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Archive for January, 2012

Making friends when you move to a new place is hard, harder when you’re an adult, and even harder when you’re an adult with BPD. Does that seem ridiculous? It really isn’t. When you move to a new place,

Front of second pouch

the people around you already have their friendships in place, probably for years before you came along. They already have their “in” jokes, their clique, their regular hangouts. They know and trust one another. Finding that type of footing with new people is hard. For kids, it’s fairly easy. They’re in school together. From grade to grade, the mix of students in the classroom changes, so they have to work a little bit to keep the friendship they made the grade before, and if they like each other enough, they do. They’re not worried about their friends’ political, religious, or economic status. They are all pretty much on the same level, doing the same things: get up, eat breakfast, go to school, muddle through classes, go home, do homework, and play. Their interests are fairly similar. Things roll along pretty smoothly until junior high or high school, when everyone’s interests begin to really diverge, but even then, if they’ve been friends since grade school, that friendship will usually stay intact, if on the back burner. And let’s face it, kids are a lot more open and accepting than the average adult. By adulthood, we have learned entirely too much about betrayal and the folly of trust. No wonder it’s so hard to make new friends! Then you add in something like bipolar disorder, and suddenly everything is twice as hard. It’s hard to find the motivation to even get out of bed some mornings, much less meet new people. A large part of BPD, at least for me, is self-esteem issues. I don’t necessarily see a fantastic person when I look in the mirror, and that carries over to meeting new people. If I don’t think I’m wonderful, why should they? And if they aren’t going to see someone wonderful, why put myself in the way of rejection?

Back of second pouch

I have, though, for the sake of my kids. I want them to have friends over, and to feel comfortable doing so. Sadly, however, none of the mothers to whom I have given my number in the hopes of a playdate for my children have ever called. Not one, no matter how friendly and open to the idea they seemed at the time. They may have lost the number. They may be just that busy. But BPD rears its ugly head and says, “They don’t like you. Why should they? Look at you!” And the next time, I don’t even try. It’s easier to stay home, focus on my family, and not try to make friends. When my kids need to be around other kids, I take them to the playground, and I keep to myself and simply play with my girls. My closest friends are my six year old and two year old, and the hubby. Getting out of the house without them to have interactions with other people has become very hard. This is why I joined one guild, and why I will probably join the other. This is why I have gone to some of the local knitting meetups, even though I’m not a knitter, although I’m thinking about giving it another try. I know I need to keep putting myself out there, and that doing it is a step in the right direction in dealing with BPD, but it’s a hard step, a scary step. Sometimes, as I leave my house to go to one of these things, I find myself humming the song from Santa Claus is Coming to Town “Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door…”  Sad that it’s a kid’s show that has the right of it.

I made another pouch on Moya, and with what was left over, I also made a bookmark. A sewing class is definitely in order. I did better on the band itself this time. My selvedges were much better, although I still have some problems with drawing in from pulling just a hair too much on the weft. Still, the weaving itself is much better. I also had much less loss this time, because I learned from the last pouch. The last time, I tried to finish the raw edges of each panel before sewing it to the next panel, which resulted in panels of different sizes and cutting off the finished edges so that I could put the panels together first and thenfinish the edges. By joining the panels first this time, I kept enough of the band that there was enough for five panels to be joined, instead of the four I had last time. I had also widened the border this time, so I had a little more wiggle room when it came to sewing. Not much, but there are no gaps between panels this time!

Bookmark

This is not to say that there are no mistakes! There are plenty of mistakes, but most of them took place during the sewing stage of this project. Several mistakes were in joining the panels together…one of them is really overlapped badly, but I couldn’t get the thread out without pulling on the weaving itself, so it stayed. And my finished edges are not very pretty either. But I don’t think I repeated any mistakes betweeen the two pouches, at least not in the weaving. The sewing, well, that’s another story. I’m pretty sure I repeated mistakes there. But as this is only my second attempt at this, I’m not going to kick myself too hard just yet.

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Busy bee

I haven’t posted in a bit because the hard drive on my laptop was in the process of giving up the ghost, so we had to have it replaced, and we’ve been fighting with the new one for a week.  Computer manufacturers, apparently, aren’t required to help you with putting your backup back on your computer, whether the stupid thing is still under warranty or not. And my new hard drive decided it doesn’t want my files from my backup. Fortunately for me, hubby was studying to be a technician, before he changed his major, and has built computers before, so he has been taking care of this for me. He’s almost done, but in the meantime, I’m posting from my iPad. That means that for right now, I can’t post any pictures. I’ll make another post later of the pictures.

I made another band on Moya, using pick-up weave throughout, and it came out beautifully. It was also about nine feet long, so I decided to cut it into panels and make a pouch out of it. That part didn’t go as well. Have I mentioned how badly I sew?

The first mistake I made was in trying to finish the edges of the panels individually, which, of course, meant that all of the panels wound up being different lengths. So I cut the finished edges off, and sewed the panels together along the selvedges. That was my second mistake. You see, the borders were each two colors. I thought I could just overlap the edge borders and sew them that way. I was thinking that the edge color would be sandwiched between color two. That would have actually worked, except the edge border was so narrow that it meant I had a very small space in which to actually sew. Have I mentioned how badly I sew? There were gaps between panels, so I sewed them again. I still wound up with one gap in the flap. It could have been much worse though, and that one hole turned out to be very convenient, as the pouch was for my weaving tools, and my threading hook is much longer than the actual pouch. So it sticks out of that hole when the flap is closed.

I’m actually very proud of this pouch. For my first try, it went far better than I expected. Have I mentioned how badly I sew? I do think it might be a good idea for me to take my sewing machine down the street to the sewing machine place, where they will give me free lessons on how to work on it.  Really, I can’t do better than free, right?

So I put a new warp on Moya with the intention of trying another pouch  once I’ve woven the band. I’ve corrected the mistakes I made with the first band (I hope), and this new one should be done in the next day or two, so we’ll see how it goes!

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Bryony is becoming more and more of a handful every day. More words (more mouthiness), more gestures, more facial expressions, more everything. She is also disgustingly cute. I am biased, I know, and I wish I was comfortable with the idea of posting my children’s pictures on the blog, but as the blog is public and I don’t know if predators read it, it’s much safer for the girls if I keep their pictures out of here instead of proving their cuteness. You, dear reader, will simply have to take my word for it that this child takes cute to a whole new level. I think it’s her dimples and big brown eyes.

We have a gate at the foot of the stairs leading into the playroom. Not for this child the typical pressure-mounted gate to block the doorway. No, this one nearly broke her neck proving she could climb those roughly a week after she started walking. That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one! For her, we had to buy one of those expensive, screw-into-the-wall types of metal gates that swing open. In order to do this, you have to hold a switch on top of the gate in the forward position, while simultaneously lifting and swinging the gate open. It is a rutting pain in the neck when your hands are full, and I am in the normal mom quandary of wishing she was old enough not to need these stupid things anymore, and knowing that when the gate goes, babyhood is well and truly over, which, of course, I wish would last longer. Obviously, I can’t have it both ways.

Usually, you can let go of the gate and rest assured that it is going to shut itself, but lately, there are two problems with that:

1.- It doesn’t close itself all the way anymore. Bryony has hung on it and yanked on the bars so much that she has somehow warped it somewhere, so unless you physically close it yourself, you might as well not have it at all.

2.- Bryony, now that she is officially two, is faster, cannier, sneakier, and much more cunning. She waits for the forgetful parent to leave the gate to shut itself, and she is through it like lightning. True, she is not so fast that she can’t be caught…even I, with all my joint problems, can catch her at a quick walk. But you have to know she’s gone through it in order to catch her before she is entrenched under the dining table, her favorite hiding place. She has learned to keep her giggles to herself until she is well and truly out of the play area.

Today, she tried something entirely new for her repertoire. She dragged a toy box to the gate.

Granted, she’s been dragging toy boxes around the playroom for months, so that, in itself, is nothing new. What is new is that she finally made the connection between the fact that the gate is much taller than she is and how standing on something could reduce that height difference. I am very thankful that her father caught her, and that we don’t have taller toy boxes! She is learning ingenuity, creativity, and above all, patience.

Done properly now!

I am also learning patience. Maybe I should say, I am re-learning patience. I think I mentioned the other day that I had warped Moya for card weaving.  Well, everything I could possibly do wrong, I did. I had learned card weaving years ago at an SCA event, but it was one lesson and did not involve a loom. I have Candace Crockett’s book Card Weaving; did I sit down and review what I thought I knew first? No. I drafted a quick design, threaded the cards (which is the only thing I did properly), and tied the warp onto Moya. Then I started weaving. That was when I realized I should have been more patient and read the book again. First, I had the end of the warp tied to the upper rear peg, and the rest of it wound around the tension rod in the front, which, if I had intended to weave from back to front would have been fine, but that wasn’t my intent! The weaving was supposed to start at the tension bar in the front and go to the back. Then, I realized I was weaving through the wrong shed. The weft is supposed to go through the shed between the cards and your body. Think of the cards as the beater, and you’ll understand what I mean. I was using the shed behind the cards, so the weaving started in the middle of the warp and worked its way toward me. Last, the design I had drafted wasn’t appearing on the facing part of the band. On the back, there was a version of my draft, but it wasn’t correct.

The nice thing about card weaving is that it’s very forgiving. After doing what I should have done in the first place (reading the book again!), I unthreaded the weft, lifted the entire warp off, and re-did it properly! I now have the design on the facing where it should be, the entire weaving starts at the tension bar as it should, I’m using the proper shed, and everything is going beautifully! I definitely worked for–and earned!–that particular warp! Patience: lesson learned.

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Today, of all days, it would be remiss of me, as a Black woman in the United States, if I did not post. As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., and march closer to  Black History month, I find myself thinking about those people who make me proud to be a Black woman in the twenty-first century. It’s good to reflect on that, every now and again, when there are those like Michael Vick, who shame the race and should be ashamed of themselves both for that and for their own actions. That being said, there are many that make me proud. There are, of course, the usual Black history makers such as Dr.King, Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X, but they are far from the only. Here are just a few:

My parents, who raised me to believe in family, in education, in myself. I have never known stronger people than the two of them, and I miss them both. We lost my mother seven months before their fiftieth anniversary. Dad is still alive, but he has Alzheimer’s now, and in a lot of ways it’s like losing him too. He’s not the same person he was. But in their prime, both my parents were people to be reckoned with, and both my brother and myself had a healthy fear of both of them!

Dwight Arrington Myers, aka Heavy D, the rap star who was always a force for positivity. Unlike many celebrities, you didn’t hear anything negative about the Overweight Lover. He didn’t glorify gangsta rap, drugs, or crime, and more often than not, his music had a positive message to it that applies as much now as it did during the height of his popularity in the eighties and nineties, and maybe the messages need to be heard now more than ever. I wish him a peaceful journey now that he has passed from this world. Rest in peace, big guy.

Barack Obama. Regardless of what one thinks of his politics, to finally have a Black president is nothing short of a stupendous moment in history. He is the first Black president our nation has ever had. His election makes history, and I am gratified that I was able to see it, as it was something I never expected to see in my lifetime. Our children can now see that they can aspire to huge things and accomplish them. If for nothing else, I am grateful for that!

There are others, many others, who make me proud: doctors, lawyers, actors, singers, musicians, librarians, even janitors, but if I listed all of them, we would be here all day.

I am a Black woman of West Indian descent. My husband is White. My children are bi-racial. If not for Dr. King, among others, my family would have a very different form right now. As we celebrate his birthday, all of us should reflect upon the changes that he spearheaded, the changes that made this world a very different place than it could have been. In his honor, we should meet people from other cultures with open minds, clear hearts, and a spirit of curiosity and learning. No, the world is not perfect. It never will be, as we are not perfect. Prejudice still exists in all forms in the hearts of many, regardless of race. That’s a sad fact, and one we all have to face in our own souls. But the world could certainly be worse than it is, and Dr. King is one of the reasons that it is not. Honor that, and him. What he did, what he sacrificed, he did for all of us, not just Blacks.

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Today is slightly overcast here in Colorado. To me, it’s a bit chilly, but the dogs are loving it and are sprawled out in various parts of the backyard, lazing Sunday away as they do Monday through Saturday. The back deck is small, more of a landing than a deck, really, but it’s high enough up, and the yard slopes enough, that they can watch the cars going by on the main

First inkle band off Moya

drag below. They seem to be taking turns doing this, as there is only enough room for two fur balls to lounge comfortably. Occasionally, they manage to pack in a third, but not often, and never all four. But they’re all happy. The weather here is so different from Arizona, and my Labs are still unsure what to make of snow. Mac, my German Shepherd, is pretty easygoing with all of the weather so far, and Thor, the Siberian, generally has to be chased around the yard before he will come in no matter how cold it is. No surprises there! And none of them appreciate having their paws wiped off before they can track dirt onto my carpet.  Nor do they appreciate their banishment from the sofas inside, but life is full of unfairness, and the sofas are upholstered in fabric that catches and keeps dog hair forever, even when one vacuums with a Dyson. I knew I should have held out for leather.

But today it’s dry, and not too cold, so they’re enjoying the backyard and people watching. Me, I’m watching them laze away the morning and playing with a weaving app that I finally broke down and bought. My studio, at the moment, is a mess of empty floss cards that need to be put away, and snarled up warp that needs to be thrown away. I’m not looking forward to cleaning it up, which I need to do sooner rather than later. My kids are in the playroom screaming at each other over a cardboard castle playhouse that I’m beginning to regret buying for them. Or rather, Bryony is screaming, and Aneira is quietly egging her on. I quit smoking during my pregnancies in order to make sure that my children would have healthy lungs. I forgot to make sure I had heavy duty ear plugs. I have come to the conclusion that most children make it to adulthood primarily because of divine intervention. That, and the parents’ desire to levy the mother’s curse on them and watch it work. It does work. And the parents who have become grandparents are sitting back, watching the curse do its job, and laughing themselves sick. Revenge. It’s the only thing that makes sense. There are animals that eat their young. I firmly believe it’s because they were partially deafened one time too many by one sibling yelling at another, and they snapped.

Anyway. I mentioned a snarled warp earlier. Yup. It was the second practice warp on Moya. I didn’t like how I had warped her the first time, thought I had done it wrong, so I tried it a little bit differently the second time. It was going well for a bit, and then, every time I tried to advance the warp, strings were pulling out. Trying to figure out and fix what I’d done wrong only made it worse, and eventually I cut it off. I hated to do it; I had finally figured out the pick-up weave and it had come out beautifully! I saved some of it. The rest doesn’t bear looking at. To give you an idea of the scope of the mess, the finished band would have been a little over five feet long. What I managed to save was less than two feet. The remaining four feet and change of thirty plus ends of warp are a huge snarled up knot. I also learned, on the first band, what happens when you just use any old thing you have as weft. The warp was embroidery floss. The weft was cotton, one of the cones I had gotten from Craigslist. I have no idea what the actual size is, other than the fact that it is bigger than the embroidery floss, by quite a bit, apparently. I also hadn’t checked the sett on either warp or weft. That was a huge mistake. Somewhere in the middle, I changed the weft to embroidery floss, and things went a great deal more smoothly after that. My selvedges are still awful, but if you ignore those, the rest of the band was beautiful!

Second inkle band, with pick-up weave

Warp number two was also embroidery floss. The first one was only about twenty-two ends, but this one was thirty-three, making it significantly larger in width. Having that one go south pained me a bit, because the pick-up weave really was going very well, and I was having fun with it. Not to mention the fact that I had spent all of yesterday doing housework, up until about ten pm, so I was happy to finally sit down at a loom, which I had forced myself to ignore all day.

After cutting off warp number two, I decided to warp Moya again, this time for cardweaving. It’s on there, but I feel confident in saying that it was done completely wrong. This is what happens when you have more excitement than patience. I didn’t pull out any of my books, look at the computer, nothing. I made a quick draft, cut the appropriate threads, threaded the cards, and tied them on Moya. There was a complete lack of grace here. Then, once I started weaving, I noticed that the design I had drafted wasn’t appearing on the facing side of the band. The design portion of our program is on the underside…but it isn’t the design I drafted, exactly. What I drafted was a diamond design. What I got was two triangles, point-to-point. So, yes, it’s a version of my draft, but not the one I wanted. Further proof that I should have been more patient and done more reading before embarking on this one.

I’ve discovered that weaving–in addition to having my own “get away from everybody” space–is helping me cope with the BPD a little bit better. I don’t know why. But each loom, each style of weaving, keeps me a little bit more level in different ways. Chiana, Aeryn, and River are my tv looms. I can cart them downstairs, kick back in the recliner, and watch Castle or Grimm or Once Upon a Time or whatever, and I’m fairly level. Moya is just pure fun. Really. Everything is manual with her. There are no treadles, no levers, no harnesses, everything is done by hand, including opening and closing the shed, and I enjoy beating with the belt shuttle. Moya is just fun, and if I’m having fun, I’m relaxed. Zoe is my exercise loom. She works the shoulders and back like none of the others do, and I can be a little more aggressive with her beater. Even raising and lowering her shafts (a noisy, slightly jarring experience to begin with) is soothing, especially when you have a need to throw something. Start working those levers, and you can work out any aggression. Cathartic is the word I’m looking for, I think.

So, I’m learning not only weaving, but new coping techniques, and new things about myself. I think that’s what therapy is all about, isn’t it? Why pay for a psychiatrist or a therapist? Pick up a loom!

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I got Moya all warped up the night before last. All the heddles went on first, of course, and the ones not in use are bound in a rubber band off to the side.

I';ve been playing a bit

I used up some embroidery floss on the warp, because it’s been with me for years, and I haven’t cross-stitched in about five years. I did buy some new floss with Moya in mind, but I’m not touching it until I’ve practiced some more!

I have to say, I love Moya. Yeah, I know, I’m in love with all my looms, but other than Aeryn and Chiana, Moya is one of the easiest to warp. Aeryn and Chiana are ridiculously simple to warp: measure and cut the warp threads, insert each thread into the warp hole of a peg, center the peg on the thread, seat in base. It’s neither enjoyable, nor boring. It just is. Moya has a more complex warp, but it’s by no means difficult, and I actually enjoyed warping her.

I call the warp the “just for experimentation” warp. Just a bunch of flosses that weren’t doing anything but gathering dust, so I gave them a purpose. I needed to practice warping, wanted to try warp-faced weaving, and have been anxiously awaiting an inkle since November. It’s not a huge warp. It’s fairly short, as warps go, and also not very wide, only eighteen threads wide, but it’s enough to play on. It’s definitely different than weaving on Zoe or River, but no less fun. They all have such different setups. Zoe is a multi-shaft loom, River is a rigid heddle loom, Aeryn and Chiana are peg looms, and Moya is an inkle/card weaving loom. All completely different ways of weaving, but you can make beautiful things on all of them.

After warping her, I was playing with pick-up weave on Moya, following PDF instructions I found online, and I don’t think I was really getting the hang of it, but I’m going to keep trying anyway, although I should probably keep practicing plain weave until I’ve got it right. My selvedges are all still horrible, on all but the peg looms, and that’s because the fabric coming off of those don’t really have edges, per se. The warp is completely enclosed by the weft and invisible except for fringe. I’ve got a lot of practicing to do!

Oh! Aneira got her report card yesterday, and I am happy and proud to report that her grades have improved significantly. I know this not because of the grades themselves, but the comments made by the teachers in each section. The grades have changed a bit since I was a kid. No As, Bs, Cs, or Ds on this report card, and not much of a legend to tell you what each thing specifically means. If not for the comments, I wouldn’t have had a clue what I was really looking at! Gonna have to make an appointment with the teacher to get the explanation!

Detail of play-band

When we first moved here, getting this kid to do her work at all was the next thing to impossible. Everything was a battle. But apparently her behavior at school has taken a dramatic turn for the better! Her test scores have improved, she’s reading and writing better, spelling better…oddly enough, we share the same weak points: math and science. I didn’t do well in either of those classes without a lot of work, and because I didn’t understand it, I hated it. Not much has changed. Right now, I can help her with her very basic math homework, right up through division. Once she starts with the more complicated stuff, though, that’s hubby’s area! He’s good at those subjects. He just gets it! Makes me a little jealous actually!!

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The newest family member has been named, with some Ravelry help! The new inkle loom has been christened Moya, in keeping with  the Farscape theme. I didn’t get to play with her last night, as I had a meeting to go to, and, of course, I can’t use her until she’s got heddles! Unsurprisingly, the heddles I had made for the WFA inkle were utterly useless, but I managed to save them. They were too long for Moya, so I cut off all the knots, shortened the heddle gauge as needed, and retied all the heddles at the proper length. Between all the things I had to take care of today, whenever I could I put heddles on the heddle bar. Translation: I’m still tying heddles on! Maybe by tonight, sometime after the children are in bed, I will actually get to play!

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Unboxing the loom

The inkle loom from Northwest Looms arrived today!!! It was sooner than I expected, especially given the last fiasco! And I have to say,I am thoroughly impressed with this company, all the way across the board. FedEx arrived with the box, and I didn’t have a clue what it was until I read the return address, because 1) the box was huge, and 2) it had screws in it! Wow! This company does not play when they ship something out! The loom was well-packed in what is essentially a crate. The inside was framed out in wood to protect everything. The bottom of the crate was completely made of wood, and the loom was tied down to it, with styrofoam and cardboard cutouts to cushion it. The loom itself is so well-constructed, I don’t even know how to describe it! The tension bar is about 2 1/2-3″ thick, like a rolling pin. The whole thing, and the shuttle, are made of solid oak. If this was to fall on you, you

WFA “prototype” loom on the floor, dwarfed by the Northwest

would definitely feel it, and more than likely you would break before the loom did! The pegs look like they can accomodate at least five inches of warp across. Northwest does fabulous work. I cannot wait to play with this loom! Now I’ve got to find a pattern worthy of it! And oh, boy, I need a name for it too!

Next to this, the WFA loom is sadly lacking!

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Despite being told, by implication, that I am the one at fault for the whole inkle loom mess with Wasatch Fiber Arts (I’d really like to know how), things are improving by leaps and bounds on the inkle front.

Mug rug #1

Not with WFA, as I will never purchase anything of theirs again, but I ordered an oak loom from Northwest Looms a couple of days ago, and it is shipping out today! I can’t wait. Honestly, the whole mess with WFA turns out to have been a good thing. The Northwest inkle loom is much better in construction, and is closed on both sides, though one side can be removed in order to warp it. That construction gives it more strength, which can only be good, since I’ve heard that the warp can tighten way down on these looms. So that should be here in a few days…a far cry from the last two-month-long fiasco. I had initially ordered Northwest’s loom in cherry, but they wouldn’t be ready to ship for another week, so I switched to oak. The lady I spoke to said the oak has more grain in it anyway, which, I’ve said before, I love, so I’ll undoubtedly be happier with it.

I went to a meetup in Boulder on Saturday! It was a knitting meetup, and I don’t’ knit, but I had a great time anyway. It was other Colorado Ravelers, so it was great to have faces and real names to put to the avatars I was seeing online, and the bar and grill we went to had great ambiance and delicious food! I should’ve brought a project with me, and next time I will! I didn’t bring Chiana, which I had just warped that morning, because she’s kind of clunky to move around, and I was afraid of pegs getting jounced and broken. If I’d been thinking, I would have just brought River along!

I finished the samples on Zoe, optimistically called mug rugs. I only got 3 1/4 out of the warp, because while on the last one, the selvedge warp string

Mug rug #2

snapped. I tried to fix it, but it just wasn’t happening and would just snap again at the first sign of any tension, so I finally gave up and cut off the warp. I haven’t washed them yet to set them, but that’s next on the agenda. And after that, I’ll be trying to write up a draft and warp Zoe by myself. A daunting task!! But I have to try it sometime, and there’s no time like the present. Besides, the Weaver’s Idea Book  showed up from Amazon yesterday, and there are patterns in there I’d like to try! I need more color in my stash though. Right now I’ve got sage green, brown, black in cotton, and a muted tan in linen. Really not much color there to work with, and I like jewel tones. I swear, between weaving books on Amazon, pants for my girls, and yarn and weaving supplies on Etsy, I know where all of my allowance is going for the next little while!

I also finished another scarf on Chiana. I found this beautiful textured,

Mug rug #3

chunky yarn by Lion Brand at WalMart. It was all of those wonderful autumn colors that you only get to see in certain places. I think, if I tossed the skeins into a pile of leaves, the only way you’d find it would be by touch! The yarn has a crimp to it that just adds more texture to it. This scarf is mine!!

Scarf done on Finniwig peg loom

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