Sunday, July 31, 2011

It occurs to me....

It occurs to me that not everyone who reads this blog would have seen Anasazi beans.  These are beans that were grown by the people who lived in cliff dwellings in the Four Corners area.  The corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet at a spot indicated by a brass marker.  (Yes, I have been there and you can play a sort of hopscotch with feet in Utah and New Mexico and then Arizona and Colorado.  And, yes, I have done it.)

I cooked some for dinner last night and had enough for lunch today and dinner again tomorrow.  They are very simple to cook:  I picked them over to remove tiny stones and pieces of dirt, rinsed them and then soaked them over night.  The next morning I dumped them, water and all, into a sieve and rinsed them.  Then I covered them with fresh water, put a lid on the pot and simmered them until they were tender.  It is important not to salt them or put in anything acidic (like tomatoes) if you want them to become tender; those things can be added later.


This is what they look like:

They are creamy white with dark purple markings.  No two beans seem to have exactly the same markings and the color changes when they are soaked, but aren't they pretty?

Friday, July 29, 2011


I am home from the Intermountain Weavers' Conference.  And what a wonderful conference it was!  I have some idea of what goes into a conference that runs smoothly, so smoothly that it seems to be effortless.  But to do that requires a LOT of effort, mainly beforehand but also during the conference itself.

First, the site, Durango, Colorado, is beautiful.  It was warmer than usual while we were there but the humidity was very low which always makes it more comfortable.  Sweating works when it is dry!

I had a full class, fifteen participants.  They had widely different levels of experience, which is common for me, but all of them worked hard and did well.  It was interesting to watch them create stripe designs using black construction paper on Bristol board (about the same as poster board).  Right away it was easy to spot who liked simple designs and those who created more elaborate ones.  Neither is better--just different.  If I could hire a sky-writer I would commission the phrase "Different is good!"

I threw in a lot of information that wasn't advertised, as usual, and they stayed with me the entire way, even those who had been weaving for only about a year.  What brave souls!  I honor courage and know that to take a new class requires courage, so I feel very tender toward my students.  They were so good!

I drove to this conference as I mentioned.  I was 1 for 2.  There were no horned larks at the Crescent Junction rest stop.  It was very hot at about 1 or 2 when I got there, so that might have had something to do with it.  I'd have checked on the way back but it was starting to get dark and the cataracts that are developing make driving after dark unpleasant and unsettling for me. 

I delayed my departure from Monticello the next morning so that I wouldn't get to Dove Creek too early to buy beans.  The place where I stop is on the far side (coming from the west) of Dove Creek.  I missed seeing the "Pinto Bean Capitol of the World" sign and asked about it at the store.  I was told that the governor told them it had to be taken down because apparently one of the Dakotas now grows more pinto beans than Dove Creek.  In case you go, it's the  Adobe Milling Company (on the left as you drive towards Durango) and doesn't seem to have changed in the decades I have been stopping there.  Great beans.

Here is a picture I took along the road to Crescent Junction.  I hadn't gotten to the part of Utah with red rocks but this mesa off the road with the gorgeous cumulus clouds growing behind it caught my eye.

Sad to say, the rest of the pictures were taken in B/W mode which made them unmemorable.  With sunglasses on I didn't see what I had done!

I have been working on re-entry tasks: laundry, reassuring Bob and Lola, grocery shopping, banking, bill paying, correspondence, mowing the lawn, watering the garden, etc.  There is always a lot to do before leaving and at least as much once I return.

I am still replaying the memories of IWC, the people there, old friends and new ones.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Still catching up

I haven't woven since I left to teach at MAFA.  Instead I planted some things my neighbor gave me (coleus plants of various colors and something new to me, dwarf taro bulbs).  I think the coleus plants will make it.  I am not sure that the taro which would prefer more water than I am willing to spend on it will.  They are out in the area between the sidewalk and the street, the parkway.  Mine is 18 feet deep and planted with drought-tolerant plants.  The question, then, is:  can dwarf taro take a joke?  We'll see.

I have been doing laundry, cleaning, and picking raspberries!  There were a few raspberry canes here when I bought this house late in 1989 and now they are growing in mad abundance.  I eat some on my breakfast food each morning.  It is too hot to consider making jam but these will bear again in the fall when I need to make more.  I eat little of it but like to give it to friends.

Bob and Lola are now settled again after my absence.  I need to break the news to them that next week I will be going to teach at the Intermountain Weavers Conference (IWC).  It will be held in Durango, Colorado, an eight and a half hour drive from here.  I am driving, something I rarely can do because most teaching jobs are too far away.  I plan to take two days so that I can do it in a leisurely manner.  For example, I know that at the Crescent Junction rest stop (where you turn right to go to Moab) there are almost always horned larks.  I never see them anywhere else.  The second day I will pass through a tiny town in western Colorado called Dove Creek.  It bills itself as "the pinto bean capitol of the world" and it may be.  There is a store there where I will stop to buy pinto beans but also black beans and the beautiful anasazi beans.  Anasazi beans were found in an anasazi ruin and grown so that now they are a crop.  They are about the size and shape of pinto beans but they are creamy white and deep reddish purple!  Gorgeous--and delicious, too.

Can you tell that I am looking forward to this trip?  And I get to teach, too.  I am presenting the workshop on designing and weaving stripes.  We start with design principles and practice making several different kinds of stripes with strips of paper (black on white), introduce a color and then a second color.  Finally the participants turn to their looms where they can weave the designs they have made.  They will weave several different structures to see how different structures affect the stripe sequence.  It's fun.

Tonight I widened the brick driveway a bit near the sidewalk so that the folks who deliver my newspaper each morning won't be driving on the grass and making a mud hole there.  It's a miserable enough job to have to be up and out before the sun is up delivering papers.  This should protect the sprinkling system and keep that area mud-free and looking nice.  Sweaty work though!  Time to hit the shower.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home again!

I got home late last night from Gettysburg, PA and teaching at the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association Conference.  This year, like two years ago, MAFA was held at Gettysburg College.  Last time there were just under 150 attendees and this year it was much closer to 200.  MAFA is growing!

For a Utahn, used to dry heat, the heavy humidity was shocking even if expected.  Sometimes it felt that I was trying to breathe bath water but the dorm was air-conditioned and the classroom, too, although less effectively.

I was teaching Color and Weave Effects, a class about how a color rotation of light and dark threads in the warp direction and also in the weft direction changes the appearance of even the simplest weaves.  In fact, my favorite patterns in color and weave effect are woven plain weave.  Each participant had prepared a loom on which to weave both plain weave and 2/2 twills--and if more than four shafts were involved, more structures. 

I taught the participants to draft the designs so that they could see what a certain color rotation would produce.  After they had done some weaving they learned how to work from a design that they want to produce to the draft that will produce it--if it is possible.  Then I showed them how to transfer some of the wonderful small patterns of plain weave into large versions of themselves using profile drafting.  It was the most complete version of this workshop I have ever been able to present.  We had two and a half full days and we made the most of them.

I can't praise the participants enough!  They worked hard, stayed with me all the way and seemed to be having a good time as they did it.  It was fun for me, even though I was battling a cold, and I think they had fun, too.

Here is a picture of a color and weave effect fabric.  This one is made up entirely of plain weave, the simplest of all weave structures.  The patterns in it are very cool, I think.

This picture shows more variety.  The black and white one is woven in 2/2 twill.  All of these made the trip to Gettysburg.

I have done the laundry, gotten the sprinkler system repaired at last, and gone through the mail that arrived in my absence.  Today I slept in although I awoke at 5:30 EDT as I had been doing, but because I was in Utah, not Pennsylvania, I went back to sleep, gratefully.

As is always the case, no matter how wonderful the trip is. I was and am very glad to be home!

Monday, July 4, 2011

All finished!

The newest batch of cotton towels is completely finished.  They are all hemmed, washed and ironed dry.  This is what they look like in small piles:

Just one has been opened out to display the border.  They are quite cheerful looking, I think, and are now ready to go to new homes.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Eleventh of twelve....

After a long, wet, cool spring we have leaped into summer with temperatures in the high 90s.  Considering that it is now July (already!) it is appropriate, I suppose, but it makes me want to stay inside and weave, so that is what I have been doing.

The warp of new towels is progressing nicely.  Here is a photo of towel number eleven (of twelve):

I am using three of the five colors from inside the blue-violet borders  as weft in this towel.  As usual, I start the warp by weaving the towels more or less as they were threaded and after I have finished all of those then I start weaving variations.  This is one of those variations.

Do you see how cheery it is?  I am enjoying them but once they are finished I have to spend full time getting ready to leave town.  I am presenting a workshop at the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association Conference (MAFA) next weekend.  I have, of course, been doing preparations for some time but I need to pack everything so that I will be ready to leave very, very early Thursday morning.