Thursday, June 9, 2016

With Many a Winding Turn...

I love the song "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" by the Hollies. It says so much about living a generous and spiritual life, one filled with gratitude and a sense of community, of sharing. It's the life I aspire to live.

Aspire to live... The road is long, right? I really wish I embodied the uplifting aspect of this song because I'm feeling a little peckish about "my brother" right now. I have a lot of them. Family members with serious health issues relating to their advanced age (including combinations of colon cancer, strokes, dementia onset, hearing loss, vision loss, heart disease). None of them are able to drive anymore but want to continue living "independently", and that involves a lot of support. There's also a younger family member battling a serious disease. While I split duties with another relative for two of these elders, I'm primary for the rest.

The time required to help all these people adds up, but worse than that is the emotional toll. None of us wants to lose our independence or be ill. People deal with it differently. Some are angry, some are gracious, some are demanding. There is denial, depression, anxiety, and a whole host of other emotions. Two are in somewhat unsafe living conditions and they won't budge. One is hospitalized with no good return to home plan yet. One is so lonely, as his living friends all deal with their own health and family issues. I spend a full day with him once a week and am basically his only reliable visitor.

I am emotionally exhausted.

A dear friend reminds me that you have to put the oxygen on yourself first. My weaving and recovery groups are that lifeline.

In addition to the wonderful women in the Guild, I take classes and am in three study groups: Lace Weaves, Rep Weaves and Style Fusion.

I've taken two classes this year.

The first was Kelly Marshall's rep weave. I made this BEAUTIFUL table runner:

It matches my china and I really LOVE it and the weave structure. I just bought a TON more of yarn to make a runner for my daughter and placemats for a pal's wedding gift.

I also too a 5 day Garment Construction Intensive class from Daryl Lancaster (click on the link if you want to read more about the class we had with her). She is a wonderful teacher and an excellent human being :) I made this jacket:

Sleeves not hemmed, no buttons and goofy smile... the fit is terrific when I'm actually standing up straight and all of the drag lines on the sleeves were gone once I finished everything off. I was the first person to test her shawl collar in a class. Her instructions were excellent. It's a great addition to her offerings.

The inside is AWESOME. I did a Hong Kong finish on all the seams in a washed out paisley poly print (I used the wrong side... the RS was kinda tacky). Not only did I make the jacket, but she helped me solve some fitting issues I've had for a long time. I am, apparently, long-waisted. I would know this if I could see my waist LOL!

For our lace study group, I made samples of a turned figure Swedish lace and placemats. No pictures today, but here's the draft of the samples:

I am having a TON of FUN with the style fusion group. I had been spending a lot of time working on a muslin for a blouse. I was informed I should probably unless I was bent on looking pregnant. Only your friends tell you that kind of truth.

As for the recovery group! Wow! We started the new group in January and while it's only around 14 of us, it is so very uplifting. I am always reminded of "each one teach one" at these meetings. We lift each other and as we move through the program as individuals, we pass on what we've learned to new people who join.

So life hasn't been all frustration and woe. There's been a good deal of light and fun mixed in and that's what I have to focus on.

It is as good as we make it, right?


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016: Quest for Joy

Retired or not, life is full of obligations. It's important not to let them define your life. There have to be those "other" things that fuel your engine. Otherwise, your life becomes about the duty and the joy gets pushed away from the center.

The biggest obligations in my life are supporting the day to day living requirements of my in-laws, spending time with my elderly uncle (which is actually fun most of the time) and continuing to clean out his storage units (not fun, but OH WELL).

I don't make Resolutions. I find that to be a self defeating term in my realm. I find when I don't have the kinds of goal below in-place and IN ACTION, the obligations overwhelm me and joy takes a back seat. So these are goals, some with plans. (Yeah, a project manager never really retires :)

  • Weaving
    • First up is a class Kelly Marshal and Rep Weaving. This is a new structure for me. There will be a post covering the class and project mid February. 
    • Weave lace samples for Samplers - Due March
    • Weave curtain for main bathroom window - Due June
    • Weave placemats for my daughter and niece - No due date
    • Weave yardage for April class - Due April
    • Develop plan for double weave grant application - Due April
  • Sewing
    • 5 day construction intensive class with Daryl Lancaster in April will kick this off. Since I'm an experienced sewist, I am "petitioning" Daryl to let me skip the standard jacket and move on to fitting existing patterns in my stash. I'll be bringing yardage for a vest.
    • Develop wardrobe plan after Daryl's class
  • Personal Growth
    • Get back into journaling, focusing on creativity, step work and spirituality, and gratitude
    • Support development of "No Matter What" Family Group
    • Plan a trip with the Husband. 
Seems like a small list. Once I hang the whiteboard, this will be what I look at every day. That helps me focus. 

Now I'm off to wind the warp for the Kelly Marshal class. I've been putting it off while I read everything I can get my hands on about Rep Weave. I finally feel like I understand her warping instructions well enough now so no more procrastination!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Whidbey Weavers Guild Uncommon Threads Sale - Over and Done!

Last Thursday morning, I loaded my car and took the ferry to Whidbey Island to start the 3 day adventure that is Uncommon Threads, our annual sale of hand crafted items. As in years past, we held the sale at Greenbank Farms in the barn.

Finished items have to have at least 50% "interlacement" or applied surface design and be of high quality to pass our Standards Board. We also accept raw materials that have been altered, like prepared roving. Vendors have to be a Guild member to sell. Other than that, the playing field is wide open!

So what do we make and sell at this wonderful event? The majority of the items are handwoven, knitted, crocheted, felted, commercial cloth that has dyed, overdyed, shiboried.  There is handspun yarn, roving for spinner and felters. We had scarves, hats,  handwarmers, rugs, towels, table runners, tree ornaments, finished garments, ruanas, shawls, placemats, napkins, felted sheep and gnomes, jewelry, woven yardage, greeting cards, temari balls and more. There were over 3000 items brought in for the sale, and the variety was staggering!

I was the Inventory Chair for this year's sale. I had no idea how much work it entailed but very much loved it so I will be next year's Chair as well. While it was a lot of work, it also afforded me an early peek at what people would be bringing in beforehand, and that was fun.

Thursday morning was check-in. All of the vendors brought in their inventory and our team checked them in and passed them on to Set Up and Display. That team worked tirelessly for the next several hours to create the sales floor.

The doors opened at 10 am Friday, and by close at 7 pm, we were bushed! We reopened on Saturday at 10am and the last customer left the building at 3:10pm. Our team had a station in the barn loft and were tasked with updating vendor's inventory as their items sold. This was totally dependent on our terrific cashiering team removing inventory tags and routing to us for processing. There are bound to be misses in a manual system, but yesterday morning, the Cashier Chair and I resolved the last of the mismatches, sent our files off to the Treasurer, and checks can now be sent out to our vendors. The books are CLOSED!

I sold all of my blue and white pinwheel towels, but not the boucle scarf :(

However, I got feedback from one of our master weavers regarding my fringe. I'm going to rework that and give the scarf to my daughter. She really liked it.

Now to start planning for next year! Since the pinwheel towels sell so well, I am thinking of sticking with that, changing up the colors, maybe using borders, and trying the trick I read about that carries color changes through the interior of the towel. That still hurts my brain, but I have 11 months to figure it out and weave some lovely things to sell.

Happy Wednesday!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Let the Twisting Commence!

The two rayon boucle scarves are off the loom!

This was a gifted cone of yarn. All I know is that it's a boucle and I'm 99.9% sure that it's 100% rayon. I'd describe the color as desert pastel. I used this for the warp and a celery & a coral rayon embroidery thread for the weft. 

EPI = 24
PPI = Hmmmmm. The boucle is so bumpy and the weft so fine, it sometimes dragged and snagged on the warp. I actually have a few holes created by this in the scarf with the celery weft. Once I realized that, I was very careful to keep this from happening. 

This is right off of the loom, hanging over the curtain rod with what little light that's left today showing through the weaving. I have no idea what it will look like once I've done the wet finishing.

But before I can do THAT, I have to do THIS:

Twisting the fringe. Made so much easier using the twister crafted by my son for my Christmas gift in 2012.

So I am off to finish twisting, wet finish the celery scarf and see what happens!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

In Praise of a Useful Husband Pt. 2

Back in January 2011, I was sang the praises of my Husband's generosity in sharing his woodworking skills with my sewing habit.

He continues to surprise me with tools whenever I mention something I've seen, want, need.

Here is part of my bounty in this past year for my sewing and weaving habits:

Double ended, hand turned exotic wood seam rippers. I love that I can remove the blades and stow in the handle.

This is a combination raddle / supplemental warp support that mounts on the back beam of my Baby Wolf loom.

Installed on the back beam of the loom, you can see the nails used in the raddle. Can you imagine how long that took!? With the board on top of the raddle, I can hang weighted supplementary warps over the top. 
Two beautiful exotic wood boat shuttles. These just fly through the shed!

Needle case for my mending and hemstitching needles.
And of course, what weaver or seamstress can be without beautiful things to write with?

Inlaid, hand turned and so very sweet.

The fact that he does these things without any push from me makes them all the more precious. He if fully invested in these things I do and that is perhaps the best gift he could ever give me.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Completed Towels + UFO Report

I've been busy!

Here are pictures of the towels folded in half after finishing. They had been tri-folded, and I didn't press them after folding. The selvedges are actually pretty straight IRL.

There are 2 each of the star patterns, 1 of the striped "bonus" plainweave striped bread cloth. I had one more draft to weave and could have done that for the 7th towels, but I was kinda sick of them by then :)

Pinwheel 1

Pinwheel 2

Pinwheel 3

If you enlarge the photo's, you can see that there are red threads running through the sides and borders areas of the star towels. I thought this would make them look like sparklers shooting off red sparks. Ummm no. It lends a pink cast to those areas. But it's okay, I can live with it.

Close up of experimental red

With the towels completed, I can go back to the boucle scarves. Yeah!

On the UFO front:

First up is a doll dress that my daughter started in a class she took with me when she was 14. She's 26 now. Her's is the dress on the right, mine is the one on the left. I finished mine a couple of years ago and completed hers up to the point of attaching the skirt to the bodice and finishing the back opening. Done! 

Fit For a Princess with Judith Adams, started in 2003.
 Next is a 6"x 6" commemorative mini-quilt I started after our puppy Sophie was put down in Jan 2014. She had several large cancerous tumors in her chest pressing on her heart. Losing her broke my heart. It's square IRL. Looking at it makes me sad but happy that we got to have her for 8 years.

That's it for now!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mangled Towels

I'm finally getting into the swing of this retirement thing :) That's a whole separate post but it's what makes all of these possible. I highly recommend retiring as soon as you are able. It's awesome!

I've had the Louet Spring loom for 3 - 4 years, but have only had 2 warps on her. The first, a "holly" dish towel design, was a limited success. I had a lot of tension problems and the selvedges were pretty terrible. When I put the second warp on, I re-read all of the materials, watched the Jane Stafford video, and I'm pretty sure I didn't lock the breast beam when I put the 1st warp on. This was an enjoyable weaving experience.

I wove 2 towels each of 3 different pinwheel tie-ups. I've looked all over for the drafts, but I may have (gasped) tossed them since I got it off of the interwebs and would be easy to find them again. Not. I did put them in Fiberworks. That's something.

Fibers (used in warp and weft):
Blue 8/2 Mercerized Cotton
White 8/2 Unmercerized Cotton
Red 10/2 Mercerized Cotton
White 20/2 Mercerized Cotton for plain weave hem warp

24 EPI in 12 dent loom

Width on loom:
Used Glimakra temple

Things I did different:
  1. Well, warped it right... locked the breast beam, back to front, lease sticks, raddle.
  2. Used a temple. This kept the weaving from pulling in, no shredded floating selvedge.
  3. Advanced the warp more frequently.
Things that needed improvement:
  1. Those red threads were not the effect I was looking for. I need to really work on color theory.
  2. Uneven PPI. All the pinwheels should be the same size. You can tell my mood by how packed the weft is. Not a good feature.
  3. Left too much hem between towels, so the last towel was a little short.
  4. Not totally happy with my method for carrying threads up the selvedge for color changes. There was a method explained in Handwoven last year and it made my head hurt. I'll have to revisit that. (
Things I learned:
  1. The red mercerized warp and weft didn't shrink at the same rate as the other fibers. 
  2. Each weave structure shrunk at different rates. Each towel was the same size on the loom, but each structure ended up different sizes after finishing.
  3. Finishing is more than washing, hemming and pressing.
Hence the title of this post.

I didn't feel like I was getting the finished look I wanted from simply pressing with my iron. And I pressed HARD. I decided to try cold mangling as demonstrated by Laura Fry in this YouTube video.

Laura uses a much larger rod than I had. DH had a closet rod and that was good enough to test the process. I was mostly concerned about the trauma to my hands.

I have Dupuytren's Contracture in both hands, but it's worse in the palm of the left hand. After rolling one of the 6 towels, it was apparent that this qualified as trauma. To protect my left hand, I wore the brace I have from the last procedure. This worked well. For the right hand, I held a 4" x 4" x 1" block and rolled the rod using the block (kinda sorta like the Swedish method on a very small scale).

The results were worth it as far as I'm concerned. I don't know if these pictures really show it:

Before mangling
After mangling

The motifs look crisper in the "after", as they do in IRL. The hand of the cloth is softer, drapier, and more cohesive. The threads don't seem to shift withing the motif as the cloth is handled.

I'll be headed to the hardware store to look for a large maple round this week. We'll see what I find! I've heard that Vavstuga will be importing powered cold mangles from Sweden. I sent off an email to them as I WANT.WANT.WANT!


P.S. I am a big fat liar about UFO's. I found "a few" more. I'll share as I work them off.