Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sugar Snap Salad

Here's a very tasty and refreshing salad to make when you have an abundance of Sugar Snap Peas. This recipe comes from Martha Stewart.

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

8 ounces of Sugar Snap Peas, strings removed, finely sliced on the diagonal

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine first three ingredients.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  

(Note to self: Stagger the seed planting so you don't end up with a ton of Sugar Snaps all at once! I was able to put together a pound and a half of this salad to take to a pot-luck.)

This year I grew the Sugar Snaps on poultry netting wrapped around the old ladder. It worked pretty well, but I think I'll go back to a more conventional growing style next year and save the ladder for the Christmas lights.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Springing into Summer

Where does the time go?

I think it gets scattered around the garden, gets sucked up in the vacuum cleaner, blows out the window on the drive to work, wanders off in the grocery store, gets stuck in the pages of magazines and books I've been reading, lies tangled up in my latest fiber project... well, you get the picture.

It's almost summer, and of course every day has been full of stuff and doings. Out in the garden, the strawberries and sugar snaps are done and gone. My first planting of beans are up. Ditto the zucchini and the cukes. There are little green tomatoes out there too! The cosmos have started to bloom, along with the marigolds, mums, and zinnias. The lavender is in full bloom and is buzzing with bees.

This month Eric and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. (Time wooshing by. Again!) We had a lovely time at the Hotel Floyd, enjoyed some very nice meals at Mickey G's, Oddfellas Cantina, and had a tasty pizza at Dogtown Roadhouse . The galleries in town feature great local artists and crafts people. We enjoyed browsing, and I was certainly inspired by all that creativity. Also, I bought some yarn at the new knitting shop, Wooly Jumper Yarns, in downtown Floyd. I'm knitting a hat for Eric - photos to follow eventually. I'm still working on the 2/2 rib, which isn't terribly interesting to look at.

Last week I traveled with Eric and his mother, Joyce,  to Syracuse, NY to visit Joyce's brother and his wife. We stopped for the night in Sharpsburg, MD and stayed at a nice B&B quite near the battlefield at Antietam. Lovely old town with great old buildings. My favorite was this barn, in a backyard on the main street. I covet these crazy cupolas for my studio!

Up in Syracuse we enjoyed the company and the scenery, took in an exhibit of art quilts, visited the Art Park (always fun), had many fine meals, wandered around a rose garden in full bloom, and had a generally lovely time. I made a little slideshow of our visit, which you can view below.

I've also been spending a little time in the studio, but haven't got any photos to show just now. I'm making progress on a little set of tapestry samplers, almost done rethreading the new loom, and just about finished with those never-ending linen napkins. Progress on all fronts!

I hope your Spring has been lovely. Next week - Summer!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Strawberries from our garden!
It's been a busy spring here at the TeaShanty.

Fruitful, one might say.

I've been out in the garden, busy as a bee. But now that our exuberant, and slightly soggy, spring has slowed down a bit I hope to get back to blogging on a more regular basis.

There are lots of photos I'd love to share with you, and I've started a new wee tapestry project. So check back soon for more posts!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

Yes, rain INSIDE the studio is generally considered to be WRONG.
Also, bad, expensive and vexing.
I snapped this shot in the studio on Sunday. It was raining outside. Also, inside.

This only seems to happen when we get a hard rain from the North/Northwest. Which is the direction that most of our interesting weather seems to come from.

Looks like I'll be dragging out the ladder and the caulking as soon as we get a dry spell. And then hunting for someone to replace the windows.  I need some sort of "real" insulated windows anyway. The rest of the building is insulated, but these single-pane jobs came with the kit for the studio. Attractive and rustic, yes. Warm and cozy? Not so much.

Forgetting to run the warp over the back beam is also WRONG.
And bad, and vexing.
Especially if you thought your were done dressing the loom.
And then,  just when I was feeling all smug because I had finished threading the new loom and thought I might actually get some weaving in, I discovered that I had forgotten to run the warp threads over the back beam. On my old Schacht loom, the back beam lifted off and I could just slide it under the warp, pop it back in place, and no one was the wiser. Not so with this one. And so, I started threading all over again.

On the plus side, the new loom is very easy to thread (at least the first time through) because you can take off the beater and breast beam and scoot your comfy chair right up inside it. The very nifty light under the shelf at the front of the loom is pretty handy too.

Hoping for a dry weekend, and good weaving this weekend!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What to do next?

So, the bean tapestry is off the loom, and I've trimmed it up and steamed it. The good news is that the bubbles seem to have gone away and the whole piece isn't as horribly misshapen as I had feared it would be. Actually, it's all good news. I even have a vague idea of how I want to mount it - but I'll need to consult with some folks about how to go about it. And probably I'll need to rummage in Otto's scrap pile.

Anyway, now I have to figure out what to do next. Please be very impressed that not only have I completed ONE tapestry, but that I'm actually looking forward to doing another! I've been playing with some of my photos in Photoshop Elements (wheeeee!) and have a few potential designs. Really, I have a lot of potential designs. I just have to figure out
  • which one appeals to me most, and 
  • which one I might have the skill to take on.
So, for your amusement and mine (probably mostly mine), here are a few of the possibilities. Please bear with me. I had a lot of fun with Photoshop. And do let me know what you think!

Carrying on with my veggie theme, we have "carrots and red potatoes in a colander." Each version becomes slightly more abstract. Click on an image to enlarge.


I think all three of these are a little odd, but way more interesting than the original photo...

Also, the Chives in my garden. An appealing option since I already have most of the colors leftover from the beans & eggplant.

Daffodils - from most to least abstract.

Does this one make you uneasy? Just wondering...

My buddy Adam and I moved a doorway in my house last summer. I call these "Doorway." :-)

I really like this one for some reason...

I also like this one. It seems very atmospheric to me.
It looks like it would need a lot of subtle color blending though...
The Little Red Schoolhouse in Cedar Falls, (or possibly Cedar Rapids) Iowa. My mother-in-law went to school in one just like this when she was very young.  Her mother was the teacher. I like the strong lines and intense colors in this one.

Although I'm pretty much ready for spring, I thought these photos from an icy morning in Happy Valley looked interesting.

I think the sharp angles in all of these would make them hard to weave.

So, there you have them. The possible contenders so far. What do you think? Do any of them make you go ooooh, that should be a tapestry ?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Repurposed window cold frame

Just wanted to share this brilliant idea from the great blog Design*Sponge. As a collector of cast-off treasures (i.e. other people's junk) I really appreciate this great idea for making a cold frame out of old windows.
Read the complete post over at Design*Sponge for construction details and more photos.

I'm off to rummage in the basement and see if I still have any old windows lurking in the corners.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Shhh. It's resting.

Here's what the bean tapestry looks like from the back. Yup. It's done. Right now it's "resting," tension off, relaxing it's little warp and weft yarns. Next week I'll trim the back, hem it, block it and then figure out how I want to mount it. (I know I should have probably thought of that first, but there you go.)

It took me over a year to finish this relatively small tapestry. I'm hoping that I'll have more time to devote to the next one. Please note that I said "the next one." This from a person who swore they'd never weave tapestry because it was too slow.

I think I've finally gotten to the point where the journey is more important than the destination. There was pleasure in every inch I wove. And unwove. And rewove. Whatever. The point is, weaving tapestry is completely absorbing, sometimes frustrating, and really lots of fun.

You can quote me on that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Around Town

Sunday was an exceptionally balmy day for January. I took a walk to the public library to return a book (A Rare Benedictine, by Ellis Peters). Here are a few photos I snapped on the way home.

Main Street Baptist Church. It's for sale, if you're in the market...

The first buds of spring!
Main Street, with our fancy new light posts and cross walks.
This the main business block of our 3-block-long downtown.
Perhaps not the most fascinating of subjects, but good practice with the new camera.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Almost starting, almost finished

Almost starting: Spring! Yes, the trees are starting to bud in late January. At least on Main Street in my little town. It was in the fifties here today, so no wonder the poor trees are all excited.

If you click on the photo you can see a larger version.

Almost finished: The Green Bean Tapestry! I started weaving the top hem this weekend, so soon I'll be cutting it off the loom. Perhaps I'll pop open a bottle of champagne to celebrate!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

More Eagles!

I just had to pass on this link to a great blog, Life Looms Large. The author has given me permission to share her post with my small but mighty group of readers, so I'll just whet your appetite with this photo that her husband took at the Merrimac River Eagle Festival last year. There are more great photos of the eagles, and eagle watchers on her blog.

Mrs. Life Loom Large has interesting posts with lots of great photos. In fact, her blog turned me on to the online Digital Photography School - a website with tons of great information and opportunities to participate and learn through their forums. Hopefully it will help me get the hang of my new DLSR, which still confounds me on a regular basis!

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the studio culling old magazines. They are now tied up in tidy bundles to go to the YMCA thrift store. (That store helps support programs that benefit the Virginia Tech community and the community in the New River Valley. They offer some outstanding programs via their Open University program.) I have this hope that someone will wander in there and "discover" the weaving magazines and yarn that I'm dropping off and will get excited about learning how to weave.  Also, I've cleared out the binders and boxes that the magazines were stored in, and they will be going to our wonderful Guild Librarian who will hopefully be able to make good use of them. Best of all, "that corner" of the studio is nice and tidy now and I've eked out a little more space in my loft!

Today, as soon as it warms up out there, I plan on working on my tapestry. Does it seem like I'm avoiding the Warping Wheel? Hmmmm. Maybe I am :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old Dog, New Tricks

As the few of you who read my blog (you know who you are!) know, I sold my old Schact loom this summer and purchased a friend's Louet loom. (Not a tapestry loom after all, but I'm still waffling about keeping or selling the Glimakra.) Along with this lovely new loom came every possible gadget that one might want or need, and two of some of them!

One of the new-to-me tools is an AVL Warping Weel. It's supposed to be a wiz-bang gizmo to make warping your sectional warp beam (I've got one of those now too!) a breeze. You wind an inch of warp width at a time to the length you want. Then you attach that bundle, or bout, to the warp beam and wind on. The wheel has a tension device that you set so that each bout is wound on at the same tension. Sounds nifty, right?

I wish I could say that I love this new tool. I wish I could report that I got my three-yard-long, 20 end-per-inch, 20 inch wide warp on the loom in record time, easy-peasy. Sadly, I can't say either of those things. At least not at this point.

Through the reed, under the clip,
between the guides and wind another warp end...
On the plus side, I like that the wheel has a handy counting mechanism. It's really easy to change colors for a striped warp - though I did have to do some extensive planning to make my design fit in the one-inch warp increments that this style of warping requires. It's easy to turn the wheel, and after you get the hang of where the thread goes as you're winding, that part is simple too.

But it took a really long time! All day, in fact. And I still have four more bouts to wind. My back is sore, probably more from holding down the break to the warp beam with one foot, while bending to turn the beam to wind the warp on, while trying to reach across the loom to make sure that the warp was staying in it's little one-inch section.

So close to finishing, but I ran out of steam.
Honestly, for a three yard long, 200 end warp, I probably could have gotten the whole warp made, wound on and started threading in the same amount of time using my old method.

Still, I know there are people out there who loooove this gadget. I'm willing to give it another try (if this warp ever gets on and done!) or two to see if I love a Warping Wheel too. That, and the process of sectional warping, which seems like really a lot of bother to me at this point.

If all else fails I can switch from a sectional beam back to a regular beam. So if the old dog (that would be me) can't learn the new trick, I can always go back to the old way. :-)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Inspiration: Old Barns and Sheds

Another eagle sighting in Happy Valley.
More snowy days this week, but not enough to keep us home. A trip through Happy Valley gave us another eagle sighting. He was soaring over the fields and these old barns.

I've always been attracted to old buildings. As we say in our house, I never met a hovel I didn't like! When we travel I tend to take lots of photos of buildings. I like whole buildings, parts of buildings, and the way buildings fit together.  Often, buildings that are in ruins or show the wear of use and age are the most interesting and evocative.  Which leads me back to the barns.

Since I find them so inspiring I thought I'd collect some of the old barn and shed photos laying around the hard drive and post them here. Perhaps I'll use one, or parts of one for a tapestry? I'm looking for inspiration for my next piece since I'm closing in on the end of the green beans. While I'm waiting for the studio to warm up I'll post a few of the photos I like.

What inspires you?

The Happy Valley barns on a morning in summer.

Another barn in Happy Valley

The barns of Maggie, in Happy Valley

Hay storage shed in Floyd. So much texture here!

Near downtown Floyd

Old house, now used as a shed. The backroads of Floyd County

Nova Scotia Shed. Love the lobster trap and the red door!

Rogers red barn. It really was that color. Really!

Garage on the Isle of Lewis

Locked shed in the Scottish Highlands.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Happy Valley Greeter...

No red vests for this guy! With plumage like that he's already the star of the valley!

For the past few weeks on our way to work in Happy Valley, Lawre and I have been greeted by this handsome fellow. This morning I had the camera close at hand. The tree he was perched in was right next to the road and we got fairly close - though I still had to use my zoom.

Then I guess we got too close, or maybe he was just tired of being hounded by paparazzi...
Isn't he lovely?

We're hoping that this spring he'll set up a nest and bring a mate to Happy Valley.

Any cool wildlife sightings where you live?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Christmas Ladder

I realize that it's a little late to be posting about Christmas decor, but I wanted to share a few photos of our Christmas ladder.

Read the CB2 blog featuring the tree.
I got the idea from a CB2 holiday catalog. CB2 is the ultra-contemporary branch of Crate and Barrel. Very cool stuff.

Anyway, we had this wonky wooden ladder that I didn't trust to be safe for climbing anymore and I said to myself "Self, you should paint that old wooden ladder, stick it out in the garden, and deck it out with some holiday cheer." And so, I did. I expect it will stay in the garden into the summer as a trellis for my sugar snap peas and other climby plants.

Have a look and let me know if you have any ideas for a "topper" for my ladder tree for next year.

Artful shot with Smartie in the background.
Fa la la la la...

The "tree" in the garden

This hat itches!
Now get out your fluffy hat and enjoy the snow!