Daily Treasures…


I received a letter from my son at boot camp yesterday.  A real letter.  With a stamp and everything.  I read the letter six times, I held the letter, I cried over the letter.  This simple piece of paper meant more to me than anything you can imagine.  My son, who is a bit dyslexic, and can’t spell to save his life, wrote us a letter, with all kinds of spelling mistakes, and I wouldn’t change a single one of them.  This is one of those events that a mom puts right up there with first steps and riding a bicycle for the first time.

in_progressalmost_thereAnd today, I finished the yardage!  The house was unusually quiet for a Saturday morning, my daughter was at work, and my husband at a legislative event in central Jersey, so it was just me and the barking dog.  I cleaned, did laundry, and then I wove.  And I wove…  I went to the back of the loom and to my surprise, there were the knots.

Seeing the knots come up off the warp beam is always a mixed feeling for me.  On one hand, I’m almost done, but on the other hand, I’m almost done…  Which means my loom will sit empty again for awhile. knotscutting_off I wove this off way quicker than I thought, and I was surprised that there were only 7 yards when I cut it off.  The original warps were 10 yards long, there must have been considerable shrinkage when I dyed and rinsed the warps.  And on top of that, I wove a sample first.

The yardage is washed, and hanging up to dry, so the color is still a bit intense because it is damp.  I did dry it for about 30 minutes in the dryer to take some of the moisture out.  This is the kind of yardage I’m going to love cutting into a garment.  There are some really gorgeous areas, and there are areas that don’t really excite me.  Like where all three warps turned into the same color at the same time.  yardage_dryingIt will be interesting to see it hang fully, and decide if I want to photograph all of it for the Convergence yardage exhibit.

inkle_namedraftLast night I spent some time with my daughter, who taught me how to do a name draft on the inkle loom.  She is quite proficient at it, and explained it really carefully, and I got my first name out quickly, and am working on my last name.  I’m choosing to do all three design areas at the same time, which is quite challenging, but I’ll encourage the participants in the class I’m teaching to do each area separately, it is really a brain stretch to work all three together.  But the effect is really wonderful.

It has been a good couple of days.  We are due for some really heavy rain, and substantial flooding, but it would be worse, it could be three feet of snow…

One more thing, I just got word that the 2010 brochure for Harrisville is out, and I’ll be teaching a 5 day workshop there, called a Wearable Extravaganza.  The web page for the workshop is quite lovely.  The class will be August 16-20.  It is going to be a busy summer!

Letter writing 101…

I finally heard from my son, who is at Boot Camp in Fort Jackson, SC.  He called us from a pay phone late Tuesday night, and I can’t tell you how good it was to hear his voice.  He was full of grand adventures, and sounds like he is really growing up, and is benefiting in a positive way, from the whole experience.  He was disappointed that he hadn’t gotten any mail, and asked if we had gotten his letter with his address in it?  Sadly we hadn’t, though he claimed it had been mailed two weeks ago.  He said he had sent seven letters to us and his friends, but none of us have received them.  I had to think for a minute, did he even know how to address a letter?  I’m sure I taught him…   Maybe he was in 5th grade?  I know that sounds really odd, but think about it, does this generation know how to communicate in any way other than email and text?

So, armed with his address at Fort Jackson, I sat down yesterday and wrote an old fashioned letter.  With the date on top, followed by Dear Eric.  As I wrote, I thought about how lost the art of real letter writing has become.  I sent him a newsy two sided note, on flowery stationery, which has been in my drawer for about 12 years.  It is sort of sad, to think that the art of letter writing is dying, but in this day and age, it is the only way to stay in touch with a recruit in boot camp.  I wrote him another letter today.  It made me feel good to stick the letter in an envelope, put on a stamp, and leave it for the postman (woman in this case…)

I did an overview of my lengthy to do list, and now that the guild website is functioning well enough, I thought I’d take a breather and survey the next group of deadlines, while I work steadily on the yardage.

Warp_AdjustmentSpeaking of the yardage.  I am about half way through.  I’ve had to rig up a contraption on the back of the loom, to take out the slack in the springy cotton lace yarn, which is working moderately well.  And I’m sort of embarrassed, I discovered a threading error about three yards into the yardage, nothing critical, but something that I can’t believe I didn’t notice for three yards, and now I can’t see anything but…  That’s sort of the way it goes.  It was an easy fix, I just used wire cutters to clip the heddle and move it to the correct shaft.  No threads needed to be cut and spliced…

TInkle_Supplemental Warphe Small Looms Group of the South Jersey Guild of Spinners and Handweavers,  asked me to do a workshop in May on Inkle Loom Pick-up, which I agreed to do, as a half day workshop, since the idea is they would all come with warped looms.  After numerous discussions with the committee members, I realized they wanted more than just pick-up work, that the consensus was for an advanced workshop, including supplemental work, which I sort of made up and talked about in a past blog post, and I started to think of how I could have them set up their loom ahead of time with one warp that would allow all kinds of advanced techniques through the four hour class.

So I came up with a warp, that I think is pretty interesting, and they can work on whichever section they need to, encompassing three different techniques.  For really perceptual advanced weavers, they can do all three simultaneously!  🙂

The warp section on the left, will allow a 1/1 name draft, which I haven’t started yet, and the center section will allow a supplemental warp, shown here with the red X’s.  The section on the right, with little seeds, is a standard seven thread pick up.  Here it is shown with a pick up design.with_pickup It is actually a challenging warp, and I can see turning the inkle loom one day class that I teach, into a two day.  BjornBearInkleMy daughter has gotten really proficient at weaving the alphabet on the inkle loom, here is the dog collar she is weaving for her new dog Bjorn. (Norwegian for Bear).

Some of the things on my to do list are boring and nothing I’d want to blog about.  Like doing the bookkeeping for 2009, getting everything ready for the accountant.  They are so boring I don’t even want to do them.  I took my 12 year old Honda wagon to motor vehicles yesterday to get it inspected.  I wanted to cross that item off my to do list.  Sadly the car failed because one of the tires was worn unevenly.  I’m proud though of my little Honda car, that after twelve years, it can still pass inspection, it was the tires that caused the problem.  So I add to my to do list, buy two new tires.

silk_dressOne of the items on the list was to make a dress from the plaid fabric I started to blog about a month or so ago.  The fabric has been sitting in a pile on my cutting table since then.  In addition to the handwoven Irish wool plaid, I wanted to make this simple princess lined dress from a silk gown I’d made a number of years ago that I had no use for anymore.  I wanted something shorter and more fun.  The silk was a paprika color, and if I really liked the fit and style of the dress, once I remade the paprika silk, I’d go ahead and cut it from the plaid.

So I took the dress apart at the back seam, removed the zipper, and laid it out across the table, in addition to the length of yardage left from the original dress.  Truth is, I need a sewing project to work on.  I love the loom, and I love the fabric I’m weaving, but I really am most happy when I have a sewing project as well.  If you are a sewer sewist who has been reading this blog, I’m sure you are quite done with all my weaving escapades, so this one’s for you!  Stay tuned…

Wonderful World of Color…

First, I want to thank all of my faithful readers for their kind words of encouragement during my recent bout with the flu.  It happens to the best of us…

I did what I was told and stayed in bed ( I didn’t think it was possible to actually stay in bed that long) and I waited out the fever.  I woke up today, bright eyed, and feeling sooooo much better.  But I still did what I was told and didn’t over do, I just sat in my studio, behind my loom, and threaded.  The whole day.  I stopped for lunch, and stopped for dinner, but I just sat and threaded, and it felt good to finally finish.

All in all having the flu wasn’t a terrible thing.  I didn’t have to be anywhere important that I couldn’t cancel, and being forced to lay in bed all day sipping fluids (ok it was determined that mojitos count as fluids), reading the greatest love story of all time, spanning two hundred years, was not the worst ordeal I’ve ever been through.  As ordeals go, this wasn’t even close…  The only tough part of this last week, was I miss my son.  I admit it, he left for boot camp last Monday, I haven’t heard from him, I had sort of hoped for a letter, silly me, and I miss him.  All the things one does like keep busy, get out and be with friends, etc., I couldn’t do because, I was sick in bed.  And my husband wasn’t even around, he was half way around the world.  Actually, for him that wasn’t a bad thing, being around me when I’m sick is no picnic.  So I settled myself by sipping mojitos, courteously left by my son in his basement lair refrigerator before he left for boot camp.  Add an ounce of rum, and it all seemed right…

So, I finished threading more than 1100 ends…   🙂finished_threadingSpit_bundles

I’ve checked and rechecked, and now I’m ready to beam.  I should mention that before I started threading this puppy, I split the three warp bundles in half, so instead of drawing from the middle, they fanned out from the sides.  That way the center threads aren’t three feet long and the ones on the outer edges of the bundles are like six inches!

I have a sectional beam on this loom, and it works fine when beaming with a chain, the trick is to keep the warp centered between two outside pegs.  To do that I have permanent plastic cable ties mounted on the back beam, and I slide them into place once the warp width is established. (You can see one in the last photo)

So I tied on all of the bundles, hitching them to the twill tape nailed to the cross brace well of the sectional beam.  I use a larks head to hitch the overhand knot in the end of the warp bundle.  (If you aren’t a weaver and you’ve gotten this far in the blog, congratulations.  I’ve probably lost you so just enjoy the beautiful colors that are beginning to show as I beam.)

tying_onThe beaming process is tedious.  But it is gorgeous.  Can I tell you how much I’m loving this warp?  If it weaves half as gorgeous as it is while beaming I’ll be so happy.  Even my daughter, as she sat on the bathroom floor combing out a particularly tangled wig from the prop closet at the high school for the spring musical, kept running in and checking the colors and squealing with delight as she looked at the warp from all angles.

Beater_ForwardThe process here is to comb carefully, all the warps in front of the beater, giving each bundle a tug to tension it firmly.  Once they are combed, bring the beater forward.  Any knots should now be in front of the beater.  Everything behind the beater should be a clean shot through the heddles, over a pair of inserted lease sticks (they create drag), over the back beam, and around the warp beam.  As I turn the crank on the warp beam, I slowly walk the beater back until it hits the castle wall.  As I’m beaming I keep an eye on the pegs of the sectional beam that they don’t catch on a warp thread.

Rear_ViewI’m going to love weaving this fabric…