Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winter Wonderland

This morning we went on a walk with the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire. I love learning new things about nature.

We started off near this small windmill.

Today's interesting tidbits include:

The reason there's less snow under hemlock trees it that the snow gets trapped in their branches when falling, and then evaporates directly off the branches, never reaching the ground.

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jesse Achtenberg

White-tailed deer in the northeast often spend the winter under hemlock trees. The deer tend to live off their fat reserves during the winter, and don't need to eat. The shelter of the hemlocks keeps the air temperature warmer at night, and since there's less snow it's easier for the deer to move around in hemlock groves.

Photo Credit: Ryan Bushby

Most earthworms in North America are invasive species. No earthworms in the northeast are native.

I can't wait til spring! I long for it almost as much as your neighborhood very hungry white-tailed deer!

Meanwhile, our weather forecast calls for snow tomorrow and into the early part of the week.

Friday, February 27, 2009

25 Random Things about Huck

25?! I hope not!! But I do still have a few loose ends to tie up here at the start of this huck warp.

Do floating selvedges make everything better?

After fretting about draw-in, I decided that for me, floating selvedges really do make everything better.

I made use of my (first-ever!) empty cones to weight the floating selvedges...and since I only have 3 empty cones, I used an empty paper towel roll.

I know film canisters are also popular selvedge weights, but, film is so last century! (Although, I bet if I rummage around there are a few stray film canisters somewhere.)

I don't know if these floating selvedges are helping me....beyond my belief in their almost mythic properties! At least they helped me get out of dithering mode and start weaving the first towel on this warp!!

Remember to count your heddles, Sue!!!

Even though the article I read about huck before I started this project said very clearly to count the heddles needed on each shaft for lace weaves......

Even though I actually made a note that I consulted every time I sat down to work.....

Even though Fiberworks actually provides a heddle count.....

What did I do???

Said to myself "Bah, I'm just doing a bitty towel. I'm sure I have plenty of heddles on each shaft."

Plus, for extra rationalization, I thought "Well, I don't really know for sure how to do this threading until I actually do it." Which has some truth to it....

As you can see from the picture, I had only two heddles left on shaft two! Close call!!

I did read a tip in Handwoven that I could use one of the unused shafts on my loom in addition to shaft 2 to provide those heddles. The workaround for this wouldn't have been awful.

But I'm promising myself I'll count next time!! Really....I promise!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Too Much Sun

A plea for curtain ideas!

After 10 years without window treatments, this room needs some. We want working window treatments of some sort to keep the sun out of our eyes - but we will frequently want most of the curtains open to maximize our solar exposure. (Hey - it's dark here in New Hampshire.....we need sun!!) Plus, we just put all this fancy woodwork around the windows, and we don't really want to cover it up.

I'd love to hear ideas for what you think we should do with window treatments for this room!!

The Room

Sorry these photos are a little dark. This room has a ton of natural light, but I took these on a gray, snowy day, thinking you'd be able to see the room better. Not sure that was a good strategy!

View from the kitchen

My blogging corner & the giant cactus

Jim's computer zone with Bailey watching squirrels

Ceiling fan, skylights, and all 6 windows

Truer colors
The Textiles


Chair close-up



Fabric Swatch of coordinating fabric

Other Plans
  • The giant cactus is getting moved to the living soon as I find the right pot for it. (That's my 4th New Year's Resolution!)
  • The trim was installed last summer and we plan to paint it by spring.
  • We will paint the walls once we've got the window treatments figured out.
Some Background

We live in New Hampshire, so we have long, dark winters - at least compared to people south of here. Having Canadian, English and Scandanavian blog readers, makes me hesitant to complain about our winters!!

Our house, from a planbook we found at the library, was designed by an architect from Texas. There was a screenporch off the kitchen in the original design. Jim enlarged it slightly and turned it into a sunroom, with lots of windows, and two skylights.

For our first ten years living in this house, this room was full of plants. We had white wicker furniture from Pier 1 in here, but it was very uncomfortable. The room was pretty to look at, but we never sat in here.

For the past few years, we've searched off and on for comfortable wicker furniture. We finally found furniture we loved last spring at Fran's Wicker (in New Jersey, but they ship nationwide!)

Our furniture arrived last year, and we've been sitting pretty. Computer junkies that we are, we use this room a lot.

Everything is great with this room, except that sometimes we have too much sun. At certain times of year, the sun gets in Jim's eyes.

We need some kind of curtains or blinds or shades or something, so that Jim can adjust them so he doesn't get sun in his eyes. But most of the time we want the room to be as open and light and airy as possible.

Please, please, please tell me your ideas!

We need something that can keep the sun out of our eyes when we need it to, but that will mostly be out of the way not covering up our view of trees!! I can sew (or shop!) I would love to get some different ideas about what to do for these windows!!

Thank you!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Am I Unbalanced?

Although I started doing Digital Photography School assignments to improve my blog photographs, I've been surprised by how many parallels I find between photography and textile design.

This week the assignment is "Balance". They refer to two good descriptions of balanced photographs:
I started out taking a picture of the front of our house. It's Victorian, and very asymmetrical. That made me realize how much I love asymmetry - which then made me search through my house for examples of symmetrical and asymmetrical balance.

The fabric on the left is a bedspread for our bright-colored orange and yellow bedroom. It was the only king-sized comforter in that color scheme we could find for a reasonable price.

The fabric on the right is fabric I'm using to make a bedskirt for that room (at which point the comforter will probably be covered by something solid colored!) I prefer this fabric with its asymmetrical stripes and beachy feel.

The rug on the left is my favorite of this group.....I fell in love with it when we were shopping for a living room rug for our old house. It is symmetrical - so I can like symmetry! (If you click on the picture, you can see a bigger picture.)

The rug on the right is a fairly new purchase from Target. We chose it because the colors and feel of it were perfect for our sunroom. I love it in that room, although I don't love it all on its own.

With these two summer bags, I fall back into my usual preferences. The bag on the left is a Hilfiger bag that I use a lot. It's a great design because I can fit a lot in it, and the outside plastic keeps it from getting totally grimy. Plus I love it for travel - I can throw maps, GPS, snacks, an umbrella in the side pockets and they're easy to grab. It's symmetrical, and while I love how functional it is, I don't like how symmetrical it is.

The bag on the right is a bag I made with my weaving group. (Many of them wove fabric for their bags, but I found it challenging enough just to sew a bag!) I prefer the informal look of this bag....although I've used it infrequently because it was so hard for me to make that I find myself not wanting to get it dirty!! I think next summer I will start using it though - now that the effort of making it is longer in the past!

Finally, this tile in our master bathroom is a favorite of mine. I think it's partly because it is symmetrical and asymmetrical at the same time. Symmetrical when divided vertically, but asymmetrical when divided horizontally.

Now what does this all have to do with weaving?

Somehow the combination of looking at textiles I've chosen for our home, working on this photography assignment, and signing up for my classes at New England Weavers Seminars this summer, made me realize a huge error in the way I've been thinking about many weave structures.

I realized that I tend to prefer asymmetrical designs.....I often decide I don't really like an entire weave structure just because the examples that I see of that weave structure are often so symmetrical and precise. That's definitely not doing those weave structures justice.

Plus, the exercise of looking at textiles in my home for cases where I did choose symmetrical designs, makes me realize that I do like both types of designs. I'm sure there are symmetrical weaving designs that I will love.

I hereby promise not to disregard, or decide I dislike, entire weave structures just because most of the examples I see using those structures are too formal and symmetrical for my taste.

Somewhere in all these photography lessons, I'm sure I'm learning to take better pictures!!! I'm definitely learning to look at things differently!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Learning to Like Twill

I'll confess that on the surface of things, I'm not a big fan of twill.

I just finished the plain weave section of Deborah Chandler's Learning to Weave and now I've graduated to twill.

My first reaction: "Yuck! Twill is so diagonal and pointy. People weave all kinds of weird-looking things with twill."

My second reaction: "Plus, jeans are made from twill. Why would I want to weave fabric that's the same structure we see all around us? I want to weave something more interesting."

So we're not off to exactly a promising start.

However, according to the Chandler book, twill is one of the most flexible woven fabrics, which is why so many garments are made from twill.

For the first exercise, she provides a draft like this, but says to customize it by adding more repeats of the center section if we like.

I decide I'll add 2 repeats - one slanting in the same direction, and one slanting in the opposite direction - and that I'll add those repeats in both the threading and the treadling.

I fiddle around with Fiberworks PCW for a few minutes, and am astonished at how quickly what seemed plain and boring starts to get more interesting. Even though this isn't balanced or beautiful, I'm going to weave it up as my next sample - hoping to learn more about twill.

Now I'm starting to see why some people love twill.

I quickly wound a short warp, and started dressing the table loom I brought home last week.

The other day Bhakti Ziek had a tip about tying lease sticks so the back stick is higher than the front stick. This is my second time warping with lease sticks, and I tried that tip about halfway through. It definitely helps so much!!

When the lease sticks are flat, it's really hard for me to see which thread comes next, but when the rear lease stick is raised, I can see the cross and see which thread to select next.

My adventures with twill are beginning. Even in this first exercise, I'm starting to see why some people find it so fascinating.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Woven Prayer Flags

Participate in this community art project!!

Send in a message or come to Maine and weave a few prayer flags!!

Either way you'll receive a prayer flag in return, and will help spread messages of peace and hope throughout the world.

Sarah Haskell, a talented weaver in York, Maine, started this project at the beginning of 2008.

She is collecting positive messages from around the world, and with the help of volunteer weavers, weaving them into prayer flags to send back out into the world.

There's more information about the project on Sarah's blog, including where to send messages and how to sign up to help weave flags.

Recently, I was able to spend an afternoon in Sarah's studio with a friend weaving a few prayer flags. Weavers and non-weavers alike are needed to volunteer to weave for just a few hours.

If you can come to Maine, contact Sarah by signing her guestbook to coordinate a time to go to her studio and weave prayer flags.

She has three looms all set up, and this activity has been enjoyed by young and old alike! This project is a great way to give weaving a try, and to spend time with your friends.

I wove three flags: one pink, one blue, and one in autumnal colors.

Here's the flag, woven by another volunteer earlier in February, that I brought home.

The flag is outside, releasing its prayers into the world.

Please join Sarah in this project to spread messages of peace, goodwill and hope throughout the world!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Feeble Sign of Spring

Looking out the window this afternoon, I noticed these odd marks

where icicles have fallen off the roof into the snow.

I secretly love icicles!!

I'm in New Hampshire. It's February. We've still got some winter left!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Second New Year's Resolution

Any day that starts out this beautifully, has to be a good day, right?

That's an unexpected 4 inches of snow that fell quietly overnight. I said yesterday that we needed some pretty snow....since yesterday we got slushy, messy snow. My wish was granted.

You might remember that I didn't make New Year's Resolutions this year. I did choose 4 projects that were bugging me, and planned to finish them all in January.

I finished one. Today I started the next.....

Last March we re-painted our bedroom after a long, snowy winter. We went with bright orange and yellow paint. The pastel blue bedskirt doesn't quite fit with the new vibrant color scheme.

I shopped everywhere, and couldn't find a bedskirt for a king-sized bed, in bright colors that I liked. (Please, don't tell me that you know where I can find a great one...because now I'm committed to sewing a bedskirt out of this striped fabric. I really wanted to solve this problem by shopping, not sewing.....but such is life!)

I sneakily took over the dining room for this project....justifying it by saying my studio is too full of looms to fit a sewing project. Since this project is for the house....I should be able to sew it in the house. Clever, eh?

I'm changing the pattern slightly because I don't have quite enough fabric to make the pattern as designed. I had to think, use my calculator, and even make a tiny graph paper template. (I'm such an engineer sometimes!)

As the saying goes "Measure twice, Cut once." I did just that, and chopped the fabric into the side and end panels for the bedskirt. More math will follow no doubt.

Hopefully I won't be back here begging for ideas for where I can buy a bright bedskirt (because that would mean the project has collapsed or at least become incredibly frustrating!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Raspberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffins are my favorite breakfast on the four days a week that I go running. Since I had some fairly ancient frozen raspberries, and King Arthur Flour had this very delicious recipe, Raspberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins have been a favorite at our house this week!

You just put 3 (or I might add a few more) raspberries on the muffins once they're in the muffin tins.

Then cover with crumb topping - which is made with melted butter - a nice, simple way to make a topping.

They are delicious hot out of the oven.

Even better news is that they are tastier the next day!!

I usually freeze muffins as soon as they we'll have them hot out of the oven once, then eat thawed muffins for days. I love that these muffins get even better with time! Yum!!