Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sometimes We Spin

My spinning  eating group meets monthly. Sometimes we actually spin.

But usually we knit.

 We met at Marsha's this week which is always fun because her home is filled with ethnic items from all over the world. And the food is amazing.
I get an inquisitive look from Marsha's cat. Maybe I should try spinning some of his fur. Hmmmmm.

 We all bring a vegetarian dish to share. These folks are into grains, preferably locally milled grains, and the food they create is a usually Moroccan or African inspired. I can't say deeeelicious enough.

We used to live in Marsha's house (in fact she was our landlord but we didn't know her) and it's so nice to see her fixing the place up. She recently had a potting/wood shed built right out back. Our local village carpenter designed and built it using wood he milled and doors and windows he's collected from old buildings.

 It has a little shelf for potting plants with a nice view into the woods through the wiggly glass window.

 On the front porch is a little bird and pine cone vignette.
This is the view from the front porch. I would sit here when Aramin was 3 (he's almost 36 now!) and watch the cows graze. The cows are no longer there, but the view is still lovely.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Potting Around with Pottery

My Crafty Craft Day group got together a couple weeks ago to experiment with clay. Krista got into making pottery about a year ago and introduced us to this fun craft. I had never worked with clay (unless you count making the ubiquitous rope vase in elementary school) and I was quite the novice. Above, Ann and Susan cutting slabs for vases and faces.

Krista has a great studio, lots of light, plenty of space, Pandora streaming, and even wine chilling in the fridge. She's teaching us how to slap the clay.

 I wasn't up to the challenge of using the wheel, but Krista has mastered it, churning out bowls and plates and mugs. 

 Krista had laid out plenty of books for us to peruse, getting ideas about what to make.
I chose to do buttons, as I thought this would be a good beginner project. Keep things flat and all.
 Bev and I made dozens of buttons, using various objects for texture.
 A few days later, Krista fired everything for us, then we came back for another Craft Day to glaze our masterpieces.
 One of Susan's happy faces, before glazing.

 We wanted a rainy, chilly day, but the weather was just being too nice, so we decided to set up outdoors and glaze away. I didn't really like the glazing part very much because I just couldn't tell what the colors would look like when fired. Everything was just grey or brown. I'm all about the color, so I was totally out of my element. I guess that's what experience does. You just get to know the colors and combinations that work.
 Krista re-fired everything and lo and behold, the colors emerged.
 My buttons will someday grace a hand knit cardigan.
And Susan's happy face turned out so charming.

Of course Krista's bowl is wonderful. Next time, I'm on that wheel. I have a great appreciation for the potters I see at craft shows. 
Next up on Crafty Craft Day: dyeing eggs with natural ingredients

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cherry Jubliee

 Since spring came so early this year (breaking all temperature records day after day), the famous cherry blossoms of DC peaked a full two weeks early.

 To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the planting of the trees and to celebrate two of the girlfriends' birthdays, five of us biked down to view the blossoms.
 They did not disappoint. I've never seen them fuller or more dazzling, with each and every flower in the cluster fluffed out to it's full glory.

It was a perfect place to meditate, soaking in the sun, gazing at the water of the Potomac River and basking in the pinkness of the trees.

Someone had shown their affection for the blooms and created a heart out of the pale petals
on the lawn.
 Some of the old timers are a century old, with burls and gnarly bark.
 They stand sentry over the new whipper snappers that are planted to take the place of the ones that have died.

 We parked our bikes at the MLK Memorial and walked from there. I hadn't seen this memorial yet and it is quite powerful. I thought that he looked a bit stern for as compassionate a man as he was.

 We meandered through the extensive FDR Memorial with its many waterfalls, rock outcroppings and copper plaques.

 The Tidal Basin is surrounded by the cherry trees, with many of the famous monuments gracefully showing themselves in the background. Washington, DC really is a beautiful city and I feel lucky to live close enough to visit.
 We parked at the Roosevelt Island lot, biking from there. We had all brought food and wine for a picnic. We walked across the foot bridge to the island, on a short path through the woods to the center where there's a huge promenade with stone benches, monuments, all very civilized for just being in the woods. I had never been to the island in all the years I've lived here so it was a treat to finally see it.
We filled our glasses with wine, toasted the birthday girls, nibbled on brie, hummus, sandwiches and talked and talked. Looks like Teddy is raising his hand to add something to our conversation.

With full tummies and a satisfied smile on our faces, in the setting sun of another beautiful spring day, we crossed the foot bridge once again, looking up river to Key Bridge near Georgetown.
Thank you, cherry blossoms, for bringing us down to the city and to girlfriends for making it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bonkers for Boas

My felting group met last week and I was fortunate to learn a different approach to the regular nuno felt scarves that I've been making. One of our members, Renate, has been experimenting with this technique and was gracious enough to share it with us, guiding us along the way.

I usually use shorter Merino wool fibers laying them down the center of the chiffon scarf. But in this process, long wool fibers are used. I had some Blue Faced Leicester wool and in the future I'll use the wool from my Cotswold sheep that has a staple length of about 5".

 This photos doesn't show it very well, but the silk chiffon scarf is down the center of the wool fibers. The wool is laid out perpendicular to the scarf, shooting out from the sides and ends with only about an inch of it to be felted into the scarf.

 The scarf is gently felted, leaving the long locks to barely felt and letting the definition
of the curls remain. This gives a flowy, ethereal effect.

 The scarf weighs only about 3 oz.

 In Grace's scarf, white wool was laid out on one side, black on the other, on a white scarf. I wish I had a photo of the finished scarf because it came out a lovely grey, with bits of white and black popping throughout.

Roz laid out a scarf similar to mine.
Paige and Roz modeling their lovely creations. Now let's go find the party!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Barn Raising

My brother-in-law, George, lives just a few houses down from me. A few weeks ago, his old barn got a much needed make over. Here is the before pic.

 His daughter and her friends graffitied the front a couple years back. The barn was a bit fally-downey and filled with nearly 30 years of stuff. George did a good job of cleaning it away, hauling load after load to the dump and leaving it all tidy for the Amish crew to come in an work their magic.

 This is our future boat house. Houston and I have 6 boats and George lets us house them in his garage. He built a spiffy new home for them in the back.
  A view from George's attic office.

 Last year George bought and had installed solar panels in his back field. We've had a sunny winter so his electricity has been near zero.

 A new cement floor is poured in what will become a real garage space
for his car.

 George saved the old doors. Artwork for the walls.

 Five of our boats, all tucked away in their new shelter.
 TaDa! What a difference! 

 He had 24 tons of millings dumped to spread out on the driveway. A great way to start the springtime.

 Oops! George caught me snooping around.