Saturday, December 20, 2008

In Memory

I always called her Grandma. I still remember her old phone number and the way to her house in Anaheim. I remember her stories. Sometimes she would tell me one I had already heard, stop and say, "But I've told you that one before." But she often added a tiny bit that wasn't in the original telling.

I am wearing the "last of the sweaters" that she knit for me. It's an acrylic/wool/camel yarn. The sleeves and back were knit on her knitting machine. The cabled fronts were done by hand. The sleeves can unbutton to turn the sweater into a vest. This sweater is...well, not new. I've tried to retire it many times now. It's slightly felted. It has a stain on the front. It still finds its way to the top of my sweater drawer.

Of all the things my Grandmother taught me, I think I'll always remember that she loved me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Searching for the right weft!

This warp is based on Dianah Rose's "Sturdy Rag Totes" (a variation of warp rep) from Handwoven, Sept./Oct. 2007.

The plan was to use fabric strips as weft, but the patterns on the fabric made it hard to see the differences between the green and yellow sections of warp. So, I began the process of finding the right weft.

Three attempts are visible in the photo--at the top, pin drafted roving. This turned out to be a successful weft. The red is a strip of sweatshirt fleece. The white at the bottom is a boucle type yarn.

I like the feel of the boucle type weft--the piece is soft and flexible--but I can't see the yellow/green transitions unless I squint really hard, and that just won't work for this!

Ahh, the lessons we learn by doing something new! :)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Three Scarves

Thanksgiving brought four of my nieces and their parents to our home. I thought it would be fun to let each of the girls design their own scarf.

The preparation: wind a 10 yd. warp of white acrylic. Sett= 12 epi. Threading: straight twill on four harnesses.

Scarf #1. The four year old (almost five) chose three colors for her scarf. Pink, purple, and brown. I said ok. After all, she is five (almost!) and has her own ideas of fashion and color...and you never know what you might learn from a five year old's color choices! Most of the scarf was woven in blocks of single colors, but there were two or three places where I combined the brown with the other colors for an interesting effect. --I had the treadles tied up for a 2/2 twill and tabby.

Scarf #2. The thirteen year old chose a cream colored novelty yarn (thick and bumpy) and a fine tan. I used one of the twill treadles for the cream, followed by a tabby shot of the tan. It worked very well and the overall effect showed more cream than the picture does.

Scarf #3. The eight year old wanted blue, but I was short on blue and asked if we could supplement it with white. Approval was granted, and I ended up weaving a straight 2/2 twill with 3 shots of white and 1 shot of blue.

Scarf #4. Scarf #4 didn't get woven over the holiday. I didn't start soon enough and didn't have enough time. However, I had previously woven a child's scarf out of handspun and it had a matching tam. (Hat & Scarf) It's just been sitting in my finished pile. So, out came the scarf and tam, and the two year old was as happy as a clam!

And so was I!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Swimsuits in Winter

I was excited at the end of summer that my oldest daughter made it through swimsuit season with her old suit. Thrilled, in fact! I didn't have to make her a new one (yet), and I could wait until next year (allowing her to grow) before we had to get her a new suit.

Boy was I wrong.

We have visitors coming tomorrow and grandma and grandpa will be staying at a hotel with a pool. That means we need a swimsuit. Are there swimsuits in the stores? No! Do I have a swimsuit pattern in the right size? Not anymore! Argh!

I spent an hour or two online last night looking for help on making or modifying a swimsuit pattern. There is a great Pattern School with lots of helpful instruction...but only for a grown woman, not a growing girl.

Our local thrift store has a decent stock of sewing patterns...and I found this shirt pattern that could work as a swimsuit top.
A few minutes of staring at the pattern, comparing sizes, estimating, guessing...and I was cutting the fabric (that I did purchase during the summer, whew!).

I did most of the seaming with my serger. My great-aunt gave it to me a few years ago (and my other great-aunt graciously drove it home for me!), and I am still getting used to how it works. Overall, it worked great. I broke a few threads, popped the head off a pin (I found the headless pin in the fabric and had an "ah-ha" moment--so that's what that ka-thunk was!), but for the most part seamed well.

And here's the almost finished suit. I need to have my daughter try it on again to check elastic and other odds and ends, but I think it will work!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

33 Towels!

Well, I did it! I took 33 handwoven towels and 4 rice-filled heating pads with handwoven covers to sell at the bazar this weekend.

And, better yet, 6 towels and 3 rice-packs sold!

What an experience! I must admit that in the middle of weaving all these towels I felt worn out--it felt like work! (Ugh! :) At the end, when I realized that I had met my goal of 30 towels, I was thrilled.

The reactions to my wares were varied. There were many people who walked past by table and hardly did more than glance at the towels. They are "just towels" after all! Then there was the one fellow who gasped and did a little jump back from the table when he saw the price of the towels. My favorite reactions, however, were from the people who recognized what these were--not just towels, but useful, handcrafted art. One gal came back to my booth two or three times just to look before she chose her towel. My favorite fiber enabler (aside from my husband, who was watching the kids this weekend!) stopped by, and I was thrilled just to show her what I had been weaving...and then she bought two towels!! Another woman mentioned that she had a loom at home and just seeing my work was encouragement to go home and weave!

Thanks to all of you who have encouraged me in this endeavor! What an interesting experiment! I'm a bit worn out! ...But then, I was spinning up a beautiful alpaca/wool blend that would weave up beautifully as a shawl. I wonder what weave structure would look good with that? :)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Shed Improvement

I'm something of a slow learner. I wove two towels on this warp with a tie-up that had sticky threads. Every time the sticky shed came up, I got out my ruler and used it to clear the shed (it was either that or unweave because I would inevitably have some threads in the wrong place).

As I shifted weft from the three colors used for checks to a single color for stripes, I couldn't take the sticky problems any more--they slowed me down too much. That's when I remembered a wonderful tip--when lifting multiple shafts to make a shed, lift the shafts independently. They make a better shed and there is less sticking.

Now my ruler is only used to measure the length of my woven fabric. My sticky shed is no longer a problem! Thanks to so many of you weavers who provide such wonderful tips to us newbies!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Random Craft Projects

Halloween around here is a fun time! We make much of our costumes...

Dad is a hobbit (wearing an elfin cloak of commercial fabric).

A is a panther. She fingerwove her own tail from nylon loopers. Her headband/ears are made from the cut-off hems of a pair of knit pants.

E is a pink bunny. She wanted a pink tail (unfortunately, it's behind her), pink hands (I did get her new mittens made!), pink ears and pink hair. I was trying to get a winter hat knit in 6 hours or less and failed. We went with a knitted I-cord sewn together to create "hair" and ears.

T is Darth Maul. His cloak is from the same pattern as Dad's. His double-edged lightsaber is a dowel with pipe insulation wrapped in colored duct tape.

We went to a birthday party for a friend's little girl (just turned 2) and needed a gift. I chose to make little mice. In the past I have used handwoven fabric for the bodies (Handwoven had an issue devoted to pets a year or two ago and the mouse pattern came from there), but for this I used left over cloak fabric and some sample skeins of handspun yarn to make the cute critters.

The book in the background is my book club's current read--and it's about a mouse and being a hero. :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I must be crazy! There was an ad in the paper--a call for artists--to sell items in a handmade/handcrafted bazar near my house in November. I answered the ad, found two friends to join me, and now am preparing to sell handwoven towels!

My goal is to have 30 towels ready by Nov. 14th. Three are finished--woven, wet finished, and hemmed. My two looms are warped, and I'm weaving towels 4-7 on the natural with blue accents warp, and towels 8-13 on the dark pink (red?--nah, it's not a true red)/pink warp. Towels 14-30 haven't even made it to the idea/concept phase yet...but maybe they will come to me while I weave.

This sort of intensive weaving (with a deadline, no less!) is, well, intense. I find that I am tired of weaving by the end of the day. Perhaps that is because I was warping two looms at the same time. I am hoping that by staggering the next set of towels, I will be able to warp for a bit, then weave for a bit--back and forth from loom to loom. Another challenge with two projects hitting the loom at about the same time is incomplete notes. I keep a lab notebook, I do, I do! ....I just keep an incomplete one, sometimes going through pages of notes and calculations only to have the final page be a bit unclear as to what I finally decided to use. Then I have to stare at the notes and read through them a few times until I catch my train of thought and figure out what my bits of chicken scratch really mean!

Ah, well! It's good to experiment, right? Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Tribute to Fiber Enablers

Thank you, to those of you who taught me to spin. Thank you, to those of you who have taken my designs and made them into functional creations!

This latest creation is a warping mill. It's awaiting its maiden warp, but I think it will work. The stand is from a quilting frame. The triangle/cylinder part was made from materials on hand.

The labor was provided by my fiber enabler, Martin. He took my design, upgraded it, and made it a reality. Thank you!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Purple People

The "Very Berry" sweater for my daughter is done. Whew.

This sweater has been challenging, but not necessarily in the knitting aspects! I did modify the pattern, knitting the sleeves flat and not in the round. It's just been hard to force myself to sit and knit instead of spinning and/or weaving. That and it's been hard to get my daughter and the sweater in the same room long enough to check the size!

I (miraculously!) got her to try on the sweater a second time today before grafting the underarms. After knitting the neck and watching it flop over (ARGH!) I was about ready to rip the whole thing! But the curly neck lay flat on the body! Go figure!...and, Hooray! Now the sweater is done, and it's time for more weaving!

I have been dyeing cotton with Dylon's "Permanent Dyes"--which I think are a direct dye. Earlier in the week I did a blue batch. Yesterday I dyed purple. Three of the skeins are 20/2 cotton (originally a very pale, mint green), the fourth skein is 10/2 cotton, originally a tweedy grey. The bottom pile is cotton fibers to card and spin.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Stadium Blanket

Here are some photos of the blanket in progress. The Huck Lace is showing nicely!

All four samples from this projects were sitting together tonight. I couldn't pass by the photo opportunity. Sampling is good. Sampling is my friend. ...I will probably sample again. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I have been busy sampling. The goal is a stadium blanket for my sister-in-law. So far, I have woven three samples on my 4H loom, and I think there is a fourth one yet to be made!

It turns out that my nephew's school colors are blue and grey (he is playing football, which leads to my sister-in-law being in the stadium watching him and needing a blanket!). I happen to have multiple skeins of blue and some skeins of grey worsted weight knitting yarn in my stash. I'd like to use this yarn for the blanket...but I have never woven with knitting yarns like this before! So, I have been sampling.

Sampler #1
Warp:fingering weight knitting yarn.
Weft:worsted weight and fingering weight knitting yarns. Weave structures: 2/2 twill, plain weave, basket weave (two weft picks per shed).
Thoughts: (from the bottom of the photo to the top--more or less!) The 2/2 twill packed very loosely has a nice drape, but is loose enough that it will snag on jewlery, belt buckles, etc. Not good! The tightly packed 2/2 twills are really spongy and thick. It would make a really thick blanket. The plain weave with worsted weight weft has a nice hand to it, but doesn't look very special. The basket weave with worsted weight weft has both a nice hand and some visual interest.

Sampler #2
warp: worsted weight knitting yarns (two colors, wound together, threaded randomly)
weft: worsted weight & fingering weight knitting yarns
weave structures: plain weave, twill, point twill, broken twill, basket weave (two picks of fingering weft per shed).
thoughts: too many to list! The bottom line from this sampler was that I liked the hand of the plain weave fabric but I wanted something with more visual interest.

Sampler #3
warp: worsted weight knitting yarns.
weft: worsted weight knitting yarns
weave structures: huck lace (5-end and 3-end), plain weave.
thoughts: I like how the warp colors show in the Huck lace floats. The 3-end huck patter has smaller floats (less likely to get caught on something!). --Note: the blue and the grey are the yarns I plan to use.

Sampler #4 (yet to be made)
warp: blue and grey worsted weight knitting yarn
weft: same as warp
weave structure: 3-end Huck lace
The goal of this last sampler will be to determine the size of the Huck lace squares.
(The Huck lace idea comes from Handwoven Magazine, "Weaving as Chicken Soup" by Barbara Elkins, May/April 2008.)

Weaving is amazing! I've had fun making these samples and seeing how the yarns interact! Can I weave some more soon?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dornik Twill Blanket-Done!

My blanket is done! It wove very quickly. I had sore back muscles after the first evening of weaving...that extra stretch to the sides to reach the shuttle!...but I was able to weave the next day, and the next, and soon it was done!

Twisting the fringe took some time, but eventually it too was done!

I wet finished the blanket with a warm water/detergent soak, followed by a warm water rinse.

Here's a close-up of the edge I added to the pattern. The green & black stripes were my idea. I love the little stars that showed up in the corners!

And, here is the finished blanket in it's living space. It has already been used to cuddle under.


Saturday, September 06, 2008


I started the actual weaving on the blanket....I do like it when a project looks nice as I weave! My husband liked the blanket so much that he took this one minute long video of me weaving.

Friday, September 05, 2008


I love getting to this point in a project! The loom is warped, the stripes look awesome, and I'm ready to weave!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dornik Twill Blanket

This work-in-progress is a Dornik twill blanket designed by Barbara Elkins of Webs.

It doesn't look like a blanket yet, does it?

I've had to overcome a number of challenges with this project. To start with I was unfamiliar with the term "Dornik twill". It wasn't hard to learn what it was, it just took some time--a short time to look it up, and a surprisingly long time to wrap my brain around the idea! ( It's a point twill with the point removed. ) Next, I had to add some threads to widen the piece. And then decide what colors I wanted for which stripes. Lastly, I had to check that a three yard warp was a good length for this blanket.

Whew! All these little steps. None of them were very difficult, but they each required physical and mental energy.

I look forward to getting this on (and off!) the loom!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Huck Lace Gift

A friend of mine is getting married soon. I made this bag as a bridal shower present. It's a straight piece of huck lace (based on Kristen Kelley's design in the Mar/April 2008 Handwoven) that has been sewn into a drawstring bag.

The weaving yarns (warp and weft) are a 6-ply rayon from Webs. The structure is sections of 5-thread Huck lace with plain weave separating them.

The bag is lined with a peachy/orange fabric--maybe a polyester or acetate from my stash.

Here is the gift all wrapped and ready for giving. Do you like my choice of ribbon? It's a skein of yarn that I made after taking a spinning class. There are at least four different colors and kinds of wool in the skein. It's colorful, and soft...and I figured it would get made into something useful!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's a rug!

In the middle of some cleaning I came across two boxes of yarn. The boxes were labeled as yarn, clearly labeled. So why did I shake my head at the discovery that they were really yarn?

Well, I thought that I was finally getting my stash (with my grandmother's additions to it) under control. I thought that it was all in one room.

I was wrong.

But, after staring at the contents of the boxes for a day, I knew why I had saved these yarns. I liked the colors. The yarns weren't exciting (mostly acrylics), but the colors were ones I really like. Sigh.

Oh, well. The good news is that I have used some of the yarn. I warped with rug yarn (cotton/acrylic blend) to do a turned-rosepath rug based on a design from I used pindrafted roving as my weft.

I modified most of my plans as I wove, but I like the way the rug turned out. I think it's going to become part of my bedroom decor!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Progress is Nice

Saturday was one of those weekend work days where the "to do" list ran off the page and onto the floor! Included in the list (and checked off, right before bedtime! Woo-hoo!) were these three sewing projects: a new skirt for me, a t-shirt for the soon-to-be kindergartener, and a dress/nightgown for the 8 year old (we were hoping for a fun play will be a better nightgown!)

On the spinning front, I got my 8 oz. of pink Romney spun! The yarn is a thick/thin mostly worsted weight and will be used for new hats and mittens for the girls.

Now, it's back to work on the other 10 million projects I have!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Experiments with Brocade

I'm working on odds and ends these days. Quite some time ago I put this dark blue cotton warp on my small loom. It didn't work the way I had hoped, so I let it sit for a while. --Now it's being used for a bit of brocade.

Helene Bress' Inkle Weaving has a few pages on brocade. It's a pick-up technique that is weft dependent. Most inkle weaving pick-up patterns require the color to be threaded in the warp. With brocade it's only the weft that matters--perfect for my solid color warp!

These patterns are my very first ones....I think I'll need to do quite a few more to decide what patterns look good and what works best with this warp.

warp: dark blue, unmercerized cotton (4/2?)
weft: binder-dark blue sewing thread. pattern-3/2 variegated mercerized cotton.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer Winter Runner

Believe it or not, I got my summer/winter runner designed and woven!

I'm not sure how much I like the end product...right now it is hanging to dry, and I've already noticed one or two errors, not to mention design elements that are not as nice as I thought they might be. --This is called gaining experience, right?!

One special challenge from this piece has to do with my method of retying the warp to the loom after cutting off a piece. I like Peggy Osterkamp's method of weaving an inch of plainweave, inserting a stick into shed A, a stick into shed B, and another inch of plainweave. After the sticks have been woven into the piece, the finished portion of the weaving can be cut off the loom, and the weaving reattached to the front apron via the two sticks. You don't have to worry about tying lots of knots and getting the tension right again. It's simple, and it works.

Except this time, the warp started to pull out of the weaving and the sticks. I had one side of the piece with almost no tension at all and the other at normal weaving tension. Gulp. It took some time staring at the piece to figure out possible solutions! Interestingly, just as I was about to try one method, I realized I could try something new, and changed plans!

Syne Mitchell of Weave Cast mentioned lashing on with shoelaces in one of her episodes. I was able to tie the warp in 1" bundles with an overhand knot and lash these knots to the front apron bar, and viola! I was back in business! Hooray for Syne, and for all my other on-line weaving connections! You guys saved the day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Winter Workshop

Here are some photos from our recent Wabash Weaver's Summer/Winter Workshop with Linda Adamson. The first is "bricks" woven with a variegated 5/2 cotton. I'm not sure I like the combination of the changing color on the "color" yarn....It looks too much like an old bit-dot printer running low on ink! I think I need to pull my sampler off the loom and stare at it for a bit before deciding what I want to make!

Before the actual workshop got started, Joan and I were discussing warping techniques. She is getting ready to put on some long warps and is toying with various ways of putting it on her loom. (This is also one of the few photos that Ron took where I am not looking at my weaving with a grim face! I guess I'm not very smiley when I'm trying to keep track of my place in a new technique!)

And this is one of the most interesting photos that Ron posted (He put together a gallery of all the photos he took that day: Ron Baker's Gallery). These are Dorothy's hands. I haven't the slightest idea of what she is describing...But hands are amazing and I can imagine Dorothy's voice in my head as I look at this picture.

Thanks, Ron, for serving as photographer! You do amazing work!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Other Stuff

I spent 5+ hours at the County Fair this morning. The Master Gardeners hosted a booth for "Kids' Day". We gave away sunflowers and had a large table of "interesting" plants for the kids and their parents to explore. My favorite plant was the "living stones". They look like rocks, but they are plants. The "Sensitive Plant" was a big hit with the kids--it actually does stuff! (The leaves fold up when touched.)

After my morning at the fair, I came home and crashed. Whew! I'm pleased that the booth worked out well. I'm glad that my work on it is done. One of my jobs was decorating the booth. The photo is of my poster...I'll have to get copies of pictures from one of the other workers to show my paper plate sunflowers!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


One of my birthday presents was the book:

A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns: From the Friends of Handwoven

It has pages of neat patterns that can be woven using a rosepath twill threading...I think there are about 40 cute, pretty, interesting patterns.

The loom is warped. The weaving has begun. But there were challenges!

The tie-up for this pattern required 40+ connections to the shafts. The book includes instructions on how to create and use a skeleton tie-up... I made the mistake of staying up late (and going cross-eyed in the process!) to create my tie-up.

I had high hopes of trying at least half of the 40 patterns, but I'm not excited about creating all the skeleton tie-ups! Ah, well! As a good friend says, "There is no such thing as a free lunch." Time to get to work creating skeletons!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I'm almost done with a dress for my almost eight year old. It's pinned and ready to be hemmed. The skirt is for me...

I don't sew much for myself. My children get odds and ends sewn for them--I love resizing t-shirts for them, shorts and pj's are easy--but I haven't ever done much for myself. I have a pretty piece of drapey fabric that I want to use for a skirt, but I was so uncomfortable sewing for myself that I had to make a "muslin" skirt first. So, the tan/golden brown skirt is for me. The drapey fabric one will be different, but making this one boosted my confidence!

This dress was sewn by my mother for my baptism when I was eight years old. Mom got it out to show to my daughter while we were visiting, and it turned out to be the right size, so she is going to wear it when she gets baptized in July.

There is a lot of emotion tied up in textiles--my son was blessed in the clothes his father was blessed in; I wore my mom's wedding dress... They're just clothes: fiber woven into cloth, sewn into shapes...but somehow, in all that, is something that makes it special... And I think the connections are neat!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Better LateThan Never

I've had this roving dyed for over a month now! It's been sitting in my roving box waiting for me to take some pictures and post it in my etsy store. It's been a very patient roving! :)

100% Romney wool
4.25 oz.

Ready to spin or felt.

Check out my etsy shop and give it a happy home!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I'm in the process of finishing the second shawl for the Afghans for Afghanistan shawl project. The trick with finishing this one is that I didn't leave enough yardage to turn a hem.

Good thing I took Joan Sheridan-Hoover's finishing class at the Michigan Fiber Festival in 2007! This is a neat combination of an overhand knot, with the tail woven back into the main fabric. The edge is more stiff than the rest of the fabric (due to the extra yarn being woven in there!), but it makes a nice finished edge for these fringe-less shawls!

Here's a close-up view of the finished bobbles on the edge. I have been alternating sides as I weave the tails in so the bobbles (technically the overhand knots) lean to both sides.

Happy Birthday to Me...

Look at some of my wonderful birthday gifts! Knitting book by the Yarn Harlot (my in-laws saw her in person!), gardening, my newest copy of Spin-Off (wasn't it nice of them and the postal service to deliver it on my birthday!), and a homemade card and "quilt square" from my almost eight year old! She cut out and sewed each of those flowers onto the blue background just for me!

Thank you, all, for making this a memorable birthday!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

This and That

I've warped the Macomber and am weaving away on my second shawl for the Afghans for Afghanistan rectangle shawl project. The yarn is 100% alpaca from Syne Mitchell at WeaveCast.

The alpaca yarn is so soft...but it's a bear to work with at this sett (18 epi) as the yarn is starting to pill and the pills catch on the adjacent yarns and require extra work to separate the threads for a good shed.

I'm almost halfway done with the shawl, so I'm not going to unweave it (oh. I'm using a fine 2-ply wool as the weft), but when I'm done I think I'll put on a narrow piece and make two samples--one with the 18 epi sett and one with a 12 epi sett. (I do wish I'd learn to do this before I get into a project!!!!).

Here's a close-up so you can see the black weft.

And this is the oddball part of this post: my garden is growing!!! These are just two of my painted daisies. I had enough blooming that I cut these and brought them inside for the house! Hooray for beautiful flowers!