Friday, October 31, 2014

Option, Options and More Options!

I meant to behave,
there were just too many other options.  
~ Darynda Jones

Yay!  I finished weaving my band, pulled it off the backstrap loom and lined it with a silk remnant from the wedding dress:  

Now I want to turn it into a small bag - the question is, how?  

I could fold it in thirds - with the top layer serving as the flap - stitching up the back and middle layer to form the body of the purse - add a row of decorative beads and leave the long fringe there...  Obviously I would also add a strap.  

I could do all of the above, but shorten the fringe somewhat...

Or I could cut off all of the fringe.

I don't have to fold it in thirds - I could fold it like this: 

I'd probably cut off the fringe, so that it doesn't obscure the design..  

Or some other combination - and the beads are optional too.  

What do you think?  How should I assemble this purse?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

At the Intersection of Two Worlds

Chance favors the connected mind.  
~ Steven Johnson

Sometimes the most original ideas come when a person makes a connection across two completely separate parts of her life.  

That's how I created my "How Much Fabric?" reference cards - I started with a question from my sewing life and applied methods and tools from my work life - and I ended up with something that no one else had ever done before.  

And I recently discovered someone else who made this type of connection - Dr. Karen Piegorsch.  Her work life is firmly rooted in ergonomics, a field that focuses on designing equipment to suit the human body.  And she has a passion for the visual arts.  

Well, weaving is a visual art and on a trip to Guatemala, she learned that backstrap weavers experience a lot of physical pain from weaving in the traditional, kneeling position.  And so, she set about designing a bench for (and with) them - a bench that would provide the physical support that they need for this particular art.  

She did such a good job, that she and her design won a number of awards!  

More importantly, she went about this in such a way that communities of backstrap weavers have been able to take ownership of the enterprise and to continue building these benches for themselves.  

And the plans are available, free of charge, online (here)!  So, guess who thought it would be cool to have a bench like this for herself...?  

I'll give you a hint - she writes a blog called "In Over My Head"   ;)

You guessed it!  

I went up on a website called ThumbTack and posted a "help wanted" ad for a woodworker to build this bench for me.  

And it turns out that there's even a role for me in this project!  

Yup - I'll make the cushion - the plans for the bench also detail all the components I will need and how to assemble it.  I think it's going to be a lot of fun to pick out the fabric and stitch this up!  :)

If you are interested in the bench and want more information, you can watch this video (click here).  

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Looms, Looms and more Looms

The surface of the Earth itself is an immense loom
upon which the sun weaves the fabric of existence.  
~ Wade Davis

It seems like lately I've been surrounded by different types of looms.  Almost two weeks ago, I introduced my young friend, Mariana, to one of those potholder looms.  

Remember those?  :)

Then, last weekend, we were browsing in Michael's and I saw this newfangled loom:  

Oh, excuse me, I mean this "Loop De Loom"...  ;)

It's really kind of ingenious how it works - if you are interested, click here for a YouTube demonstration.  

At first, I thought it was a new and unique type of loom - but then my weaving friend watched the video and said that it reminded her of the weaving sticks that she inherited from her husband's grandmother!  

Being a sweetheart, she popped those weaving sticks in the mail for me and Mariana to experiment with:  

If I can get any actual weaving going with these sticks, I'll post some pictures.  ;)

Being a total sweetheart, she also prepared a small cardboard loom for us to weave on - check this out!  

What can you do with a loom that is smaller than an index card?  


It turns out you can weave the most adorable little bag!  

And I know this, because she also included the above sample in my weaving loom care package!  :)

So, the number of looms in my house just doubled!  You know, because I don't already have enough projects queuing up...  ;)

Speaking of bags, hopefully I can finish my backstrap weaving project this weekend and start turning it into a small bag!  :)

What are your weekend plans?  I hope you have a great one!  :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Progress, But I Need a Plan...

You can't get a suit of armour and a rubber chicken just like that.  
You have to plan ahead.
~ Michael Palin

Thanks to my husband's anchor and my weaving friend's warp, I am making good progress on my current project:  

It is about 5.5 inches wide, and I'd like to make it into a small purse.  My thought is to fold it twice - one fold to create the front and back of the body, with the back being a bit taller - and then to fold over the excess of the back in order to form a flap.  

That is as far as I've gotten in my "plan" - there are several open questions that need to be addressed:  

Holding the flap down - the metal snaps that I've used in previous bags seem a bit too heavy, I don't really want to add a button hole...  

Also, how should I stitch it up?  The fabric is kind of thick, and I'm afraid that turning it inside out and stitching up the sides might not work well.  

Finally, my weaving friend recommends lining it, and I agree - but I'm not sure exactly how I would go about doing that.  

I definitely need a plan.  

Any suggestions where I might find a suit of armour or a rubber chicken?  ;)

Or maybe just some thoughts on how I might turn this piece of hand woven fabric into a little purse...  ;)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

He who is to be a good ruler must first have been ruled.
~ Aristotle

Sophie surveys her domain.  

She has never been ruled.  

I will let you draw your own conclusions regarding the quality of her reign...  ;)

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Best Friend a Woman Can Have...

There is nothing better than a friend, 
unless it is a friend with chocolate.
~ Linda Grayson

It seems I am being quarrelsome this week, but again, I am going to have to respectfully disagree - today, with Ms. Grayson.  While a friend with chocolate is indeed quite a good thing to have, an even better friend to have is a friend who will prepare a weaving warp for you!

Yes, my weaving friend knew about all the problems I had with my loom bag and she took pity on me and she prepared a warp for my next project!  

Take a look at how beautiful it is...  

She wove a few rows at the front of the warp - you can see where her weaving ends and mine picks up - she used a red weft (mine is grey) and her stitches are tighter than mine:  

Here are her string heddles - every one the exact same length:  

And look how nicely spaced and completely untangled her warp threads are on the back shed rod:  

Finally, the back beam - again, look how neat and tight her stitches are, and how evenly spaced the warp threads are:  

It is a dream to weave with this warp!  And I now have a much more concrete idea of what I'm shooting for when I prepare a warp.  

Oh man, I can't wait until I can prepare warps this nicely!  

And I can't thank her enough for doing this for me!  It was an amazing gift!  :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Best Husband a Woman Can Have...

An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have.  
The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.  
~ Agatha Christie

With all due respect to Dame Christie, I must disagree.  The best husband a woman can have is an engineer who is willing to drill holes in the wall of your house, in order to give you a sturdy frame for your backstrap loom...  

And I have one!  :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Weaving My Way Down the Road

People die... so love them every day.
Beauty fades... so look before it's gone.
Love changes... but not the love you give.
And if you love, you'll never be alone.
~ L. J. Smith

Well, on Friday I packed up my loom in my brand new loom bag and took off on a road trip with my friends.  We were headed up to Georgia, so that they could visit their son/brother who is incarcerated there.

We take this seven hour road trip about twice a year and we stay at a beautiful state park.  A year and a half ago, I convinced them to take a canoe ride with me in the lake.

One was easier to convince than the other!  ;)

This year, we found that the lake had been drained, due to problems with "foreign" plants taking over the ecosystem:

But we still enjoyed walking in the woods:

I should mention that I wasn't the only weaver on this trip. Remember those potholder looms that we used to play with as children? I took one for Mariana and she loved it!

I may be biased, but I think she has a natural feel for colors and patterns.  

While they were visiting, I  set up my backsrap loom outside of our hotel and enjoyed some weaving in the beautiful, Georgia weather!  

I'm doing another supplementary weft pattern on a narrower warp - about 5.5 inches wide:  

Yes, that lone little splash of pink is a mistake...  Or, as they call it in product design, a "feature."  ;)

I'm thinking that, once this is done, I can fold it a couple of times, stitch up the sides, add a button and make a small bag to carry around.  

If it comes out nicely, I may make several (in different colors) and give them as Christmas gifts - although, it's already October!  Yikes!  :(

Anyways, we got home safe and sound on Sunday night and I am enjoying a Columbus Day holiday before I have to get back to work.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are ready for another week!  :)

Friday, October 10, 2014


The fight isn't over until you win.  
~ Robin Hobb

The fight is over.  

I won.  :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Following Advice

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly,
is a way to make your soul grow.  
So do it.  
~ Kurt Vonnegut

I can't speak for any growth in my soul, but I am going to make myself a loom bag if it kills me!  

I've got about 6 inches and 1 pattern left to weave...

 And I've got the "no matter how...  badly" part down pat!  ;)

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Project From Hell

Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing:
ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.  
~ C. S. Lewis

The front panel of this loom bag is turning into the project from hell.  :(

After my limited success with the bright yellow pattern, I moved on to trying the second pattern:

I tried it in orange, and it was fairly disastrous.  

Don't put too much effort into finding the above pattern in the weaving below - it's a lost cause:  

You can also ignore the pink off to the right...  

I struggled with figuring out the issue and finally realized that the two hanging threads underneath were actually from this section of the warp and so they were probably messing everything up.  

So, I pulled out the pink you see above (off to the right) and fixed the hanging threads and tried the first pattern again, in the middle:  

And it STILL didn't work!  :(

I have pulled out more weft on this project than on all the other projects I've ever woven in my entire life!  :(

Finally, I had one last idea - there are two "sheds" that alternate - one when I lift the string heddles and one when I lift the back bar.  Maybe I was starting on the wrong open shed - maybe I needed to start on the opposite shed...

So, believe it or not, I pulled out the pink mess and tried again:

And look!  You can almost make out the 3 "teepees", with the one in the middle being upside down relative to the other 2...  

It looks like I figured out the issue - now, HOPEFULLY, I can apply that knowledge and get this blankety-blank project done!  


Friday, October 3, 2014

Some Progress...

You don't love someone because they're perfect,
you love them in spite of the fact that they're not.
~ Jodi Picoult

So, after umpteen undo-redo cycles, I finally got something partially resembling the pattern I was trying to imitate.  Here is my weaving:  

And here is the pattern (rotated):  

It looks like two-thirds of my pattern came out okay, but I must have a heddle error that is preventing the last third from lining up nicely...  

If this had been my first try, I would take it out and redo it.  

But as it is my upmteenth and first try, I'm pretty much over it and willing to accept the (massive) imperfections.  

I'm just going to plunge forward and try to finish this panel for my loom bag - maybe the second pattern I picked out will go a little better...  

Fingers crossed!  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Some Encouraging Words...

Don't let the muggles get you down.
~ J. K. Rowling

From Oliver, who told me not to give up on my weaving...

He kept it under control while I took a small break.  Is he a sweetheart, or what?