Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Extra Fancy New Hat

I put this one together up in my cabin in the Mendocino County hills. Maybe a result of cabin fever? It was the first rainy day of the season, and I had a nice fire going in the wood heater. It's pretty much necessary to stay right in front of that heater to stay warm there because the rest of the house tends to be cold and drafty. So that's where I stayed for most of the day. In my opinion, there's nothing nicer than a wood fire, a cup of tea, and a pile of outrageous yarn to work with!

I do like how this hat came out, too. It's got a little bit of everything - kid mohair curls, coils with blends of all kinds of fibers, a sprinkling of angelina for a bit of added sparkle, a glass bead on the tassel in back, and feathers! The blue is a bit more muted and grayish than the photo shows, though.

Monday, September 07, 2009

New Style Big Flower Hats

I've been kind of busy this summer. I had to find a new place to stay in Berkeley, which took about six weeks. Meanwhile my daughter and her husband were getting our spring and water system upgraded at our place in Ukiah. This was a really big job, and I wanted to be around for as much of it as I could. So I was running back and forth between Berkeley and Ukiah all summer. Not much time for hatting.

However, somehow or other in the midst of all the chaos I managed to come up with a new hat style. Got the old energy moving I guess. Anyhow, here are two examples. Both are on my website and are now sold, but I will probably make more at some point. They are both made out of lighter weight plant fibers and silk, so were intended for warmer weather.

The first one was fairly close fitting and made out of teal green organic cotton with a linen band and flower center and gold tussah silk flower border.

The next one was bigger and more slouchy. The body of the hat was made out of the same home grown flax as the brimmed hat in the next post, and the flower had a dark green linen center and gold tussah silk border similar to the first hat. These hats are quite labor intensive even though they are well ventilated with an open stitch pattern. I'm now considering making some wool and or silk ones geared more for dressy winter wear. No telling what the idea fairy may bring. She does keep me busy though!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Linen Brimmed Hat

I recently found a fellow online who sells his own home grown hand retted flax fiber for spinning. He has both the unprocessed loose fiber and some roving. I thought the less processed might work as a replacement for the raw hemp that I'm now all out of. If anyone knows where I can get some more, please email me!

Anyhow, I tried making a sort of straw hat style out of the new flax fiber, but it was too limp for the brim to hold it's shape. So then I tried spinning the fiber extra thin and then plying it. I got a nice two-ply yarn, which I used to make this cute short brim linen hat with a silk flower. The two-ply gives just enough stiffness for the brim to hold it's shape nicely and still be pliant enough to be able to tip and flip it in various ways. Definitely a fun hat! The fiber is rough enough to provide a nice straw hat looking texture, but not at all scratchy because it's actually quite soft. I may decide to keep it myself, but for now it's for sale on my website at (I guess I now have to say "was." It got sold today (6/6), but I will make another similar one soon, and I can also take custom orders with choice of color for the flower. I may make different types of flowers, too.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ski cap and scarf in Berlin

This is a photo of my son in law, Marshall, wearing a ski cap I made him awhile back along with my daughter's scarf, which he had apparently borrowed. She was taking the photo. They were in Germany for his mom's one woman show at Aanant & Zoo in Berlin. It was February and plenty cold by the looks of it. (Click photo to enlarge.) The scarf is about 11 feet long and is woven. I've only made two this long so far. The other is shown in one of my October 2008 posts.

Marshall's mom is Channa Horwitz, whose interesting mathematical art has been shown in LA at the Getty Museum as well as at many other galleries in the US. The Berlin show was entitled "Searching Structures" and is listed at She was also in a group show at Aanant & Zoo last winter, and she has another solo one going on now at Brandenburgischer Kunstverein, Potsdam called "Variations in Counting One Through Eight." She is quite the busy lady!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A purse and a snood

These were two birthday presents that I gave my daughter a couple of weeks ago while she and her husband were up from LA for a few days.

I'm calling the hat a snood because it sort of looks like one, though it could also be called a well-ventilated beret or tam. It's made from white linen which I spun from bleached flax that had been prepared for spinning, but was not overly processed, so the yarn had quite a lot of texture. It's roomy enough for stuffing a big lot of hair so is quite slouchy when not stuffed. It looks great on her, and I'm hoping to get a photo of her wearing it soon. I made a similar one out of hemp to sell and posted it on my website on the Spring and Summer Hats page.

The purse is made from various lumpy yarns that have been woven into a mesh of loosely knitted linen. I used wool, mohair locks, and some llama wool. The button is vintage leather and came out of my grandmother's button box, which is my very best source of fabulous buttons. It's lined with sturdy cotton fabric, and the shoulder strap is crocheted.

I made a big double decker carrot cake for the occasion with some incredibly rich cream cheese frosting. Very moist and yummy. Ice cream, too, of course. No big party - just a small family gathering at the old homestead. We had a wonderful time, and I gained three pounds!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

As green as it gets in California

This is the real deal California country spring. Lush green grass, clover, and a carpet of spring flowers everywhere. It will soon be all brown, though, so I always like to grab a few photos each spring in order to remember how beautiful it can be. We had warm, balmy weather with no blasts of arctic wind at all off and on for a couple of weeks. It was heavenly! It's still too early for the tics and snakes to be out yet, so safe to walk around in the wonderful, cool grass.

Snake season will be happening any day now, since it's getting a lot warmer, and that's something I don't look forward to. We have rattlesnakes along with other less scary varieties, and some of the tics carry Lyme disease, so I'll be wearing high top black rubber boots around for awhile until the grass is cut.

One of our two pear trees was in full bloom, so it looks like there will be lots of pears in the fall. That small tree can put out a couple of bushels of huge, sweet Bartlett pears. We also have a big apple tree up near the road, a nectarine tree inside the greenhouse(!), and another pear, dwarf apricot, and apple in with the Bartlett pear tree. I also have a small strawberry patch outside the front door in a little fenced-in area. Plenty of fruit for a small family.

I took a couple of photos of the house, too, one showing a bit of my daughter and son-in-law's new cabin, which is still under construction. I'll take more when it's done, as none of us like the pale gray stucco looking finish of the fire proof siding. We're going to paint it dark brown to match the rest of the place, with maybe some blue and red trim. Looks like a busy summer ahead with all the projects we've got planned.

I may be moving into the old house in the fall, so there are all kinds of things needing done to make it survivable in the winter. Lots of roof work, caulking cracks in the floor and walls, grading the driveway down to the house - plus finishing the new cabin.

Hopefully we won't have another disastrous fire season like last year. We are definitely seeing problematic weather patterns due to global warming, including a persistent drought. We did get more spring rain this year, though, so that should help with the fire danger.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring in Mendocino County

We don't really get spring here in Northern California, at least not like they do in places where there are real seasons. Sometimes it snows as late as May or even June where I live, which is at an altitude of about 2800 feet. So we're often right on the snow line, and when I look out across the hills to the west, everything is green, while I'm standing in snow. When I drive down to town with snow all over my car, people know where I came from and often laugh and wave. They drive "up the hill" to our area to gawk or sometimes get out and try sliding down a hill on a piece of cardboard. We're too busy trying to keep warm to mess around with stuff like that.

This late snow business wreaks havoc on our fruit trees, as they often get nipped with frost and snow late into the spring months. For this reason and other more stupid ones, I have a nectarine tree in my greenhouse. It takes up about half the space and has to be trimmed at the top to keep it from growing out the roof, but we often get a bushel or two of really tasty nectarines in September.

Anyhow, this is where I've been off and on since early March. Not much happening in the hat business since nobody is buying anything, so I get to do all kinds of other things. Like catch up with some of the work around my cabin and finish non hat related projects.

A couple of weeks ago I left Berkeley to go stay at the cabin for awhile because the weather was so warm and wonderful. The plum and pear trees were blooming, and there were wild flowers everywhere. It was nippy enough at night to need a fire in the wood heater, but during the day, it was in the high 70's.

There was a flock of about 20 wild turkeys hanging around down the hill from the cabin. They're really ugly until they fan their tails, which changes everything. They have to hold their heads up high in order to do this, so about all they can do is strut around showing off, while the rest of the flock gets to peck at the ground getting all the yummy bugs and such.

Two days later it snowed. The weather report said it was going to, but I was sitting in the sun in a tee shirt as I listened to the radio, and I just didn't believe it. Then about an hour later, the temperature started to drop, and when I got up in the night to feed the fire I could hear that old familiar very soft swooshing noise that snow makes as it falls on the roof.

So I got all excited and got up before dawn to take a look. Sure enough snow all over the place. I grabbed my camera and went out to take photos. They came out looking almost black and white in the pre-dawn light. Then I took a couple of vids of the snow coming at me and swirling about the house and my little meditation room. By then it was a bit lighter.

My cat was not about to go out and just stayed glued to the window watching. So I went back inside and stoked the fire, fed the cat and made some tea. By then the sun was up and peaking through the clouds, and the snow had mostly stopped. By ten o'clock there was enough sun on the solar panels to feed my computer and the toaster. Believe me, toast is a treat when you're living the rustic life off the grid.

I got a couple more photos of the sun on the snow then got back to the normal routine of chores, hauling in wood for the fire and working on my various projects. It was still good and cold, but I knew that spring would be back again in a couple of days.

Now I'm getting ready to go back up for another couple of weeks with my family. We'll be doing fun things like moving the stove, getting the heater in the meditation room fixed and cleaning out the shed. My daughter and son in law are coming up from LA, and they love doing this stuff. I guess if I lived in LA I'd be pretty glad to get away, too! Maybe we'll have a birthday party for my daughter. Mmm, carrot cake and maybe ice cream, since it'll probably hot again by then.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Photo find

I was looking through a box of photos trying to organize them to put them in an album the other day and came across this one of me at my oldest and just barely still working spinning wheel. I still like to use it when I have time to spare, but usually prefer my more efficient upright with double treadle for most of the yarn I make for my hats. The photo is sort of dark because it was taken inside my cabin in Ukiah without a flash. I still haven't gotten around to getting the photo album together, so this seems as good a place as any to put it.

The chair I'm sitting in is made out of madrone wood, and is a sort of free form sculpture. Madrone trees are plentiful in Northern California. The wood is very hard, and the branches are all curvy, so totally useless for lumber. Great for sculpture, though, and good firewood.

Just about everything in the cabin is hand made. I made the braided rug and the cushion in the chair, and my ex-husband made the chair and the drum - and for that matter, also the house, which is pretty much of a free form sculpture as well. There are more photos of it at the very beginning of this blog.

Second try

A few weeks ago I made a new hat style that I posted here and on my website. (See below) It just kind of happened on it's own without my paying too much attention to how I'd done it. That's how my best designs always develop. If I try too hard or think too much about it, then it might come out all right, but not really a totally new creation. Of course not all out-of-nowhere new creations necessarily work well enough to try to duplicate. I really liked this one, though, so when it got sold during the holidays, I wanted to try and make another similar one.

That was not so easy, though, because I couldn't remember what I'd done. It took me over two weeks of pulling out and redoing before I finally succeeded. I ended up doing it backwards and upside down. I know that doesn't make any sense, but that's what I did.

With the first one I started at the top and ended up at the brim, but that was really hard to do, so I wanted to figure out an easier way. I figured it might work better if I started at the brim and worked up, but then I ran into all kinds of problems because the stitches were upside down. Eventually I ended up fudging it a bit in various ways, and it finally came out looking pretty good. I doubt I'll be making too many more like this though. They look great, but are really a pain to put together.

Here they both are along with a photo of the woman who nabbed the first one. It's now found a happy home somewhere in Chicago.

The fuzzy part is dyed Samoyed hair, and the rest is wool. I added a tiny bit of blue angelina in the section above the brim in the blue one, which gives it a bit of subtle sparkle. I like the soft blue, and the extra poofy clumps of unspun fiber added in. I've just put it up on the website, but may change my mind and keep it. I think it looks sort of Russian or Mongolian.