Monday, December 5, 2016

Finished Poncho

Back on September 26, I posted that I was going to make a poncho from yardage I wove some time ago. I finally did it.

Handwoven poncho with knitted collar

Close-up of fabric

The fabric was longer than I needed, so I cut it and fringed the cut end, thus avoiding the need for seams. I made a template for the neck opening, pinned it onto the fabric, and zigzagged around it with my sewing machine. (The tissue paper template kept tearing and shifting, so next time I'll outline the template with tailor's chalk and sew around the markings.) I then cut out the fabric inside the stitching.

Next, I decided on an appropriate gauge for the yarn I was going to knit with and picked up stitches around the neck opening accordingly. I knit twice as much distance as the width of the collar I wanted and then turned the extra knitting inside and sewed it to cover the zigzagged edge of the weaving.

To maintain the V-neck, I decreased a stitch on both sides of a central stitch every other round for three sets of decreases. After knitting one round even, I increased one stitch on both sides of the central stitch every other round to return to my original number of stitches. That way I was able to turn the knitting inward and sew it without the fabric puckering at the V.

The sides of the poncho are open. I may leave it that way or add a button on each side so the wearer can fasten it if desired. I'm quite pleased with the result.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Tarkhan Dress: The World's Oldest Extant Woven Garment

A linen dress found by the British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie in 1913 was thought to be the oldest woven garment known, but until recently scientists were unable to determine its age. Radiocarbon dating has now established that the dress was made approximately 5,000 years ago.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Soft Furnishings

The pillow top is woven in overshot with an 8/2 cotton background and a slightly heavier rayon/wool pattern yarn. I made the piping from the same material as I used for the pillow back, and I inserted a zipper at one end. The pillow's 12" x 16".

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Knitting in the Fresh Air

This morning I was sitting on the deck knitting the second of a pair of mittens. It was pleasantly windy, a refreshing late October day. Logan, my dog, had come over to be petted and then wandered off to lay on the other end of the deck.

The mitten was progressing nicely, and I had almost finished a round when a gust of wind caught the ball of yarn at my right. The skein flew into the air, passed between the vertical metal uprights of the railing, soared over the water tank, and landed out of sight on its other side.

I took a moment to contemplate the recovery operation and decided my best alternative was to toss my knitting onto the tank and retrieve everything from below. It was highly unlikely I could throw the ball of yarn back up onto the deck in that wind. So I walked down, picked up the skein from the ground, and rescued my knitting from the top of the tank.

Although it was still very pretty outside, I decided knitting in the house would be a good idea.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Animals can be so entertaining.

Last week I bought a couple bales of hay. Since my back was hurting, I didn't want to unload them, so I parked the truck a short distance from the barn and left the hay in it. I've been feeding the sheep out of the truck the last few days.

My hen, Miss Kitty, is free range. She doesn't need chicken feed, but she enjoys it, so I usually give her some every couple days to supplement what she chooses to eat on her own. The hay was in the truck, so I didn't need to enter the barn to feed the sheep since Tuesday, which meant I hadn't given the hen any chick feed since then.

Apparently Miss Kitty decided to protest. She was waiting for me near the house when I came out this morning and, clucking, followed me to the truck. She was obviously letting me know it was past time to refill her bowl.

In the meantime, Logan, my dog, spotted Miss Kitty. Chasing her from the truck to the barn, he could have easily caught her. Instead, he kept about two feet behind her the entire way, clearly enjoying the game.

He's quite extraordinary. He weighs 60 pounds and is perfectly willing to jump on me without holding back. But with the hen, he's gentle. When he catches her, he nudges her with his nose and even drools on her and then lets her go. She's not real thrilled with the experience, but there are times when she could avoid him but doesn't, so maybe she likes the attention.

I have enough trouble trying to understand dog psychology. I can't even begin to understand the thought processes of a chicken.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Originality...or Not

"What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original."

"If we're free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it."

From Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative, pp. 7 & 8.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bronze Age Textiles Discovered in Eastern England

"Excavations,  30 miles north-west of Cambridge, have unearthed the earliest examples of superfine textiles ever found in Britain. They are also among the most finely-made Bronze Age fabrics ever discovered in Europe as a whole – and are of huge international significance."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tying on a Warp

In more than 25 years of weaving I have never tied on a warp. I always beam a new warp and then thread and sley it. Usually I weave a variety of items--towels, scarves, purses, etc.--which is a prime reason to not tie on.

However, this time I decided I would weave another set of towels following the same pattern as the last batch but change the weft color. I'm going to use the same warp yarn because it blends well with a variety of colors. I'm using unmercerized 8/2 cotton for both warp and weft.

Winding the warp

Two of the warp chains

The old warp onto which I'll tie the new one 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Linen Weave" Towels

Using a linen weave pattern, I wove four towels from unmercerized 8/2 cotton. They're approximately 18" x 27", hemmed. The warp is turtledove and the weft foliage green.

I like this weave structure. It gives a slightly raised effect to alternate rectangles.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Weekend before last I went to Equifest, an event sponsored by Olsen's Grain, a local feed and pet food store. Although the gathering primarily featured horses (as you've already guessed from its name), there were numerous dog food companies represented, and almost all of them gave away free samples. I came home with at least two dozen.

Logan is quite pleased. Each time I feed him I add a little dog food from one of the sample bags to his usual food. There's usually enough in each package to jazz up four or five meals.

He gets particularly excited when I open the sack with the untried samples and eagerly waits to find out what new treat I'm going to pull out. He sniffs the small bag while I open it and happily watches me pour a bit onto his regular food. His favorites so far are Taste of the Wild and AvoDerm, although he hasn't turned up his nose at any of them. Logan certainly likes the concept of free samples.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wandering Eggs

Well, it's happened again. The two wooden eggs in the laying box are gone. When that occurred several years ago, we figured a bird took them. Ravens are the usual suspects in such cases, so I imagine there's a crestfallen raven out there somewhere.

Wooden eggs (or plastic, but I like the aesthetics of wood) encourage chickens to lay in the laying box. Without that inducement, free range hens tend to lay eggs in a variety of places, sites often difficult for humans to access or even find. One of my previous dogs, Dreamer, used to locate such egg clutches. She would eat one before showing me where they were. I caught on to her methods when I spotted the proverbial egg on her face.

Now I just have to remember where I bought the wooden facsimiles last time because I want to egg on my hen as to where to lay.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Ponchos Are In Again

A while back I wove this luscious cloth using chenille, glossy cotton, loopy mohair, shiny ribbon yarn, and a variety of other textures and fibers. It's 30" wide and 2.7 yards long. I've been debating as to what to make from it and have calculated there's enough yardage for two ponchos. The question is, what style do I want to make?

I've decided the first poncho will have a V-neck in front and a shallow curve in back. The fabric is fairly heavy, so I'm reluctant to line it, even at the neck. I've changed my mind about how to fashion the neck several times in the last week. Should I use a facing? Should I bind the edges?

Just before I fell asleep last night a new option occurred to me. What if I either serge or securely zigzag the neck edges and then pick up stitches around the neck and knit a collar? I'm leaning towards the zigzag option because I think serging would make the edge somewhat inflexible and possibly uncomfortable, although the garment won't be worn against the skin, so maybe it wouldn't matter. Serging would create a more solid edge.

Then, should I knit, perhaps, three rounds of ribbing and bind off? Should I knit a wider collar? Should I use moss stitch or double moss stitch instead of ribbing?

Sunday, September 25, 2016


I like to blog, but I'm inconsistent at it. I get enthusiastic and add two or three posts and then write nothing for a couple months. I've been trying to figure out why this is so and how to overcome my haphazard method of blogging.

I've concluded that one of my difficulties is that I'm a freelance editor. I know, that sounds like a good reason to blog. However, because I'm an editor, my blogs have to be perfect -- grammar, punctuation, style, word choice, etc. Wow, that hurdle slows me down.

And that's ridiculous. I love to write. I enjoy sharing my ranching/farming/weaving/spinning/knitting/gardening experiences. So I have to do it!

Also, I realize I've become so accustomed to some of the daily activities involved in raising sheep, weaving, etc. that I forget sometimes that what seems typical to me is far from for many others. I enjoy hearing about the processes people go through on their farms, tending their gardens, weaving their cloth, and spinning their yarn. They give me ideas and solutions all the time. Therefore, I'm going to endeavor to join that crowd and share.

My Cotswold sheep enjoying the lush grass brought by the rain.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Yay! The monsoons have come. Wonderful rain.

Last Thursday, however, the torrential rain, hail, and wind was a bit much. Part of the barn roof came off. Luckily, the sheep are fine, and there's still plenty of covered space for them to stay out of the weather. The fourth picture shows a dead tree that the wind blew over. I'd been thinking about cutting it down, so it saved me some work.

And today, a week later, lovely green grass, not a lot yet, but a good start. I let the sheep out for a few minutes to graze this evening. When sheep get the first lush grass of the season, they can be allowed to eat only a very little to give their rumens time to adjust. My dog, Logan, did a decent job herding them back into the sheep enclosure where they had alfalfa hay waiting for them.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sheep Thrills

Apparently the sheep have been entertaining the neighbors. The kids next door have even set up chairs to watch them.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Many people think of Arizona as all desert, with cacti and not much else. In fact, only about a third of the state is low desert. The elevation of Phoenix is about 1,200 ft and that of Tucson about 2,400 ft.

Central Arizona is a high desert transition zone. It's mountainous, with trees such as scrub oak, boxelder, hackberry, juniper, cypress, cottonwood, ash, maple, elm, oak, and pine. We have our share of cacti, agave, and yucca, but the elevation is much greater. My house in Wilhoit is at about 4,925 ft. Prescott is at about 5,200 ft.

Northern Arizona is even higher and cooler, with Flagstaff in the pines at about 7,000 ft. The highest point in Arizona is Humphreys Peak at 12,633 ft.

So when I say it was 102 degrees today in Wilhoit, it was unusually hot. I don't want to even think about the insane 118 degrees it reached in Phoenix.

Logan, my very long-haired dog, has been following me around all day, I think in hopes of finding cooler places to sleep. He's been pretty lethargic. Then again, so have I. Although I grew up in Tucson, I've lived in Wilhoit almost 13 years. I'm not used to this heat anymore.

Other than making sure the sheep have shade and water, there isn't much I can do for them. They seem all right, but they've certainly shown no interest in leaving the relatively cooler barn. Although I usually feed them outside, I tossed the hay in the barn today to, again, keep them shaded. I imagine they'll lay outside tonight once it cools off.

That's a distinct advantage of this area. The low is forecast to be about 64 degrees. The low in Phoenix is supposed to be 88 degrees. Yuck.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Umm, No Eggs

My hen, Miss Kitty, has turned broody, which means she wants chicks. However, she's currently sitting on the two wooden eggs I placed in the laying box to encourage the hens to lay eggs there. And even if she had real eggs, it wouldn't do her any good. I don't have a rooster. Sigh. I can't convince her of the futility of her endeavor.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Handwoven Cotton Towels

Below is a picture of one of four towels I wove for my aunt. I used 8/2 unmercerized cotton for both the warp and the weft. The pattern is Linen Weave.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lambs Really Do Bounce

No pictures, but the lamb is one week old today. While the grown-ups munched their hay, the lamb bounced to the gate and then back to her mother. Then back to the gate to sniff noses with Logan, who wagged his tail at the exchange. Then back to the flock again she went. The young have such incredible joy in everything they do.

Monday, April 4, 2016

An Unexpected Lamb

Last week I had to go out of town for a couple days because of a family crisis. When I asked a friend to feed my sheep while I was away, I told her no one was due to lamb. Oops, my mistake. She called me the second day to say I might want to come back a bit early because a lamb was born that morning.

It was dark when I got home, so checking on mother and baby was a bit challenging. This was the ewe's first lambing, and she was pretty skittish of me, but I finally caught her. I wrestled her to the ground and checked that she had milk flowing from both teats. I hadn't sheared the udder area yet, and there was a lot of wool to confuse the lamb while she looked for a meal.

Balancing a flashlight on one thigh, I held the unhappy ewe down with my forearm and swept wool aside with that hand to expose a teat. With my other hand, I grabbed the wriggling baby and guided her to nurse. She had clearly eaten earlier, but I didn't know how often she had succeeded in finding milk.  Afterwards, I bottle fed the lamb milk replacer to ensure she had enough food.

The next morning, when it was light enough to see what I was doing, I caught the ewe again and sheared the udder area to give the baby a clear path to the milk. I bottle fed the lamb again to supplement her feed. I put mother and baby in the lambing pen to encourage bonding and kept them in there until the next day. It allowed me to give the ewe extra feed away from the other sheep, as well. Being overly cautious, I went ahead and gave the lamb milk replacer again.

I think I may have overdone it with the bottle feeding, though. Now, in addition to nursing, the lamb runs to me every time I go out to feed the sheep, wanting her bottle!

I can hardly walk without tripping over her.

After I fed the sheep this morning, I turned around and saw Logan, my dog, had somehow got in with sheep. The lamb approached him, and he backed away. She came closer, and he trotted off. I was surprised, relieved, and amused. He wouldn't hurt her on purpose, but he is much bigger than she is, so I was glad he didn't want to play.

I went back into the sheep area to get Logan. He didn't want to leave and kept walking away from me. I followed the dog, and the lamb followed me, practically stepping on my heels, wanting more milk replacer. It was all pretty darn cute. I finally caught Logan and managed to get him out the gate while keeping the lamb inside. Sometimes the simple task of feeding the sheep can be a lot more exciting than expected!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Springtime Baby Wrap

I wove the baby wrap in an 8-harness plaited twill pattern. I used 8/2 unmercerized cotton for both the warp and weft. The warp yarns are misty lilac and peacock blue. The weft yarn is variegated and includes rosebud, dusty lavender, storm blue, mineral green, and water lily.

It's approx. 160" (4.4 yd; 4.06 m) by 24.5" (62.23 cm), somewhere between a size 4 and size 5.

The wider peacock blue stripe wasn't part of my original design, but I ran out of lilac and improvised!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Echo Weave

My first echo weave. It's a polychrome doubleweave with an echo threading. I'm very pleased with it. I used 8/2 unmercerized cotton, four colors in the warp and two colors in the weft. It's based off an article in Handwoven, Jan/Feb 2015, although I made a few changes.