Planet Textile Threads

May 25, 2016

Neki Rivera

the algorithm

all that can go wrong when knitting (and then some more)
upper tension masts, yarn can disengage or get tangled

tension and main carriage setting

ribber settings and tension

yarn does not feed properly( causing a dreaded free pass precipitating knitting to the floor)

yarn gets caught in gate pegs- knitting bunches up
forget to change colors

but when it all works  properly together it is exhilarating!

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at May 25, 2016 08:00 AM

May 24, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Petrie Museum

The vitrines are crowded with artifacts, mostly pottery, from all the dynasties of Egypt, as far into "now" as Roman times. We were suprised at how many visitors the museum had.

I sat down in front of some convenient jugs and filled a page with their shapes. These are coiled pots and were not always perfectly symmetrical -

Lots of pen lines, no chance of erasing any. Trying for a decent composition on the page spread, but basically I started at top left and worked across each page.

The patterning of the snail shells spoke to me -
Pen again, not terribly accurate ... but it was about the pattern, yes?
They look better with dark accents, and a bit of shadow -

Later I found these tipsy jugs -
 But what was everyone else up to?

Michelle used several page spreads in her handmade coptic stitch book, then did something simple on the first page -
 Coptic stitched books, it must be mentioned, open up perfectly flat.

Janet moved on from single objects, here combining several in a well-chosen scene -
 Jo found the "spirit houses" entrancing -
 Caryl's landscape of ancient pots, carefully observed -
 Sue's fragment of a relief from Thebes, subtly coloured -

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 24, 2016 09:49 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Garden Visitor

 I was thrilled to catch a shot of this hummer flitting through the garden.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 24, 2016 05:00 AM

May 23, 2016

Terry Grant

Papier Mache

I've been thinking about Papier Mache— you know, that crafty thing you did as a kid, to make masks or the bust of Abraham Lincoln or a lopsided little bowl to give your mother for Mothers' Day to keep her rings in. A very messy, get-your-hands-gooshy activity that I loved. I had a yen to do it again. The last time I was at Powells, this used book, priced at $3.95 sort leaped off a shelf at me.

It was a sign.

I decided I needed (needed!) to make one of those cool yarn bowls with the side yarn guide to hold my knitting. A trip to the dollar store yielded a plastic flower pot that could work as a form and I found, online, a good recipe for the paste needed to make it happen. Gooshiness!

I tore up strips and bits of newsprint and started covering the outside of my pot with paper, well-gooped with paste, until I had a couple layers, then left it to dry overnight.

I thought the plastic pot form would slip right out when the paper dried, but it didn't. (Maybe I should have greased the pot...) So I cut through it with an exacto knife and pulled it off. After trimming the top and bottom edges evenly, I patched the cut side.

Then I drew my yarn guide on the side and cut it, and glued a circle of foam board in the the bottom of the bowl.

Then I covered it all, inside and out with a couple more layers of pasted paper, smoothing it out and really saturating it all with the paste, then set it outside in the sun to dry well.

I left it for several days to dry and harden. I sanded it lightly, then painted it inside and out with gesso. When that was dry I drew my design for painting it with acrylic paints.

I painted about 3 coats of acrylic to get good, solid coverage, then sealed it all with acrylic medium.

Here's my finished yarn bowl. It was about a weeklong project with all the layers and drying between. Pretty labor-intensive for what it was, but fun and satisfying.

Now, back to my "real" work!


by Terry Grant ( at May 23, 2016 04:48 PM

Martha Marques

Cashgora Yarn from Tajikistan by way of Peacefleece

A photo of my daughter Devan wearing the Artchitexture Scarf done up in a worsted weight Cashgora spun by Jonamo.  The yarn is available for purchase through Peacefleece and clicking on the link for the Artchitexture Scarf will take you to the Ravelry page where you can purchase the pattern.  The Peacefleece site has a wonderful history of the yarn and the women who spin it.  I am just going to go on and on about the qualities of the yarn and what seems to me to be its strengths (many) and weaknesses (only one).  As the photo above shows the yarn has amazing drape which is a strength and potentially a weakness since it also is less elastic.  This is only a relative lack of bounciness; say 5 out of 10 with 10 being Maine Mitten Wool.  Experienced knitters will already know that bounciness and softness have an inverse relationship to each other.  The softer the yarn the less elastic it is apt to be.  The Cashgora has middling bounce and a Truly Awesome softness.  The cashgora goats that the Tajik women are spinning from are a blended breed of cashmere goats and Angora (or Mohair) goats.  So you get the right next to the skin softness of cashmere along with the longer fiber of the Mohair which gives you some bounce and a really beautiful sheen.  The softness has been tested on my scratchy wool sensitive Daughter in Law.  She cannot tolerate wool of any description (yes even Merino) next to her skin but has worn her Cashgora Architexture Scarf, which is a duplicate of Devan's, many times this winter, wrapped warmly around her sensitive throat.  You can also see from the photos the way the slight sheen of the longer fibers works beautifully to highlight textured knitting stitches.

The photo below is a beautiful shawlette knit up by my friend Jenny with only one skein of the fingering weight yarn.  It is a beautifully done lace handkerchief shape with some clear crystal beads worked into the pattern.  I cannot describe to you how gorgeous this is.  The natural color of the yarn, which reminds me of fallen oak leaves, in combination with the icy sparkle of the beads is just a perfect combination of fiber, pattern and workmanship.


The cowl above is knit up with a very simple Feather and Fan stitch and then grafted together.  My friend Marie knit this up with her sample of the Cashgora yarn and wore it around her neck through our long Maine winter.  The above photo was taken last November when the cowl had just been completed. 
The photo alongside is a closeup of the cowl after a winter of steady wear and this was a surprise to me.

Usually an incredibly soft yarn like Cashgora will felt or at least pill a bit with the abrasion of wear.  I want you to look at this closeup view of the cowl; a very slight increase in halo, but absolutely no sign of felting or pilling!  I looked closely and there was literally not a pill to be seen.

So a list of knitting qualities is laid out for you below:

  • Wonderful drape and weight. 
  • Structured knitting would help to control the drape i.e., cables or textured patterns
  • Open work stitches will enhance the drape like lace stitches or working with a looser gauge
  • Truly incredible softness
  • Slight sheen which enhances textured stitches or lace
  • In spite of the softness Cashgora is very resistant to pilling and other abrasion
  • Only natural colors are available although the Tajik women are working on dyeing
  • Incredible price through Peacefleece for a luxury yarn $33 for a 100 gram/3.5 ounce skein
  • A cowl takes one skein; the long Architexture scarf required 2 1/2 for a scarf 12 x 64 inches

May 23, 2016 02:38 PM

Margaret Cooter

"Home" thoughts

The more I think about this topic, and about the drawing project, the more that everything says "Home" to me.

In the photo of the rescued birdhouse, other elements of Home are the doormats, the threshold, the post waiting to be picked up, the way the hall flooring leads in ... what I know that flooring leads past, and the way it changes into carpet just beyond the stairs -
 This next photo is of someone unknown's home. I love their display of carved wooden trees and am intrigued by the things that people but in their window, to be seen from inside and outside but also acting as a barrier between us-inside and them-outside -
 Making the home a better place ... and the turmoil or even agony that accompanies the process. Protecting the possessions kept in the home, preventing their contamination with the tiny particles of sawdust, paint, whatever. Better to take them all out of the room to keep them pristine, and aim to cull some in the process of putting things back -
 Yet living in one's home is often an automatic process - you don't see the things in there, as long as they let you get around them and carry on a "normal" life. They pile up, you get used to them being there (my inevitable heaps of paper! the unread novels! those few dishes that won't fit into the cupboard!), and it can be a real surprise when someone asks, "what's that doing there?"

These drawings, coloured with coffee, are of my first London home - the shared kitchen -
 and my own room, with too many books (the rest hidden under and behind other furniture) and the useless but decorative fireplace, the limited clothes storage, the sofabed, the desk which grew sideways to accommodate that latest thing, the computer -
 Fortunately that was before I discovered textile art, so no need for extensive fabric storage.

Ah yes, art ... this is towards an art project. So what might it look like? I'm drawn to this reflection, or layering -
 Here it is elsewhere, this time with the addition of holes, seeing into (or through) -
 Resonant, somehow, but I'm not sure where it might go.

I'm drawn to paintings of uninhabited interiors, like this one by Mark Entwisle
and Hammerskoi did similar, based on a place he had lived in ... a sense of quiet, with interesting light and spaciousness.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 23, 2016 03:01 PM

Extended drawing (is it for the birds?)

Later today, before class, I am to have a tutorial and, given the distinct lack of work done outside class, and the still-woolly nature of my topic, I'm dreading it.  However - perhaps these are the very circumstances in which a tutorial can be most helpful! 

Let's start with last week's class. I'd photographed the bird houses and put them outside the gate for people to take -

then drew them (big) with conte and charcoal -

and captured some very crazy - whimsical, even - thoughts about birds bedded down in feather duvets in the privacy of the birdhouse, rather than exposed in nests -

One of the sheets of paper had a tear, which made a door in the book/house structure - I saved that "for later" and started with the smaller pieces -
This fold-awayable, open-upable, inside/outside book structure is my go-to option at the moment. Why fight it? Much can be done with a sheet of paper and a few folds!
Nests inside (with a very dark area at the centre ... rather like the dark hole where the birds enter, or disappear) ...  On the outside, using an eraser to take away the charcoal. Not really "nests", more like strange spidery things...

Underneath is a pattern of negative spaces from rubbing away the excess charcoal before using the rubber to draw with -
Once I noticed what was happening, I was a bit more careful about where the paper got put for the next bit of wiping-off. I like the way it almost looks like a pile of papers, and their shadows.

But how does it work in combination with the book/house structures ...
Research, still. Pootling about. Not getting anywhere much, just at the moment. 

Too much thinking, not enough doing...

But nice to get feedback from last time, attached to the sheet of "aims and objectives" we fill out at the beginning of each session -
More to think about.

Meanwhile, one of the birdhouses didn't get taken to a new home, so I'm keeping it, for now anyway -
Seeing it in the photo makes me wonder where else it might comfortably sit ...

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 23, 2016 09:19 AM

Neki Rivera

of process

3 color double bed jacquard, what a mouthful!the mishaps multiplied by 3 yarns can grow exponentially.  
funny how in weaving for me a 20/2 cotton is on the thick side whereas in machine knitting it is considered fine. set the machine, tension dial and tension mast for thickish yarn and you have a tension problem. then the right amount of weight and whether to use the fine knitting bar or not.
to sum it up; a weekend of sampling, learning the ins and outs and clothing myself with a cloak of patience.

 Asturias,Oviedo. in this case no news is bad news.(╯︵╰,)
looks like i'll be here till the day i die.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at May 23, 2016 08:00 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Naturalizing with Iris

These two clumps are looking good along the driveway.  They are never watered other than what falls from the sky.  I did pull the weeds that were invading them, but other than that - no care.  Awesome!  My plan is that whenever I need to divide or move an iris clump, I will plug it in somewhere and let it fend for itself!  Tough little plants.  Gotta love them.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 23, 2016 06:00 AM

Rayna Gillman

out the door again

Tomorrow morning, catching a plane to go teach for the week in beautiful Downsville, WI. at Woodland Ridge Retreat.   I have packed a huge stash of fabric because after teaching during the day, I plan to sew at night.  The studios are open 24 hours and it's not only a boon for the students, it's a perk for me!  I have been doing therapy sewing - some old fashioned string quilts with all the strips I have.   
And I have to make a challenge piece with the shweshwe fabric I brought home from Durban last August.  It needs to be 40 cm x 60 cm (approx.16"x24") and since the one I worked on last week turned out to be too big, I'm back to square one.  It's ok. I need to be challenged!

Leaving at the crack of dawn in the morning, so am going to put the last few items in the suitcase, zip it up, and leave it by the front door.  I expect to take lots of pictures of the locale and the class and will post. whatever I can.  

by (Rayna) at May 23, 2016 01:19 AM

May 22, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Extended drawing - third term, week 4

"Research, archive, playing with ideas, experimenting with materials" is on the schedule.  I am lagging a bit behind with all of those; still at the "too much thinking" stage, have done very little that could be called action. Still hoping to catch up, though!

Tonight we move on the "editing, refining".

Last week Mario talked about the work of Sigmar Polke and Mary Kelly, before setting us loose  to play with ideas and experiment with materials.

"Pushing and mixing things", Polke was subversive and political. He responded to and commented on found images.  The two images below are from his 1976 series "We petty bourgois" - the grid hold it all together; it's "almost a pseudo-narrative" and it's up to the viewer to make the connections

 Polke's first works were made in 1964 - are they naive, or simply too plain?
 His work is "Capitalist Realism" - taking the piss out of the East German love of capitalist ideas.

In the Watchtower series of 1984 he gives the same image different treatmnts -
 The work of Marry Kelly shows her process. Postpartum Document 1973-79 was installed in a way that you could see development - it used her baby son's nappy liners, elaborated with text; it's confessional art.

My "idea of the week" was to use text in my Home drawings, somehow. In the spaciousness of Room 406, I used large sheets of paper and ink to play around with text, phrases taken from "Geography of Home" by Akiko Busch, which had been sitting on my bookshelf patiently for some years. Taking forward the idea of "crumpled paper = crumpled bedsheets", I took phrases from the chapter on the bedroom (which is also a way to incorporate Gaston Bachelard's quote about "home is where we can dream" -

Over coffee during the break, someone mentioned being told to "draw" text rather then write it. So I worked upside down, pencilling the shapes and highlighting them with ink in various dilutions -
In its current form - A3 size - the texts look rather like political posters ... which is not what I'm aiming at.

Mario suggested writing them on actual bedding - pillows - or using them as wallpaper. Well, maybe...

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 22, 2016 11:35 PM

Upheaval, continuing

Not all that long ago I showed some photos of my flat amid the chaos of renovation. Much has progressed in the two and a half weeks since the room was stripped. Now it's been insulated, rewired, replastered, and a skylight added -

This stage was preceded, of course, by this sort of thing -

Elsewhere in the flat, the chaos remains, with all the contents of that room, and others, needing "rationalisation" - basically, paring down to 10% (at a guess) of what has been and is hidden in cupboards and odd corners. The aim is to put back into the room ONLY what should BE in the room. So, I've lost my convenient hiding places for the books I might never get around to reading and the swathes of fabric I might never get around to sewing. 

Good, they need to go on to other places, new lives. But the hardening of heart needed to let them go is a wretched process. 

At the moment I'm concentrating on the books. This lot, some 3 dozen volumes, went to the Oxfam Bookshop early in the week -
As it was a sunny day, I put another dozen books "on the wall" and they disappeared in no time.

Which left the rest of the books that had been gathering dust under the desk, on Tom's carefully custom-fitted shelves - a practice piece, it turned out, for the bespoke shelving and cupboard-building that makes up a large part of his "carpentry" livelihood. 
On the left, the keepers; on the right, 44 books looking for new homes
The pile isn't down to 10% and there may have to be some new bookshelves somewhere, but 50% is pretty good.  I'd actually enjoy this if there was an obvious difference, such as a rewarding expanse of empty shelves.

And the sorting is the easy part - without a car to carry many bags at a time, getting the books (etc) to the charity shop takes time. So much easier to put them on the wall on a sunny day, and enjoy seeing them disappear.

This is from one of the older books (1929) that went out -

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 22, 2016 09:39 AM

May 21, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Saturday in the park

It's been a long time since I've walked across the park "early" on a Saturday morning. The cafe is full of young families, and there's lots of football instruction going on -
And in the quieter areas, some protected trees get on with what trees do -

In the wild areas, cow parsley in bloom under the trees - no time to stop for a photo though.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 21, 2016 11:38 PM

Cynthia St. Charles

Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris - Cat's Eye

 This is a very showy iris across the garden.  Red iris are very rare and many hybridizers are trying to create one.  This one was introduced by Paul Black in 2002.  It has been sort of slow to establish and I am hoping for a nice clump someday.  I would plant it in other spots if I had enough increases - I really like the color.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 21, 2016 06:00 AM

May 20, 2016

Dijanne Cevaal


I am feeling a bit gefrumpelled- I thought I had sold my block of land in Gellibrand (price agreed etc etc) for the buyer to pull out at the last moment. Now I have to find the upside of this journey. I suppose the first thing is I don't have to pack everything up yet again and find somewhere else to live. Thankfully I have a wood heater in the shed....But there is also a few things I need to work out as well , like getting a car, work out a way to access the internet and get some power for my sewing machine.Anyway onward as they say.

A couple of weeks ago I created a new page of  work for sale- work that I have made since last year ( 2015). I am actually surprised at how much work I have produced in that time as there has been quite a  lot of moving,travelling and spending the summer in the shed without access to power.If you see anything you would like to purchase please email me ( I can be paid by Paypal or internet banking in Australia). Of course some of my older work is for sale and I am prepared to consider reasonable offers.

Of course last weekend was the wedding of my friends daughter Rebecca- it was a lovely wedding catered for  by a traiteur in their garden. of course there were many visitors before and after and I can't tell you how many new I rolled or how much cooking we did- but a lot!

My program for June is quite bsuy and I return to Oz on 2 July- Election day- what fun!
So here is my program for june

11 June at Cuci- Service in Oderzo- creating your own linocut for stamping/printing fabric and embellishing it with stitch
12 June at Cuci-Service in Oderzo- a lecture about my work with many demonstrations of how I work and some fun embroidering/stitching your own little piece of printed fabric as a memento

18 June at Festival du Forcafil in the Luberon Working with Transfer dye/printing and stitching
19 June at Festival Forcafil- Form and Variation-

I have an information sheet I can send of  the Festival du Forcafil which I am happy to send to you - just email me. The Festival itself runs from 24-26 June with many exhibitions to visit in different villages.

Then I head home for awhile for winter cold .

Had  a wonderful day yesterday visiting Michel Garcia in Lauris- he is an amazing fountain of knowledge about natural dyeing  but in a measured scientific way as he consults on many projects that need accuracy and consistency to reproduce  natural colours around the world . My friend Liwanag also came along as she is involved in a biodiversity project in the Phillipines and his approach also seeded many ideas about sustainability . I came away with a lot of food for thought and to come up with an idea of what I would like him to teach me before I go back to Oz- and maybe it was the universe's way of telling me that my block of land could be a source for natural dye stuffs- who knows? And whilst it is not easy to extract colour from Banksias it is not impossible.

The photos above are some of his samples and dyer's hands! And I leave you with another banksia on the way!

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at May 20, 2016 06:15 PM

Terry Grant

May is speeding by...

Always a busy month with family birthdays, and all that getting-ready-for-summer stuff, like finding the sandals I stored under the bed last fall and getting a new shade for the west-facing kitchen window where the summer sun beats in and cleaning off the porch, which also included removing the crispy Christmas wreath (I can't be the only one...?)

"Desert Nights" was sold and sent off this week to join the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection, which is a happy thing. Del Thomas is a wonderful supporter of and promoter of art quilts and she shares her Collection and her knowledge so generously with the world. Selling a piece is pretty special to me—so affirming and such a good feeling to know others enjoy it beyond the pleasure I had in creating. When I sell a big piece, like this one I like to use some part of my proceeds to buy something a little indulgent—a piece of art, a special book or, this time, a subscription to a beautiful magazine. I have a real fondness for good magazines and they are so rare. Uppercase comes close to being the perfect magazine for me! My first issue arrived within days of placing my order.

I am savoring it. Each page is a beautiful composition.

See what I mean?

I have been working on a large quilt I can't really show until it is either accepted for or rejected from an exhibit, but it has been fairly arduous, and I am close to finishing and thoroughly sick of looking at it, as happens, so I took a short break to make a couple tiny (6" square) pieces based on what's blooming in the garden.

And I am thinking ahead to what's next. I have always loved and used stripes and wondered how many good ones are in my stash, so the other day I started sorting them out and found this big, unruly pile pretty inspiring!

I used a man's striped shirt in a fun way on the big quilt I am finishing up and it has pushed me back to the idea of stripes, so I started doodling on my iPad.

Hmmmm—branches, pine needles, bark, grass—variations on stripes?



by Terry Grant ( at May 20, 2016 01:03 PM

Margaret Cooter

Home thoughts from a birdhouse

Birds sometimes have houses ... do they have feather duvets in their bedrooms?
Feather duvets, backlit
Unnaturally feathery

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 20, 2016 09:58 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Banded Tiger - Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris

I have two nice clumps of this one.  It is taller than some of the other dwarf iris and it makes a striking clump.  It was introduced by Schmieder in 2006.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 20, 2016 06:00 AM

May 19, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - New Gravity by Robin Robertson

"pieces of the tree's jigsaw" (via)

New Gravity by Robin Robertson

Treading through the half-light of ivy
and headstone, I see you in the distance
as I'm telling our daughter
about this place, this whole business:
a sister about to be born,
how a life's new gravity suspends in water.

Under the oak, the fallen leaves
are pieces of the tree's jigsaw;
by your father's grave you are pressing acorns
into the shadows to seed.

From A Painted Field (2004),Picador £6.99 (via)

Robin Robertson (b. 1955) is a poet of austere and meticulous diction, tempered by a sensuous music [says]. He was born in Scone, Perthshire, and brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland but has spent much of his professional life in London where he is currently Poetry Editor at Jonathan Cape. Robertson came late to publishing in terms of his own work, his debut collection A Painted Field appearing in 1997. However, the assuredness of his poetry made an immediate impression [the book won several awards].

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 19, 2016 09:11 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Dwarf Bearded Iris - Rosalie Loving

Rosalie Loving is a Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris introduced by Spoon 2003.  It can be a rebloomer.  It is a strong grower for me in Montana Zone 4.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 19, 2016 06:00 AM

May 18, 2016

Cynthia St. Charles

Dwarf Bearded Iris Zoomboomafoo

 Photos taken at two different times.  The light has a real impact on how an iris looks.  Bottom line - this colorful little iris looks great in any light!
Zoomboomafoo was introduced by Paul Black in 2007.  It is 14" tall.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 18, 2016 06:00 AM

May 17, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons

Lots of "specimens in glass" jars to draw ... and other objects too. The Hunterian museum is a selection of teaching specimens, some of them venerably old.

Sitting in front of some shelves labelled "products of plant generation" [or words to that effect - should have written it down], I started with a square jar from the bottom shelf -
(tools: permanent pen, somewhat soluble pen, water brush) then added the little jar from the shelf above, and after that chose jars one by one and placed them on what would become two "shelves" -
The process proved quite tricky in order to get something approaching an interesting composition -
Michelle filled several pages in addition to these -
Janet, too, did more than one drawing. I hope you can see the loose lines that eventually form the eyes -
 Joyce's (colourful, large, pregnant) African scorpion  -
Carol's ballot box dates to a vote from 1800; the last paper arrived 39 years later; the academic robe of the Faculty of Dental Surgery has a badge showing Hunter’s experimental dental graft of a human canine tooth embedded into a cockerel’s cockscomb (read about it here) -
 Sue was attracted by the colours of jars with eggs of the spotted dogfish, dissected to show embryos -
Tool of the week: Janet has been using the ipad for digital painting; the app is Artrage -

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 17, 2016 09:41 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Miniature Dwarf Bearded Iris - Delft Elf

 I have a little clump of "Delft Elf" near the door to my studio.   It struggles - mainly because in the heat of summer, my dog sometimes decides to dig a bed in the soil there.  I love the dainty little flowers!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 17, 2016 06:00 AM

May 16, 2016

Cynthia St. Charles

Seedling Beds

 Last fall, I finished building the seedling beds below the driveway.  I am a little astonished by how quickly they fill up with a few little seeds!   I was hoping I could do with just this set of seedling beds, but I may have to build more.  Groan....

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 16, 2016 06:00 AM

May 15, 2016

Sarah Ann Smith

Baker’s Heaven: King Arthur Flour

Viewing window, the King Arthur Flour bakery. An air vent nearby was exuding the heavenly scent of rising bread.

Viewing window, the King Arthur Flour bakery. An air vent nearby was exuding the heavenly scent of rising bread.

During Eli’s Spring Break, after visiting his college, we decided to visit a Nature center in Vermont on the way home–a rather circuitous but enjoyable route.  And I discovered two places I totally love were on the way:  King Arthur Flour and Ben & Jerry’s!   Today, it’s baking:

Framed and in the hallway at the beautiful facility King Arthur has where they make flour, bread, have a cafe, a store (swoon), and host classes/workshops!

Framed and in the hallway at the beautiful facility King Arthur has where they make flour, bread, have a cafe, a store (swoon), and host classes/workshops!

The view as you drive up:

Turning in to the drive.

Turning in to the drive.

From the parking lot. Busy even on a mid-April weekday! Buildings are gorgeous!

From the parking lot. Busy even on a mid-April weekday! Buildings are gorgeous!

Panorama shot on my iPhone of the bakery

Panorama shot on my iPhone of the bakery

Panorama shot with the bakery at my back, of the cafe, hall to the shop, etc.

Panorama shot with the bakery at my back, of the cafe, hall to the shop, etc.  Jacquie–lunch here in June!

I’m happy that I’m taking a brief foray to Vermont Quilt Festival in late June and will stop and visit my friend Jacquie, and she’s agreed to go on a drive up to Norwich and visit.  She’ll be more amenable to browsing than my guys LOL!



by Sarah Ann Smith at May 15, 2016 12:12 PM

Terry Grant

Lake Nicaragua

You probably thought I was finished with my Nicaragua posts when I ended my last one bidding "adios" from the steps of the hotel, but I saved these photos for a separate post, which really will be the last!

On our final evening in Granada we took a little cruise before dinner, on Lake Nicaragua, to watch the sun set.

It was cooler, and very peaceful on the water and we drifted slowly along the shoreline, through the water lilies and watched the birds swooping and gathered on the rocky shore. Hundreds of them.

"The egrets come down from North America in the winter," our guide told us. "Many will be heading back soon." I thought about how thrilled Beth and I are to see even one on our wetland walks here in Oregon. That evening we saw at least a hundred, I am guessing.

They call this water-walking bird the "Jesus bird". The length of his toes was incredible.

Theses are nests of the Oropendola bird hanging like burlap bags from the massive trees.

This old bird was enjoying the ride as well. (Sorry. I couldn't resist a dumb joke...)

As the sun began to set, we headed back toward Granada.

Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America and drains into the Caribbean sea by way of the San Juan River. There is a plan for a Chinese company to connect the lake to the Pacific Ocean with a huge canal, creating a new shipping waterway between the Atlantic and the Pacific, much larger than the Panama Canal. The environmental impact could be devastating and it is very controversial. The lake is beautiful right now, and teeming with wildlife. This could all be destroyed. Our guide brushed it off as something that will never happen. I hope he is right.

So, on that not-so-cheerful note, and a beautiful view of Granada, I conclude this travelogue.


by Terry Grant ( at May 15, 2016 12:11 PM

Margaret Cooter

Books, books, books

Reading pile, 2012 - from the college library, mostly
Persephone bookshop
Liminal books, books in transition

A pictorial wish-list, snapped over the past few years - something to be getting on with -


And then there are these, Tony's choices -

Current reading: Bill Bryson on what is(n't) known about William Shakespeare's life. There's a lot of fascinating context.

One book at a time!

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 15, 2016 09:05 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Germinating Iris Seeds

I've had these iris seeds in the refrigerator in moist peat moss for many weeks hoping they would sprout.  So excited to see these little babies germinating.  I have begun planting them in the seedling bed.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 15, 2016 06:00 AM

May 14, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Caught in the act

Drawing "travel lines" with soluble graphite onto wet paper - the water comes from a brushpen, applied during station stops. Made for a call for entry of art created on public transport ... the work, "Gone Shopping", didn't get selected ... but never mind, making it got a few ideas going.

That was January 2015; the travel lines project (an important part of my art practice around 2010) has lain dormant since then.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 14, 2016 09:39 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

i. lutescens

 I really love this species iris, native to Crimea.  It is called i. lutescens.  I have naturalized with it all around the driveway.  One of the first iris to open in the early spring.  It was first identified in 1789.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 14, 2016 06:46 AM

May 13, 2016

Olga Norris

The romance of ruins

Is it because they represent the passing of time, or simply speak of different times that make ruins so eloquent?  We visited a handful of them this week.  There are castles almost everywhere you look around here, not least with all those estuaries to the Solway Firth and the Irish Sea - lots of approaches to defend.
Cardoness Castle, Gatehouse of Fleet
MacLellan's Castle, Kirkcudbright
My favourite castle of all time, anywhere, is this one: Caerlaverock Castle, which is just south of Dumfries.  It has two moats: an inner one of water
and an outer very green one.  The castle is triangular in footprint, and the later interior is splendid with its elaborate fascia carvings.
Some of which have been rescued and displayed in the visitors' centre. 
Just a beautiful place, building, setting, ice cream, day, ... everything.
Sweetheart Abbey was the starting point for the idea of this trip - for years I had wondered about the place, and was not disappointed on finally seeing it.  Wandering round those ruins put the cherry on the cake of the day after Caerlaverock Castle.
That was yesterday, that ended with delicious scallops at Polarbites, freshly fished and landed at Kirkcudbright (where we also drove past this fabulous, very far from ruin!).
Today's ruins are much older: Neolithic.  Cairnholy I and II are what remains of two chamber tombs.  I did not manage the climb required for Cairnholy II, but was fascinated by Cairnholy I, as seen in both photos.  
The view from up there reached all round the hills, and out over the estuary towards the Irish Sea, with the Whithorn peninsula in the distant right.
This was our last full day here.  Tomorrow we set off homewards.

by Olga Norris ( at May 13, 2016 08:34 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

Visiting Franklin and Marshall — random inspiration

While visiting Eli’s soon-to-be college, I found a bit of inspiration:

Just outside the wrestling practice room.

Just outside the wrestling practice room.

Some of the graduating seniors put on a Research Fair during the Closer Look prospective student weekend. This student allowed me to photograph this image from her research. Wouldn't this be an awesome structure for an art quilt, as well as for a thermofax screen?

Some of the graduating seniors put on a Research Fair during the Closer Look prospective student weekend. This student allowed me to photograph this image from her research. Wouldn’t this be an awesome structure for an art quilt, as well as for a thermofax screen?

by Sarah Ann Smith at May 13, 2016 12:08 PM

Margaret Cooter

Patterns and colours

Some of the joys of home. Having things you like to use. Things with a history, an ongoing history.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 13, 2016 09:20 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Spring! Apple Tree

I love this old apple tree with it's very wonky (many) trunks and strange shape.  It is happy this year!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at May 13, 2016 06:44 AM