Solar Energy Rocks!

Solar panels at the back of the house.Okay, I am giving my new setup with the Kindle and Bluetooth keyboard another try this weekend. The last time I tried I lost a long post at the very end of writing it. It is very very very slow. Maybe that’s appropriate? Teaching me patience? Anyway, if you are reading this, it worked!

We finally accomplished two major life goals this month. We paid off the mortgage on the house, and the solar panels are finally in energy production! I monitor the production every day in an app and so far on a sunny day they produce about 12.7 kHw per day and growing as the days grow longer. We could have placed them for more efficiency but historic district rules stated that they have to be as invisible as possible, so they had to go in two rows at the back of the house. The electrician said that it made little difference anyway.

The company is NC Solar Now and if you are in North Carolina and decide to use them please give me name, Laurie O’Neill, as a reference. I will get a referral fee that I will put back into the payments on the system.

This is not an off grid system. I wish that we could afford that, but I’m not even sure they would allow it where we are if we could. The power we produce feeds back into the grid and we are credited for the amount on our bill. We still have to pay Duke Energy a meter fee, and I imagine that the GOP in power will figure out more ways to squeeze more money from us for Duke shareholders. Still, this system should provide almost all the energy we need. I will be writing and updating about it all year.

As the days grow longer and hotter, we should generate more energy so hopefully it will balance out. Our furnace and water heater runs on natural gas.

I have always been very frugal about energy use and this is making both of us more conscientious about ways we can go further.

Now that I’ve managed to do a life update, I’m heading back to the loom.

The Macomber twill gamp

The Macomber loom is up and weaving. The warp that I measured for it beginning 5-6 years ago was a nightmare, though. At that time I decided, as I do and often regret, that I would measure a warp as long as possible to avoid having to warp it again for a long time. I don’t know why I don’t learn from experience, but this was before the Shannock warping fiasco. I had begun the project just before we adopted Diego and Pablocito, and I began having neck and shoulder problems, so those two factors influenced me to put it away for a long time.

When I brought the warp bundles back out, they were insanely long and I had twice as many as I needed because apparently my plan had been to do doubleweave rugs. I dropped that plan and got out my pattern weaving books and threaded a twill gamp. (A gamp is a sampler of weaving patterns.) The bundles were tangled at the end and I ran out of warp sticks for the back beam, so I cut off about seven feet of warp. It is a good thing I didn’t go ahead with the double weave, because I made a few mistakes in threading the reed and the slots where I threaded two warps stuck badly. I went through three cycles of weaving, unweaving, untying, rethreading, and tying. My skills are rusty, but all in all I was very pleased in how it turned out. When I got frustrated, I walked away for a few days. I am not in a hurry.

As you might guess, I have a large amount of this cotton yarn that I bought as mill ends on large cones a long time ago. So it shows up a lot. I’d like to use it up. I am crocheting the warps that I cut off into dishcloths.

I am aiming for this fabric to become curtain panels, since we need curtains. The colors don’t match our sofa or wall color, but whatever. If I can’t bear to weave these for that long because of tension problems, they might become bath towels or kitchen towels. I plan to cut off each one as I finish it and re-tension and re-tie the warp, because I can see the problems on the back beam already.

Most of the time I am weaving standing up, and that’s a good thing since I generally sit all day.

So far my favorite patterns have emerged on the green stripe. I’m glad I chose a contrasting color for the weft.

tech woes

My old Kindle connects to the wifi but no longer connects to the Bluetooth keyboard.

My new Kindle connects to the Bluetooth keyboard but not to the wifi.

My laptop does not connect to the wifi any more.

Suffice it to say, I am very frustrated. Hopefully I will get back to blogging soon.

2018 Wrap-up

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2018 had its charms. I was in much much better physical shape than in 2017 but spent about six months in a serious depression. I am starting out 2019 with much less physical and mental pain, and I have regained some lost hope.

In January I decided to weave a tapestry diary and I was really into it for about three months. It was bitter cold at this time last year and we got a lot of snow. I had to consolidate my two studios and focused on squeezing the stuff from my little corner in the Wharton St. house into my already overflowing living room studio at home. Also went to the Women’s March in Raleigh with my family. I thought a lot about this, which I’m thinking about again now.

Women's Rally on Raleigh

February was a very creative month. I participated in India Flint’s first online class, Bag Stories, which was a real joy. My WandRbeutel bag is falling apart now, but I can mend it and maybe I will make another. It is a great portable project. Seth Apter came to Greensboro and I took his 52 Card Pickup class – great fun. My books “Flow” and “First the Seed” were in an impressive Triangle Book Arts show called “Re(f)use” at Artspace in Raleigh.

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"Flow" top cover and three pages

I stitched a LOT in March. Rather obsessively, as I recall. Started India Flint’s Alchemist’s Apron class. Got serious about gardening again, transplanting my perennials from the Wharton St. garden and putting up a small greenhouse.

New greenhouse!

I got smart and lucky and hired a guy I met in the permaculture guild to redo my main garden area and dig up some unwanted shrubs and dig a hugelkultur bed at the end of my driveway in April. We went to Lake Waccamaw, where I gathered plant material to print and dye my apron and silk threads.

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Tapestry was the focus in May, when Sandy and I went to see the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at the Folk Art Center in Asheville. We took the opportunity to go to a cheese festival too, YUM. Later that month I went to St. Simon’s Island in Georgia for a Tapestry Weavers South retreat. Groundhog woes in the garden.

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Susanne and I took an incredibly fun workshop from Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller at Topsail Beach in early June that combined botanical printing and natural dyeing on paper with the Zhen Xian Bao book structure. I took a week’s staycation to purge and organize the studio. Groundhog family wreaked havoc.

Zhen Xian Bao by the Sea

July is bittersweet in retrospect. I spent the last week at Fred’s house at Lake Waccamaw. It was beautiful and we had a few friends visit. I stitched my hands into numbness so I got out the sewing machine and started working on the t-shirt quilt again.

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In August, we spent the money to cut down the silver maple, and much of it is in the same place the arborist left it to this day. I picked and dehydrated tomatoes every few days, and paid close attention to what the groundhogs ate and avoided in order to plan for this year.

September – OY. What a big month. Sandy and I took a big wonderful trip to Idaho and Wyoming. We went to Shoshone Falls, Minidoka National Historic Site, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Fossil Butte National Monument. Judy met us in Yellowstone and was our tour guide. While we were there, Hurricane Florence rolled in and flooded both family houses at Lake Waccamaw.

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In October I went to Talk Story in Connecticut for a long weekend to take a class from Sharon Payne Bolton and made a bunch of new friends. I also realized that I needed some help at home with my deepening depression and started seeing a therapist. I focused on mental healing and the t=shirt quilt, wove the last entry on the tapestry diary and let it go.

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tapestry diary 2018

Election and work anxiety made November tough. I got out my mother’s sewing machine and did what I could. Thanksgiving was spent at my sister’s rental house at Lake Waccamaw.

In December my depression lifted, this time for more than a week! Winter Storm Diego dumped a foot of snow on us. Work was better, politics became more optimistic, and we went to my sister’s rental house at the lake for Festivus. We have been at home since then and I finished the t-shirt quilt.

Ta Da! T-Shirt Quilt

Pretty much done. If you look closely you can see that the first panel I quilted had more quilting, then the second one less as my tension problems mounted on my sewing machine, and then the third panel I gave up other than sewing around the edges. I figure as I feel like it I will hand sew a few stitches in there now and then to tack that side down.

Now I get to go back to weaving.

I was a terrible person yesterday and forgot to call my aunt and my brother. Oh well.

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“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel”

Party last night was great – we meant to stop in for one drink and ended up spending three hours and I made a new friend. I was shocked when I walked in the room and my arch-nemesis was sitting at the table. One of only two people I know that I despise. (I am not counting politicians and right wing nutjobs.) I nearly turned around and left. This is the only professor I ever had who was downright verbally abusive to me. However, she has no memory of me and was on good behavior so it worked out. She left after an hour and I could relax and eat the goodies and then it was a real “small world” evening with connections between people popping up all over the place.

Today I am meeting with the girls for the first time in a very long time. I need to get together a portable project. Maybe I should continue the Lake Waccamaw theme and work on this one. Yes.