Friday, April 3, 2015

A Seamstress's Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett

A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.   
~ Terry Pratchett





One of my favorite authors passed away recently, Sir Terry Pratchett.  

In his Discworld, people communicated across long distances via "Clacks Towers" - tall wooden towers built within line-of-sight of each other, that passed messages via a type of semaphore.  

When the son of the inventor of the Clacks Towers died, the operators began sending his name from tower to tower, with the preface GNU - 

G for send the message on
N for do not log the message
U for turn the message around at the end of the line and send it back again

In this way, his son's name was perpetually being passed on the Clacks, always being "spoken" and hence, his son never truly died...  

Well, Sir Pratchett had a large community of fans, and some of them got the idea to honor him and keep him alive by having his name always being passed along the internet.  You can read more about it here:

The Guardian article

I wanted to be part of this - and so I started Googling and reading and Googling and reading - and I found a way to make this work for my blog in Blogger!  

Yes, that's right - when you opened my blog today and started reading this post, Terry Pratchett's name was passed, in the background, to your web browser.    :)

And if you'd like to add his name to your (blogger-hosted) blog, here is how to do it:  

Go to your Blogger dashboard (where you write new posts).  

Blogger --> Template --> Edit HTML

Don't worry if you don't understand HTML - I don't either!  

Basically, you need to add one sentence near the very beginning.  Here is where I put it in my template (there was some guessing and finger crossing involved...) - and it worked!  ;)

Note that this is the very first few lines of HTML code in my Blogger template.  

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html b:version='2' class='v2' expr:dir='data:blog.languageDirection' xmlns='http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml' xmlns:b='http://www.google.com/2005/gml/b' xmlns:data='http://www.google.com/2005/gml/data' xmlns:expr='http://www.google.com/2005/gml/expr'>

  <head>

<meta content='GNU Terry Pratchett' http-equiv='X-Clacks-Overhead'/>

    <meta expr:content='data:blog.isMobile         ? &quot;width=device-width,initial-scale=1.0,minimum-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=1.0&quot;         : &quot;width=1100&quot;' name='viewport'/>
    <b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>
    <title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Your template HTML won't look exactly like mine, obviously.  Just look for the <head> statement and (hopefully) another <meta > statement.  And squeeze it in around there somewhere...  

I found this information (how to put this in a Blogger web site) here:

 
You can find ways to embed his name in other types of websites here:

 
Also, there are two free extensions to Google Chrome (the web browser) that will alert you if you have opened a web page that is sending Sir Pratchett's name across the clacks - ooops, I mean the internet...  

I will mention that these don't fully work on my computer - the little icons don't show up, although they are there, because I get the text boxes when I hover my cursor over the place where the icons are supposed to be...  ;)


GNU Terry Pratchett - May you live forever!  


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Lemonade Break?!?!

When life hands you lemonade,
don't try to make lemons. 
~ Vince Gutherie

I've got a tried-and-true (TNT) pattern for a work-appropriate A-Line skirt and I have made it three times with cotton prints:  





Now what I really want is a TNT pattern for a casual, comfy, yet still work-acceptable, top - one that I can wear with these skirts or with blue jeans - depending on my mood and the day of the week.  

I have been hoping that this pattern will meet the bill:  


The version that I like is the v-neck with short sleeves.  

I bought these three, light weight knit fabrics to, hopefully, make in this pattern:  


Luckily, my memory is bad enough that I don't have to embarrass myself by telling you how long I've had this pattern and these fabrics sitting in my stash, but over the weekend I finally made some time to start on one.  

My first impression?

Hmmmm...  Shall we say that the pattern is a bit pleat heavy?  ;)



There are 10 pleats on the front, 6 pleats on the back and 3 pleats on each sleeve - for a grand total of 22 pleats!  


I used scissor snips to make the outer point of each pleat and pins to make the inner most point of each pleat and then connected the dots to re-create the pleat lines on the fabric.  


The waist pleats get folded up and the bust pleats get folded down.  

I had put in all the pleats, added the v-neck facing, stitched the side seams - all without problems.  

Then I spent quite a bit of time puzzling over some instructions to begin inserting the sleeves.  I finally got them sorted out and was feeling quite proud, when I turned the page over and came across this:  


What?!?  The instructions are actually telling me to take a lemonade break!?!?  And they are warning me that the next few bits are going to be complicated?  Yikes!!!  

So, I took their advice and called it quits for the day.  Here's what I've got so far:  



The sleeves are only connected part-way - they are still open at the neckline.  Also, they don't connect at the underarm - part of the underarm is formed by the front and back of the top, I guess...  


I am pretty happy with how my v-neck came out - you can see the facing, but it isn't stretched or distorted in any way.  :)


The pleats in half their glory - 5 in front, 3 in back and 3 on the sleeves.  The top is much too big for the dressmaker's dummy.  Hopefully it will hang more nicely on my body.  

I guess it's time to read the instructions three times and then see if I can make it work!  ;)

Wish me luck!  

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Weaving Class!

The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.
~ William Arthur Ward

The two and a half day workshop on Andean Pebble Weave was absolutely awesome!  Laverne Waddington is an amazing teacher - possibly because of the way that she had to learn backstrap weaving...

Her first "teachers" were a mother-daughter team whose idea of "teaching" was to let her watch while they wove .

They barely spoke to her - it was actually a couple of days before she even realized that the daughter spoke Spanish!  But even though the daughter could speak Spanish, they both refused to answer any of her questions or to slow down their fingers so that she could see what they were doing...

It's amazing that she picked anything up at all!

But she did learn how to weave and she also learned how to teach backstrap weaving!  ;)

She started out by inspiring us by showing us lots of gorgeous samples:



Aren't these beautiful?  



Next, she was SO organized - you should have seen all the supplies she brought for each student!  We each had a little plastic tub with rubber bands, small wooden swords, small dowels to form cross sticks, an un-pick tool to remove all our mistakes - you name it!  



She even prepared two warps for each of us!  

Of course, her real skill was in her ability to demonstrate the techniques and explain the structure of pebble weave.  She used these square magnets - rearranging them as necessary - to illustrate how plain pebble weave is formed, and then how certain rows are changed to create beautiful patterns.  


Once we understood the basic structure, she taught us how to read simple pattern charts.  


Here is the basic set-up - minus the weaver!  ;)



We used C-clamps on tables to hold one end of our warps and dowels and backstraps to hold the other end to our bodies.  

So, on to my efforts!  

Here is the first sample band I wove in pebble weave - it is a pattern of X's and O's:  


When I first started, Laverne thought I was putting the warp under too much tension and beating my weft too hard, so I focused on easing up on everything while I worked on this design.  

For my second band, I tried weaving hearts.  The bottom heart in this picture is one of mine.  Laverne thought that now I wasn't beating hard enough!  She wove the middle heart to show me what it should look like.  I wove the third, top heart - I think I got it, don't you?  ;)


(And I barely grumbled at all about the fact that the day before she had told me that my weaving was too tight!)  ;)

Here are a few more patterns on the second warp - a scroll and some "ojitos" (or little eyes):  


The tricky bit about the ojitos is that they include horizontal lines, which require a bit of extra manipulation of the warp...  

At this point, we had used the two warps that Laverne prepared for us, and so we learned how to prepare our own warps.  Using my own warp, for my third band, I tried the meandering river with islands pattern:  



On Sunday morning, I prepared a fourth warp, but I didn't get to work on it until I got home.  Luckily, once home, Oliver took over Laverne's job and kept a close eye on my tension:  


I tried a vine and leaf motif, and I am pretty happy with how it came out!  




Since then, I moved on to the design that I've been wanting to weave since I first saw it - a llama!  Check it out!  :)



Is it adorable, or what?  I am so happy with it!  

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Reward

If you do one good deed your reward usually is
to be set to do another and harder and better one.
~ C. S. Lewis

Sorry I've been neglecting my blog lately - I had a couple of extremely stressful weeks at work.  As my friends and I used to say when we were children, it was h-e-double-toothpicks!  ;)

But I survived and, over the weekend, I had my reward!  A two and a half day workshop on Andean Pebble Weave - a technique in backstrap weaving - with the guru (gur-ess?) of backstrap weaving, Laverne Waddington!

It was intense and amazing!  But let me back up a little bit.

The weekend was the Florida Tropical Weaver Guild's Annual Conference, held at the Lake Yale Baptist Center in Leesburg, Florida.

The conference went from Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.  We stayed in hotel/dormitory rooms on the property:


The conference itself was held in a church building on the lake.  The vendors set up in the sanctuary - and we had our evening events there too.  


Most of the vendors were selling yarn of some sort - from pre-spun wool to hand-dyed yarn.  The hall was a riot of bright colors!





There were also a couple of vendors selling (fair trade) traditional hand made pieces from indigenous people around the world.  





Meals were served cafeteria style and the food was satisfactory.  Nothing to rave about, but there were plenty of options and it was filling.  :)

Evening activities included a fashion show and a business meeting.  As you might imagine, the business meeting was a bit boring, but I did learn something interesting.  Do you have any idea how much it costs to pull off an event like this?  Turns out it's a bit over $25,000!  And they need approximately 90 attendees to break even (their goal).

So, it's a relatively small conference compared to some of the sewing conventions I've attended...  Yikes - can you even imagine how much one of those costs to organize and hold?

Okay, I'm going to save the weaving shots for a second post, so I'll wrap up this post with a couple of pictures of the lake itself, at sunrise on Saturday.




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Friends and eFriends

If you have two friends in your lifetime, you're lucky.
If you have one good friend, you're more than lucky.
~ S. E. Hinton

My 10-year-old sewing friend originally wanted to jump directly from sewing a tote bag to sewing a quinceanera dress (think wedding dress for a 15 year old!) and I tried to steer her towards a simpler project, like an elastic-waist skirt...  ;)

She rejected the simple skirt idea, and went instead for slippers.  So, over the weekend, we made her these beautiful bedroom booties:  


Hopefully it's obvious that she picked the fabric!  ;)

She also did most of the sewing herself and maintained focus and attention for probably close to 3 hours!  Not bad for a 10-year-old, right?  

I did finish off the final bits - mainly inserting the soles.  


She loves them!  She didn't want to take them off...  

That is one young woman who knows her own mind - 
I can't wait to see what she wants to do next!  :)

-----------------------

On the weaving front, I sent a picture of my weaving to an e-friend and she figured out what I had done wrong with my guitar strap pattern.  Not only that, but she was able to "reach" from Bolivia, through the computer to Florida, and show me how to fix it.  ;)

I finished the guitar strap on Sunday night - just in time to take it to work on Monday and give it to my friend!  


I'm am so happy with how it came out!  :)


And he loved it!  :)

I hope everyone had a wonderful sewing weekend!  :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our Little Secret...

If you want to keep a secret,
you must also hide it from yourself.
~ George Orwell

I decided to do one more weaving project before I returned to working on the panels to cover my weaving bench seat cushion - a guitar strap for a friend of mine.  He asked for red and black.  

I played with an online pattern generator (here) to come up with this plan:  
I set up a warp to do this pattern, and discovered that it was too narrow - so I added some extra red and black warps on either side of this pattern.  

Then, I started weaving!  

Here's how it is coming out:  




I guess you could say that it bears some resemblance to my plan, in that it does contain red, black and white yarn...  ;)

Here's the thing - I think that my best bet at this point, is to just not show anyone else what my original plan looked like...  

So, can it be our little secret?  ;)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weaving AND Sewing!

Everybody has to leave,
everybody has to leave their home and come back
so they can love it again for all new reasons.
~ Donald Miller

Well, I've completed three more key fobs AND I even snuck in some sewing over the weekend!  

First, the fobs:

I tried to go for a fancy, "comb" pattern with my second fob:


I like the colors, but the pattern just didn't work for me - it feels static - kind of like a ladder...  

So, for my third fob, I pretty much copied a pattern from someone else participating in the weave-along (WAL):  




And I LOVE it!  I think it came our really, really cool!  :)

Finally, for my fourth fob, I decided to focus on my weaving technique, rather than the color pattern.  I just did a series of stripes, with each narrower than the one to its left.  



I didn't love it at first, but it is growing on me...  ;)

The key fobs were a blast - each one only takes a couple of hours, I learned a lot about design and I was able to practice my technique!    

That being said, I've decided to move on from the WAL - I owe a friend a guitar strap and, of course, I have two more of those major panels to do, in order to make a cover for the cushion on my weaving bench.  

----------------------------

As for the sewing, remember when my 10-year-old friend and I made a tote bag (here)?  

Not surprisingly, many of her friends and her mother's friends clamored for one of their own.  One such friend, Mayra, actually made arrangements to come over so that I could help her sew one to carry her workout clothes and shoes to the gym each week.  

We started with a quick trip to Joann's for some fabric.  She liked lots of the fabrics as we wandered up and down the aisles of bolts, but I kept waiting for that moment when she fell in love...  ;)

Then it happened - she was totally smitten by a brown cotton with multi-colored Spirograph-like flowers and designs. 

I've seen that look in the eyes of so many people - I love it when it happens and I can SO relate to it!  

I walked her through the steps of sewing up this tote bag - she used a green canvas to reinforce (& decorate) the bottom and to make the straps.  

We lined it with a cream-colored canvas.  

And she loves it!   



She told me that she kept touching it, because she couldn't believe that it was real and that she had made it herself!  :)

The whole morning made me miss sewing, and I browsed through my waiting projects and picked out two fabrics to make two versions of the same, A-Line skirt (a TNT for me).  

I finished one and got half-way through the other. I'll post pictures later this week.  It felt so good to be back on my sewing machine!  Like coming home...  :)

I hope everyone had a good sewing weekend!  :)