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Posts Tagged ‘Kumihimo’

The takadai, with the ayatakedai extension removed.

So, one of the dozens of fiber arts that I like is kumihimo, and like everything else fiber, it’s a gateway drug. You see, there is more than one form of Japanese braiding. I already have two marudai, and quite a few foam kumihimo disks. But I’ve been fascinated with the takadai and the ayatakedai. Only, where to get one, right? Well, Braidershand makes what I was looking for. The link will take you to the one I bought. There’s an 18 month waiting list to get one, but I’ve got to say, Janis at Braidershand is a doll, and all the equipment I’ve purchased from them is first rate and worth every penny.

The downside to the takadai and the ayatakedai is that neither is as popular here as kumihimo. A good marudai or a braiding disk is far less expensive than these big pieces. Not a complaint, just an observation. You get what you pay for. I won’t be buying any more equipment for quite awhile–I’ve tapped out that budget–but I’m quite happy with what I have! But the point was that, because they’re not as popular, it’s harder to learn because unless you live in the right area, or can afford to travel, neither of which applies to me currently, you kind of have to learn on your own. There aren’t a lot of books available either, and virtually no YouTube tutorials. Demos, but no tutorials that I’ve found.

The loaded tama, and one with the new, longer leader string

For the takadai, I can recommend Rodrick Owen’s book Making Kumihimo: Japanese Interlaced Braids. It will walk you through setting up your takadai and several different braids. He has a couple of other books too, and some deal with the core stand, which is another piece of equipment from Braidershand. Now that  the studio is finally coming together, I can play a little bit, so I have been!

The takadai is the size of a small floor loom. It’s for oblique braids, and it uses tama, which are the weighted bobbins the thread is wound around, and 9-pin koma, which are the sliders on the arms of the takadai. Those are used to keep your warp strands in order. As each koma is emptied of its warp strands, it’s brought down to the bottom of the arm, and the others slide forward into its previous space. The torii is a structure at the very top of the takadai, and the braid is pulled up over that as you go, like a cloth beam. The sword–and there is a Japanese word for it that escapes me right now–is used to hold the shed you create with your hand, and to beat after you’ve cast the tama through it.

9-pin koma

The learning curve wasn’t very hard for the basics, especially if you weave already, although the first time I tried braiding on it, the braid was horrible, bowing rather than flat, not symmetrical, didn’t come to a point the way it should…horrible. My mistake there was in not realizing the author’s takadai only carried four koma, where mine carries six, so I had removed two koma from each arm to match his, thinking I needed to do this. What that did was put everything at the wrong angle. I also discovered that the leader strings on the tama needed to be a lot longer than the four inches I usually have on the marudai. So, the next morning, I unraveled all that I had done the night before (not fun), and started over from scratch. The piece I was doing calls for 25 tama, which meant I had to re-do 25 leader strings. They are now a foot long each and I’ve been told I might want to increase that length even more, to two or three feet!! Understandable…if you’re working with silk, which is expensive, you don’t want any waste if you can avoid it!!! Currently, I’m working with Chinese knotting cord, which is pretty inexpensive, and I’ve got a bunch of it, but I’d still rather not waste any cord if I can use it instead!

The much improved second braid

After making all the repairs to the previous night’s mistakes, I started the braid over again and it came out much better the second time around. It’s not perfect by any means. I still need to work out a balance on beating as my sides are not symmetrical where they should be, but at least it’s no longer bowing in the center. The tension is good, so the braid is flat, as it should be. And I had a lot of fun making it. Putting a warp on the takadai is much easier than warping a weaving loom!!! The only exception to that might be the Gilmore Big Wave…maybe.

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A soon to be done chain maille bracelet in rainbow niobium.

Nope, I’m not a Game of Thrones fan. Before anyone who is flips out, I did read the books, years before the series, and didn’t like any of the characters. I’ve gotta be able to connect with a character, and pretty much none of them were really likable people. I re-read them again after the series began, and tried the series itself, and just couldn’t do it. The only characters I liked were the direwolves. Sorry, no converts here.

But the post is more about the fact that winter is coming, which means the holiday season, which starts with Halloween in this house. And which honestly didn’t occur to me until just this second. After I’ve started on the Yule-themed tatted bookmark. Well, it won’t be the first time I’ve had more than one project going at once! Time to find my Halloween thread!

I started Yule shopping for the kids a few months ago, so I’m just about done with that, except for two items. Which I’m not going to mention, as Aneira is now more internet connected and may read this! I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m done a couple of months early, actually, and now I’m thinking in terms of handmade things I can add to the mix. Fall, winter, and holiday themed things maybe. Some amigurumi toys. Bracelets and necklaces. Bags, although I did that once already. Fortunately, they’re girls, and we can never have too many bags, bracelets, necklaces, or stuffed animals. And don’t think I don’t have my own stuffed animals, because you’d be dead wrong!! There’s a whole box up in my bedroom waiting to be unpacked as soon as I make enough room for them! And I’ve no shame in admitting it; I even sleep with a Stitch pillow, and no one better touch him!

L – R: beaded kumihimo, Byzantine in niobium, Byz in titanium, box weave in aluminum, JPL3 in aluminum, and three more JPL3 in niobium.

I’ve worked on a few things since we’ve been in the new house, all portable crafts, since I can’t justify tying myself to the looms just yet, until the house is fully unpacked, as much as I’d prefer not to wait that long. But I have to be a responsible adult for some things, so there you go.

I finally learned some beaded kumihimo, which is somehow both challenging and yet easier than I expected it to be. I learned a couple of new chain maille weaves, and expanded the tatting shuttle collection a bit. One day, I’ll have to photograph that as a group. And the plier collection has grown as well.

I honestly thought I was crazy with that one. I think I have about ten sets of pliers currently, and I thought I was going overboard with that many, but I’ve since discovered that many maillers have a lot more than ten!!

Dreamlit tatting shuttle

As much as I usually say something pro/con about my many tools, it occurs to me that I’ve never said a word about my pliers! Never even thought about it! I think it’s because the other tools I’ve talked about here have been tools specifically made for fiber arts, where pliers are a common household tool almost from birth. Yes, the ones I have serve a specific purpose, but still fall into the category of pliers, and I’ve never thought much about them. So that’s an idea for a future post.

There’ll be one about the Dreamlit tatting shuttle too…those are new, and I’m just trying them out for the first time.

Ooooo, and I learned to make tandoori chicken!!! What a hit that was with the kids! Not the hubby, so much, but the kids loved it. Aneira and I had gone to lunch at a little Indian restaurant while waiting for her eye exam, and it was the first time we’d had tandoori chicken. SOOOOOO good! And Aneira asked me a month later to try making it, so I did. I didn’t expect it to come out all that great, not the first time, but it tasted just like the restaurant! Needless to say, that’s been added to the repertoire!

Well, the dogs have just put in a howling appearance, so I’d better go see what’s going on with them. Happy crafting!

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First mochila well underway!

First mochila well underway!

Now that I’ve brought the impending holidays to my own attention, suddenly the impetus to do and to make things is much greater. I didn’t honestly realize myself that the holidays were just around the corner. Ninety days is not a lot of time if you plan on making most of the gifts yourself.

With that in mind, I went looking for tapestry crochet and mochila tutorials last night after posting. The picture is the result of that search.

If you already crochet, this is not really all that difficult, especially if you also have any skill in Fair Isle knitting, which I do not. This is all single crochet in the round, which I’ve done before, but what’s new for me is doing it in more than one color at the same time. Once you start working another color, you do not cut off the first color. You carry it inside your stitches and switch back and forth according to the needs of the pattern, without cutting any of the yarns you’re working with. Whichever yarn isn’t in use is along for the ride in the stitches, waiting to be needed again, and thus, no knots. This is actually really cool, but at first I thought, “That amounts to a lot of wasted yarn”, because it’s carried for the duration of the project. If you weren’t using it, it would be a lot of wasted yarn, but once I got into the pattern, I realized how much color switching I’m doing as I go, and if I cut the yarn and tied it off at every color change, it would probably cost me more in waste than just carrying it in the first place.

Charting the pattern wasn’t that hard either. After I figured out the number of stitches per row, I figured out how many pattern repeats I could fit into that window, then charted it based upon one repeat within that criteria. For example, each row has 126 stitches. If you divide that by 7, you get a whole number: 18. So my pattern had to fit within 18 squares horizontally across the graph paper, and there would be 7 equally spaced repeats around the mochila. I made my own version of graph paper with a piece of looseleaf paper–my printer still does not recognize its own ink cartridges–and plotted out a simple arrow design, and started the bag.

There are mistakes. Oh, are there ever! I must have been really tired last night, because I forgot about stitch markers and just relied on my own memory–never a good idea! So somehow I completely overshot my projected 126 stitches. I first noticed it a few rounds into the body of the bag, and when I counted them up–again, still without stitch markers–I came up with something like 140 stitches.

Clearly, I was foggy brained, because rather than ripping it all out, I went with decreasing instead, counting backwards in my head. Still didn’t remember to get the stitch markers.

Naturally, once the arrow pattern began, I wondered why there were a lot more stitches between the last arrow and the first one, when all of the others were evenly spaced. I shrugged it off and kept going. It wasn’t until I picked up the work half an hour ago that I remembered to get the stitch markers and count off every twenty stitches to place one. Guess what? 131 stitches. And guess what else? I am not ripping it all out. Nor am I going to decrease. I am going to brazen it out. Aneira is never going to notice anyway, and I’ll do better on the next one.

The current plan is to make a mochila for each girl, plus some micro-macrame jewelry, some kumihimo jewelry, tat some bookmarks in each of their favorite colors, and at least try to get their Night Fury stuffed dragons finished. I have my doubts about getting those done in time. I haven’t even begun on Aneira’s.

The mochilas being the largest projects, those are getting done first. Because the kids are so small yet, I can knock out all the jewelry pieces within a week, and I’ve gotten good enough with the two Mary Konior tatted braid patterns that I have that the same goes for those. A couple of gift boxes to wrap each of the smaller gifts, pile them all into each bag, and my contribution to the gift-giving process is covered. That’s the plan, and I get to practice my skills in a number of fiber arts while I’m at it. If I have any time left, maybe I’ll add some scarves to the lot, or some fingerless mitts. Ninety days? Pffft…I’m a mom, I can do anything…I hope!! And the only things I’ll have to buy are jewelry findings, which are fairly inexpensive. This will be a mom-win. Thank the gods I have a huge stash of everything I need to do this!!

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Perle cotton flat braid

Perle cotton flat braid

It’s been very quiet around here since we euthanized Mac. Aneira finally knows what happened, primarily because the humane society called me the next afternoon to tell me they hadn’t euthanized him yet. They needed me to come down and fill out forms about rabies testing, and Aneira walked in during that conversation. So he was actually euthanized on the 14th, not the 13th, as we’d been told.

10 strand satin cord bracelet

10 strand satin cord bracelet

So, to spend time with Aneira that didn’t involve talking about Mac and making her cry, we pulled out the kumihimo supplies again, because it’s something she knows how to do and using the disks are pretty easy for a kid. It didn’t last long, as her attention span for things like this is very short, but I’ve kept going.

The first braid I did was an 8 strand flat braid, for which I used DMC perle cotton skeins and did on the marudai. I used the cotton the way silk is generally used, so each of the eight ropes contain 20 threads each. What I didn’t account for is the fact that perle cotton is considerably thicker than silk, so take-up was increased, which reduced the length of the braid significantly. Like, really significantly. As in, what started out to be a belt-length piece is now only a belt for an infant. It’s about 18″ long, and 1/4″ thick. So I now know to reduce the number of strands per rope by quite a bit. More than half, I’d say.

Four strand satin cord square braid

Four strand satin cord square braid

As I finished that braid, my order of satin cord, or rattail, came in. I’d found this store online, BB Crafts, that sells 100 yard spools of satin cord for $1.85 per spool. That’s a whole lot cheaper than I’ve found it anywhere else, so I bought eight spools in different colors, and did the next braid in satin cord.

For that one, I wanted a bracelet, and since the only thread I currently have for whipping the ends together is black, I went with black cord, and a ten strand flat braid pattern. That one has a couple of mistakes too. For one thing, it’s a bit larger than I had planned, and I haven’t even bought findings for it yet. For another, on one side the whipping is visible beneath the ribbon clamp. Oops. Better luck next time.

Four strand braid. You can see how thin it is.

Four strand braid. You can see how thin it is.

The third braid is a very simple one, and still on the marudai. Two strands of gold, two strands of ivory. I’m not sure I really like it much, as it’s very thin for a square braid, but I’ll keep going till it’s done and see how I feel about it then. It’s the first time I’m using the marudai for satin cord; I usually use the cord with the disks. It’s interesting to see how the marudai works with cord as opposed to thread, and how the cord itself works with the marudai as opposed to a kumihimo disk. Currently, the braid is much tighter on the marudai than it was on the disk. The tamas weigh more than the plastic bobbins I use with the disk, so the counterweight bag had to have more weight added to it than what I use for the disk. I actually prefer for this particular braid to be looser, so some experimentation with the counterweights will need to be done for the next time.

And while I haven’t been tatting over the last few days, I have been watching Karen Cabrera’s series of tatting tutorials on YouTube. I have a lot to learn!!! She has well over 130 video lessons on her channel, and I think I’ve only made it as far as 29 so far! I can’t wait to really get into the lessons further on!

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Kumihimo choker

Kumihimo choker

That’s what I was in the mood for tonight, something I could start and finish in a matter of thirty minutes. I haven’t touched my kumihimo supplies in a good, long while, but I had a pattern I wanted to try out. I know where my marudai is, and the thread, and the weighted tamas, but this pattern called for rattail, and I knew I had two spools, but I didn’t have the faintest idea where they were! This sent me on a manhunt through my little studio, and as I’m hunting for the rattail, other things I haven’t seen in awhile pop into my head. The fishing swivels I bought for tablet weaving, where are they? I wouldn’t have thrown them out… Where are those extra little scissors I bought months ago; those would be perfect for the little box of tatting shuttles that go in my purse… And yes, that little green storage box I bought worked out perfectly for dragging my tatting around with me!

When your area is cluttered, it’s all the tiny things that vanish into the ether! Eventually I found the rattail, the scissors, the fishing swivels…and honestly, they were actually in places it was logical for them to be. Once upon a time, I really was organized. But over time, as my supplies and tools increased, but the space didn’t, my organization dropped off. As a matter of fact, I really haven’t spent much time in my studio in the last year. Go in, grab whatever I’m using, go work somewhere else. I’m going to have to choose one of several things to get the place in order again:

A. Stop finding new fiber arts interests. Yeah, because that’s likely to happen.

B. Downsize. See the comment accompanying A.

C. Get in there and clean, and add some more organizational tools. Pinterest is lovely for that.

I’m thinking C is really my only choice, because the first two don’t bear thinking about.

Anyway, I found the rattail, buried deep in one of the tubs of yarn. Woohoo!! I also re-discovered a ton of yarn I didn’t remember I had, and found space in the tubs for the yarn that had been in languishing in the bags I had originally brought it home in. Then, having made at least a small stride in the direction of cleaning up the room, I pulled out my square foam kumihimo plate and started cutting strands of rattail.

For larger kumihimo projects, I like to use the marudai and the tamas, but I knew this project wasn’t going to take long. Also, the marudai isn’t really portable when there’s a project on it. It’s too easy to mess up the order of the braid strands, because they aren’t anchored the way they are with the foam plate. Without a project on it, it’s perfectly portable!

Another thing I’d like to do is get my PIP to make me another couple of marudai. The one I currently have is really only for round braids. I can make flat ones on it, as long as they are narrow. I’d like to try wider ones, so I’d need a marudai with a square top and a rectangular opening. And my current marudai is short, so longer projects wind up needing to be folded up as they progress. I’d like a taller one. The designs for marudai are fairly simple; I’m pretty sure the PIP can handle the requests pretty easily.

An hour and change later, maybe two, I had the choker pictured above. It’s not done yet, as I need jewelry findings for the ends, but the main work is done, and I like it. And I’m thinking that I need to buy some more rattail. Right now, I only have two colors: silver and purple. I think I need a few more, maybe some red, golden yellow, and white. Oh, yeah, and a selection of jewelry findings.

See? There I go again, adding more stuff to a room that’s already overstuffed!!

 

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A very early loom-beaded piece made for my mother

A very early loom-beaded piece made for my mother

I’m curious how many others are out there who are as involved in various crafts as I am. I do tons of things, although not all of them well. To recap, my interests are loom beading, weaving, spinning on wheels and spindles, knitting, crochet, naalbinding, chain maille, stained glass, and Kumihimo. I guess I should include finger weaving as well, since I started trying that out yesterday (I was incredibly frustrated, too, I might add, but I still enjoyed it). So holler out in the comments if you play in the same arenas, or maybe others I haven’t tried yet! I love feedback; it makes me feel special. 🙂 What do you do? How long have you been doing it? Why did you start? Did you start playing with one craft only to have it lead to another?

For me, weaving was a childhood dream, but one I didn’t get to until a couple of years ago. Beadwork was my second love, and was largely self-taught. Beads were inexpensive, and so were looms for beginners, so that collection built up fast. There are beads everywhere in my little bedroom studio, mostly seed beads. My preference is 11 aught Delicas, and over the years I’ve learned not only loom beading, but freehand and other techniques. I’ve also upgraded from the cheap beginner’s looms to much nicer ones!

Weaving I came to a few years ago when we moved to Colorado, and it’s made me very happy to finally be able to do this! Of course, I have more yarn than I could possibly use, with more always on the way! I’ve learned that I have no willpower when it comes to yarn or tools!

Weaving is my “gateway drug”. It led me to Ravelry, which led me to all of the other fiber arts, and even stained glass. Yes, I know, there’s no connection. Well, it was suggested I take a weaving class. The local community college was offering one, so I signed up for that and jewelry making, since I needed two classes. Then they dropped the weaving class, and I still needed another class, so I took stained glass, not expecting to really like it. I expected to love jewelry making, and I hated it. The blow torch is not my friend. But stained glass? Wow. Just wow. Once I got past the terror of breaking glass – on purpose!!! – I absolutely loved it. Who knew?!

Sanity is at a premium around here. Truly. The children have reached the ages where they can’t get along for five minutes without someone whining or shrieking at the top of their lungs. Mix with bipolar parents, and the results are predictable if you don’t have a way to stay sane. The ability to lock myself in a room, turn up the music, and tune out the stresses of the day is a gift.

Take today, for instance: first thing this morning, as usual, I let the dogs out. No one has yet had coffee, I’m running a bit late, Aneira is still in bed despite needing to be in the truck in fifteen minutes, and Bandit falls down the outside stairs and lacerates her right eye. Being late is now a fact, as we now need to take care of the dog. Assess her situation, get her settled in the crate, it’s now eight am, Aneira is late, jump into the truck and get her to school. Come back home and realize that I really need to take Bandit to the vet. I don’t want that eye to be infected, and although the wound isn’t bad, it needs to be protected. By nine am, she is unhappily tucked into the cone of shame, and Bryony is up. Get coffee and breakfast going, then hobble out the door once again for a post-surgery doctor’s appointment. Naturally, there is nowhere to park, and for someone with handicapped plates, that’s saying something. Finally find a space, and get up to the office just in time, only to learn that the health insurance that just sent me an approval letter two weeks ago has suddenly decided I’m ineligible. So, while waiting to be seen by the doctor, I begin what will ultimately be a series of calls to correct the problem (note, as of right now, the problem has still not been corrected). As I sit on hold, the nurse takes my blood pressure: lo and behold, and what a shock (not) – it’s 158/102. Is anyone surprised? Nope, I’m not.

After the appointment, I returned home and decided that I was done for the day. It’s Monday, after all, notorious the world over for being the crappiest day of the week. I of course returned to the fighting of the two girls. Aneira, smug in her older sister role during fight number 3 in the last half hour, has informed five-year-old Bryony that her things are gross, which is the end of the world for Bry, whose glass-breaking shriek can probably be heard by her cousins in New York and vibrates down my spine to my tailbone, and back up to my ears. Wanna guess where I am right now?

You got it. Hiding in my little studio blogging and playing with string with the music blasting. Have a good night, folks.

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European 4-1 chain maille

I have just reached the conclusion that I have way too many crafting interests. It’s the only logical conclusion. And, as much as it galls me to admit it, hubby may be right in saying my studio is too small. Yes, I said it galls me, because he is always right, and it irks me to no end.

By special request from Aneira, I have bought the 28″ knitting board from Knittingboard.com at JoAnn’s, along with some skeins of really screaming loud, neon purple acrylic, which I am to use to make her a throw blanket. I have begun this. On the longest Knifty Knitter loom, there is yet another throw in the works, in two shades of purple (nowhere near as loud), for Bryony. On Talyn, there is a sampler. On the sock loom, there is my ongoing attempt at making a sock. On Anansi, there is a half-full bobbin of Siberian yarn. On Kaylee, we have another attempt at sprang. On Aeryn, there is an unfinished scarf.

Now, there is something new I’m trying out, only it’s not fiber-related this time. I’m talking about chain maille. Yup, yet another new craft. What can I say? This is another of those things I always wanted to try but didn’t know how to start. Lo and behold, one of my jewelry crafting classmates does chain maille. Yesterday, he wore a chain maille shirt to class that he had made. He took it off and let me really examine it. Fabulous! And heavy. It weighs roughly fifty pounds. And knights wore this under plate. My only thought was sympathy for the horse that had to carry the weight, on top of its own armor!!! And this is only one piece of a full suit of armor!

Anyway, my classmate is happy to teach chain maille, and started out by teaching me the European 4-1 weave, which means it’s a European weave where four rings are all attached to one ring. I had fun playing with that until class got underway. His rings are steel, and I had a really hard time closing them properly, but a great time playing with them all around. So I came home and pulled out the jump rings I’d had sitting here for months and made a much longer piece. Then I went to the websites he had given me and found other weaves with details on construction. Some of this work is really intricate!!

I went through almost all of my jump rings last night, doing the European 4-1 and then the shaggy loops weave. I had a ball, and have, of course, ordered more

Shaggy loops weave

rings!!! It’s great, because all you really need are two pairs of pliers and a supply of jump rings, and voila! You’re making chain maille! I already had the pliers, since I have a set of jewelry making tools, so I was able to immediately get started.

Looking at the websites was an education in and of itself. So many people have posted pictures of various weaves that are much more advanced than anything I can presently do. I didn’t realize how many different things you could do!

I turned my pieces into a necklace, for which I lack a clasp at the moment, as well as a picture, and by request of Aneira, it was done in both her favorite color and mine. I will have to buy more rings in those colors to make a necklace for her now. Thankfully, they aren’t that expensive!

So now my studio houses all the tools and supplies for weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet, naalbinding, loom knitting, Kumihimo, beadwork, and chain maille. The tiny workshop planned for the basement will hold all the supplies for hubby’s woodworking and stained glass. Clearly, I am never going to actually be bored again. And now I have more books I need to order, for chain maille now!!!

If you’d like to see some far better examples of chain maille than I can presently show you, check out the links section at cgmaille.com. They have a good list of resources like message boards and suppliers of rings, or you can make your own jump rings if you’re so inclined.

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This is as simple as I could make it!

Well, the first project for my stained glass class is finally all cut, pieced, and ready to solder. I can’t say I’m particularly happy with it, and I’m going to try a bit harder on my next one. I know I’m being ridiculous about it. How can it be a perfect stained glass panel when I’ve never done it before? But there it is: I’m not happy because it’s not perfect. So I need to work harder. The next project is copper foil, whatever that means, and I also need to come up with a 3D design for a final project, like a stained glass box or lampshade. We’ll see how that goes. No matter what, I plan for the next project to look a lot better!

I’m not always such a perfectionist. Really, I’m not, only with things that I actually enjoy doing. I kept this panel as simple as I could because it was my first time. I first have to see if I can do something before I’ll put my heart into the second attempt. I had an idea that I could weave because I’d had some experience of it with my childhood potholder loom. It’s not on the same level as a multi-shaft loom, but the idea, at its very basic form, is the same. You’re going over-under-over-under parallel threads to make fabric. No matter what loom you use, that’s what you’re doing. And I bought lots of books, asked lots of questions on Ravelry and Weavolution, joined both the local and national guilds, and took a lesson so I could at least dress the loom. With spinning, I watched tons of videos, bought more books, subscribed to a magazine, and took Anansi to a guild meeting to ask questions. With knitting and crocheting, I learned the basics as a child. Learning more intricate techniques has me buying more books and asking more questions. Beadwork  and Kumihimo I did the same way: I taught myself from a book, then added to my knowledge with more books and lots of questions to more experienced beaders and braiders. There’s a pattern here, I think!

But I’ve never taken a class in any of those things. This is a first for me, all the way across the board. My electives at college were always writing or language classes. I never really took any art classes of any kind. As much as I like color and different forms of art, it didn’t have any place in my life plan. I was going to be either a veterinary technician or a veterinarian when I grew up, and that was my only focus when I went back to school before the children.

I’m in the process of reassessing everything. The diagnosis of FAI (femoral acetabular impingement) in my left hip made it necessary. The long and the short of it it, the ball of my femur is too big to fit in the hip joint properly, resulting in the loss of range of motion and lots of pain. Apparently, this is common in women in their late thirties to early forties. I’m just lucky that way, I guess. Not. Anyway, yes, the problem can be corrected with surgery, but since so many doctors blew me off when I talked about my hip, it went undiagnosed for years, so now there’s “significant” arthritis in the hip. What fun.

So the upshot is, I gave in and got my parking tag for my car, and long discussion with the hubby brought us to the conclusion that maybe the veterinary field isn’t the way to go. The idea of tackling that 150 pound Rottweiler is probably a bad one. The problem is, I love it. I loved working in a vet clinic with the animals. I loved every bit of it. I loved being involved in the care of the animals. I wanted this field since I first read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot when I was about seven. I wanted it even more when I watched my dog have puppies three days before her scheduled spay back in 1999! Trust me, if you have never seen it, it is the most awesome thing you will ever see, barring a human birth. Yes, parts of it are fairly gross to those with sensitive stomachs, but it’s an amazing process!

As an aside, I am compelled to also say that I am not, in the least, advocating breeding your dog unless you are planning to breed responsibly. In other words, spay and neuter your pets. There are enough unwanted pets put to sleep in this country every day. I have nothing against breeders who are responsible. I wish there were more like them. If you’re going to breed…well, let’s not go there. My dogs have all been altered. I made sure of it. Anyone who thinks they’re going to make a ton of money by breeding needs to have a conversation or two with some established breeders. I have friends who are responsible breeders, and there isn’t a rich one among them. Rant over; we will now return to our regularly scheduled program.

So, like I said, I’m reassessing my life plan, now that there’s a better-than-good possibility that my previous one is off the table. I’m looking at the things I like to do. I don’t need to get rich. I have a disability income, which covers the bills, but only stretches so far. Hubby is talking about putting in a small workshop in the basement where he can make fiber arts tools and do the woodwork he likes to do. He wants me to be able to do stained glass at home. About the only stained glass tool I haven’t yet bought is a grinder, and he’s already said that he will buy one if I want to continue with it. It has possibilities. I’ve asked for opinions on Ravelry about careers in fiber arts. As a way to make a living, it doesn’t seem like the way I want to go. I don’t want to wind up hating it. I don’t want to be a production, commercial weaver. More than likely, I will simply supplement the income by putting things into an Etsy storefront, when I’m good enough. I’m told I have a knack for the fiber arts, so I will get good enough! So nothing is yet set in concrete.

I like the stained glass class. I may continue to take it. I’m very close to an Associate of Arts degree. I may just continue on to a Bachelor of Arts. I might continue until I’m good enough to teach weaving or spinning or whatever else. Who knows? Certainly not me. Omniscience disappeared the second maturity hit. I now know enough to know I don’t know. Ya know?

I kept this first project as simple as possible, so to me, it looks like my seven-year-old did it. I’d like to do something truly beautiful the next time around. Hubby saw the picture and insists that we’re going to hang it anyway. One of my classmates, who’s in the advanced class, told me that she hated her first project so much she threw it out. I have to say, looking at my own, I’m inclined to agree with her solution, but I’ve already been outvoted there, so it’ll be hung. Hopefully somewhere that I won’t see it constantly!

I’m thinking that I’m going to measure one of my smaller windows for the next project. Ambitious, me? Naaaaaah. On the other hand, looking around, I don’t have much in the way of smaller windows, and I’m limited to a time frame in which to get it done. Have to do some thinking here!

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After nineteen attempts, this is the only one that was semi-successful!

I know I haven’t done much in the way of posting lately. Life has a way of becoming very busy very quickly!

Since the weaving class was cancelled, I enrolled in a stained glass course to replace it, as well as the jewelry making course. I am compelled to admit that I am enjoying the few hours a week that I am away from screaming children and barking dogs. The classes themselves, well…

I love the stained glass course. It isn’t something that I’m likely to continue on my own, but I do like it. There is too much carpet in my house to consider glasswork here, not to mention a toddler who is into absolutely everything, fearless, and adventurous. Glass and toddler = trip to emergency room. Not a good combination. So that’s a school thing, period.

The teacher is a very concise person. She gives you the information you need and no more than that. She’s encouraging and she’s helpful. She had us cutting glass on the very first day. It’s fun, once you get past the terror of breaking glass on purpose!

The jewelry class I’m reserving judgment on.  The information the teacher gives us there is unquestionably necessary, but she’s rather dry. She also has a very quiet voice, and when the more advanced students start using tools and machinery, it’s very hard to hear the lectures. And there is actually a lot more lecture than doing, it seems, but now we’re working on our first projects.While I’m looking forward to the end result, I can’t say the course is very much fun to me, and I expected to enjoy the jewelry class more than the stained glass. Oddly enough, things are exactly the opposite.

I’m still really upset about the weaving class being cancelled. The class description had said it was going to focus on building a loom, and I was really looking forward to that, especially as hubby and I are talking about the idea of his building inkle, triangle, and peg looms. He loves woodwork, and he’s very good at it.

Our roommate has gone back to New York. Let’s just say that a twenty-year-old friendship has died, and her leave-taking was not voluntary. None of us adjusted well to the new way of life, and the stress level has gone down considerably since we are down to just our family in the house again. I am glossing over the entire ordeal, as I don’t really want to get into much detail or be very negative. Suffice it to say, the situation was very ugly in the end.

On the fiber side, I haven’t done much there either since school started, but I did manage to make a very pretty, flat Kumihimo braid, and an attempt at Scandinavian sprang. I can’t say that it came out perfectly, and it took me nineteen tries to come up with an imperfect result. One imperfect result. But it was fun to try. I don’t know if it’s a technique I’ll continue with, but it was interesting. I’ve also tried

16 strand flat Kumihimo braid

naalbinding and been fairly unsuccessful there!

I still haven’t named my marudai or my second Cricket loom. As a matter of fact, I haven’t named my card weaving surfboard either. Very remiss of me. On the other hand, no names have really jumped out at me to use yet. Maybe Jiminy for the Cricket? Lol.

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I’ve enrolled in both a weaving and jewelry/metalworking class this semester! I’m really looking forward to both of them, but I’m still waiting for the school to correct my residency status. Non-resident tuition is ridiculously expensive, to say the least. The weaving class is for techniques of the Southwest, and the class description says one of the things we’ll be focusing on is building a loom. That should be interesting! At a guess, I’m thinking if we build looms, they aren’t going to be huge, since I’m assuming that we will keep what we make, at least I would hope so!

I also put my marudai to work for the first time and made my first 16-strand flat braid, which will be the shoulder strap for the gussetted inkle pouch I made a few months back.i made two mistakes with that bag. One, I should have kept a notebook listing the floss colors I used and how many of each. Two, I should have bought a lot more floss! So I had to take the bag with me to the store and try to match the colors as best I could. I think I did okay with that, but I couldn’t find many of the colors, so I used the border colors and two from the main pattern area. Once I figure out my new camera (and find the stupid charger), I’ll post pictures of the braid.

I’ve discovered that there are pros and cons for both the braiding  disk and the marudai.  The  braiding disk is a lot more portable, and can be bumped without messing up your bobbins, which can’t be done with the marudai!  On the other hand, working with the marudai is much faster!

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