Archive for February, 2012

Aneira's birdhouse

It looks as though I’ll be doing a lot more weaving for the foreseeable future. For one thing, I love it. For another, if my hands are busy, I’m not smoking. It’s the only way I can do this.

This is day 2 of not smoking. I consciously chose not to buy a pack of cigarettes yesterday, despite the fact that no less than three stores across the street sell cigarettes, and at decent prices too. And it’s so hard not to just trot over and lay my money down for a fix. Quitting was easy when I was pregnant. I wasn’t doing it for me. I was doing it for my kids. In all honesty, I’m still doing it for my kids. I don’t smoke around them anyway, but they do need a mother, so I’m going to give this a good try. I don’t know how well I’ll do, but I owe it to myself and my kids to at least try. I keep thinking like the little train in the storybooks: I think I can do this.

I hope my yarn supply holds out.

River is on her third warp since my last post. There was one already on her that I finished off as a practice piece. Then I warped her with some black cotton for another practice sampler. It was only about three yards, so I was done with that in no time. Now she’s warped with about six yards of acrylic worsted. Not my favorite yarn, but perfect for just fooling around. I’ve done a lot of that with The Weaver’s Idea Book this past weekend. I played with leno, Brook’s Bouquet, Danish Medallions, and Spanish Lace. I’m not very happy with the way the Spanish Lace looks, but everything else went well. The leno was fun to do. Actually, it all was, and I need more practice with different weaves. It was also nice to work on River again. Of all my looms, she is the lightest, even more so than my peg looms.And like I said, this all keeps me from smoking!

Speaking of peg looms, I’ve just been told that my third one is finished and should be shipping soon! This one has nylon pegs, and has been painted with my favorite colors, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it!

Aneira took on a little project of her own in the form of a birdhouse she had begged me for the last time we went to JoAnn’s. She used her crayons on it this weekend, and drew her own version of a Siberian Husky on it. When she gets home

Various weaves from the Weaver's Idea Book

from school, we’ll hang it, probably on the maple in front of my studio window. With any luck, we’ll soon have a family of birds living in it. She thoroughly enjoyed coloring it. I would rather have had her paint it, but I have no idea where our watercolor paints went. I’ll have to resupply on stuff like that when I go grocery shopping. I really need to do more projects with the girls. Aneira’s old enough not to make a huge mess, and Bryony might be able to handle some less messy arts and crafts projects, especially if they’re supervised. Hmm. I’ll have to give that some thought.


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I can’t tell if it’s still snowing. There’s enough wind blowing the stuff around that I can’t see if it’s coming off the roof or actually coming from the sky. I do know that five minutes outside resulted in four dogs covered in snow. All of them are now cooling their heels in the laundry room until they dry off. I really need a Dutch door on the laundry room so they don’t feel so isolated when they have to be in there.

School has been delayed for two hours due to the weather. This isn’t the first time it’s happened since we’ve been here, but it never fails to surprise me. There isn’t a lot of snow on the ground, maybe two inches at worst. Where I grew up in New York, there really weren’t any sanctioned delays or closings until the snow was a good deal closer to a foot deep. Two inches is nothing. The school delay, however, is something. Hubby’s truck needs shocks, so he started using mine yesterday for his own classes, and he was planning to do it again today. There are two problems with this. One is the simple fact that we own two very different vehicles. Mine is a Nissan Xterra. Serenity is a top-heavy stick shift. His is a huge Chevy Silverado automatic. He’s never driven Serenity in the snow, but he certainly can’t take his. The other problem is that Aneira will be due at school at the same time he’s leaving for his own, unless they decide to shut one or the other completely down for the day. It could happen. The last time we got two inches, about two weeks ago, Aneira’s school did close for the day.

I really don’t want to see that happen. The children have already lost their tiny little minds several times over this morning. I have been steadily yelling at them for an hour. You know, stop fighting, quit picking on your sister, quit screaming, turn down the tv, stop banging on the walls, stop throwing the ball in the house…They’ve only been awake for one hour. I’m ready to go back to bed just from dealing with them! It could be the weather, though. Snowy and rainy days make me want to snuggle down deep in bed and read until I fall asleep. Of course, with two children in the house, such a thing is impossible. Therefore, today’s plan is to put a warp on River. I’ve ignored her in favor of Zoe and Moya recently, so it’s her turn to dress up! I want to play with The Weaver’s Idea Book for awhile. There are a couple of projects in there that look interesting, and the book is primarily for rigid heddle looms like River, so I’d like to find a project that really interests me and give it a try!

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First placemat

The best laid plans do not always come to fruition the way we’d like. Take this post, for instance. I had written a great post on my iPad, all I had left to do was add pictures, which I can’t do with my iPad. So I come to the computer, thinking, great, the draft is saved, all I’ll have to do is edit it to add the pictures, and voila! Well, guess what? Not only was the draft not saved, but it had entirely disappeared from the iPad. What did I do then? Picture that recent extremely annoying ad from JC Penney, and there you go.

Another example is my latest project on Zoe. I decided to do a set of four placemats for the dining room table. I may have mentioned before that I had joined the Pike’s Peak Weaver’s Guild, and the day that I did, a guild member who was moving had a huge giveaway that resulted in a significant increase to my stash. There was a beautiful turquoise cotton that was perfect for warp, and some wonderfully textured yarns in royal blue, purple, and a multicolor of reds, greens, blues, and purples, all in jewel tones, and I couldn’t wait to weave with it. So I did all the math to calculate how many ends I would need, how much yardage on each end, etcetera. I did pretty well. I came up with 216 ends, each 8 yards long. So I got out my warping board and got to work. First problem: there wasn’t enough of the turquoise. I had 106 ends, 110 less than I needed. Well, okay, maybe I can improvise. I can put 53 ends on the outer sides of the placemats, and use something else for the middle. Hey, I just bought a ton of crochet thread, that ought to do it! Problem number two: the crochet thread is size 10, making it very thin. Easily fixed, right? Cut 220 ends, and double the ends per dent. Sure, I can do that. What a great idea!

Not such a great idea, as it turns out. On the board, it was terrific, but once the warp came off the board, I discovered that crochet thread tangles very easily. 1760 yards of it tangles

Table runner on Zoe

permanently. Thus ended that idea, which gave way to a new one: make a table runner instead! I can do that with four yards of warp. That means I can cut my present warp in half, giving me 212 ends, which is a perfect size for this.

This meant that I lost the cross in the warp from the very beginning, but no worries, I can manage, although somehow I wound up with 207 ends instead of 212. I can still make this work.

You may recall that placemats were the plan for the previous project as well, and that I miscalculated and came up way too short on the warp for that project, therefore winding up with only one placemat where there should have been two. I also miscalculated on ends needed, so the resulting mat, before washing, was too narrow, although it was long enough. I warped that one from front to back and, through no fault of my teacher, the way I had done it, I wound up with far too much loom waste, because the way I tied it on, the tails were far too long. I decided, this time, to warp from back to front.

For the first time on this project, I met with success…of a sort. I discovered that I much prefer warping from front to back. Why, you ask? Because when you warp from front to back, all of your ends are pretty much already in order. Not so from back to front, at least not for me. When I tied the warp to the back apron rod, everything was great. But then, I had eight yards of warp to take up before I could thread the heddles and sley the reed. That was when I lost all order. It didn’t tangle, but it did need to be straightened out. So, I threaded the heddles and sleyed the reed, tied onto the front apron bar, then rolled up the cloth beam, untied the threads on the warp beam, combed them all back into order, retied them to the back apron rod, and rolled up the warp beam for the proper

Detail of table runner

tension. Whatever it was that I did wrong, warping from back to front took far longer, and was a lot more work, than doing it the way I was taught. But it was on, and I was finally ready to weave.

What I didn’t know about my weft yarns was that they are rug yarns. They’re very fine, with thicker nubs at intervals, just a great texture, and by the time I read the stickers inside the cones, it was already too late, so I shrugged and kept going. It actually came out very well. The texture of the rug yarns makes it unique, as does the fact that the weft is much finer than the warp, so it’s a very interesting piece overall. It’s not quite a table runner, though, more of a table mat. When it was finished, before washing, it was about three feet too short, with the fringe ending several inches shy of the table edges. After I washed it, it shrank, being cotton, and is now several more inches short of the table edges.

I asked hubby what he thought of my work, and he very bluntly said he didn’t like it. Then he backpedaled a bit and reminded me that he was a guy (as if I’d forgotten that little fact), and as such has no business giving opinions on such things. Telling him how many weavers are men didn’t make a bit of difference. Honestly, sometimes I think slapping him into the middle of next week, as my mom used to say, would give me entirely too much pleasure. Just imagining it gave me pleasure. Sigh. Even Aneira came up to look at it and told me it was beautiful. Anyway, maybe hubby is right. This is the same man who, when I was pregnant with Aneira, suggested such names as Rainbow, Lulu, and Fifi. I think his sense of taste is questionable, at best.

Gusseted pouch

I also finished another inkle band pouch. On both of these projects, the warps were the biggest I’d ever tried on my own, so I’m kind of proud of myself, despite any and all mistakes, which, as

Wide inkle band

you can see, were legion!

This pouch has gussets. I was really ambitious with the sewing this time! And I’m going to turn it into a shoulder bag by weaving another band for the strap. I’m still having trouble getting the borders as wide as I would like, so piecing the pouch together is still a nightmare for me, but I’ll get it eventually!

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Children are wonderful people. This is not sarcasm. I adore my girls, and often even prefer their company to their father’s. They are fun, and occasionally say and do the most hilarious things. I don’t get to spend nearly as much time with them as I would like, because there is homework, or housework, or errands, or any number of things that have to be done all the time. So when Aneira plaintively asks “Can I spend some time with you?”, if I’m in my studio, the answer is generally “yes”. I keep her coloring books and crayons, as well as her Kumihimo disk, in the studio now for that reason.

There is, however, a downside to having children, and that is the fact that they are germ magnets. They could wash their hands forever, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, wash again, be wrapped in bubble wrap and touch no one, and still, like puppies, germs will follow them home. Usually, the child who brings home the germ doesn’t get sick herself, just passes it to everyone else, although there are occasions where she herself gets the bug. This is what happened here. Aneira came home with the beginnings of a cold last week. No surprises there; she’s in first grade, and I have yet to meet a first grader with perfect hygiene. After all, these are the children with whom you still have to specify the use of soap whenever they wash, and whose response is always a very long-suffering, “I know already!”, but if you don’t remind them, it goes clean out of their heads.

The normal pattern, when one of the kids gets a cold, is that Bryony gets it first (and a toddler with a cold is quite gross), then Aneira, then hubby, and I get missed entirely, which suits me just fine, as I am the one who has to nurse everyone back from death’s door.

Not this time.

This time, Aneira got it first, as mentioned, then Bryony, and then yours truly got an anvil over the head. Apparently all those times I got skipped was just the germs building up momentum to make sure when they got me, they got me good.  And boy, oh boy, did they ever. You see, moms don’t recover from anything as quickly as the rest of the family does. Why? Because she doesn’t get to stay in bed, getting waited on hand and foot as she languishes away. She still has to get children to and from school, cook meals, and get the laundry done, regardless of how horrible she might feel. Hubby does not cook, and if he tried, we would all be dead of food poisoning not too long after sampling his cuisine. Boxed mac and cheese is his specialty, which I refuse to eat no matter how close I might be to death by starvation. He and the girls consider it food. I don’t. But I digress.

Every chance I got, I was in bed. I didn’t have the motivation or the energy to stay out of it. Between the coughing and the stuffiness, I couldn’t breathe, and coughing made my head hurt, and I had a fever. This is the sickest I’ve been in a loooong time. I was in bed by eight-thirty each night. I didn’t want to weave, didn’t want to watch TV, barely managed to read. Hubby has been complaining of neglect. Sorry, hon. You’ll live, trust me.

Yesterday afternoon, somehow feeling worse on day three than I had the first two days, I looked at Zoe and decided that I was going to distract myself by finally dressing her to do the placemats I had been wanting to do. I cleared my desk, laid in a supply of Hall’s, and got to it. This is not as simple as it sounds. I am terrified of Zoe. I managed to warp her last time because my teacher was here. I hadn’t touched her since. I’d looked at her and thought about trying to put on a warp by myself, but Moya was easier, so I did nothing. Yesterday, though, I was so sick I had no fear of anything, so getting together the guts to warp her wasn’t as difficult as it would have normally been.

I decided I wanted to make two placemats to start with. I tried to remember everything I’d been taught in the one lesson I could afford so far, and I did remember that my reed is a 12-dent reed, and the cotton I wanted to use was perfect for that. So, that meant I needed 144 ends, each roughly about three yeards long. Being muzzy-headed, I will forgive myself for the mistake I realized I made after it was far too late to correct, but I’ll get to that.

So: 144 ends. The pegs on my warping board are not that big, so I had to do two separate warps of 72 ends in order to get the required 144. That went beautifully, and I remembered everything I had been taught there. The problem came when it was time to put the warp on Zoe. This always seems to be my problem area. I had the lease sticks through the crosses on both warps, and stupidly took out the ties I also had through the crosses. This, of course, resulted in my losing the cross on the first warp very early on.  I managed to retie the second one and save it, at least for awhile.

I did remember that I’d been taught to warp front-to-back, but naturally, could not find my notes from my lesson anywhere, so I made do…which probably means I didn’t do anything right!

Actually, I think losing the cross was the worst of it, really. I tied groups of twelve warp threads onto the apron bar of the cloth beam, sleyed the reed from the middle out to the end on both sides, threaded the heddles on all four shafts (properly, no less!), and tied twelve groups of twelve to the apron bar of the warp beam. It was beautiful, and took me five and a half hours to complete. Alone.

All dressed up!

Remember that mistake I mentioned earlier? This is where it hit me. I have a yard marked out on my desk in one foot intervals. I meant for each end to be three yards long, only my muzzy brain translated each foot into a yard. See where I’m going with this? Yup…my warp is only about one yard long. I’ll get one placemat out of this, instead of the two I wanted, and will have to re-warp to do the other. I am not looking forward to that. On the other hand, this could be the goddess of weaving’s way of saying, “You need the practice, so deal!”

Trivia: did you know that in Egypt, the goddess of weaving is Neith? In Greece, it’s Athena or Arachne, and in Norse mythology, it’s Frigg. In North Africa, it is Tanit. For Native Americans, it is Grandmother Spider Woman, although no particular tribe is listed for that one. Now we’ve all learned something new!

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…has far to go in order to be a bright, sunny day. It is overcast and cold today. Even Thor, the big, smart-alecky Siberian, opted for the warm indoors today. When I opened the back door, four bullets ran me over. They are now wandering through my studio, investigating everything as though they haven’t seen it all dozens of times already. But they have already lost interest in Moya, who sits on the desk like royalty, with yet another new warp on her.

This particular warp is giving me fits. I wanted a lot of colors in this one, but I still wanted to do pick-up weave, as I’m addicted to it, so it’s set up for horizontal stripes in various colors ranging from black to several different browns to more shades of pink, with some burgundy, teal, and purple thrown in for interest. It’s all embroidery floss, because I like the sheen that floss has to it, and the little skeins are not only perfect, lengthwise, for a full warp on Moya, but are also cheap (Of course, cheap is relative…I spent $35 on floss not too long ago, at $.35 per skein, which tells you how much floss I brought home)! Being embroidery floss, each skein goes around all of the pegs twice, which is great. But when I’m doing pick-up, all of the pattern threads are all the same color, and all need to be open, meaning between the heddles, not in them. This means that I’m tying on each individual thread. This also means that, taking all of the “mom” and “wife” interruptions into account, it took me two solid days to put the whole warp on. So one could imagine that I was not very thrilled to realize that I had done something wrong.

Moya is not like a lot of the inkle looms I have seen for sale. Most of them are open on one side. Moya has two sides, to lend strength to the pegs. One side is removable, for ease of warping, and held in place by two screws by the base, and the tension bar. In order to put the side back on, you have to loosen the tension bar; there’s no way around it, and up until now, it hasn’t been an issue. With this warp, though, something went horribly awry, and I don’t even know what it was. The warp was rutting perfect until I loosened the tension bar to put the side back on. Once I did that and retightened the tension bar, the right side of the warp was extremely tight, and the left side was extremely loose. I don’t have any idea what happened, or how, and after several attempts at fixing the problem, I finally gave up and decided to leave it as a practice band and keep going. Oddly enough, it seems to be evening out now. Very strange. I wish I knew what had gone wrong, so I could make sure it didn’t happen again. And with any luck, maybe this band will come out decently!

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