Friday, December 31, 2010

Handmade Christmas

was a great success!

The only people who got store bought gifts this year were DS and DD and their significants with only a few exceptions as noted:

DMIL: Husband made a turned birdhouse ornament which is now hanging in the window of their sunroom. He also roasted coffee and made her a hand turned coffee scoop ~ BEAUTIFUL! I made her 2 handwoven kitchen towels and puchased 2 cookie sheets to go with them. Husband bought her a bottle of Patron's coffee liqueur (YUM!)

DFIL: Husband turned a wooden bowl and made a nutcracker. Purchased nuts went with this gift. He also made him a clock with large numbers (to help since he lost his eye). It sits next to his chair in the sunroom and makes it easy for him to keep track of time :) I made him fudge and cookies and Husband purchased a bottle of Disaronno (YUCK!)

All of our friends were given different combos of the following:

Spice cake (old family recipe from Norway)
Turned birdhouse
Roasted coffee
Turned inkpen
Husband's homemade Mead and/or Mello

This was quite possibly the best Christmas ever and we spent far less than we have since 'before kids'. All gifts were well received and we even inspired some delightful handmades in return! DDBF's parents gifted us with a mix of 18 hen and duck eggs and some jellied fruits, our neighbor brought us homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, a dear friend shared her handmade candies. This is the start of a new tradition for us.

The In-Laws are headed for Maui early next week to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary! DMIL has lost quite a bit of weight since their last trip over 3 years ago and her wardrobe was in need of significant alteration. So I schlepped my travel machine and supplies to her house on Monday and got to work. We took in 4 dresses and one skirt. I brought an additional dress and skirt home to work on, which I delivered yesterday.

I made one major error while sitting at their dining room table. I was taking up the shoulders on a sundress 3/4". There was an appliqued silk bias trim around the armholes and neckline so I had to detach that, take it in, take up the shoulder and then reapply the bias. This dress is extremely well made with all the requiste understitching, staystitching and clipping, so there was a lot to keep track of. I had everything appart and was taking up each piece, trimming and getting ready to put the trim back on when it hit me... I had cut 3/4" off of one side of the bias. Twice.

Any of you have a favorite word you use in cases like this? I do. I can make it ring like churchbells at a fire. But I was sitting with my DMIL (who has heard me utter this profanity but never over one of her dresses) so I let the internal panic take over in silent mode while I figured out how I was going to salvage the mess.

In the meantime, she had prepared dinner for us so I broke for that. Husband knew something was up and that the something was not good. When I went back to the machine, I hunted through the trimmings and found two pieces large enough after seaming to bridge the gap. Now of course no one would have ever noticed. It's navy and slightly patterned. But I had to tell DMIL nevertheless. Her reaction? Goodness! I have a designer touch on this side! She was so gracious and I was reminded how lucky I am to have them in my life.

Today I am busy with more mending/altering for DH. I've added an elastic cord the bottom of one of his fleece pullovers and shortened the sleeves on another as well as the sleeves on a beautiful Woolrich pullover that he never wears. He's had it for two years and never told me the sleeves are too long!

When I'm done with this, I may weave. Or I may finish a project that's been laying around. Or I might clean (Good Grief! I've already cleaned out the laundry room, linen closet, my cedar chest, the junk drawer, all the plastic containers in the kitchen with no lid or lid with no container... Someone get me a straightjacket!).

I'll be toasting new years with Husband and the puppy. DD will be off with DBF and DS will be anywhere but here :) If tonight is the night, I may be able to post that I'm engaged to be a mother-in-law myself!

2011 awaits... what will you do with it? I don't make resolutions and I don't look back at the past year. That said, I am going to try and do better at recording my progress at weaving and sewing with a little life thrown in for good measure. It's good to have a written record to look back at!

A bright new year to you all!


P.S. Dogwood placemats put off until DMIL's bday in February. My neighbor gave me hemming advice and we both thought I should wait until I wasn't so rushed. Here's a pic:

I didn't get pictures of the finished kitchen towels, but here is one on the loom:

Monday, November 15, 2010

IRL I am...

...a sister/friend, a wife, a mother and an employee. This past week was in that order.

Caution: This is not a fiber related post!!!

Sister/Friend: My lil sis arrived from Austin last Wednesday and I took days off to play with her and her best friend and our "adopted brother" Gary. We went to Pike Place Market one day, Whidbey Island the next, Snohomish's quaint shopping district on Saturday and then all too soon, Sunday and the airport. It was fun and sad. She's only been in the Austin area for 3 years. She hates it and didn't want to go back. She loves her husband and home, but hates the heat and humidity, misses her family and friends. She has had a difficult life at times, and it breaks my heart that she is so unhappy there. Even so, it was wonderful to see her, fun to do things I wouldn't normally do and I enjoyed spending time with Gary as well.

Wife: DH told me he missed me. He didn't join us for our play days as he isn't a social type and it's just as well. We probably had more fun with him NOT joining us :) But it hit me how dependent we are on each other for our well being. We enjoy each other. We, despite swearing this would NEVER be the case, NEED each other. It warmed me to hear him say this. I missed him too.

Mother: DD and DS are not the center of my world any more but I found myself talking about them quite a bit this past week. It wasn't the frenzied worried chatter of the past, just funny stories and status updates. Both texted me several times asking where I was and wishing us good times. The best status update, by the way, was DD calling to tell me that DBF's latest MRI shows no tumor regrowth. Funny, I feel like bursting into tears just typing this, the relief is so palpable.

Employee: Bottom of the list. I logged on Friday to perform a task, spent an hour and a half undoing a mess and reminded myself how lucky I am to have a job, how good I am at it and much I am ready to ditch it and live poor LOL! In reality, I will probably have to work for another 5 to 7 years since DH left early, but that's nothing really. What struck me the most this week is how much damage I did to myself and my relationships by letting this category sit at the top of the list for over three years, dominating the rest. I need to really keep on top of this and keep reinforcing the importance of down time.

I am home again today, alone with DH and puppy. I have some things that need to be done, I'll help him with a project, go to my doctors appointment, get groceries and head back to the Big House tomorrow.

I hope to get the outer shell of the Verona jacket cut out today. DD arrives NEXT Saturday and wants my help doing some alterations on a few things as well doing some sample sewing for a community service project she wants to start so I need to set up her sewing station. And I need to decide what to put on the loom next as Christmas really is right around the corner.

IRL I am also a stitcher and weaver. IRL I strive for happiness and balance.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Slow Sewing

The current issue of Handwoven Magazine is dedicated to Slow Cloth. The projects are designed to allow the weaver to savor the weaving as much, if not more, than the finished product. It encourages taking the time to enjoy the process, the journey that is weaving...

 I am not going to be a fan of Slow Cloth any time soon. While I understand the principle and desire to weave this way, I am still too new at it and well... I want it warped, woven and OFF so I can start all over again!

That said... I will be putting some dish towels on next, as soon as I decide on what pattern to use. I'd like something like the handtowels I just made, where a long warp and a variety of treadlings yields multiple patterns.

This whole idea of slow cloth got me thinking, though. How does this apply to my sewing? I am very much a "slow sewer". And not because I can't stitch quickly. I can. I did it for years when the children were little and grew out of pants quicker than I could make them. I did it before vacations when they needed jackets or matching outfits for Disneyland. I did it when I was smocking for picture day, embroidering for a Christmas gift on Christmas Eve.

Now it takes me forever to complete something and again, it is not because I am slow. I love the process. I love straightening the grain. I love tracing the pattern pieces . I love finishing seams, sewing by hand, grading and clipping and understitching, topstitching and hemming. I haven't had the time until lately to start something that I could savor all of the way through the process and I think that is why I haven't sewn much lately. I don't WANT to be rushed.

Now that my work life has calmed down to a doable pace (50 hr weeks hallelujah), the desire to slow down and enjoy a project is front and center.

Today I set up the laptop on the cutting table and watched the Claire Schaeffer Tailoring DVD while tracing off the SW Verona pattern pieces. Alterations are complete (length was the only thing of concern to me ~ the jacket was too short and the coat was too long) and I even got the lining cut out.

I took me over 2 hours to do this because I would frequently stop and gaze out the window, play with the dog or sort through a pile of things waiting to be stowed away in my new cabinet. I think this is the equivalent of Slow Cloth.

And one day, when I'm done rushing through a set of towels or placemats just to rush to the next project, I think I will be able to appreciate the slow joy of cloth as well.


P.S. The cabinet is this:

Organizing Essentials Creative Cut Center

 It's not all that sturdy, but for $119 @ Joann Fabric, it does what I want. I have all my rulers on top, all my scissors, cutting and marking gear in the top drawer. I have makeshift trays in the slots for other storage. Projects in work are in the two shallower drawers and the bottom drawer is empty. Empty....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


... well I learned a lot.

I cringe when I start out a critique with that statement. I did learn a lot. I did an AWESOME job planning, setting up the loom and following the pattern. But I did 2 things wrong.

1.) I got cockey and stopped measuring my pics per inch about 3-1/2 mats in. As a result, I have 2 the same size, one slightly longer and one about an inch longer.

2.) I did not get a good enough machined stitched line between the mats before cutting them apart and laundering. I should have used a narrow zig zag and left more space between the two lines. As a result, one end of ONE mat came unraveled enough that hemming is going to be a challenge. This happened on Sunday. I have fallen asleep every night thinking about the right way to fix this. I have 2 ideas and an extra mat to try out one idea on each end :) When I get this figured out, I'll post pictures.

Other than these two things, they are lovely. I am so glad my mother in law loves me and will be thrilled with whatever I present to her on Christmas morning. I know I'll be able to salvage them in some fashion.

I will be working on Saturday (good thing, Fabric Mart back shipped my plum colored knit and the bills are rolling in HA) so I won't be getting a whole lot done. My lil sis arrives from Austin, TX a week from today, so not much getting done next week. My delightful daughter arrives 2 weeks after sis leaves. Happy days ahead!

I decided not to do the "What I weigh and what I'm doing". I really am not accomplishing anything with a public flogging based on an abitrary yardstick. This is about trying to get healthier. I need to remember weight is a number. It's about changing my diet to be healthier, excercising to be stronger and improving my mental state as a result of both changes. I'm still struggling with getting back on track but won't give up. Thanks to BetsyV for reminding me what the focus really should be.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

November + Western Wa = Rain

Yes, we are entering the "other" rainy season :)

The Greater Seattle Area is really quite beautiful, and we need rain for that. Today and yesterday have been blustery/sunny/wet and today promises to be more of the same.

I spent most of yesterday downstairs cleaning up. I should have been weaving but got sidetracked by cleaning. That almost NEVER happens so when the bug hits, I just give in and do it.

So that means I can work today. My plan is to finish up the last placemat at the loom. I broke a thread on Wednesday so I need to unweave a bit to work a new one in. There will be more warp left on, so I am thinking of running another color weft through and making a smaller mat to be used for a table mat for her centerpiece. That will complete the set for MIL's Christmas gift.

If I have time, I am going to get the Verona Jacket pattern out and trace off for fitting alterations. I'm enamored of this book now:

Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern (Sewing for Real People series)
I read this almost cover to cover while sitting in the Company parking lot when I took Chris to Seattle for pre-employment appointments. It really made sense to me. I am pretty sure I won't need to employ much if anything for this jacket as I have tried it on at Sew Expo and loved the fit, but I'm going to play with the process anyway.

I'll be using the silk herringbone for the main jacket shell. I wanted a coffee colored silk noil for the color and pocket accents but in Marysville (or Scarysville as the locals call it, even when it's NOT Halloween), there is NO chance of finding that and I do not have the patience to wait for mail order. So I am using a featherwale cord in the same color. I found a beautiful poly floral print @ Jo-Ann's in Everett last week and that will be the lining. I'm choosing a length somewhere between the jacket and coat view with long sleeves. The pattern looks VERY simple. We'll see.

On another note, I lost my battle with weight loss. Lost 30 lbs and 10 are back. Dissappointed and aware, I am getting back on track. I have to. I worry about my health and carrying around 10 extra lbs isn't the way to manage staying healthy. Every post from now on will end with my current weight and what I'm doing to manage a healthy lifestyle. Starting today.

Lifestyle Management Update: Weight 153. I vow to get through today with NO candy. Whole grains, fruits and vegtables, lean protiens. NO CANDY CORN.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fabric Mart and Me

I bit. Made my first order at their last 20% off everything sale. So what did I get?
4 delicious yards of this silk herringbone suiting. The color didn't come across in this photo, but it is greenish blue and just lovely, lovely. She is going to become this:
The Sewing Workshop's Verona Jacket and Coat
I'll be making the jacket, probably lengthening the sleeve and body a bit. Haven't decided on the contrasting trim yet, but I like the idea of brown ultrasuede on the inside collar and pocket trim. I can dress this down enough to wear to work.

I also bought 3 yards of this poly border print:
The picture doesn't do the colors justice. It's a steel gray and the flowers are much brighter. The teal really stands out in person. It's a mid weight weave and has great body and drape. I thought of Sarah immediately. It would make a terrific semi-formal dress for her with her dark hair and incredibly hard to describe bluegreengray eyes. We'll see when she's home for Thanksgiving what she thinks. I have got to refine my fitting skills if I am going to sew for her. Neither of us is an out of the envelope size for anything.

I also got 3 yards of this tan dotted swiss:

The color is much more on the tea dyed scale than shown in the picture. I see a great summer sundress, again for Sarah. Can you tell I miss her? I do. I would love to stitch away for her, but as I said above, my fitting skills need work if I am going to do anything fitted for either of us.

What else... 2 yards of a beautiful turquoise bamboo knit for me, 3 yards of a natural linen/rayon blend to play with dyeing and surface painting, 3 yards fo black hammered silk, and a mystery bundle.

GOOD GRIEF PEOPLE!!! That mystery bundle was FABULOUS!

There were 3 yards of charcoal grey wool knit (and I think it is 100% wool from the burn test), 2+ yards of a red poly chiffon (perfect for the 18" doll party dress I'm going to make), 3 yards of some kind of poly... it's grey, darker on one face, almost silver on the other, and this:

I have no idea how to sew with this... I would call it a pleated or crinkled fabric. It's a lovely teal and gold blend and I would love to figure out how to get it into a top, possibly an empire cross. But right now it's a wrap. I did have a wildly draped concoction going on after I untied this, ala PR's Michael C :)  We'll see. I have miles of weaving to do first.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Progress Report x 4

Saturday was an absolute treat for me. My best friend, Linda, came to visit. She lives 1 1/2 hrs. away, so we don't get to see each other very often. She brought her knitting (she makes adorable knitted sheep that she felts) and I worked on tying off the final bits of the Dogwood Placemats. We worked and talked for almost 6 hours. It was great and I've decided when we retire and sell this house, I want to move south so we can do this more often.

Progress 1:

On the Loom: Dogwood Placemats for Betty

I did manage to get the loom threaded for the Dogwood Placemats a week ago Sunday. There are 400 ends on these, so that is a lot of threading for me and it's not straight 1-8, so I really had to be careful.

To facilitate the threading, I "wrote out" the entire threading sequence instead of working from the pattern, which had multiple repeats. (Do this 2 times, do that 2 times, do the other thing 2 times and then do that whole block 3 times... then do this... and don't lose your place...) Thank goodness for Excel. It makes repeats as simple as ... copy / paste and translating these instructions into a format I could use, a quick and painless process.

To help ensure accuracy, I broke the diagram into units of 8. I used a post-it note to keep track of where I was and double checked each unit before proceeding to the next. I caught 2 errors using this process, so I think it is a good approach for someone who feels intimidated by what they preceive as a "complicated" threading. When I finished, I felt a genuine, unexpected SMILE.

With all the heddles theaded, then I could move on to tying on. This is what I worked on while Linda was visiting Saturday. It was obvious at that point that I had skipped 2 heddles. Actually, the empty heddle was there, and the thread that belonged to it was there, it just wasn't threaded. I credit the careful "8 per block" charting I did ahead for averting a nasty repair: verifying each block ensured I had 8 heddles and 8 threads, next time I'll add actually getting them threaded to the list:)

The treadling was represented in the same manner on the graph, so I wrote it out as well. It's a very long sequence, so I cut it into manageable chunks and taped it to tag board. This way, I can keep track of where I am with a paper clip. This is taped to the high castle.

I was all set up. I completed one entire placemat.
And then I refered to the picture. There was a border on the mat in the photo, but not one on mine. I checked the diagrams. I was threaded correctly. I checked the treadles, they were tied up per the diagram. So I went back to threading chart and realized that I could add shaft 8 to all of the tie-ups that didn't already create a tabby in the border area. After that adjustment ~ I had a border! I'll use the first mat for a bread cloth or something... Thank goodness I tied a long enough warp to compensate for this.

But mostly, I'm feeling pretty smug that I figured it out.
Smug me.

After working for a couple of hours yesterday, I have 1 mat without a border and 1-3/4 mats with borders. I've got enough bobbins wound to complete the set and I'm already dreaming about what I want to do next.

Progress 2:
DS turned 20 last week. He spent the afternoon and much of the evening with us, had fun playing with the RC helicopter the grandfolks gave him, then left to spend the rest of the evening with his GF. Today, he completes his pre-employment paperwork with his new employer. My employer :) His last day at his present employer is Wednesday. His first day on the new job is this Friday. This job won't take him to the rich house, but it's a 50% raise and has benefits. It's an opportunity for him to prove himself and work into a much better position. I am hopeful.

Progress 3:

DD appears to be on track to graduate a semester early. Or take the extra semester and graduate with 2 majors: Antropology and Comparative Ethnic Studies.

(Progress 2 + 3 = $$$ back into our personal "value stream" by the end of 2012. This is also when DH's retirement pension kicks in, so we will be rolling in dough :)

Progress 4:

The heat pump, air handler and thermostat are finally installed and wired to DH's satisfaction. The had to come back and swap out the thermostat today. My personal wish? This should END my apprenticeship in reading wiring diagrams and interpretation of actual field application of said wiring diagrams as well as field testing involving running from the switching mechanism to the heat pump, back to the air handler and reporting back to The Sarge. After 2 weeks of hearing and doing very little that didn't relate to this project, I am glad it's right and I am glad it's OVER.
Update on the Smug. Not so much... Just rechecked the treadling diagram and it was there all the time, I just missed it. And in photographing the mat with the border, I found 2 glaring weaving area about 12 inches in. I'll be spending this afternoon "unweaving". Similar to unsewing with all the requiste ladylike language. Refer to the picture above with the mat with a border. See the box of tissues next to loom on the table? That's for my TEARS!!!!
Update on the heating system. Not over. DH is in there right now cursing about a duct join that didn't join up in the floor joists. He's going to fix it. Oy vey.

But what's to complain about? Gotta do something, right? :)

Weekend Progress Report - Wrap Up

I got TONS done this weekend, but nothing off of the camera yet. I have tomorrow off to take my son to Seattle for some final pre-employment things and then it's back home for the rest of the day.

I have not been slouching and am anxious to write out how I approached the current project on the loom. This is my second project started "on my own" and I really like how it's turning out. Of course, I found out that preparation is everything and that, by George, I think I've got it!

More tomorrow :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sleying the Reed - Front to Back

The controversey rages on. Front to back (the method I learned), back to front...
I personally like the front to back because I can do this part sitting at the gift wrapping table. Right height, good lighting and a comfortable chair.
This is the start of the project for Betty's Christmas gift, dogwood placemats. This is 10/2 perle cotton with a nice twist and sheen; the warp is about 5 yards long to yeild 6 placemats. Or 4 and some experimentation. Hope to have the loom ready to go by Sunday, but I am coming down with something and feel rotton.
And I am sad.
Yesterday, in Bellingham, WA, the body discovered in a log pond was officially identified as a young man named Dwight Clark. He was 18 and had been missing for 11 days. He'd been at Western Washington University for ONE WEEK. By all accounts, he was a good student and an all-around good guy. My daughter is friends with 2 of his friends at her university and they had nothing but good to say about him. In fact, one left school to join the search when he went missing and will most likely not be back.
He was found with his keys, ID, cell phone... No sign of violence or foul play. Initial autopsy shows that he died in the water. He left a party alone at 2am. Interviews with other people at the party indicate he didn't drink or do drugs.
My children are 20 and 21. They have no doubt used less than sound judgement on many occassions and yet they always woke up in the morning none the worse for wear. I cannot even begin to imagine the depth of the loss his family must feel, his friends, fellow students...
There may never be an answer to what happened to Dwight that early morning. I do hope that we all take a minute to remind our kids that no one is invincible and that there is safety in numbers. My son had a teacher who once described my son's group this way: None of them is as stupid as all of them together. But a pack of stupid is better than one lone kid in a college town at night. Or anywhere for that matter.
Life is very fragile. My 8 year old niece was the victim of a senseless drowning, so I am not a stranger to the twisted mess that life can be. I know that random events occur and there is no way to predict when one will hit. We can take measures to protect ourselves, of course, and we should. And we should be grateful every day that we dodge the random, grateful when we don't but can recover and grieve for those that are lost.
Hug your friends and family, People.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wire wires everywhere..

... Seems one project gets completed and another starts. For DH. Which involves moi's participation.

Today's project is readying the phone system for the switch to a cable phone provider. We have a large home, tweeked to the geek. There are things that talk to each other through the phone lines and Sisters, I have NO clue how any of it works. Zip. And frankly, I don't much care because this house is only alive because DH is. When he is called to his maker, I have to move because I don't know how anything besided the basic appliances in this house works. Oh I can cook, run the washer and dryer... I've even progressed to getting pictures from the digital camera to the computer.

And that is my limit. I can't pay bills on-line, can't operate the ride-on mower, don't dare try and touch the coffee grinder and espresso machine (from Italy, too complicated).

DH, however, seems to think I am much smarter than I am. This afternoon and evening were spent trying to figure out where in the vast system of wires did the red and green get switched with the black and yellow. Huh?

I helped awhile, holding the flashlight, confirming what he saw, but mostly surfed the web. Had ambitions of sleying the reed, but needed to be close by for consultations (read listen and hopefully understand enough to contribute). Glad to be able to spend the time with him, but that's it for today.

Maybe tomorrow :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Show Your Work pt 2

I need to work on my composing skills, I guess...

Just about done with my towels, have only the hemming left to do. But here is what all my fussing is about!

Shot to the left is a picture of weaving in progress. The other is the finished product. Less the hems. Which I am waffling on doing by machine. These aren't 'excellent' so I think machine will be good enough.

I did learn many things and now that they are off the loom, cut apart and washed, the biggest lesson is that I won't use sewing thread for my tabby weave. Although I was told it was okay, it doesn't shrink (DUH, did I just start sewing?). So the tabby area is wider than the towels. I can compensate by putting in a gathering thread and easing it in. They are fine for a first project and I am putting them away for my first granddaughter. They will burp rags. Seriously!

As you can tell, I tried a variety of tie ups and treadlings. I used an unusual fiber for accent in the towel on top, tried adding white bands. I had so much fun! So I need to get off of the computer now and to winding the warp for my next project.

But before I go, on the GOOD NEWS front:
  • DD's BF is DONE with radiation! He should start regaining his strength in about a week and be good as new!
  • DS has a NEW JOB! Just waiting for the background check and his report date! He'll be joining me in the fast paced aircraft industry. Not exactly joining me. He's going to be a mechanic and I'm a desk jockey ;-) It's a substantial pay boost and benefits. I am so grateful he's getting this opportunity.

I really do love life!


Show Your Work!

Remember in math class when you would FAIL if you did not show "your work"? Well here is mine:

This is my sewing room closet before I cleaned it out. Now granted, it looks worse than normal because I had to throw all of the things in here that were on the FLOOR and my sewing machines are under that pile in the 2nd picture.

The fabric on the shelves, however, was untouched by the chaos so I have no excuse for it.

This was taken a few minutes into the clean up. All of Sarah's and my dolls are on the top shelf. They used to be all over the guest nook. It was kind of creepy...

Here are the after pictures:

I just get chills when I walk in here now. I tossed some, but not all that much, fabric. It's so well organized, I could send you a text in Florida and you could drive here and find the fabric based on my directions quicker than I could have found it last week.

I sew doll wardrobes for charity auctions and include a nice doll with it. I usually pick them up @ Tuesday Mornings for a good price. Let's just say after finding them all, I think I'm good to go for awhile...

I also moved the 'gift wrap center' into the guest nook in my sewing room. If we have a guest, I can drag it out and make more room. Or if they come around Christmas, they can wrap the gifts as a 'wind down' activity :)

Here's a close up of the card on the wall in the picture to the left. My delightful offspring gave it to me for my birthday last year. It's a classic in my book but I guess that's obvious since I stuck it on the wall! There is little doubt that they are my children

I hate the blogger interface when I'm importing pictures! I'm off to part 2 and will import the pictures FIRST. Let's see if that works better... After all, as Dorothy said, you can't make her think... :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Healing?

I neglected to post this earlier to avoid worring the girl child. I fell off the step stool while being the right hand gal. I've been home for 2 days, folding fabric, doing things that don't take much effort. But mostly trying to take it easy. Back spasms + wrenched neck = crap. crap. crap. crap. crap.

Reading blogs can be time killer, an inspiration, educational/instructional. I certainly enjoyed it though!

Carolyn @ Diary of a Sewing Fanatic asked an interesting question about scrap caching. It made me really think about what goes back into the sewing room closet. She also talked about her seasonal fabric rotation. Both these helped me immensly as I went through my fabrics. About 20 lbs of fabric will not make it back in the closet.

I know at some time I will be a grandmother. That informs a lot of my stashing. Cute bunny knits? I'm keeping them. Sweet ladybug cotton? I'm keeping it. Nice brown black plaidish pant weight fabric? Keeping. Corduroy. Keeping Keeping Keeping.

And I did a fair amount of smocking and heirloom sewing when the kids were little and hope to be allowed to do some of the same for my grands. So Swiss batiste? KEEPING. Liberty of London prints? Really, don't ask! I am keeping all of it! There are a number pieces I would never stitch up for myself, but the grand babies will look quite fine in them!

The "adult" section of the closet is quite bare, though. And I don't see any reason why I can't figure something out for 75% of what I kept. My focus has narrowed and I'm pretty much running out of excuses!

I took all the towels off of the loom, stitched and cut them apart. They are doing cycle time in the dryer right now. Will post after hems are in.

Chao and off to do some stretching. Can't stay home from work forever, dang it!


Monday, September 27, 2010

New Furnace + Fixing the Damage = Cleaning Frenzy

And that translates to open wounds, saying good-bye... again, and moving on.

Isn't that melodramatic?! My parents died in 2001, 4 months apart. It was a long hard 2 years preceding their passing and my relationship with my older sister was irreparably broken. After the estate closed, I severed ties. No need to rehash that here.

I still have things of my mom's that I don't know what to do with. Mom kept scrapbooks of every card she ever got. EVERY CARD from what I can tell. There are close to 6 very huge books. I don't want them. Then there are the photo albums. No logical order, no labels, people I don't know, some I do. I don't really want these, either. I can offer them to my little sis in TX and burden her with not wanting them as well. That's probably the answer.

I still have some of the legal papers and things that made me think about the issues that led to the break up of my "family". I had been urged to save all of these papers in case I ever have to defend myself. It's been 9 years and it is still a gaping wound every time I have to revisit that time.

All of this "stuff" is in boxes in my sewing room. I look at it every couple of years and toss a bit every time.

What brought that up? Well, getting a new furnace really disrupted our household. Our furnace room is HUGE and well stocked with boxes of things I'm saving for grandkids, old dishes, glassware and pots and pans to help our two set up their first households, books (boxes of them!), Christmas decorations (including the fake tree), camping gear, Costco sized toilet paper/paper towel/tissues, a gift wrap "center"... All of that was moved out to facilitate the installation of the new furnace.

In a fit of stupidity, I swore I was not going to move a bunch of "crap" back in there. So I am sorting and tossing and donating. It is slow going, but I have finished my part. Scott is looking at new shelving for the area where the gift wrap station was. I moved that into my sewing room to give him the space for his wood supply (he's a wood turner and wood, like fabric, must cure).

Furnace room checks out okay now, but because the race in the ceiling ran smack dab through my sewing room, everything in there was moved to the east wall. They cut 7 access holes in the race so Saturday and Sunday was also spent crafting a creative cover for that mess. Scott put up boards along the face and trimmed out with moulding so we can get back in there if we have to. He painted it to match the previous minty green (not my fav but I am not into painting that entire room right now). It looks very nice.

Yesterday afternoon he told me I could start moving my things back to their home. The furnace room cleanse made me look at everything with a critical eye. I had thrown everything... Oh let's be honest, the room had a bunch of fabric in piles everywhere and I tossed it all, along with the machines, in the closet, pushed hard and slammed the door.

Everything came OUT of the closet and it is NOT going back in without a purpose. In short, I have a real mess on my hands. But it will be good in the long run. and hopefully, will help bring my projects into focus. I sure HOPE SO!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Assume the Position

Work is progressing in my sewing area. Scott devised a clever way to hide all the holes put in the ceiling utilities race. Unfortunately, he needs me on "standby" to hold things in place, move drop cloths, aim the light... I have not gotten a THING done this weekend, but I am glad that this is almost over and I can reclaim my space. And he's so DAMN clever!

Sarah returns to school today. She spent yesterday afternoon and evening with DBF and his family. He has 3 days of radiation left. It has taken it's toll. I was shocked at how weary he looked yesterday considering I had seen him only 10 days earlier. He said they have told him it will be at least a week after the last treatment before he starts feeling better.

Must get back to the work! Can't wait until I can move back into my room!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Already?

This week is passing FAST!

I have woven samples of the 8 towels and decided on "Basketweave" as the final repeat towel. It's the end of the warp and I think there is a distinct difference between the center and sides of the towel. The warp may be just a tad looser in the center and I wonder if that could be the cause.

Progress has ground to a hault as I have had to clear out of my studio area due to our heating system replacement. The installers will need to access the lines and electrical runs in the ceiling so everything had to be moved out of the way. The closet in that room will take years to reorganize: Everything of value that I didn't want left out is in there. Sad discovery when I moved the guest bed... Our chinese wool carpet has been damaged. In a foolhardy attempt to remove one of the several spots, I bleached the color out of a small area. I am going to need a professional to bring her back to her previous state of beauty when we move her back into general living quarters. Then again, who knows when that will be!?

I'm anxious to get back in the room and put everything back in its place. Not only did I have to clear out my studio, everything I store in the furnace room had to be relocated as well. I have a gift wrap center on the back wall of the furnace room and I really would rather put that in the studio, so some rearranging will definately be in order.

DD is home for the weekend so not much will get done for a week at least. I am grateful to be able to see her Pixie face. I do miss her!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Progress report ~ Color as Gamp

Hello~What was my goal? All towels woven by the end of the month? HELLO!

All towels are complete on the loom and now I'm just weaving a small sample of each in high contrast to file behind the instructions. I was very surprised at how quickly some wove up. And surprised how the one PIA pattern, Reflections, ended up being a favorite. With such a simple set up, the variety of patterns available by just taking a couple of minutes to change the tie up, I'm with the article's author, Sharon Alderman. It's hard to STOP :) But I am running out of warp.

Pics by the end of the week, must log off now to finish the last two samples and decide what to do with the remaining warp. I thought about just repeating my favorite, but I ran out of the weft so anything I do at this point is going to be an experiment in color.

I did not attend the Seattle Weavers Guild meeting on Saturday. I am still battling fatigue and had a couple of things that needed to be done: Stitch up a pillow for Ann from her woven piece for the SWG sale in October and spend some time with the delightful DH. He was brewing Saturday. I used to sit with him in the kitchen while he worked and we would have some of our best talks. The last few years, I've worked most Saturdays and that connection... well, it's no longer a connection. So I decided that it was more important to be a brewing couple and I am glad I did. I miss him. Doing something new doesn't need to be done at the expense of something old. How lucky can a woman be to still be with the man she loves, the man she grew up loving, has always loved, still loves? Ask me. I can tell you. She is extraordinarily lucky. And she is me.

I <3 weaving, but I love DH more!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

While I have not posted every day, I have spent at least 10 minutes at the loom each day. I've completed 6 towels in 5 of the 8 patterns. I'm working on the 7th and am not too fond of the emerging pattern. I will power through it anyway!

The biggest challenge I've run into is my floating selvedge on the right side. I've managed to break it twice so it is a patchwork at best. Am I tightening the warp too much, is there too much weight hanging off of it? I'm not sure. Sometimes I think I am going way overboard when I wench it down after advancing the warp, but I don't want sloppy, either. The selvedge looks good where I've not had a break in most of the patterns. A couple are somewhat wavy, but I'm told that is a function of the structure more than my weaving style.

Seattle Weavers Guild has an "unusual" Saturday meeting so I am going to attend. They are generally on Thursdays and this is something new they are trying. We'll stop on the way back at The Weaving Works and I have my shopping list ready. I want to make some of the "holly look" twill towels in the "best of handwoven towels on 8 shafts".

But first will be the dogwood placemats for Betty. They seem fairly straight forward and I have all of the supplies. I thought I'd make 4 for Christmas and see how she likes it. I'm also thinking about something for Jim's chair. Betty always keeps something on the back to protect it from his V05 (how funny that that is still in use in 2010). Since we are trying to keep it a handmade Christmas on our part, he will be a challenge.

That's it for today. I'm excruciatingly tired and a big fat cheat on any lie of a food plan I'm pretending to be on. More on that later. Must regain control. Must.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001...

I remember this day vividly, as I am sure many millions of people do. I wish rest to the souls lost on that horrible day, peace to those left behind and wisdom to the idiots that failed to learn the lesson of what happens when religion morphs into fanaticism. I am sorry for those in our nation who have no guilt at making American Muslims feel unwelcome in their own country. And I am full of pride and admiration for our President for standing beside them, risking the alienation of some by doing so. You go, President Obama!!!

And now on to something far less important:

Today was another day at work with only a few minutes to weave when I got home. The goal is to get the towels off the loom by the end of September and begin to work on Dear MIL's Christmas placemats. I've completed 1-1/2 of the 6 so if I spend some quality time tomorrow, I will be on track. I'm trying new things (well, it's all new to me since I am a new to the entire weaving thing). For a splash of color, I inserted some sample eyelash yarns near the bottom of towel 2. The effect is really quite nice. Pictures tomorrow.

The Final Say: Rest well, America, and remember your roots.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Sarah!

My darling daughter turned 21 today. She is such a wonderful young woman and we are just so very fortunate to be able to call her "ours".

Sarah is the reason I learned to smock. She was my willing model and never thought it was old fashioned. She thought it was special. When I learned to weave, she told me she was proud of me for learning new things. She motivates me just by being such a good friend.

So today and all of your tomorrows, Miss Sarah, be safe, be happy and always know I love you.



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday is the new Monday... this week :)

The best part about a 3 day weekend is that it's 3 days! And the ensueing work week is only 4. The worst part is that the ensueing work week is only 4, the workload is 5.

I got to play babysitter and ref all day Tuesday at work. When I got home, I made dinner and talked to the boy about his upcoming interview. PLEEAAAAASSSSEEEE let this be the job that gets him on the road to adulthood.

After dinner, I helped Maryann with her warp. She was warping back to front, so this is the 2nd step in her long process. It was fun!

Wednesday ended well, with Maryann visiting MY loom and critiquing my progress. She gave me the thumbs up :) with a couple of pointers to neaten up my selvedge. Then we looked at the mill end samples that came in the mail on Tuesday. We are in trouble. About $100 worth ~ there is just so much out there that looks fun to try!

I am more tired than usual this past week. I don't know if I am edging towards an "episode" or if I am "just tired".

The Final Say: I love my loom and how it's deepened my friendship with Maryann. It is all good.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shifting Priorities + Stash = Good Sewing / Good Weaving

This is the west end of my sewing room. It's where I weave. The warping board on the wall was made by DH, as were the reed holders on the top of the cabinet. He's also made a bobbin winder and a spool holder. I feel so fortunate that he supports my crafts in so many ways. Note that I am NOT weaving on a bench. After 5 straight days on a wooden bench at Madelyn's school, my ass said NO. The sewing chair works well and my bottom is happy.

Yesterday I worked on warping the loom. This is my first time doing this so it's taken forever. I have 7 + yards of 5/2 pearl cotton on the beam. I warped front to back and all was well until I did my first tabbies. Using strips of fabric as weft, I did about 5 passes and it was EASY to tell that I had made 2 glaring errors somewhere along the way.

1 fix was easy. Cut out the extra warp thread (threaded 2 heddles on shaft 8 in a row), 2nd fix not so easy... I had skipped a heddle on shaft 3. And I don't mean there was a heddle there that I didn't thread: no heddle, no warp.

Being a novice, I tried to cut an extra length of warp and weight it. Trouble is, no heddle. So I did the UNTHINKABLE. I took the bar off of the top, scooted the threaded heddles off to a point that I could slide a new one in, put it on, repeated on the bottom and made a BIG OLE MESS.

Enter DH.

"Can't you just unthread up to the point you made the error and then rethread?"

Duh. The error was about 2 inches in and he was right. I untied the warp from the front apron and one by one, rethreaded until it was right. And because of the nature of my error, I was able to take the thread I had cut off in problem 1 and use it for the fix in problem 2. Thank you Scott!

So now it's tied on and I've woven 8 inches with only one minor error. YEAH! The picture below was taken after about 1 inch of real weaving.
The best part about all of this is that the feeling I had at school was not some kind of spiritual anomaly brought on by excitement, muscle fatigue, lack of sleep and the fellowship of new weavers. It was real.
Today, as the shuttle flies through the shed and my feet work the treadles, I still get that buzz. I still feel like the circuit between my head, hands and feet is complete. And I am grateful beyond measure.
So that is the weaving progress.
I was also going to finish my black knit top. And do some cleaning and sorting.
Priorities change.
DH asked me to make "cozies" for his beer carboys. This is not gourmet sewing, but it's gratifying to be able to be able to do something for him in return for all he's done to get me up and weaving. These were made from fleece in my stash. Fairly simple, with elastic in the top to give some shaping at the top, velcro closures on the side and a vinyl window so he can see the temperature at a glance. He liked the prototype so I stitched up 3 more. It took little over an hour since my newly service machine decided it didn't like the double layers of fleece + the velcro. It shouldn't have been a problem so I'm a bit miffed. May have to drag her back in.
Finishing off laundry and then I'll return season 3 Madmen to Blockbusters. (Such evil fun in that office!) Then I'll finish off the hems of the knit top, finish weaving one towel and call it a success. I didn't complete everything I set out to do, but I'm happy to substitute the carboy covers for cleaning/sorting any day.
The Final Say: It's all about balance. And a DH with an analytical mind doesn't hurt either.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Well now...

My life is infinately better than that last sad post! Updates:

  • Husband has retired!!!!
  • Son is working full time, has an interview Friday for a MUCH BETTER JOB
  • Daughter is back at college and seems so much happier than last year
  • Daugher's BF is nearing the end of his radiation treatment and I know in my heart that he is going to be OKAY from here on out.
  • I have switched jobs, returning to my former position in a much more supportive and sane environment. Less overtime, less responsibility, more respect for what I know.
  • I am learning to weave. It is a completely COMPLETE sensation. It is like the circuit is finally closed.

Three day weekend plans:

  • Warp the loom.
  • Weave one towel
  • Sort through and organize the fabric pile on the floor
  • Finish the black knit top - it's only hems and I have no idea why I keep putting it off!

Three month plan:

  • Get back on my healthier diet: lose the 10 lbs I gained during the summer
  • Incorporate excerise in my life again
  • Weave gifts for Christmas!
  • Blog daily to keep myself on track

The Final Say: I love my husband, children and friends. My life can be as full or as bleak as I choose and I choose full.