Archive for January, 2018

The snarling refers to me, the knots refer to the warp currently sitting peacefully on the loom. At least this time I got it onto the loom.

This happens every single time I warp a loom, but particularly the tablet weaving loom. Inevitably, and invariably, I tangle the whole thing up. It’s worse with the tablet weaving loom because there are no heddles, nothing separating the strings until the tablets are threaded. And I’m pretty sure I’m using this loom incorrectly.

When I say that at least this time I got the warp onto the loom, I’m being very literal. I’ve never managed to get the warp on before. It gets knotted up before I even get the cards threaded, I knot it up further trying to unknot it, start snarling at everything in my immediate vicinity, and end up throwing the whole warp out because it’s just too far gone for me to save. And that’s saying something; I pride myself on my ability to untangle knots.

This time, I got the warp on. It did knot up, but I managed to untangle the mess and get it on the loom. Then, joy of joys, started working on the pattern…only to realize I’d done something wrong. The right side of the pattern looked right, the left side was…deformed. I went back over the pattern. Did I have the cards threaded correctly? Yup, all the threads were in the right holes, so that wasn’t it. Were the cards in the correct positions? Yup, sure were. So what did I do wrong?

I checked the cards three times before finally noticing the threading pattern at the bottom of the diagram. The five to the left were supposed to be threaded “S”, the five to the right threaded “Z”. I had them all threaded in one direction. So once again, I pulled off the first five cards on the left, since the right side looked correct, and re-threaded them. Amazingly, just doing those five cards took twice as long as the entire warp had in the first place, but I finally did it.

Would you believe that they’re all actually still threaded wrong?! Yep: the left side cards are threaded “Z”, the right side ones “S”. I can’t win!!! So they’re going to stay that way for now…I’m not up to another fight with the warp!!!!

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Tablet weaving loom

The last two days have been spent looking for information on 6-hole, hexagonal tablet weaving cards. I bought a set from Ampstrike about six years ago that I never used. The most common tablets are the 4-hole, square cards, and I’ve got those too. The square tablets, if labeled, generally are done ABCD clockwise around the tablet, so those were easy to do on the wooden cards. But every image I had found of the hexagonal tablets didn’t show any labels, and I wasn’t sure if they were done clockwise or not, so I couldn’t label mine until I knew, and I’d really like to use them to warp the beautiful tablet weaving loom I bought from chuckjones over the summer, which had gone directly into storage until we moved. Now it’s out, and I’ve found it, and I want to use it, of course!

It’s a good thing I waited to find out, because I’ve discovered that the 6-hole tablets are usually labeled counterclockwise ABCDEF. And I’ve been on the very-dangerous Pinterest looking for patterns to try. There are quite a few, every one in Spanish. Unfortunately, my Spanish has suffered over the years since leaving New York. The dialect I speak is Puerto Rican Spanish, but I spent sixteen years living in Arizona, where the dialect spoken is Mexican Spanish, which is very mixed with Aztec, depending on how far south in Mexico the person you’re talking to came from. After my arrival in Arizona, I learned very quickly not to admit that I spoke Spanish, because the dialects are so different from each other that I couldn’t understand it. So now, although I can still speak it (ish), and read it, unless you speak to me very slowly, I don’t understand much anymore. And there are words that I never did know. I never came across them before, because they’re related to weaving, which I wasn’t doing until six years ago, long after my language skills went to hell in a handbasket. The good thing is, because the patterns are written out and diagrammed, I can probably muddle through.


So the tablets are all ready to go. In hunting for the labeling, though, I came across some laser-cut, wooden tablets at Wulfenbahr Arts that are fabulous. Pricy, but fabulous. They have both the 4-hole square and the 6-hole hexagonal. They’re gorgeous, and I may have to get some of each just because. You know, wooden tool fanatic that I am.

Freshly labeled tablets

And, of course, I also need to start another wire crochet choker for Aneira. This time I’ll let her choose the color, although since she thinks she’s goth or emo or whatever the word is today, she’ll probably want it in black, which isn’t currently in my inventory. And I still need to move the floor loom into my area so we can see how well it fits…or not. It isn’t a Leclerc Artisat, like I thought. It’s a Leclerc Nilus. The only difference is that the Artisat folds, where the Nilus does not. Other than that one thing, it’s the exact same loom. I’d love to trade it for a Mighty Wolf, but until I find someone who wants to trade, I’ve got to put it somewhere. Currently, it’s sitting in front of the entertainment center, partially blocking the television.

Well, it’s 5:30 here, so I’d better get off the computer and get to cooking dinner before my family expires of starvation. Have a good night!


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Leg of lamb steak, with a side of basil pesto pasta. Yummy!

As you can see, I’m trying to come up with more interesting post titles, while also making sure I’m not using titles I’ve used before. It’s harder than you might expect. The blog is over a year old now, and the more posts you have on similar subjects, the more likely it becomes that you may post something with a title you’ve used before, which wouldn’t be good. I imagine the site would tell me if this is the case; at least, I hope it would!

Obviously, I’m not actually cooking with wire. But I was cooking tonight. My palate-challenged family had leftovers from a recent trip to Rasta Pasta, so I could make whatever I wanted for myself. Until I’d remembered the leftovers, I had been wracking my brain for what to cook. Not only is my family incredibly picky about food, the PIP is allergic to fish and shellfish, as in anaphylactic shock if he eats it. Canned tuna apparently is fine, because it’s so processed. Fresh fish, though…

Our doctor has told him that he has very likely outgrown the allergy by now, but I think the only way I’m going to get him to try any fish other than tuna would be to park at the emergency room and have him eat it there! That way, if the doc is wrong, and he still has the allergy, at least we’d be where he could get help.

The girls and I are huge seafood fans, so we’re really grateful that they didn’t inherit his allergy. They love shrimp and crab legs.

But all of them are extremely close-minded about anything they perceive as new or odd. The kids won’t touch curried goat or lamb in any shape or form, and neither will he. He’s also squeamish about anything with bones in it, so when I roast a chicken, I have to carve all the meat off the bones and get rid of the carcass before he lays eyes on it. He’s also not a huge fan of either chicken, pork, or steak, though he’ll eat them. His favorite meat is ground hamburger. Well, once you’ve done spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, chili, and burgers, you’ve pretty much exhausted what you can do with it. There are about a billion variations of those recipes, where you add or take away ingredients, but you’re still talking about meatloaf, etc. I’ve been hunting for new things to do with it that everyone will actually eat without complaint.

Tonight, though, I was cooking for me, which gave me a lot more choices, and I didn’t know what I wanted, so I was flipping through recipe books.

Let me tell you something: Costco has a different set of recipe books for sale every time I walk into the store, and I always make the mistake of stopping to look at them because I’m aware of that fact. And every time, I find one (or more) that interests me. Usually at least two. And I’ve been building up my cookbook collection thanks to Costco. So I hit these books tonight, looking for inspiration. In the end, I decided to make a leg of lamb steak with pesto pasta. I have a very deep love affair with pesto. In Arizona, there’s a sandwich shop called Baggins, and when I first arrived in Tucson, they carried pesto pasta salad that was absolutely delicious. I’ve been trying to recreate it since they discontinued it a year later. I haven’t gotten it yet. I’ve gotten close, but not quite there. One day I’ll attempt to make pesto from scratch. I’ve been using store bought pesto, adding pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and diced bell pepper. It’s been good, but it falls short of Baggins’ version. One day, though, I will get it right.

Practice piece of Yoola Infinity Necklace.

I finished up the practice infinity necklace. It was going to go to Aneira, but then I realized that it was really more of a practice piece. There are so many mistakes in it, loops of different sizes and such. Toward the end, I think I finally got a grasp on it. The loops became a lot more uniform, but that only happened within the last fifty rounds. I also accidentally cut some of the purple wires in the process of cutting off the hot pink base, which meant I lost the tail that was supposed to be used to lash the two sides of the end together, so I had to unravel about four rows back to get the right length tail for the purpose.

Now that I think I have a grasp on what I’m doing, I’m going to start a new one. I have some 28 gauge, dead soft sterling silver wire that I think would look fantastic with that design, but I think I may try it again with craft wire first. Craft wire is a bit less expensive if I screw up, and like I said, I think I have a grasp on what I’m doing! Until I can say I’m absolutely certain I know what I’m doing, I should probably save the good stuff!


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Saturday was Distaff Day, a day when a whole bunch of spinners get together somewhere and spin all day, and vendors have tables displaying their various fiber goodies. And I went, but without my beautiful Anansi, my Kromski Sonata. I haven’t maintenanced him in months. Between being in storage, the move, the unpacking, and the children, I haven’t had time. So I attended my first Distaff Day wheelless.

On the other hand, I scored a bunch of silk fiber, targhee, and yarn. I can’t complain. Then, while waiting for my lunch to be ready at a downtown restaurant, I found several tatting shuttles that weren’t in my collection, some tatting thread, and a book on knitting cables.

I needed the break that day. Bryony has been home sick since last Friday, and the PIP has it now as well. I absolutely needed to be away from the house and family for awhile.

So. Many. Wheels. Quite a few spinners turned out with their wheels, and it made me really wish I’d done the maintenance on mine sooner. There were wheels that I had looked at in the past, before Anansi joined the family, that I had not bought primarily because they were expensive. No, allow me to rephrase: Anansi was expensive. The wheels I had looked at and not bought were way outside my wheel budget. As in over $1000. As in ouch.

I’m realizing, though, that I may actually need a second wheel. Anansi always has Siberian Husky fur loaded up, being my primary (read, only) wheel. I have a ton of other fiber I’d like to spin up (case in point, the quiviut sitting in my fiber box right now). A second wheel would come in handy. I would love to have the Golding Celtic Queen wheel, but the price tag on that one starts at $11,500. They carry floor looms too, and those start at nearly the same. I can look, and I can daydream, but reality dictates that I can’t buy. And I’m pretty sure that even used, they would still be prohibitively expensive. Le sigh.

But I am on the lookout for a reasonably priced secondhand wheel. Good thing I’m not in a hurry.

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Longer than the last time I posted my progress!

This title refers to both the wire crochet and my little craft studio. Both are making small steps forward. The wire crochet tube is quite a bit longer than it was when I posted a picture of it previously, although it still has a way to go. And I’m debating over whether or not I want to follow the artist’s design or not. I have some mighty fine draw plates; maybe just pull it through and turn it into a chain.

Draw plates are fun. I discovered that a few years ago. It’s usually a piece of wood, with a number of small holes drilled through it, stepping up in size. You pull your work through the one closest to its size, then through the next one down, which stretches the work and narrows the tube. You take it down as far as you like or can, and the chain becomes narrower and longer as you go. I have several plates here, but have never had a reason to use them since my jewelry class in college, and even then, the one I used at school wasn’t one of mine. None of mine have ever been used, and two of them I’ve had for at least six years!

The studio is now empty of boxes, although it doesn’t follow that there are no more boxes full of fiber arts stuff. There is no doubt in my mind that there are at least two more boxes floating around here somewhere. And though the boxes themselves are gone, I still haven’t found places for every little thing. When you have a collection of like items, like cone or skein yarn, it’s easy to put them away as a group. It’s all those tiny, miscellaneous things that don’t fit in this category or that one that cause all the clutter, and those are piled on the floor next to, under, and on top of my desk. But enough of the area is cleared out that if I just shift some things from one side of the room to the other, I’ll be able to move the loom back here soon. And I really want to get back to spinning. I’ve got a lot of fiber waiting to be spun, and there’s a box full of silk roving that I’m dying to get my hands on. I’m having wheel withdrawal lol!

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World of Wine

I’m not much of a drinker. Most people would say I’m a lightweight. Some would say I aspire to be a lightweight. I think I have alcoholic drinks a couple of times per year, and the rest of the time it’s iced tea. If you hand me a big rum and coke, for every 12 ounces of coke, there’s probably about .2 ounces of rum. If I can taste alcohol, I’ll either nurse the same drink all night, or refuse to drink it at all.

The funny thing is, when I was a kid, my dad would occasionally let us kids take sips of his nightly beer. Just one sip each. Hey, it was the seventies. Anyway, between the sips of beer and my mom’s rum-soaked yearly holiday fruitcakes, by the time we were old enough to drink, neither my brother nor I could stand the taste of alcohol. Still can’t. As a result, I have been drunk exactly once in my life, and that was twenty-some-odd years ago. I came so close to being sick, it solidified my dislike of alcohol.

Fast forward to 2014, when a visitor to my house brought a bottle of Mia Dolcea moscato wine. Up to that point, I didn’t like wine either. Every wine I had ever tasted was bitter and sour to me, for which reason I also avoided recipes that called for wine. Moscato opened a whole new world for me. Not all wines tasted horrible!

I’ll never be one of those people who goes to wine tastings and  discusses bouquet. I’ve been reading up on the whithertos and whyfors of the wine world, and have to say I still don’t get it. I’ve tasted a couple of other white wines, and didn’t like them for drinking, although they were great in white clam sauce. I haven’t yet found another wine I like, but I’ve learned the lesson that if you can’t drink it, don’t cook with it. In other words, don’t go to the supermarket and buy a bottle of “cooking wine”. I go to the local liquor store and ask for a good burgundy or Pinot Noir if I’m looking for a recipe ingredient. The moscato is strictly for sipping while cooking dinner.

I admit, though, I’d like to go to a wine tasting just once, just to see what all the hubbub’s about! I may not understand it, but it might be interesting nonetheless, and I might discover another wine I like.

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“Fabric” is the key word here. I’m finding that wire crochet is fully as immersive for me as any other type of fabric creation. I’ve been at it since about 9 pm, and it’s almost midnight now. I’ve been having trouble putting it down. The only reason I did is because the wire is a bit hard on the thumb, as you’re using it to push back the top of the stitch your hook is pulling the wire through. After awhile, it’s like pressing guitar strings against the frets, until you develop calluses on your fingers. Someone suggested using a thimble in their blog, and I did attempt that, but with a thimble on my thumb, I lost grip on the work. I adapted to life without a thimble: I started using my thumbnail to push the stitch back. My nail feels nothing.

Aneira discovered tonight that it’s a choker I’m working on, and immediately asked who it was for. She pretty much danced a jig when I said “Who else would it be for?” I probably should have said it was for me, just on principle, but I didn’t.

I added about two inches worth of work to the choker tonight, maybe more, while sitting at the desk listening to my Celtic station on Pandora. And I learned that I can work the stitches without the magnifying lens, just as long as I use the LED lamp, which I’m totally okay with. Anyone sane, good vision or no, is going to say yes to good light, so I feel better about it!

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The start of Aneira’s choker. The pink wire is the base, not part of the necklace.

Well, the hooks are, anyway. I’m pretty sure craft wire is copper. But yeah, still with the wire crochet, and kicking myself for choosing what I think is the most ambitious of Yoola‘s beginner designs. It’s not that it’s difficult–once you learn how to do the stitches, it’s actually fairly easy, so long as you can see what you’re doing (yes, I’m still using the magnifier, and yes, I’m still grumbling about it). It’s a beginner design, so it’s only going to be so hard. No, the ambitious part lies in the amount of time it’s going to take to finish it. I probably should have started with a smaller project, but I know how much Aneira likes choker necklaces, soooooo…

My girls are growing up. Too fast for me, as it happens. Bryony turned eight right after Christmas. Aneira will officially be a teenager in a few months. She is only an inch or two shorter than I am (and I’m 5’10”), and regularly steals my shoes. Not that they’re fashionable, because they are far from it. I live my life in sneakers, because they are comfortable. Aneira is very much like me in that regard. Jeans, sneakers, and tee shirts are the order of every day. Neither of us is fond of dresses, but we’ll wear them if we have to. She’s no fashionista, but she is starting to enjoy jewelry and–may all benevolent gods help me–boys. She considers herself “emo”, whatever that means, and dresses in black whenever she can get away with it. And she has this love of chokers. The design is deceptively simple, and I know how much she would love it, so thus occurred my choice of project. I was not, however, entirely stupid. I know, from past experience, how hard she is on jewelry, and how quickly she loses it, so I am not using the sterling silver wire for her choker. I’m using craft wire. We’ll see how long she manages to keep this one before I consider using more expensive wire on her.

Meanwhile, the craft area is coming along. Tonight, for the first time since we moved in, I have unearthed the surface of my desk. Yay, me! I was beginning to despair of ever seeing it again. I invested in a ton of Command strips and hung all of my knitting looms on the columns of the loft. Yarn went into a bookcase that matches my desk, in an orderly fashion, while cone yarn is on the top of the bookcase, and nine other totes hold yet more yarn. I’ve still got a little ways to go, though, in finding places for all the small things still scattered on the floor.

Having my area in the loft is both a curse and a blessing. It’s a curse in that I lack two walls and a lockable door to keep kids and pets from messing around in my stuff, but it’s a blessing in that the location allows me to be a part of things and to keep an eye on the girls at the same time. Everything is a trade off, yeah?

And slowly, all of my WIPs are resurfacing as we empty boxes and bags. So far there are a couple of amigurumi, several blankets, and a few bags, all in various stages of not-finished. I guess I won’t lack for things to do throughout the winter!

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Happy New Year!

Wire crochet kit

Here’s hoping 2018 will be better than 2017. I’ll reserve judgment till about June. At that point, I’ll be able to count up the good vs. the bad so far and see where we stand.

The PIP has “grounded” me to my craft area so that I can finally get it set up the way I want it. Plus there’s a floor loom I need to make room for. I scored a Leclerc Nilus–for free–from Craigslist last week. It’s supposed to go into the craft area, but it’s not looking like it can really fit. It’s not a huge loom, but the space up in the loft is a bit limited, especially with all the other stuff that needs to be in the area as well. So, we’re going to try, but it may need to be traded away for something a little lighter that folds.

Still, it’s coming along. It looks a lot better than it did even a week ago, though it’s not organized enough yet that I’m willing to post pictures. The desk alone is a disaster area, piled up with things that I haven’t given an official place to yet. Soon, very soon…I hope.

For Yule this year, the PIP bought me one of those big project lamps, the ones that are adjustable, LED, and this one has a magnifier on it, which made me think “Awesome, but I won’t need that for a few years.”

Let me tell you, denial is not a pretty place to be. We have a huge tv down in the great room, and I often can’t read the gorram display from the sofa, all of ten feet away. I certainly can’t read medicine bottles anymore; the print is just too small. And one of my other presents has convinced me it’s time to get my glasses fixed.

I bought myself a fantastic wire crochet set from Yoola, because I really enjoy the things she sells, and it’s been years since I bought anything from her. So I splurged a little on myself, and today was the first time I could really sit down and play with it, because the entire family has been sick since Christmas Day. Today, though, the girls were at school, and the PIP was playing with car parts. Peace reigned supreme!!!

I loaded up the tutorial for the piece I wanted to attempt, and it was perfect. The instructions were pretty clear, the video was spot-on, and even the PDF made sense. This was a red-letter day!!

First, practice attempt at wire crochet

Then I went to put the newly learned skill to some use. I grabbed the smallest spool knitter, a 1mm crochet hook, and a coil of really hot pink 28 gauge wire. And two things happened.

  1. I remembered how tiny a 1mm crochet hook really is.
  2. I realized I couldn’t see the wire or the hook well enough.

So, snarling to myself about the amount of bull encompassed by the phrase “golden years” (I’m not even fifty yet), I turned on the magnifier. It was glorious. Suddenly, I could see what I was doing. Of course, I was still peeved at the fact that I had no choice but to use the magnifier, but I will give credit where credit is due: the thing is awesome.

I had a bit of trouble starting out with the wire crochet, and I’m not yet sure how much of that was because I couldn’t see it, and how much of it was simply initial startup. Some crafts seem to be that way, where just getting started is an unpleasant chore, but once you get past a certain point, the work is just smooth sailing. The first attempt was just practice. We’ll see how the second one goes!

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