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. :)