with a camera...
See?  Like this.
Well now it is all finished and the sheep LOVE it!!  Of course, now it is raining and I don't have a photo of them enjoying it...  When I get one, I will share.

Mud season Fall has officially begun with a 10 day forecast full of rain.  In celebration, I am taking the weekend off and going to the spin-in at Bear Paw Camp!  I feel like I am going to summer camp!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The "Bob" Part 2

Water crossing/Drink break- the horses and mule are pretty good at crossing water.  Although Sapphire (the black and white paint in the lead) is kind of a stream hog when he is thirsty!
Lest you think we spent our whole trip lounging around camp, here are some highlights of the actually riding.

This is a pretty typical view for me on a pack trip.  I bring up the rear, give updates on the state of Mule's packs, and generally lolly gag around.  Brian, on the other hand, is in charge of navigation, addressing potential disasters on the trail (think back packers, bicyclists, moths, other things that might potentially eat a horse- never mind bears) and handling the mule.  It can get a little dusty in the back, but I am not one to complain!

The long and dusty trail.
Pretty sure this is Big Prairie... especially because of, well, the big prairie.
Lots of water crossings.

Of course there are times when I can trot up next to Brian:

And times when I can't (or won't!):

This is probably one of our least favorite trail features. Sheer cliff on the left, steep face on the right and footing that is, shall we say, less than perfect...
This was also very steep, but with good footing.  See how it was a little windy up here?
And this is a pretty typical view from the front:

Ears and trail...

A little bit different water crossing.

Pack Bridge at Big Prairie

 My husband jokingly asked me if I would like to lead Mule across this bridge.  Last year on our Bob trip, I wanted to lead Mule.  We did great until we stopped at the foot of a similar bridge to read a sign.  When it was time to go again, I did not pay attention to where the lead rope went.  Well, it went right up the back of my horse's legs and under his tail.  Suffice it to say,  my horse was not at all happy about that.  Some bucking and tearing around ensued, I ended up on the ground and my horse's hoof (complete with metal shoe) connected with my skull.  Minor concussion aside, it was still an awesome trip.  But, I did decline to lead Mule this time...

So, this bridge might not look all that impressive, after all it is no Golden Gate.  But, bear in mind that no motorized vehicles are allowed in the wilderness.  Every stick of wood, bolt, cable, everything... was brought in by pack animals. It's starting to look a little more impressive, isn't it?

The quick summary of camps:

Thursday: Trailhead (we covered this in The "Bob" Part 1)

Friday: What we have named "Ice Box Camp", near the top of Hahn Pass- it was mighty cold that night:

Frozen water bucket

But, lots of grass!
Saturday: Big Prairie.  As ridiculous as it seems, and quite accidentally, we camped in the exact same spot that we camped in 2 or 3 years ago when we rode through here!

Yeah... that's me, being campy.
And even though, we were miles from any road, there is this:

and this.  People get to live here during the summer!! Doesn't that sound awesome?

And this.  although we did not see the draft horses that would pull it...
 Sunday: Danaher Meadows.  We intentionally camped in the same spot this year as we have in the past, because, although there is a lotta, lotta grass here, water is a little harder to find.  Unless you want to camp in the swamp, which was not on our agenda...

Our view from our campsite.
 This is where we heard the wolves howling. and where the big herd of mules appeared outside our tent in the middle of the night. Coincidence?  I don't think so.  The mules actually disturbed me more than the wolves- my horse LOVES mules.  He has jumped out of the electric corral to meet up with them before, so taking no chances, we got up early to saddle up and ride!

Lunch break.  We only tie to trees for short periods, when we are right there to watch everyone.

This was (another) Big, Long day.  I think we did 26 miles this day, part of it over an enormous pass!
The Hoadley/Stadler pass went on forever...
Top of the pass.

Then, going down the other side!

 At the bottom, we stopped at this forest service cabin for a break.

Glad to have a break.

This is another typical scene: my horse stands patiently, while I root around in every pocket, every bag to find something I most likely left at the trailer...
Monday: Back at the trailhead.  So happy to be back at the trailer (no tent to set up), with a wooden corral (no electric corral to set up) and a truck to take us to dinner (no sausage, cheese and crackers for dinner!). As you can imagine, we slept well that night!!

Well that's about it. Already have our trip planned for 2012!  and hopefully another trip to Wyoming (think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid...)

I hope you enjoyed this trip summary.  I have another tale to tell, but it is from home base (and involves some pretty happy sheep!!)

Happy Indian Summer.