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Beautiful Disaster

Gilmore Big Wave

Two days ago, I received my new-to-me Gilmore Big Wave, which was exciting in its own right, because I’ve been coveting this loom for years, but I also discovered some DMC embroidery floss I’d never seen before. It’s got a sheen completely unlike the rest of the company’s floss, and I fell utterly in love and bought a bunch to bring home, fully intending to weave with it, on the Wave.

Well, life goes on and as it does, you find yourself less able to do certain things, such as read fine print on labels unassisted. And as much as I hate admitting to getting older, I had no choice here. I was actually trying to find out if this new floss was the same length as the normal skeins (it is), and accidentally discovered the reason for this fabulous sheen: it is satin. Beautiful, slippery satin. And because embroidery floss is made up of six strands that are intended to separate, I bet you can guess what the ends of these floss skeins look like.

DMC satin floss

But I’m going to continue with my plan. I can’t not try. The colors are gorgeous, and if this works, the weaving will be stunning even if it’s a simple pattern. And if it works, I will buy more of that floss, because it’ll be worth the trouble. If it doesn’t, well, at least I gave it a shot. So this has the potential to be a beautiful disaster.

I had drawn up a tablet weaving pattern that incorporates all twenty of the colors I bought, which would have been a 44 tablet weave, my most ambitious attempt yet, but in setting up the warp, I learned a few things that required me to drop the pattern size back down to 23 cards and omit some of the colors. The main thing I learned is that my warping board can only carry so much on the pegs. Size ten crochet thread is a good bit thinner than this 0h-so-shiny floss, and if I was using that, I could have fit every color on the board. I also learned that the satin floss is quite a bit heavier than the more commonly used floss. As you unravel a skein, dropping each loop to unravel the next, you can both hear and feel the floss hit the floor. It’s got some heft to it. I haven’t yet checked, but it may even be thicker than the regular floss as well.

Loaded warping board

The video for warping the Wave makes it look very easy to do, and I hope that’s right. Part of me is terrified of dressing a new loom without help, especially with this slippery stuff, but I’m going to do it anyway. Even this post is a form of procrastination; the warp has been ready to be tied and transferred since last night. It took me the whole two days to get this far.

Look at these vibrant jewel tones, and the sheen!

Oh, and I made another rookie mistake. I ordered a set of bone and a set of horn 4-hole square tablets from Germany, without checking the size of the ones I already had from Ampstrike. The bone set arrived yesterday, and they are tiny. Gorgeous, but tiny. Much smaller than Ampstrike’s. At that point, then I went back and checked the sizes. Ampstrike’s are 5.5 cm square, the German ones are 4 cm square. I initially ordered them to use together with Ampstrike’s, but in the end it will all work out. I have enough of Ampstrike’s in different colors and woods that I can use them together and easily differentiate between them, and I will be able to use the bone and horn tablets together.

L: Ampstrike R: German

You may have noticed that I’ve changed my photo setup with this post. The reason for this is that when I add more than one photo to a post, the only one that ever goes in the way I want it to is the first one. The rest muck up the text, and I haven’t figured out how to fix it. I’m not quite that tech savvy. So until I figure it out, this will be the way my posts look going forward.

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Never Give Up, Never Surrender

New warp, new way

I’m trying another warp, and making some changes. We’ll see how this goes. First of all, this time I’m putting the warp on Moya, my inkle loom. I’m also using embroidery floss for the warp. Moya and I are used to using embroidery floss, but I’ve always used it for inkle bands. I’ve never used it in tablet weaving, primarily because I’ve always made a mess of the warp. However, now that I’ve seen how John Mullarkey puts a warp on an inkle loom, I have hope of actually managing it this time. So far, I’ve only got two cards on the loom, as you can see, but they’re on there successfully.

Also, the pattern is kind of a visual reconstruction. I saw a band on Pinterest. It was just the band, no pattern, but it was a variation of the first red-and-cream one I was doing. It was several diamonds across, as opposed to my single, and instead of cream, the background threads were rainbow, fading from darker near the selvedges, to lighter near the center. I thought it couldn’t be very difficult to modify and graph out on paper with some colored pencils.

Hooooooo, boy, was I ever wrong. The band that I saw was a good 40 cards wide. Because I’m using my own stash of embroidery floss for this band, I was necessarily limited by how much of each color I had available. Plus, there was math to do, never one of my favorite things. It wasn’t difficult math, just time consuming. Each skein of embroidery floss is two ends, each card carries four ends. Then, how many colors was I going to use? How many ends of each? Do I have enough to do it?

It took me five hours to finally work out the pattern to my satisfaction. Well, “satisfaction” is actually the wrong word. I didn’t wind up with my original plan, so I wouldn’t say I was satisfied. Instead, let’s say I can live with it. Hopefully, it’ll look good. It does on paper, but we’ll see.

I also asked one of the tablet weaving groups on Facebook about tablet storage, and someone mentioned tea boxes. I’d never even heard of

Tea box tablet storage!

such a thing. Wth is a tea box??! So I Googled it, and lo and behold, they’re compartmentalized wooden boxes with hinged lids, some see-through with glass or plastic inserts, some with plain wood. Well, naturally, I thought this was awesome, and immediately went to Amazon. So. Many. Choices. It was hard to decide which one I wanted, but I eventually settled on one with a plastic lid insert. My tablets all fit beautifully. It was one of the less expensive ones–there are tea boxes that run quite a bit of money! Who knew this was a thing?! One of the more expensive ones was a leather covered wooden box called Serenity, with the Chinese symbol for the word embossed on it. Given my love for the defunct Firefly series, it was incredibly hard to leave that one behind, but it was close to $60, and I just couldn’t do it. But I really, really wanted to!


Aneira is doing well. No new cuts, and we allowed her to have one of her best friends overnight this weekend. She’s earned back just about everything from her room, and she’ll be starting outpatient therapy soon. Hopefully we’ll be able to find the root of the problem and fix it! But so far I’m pleased and proud of how well she’s doing. Her friend who stayed over is having some of the same problems, and both girls say it started with a girl that lives on our old street. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know that before we moved…

New band

Okay, I took a break from this post to finish warping Moya, which means it took me another 24 hours! But it’s done, successfully, and I’ve started weaving the pattern I made. That, not so successful. The PIP loves the way the pattern looks, even though it’s wrong, and I’m going to continue with it because trying to take out the knots of embroidery floss is a royal PITA, and I am not interested in re-threading all those cards again. Maybe next time I’ll get it right. The learning curve is high!

thought I had the pattern right, would have sworn to it until I started weaving and saw what I

The pattern I recreated

was getting. It’s very possible I’m just too green yet to tackle writing patterns yet! Graphing what I want it to look like is easy: one box = one thread. Colored pencils to match the threads I’m using, easy-peasy. Setting up the threading pattern? Not so much. Lots to learn, here. Lots to learn.


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Warp 1, Me 0

Yes, the warp won, in spectacular fashion, and in part because of my own stupidity. I had actually fixed it enough to do a few more rows, but the tablets were listing to the right, big time. I could have worked with it…it wouldn’t have been pretty, but I could have. Except I couldn’t. The leaning drove me nuts. So instead of leaving well enough alone, I had to mess with it. That was the end. The two forward-moving cards were once again tangled up in each other. The rest of the warp just knotted up with itself. I swear it took on a life of its own, just to spite me! In the end, all I could do was cut off the whole thing and throw it away. 48 ends, each at least six feet long. Tossing it was painful.

I haven’t given up, though. Now that I know I can tablet weave, I want to do more with it. I’ve been on Pinterest, looking at patterns and saving the ones I want to try. There are hundreds of patterns there; I’m pretty sure what I’ve seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg in that respect. And there are inkle patterns mixed in, because, you know, when you search for one thing, the search engine never fails to give you things you haven’t searched for as well. In this case, it’s not as much of an annoyance, as I love inkle weaving too.

You’d think I’d learn to just stick with one thing, until I’m really good at it, but no. I can’t do it. It feels like stagnating, although I know that’s ridiculous. But there are just so many things that are interesting, so many that I would have loved to have discovered earlier in life, but didn’t. I loved weaving as a child, but there was no internet for tutorials and such, and no teachers nearby. I only got back to it because I suddenly had an epiphany one day: “Hey, dummy, you live in a house full of technology. You use it all day every day. Ya ever think of using it to find, say, weaving?! Idiot.”

“Oh…yeah…” I responded to myself. “Duh.”

And it led to so many other things. It’s like Lay’s potato chips; you can’t just do one! Besides, having a number of interests ensures that I don’t get tired of any lol. I start to get bored, I put the project away and do another for awhile. Then I come back to it and work it some more. Hey, I never said it was a great system!

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Let the Studying Begin!

New arrivals!!

Squeeeeeeee! Some of my tablet weaving books and tablets arrived today, and I hadn’t expected some of them quite this quickly! The two books with the colorful covers are from Claudia Wollny, the other two on the right are from Linda Hendrickson, the laser cut tablets are from Wulfenbahr, and the blue bird’s eye maple ones are from Ampstrike. I have some tablets of horn and bone coming from Germany that will hopefully be here soon.

Ampstrike’s tablets arriving today was a pleasant surprise. Apparently the international postal services between Estonia and the US have improved; it only took a week for them to arrive. The last time I ordered from him, it took close to three weeks!

The Wulfenbahr tablets are very pretty, aren’t they? They’re not going to be my go-to tablets though, at least not until I no longer need labels on my cards to know what I’m doing. I’ve been adding labels to them, but there isn’t a whole lot of writing real estate available on laser cut tablets, so I gave up after a bit.

Why so many tablets? My thought process is that you can’t have too many. In weaving, I find that overkill is better than under. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to weave a piece and realizing you don’t have enough materials to do so, be it heddles or tablets. Also, having different types of a similar size will also work out well when (yes, I said when) I make an attempt at a really complicated weave. I’ve seen some weavings that require several packs of tablets, all of which are turning in different directions each row. I figure the ability to differentiate between packs is a Good Idea, particularly for a novice like me.

Aneira did her intake for outpatient therapy today. Unfortunately, it’s hard–if not impossible–to get appointments outside of school hours. I’m not happy about therapy cutting into school time, especially when her writing and math grades are so poor, but at the same time, getting her mentally healthy is just as important. I’d rather cut school short once a week to help her than risk any more cutting, or any possible attempts at suicide. Losing my daughter isn’t an option. She can repeat seventh grade. There’s no coming back from death.

She seems to be doing well. She takes her meds faithfully, and has not added any new cuts to herself that I can see. She earns back her things with each successful chore she does, though nothing with any kind of a sharp edge. She laughs and plays with me, though her temper is still very short with her sister, but that could be the simple fact that they’re sisters and young enough that being obnoxious to each other is perfectly normal, if not appreciated by their parents. It gives me hope that all will turn out well with her.

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Mistakes Were Made

A snarled up mess

Oh, boy, were they ever. And correcting them is going to cost me somewhere.

This is not a continuous warp. This is not an inkle loom. This is a warp that needs to be wound onto a warp beam, just like my rigid heddle, table, and floor looms. This is an activity I haven’t performed in awhile, and I forgot several key things, some old, some new-to-me.

One: I prefer to warp back-to-front.

Two: I forgot separators to put between the layers of the warp as it was wound on.

Three: I forgot to isolate the warp on the two tablets that always turn forward, so I could put weights on them, which would make dealing with twist infinitely easier than what I did do, and what I did was wind on those two parts of the warp right along with the rest of it.

Everything went great, until it was time to loosen the warp and start winding the cloth beam. Then everything went very awry. The two always-forward-turning tablets had twist, all right, in each set of strings, and then each of those sets had twisted around each other, negating the ability to push the twist back. I couldn’t think of anything to do but pull off the whole back beam and try to fix it. Instead, the entire thing got more snarled up. I haven’t quite given up on it yet, primarily because I both hate warping and hate wasting thread. But now I know what not to do, which is a valuable lesson in itself.

I know learning new things is so much easier in a classroom type of setting, but there’s always some reason I can’t manage it! No, really! Sometimes one kid or the other has been sick, or money was an issue, or distance, or scheduling, or some combination of all those reasons! I’d really like to go on one of those fiber arts retreats that I sometimes see advertised, I think in Maine? But that one falls into the categories of money and distance. Thank all the gods above and below for YouTube!

Well, I suppose I should get back to trying to untangle this mess I have here. Happy crafting!

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Kivrim Running Dog pattern.

I’m making my first attempt at one of the tablet weaving patterns in John Mullarkey’s  kivrim booklet, and so far, so good! I’d bought two of his books and two DVDs on tablet weaving. I’ve watched all of one, and part of the second, and decided to give it a try.

The way he warps an inkle loom for tablet weaving gave me ideas for how to warp my tablet weaving loom, the one we added the apron rods to, and it was much easier than I expected it to be. It still took me a couple of hours between setting up the warp on the warping board and then actually warping the loom itself, but it was not as long or as difficult as even warping my rigid heddles is. On the other hand, we’re talking about a 48 end warp, about three yards long, and it took me a couple of hours, and it’s been two years since I’ve woven on any of my looms, so for all I know, dressing the loom took an inordinately long time!

I’ve been antsy to try a more complicated weave than the most basic one, and the Running Dog pattern seemed to be the easiest of the more complex patterns, so I set up for that. It’s a rush to see it coming together correctly from the beginning, especially given all the trouble I had getting started with the last band. I’m loving this. The next step is to try wider and wider bands.

More than ever, now, weaving is becoming an escape for me. Within a day of Aneira’s return home, she was cutting her arms again. This time she claimed she was using her fingernails to do so, and they’re already cut pretty gorram short. I think I mentioned that we emptied her room out. We’ve removed every sharp object we can think of, but really, if she’s truly determined, she’ll find a way to cut herself on things that you would never think could do the job. And by Thursday, we were making the trip back to the facility, despite a belief that she didn’t need to go. Since she’s been back, she has been using the threat of cutting or suicide as a hammer to keep us from disciplining her. If the PIP has asked her to do a chore six times, only to be ignored, eventually he’s going to yell. At that point, she claims she can’t cope and feels the urge to cut or kill herself. So, what, we can’t discipline you now? I don’t think so. I have to be Mom. I can be supportive, I can be understanding. What I can’t be is a patsy.

There were problems with our insurance this time, and they couldn’t take her directly. We had to go to a crisis facility across the parking lot first, for evaluation. And after speaking with her and speaking with me separately, the therapist called shenanigans on Aneira. First and foremost, she didn’t see any mental disorders in Aneira, other than self-esteem issues, which is pretty common for a twelve year old girl who’s beautiful and taller than everyone else, and whose frenemies are jealous.

She also said that Aneira is trying to use inpatient as an escape from the house, kind of like a vacation, and that was the problem with the previous facility. She said the place makes it fun for the adolescents there, creating the desire to go back. Aneira, she informed us, would not be going back to the same facility. She would be going to one in Denver, which is about two hours north of us.

I had already told Aneira that if by some chance she went back to the original facility, she would be lucky to see us once a week this time. Visiting her every night the last time disrupted the entire family, and she is not my only child. She was okay with that, as long as she could call home and see us once a week. But Denver being so far away meant she wouldn’t see us at all.

The therapist said that she didn’t even meet the criteria for a three-day hold, but Aneira was so insistent upon going to any facility that I finally gave up and let her stay at crisis overnight. By the next afternoon, the decision had been made that she was coming home, whether she liked it or not. She will do her intake for long-term therapy on Tuesday, start learning some better coping skills, and hopefully start getting her act together.

She thinks I don’t get it. I was a tall, pretty twelve year old girl once too. I was bullied pretty constantly throughout elementary school. Never once did it occur to me to kill myself over it. That particular inclination didn’t rear its ugly head until I was well into my late twenties, early thirties. I get it. I really do. Hormones are beginning to rage, she’s discovering boys, she’s learning how catty and bitchy other girls can be, and there have been a lot of changes in the last year, beginning with her grandfather’s death and picking up speed from there. I get it. It’s a lot to deal with.

What I don’t understand is how, why, and when things changed so much that children as young as eight have committed suicide. Has bullying gotten that much worse? Is it access to social media? The erosion of parental control? The end of the era of “it takes a village to raise a child”? Is it all of the above, with the addition of some things I may have missed? I don’t understand it at all.

The therapist told me that based upon what she was told by both Aneira and me, Aneira adores me, which was nice to hear, seeing as I adore both my kids right back, and that as parents, the PIP and I were doing everything right, and everything we could. In one way, that was comforting, and in another, a bit disturbing. If we’re doing everything right, then why are we here?

I guess all we can do is keep on keeping on, and bodyguard the kiddos as best we can, even from themselves, and do a lot of praying.

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Home Again

Tonight, my relief and joy know no bounds: Aneira is home! We weren’t expecting her to be discharged until tomorrow;  they told us we would have 24 hours notice prior to her discharge. She called us at noon and said “Where are you?”

My response was, “What do you mean, where am I? Your dad and I are running errands!”

“I’m being discharged today!”


“I’m being discharged today.”



So much for 24 hour’s notice! So I dragged the PIP out of the auto parts store and drove straight to the hospital. I wasn’t going to leave her there one more moment than absolutely necessary.

She seems different, and yet the same. I don’t know if it’s that she’s changed, or that my perception of her has, but she seems more confident, more assertive than she was before, and that’s good. And we have a mantra that I occasionally insist upon hearing her say: “I am beautiful, I am gorgeous, and my family loves me.”

I got great video of Bryony’s reaction to seeing her sister again, and later of Bryony’s best friend’s reaction. Heartwarming, tear-jerking moments. This poor kid–we’ll call her Nadia–had bawled when her mother told her where Aneira was, which had surprised both of us. We hadn’t thought she’d had enough interaction with Aneira to be upset to that degree. But Bryony and Nadia spend a lot of time together, as do both sets of parents, so apparently that was enough.

The peace and harmony didn’t last long, however. I thought it would take at least a day before the girls were fighting again. Boy, was I wrong: two hours was all it took to go from rib-cracking hugs to yelling at each other. Amazing. But they’re sisters, so I suppose I should have expected it.

We spent the evening cleaning out her room. All sharp objects are now off limits. And we won’t send her back to school until Wednesday, giving her a day to normalize. Of course, there are also prescriptions to fill, and appointments to make. And she and I had a moment, just hugging each other, where I begged her not to do this again and told her that it would break me if something happened to her. She pinky-promised, and we just stood there, hugging.

I think…I pray…I hope she will be all right. We’ll do everything the doctor recommends, and she seems to have a brand new appreciation for home. It’s not going to be a short journey, but she won’t be alone on it. We’ll be right there with her.


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