Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Plan

Adventure is just bad planning.
~ Roald Amundsen

Whenever things aren't going the way we expected and we are feeling a bit anxious, my husband and I look at each other and say, in exaggeratedly cheerful voices, "It's an adventure!"  The laugh that follows often helps break a bit of the tension.  So, while adventures can definitely be good things, I can relate to the quote above...  ;)

Anyways, I have an approximate plan for my next backstrap weaving project - I'd like to make a bag to store and carry my loom and half-woven projects.  I'm thinking to try a very simple design - just two panels, separate casings for drawstrings along the top edge of each panel, stitched together along the sides and bottom.  Something like this:  

I'm incorporating three new components to my weaving to make this bag.  First, I am using thinner yarn than before.  Second, I'm adding vertical stripes of different yarns, instead of one continuous warp.  Here you can see my plan for the stripes - my colors are blue, black and white:  

Finally, on the front panel only, I am going to overlay a design made with yellow embroidery floss on the middle, blue section.  I haven't sorted out what pattern yet...  Something geometric is possible (and traditional)...  But maybe I'll do something semi-realistic, like outlines of butterflies and/or flowers...  

I'm off to a slightly shaky start - my order of yarn came in the mail yesterday and it wasn't nearly enough!  Yikes!  :(

Apparently I should have done some calculations before haphazardly ordering a handful of skeins of yarn.  

So, now I'm awaiting another shipment of yarn AND mentally adjusting to the fact that I can no longer pat myself on the back for how inexpensive my loom bag project is...  ;)

Let's see if I have any more "adventures!" in store for me on this project...  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


People never notice anything.
~ J. D. Salinger

Well, I'm falling seriously in love with my backstrap loom!  As soon as I finished weaving my backstrap, I started a second project - a guitar strap for my husband.  

I stuck with a plain weave - but I used a variegated yarn in colors that he likes - blues, green and yellow.  

Here's a shot from my view during the actual weaving process:  

Isn't it cool how the colors in the yarn lined up to make those little bars - almost like frets on a guitar!  

I did the whole project in maybe 5 hours - spread across 2 evenings during the week and Saturday morning.

I wove it in the family room - my husband was in and out of that room many times - sitting on the sofa reading a book, watching TV, using his tablet, etc.  

Thank heavens he never asked me what I was weaving!  

There was a bit of sewing involved - attaching the woven strap to the "hardware."  

It came out shorter than I had expected - there was "take up" - which means that the lengths of yarn in the warp get shorter because they have to go around the weft threads.  But, overall I'm really happy with it.  

And happy that - despite the fact that I wove it right under his nose, so to speak - it came as a complete surprise to my husband!  And he loves it!  

Next up - I'm going to weave a simple bag to hold my loom sticks.  I'll be using a thinner yarn, adding vertical stripes and a supplementary weft pattern - a bunch of weaving terms, I know.  But hopefully I can show you what they all mean.  :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Where Has the Time Gone?

I would have given anything to keep her little.  
They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them.
~ Jodi Picoult

My two nephews used to come visit us each year in March, during their Spring Breaks from middle school and high school.

Here they are in 2008 at a water park - I think it might have been Aquatica:

In 2009, I splurged and took them to Discovery Cove, where they got to swim with dolphins!  

See the younger one, on your left?  Here's a close-up of him feeding a bird in the aviary:

And here he is again  - yesterday - a week after he moved down to Florida to attend a university:

We went back to Discovery Cove and he still likes swimming with the dolphins...

...feeding the birds...

And goofing off in a wet suit jacket that was NOT made to fit him...  ;)

When did that little boy turn into a young man?  Where has the time gone?  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Project Completed!

Without ambition one starts nothing.  
Without work one finishes nothing.
The prize will not be sent to you.
You have to win it.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, once you finish a practice narrow band or two, the backstrap weaving guru, Laverne Waddington, recommends weaving your own backstrap.  (Never mind that I purchased one to use with my loom!)  

I used my variegated red yarn and prepared a warp one yard long and approximately 4 inches wide.  I had a bit of a rocky start - apparently I was experiencing "sticky sheds" - where some of the threads didn't switch position (from upper to lower or from lower to upper) when they were supposed to.  You can see it in this picture - where I have some long stretches of thread:  

But I got some advice on and was able to overcome that.  Here you can see my view when I am weaving:  

And here you can see that, once I got into it, I quit having problems with sticky sheds:  

Once it was all woven, I had to finish the ends.  I did the easiest thing - made lots of little braids out of the warp threads and then strung my cord through the loops left at the end of each braid:  

Here are some shots of my finished backstrap:  

I am REALLY happy with how it came out!  Of course, there are errors...  But, for my first real project, it was quick and is useful and, I think, attractive.  The weight and texture are really satisfying between my fingers...  :)

Now, what to do with the backstrap I bought?  

Hmmm...  All I can think of is to inspire someone else to try backstrap weaving, and gift it to them as a starting strap...  

What do you think?  Any takers?  ;)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Photo

If you are allergic to a thing, 
it is best not to put that thing in your mouth,
particularly if the thing is cats.
~ Lemony Snicket

My loom and yarn weren't the only things that came in those boxes - look who got new window seats!  ;)

The cats are still getting used to the seats - if they prove to be a hit, we may get 2 more, so that no one has to share...  (Not that we spoil our cats or anything!)  ;)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Narrow Bands #1 and #2

Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good.  
It's the thing you do that makes you good.  
~ Malcolm Gladwell

Well, as you probably guessed from yesterday's post, my backstrap loom arrived in the mail and I spent some time over the weekend making two practice narrow bands.  

I used our coffee table to anchor the rear "beam" and started with the blue yarn I had picked up at Joann's.  

The front "beam" is anchored to my body with a strap around my hips.  

As you can see in the picture below, creating nice edges takes a bit of practice:  

I also received, in the mail, three skeins of a 100% mercerized cotton yarn that was specifically recommended for beginners working on a backstrap loom.  I had picked a variegated red color.  

I was still having problems with the edges when I first started...  

But part-way through it "clicked" for me - thanks in no small part to the advice from more experienced weavers on Ravelry - and, as you can see, I did much better!  :)

Next up - I'm going to try to weave my own backstrap - this is recommended as a good first "real" project.  I'll be using the same, red yarn.  Hopefully the changing colors of the yarn will give it some visual interest, as I will be doing plain weave and won't be adding any pattern.  

The main challenge here will be the width - it will be about 4.5 inches wide - my two narrow bands were more like 1-2 inches wide.  We'll see how much more difficult that is...  

Fingers crossed!  ;)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Now This Is What I Call A Good Day!

“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," 
and then he had to stop and think. 
Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, 
there was a moment just before you began to eat it 
which was better than when you were, 
but he didn't know what it was called.” 
― A.A. Milne