Friday, November 27, 2009

Glad It's Friday!

I feel like I just finished a tough work week - except that it was more of a tough loom week (or two).

You guys gave me great advice about highlighting the beauty of my wild warp. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and ideas with me! I really, really appreciate it!!

Putting that advice into practice was quite the process!

First, since lots of suggestions had to do with weft choices, I dug through my stash and pulled out anything I thought might help. Or yarns that just seemed fun to try.

Then I had to do a lot of work with Texsolv. The loom had 2 shafts on it, and the remaining Texsolv for the other 10 shafts was either washed but tangled up, or quite dirty.

I sorted and straightened and washed. (Our washing machine broke during this time, so I had to wait to have a working washer.)

I did notice that an apron cloth is pretty cool because you can set things on it.

Plus, these kitchen clips are very useful around a loom. I might have to liberate a few more of them from our kitchen.

I spent some quality time inside my loom adding two more lamms, and connecting everything.

Narrowed down my yarn choices to my top contenders.

Re-threaded and re-sleyed so I'd have a straight draw instead of plain weave.

Plus, moved the left selvedge since that yarn had already abraded enough to break.

Added floating selvedges and an extra strand of warp so that the straight draw would be balanced instead of ending on shaft 3.

Finally, this afternoon, I did my first sampling. No home runs....I made some decisions at the loom that I still need to sit with and mull over.

I think I need to sample a little more too, when I'm more analytical and less tired.

Then I'll make decisions and let you know what I'm thinking - in case you can help me avert disaster!! I will say that both Jim and I have a favorite - it's the same favorite - and it's kind of shocking to me.

I need to mull it over more though. I hope it will all seem clearer in the light of day tomorrow.

I swear, if I hadn't eaten a giant amount yesterday, tonight would be the perfect night to go out for Mexican food and margaritas. It's just been that kind of week.

Hope you're heading into a relaxing weekend too!

This project so far:
Asking for help designing in the reed
Project kickoff
Designing in the reed
Asking for help showing off the warp

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am grateful for so much.

I want to thank everyone reading for helping me celebrate the joys of creativity, weaving, nature, and friends both near and far.

All of my best to all of you!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pear Tart

Invite me to a late summer or fall gathering and it's likely that I'll bring a Rustic Fruit Tart. I love this recipe at this time of year.

In summer, blueberries or peaches (or both together) are my faves. As fall arrives, apples and pears, and once an apple quince mixture, become my favorites.

Sometimes I make dough for several tarts at once and freeze them, ready to get rolled out.

For Thanksgiving tomorrow, we're bringing a tart with:
  • 4 cups pears
  • 1/2 c toasted pecans
  • 1/2 c craisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla
I hope that whether you're celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow or not, you're able to enjoy some of nature's beauty and bounty!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unexpected Dyeing

You probably expected me to be weaving my wild warp by now. Or at least asking questions about some technical hurdle.

I expected that too!!

Instead, I've been dyeing a bunch of yarn, and whatever else I can find to throw in the dye pot. (So far Bailey has been spared....although he does hang out with me when I dye!)

Dyeing Fodder

To what do I owe this unexpected turn of events?

A weaving friend offered me some free dye. Since my favorite price is "free", I jumped at the chance.

My plan was to freeze the dye....but the combo of a very full freezer and concerns about dye safety convinced me to just go for it. (The dye was already mixed with water and other things - but not with soda ash, the dye activator. The dye has a shelf life that is rapidly running out.)

Fortunately I had plenty of white and off-white cotton and linen that I wanted to make more colorful.

I forgot how long this would take. Over the weekend, I used every spare moment to wind skeins. I have not dyed in years. Maybe not since 2002.

Monday afternoon and evening I dyed things, and rinsed things. Tonight, I finished rinsing a red skein, a purple skein and a giant turquoise skein.

How's that for unexpected dyeing??

The somewhat daunting news....for me at least, is that I've only used half the dye. Today I made a plan for the other half. How I can combine the colors that are left to make colors I want. How much yarn and mix-ins I need to get the whole thing to work.

So that will be some post-Thanksgiving fun!! (Well, and a lot of pre-Thanksgiving preparation.....Do you think anyone would mind if I brought my swift to Thanksgiving dinner?)

Two housekeeping notes:

I am still working on my mixed warp scarf during my early morning studio hour every day. I'm changing it to a straight draw, have added 2 shafts to the loom, re-thread and sleyed the third shaft and most of the fourth shaft. I bet I'll have it tied on by the time I eat Thanksgiving turkey! And you guys will be the first to know! I so appreciate all of your help and advice!!

Also, huge thanks to Colleen for participating in my Colors of November challenge! The list of links will be open until December 1 - so add your pictures any time before that if you want to join the fun!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Red Scarf: The Sequel

Once I knit a scarf with yarn from a shop in Monterey, CA. The scarf was the color of the sea.

Unfortunately, I didn't buy enough yarn for an entire scarf. I had to do a nationwide yarn hunt to find another skein.

Now when I buy yarn for a scarf, especially a scarf with a vague, undecided design, I make sure to buy plenty of yarn.

At WEBS in July, I found 3 skeins of Misti Alpaca (Color WP01 Inca Red) for my niece K's scarf. Her scarf, in all its fabulousness, used just a tad over one skein.

I promised my sister-in-law J a scarf with the remainder of the yarn. (It is gorgeous yarn, this Misti Alpaca. Beautiful colors and so, so soft!)

When K chose her scarf from 5 swatches, J chose another swatch from the set. Each chose the dimensions for her ideal scarf.

For J, I started this Ribs and Ruffles scarf, a free pattern from Misti Alpaca.

Since I'm not using Misti Alpaca Chunky, I'm using two strands of Misti Alpaca Hand Paint worsted. I lined up the balls of yarn so the colors match.

I'm the worst at getting the gauge in patterns - and I'm not off in a consistent direction.

The scarf should have been the perfect width for J, but when I got started and measured, it was only 3.5 inches wide. J wants 5. (A 3.5 inch wide scarf is pretty small I must admit!)

Frogged it and started again....I just added another rib (by adding 4 stitches to the rib pattern)

This time the width is coming out a tad over 5. Works for me!!

It's interesting to see how the color pattern acted in the original version and then this wider version. I liked how the original skinny scarf had mostly red on one edge and mostly burgundy on the other.

This yarn is so beautiful, you really could probably knit anything and have it look and feel great.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Colors of November

A lot has changed outdoors in the last month. In October, when I took photos of color combinations in nature, I had many bright colors to choose from.

Now, in November, the palette has changed and the light is muted.

Oak and pine on a rare bright day

Hunting season "fashion"

Sumac and Pine

A few berries

Bailey drinking sideways

Bridge across the swamp

Swamp Edge


Wasp Nest

Wintergreen (I think)

Bailey running home

Nature Arranged

If you want to play too, please:
  1. Take photos of natural color combinations wherever you are
  2. Blog about it, including a link back to this post
  3. Put a link to your blog post here.

That way, we can go blog hopping and see colors all over the world!! If any of the pictures inspire us to make something beautiful, even better!

Last month:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Open Studios

Salmon Falls Mills in Rollinsford, NH

I had fun at the open studios today.

What's not to love about seeing the hand-woven and beautifully sewn work of Sharon Baker Kelly and other artists in their studios at the mill?

Very inspiring!

Plus, on the table looms below, I got to show people how to weave for the first time. Pretty cool! (Sometimes I'm not a good teacher technically - but I make up for it with enthusiasm.)

Even better, we met some people who have looms and are very interested in getting back to weaving. Hopefully a few of them will join our monthly weaving group.

I did knit a tiny amount. It was so fun with people coming and going that I didn't make much knitting progress. (Yes, I realize I should show you the new scarf I'm knitting! And I will!!)

I did not get to sit at this loom to weave, but I love that bench cover!!!

Hope you had a great Saturday too!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shuttles Waiting

Doesn't this make you want to go weave something? Me too!

I came home from our guild meeting on Wednesday with some dye left over from a workshop. (You know how "free" is my favorite price, right?)

My plan was to freeze the dye until spring, but when I saw how many colors I had, and how full the freezer is, I decided I should use the dye this weekend.

Tomorrow at the open studios I'll mostly wind skeins of cotton and linen to dye. (But maybe I'll get to knit a little as a reward for skeining.)

Then Sunday I'll dye lots and lots of yarn.

Progress on my scarf should pick up again on Monday. I've got all the parts to add two more shafts to the Toika ready to go. That will be top on my studio agenda next week. (Plus I have all kinds of different wefts picked out to try! Fingers crossed that some combination of the change in sett, picks per inch, warp tension, weave structure and weft will produce several beautiful and comfortable scarves.)

Some one at the guild did say "That fabric would make a beautiful bag. It's nice and sturdy." I guess that's my fallback plan! (I kid, I kid....I'm sure with all of your great advice I'll be able to turn this warp into a scarf or two or three!!)

Happy weekend!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Celebrating the Loom

The New Hampshire League of Craftsmen is hosting a juried exhibition featuring the work of the NH Weavers Guild at Gallery 205 in Concord, NH.

The exhibit runs until Dec. 11, 2009. On Saturday, December 5, in addition to the exhibit, there will be weavers demonstrating (I think from 11 - 3, but possibly from 10-2).

Woven Garment by Nancy Lyon
From the permanent collection

Detail of Woven Garment

The NH League of Craftsmen does not have permission from the individual weavers in the show to have photos taken of their work, so I don't have photos of the pieces in the exhibit itself. I was permitted to photograph a woven garment and woven scarf from the permanent collection to share with you in my blog.

There are two full rooms of handwoven items ranging from scarves and towels, to garments, table linens, bags and more. Most items in the show are for sale. Any item purchased can be picked up at the close of the show in December.

Woven Scarf by Deborah Carey

Detail of woven scarf

If you're in Concord, stop by and have a look! Gallery 205 has free parking in a lot right next to the gallery.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Creative Risks: What is Risky for Me?

When I think about obstacles to weaving, two of mine are making time and handling creative risks.

Last time I blogged about creative risks, I shared a poem on an evening when I'd slammed into the problem with my scarf warp. Your responses were really interesting to me, particularly because my post was so vague. No one knew whether I was talking about weaving-related risks or other risks in life.

Thank you all for the great scarf advice. I'll be putting it into practice later this week and I'll definitely be blogging about it so we can all see how it comes out!!

Over the last week, as I've tried to figure out what's next with my scarf, I've also tried to look at my attitudes and emotions around this project. Hopefully I can change the attitudes that are holding me back.

What makes a project feel risky to me?

Not all projects feel risky to me.

  • A project where I really care about the outcome - where I have an idea of how I want it to come out, rather than just seeing what happens
  • Precious yarn - scarce, expensive, unusual, or with an unusual emotional attachment (like this most recent scarf)
  • Diving in way over my head technically so I have trouble figuring out what to do almost every time I work on it
Not risky:
  • Projects in a workshop lead by a teacher with a group of students
  • Following a design in Handwoven
  • Samples being done to study a weave structure or new technique
  • Warp where I'm OK with it just not working out - somewhat indifferent to the project (although I try never to start projects like that - I like to be passionate about what I do - even when passion is exhausting!)
This latest project, with it's limited quantity of discontinued yarns, with the yarn all coming from a special visit to a special yarn store, has the yarn risk. It also has the strong feeling about the outcome element of risk. Technically, there's also some risk since I'm not sure I understand specifically what weave structure to use.

Bailey scratches this rug into a pile when he's frustrated

What's at risk for me?

Well, there's always the question of yarn and time. I worry more about time than about yarn....because I have a lot of yarn!!! I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do.

Another risk is the emotional energy it takes to do a project, especially a risky project. I don't always have the emotional energy to spare.

The big risk for me however, is that feeling stalled or blocked or technically stymied makes me very frustrated. My typical pattern with projects that aren't working out, is to flit to the next project. Then, when I have about 10 projects all stalled and stuck, I give up entirely on doing anything creative or artistic. Sometimes for years.

Doesn't exactly help with my goal of being a prolific weaver!

When I tackle something that I know is risky, I have to make sure I have the emotional energy to fight through my frustrations. Plus, I need to work out a creative process where I can troubleshoot problems in projects and avoid that stuck, blocked, permanently stalled state.

But getting into that state is the big risk to me at this point.

Times when I've taken risks

I'm definitely fine with the level of risks versus safety in my life in general. I'm less adventurous in my kayak or on the hiking trail than Jim (my husband and favorite outdoor companion), but I'm OK with where I am on that risk-taking scale.

I've done adventurous things like travel, move (twice) to a new part of the country where I didn't know anyone, change careers, buy a book and a loom and teach myself to weave. I can take risks.

I'm just not quite where I want to be with working my way through roadblocks in weaving projects, and I want find the right level of risk taking for me with my creative projects.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I was drawing a blank with this week's Digital Photography School assignment, "Sound".

I started thinking about bells, and music and found a few subjects.

Organ at South Church, Portsmouth, NH
Flowers courtesy Slow Food Seacoast

Tiny bell around Bailey's neck
Helps us hear him in the woods & warns porcupines of his approach
Love using this stop watch!!!

Say I'm tackling something I really don't enjoy....set the stopwatch, work as fast as I can til the bell rings. Then I'm free again!! ('s the sound of freedom?)