Sunday, May 30, 2010

Auction treasures

Last night I went to an auction and came home with some wonderful old hooked rugs. I will attach some pictures to this post. One is an amazing large rug almost 7' wide. I had to hang it on the side of the house to get a good picture. It is in very good shape considering the burlap backing is stressed from age and the size of this piece of art. It only has one edge that has about 8" chewed and the rest is still stable. The rug was finished by folding over the burlap and hooking through both layers. The colors on the front are similar to those on the back so there has only been a little fading or the kept the rug face down at some point to protect it. The exception is the aqua wool roving as seen in the second picture. On the back the true color is lime green! I will also add a couple of close up pictures.

I will contemplate donating that rug to the Nova Scotia Hooked Rug Museum as I think that's where it belongs. Another sweet rug has some damage and pulled loops, but I just love the way the lettering was hooked. My photo in the sunshine doesn't do justice to the pretty flowers. I believe I can closely match the loops that were pulled out and replace them, and then back it with linen. I can lay the rug on linen and then baste through the layers every inch or two so it will be secure to a new backing. It should hopefully prevent it from further damage for awhile. I also got some stair treads that are faded but have a certain charm. And a couple of other small rugs. I love the hit or miss one, and the simplicity of the others. Finsing hooked rugs at an auction in Maine is such a joy! Thanks for enjoying them with me!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ballooning high over Pennsy

It has been such fun to leave the husbands at home and enjoy a vacation with a friend. But here comes the really cool experience! We all have what is now referred to as a "Bucket List". Those are things we would like to do before we "kick the bucket" at the end of our lives. My list is long and I have tried to do things on the list before I am too old to enjoy them. Once in awhile I will take something off my list because it is impossible or no longer worth the risk or money, such as having a child or climbing Mt. Ranier. Today my friend and I went up in a hot air balloon. That has been on my list since I was about 10 years old.
We began our day long before dawn when we were picked up and taken to a large park where the wind was checked to see direction, speed and where it might take us. We really didn't want to be landing in Philadelphia! Not good, so we drove to another field further away. Better! So the trailor that contained the balloon, basket, tanks, huge fan and generator was unloaded. Vince is our Pilot, and Doug is the Crew Chief. The balloon was laid out on the grass and the fan began the initial fill as it was held open. Since Kim and I didn't have anything better to do we got inside the balloon to check it out. The balloon is 57 feet in diameter and over 72 feet high.It holds 89,510 cubic feet of air. It's big.
After we got out the balloon was filled with light air (helium) from the tanks and began to float up...being held down by the bumper of the truck. At that point we gracefully lept into the tall basket. Thank God no one took a picture of that!!! Our pilot Vince checked the gauges. There wasn't much room to move around as we are large women, and with four air tanks in the corners and our lifeline pilot it was cozy.

Here we are getting our first sensation of floating. It gets better!
The ground gently floats away and we begin to move up, up and away with the breeze. Our flight should last perhaps an hour.
The sensation was gentle movement as we were caressed by the breeze. Surprisingly, a fear of the height didn't occur to either of us. There was too much to see to be afraid. Sometimes we were as high as 4,000 feet, but it was actually more interesting to fly lower and see the details below us. We floated over residential areas at first.
We floated over rivers, bridges and streams.
We floated over farms. Notice the farmer on his tractor plowing the field for the Spring crops.
We headed over farms, forests and parks. Amazing is the only word that can describe it. Floating like a gentle bubble. In several of these pictures you can see the shadow of the balloon. Then it was time to look for a place to land.
You have to be selective where you land a huge balloon. You can't land it on a field that has just been planted because the farmer gets cranky. You can't land it on a horse farm because the balloon will spook the horses and they might injure themselves. You can't land it on a dairy farm because...well...the pastures are full of fresh manure and you might land on a cow!
The entire time we were up our personal chase team was following us, or driving ahead trying to anticipate where we would land. They were in communication with Vince via radio so he could tell them where the higher elevation breeze might be taking us. There...I see them down below!
Lovely forest, but not a good place to land.
Once in awhile I would look up and be reminded at how huge the balloon above us was.
Looking straight down we could see homes and cars but not many places to land. Remember we were floating with the breeze and had to go along with it. You can't really steer a hot air baloon much!
We floated low enough to check out the sheep, geese and critters in this yard.
After two hours of floating the perfect field appeared and Vince brought us down towards it. With a few bumps we were teniously on the ground. Our chase team arrived just before us to ask permission from the farmer to land. The farmer was in the barn so it took a few minutes, and meanwhile Vince was struggling to hold the baloon in place. Doug ran across the field to let us know the farmer wanted the balloon moved (against the wind) a couple hundred feet to a cornfield! Not happening...the wind was picking us up! So the vent on the balloon was opened and we were unceremoniously dumped sideways in the basket. Kim and I crawled out as instructed but of course that made the balloon a few hundred pounds lighter and it tried to float away again. We were often reminded that ballooning is a sport. Physical activity. It's a sport...don't ever forget that! Luckily we were paying customers and didn't have to run across big fields, pick up 700 pounds of equipment or hold down balloons.
The crew deflated and packed up the balloon and gear onto the trailor. At this point it is custom to deliver a bottle of champagne to the farmer which they did. Actually he preferred sparkling apple cider when given a choice. We invited our crew back to "our place" to partake of the champagne instead of standing in the field enjoying a drink.
So we all went back to the veranda of our Victorian Mansion to partake in a couple bottles of bubbly mixed with some OJ. After all, it was past time for breakfast! Our spinning class has started inside an hour earlier and we had anticipated we would be back on time. But instead we showed up over two hours late, slightly snookered and grinning ear to ear.
This was a special day I will always remember. I feel like we made some new friends and had an experience of a lifetime. Hot air ballooning? Off my list. Check!
Here is the Ballonist's Prayer that Vincent recited as we toasted:
The Winds have welcomed you with softness.
The Sun has blessed you with it's warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well that God has joined you in your laughter and let you gently back down again into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Spinning Retreat

My last post showed the beautiful Bed and Breakfast estate where our three day spinning retreat was held. The retreat was conducted by Beth Smith of the Spinning Loft in Michigan. Her parents own the B & B. This post will show you what happens when you put a group of fiber-a-holics in an elegant setting! The "perfect cop" above was spindle spun by Naomi.
Beth and her daughter Chelsea had brought all sorts of fibery goodness from her shop for us to caress. Our workshop involved lessons about individual breeds of sheep, and we received fiber from that breed that we could card and spin to become familiar with each breed. I always thought a sheep was a sheep, but Beth showed us that each breed's fiber is different and we can choose a fiber that compliments our goal yarn.
Yes, we really made a mess. But we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The following picture is a Charkha wheel. Remember seeing pictures of Ghandi? He used this type of wheel to spin cotton for weaving garments. He also used spindles all the time. I wanted to give it a try but was afraid I'd break it as it looked delicate (but really wasn't). I love the portability of it in the box.
My friend Kim had never spun before and learned to draft beautifully during the weekend. Here she is focusing on her "park and draft" method. It's so relaxing.
Here are some pictures of busy people making yarn samples.
Of course we had to purchase some of the fun fibery goodness and toys that Beth and Chelsea brought from Michigan. After all, we didn't want them to bear the horrible burden of taking too much back home with them. So we lined up and and were happy to be doing a good deed.
Here is Chelsea working hard. I think we might have put her through college with what we spent! Well, perhaps not but we made the effort!
Here is fun Michelle showing off her new hat. Notice the neat knitted water bottle cozy.
That is water, isn't it?
Our classes were held in the morning and in the afternoon we received lessons about tools and other things. Here is Beth giving us information about drum carders.
Our delicious meals were held in the formal dining room. It seated all twenty of us quite well. Notice the fabulous carved buffet on the side of the room.
It was so relaxing to sit and spin and learn, and leave our trails of fibery goodness all over the house. But as most fiber enthusiasts are also packrats (in a good way) we took everything with us when we left. There only remained bits of fluff on the carpets for Cookie to vacuum. And she did, returning the estate back to normalcy by Monday afternoon. Thanks for putting up with us Cookie!