Friday, October 23, 2009

What came in the mail today...

What came in the mail today was a new loom. Now I know that sentence makes some of you reading this cringe considering I have a healthy collection of looms already, largely thanks to my Grandpa Mezoff who gifted me all of his and my Grandma Mezoff's when they moved to Connecticut. ("Healthy" might be an understatement--there are two big floor looms and a 60 inch LeClerc tapestry loom... not counting the smaller looms my grandmother gave me and my old Rio Grande.) But current life circumstances were calling for a portable loom and my grandmother's old Macomber workshop loom just isn't technically "portable" since moving it involves considerable swearing and often bloodied knuckles. And after the workshop I took in Durango last summer at the Intermountain Weaver's Conference... and all the drooling I did over those people who just waltzed in the door and pulled their Mirrix looms out of a tote bag (as I was sucking my bloodied knuckles and struggling to keep the Macomber upright), I started considering the usefulness of a portable loom. Then there is the fact that I took a job which requires me to stay in another village one or two nights a week and a planned Christmas trip to Mississippi for two weeks--all of that added up to my own Mirrix. I got the notice that it shipped this morning. When I went to the post office, there it was... a big square box which contained my shiny new loom. Of course this has completely side tracked my work on getting a new piece on the Harrisville... which I think is going to entail some dyeing... hopefully tomorrow as the weather is beautiful again.
Speaking of dyeing, does anyone know where to get acetic acid? I have been using glacial or 56% acetic acid for my acid wool dyes, but can't get it anymore locally as the camera stores aren't selling it--the digital age and all. I really can't find any in Santa Fe or Albuquerque. Any suggestions where to look? Or have any of you used citric acid crystals and do they work as well as the acid? Thanks in advance.
The cottonwoods in the Rio Grande bosque are just gorgeous. This is my driveway.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

That which relates only tangentially to weaving...

Beware: right from the outset I am going to say that I do not believe this post will relate in any direct way to tapestry weaving.  By the time I get to the end, I may find some way to slip some reference to yarn, design, or art in there, but I'm not feeling it at the moment.  You might want to stop now if you were looking for something intelligent.

What I do want to say is that I was in my lovely neighborhood Albertsons store this afternoon (okay, it wasn't my neighborhood store because my neighborhood does not contain any grocery stores at all.  There is a bar, a gas station, a winery, 7 churches, and a post office... this time of year there are fruit stands selling apples--which are fabulous by the way--but there are no grocery stores in my neighborhood), and I found THESE:
I realize this might be of no interest to most of the three of you who read this blog at least occasionally, but I was practically jumping for joy in the aisle.  When I broke out in the Hallelujah chorus (the alto line, so people didn't even recognize the tune, sadly enough), I did get some funny looks.  But you have to understand that I have celiac disease and that makes eating somewhat harder than it used to be.  Used to be I could eat just about anything (hold the olives) that I wanted.  Stomach like iron, metabolism like a 15 year old... and then I got sick and now I can't eat gluten... which is in everything except lettuce.  

But recent years have improved this state of affairs because now major companies like Betty Crocker have realized that the gluten intollerant market is full of people like me who used to be able to eat everything and now can relate endless experiences of standing besides tables of food at potlucks and parties, unable to eat anything except the carrots (hold the dip) and praying that someone brought a bottle of wine--and would you pour it quickly because you're not going to eat anything tonight... and that we'll pay just about anything to be able to eat like we used to... so a brownie mix that used to cost $2.59 now costs $7.99... and we don't flinch when reaching for it.  This is survival and we feel like we're in a potentially critical situation and have to have it.  Very smart of Betty Crocker to get on board with this.  They'll make a mint.  And the Cinnamon Chex are heaven.  I haven't eaten much from that bread/cereal group in years, but baby, I'm back!  Unfortunately now that I'm quite a few years older, my metabolism is not quite so high and I'd best be careful with those Betty Crocker "foods" lest when I tell other celiacs that I actually have celiac disease, a glance at my waistline makes them call me a liar.

Attention relatives-who-only-make-inside-out-chocolate-bundt-cakes-for-birthdays: I can have my own now.  In case you don't have it, the recipe is basically devils food chocolate cake mix (please buy the gluten free version--see photo above--lest I end up in the bathroom for the rest of my birthday), a package of Jello chocolate pudding mix, a ton of chocolate chips...  I'll be over August 5th, 2010.

Isn't this dragonfly wing pretty?  Maybe that would be a good jumping-off place for a tapestry design.  He was living in my girlfriend's house and was, this particular day, in fairly poor health on the windowsill.  I snapped his photo and let him outside where he flew off in search of whatever dragonflies eat. (Huh.  Got the word tapestry in here a few times after all.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Taos Wool Festival 2009

I did have the privilege of attending the 2009 Taos Wool Festival.  I have to admit that the animals are my favorite.  Maybe I should be an alpaca owner... or one of those fuzzy bunnies who I thought produced angora, but now I think that is goats... and what is the bunny fiber called?

Anyway, I caught up with some old fiber friends including:
Liesel Orend--a fabulous natural dyer and tapestry weaver who taught me everything I know about natural dyeing.  I don't feel like I know much about natural dyeing as I haven't done any outside of Liesel's classes, but she assures me that I can figure it out... and she taught me well, so she is probably correct!  I'm going to test those skills soon with a natural dyeing project.  We'll see whether or not I need a consult with Leisel!

I met up with some good friends at Weaving Southwest for Rachel Brown's retrospective opening.  The opening was packed.  Here are my weaving friends Judith Mirus and Cornelia Theimer Gardella and their husbands Clarence and Kurt outside the opening.

And here is the new piece I finished.  It is called Halcyon Days and is 14 X 39 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry.

Gold Hill and Boogers...

This morning I awoke (to a 77.6 pound dog jumping on my legs) at 8am and happily finished my most recent tapestry.  All I had to do was decide on a name, (which isn’t usually difficult but I wasn’t channeling Anni Albers today) but I did eventually come up with something acceptable, make a tag for it (which took 3 tries as I managed to fuse the first two to the towel I was using for an ironing board because BOTH ironing boards in my studio are covered with tapestry yarn), and deliver the tapestry to the gallery.  When I was done with this (and the gallery did seem pleased with 

it), I took that 77.6 pound Labrador retriever on a hike from the Taos Ski Valley… Gold Hill is my favorite TSV hike, but be forewarned if you go, every single hike from that valley with the exception of Williams Lake (which, admit it, is for tourists from the flat lands) is straight up.  Whoever built those trails did NOT believe in switchbacks.

And I must say that I kicked some hiking hiney!  9 miles, 3,000+ feet elevation gain, 5 hours… and that included the chatting time with the 70+ year old couple who were BACPACKING (!!!) and the 30-something hunter from Ohio who was sucking wind at 12,000 feet trying to get high enough to make a cell phone call to his hunting buddy who was supposed to meet him on the back side of the moon.  I realized on my way up that I was doing great… and that finally I must be in shape for backpacking season, what with the 2-3 mile walks up the mesa every day and hiking every weekend to some high-altitude destination.  Unfortunately it is now October and pretty soon the winter sloth will set in and all that sweat will be wasted on eating GF pizza (which, alas, I will have to make myself) and reading books.


It was a beautiful day.  I set out hoping to see the colors changing, but the high-altitude colors have done their thing… and there were a lot of sad little yellow aspen leaves on the trail.  The higher I got the windier it got until I left treeline behind and thought I was going to be blown off the ridge.  I crawled on my hands and knees to the edge of the ridge to get a look at 

Goose Lake, afraid I was going to get blown to Kansas.  The horse-riding hunter I saw 15 seconds later probably thought I was insane.  Seriously the wind was about 47 million knots—and no, I don’t know how fast a knot is although I did sail as a child… I never was good at conversions.  Still I have to ask my German friend Conni how much a Euro is every time we talk about any currency that isn’t the dollar.  Hopefully she takes pity on me and doesn’t reveal this particular intellectual flaw to her fellow citizens when I visit her lovely country next year for our Bauhaus show.

Anyway, the wind was so fierce up there that I had to first dig out the fleece hat I always have in my pack… then realized because of the over-sized craniums that Mezoffs are blessed with (which doesn't really seem to say anything about how smart we are), this particular hat doesn’t really cover my ears very well.  So I was forced to tie the bandana that I had just used for a snot rag over my head.  It was that or be deafened by the wind and probably suffer frostbite to my lovely ear lobes.  The thought of turning back never crossed my mind.  I’m a stubborn hiker babe after all and sometimes sacrifices in the realm of personal hygiene have to be made. But, alas, my nose was still running and so I was forced to practice the farmer nose blow.  I’ve never been able to do this and today was no exception.  I’m afraid my clothing came back smattered with mucus.  (I’ll wash it Mom.)  While at the top where the wind chill must have been hovering around freezing, I found globules of ice in the stone wind shelter.  I’m guessing these are the frozen boogers of the last hiker up there who undoubtedly had to use her snot rag to cover her ears also.

Gold Hill is 12,711 feet high. At the top I tried to send a text message to my girlfriend feeling for all the world like I was on the top of Everest radioing the world that I was still alive.  The wind messed up the signal, and the message, sent back in the Taos Ski Valley parking lot, lost a lot of its zing.  Tomorrow, when I’m back at my loom, my hiking hiney is going to be mighty sore!  

Weaving note:  Last night was Rachel Brown’s retrospective at Weaving Southwest.  It was so packed with people I couldn’t see the art and had to go back today to spend some time with it.  If you’re in Taos this month, stop by Weaving Southwest and see the show.  These pieces are owned by collectors and won’t be shown again any time soon.  Rachel is an inspiration.