Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Flowers

Busy Days

I've got a ton of irons in the fire at this point in my life. It doesn't show in my face, does it?

Here's the current proposed layout of the new homestead. The small yurt is my cozy home and the large one is my tightly packed studio. The square is my detached kitchen. There's no room in the home and I don't want grease in the studio. Can you guess why?

And here's the design sketch of the undercarriage. It's all 2x6 construction to make it stable and leave space for a good layer of insulation. It's made from 8x8 modules bolted together so I can move it, expand it, or reconfigure it into smaller pieces if necessary. The materials list is in the hands of the contractor to modify and submit for fulfillment and delivery.

And then I found out that the biggest event of the year is happening on Saturday - the Wolf Creek Easter Parade and celebration. Everyone in the area comes out for it. So, at the last possible minute I found a local company that could make me a big banner for the shop with a 24-hour turnaround. To pull it off I needed to compromise on exact fonts, size, etc.

But the banner isn't just for this event. It's designed to catch the eye of visitors stopping for gas. That's the only reason that most people visit this tiny town. While they're waiting, I'm hoping they'll see the banner and decide to drive across the street to check out the studio. Oh, yeah, and buy stuff.

Here's the view from the gas station. Now do you see why the letters are so big and bold? No room for adornment here. It just needs to scream a simple message. I weave here and you can visit right now.

Here are a couple of maps to give a better idea of what's going on here. People zip off the freeway for gas and pass through on the main drag. My challenge is to pull people from the gas station to the little street where my shop is. Let's see if that banner is enough to do the trick!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

And Then There Were Two

This morning the studio and shop got an upgrade. There are now two looms in here.

I once heard an interview with a man who moves bridges for a living. If a town has a beautiful old bridge that isn't serving in its current location, he will build special equipment to lift it in one piece and move it. It costs millions of dollars, takes a long time and requires a lot of planning. One quote stands out to me from the interview, "Every project is unique. Before you start, you just have to think it all the way through." This seems like a massive understatement!

Well, I am juggling so many balls right now that I'm not able to think everything all the way through. I finished threading the white beam yesterday and realized that I don't have a reed of the right size to sley this batch of cloth.

But I do have a batch of weaving that was supposed to go to the apprentice. Sooooo, I'm now weaving the black cloth while I wait for the reed to arrive. This will require a second loom to be set up in the space. I knew it would have to be eventually.

Then, as soon as the reed arrives I'll sley it, weave the sample blanket and a few sets of garments before it goes off to the apprentice. And then it's time to wind two more batches of cloth back-to-back, which means I need to inventory and buy yarn pretty quickly here. It's a whirlwind!

Oh, yeah, and don't forget I'm building the platform for a home in two weeks. Really!?

Alice commented yesterday about how full the white beam is. Yeah. There's not room for one more yard of thread on it. I need to get as absolutely much cloth off of each beam as I can. It was a little harrowing winding it and then moving the overfull beam to the new studio. But I did it and it worked just fine.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Another Set Of Harnesses Threaded

I now have three batches of cloth in process at once. The blue is almost done, the black has a bit left to go and the white is threaded but needs to be sleyed before it can be woven.

But before that I need to buy another reed. That's happening tomorrow morning. The outflow of cash seems to never end.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kefir Lime

I know this is off-topic for a blog about a weaving business, but what the heck!

I took part of the day off from work yesterday to give some love to an important being in my life. When I moved to Oregon in 2009 I said goodbye to a kefir lime tree that I had raised from the time it was 12" tall with only 13 leaves. I didn't think I could keep it happy in Oregon.

Well, the person who took the tree moved to a new house and didn't have room for it so it went to live with another friend until I could bring it home. I finally brought it home in February. I forget just how much pruning experience I have. (Y'all know that I was a landscaper specializing in aesthetic pruning before I was a weaver, right?) Well, the poor tree had a few issues that cropped up over the last few years. I began the process of fixing them all yesterday.

(Here's the tree resting in the living room after a long van ride.)

One of the problems is a common one in the Bay Area. Ants had planted a crop of insects called "Scale" onto part of the tree. Scale bugs suck the sap and secrete a honey-like substance that the ants eat. This was a minor infestation, but when the ants left, the scale bugs kept secreting honey, which dripped all over one side of the tree and attracted mildew. It was a sticky, yucky mess.

Yesterday I killed the bugs with Dr. Bronner's soap and then washed all of the leaves.

The next problem is that this small tree doesn't want to stay small. The roots and branches keep growing. The roots had filled all available area in the pot.

So, I moved it to larger, permanent pot and pruned the roots. Yep, that's right! Every few years a potted tree needs to have some roots removed so that it has room to grow new ones. A good tree parent will keep track of which roots were removed and when so that different roots are removed next time.

The last thing I did was to pull a few branches into the places where I think they should be to give a beautiful and natural shape. I think I'm still seeing the result of not turning the tree often enough in the San Francisco garden. One side doesn't have enough branches in the right places.

The tying is done with soft rope, which will not stay in place for more than a year. Next Spring I'll untie them. If the branches haven't adapted to their new shape I'll retie them in different spots so that the ropes don't cut into the bark.

When you prune the roots, you need to prune the branches, too. If you don't, then there isn't enough water flowing in through roots to keep up with the leaves' transpiration. The tree gets stressed out trying to keep up and the whole thing suffers.

This is the final shape, as good as I can make it for now. By next year, it will be ready for another good pruning.

And then, there's the reason to keep this tree. It's for the leaves. I pruned off enough leaves to keep me and my friends fed with yummy Thai food all year. They get wrapped up in plastic and frozen until we're ready to use them. Yum!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Retail Space Set Up

It's done! I've now got a quick-and-dirty retail space set up in my new studio. I love that this setup lets people see exactly where their cloth came from. I mean, you almost have to touch the loom in order to browse the garments.

And, don't you like my new floor? I saw someone with this wood-looking vinyl floor at the last show. It comes from Home Depot and it's cheap, but looks great.

Now it's time for me to go full-on into weaving production. The show season is coming up quick! This move took a bunch of money and a critical chunk of time, but it's done now. Yay!

Monday, March 18, 2013

All Moved Out!

It's hard to believe that this space I've called home for a year is as empty as it was when I moved in.

Upstairs. No more looms, shelves, tables, or yarn.

Downstairs. No more shelves, sewing machine or booth parts. Just a stack of empty boxes for the roommates to use whenever they move.

Tomorrow I'll have the new studio set up to the point that it will be ready to photograph.

What a lot of work! I'm glad the moving is over.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just One Loom For Now

Yesterday went almost exactly as planned. I did indeed get both looms disassembled and moved. Setting them up, I realized that I don't need them both right away so I stashed the parts back in the corner behind the yarn shelves. Jodi and I spent the extra time sitting on the floor listening to hurdy-gurdy music and laughing our way through a bottle of wine.

See how low the sun is? It was a very full day.

The new space is shaping up. Boy, do I have a lot of stuff!

Once the canvas is on that wall, visitors to the shop will only see merchandise, looms, and yarn storage. All the messy stuff will be hidden.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Move Continues...

Each day I haul one more vanload of stuff from the old studio to the new one. Yesterday was big shelving units. Today is looms. Yep, two 60" AVL production looms disassembled, moved, and reassembled in one day. And the reassembly will happen after a half a bottle of red wine. I guess I'm pretty confident in my knowledge of moving these looms now. :)

It's dark because I didn't have time to wait for the fluorescent lights to warm up and their flickering messed up the panorama feature of the camera.

One loom disassembled. One to go.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

White Beam Design Is Done

Well, with the flu to slow me down, this beam took longer than I expected to design and warp. It's the next in my "asymmetrical" series, fading from one edge to the other in a long, complex progression.

I would ordinarily tell you that now is the time to place orders for this cloth, but y'all have a little extra time with this batch. I'm packing for the move, doing a show, and then moving before I even thread this beam for weaving. It'll be almost April before any of us gets to see how this design turned out.

In the meantime, here are some closeup shots of various parts of the warp. Some are very subdued, and some are full of energy. Enjoy!

And here's one last shot of the studio before I move it. Remember that table full of thread a couple weeks back? Well, it's on the loom now!