Thursday, March 28, 2013

Photo Booth

If you read this blog (and you must, or you wouldn't be reading this) you know that Bob builds really amazing scale models.  There is a magazine called Fine Scale Modeler that often shows models made by its subscribers.  Logic dictates that Bob's models should be in this magazine.

Of course, to do this you need to send a photograph.  He should be taking pictures of his stuff anyway--if this blog has taught be nothing else, it's that it's kind of nice to document bits of your life.

Awhile back, I did a post showing how to McGyver [old TV show where the star could make anything using a Swiss Army knife and whatever was lying around] a photo booth using a storage container and flashlights.  Not that it's difficult--but most of my storage containers have stuff in them that had to be dumped out and somehow never got put back in.  So taking pictures was usually on the "things to do" list.

Also about the same time--I bought Mike a small photo booth for Christmas a couple of years ago--because he also makes nice things that should be photographed.  It's not Christmas--but I just got one for Bob.

Pretty nifty little kit.  About the size of a briefcase, has a folding photo booth, two lights, and a camera tripod.  Just unfold and plug in. 

Here's a shot of our usual "documentation" (set it on the table and shoot) and one in the photo booth.

I think the second one shows more respect to Bob's skills.  Now to  write that article for the magazine!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Busy Monday

I thought that the purpose of time was to keep everything from happening at once.  It rather failed at that yesterday.

It started off first thing with setting up a dye workshop in the textile lab.  Normally this would have been done by the person teaching the lab, but she got volunteered to talk to a group of boy scouts about textiles from 9 to 10--and her class was at 10:15.  So, being the nice person I generally am, I offered to set up the lab.  Mixing the dyes, mixing the fixing solution, getting everything labled and set out, setting up the steamer.  While I'm doing this the scouts come out of the classroom and into the lab to see some of the equipment--so I end up giving an impromptu lecture about dyeing.

Scouts leave, I finish with the dye setup, and I get called to the scout class to help demonstrate weaving on the table loom.  The scouts all want to give it a try (which is amazing--I can't talk my college students into it at all), but it's time for Trinna's class, so we carry the loom to another room and they all have a go at it.

Finally get to my office, where I have to pack up vintage clothing and dress forms because I'm having an interview on TV about the Gowns of Goodwood exhibit (there was also a radio interview but they didn't need the visuals).  One of the garments I need is out at Goodwood so I drive out there to get it.

Get that, get back, have a quick lunch (see below for details), get changed into a dress, drive to the TV station, drag out the dress forms and box of clothes, get them set up, and have interview the first.  Wait around because the radio guy isn't there.  Finally have the interview with him.

Clothes get repacked, everything stuffed into the Honda, and back to Goodwood.  

Then off to the yarn shop because this is the night I'm helping Rob teach a weaving class (lots of fun--but once again I forgot my camera).

Now, it may seem that this was a busy enough day, but it was complicated by the fact that I have a new little friend.

Got this little guy last Wednesday, tipping the scales at just one ounce.  Possums this size are very tricky to raise--unlike most mammals, marsupial babies live in the pouch and nurse almost constantly, so they can't go long between feeding.  He's on a two-hour schedule (except at night--he has to go four hours because I just can't get up every two.  Even the 2 a.m. feedings are getting to me).

So everything I was doing yesterday included getting back to the office every two hours to feed him.  The schedule for getting stuff from Goodwood to the TV station was tight enough that I would have time to feed him, or feed myself, but not both.  Bob to the rescue on that one--he brought lunch over and dropped bits in my mouth like a baby bird while I fed the possum  (pity we didn't have a third person with a camera for that one).

But dyeshop was a success, and scouts had fun, and the interview went well, and the weaving class went well, and the possum got fed, and I got through the day.

Today I'm staying home.

P.S.  For those of you in Tallahassee, the TV interview will be Wednesday the 27th at 7:30 p.m. on WFSU (Comast Channel 4).  The show is called Dimensions--we'll only be on for about 5 minutes.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I will be the first to admit that I am spoiled when it comes to having a place to work on my craft projects.  In fact, it's sort of an embarassment of riches.  There are better and far more prolific artists than I out there who would give their eyeteeth to have my space.  Not only do I have a storage cabinet and a couple of spinning wheels in the den, and a couple more spinning wheels and a small loom in the living room, and a large loom in the guest room, but, in addition,  I have my own house.

When we bought this place 20+ years ago, it came with a small mother-in-law cottage, which Bob said I could have (I think he was tired of finding my natural dye experiment on the stove, aka "wool and weed stew" when what he wanted was dinner).  It has two rooms and a bathroom, and Bob walled in the back porch to make my dye kitchen (there was already a stove there, and he scrounged a great sink/counter).  The smaller room (about 10 x 11) is my sewing room, and the larger one is for storage, fiber prep, and general crafting.

With all this--of course I had to have a complaint  :-)

My cutting table in the sewing room is 30" wide.  I was trying to cut out a skirt for a 1900's costume--the fabric is 54" wide and the pattern pieces are about 40" wide, which made it tricky to lay it all out.  I could have used the dining room table--but that's the downside of having a studio away from the house--the cutting board, fabric, pins, measuring tape, and marking chalk would all have to be carried up and back.  It's only about 150 yards away--but I always forget something so it's multiple trips.

As I said--spoiled.

I was talking to Bob about it, and trying to figure out how to fit a wider cutting table into the sewing room.  He pointed out the obvious--the sewing room was rather packed full, but the front room was underutilized.  There was a work counter there, but only 20" wide.  Why not extend it?

So that was Saturday's project.  We got three lower cabinet units from Home Depot (which happened to be the same height as the original counter support), a piece of pressboard, and a piece of white masonite.  A few hours later and I have a 6.5 x 4 foot workspace--and storage!

Here's the old counter:

An here's the new one:

Here's the really clever part.   Notice that there's a pretty big gap (about 15") between the old counter and the new ones.  Bob put casters and a handle on a long board for me--and voila!  Secret storage (the tall wastebaskets are for storing fleece)

Which now begs the question--with this much storage space, what's going to be my excuse for having my stuff spread out all over the place??

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Mid-March already.  The weather really can't decide what it's doing.  The first week of March was the coldest weather we'd had all winter.  This weekend was warm and lovely and we got both the vegetable garden and the butterfly garden cleaned up.

I realize that although I'm constantly fiddling with stuff--usually yarn--I haven't posted much on my projects lately.  So here goes.

Sugar Cane scarf.  Last fall when Natasha and I were cutting sugar cane at the museum, she wondered if the big sugar businesses have any way of recycling the pressed cane.  I mentioned that they burn some to run the factories, some can get turned into erosion control fabric, and some becomes biodegradable paper plates and eating utensiles. So when I found some yarn made from recycled, regenerated cane pulp I just had to make her a scarf from it.  It was such a quick project that I forgot to take a picture of it.  Here's a picture of the yarn from the catalog--very pretty silky multicolor.
The Dog is off the loom! A loom "dog" is a project that isn't going the way you want so you don't finish it--but you don't cut it off and throw it away, so it just sits there (and obviously you don't weave anything else).  I started this about a year ago (yes--a year) by putting on a random warp of different yarns that I've spun over the last 20 years.  I thought a gray weft would bring out the colors--but instead it killed them.  I kept weaving for awhile just in case I eventually liked it--and then stopped.  I wasn't about to unweave the yard or so, and I wasn't going to sacrifice it.  I finally said the heck with it, spun up the rest of the weft, and finished it.  I don't know what I'll do with it, but I can start using the loom again.

Last October when we went to the alpaca show I bought a small bag of a really beautiful shaded gray suri fleece.  Suri alpacas have curly fleece that feels and acts like silk. I wanted to make something from it before the alpaca show in February.   The finished scarf is quite subtle but I love it.  And the alpaca's owners had never seen anything made of her fleece before.

Some knitters are addicted to making socks; my addiction is fingerless mitts.  I think they're cute, if you use interesting yarn you don't have to do anything fancy, they're instant gratification.  So I've made two more pairs, one for our neice Amanda and one for one of our graduate students who thought mine were really cute.


I had planned to make Rob and Jeff a new set of dishtowels (at their request) for Christmas--and they got them in March.  I did a complicated structure called shadow weave, just because I like it.  The threads counted out correctly.  When I was weaving them they looked fine (but it's difficult to see shadow weave patterns while they're being woven).  When I finished and washed them, which makes the design pop out--*that's* when I found the errors.  Truly annoying.  But at least it's dishtowels--and they're still functional.

And the Doctor Who scarf is done.

Not bad for a couple of months!   There are a few works-in-progress, but it's past my bedtime.

Friday, March 1, 2013


You never forget your first doctor.  Who?

Fifty years ago, in 1963, a science fiction show called "Dr. Who" first aired.  The acting was stilted and the sets seemingly made of cardboard, but there was a certain charm to it that caused it to be a cult classic.

For the non-nerds out there, Dr. Who is a Time Lord, who travels through space and time saving the universe.  Rather conveniently, when the time lord dies, he regenerates into a new body.  Considering that the series ran from 1963 to 1989, this made is possible to replace actors when desired. Each one brought a different personality and a fresh set of eccentricities to the show.    And followers of the show tend to show a definite affection for their first doctor.

For many of us baby boomers, that first doctor was the fourth one of the series, played by Tom Baker.  I believe this was the first ones aired in the States, and was the longest running doctor (74-81).  His trademark was his 12-foot long striped scarf (and wild curly hair and googly eyes).  The scarf (henceforth referred to as "The Scarf" became an iconic image for the series).

The show returned to the air in 2005, and we're up to the 11th doctor now--but "The Scarf" remains an icon.  Possibly because it conferred instant recognizablity.  Anyone going to a science fiction convention or a costume party could easily be The Doctor.  Even  if you were a 5'2" woman, or a 10-year-old kid, you could put on a long scarf and instantly you were Dr. Who.

(side note--what's funny is that the new generation of viewers, the ones that started in 2005, have no idea of what The Scarf is about).

So--in honor of the 50th anniversary of the show, the knitting nerds of the world are making the The Scarf (and yes--there are official colors and stripe orders).  It's possibly the world's most boring knitting, being 10 inches wide and 12 feet of a plain knit stitch.  But it's The Scarf.

I have about four feet to go.