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Archive for December, 2011

It seems an appropriate time to learn something new, with the new year rolling in at midnight tonight. Although technically, what I learned was yesterday. But since I’m posting about it today, it still counts! ūüôā

I started really reading my book on inkle weaving, and I learned that inkle looms have heddles, something I didn’t know before. Most of the pictures I’ve seen of a warped inkle were so small that you couldn’t see the heddles, or at the very least, I didn’t notice them because I was more interested in the emerging pattern on the warp. Other pictures showed the loom being used for card weaving, in which case I suppose you could say the cards themselves are the heddles. So I learned that. I also learned that you make heddles for it. That was interesting. And I learned that making them is a royal pain, especially¬† as with two kids in the house, interruptions are legion. They are easy enough to make, following the directions in the book, just time consuming. The book directed me to make forty-one heddles, which I thought was a rather odd number, and when I asked about it on Ravelry, I was told that the number of heddles depends on the width of the weaving, which made sense to me, so I increased the amount to a nice, round number of fifty. I might make more later, but fifty seems like a good number for now. I don’t really see myself making any bands larger than that, but on the off chance that I’m wrong, there’s one more untied heddle left for me to use as a measure for cutting more.

A really good inkle weaving book!

 
The replacement inkle still hasn’t arrived, although the seller tells me she will be emailing me the tracking number today. I’m trying out Gorilla Glue on the broken one, just to see if maybe I can fix it. I’m doubting it, but at least it’s worth a try.
 
I have also learned that having both my daughters home for nearly three weeks straight is about eighteen days too long for me. The constant fighting is taking its toll. Hubby has been pissy with me the last couple of days because I completely lost my patience with Aneira’s middle-of-the-night temper tantrums and gave her a thorough tongue-lashing, then snarled at him when he tried to intervene. When he called me on it later, I apologized, as I hadn’t really meant to snap at him, but he continued on about it for awhile, and I kept apologizing, then finally said I didn’t want to discuss it all night long. That was when he got angry with me. That was the night before last, and he’s still snarling at me. I’m trying to be the bigger person and ignore it, but it’s not that easy. For one thing, I’m an Aries, which means I’m quick-tempered to begin with. So I’m staying out of his way for the next little while. One of the best things about this new house is that we have the ability to do that. Everyone has their own space they can go to to¬† get away from their current irritant. Unfortunately, mine does not at present have a lock!

Fifty heddles don't take up much room!

The snow is finally giving way. I can finally see the asphalt of our street again, which means that soon Aneira will be able to ride her new bike. And there are only five more days before school starts again and I will have peace in the house. All I have to do is muddle through. I can do that, can’t I?
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Well, I put a new scarf warp onto Aeryn…might have mentioned that yesterday…but decided to give Aeryn a break and visit with River for awhile, as I hadn’t played with her for a bit, and she’s had a sample started on her for a couple of weeks. It felt good to play with the rigid heddle again. Then I took a break from actual weaving to go and read about weaving. Good thing I did: I didn’t realize inkle looms have string heddles, so I need to get started on those. I want them to be ready when the new inkle gets here. The cardweaving cards are also waiting in a drawer as well. I’m really antsy about getting going on these. I think it’s my early warning system that I’m spinning up into a manic period. Fortunately I’m presently broke for another week, and there is no gas in my truck either, so I can’t do any harm! But the house will undoubtedly be spotless; it’s one of the few perks of the manic portion of our BPD program!

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Finally, at two am, I finished the scarf on Aeryn. Lots of mistakes there. For one thing, one of the two pink sections is longer than the other, when they should have been the same size, and overall, the scarf is much shorter than I had originally planned for it to be.

Peg loom scarf

Despite the mistakes, I will proudly wear this scarf anyway. It’s my first one, and I had fun making it. I’ve already got Aeryn re-warped for a scarf for hubby. More masculine colors, of course. I chose a tan and an eggshell for him. Earth colors, without being overwhelmingly male. There is no doubt in my mind that he would prefer black or some other dark color, which is exactly why I didn’t choose to do that. He has so many clothes in dark shades already. Outside at night, you can barely see him. So lighter colors for him.

 
I’ve been toying with an idea for Chiana too. One of the things I don’t like about the scarf I just finished (aside from the previously mentioned mistakes) is that there isn’t much fringe. The warp strings being the fringe, in a thirteen peg warp, there are only 26 strands of fringe.¬† I like fringe.
 
When I warped Chiana before, just to see how a weave would look on her, part of the reason it looked so horrible was the fact that the warp was too thin for the weft to really embrace. Chiana’s pegs have holes big enough to accomodate several strands of yarn each. It might be interesting to play around and figure out how many strands each peg can contain, and see how the same yarn weaves around a thicker set of warp strands. It might look awesome. It might not. Either way, it’s an excuse to shop for yarn to add to my stash, which is regrettably small as yet.
 
Right now my stash mainly consists of a few skeins of acrylic yarns. There are so many beautiful hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns out there, of merino and alpaca and all kinds of other fibers, but none of them are as cheap as acrylic. I’m reluctant to buy more expensive yarns to just practice with. That’s what the acrylic is for: practice. It’s cheap enough that if half a skein gets tangled to the point that it would be less trouble to toss it out, I’m only out about $3, rather than the $15-20 it would be of the more expensive stuff. But I’ve already got tons of the expensive stuff on my favorite’s list at Etsy!

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My youngest child, Bryony, is two years old today!! My holiday baby. You never realize how in love you will be with your children until you have them. You know you’ll love them, of course, just not how much. You also don’t realize how much you will fear for them, or how angry they can make you, or how sweet they can be when they want to be, or how funny they are without intending to be. You learn to be responsible very quickly, and to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own. You learn about pacing the floor when your child is sick, and you learn more than you ever wanted to know about Dora and Diego and Elmo and Big Bird and all the other characters that populate your child’s life.

I’ve been a parent for nearly seven years, and it still feels odd when one of the girls says “mama”. I wonder who they’re talking about. I don’t feel any older than seventeen! Okay, yeah, my knees and hips and ankles say otherwise, but I still love video games, still hate housework (although I do it), and would still rather go dancing or rollerskating than do homework. At the same time, there is not one moment of their lives that I would have willingly missed. There are days when hubby and I fight about something, and one part of me thinks “I wish I’d never gotten involved with this guy”, and the other part of me says “Yeah, but then you wouldn’t have Aneira and Bryony”, and the first part concedes defeat. I wouldn’t give them up for the world!

Speaking of hubby, I got my second peg loom for Christmas! In keeping with the Farscape theme, this one is Chiana. She is very much bigger than Aeryn. Well, let me rephrase that. They’re both the same length, about two feet long, but Chiana’s pegs are much bigger. Where Aeryn has 49 pegs, Chiana has 24. She’s meant for much heavier yarns, as I proved to myself by warping her with the yarn I had available. The weave was way too open. This now gives me an excuse to buy some chunkier yarn though!

My new peg loom, Chiana

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Happy Holidays!

We got a little under a foot of snow the other day, maybe about six to eight inches. Aneira was in seventh heaven, because finally, there was enough for her to go outside and make what she calls “snow faeries”, or “snow angels”. The terms are interchangeable to her. So we took a video of her making her first ever snow faery. Then she, hubby, and I had a wonderful time throwing snow at each other for a little while. This will be the very first white Christmas for my kids, who, until moving here, had never seen snow before!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, whatever you celebrate in the month of December, I wish you happy.

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Yarn gauge

I got my order from Brush Creek Wool Works a couple days ago. It was a small order because money is tight right now, but I managed to get a lovely little oak yarn gauge, a cherrywood pick-up stick, and a package of 50 cards for card weaving. I had to put the yarn gauge on a placemat to take a picture of it, because it got lost in the grain of my desk! The wood on both of them is so beautiful. I love wood, the more grain, the better.

¬†I started a group on Ravelry for weavers and spinners owned by Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, or other Northern breed dogs. So far I have seven members. Ironically, so far I’m the only one with a Sibe! Go figure. I hope others join, but so far it isn’t looking good for that. I’m going to give it a little time and see where it goes.
 
I really do need to organize this room better. The boxes, for the most part, are gone. The few remaining ones are tucked away out of sight in the closet. My husband says part of my problem is that I never let go of anything, which is partially true. Unless something is clearly junk, I don’t like to throw it away. Mainly because invariably,¬† I will need the item the day after the garbage collector picks it up. It happens Every. Single. Time. It can’t be only me. You’ve got something you haven’t touched in years. It’s been sitting in a box gathering dust, and you have forgotten you even own this item, much less where you put it last. You decide, one day, to give your house a thorough cleaning and you come across this thing. A light goes on in your brain. You now remember when and where you bought it, but you can’t, for the life of you, remember why. You’ve never used it, although you had good intentions when you bought it. Clearly, however, whatever it was meant for, you must have found a different solution, because this one is still in a bag. It follows, then, that you do not need it. And you’re cleaning after all, right? Out it goes.
 
Two days later, you are frantically looking for this item…you know you just saw it the other…gorram it! You have just remembered that you threw the stupid thing out just the other day. And now you need it. So you traipse out to the store to buy another one. Which you will again forget about ten seconds after it leaves your hand!
 
Oh! The inkle loom got here the other day too…broken. I sent an email to the seller, and she promises to replace it. I won’t post any feedback for her until the new one arrives. I was so upset. We had gone yard-saling that day, the whole family, and when we got back the box was on the front steps waiting for me. I even managed not to immediately open it so that we could get my new shelving unit into my studio, the awesome dishes I had come across, the clothes I got for Aneira, the toys and cloth books for Bryony, and the tools for hubby. Yes, it was a good day for yard sales! Not so much for the inkle, though, obviously.

Cherry wood pick-up stick

So, the inkle loom won’t make it here in time for Chirstmas. Oh, well. But I’m excited about finally getting the studio completely organized. We have a plan now. Most of the boxes in the studio closet are kitchen items, such as my breadmaker, that I have no cabinet space for. Eventually, the plan is to build an island in the kitchen for those things, but for now, hubby wants to put one of those chromed wire shelving units in the laundry room for them, which frees up my studio closet to put a couple of bookshelves inside for my remaining books, and then a table in the corner of the studio for Zoe, and there will still be enough room for a futon in the studio in case we get company! Voila! Organization and the end of all boxes!

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Oddly enough, they arrived together in the mail yesterday, from two different companies! I haven’t seen the one from Finniwig yet. That one is my Christmas present from my husband, so I wrapped it yesterday without ever laying eyes on it. Yes, I wrapped it. Have I mentioned how bad he is at wrapping presents?!

But the one from Callimoor is out of the box and set up, waiting to go! This one has 49 pegs, for finer work than the Finniwig…that’s my excuse for having two peg looms! I had to do some work on it during set-up, but overall I’m very happy with it!

Callimoor Farms’ small peg loom

It’s unfinished wood, and I don’t know if adding a finish is a good idea or not…I will have to ask on Ravelry. I’d like to protect it as much as possible, especially now that cold weather is here and the heater is running more often than not. It’s forced air heat, which I’m going to guess can dry wood out, if my constant need for lotion for my skin is anything to go by!

 
I’m changing television shows for naming now. The new venue is Farscape, and this loom is Aeryn, who was played by Claudia Black. She was just as kick-ass as Zoe on Firefly, who was played by Gina Torres, who is married to Laurence Fishburne, Morpheus of The Matrix. I wouldn’t mind looking like either of those women. Sadly, I would have to lose quite a few pounds first. Sigh. Anyway, the one from Finniwig will probably be Chiana, or Zhan.
 
The sewing machine in the picture was my mom’s. It is out of its box for the first time in more than a year so that I can make another attempt at curtains. I am not looking forward to this. For one thing, I need to locate the manual, as it has been long enough that I can’t remember how to set the machine up! Thankfully, the curtains in question are for the playroom and Bryony’s room, which means that there will be few complaints about what they look like if they are not perfect. And they won’t be, because sewing is not my forte.
 
I’m having a hard time not starting on Aeryn right away, but I still have a sample on River that I should finish first. Should. We’ll see how long my willpower holds out.

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I tried to use the warping board again last night, this time following the photo tutorial made by a fellow Raveler. It went a bit better than the last one, but is still not perfect. As of this particular moment, I can say (with some emphasis!) that I officially do not¬†like warping the loom. I don’t dislike it enough to quit weaving, though, and it may be that as I get better at it I’ll start to enjoy it. If I ever get better at it. Right now, the outcome looks bleak, as far as that goes. I still managed to tangle the warp a bit as I wound it up on the beam, which means that even though the threads are in the right places on my side of the heddle, they aren’t on the back side, so when the shed is opened, there are threads that should be in either the up or down position but are instead floating in the middle, which is aggravating.¬†

Still, it could be worse. The previous warp, a nice, 3 yard long one, was such a mess that I finally just cut the gorram thing off. I saved the warp threads though. I might find another use for them later.

Among the yarns I got from Craigslist, there is a cone of a very pretty dark red or burgundy shot with silver. Before cutting off said last disastrous warp, I decided to experiment with this yarn. As yet, I only have the 8 dent reed that came with River. There are several others available, but they will have to wait until next month. So my warp threads were 8 WPI worsted weight acrylic baby yarn, the stuff ¬†carried at WalMart. This red/silver has no labels on it, but I can say it is a 30 WPI yarn. It’s so thin you could almost call it thread. In my experiment, I used it as weft. The experiment did not go well, which really wasn’t unexpected. This stuff simply could not be beaten enough to slide on the warp threads to lie side by side. I did several rows in hope of improvement, but no. ¬†I had a better chance of breaking the warp or the reed than I had of pushing the weft threads together. That ended that, but I learned something new.

My mother always told me I was hardheaded, and to an extent, she was right. I am. I probably could have asked a more experienced weaver about it and been told that it wouldn’t work, but I know myself well enough to know that even if I had been told, I would have tried it anyway, just to prove it to myself. And now I have, the experiment is over, and won’t be repeated.

The rest of today will be dedicated to actually doing my own laundry, which has piled up in the extreme, and to the logistics of how to hang Christmas lights around my front windows on the inside so they can be seen on the outside. Our tree has been up since the very beginning of December, and Aneira did most of the decorating, with Bryony’s “help”. Hubby isn’t fond of Christmas, but tolerates it because the rest of us love it, so the responsibility for figuring out the lights is entirely mine. He suggested pins, or tape, but I really don’t want tape residue all over the windows, or tiny holes everywhere. I may not have a choice, though. Or, I could leave well enough alone and just have the tree and stockings this year. We spent so much money on buying the house and moving–and all the problems that came with the house–that we were lucky to be able to buy the kids presents this year! So we bought the cheapest tree we could, with the intent of buying a bigger, better one next year, and covered the girls’ presents. Hubby and I get one gift each, which is perfectly all right with me!

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The scarf I made on River is done, and Aneira was so in love with it that I let her have it. It’s very strange: I used the same yarn that I used to make baby blankets, but what is very soft as a crocheted blanket becomes very stiff as a woven fabric. I didn’t expect that.

The finished scarf

You can see all of my mistakes in the picture, even without looking closely. Skipped warp threads, bumpy selvedge, and I have no idea how to finish the ends, so it’s a good thing this is a scarf and fringe is expected! But Aneira is thrilled with it because Mama made it, and, all in all, for a first attempt it could have been a lot worse.

 
My second attempt was an epic, epic fail. This time, I tried to use the warping board, which I had never used before. I had to do that twice, because the first time I couldn’t find the cross, the way I had it done. So I took it off to do over, and turned the entire thing into a snarled up mess. I spent an hour and change untangling that, then warped the board again. This time it went beautifully. I tied off the cross, tied the rest of the warp together in about four sections, then took it off the board and chained it like you do in crocheting. Perfect! The chain was beautiful, everything was beautiful, and then…
 
Disaster. The Cricket instructions have you warping the loom directly from the ball of yarn, so no help there. And I couldn’t find a YouTube video that made sense to me, so I tried on my own. First I tangled the mess again. Then I got it on the loom and realized I hadn’t put the back apron rod over the beam the way I was supposed to, and had to take it all off again. Got it back on the loom and tied off and then “Why do I have a shed when the heddle’s in neutral position? This makes no sense. Oh…”¬† Because I forgot to put the front apron rod over the beam. Take it off and tie it up properly again. By this time, because of the earlier tangling, the 64 ends I had been aiming for had been reduced to 32, but it was now on the loom! So it’ll be another small piece, but practice makes perfect, right?

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I made the realization a few seconds ago that there actually are people out there in the world who might be reading this and have never heard of the Firefly ‘verse, and therefore the irony of the first part of this title is lost on them. For those people, I direct you here, so you will at least have some idea what I’m talking about!

I am so excited! River is warped! Yeah, yeah, in more ways than one…but I followed the instructions that came with her and managed to warp her for the accompanying scarf project. It wasn’t hard, but it would have been easier had I not been using yarn that I had left over from crocheting baby blankets. It was one of those one pound skeins of baby acrylic, and it is tangled. So putting the warp on was ten times harder than it had to be because I was untangling yarn as I went along.

My first warp!

I made some mistakes as I was warping, above and beyond the tangled yarn. I was following the instructions for the scarf pattern, which tells you to warp 2 ends of color one, then 8 ends of color two, repeat four times, and finish with 2 ends of color one, for a total of 32 ends of color two and 10 ends of color one. For some reason, what got stuck in my head was the total number of ends, not the pattern they were supposed to be warped in. By the time I realized it, I had all 32 ends of color two on the warping peg, and only then had started on color one. Whoops! So I had to take it all off and redo it.

 
I learned some things while doing this. One, I think I will try the warping board next time. A warping peg is nice, but it’s only clamped in place, which means it can come off, something I discovered last night. Probably not the clamp’s fault, but the board seems like it would be more stable all the way around. Two, warping isn’t as horrific as I expected, and it actually helped me to focus and relax. Three, I don’t like stick shuttles. I have to see if I can find a smaller boat shuttle than the one I presently have, which is too big for River. Her shed just doesn’t get wide enough for my current boat shuttle. I managed with the stick shuttle last night, and now there is actual fabric on my loom!!! I was actually weaving ¬†last night!

Scarf, with color substitutions

I haven’t touched River yet this morning. It was really hard not to. It was really hard not to stay up all night weaving, too, but Aneira had school this morning, and a field trip to see the Nutcracker. Not for anything was I going to have her miss that, so I very reluctantly went to bed at two-thirty. Today, I decided that I had to untangle the rest of that skein of yarn before I got lost in weaving again. I’m taking a break from it right now. Normally, I’m pretty good with untangling knots, but this skein is a gorram cluster-frell of epic proportions. Epic. And I am doing this by hand. I now see why a swift and a ball winder are desirable items, and they have both just made it onto my wish list, along with a spinning wheel and carding tools. I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to afford any of¬† these items, even used, but they’ll stay on my wish list until I save up enough, because this is a rutting mess!

 
Well, I suppose I should get back to untangling the rest of this yarn. At least I managed to completely finish the housework yesterday, so I’m free to do this today!

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