Thursday, December 8, 2016

Talk about lag!

I've really let this blog slip more than I intended to.  I could blame the holidays or work, but that would only be partially true.  I've simply lost the urge to weave at present.  A big debate is raging in my mind (again) about the future of my weaving/crafting, and more and more I am leaning towards getting out of the babywearing biz.  As much as I love creating something that brings moms (and dads!) and babies together, there are aspects of that business that are becoming more difficult for me to engage in.  I've always been "behind the curve" as far as generating excitement on social media, and now there seems to be some other conversations, expectations, and "drama" (for lack of a better word) that make future prospects seem unappealing.  I still have that last piece I wove available, but for now I think that I will weave a few non-BW things and see how I feel after that.

First on the list will be a simple kitchen rug that needs to fit into an odd space.  My kitchen needs redoing, but especially my floor.  In front of the sink it is worn through, and though my hubby keeps saying that he will put down a new floor, I'm not holding my breath.  We've had the replacement bamboo for several years now!  Our sink is in a corner of a U-shaped space, so of course making a rug that will fit in there is challenging my brain cells.  Here is a photo of the space, warts and all.



The counter towards the right is the one that leads to the stove and where most prep is done, so I would love to have a rug that fits this odd corner and continues to the right.  I have some cotton warp and mop cotton at hand, but wonder; can I somehow weave the rug into this shape on one end by bringing the shuttle up between the warp at increasingly shorter lengths?  Then maybe weave the warp ends back in once the rug is off?

Mind you, the only rug weaving I have done was a small square rep weave piece for this very space, but the rug was too thin and wouldn't stay in place, despite a "non-skid" mat and double-sided tape.  I'd appreciate any advice more experienced rug weavers can give me on this.

After that, my next project may be some huck baby blankets.  I seem to be feeling a bit of the "nesting" urge that some pregnant women get towards the end of their pregnancies, but mine isn't for me, but my hypothetical future grandchild.  Elder son and his wife recently bought a house, and say they may start trying soon, so all of a sudden, I have the urge to weave and knit things for a baby.  Kind of crazy that a baby wrap may not be one of them...  I have plenty of Supima cotton for the warp, and I may weave several and offer some up in my Etsy shop if they come out like a hope.

I also just ordered some counted cross-stitch Christmas stocking kits for said future baby.  I have made crewel-work stockings for everyone in the family in the past, so it only seems right that I should continue the tradition, but my eye-sight is certainly not what it was, plus stitching may take a lot of time away from other things. Hopefully I can start working on them in the evenings when I don't really weave much anyway.

On the knitting front, I've finished the knitting on the Baby Surprise Jacket, and it is blocking at the moment.  I need to find some cute buttons, and it will be done!  Here's a photo of what it looks like when the knitting is done.


So hard to imagine that this amorphous blob turns into a cute baby sweater!  I ended up knitting an i-cord around all the edges except for the cuffs, and it really gave it a nice finish.

This morning I just finished warping my mini inkle loom with a holiday-colored band, hopefully to be woven quickly for a really cute Christmas surprise.  The pattern has 121 ends, which barely fits on the loom, so I've put some elastics on the ends of the pegs to help keep the warp from slipping off.  I ran out of heddles half way through, so I made some new with some waxed cotton that had been recommended to me quite awhile ago. Well, THAT turned out to be a mistake!  I can't even get the ends to move past them to make a shed.  What was supposed to be a quick weave will end up being a struggle, I fear.  Photos to follow, if I can get it done on time.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pardon the Lag

I realized I haven't posted in awhile, but, well, life has been even busier than usual.  At first, there were added responsibilities at work, as we are prepping for a medical records software changeover in January.  I am among many SME's, or subject matter experts, who are folks who have a fairly good grasp of using electronic medical records already in the day to day care of hospital patients.  We were to receive training in the new system early on, so that we can practice to become more comfortable with the changes and then be a resource for everyone else as they learn and after the switch.  These classes were 4 hours long, and we had 2-3 of them a week, along with our regular shifts.  This past week was the end of them except for one, which happens after Thanksgiving, and is basically how to teach people the skills necessary to document in the new system.

As soon as those classes were done, my husband got sick.  I got home from my regular shift on Thursday night and he was on the couch, complaining of being cold and feeling lousy.  He didn't have a fever, but definitely had other signs of the flu - body aches, malaise, no appetite, a terrible headache.  I encouraged him to hydrate and watch the temp, but had to work the next day, so I got up before him and headed out the next morning.

When I got home he wasn't any better, but he wasn't any worse, either.  Still thinking it was the flu, we went through the weekend without too much change, until Sunday, when he seemed a bit better. He had a bit of an appetite, and was up and around.  That all changed on Monday, when I took his temp again and it was 103+.  We ended up in the emergency department for hours, where the doctor was sure it was a tick-borne illness, only to discover it was a very bad pneumonia.  He was so dehydrated that his lung sounds were not junky at all, but the x-ray was impressive, I heard.

Long story short, he was admitted and spend the next 7 days and 6 nights as an inpatient, getting heavy duty antibiotics, nebulizer treatments, and other supportive care.  He showed signs of improvement after a couple of days, and just came home this noon time.  What a relief!  He will be on oral meds for a few days, and have to check in with his PCP soon, but should be able to start slowly building back his strength and stamina.

In weaving news, I forgot to take photos of the baby wrap woven with the dyed peppermint weft, but here are a couple of shots of it that the customer took after she received it.




The third piece, woven with indigo Zephyr (wool/silk), ended up being 2.81 meters long (unhemmed) by 29.25 inches wide.  I've offered it up as is, hemmed, or converted to a ring sling.  It has still not been claimed, and so it sits, awaiting its forever (or not!) home.


As for other weaving, that may or may not happen for awhile.  After all of the extra responsibilities and running around, I feel the need to take it easy for awhile.  I may change my mind, since the weaving bug usually doesn't take too long to strike.

Oh, and I'm knitting my first BSJ, or Baby Surprise Jacket!  For those of you who don't know. it is a baby sweater that is designed in a most bizarre fashion, but gets folded and sewn into an adorable little sweater.  Here's a photo taken yesterday.  I am just at the point where I start increasing.  More photos to come.



I hope everyone has a wonderful, drama-free Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Number One Done!

I am so happy to announce that the troublesome baby wrap will be winging its way to its new owner tomorrow morning!  I spent most free of my free time over the last two weeks hunkered over it with magnifying headgear on in order to needle weaving the repairs for over 80 threads.  Happily, once the wrap was wet finished, the repairs are pretty much invisible.


This pima cotton is so very soft, I just wanted to bury my face in there, but I refrained...



There did end up being a single mistreadle that I couldn't repair well, so I gave the customer a small discount after showing her photos (error is marked by clips).

The outer side;



and the wrong side;


Another interesting "feature" is the slight scalloping of the selvedges that seem to be common with these so-called crackle drafts.  The draft, #63044 from www.handweaving.net, isn't a true crackle but a close approximation created by a mathematician who was fascinated by weaving.  In conversing with other weavers, most if not all experience this anomaly in their selvedges when they weave drafts from this collection.

I'm so happy to have "weathered the storm" of this particular wrap.  I can't wait to see photos of it in use, snuggling a baby up to its mama.

The second wrap, woven with peppermint weft, has been waiting patiently for me to inspect it, but it will have to wait just a bit longer, since my work schedule is going to keep me busy until the weekend.  We are starting our training for our new computer system for electronic medical records.  It is very different than the one we've been using, and there is a lot to learn.  I can easily get ahead of myself and feel overwhelmed because I don't "get it" right away, but I've only had one day of training out of six, I think, so I keep reminding myself to relax.  Hard to do, and health care is complicated enough, but you can't stop progress, so train I will.

A couple of parting shots of Paradise Cove, and I'll see you next time!



Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Highs and Lows

I've been MIA for a bit because of several factors.  First and foremost, I wanted to complete the weaving portion of the Paradise Cove warp.  At last post, I was ready to start the Zephyr wool/silk weft, and I found that to be a wonderful yarn to work with.  The patterning became apparent again, but in a much subtler way than with the black tencel.  I had almost memorized the 146 pick pattern, so was happily weaving along, and then...




It became apparent that there would not be enough warp left to weave the size baby wrap that the customer wanted.  I felt horrible, having let her down.  I wove until the bitter end, but only ended up with 118.5 inches STIH off the loom, pre-wash.

I set that aside, because I had planned on finishing the wraps in the order in which they were woven, so I took the first piece, woven with tencel, and found 25 inches of multiple long floats that covered the entire width of the cloth at the end of her piece.  These floats were underneath and so, impossible to see while weaving. One or more of the texsolv treadle cords had become loose while weaving.  I let the customer know, and have since spent every available day hunched over the kitchen table, which magnifying head gear on, needle weaving in every single thread for the full length, plus overlap.  As of today, I'm about half way done.  I do believe that the repairs will work and be virtually invisible, but the disappointment in myself and my ability to do this work to the standards I have set for myself are in my thoughts constantly.  I haven't dared to look at the second piece yet to see if these floats are present there as well.  Here is a cell phone shot to show the floats - for some reason, I couldn't get my good camera to take adequate photos of this.



So, after the elation of my first big dye job, and the joy at seeing the complexity of the draft play out, I am now faced with the possibility that I may not continue down this road.  I will complete these wraps, offering the third, shorter piece for anyone who may want it, or convert it myself into a sling, then take a bit of a break until I can figure out where I want to go from here.  I know the weaving bug will strike, probably sooner than later, but at this point, I feel like I have poured almost every free moment into this part of my life, to the detriment of almost everything else, and maybe that's not the smartest move, either.

On a another note entirely, while weaving I usually will listen to music, often through Pandora, just to give my mind something else to think about besides saying the treadling pattern over and over in my head.  For this warp, because it was fairly complex, I didn't listen to anything.  At all.  And I missed it.  So once I knew that there would be a chunk of time spent repairing, I happily turned the music back on, lightening the mood a bit and passing the time in a more positive way.  Then I remembered that I had started to listen to podcasts for the first time a few months ago.  One of the ones I found entertaining is The West Wing Weekly, which reviews each episode of the The West Wing.  It sounds fairly boring, but it is a great mixture of insight, comedy, and civics.  They often have guests on, some of whom were actors on the series, but others from government and other related areas.  Back when the series was on, my older son was in a youth orchestra in Portland, which is an hour and a half commute. We went weekly, on Wednesdays, and were delighted to find that occasionally, on the ride home, we could pick up the audio from the television broadcast on AM radio.  We both really enjoyed the witty repartee and were always disappointed when we couldn't tune in.  It was a great bonding experience.  Now that we are in the age of Netflix, he and his wife have binge-watched it, and my husband and I spent much of the summer's dearth of watchable shows rewatching the series. If any of you enjoyed the West Wing, I would highly recommend this podcast.  It has made me smile and laugh a bit through this less-than-stellar episode of my weaving career.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Peppermint Done, Now on to Zephyr!!

Just a quick note to say that I finished baby wrap #2, 4.5m using hand dyed peppermint weft!  It's been fun, and once I had some time to spend at the loom, it worked up fairly quickly.  Yesterday I ended up weaving ~80-ish inches, including a very long bout of unweaving twice in the afternoon.


It's amazing how the actual pattern is so hard to see at times with this weft, but up close, like in the above photo on the cloth beam, the pattern becomes more apparent.

And my usual "hyperspace" shot:


The Zephyr (wool/silk) weft coming up is in the indigo colorway, so the pattern should be apparent, and I can't wait to weave with that soft silky stuff!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Weft Dyeing

The weaving on the Paradise Cove warp came to a screeching halt last Monday when I finished weaving the first wrap with the black tencel weft.



The next semi-custom slot holder wants hand dyed peppermint yarn for her weft, which arrived in the mail last week.  The decision was made to have the yarn speckle dyed, so I planned to do as much as I could on Wednesday, knowing  would be away the next day for a nursing conference, and then have to work today and tomorrow.

Being the way I am, I ended up completing the process all in one day, which is a lot.  I set up the table in my garage, adding plastic and bringing out the dye powders that I would use.  Mind you, the night before the temps had dropped into the 30's, and the garage is unheated, so it was very chilly out there.

The skeins had been already wound, so I put them in hot soapy water (I used Synthrapol) for about 30 minutes, then rinsed and soaked them in a soda ash solution for another 30 or so.  Then one by one I set them on the table and began to sprinkle dye on randomly.  When one side was done, I flipped them over and did the other side, then wrapped them in plastic wrap.  I did a non-traditional speckle dye, in that I decided to try to cover most of the yarn instead of leaving a lot of the natural showing. The yarn has a slight grayish tone, and the slot holder had wanted color, so I left little undyed.




When all 4 skeins (and one mini skein) were done, I placed them all in a couple of foil roasting pans, then set them in my oven.



I turned the oven onto warm, but only for a few minutes, then left the yarn in there for a couple of hours.  That afternoon, I soaked the skeins in cold water for an hour, then a hot Synthrapol solution for another hour, then rinsed, rinsed, and rinsed.  Finally, I put them in a hot soak with Milsoft, to help the yarns be more soft and easier to manage once they dried.  By the time that was done, it was 3 PM and too late to put them outside to dry, so I set up my old laundry rack upstairs and laid the yarns out on that.

This morning, a day and a half later, I found the yarns still slightly damp, much to my surprise.  So they are now on the line outside, and I hope they dry before I have to leave for work this afternoon, or they will one again have to come inside.  The days are expected to be relatively warm, but nights are quite cold and dewy, so leaving them out won't help matters.


I can't wait to start weaving with this yarn and see how the patterns and colors change!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Paradise Cove!

Weaving has finally commenced on this, my first hand dyed warp!  I'm still waiting for more yarn to arrive, and as always, I have a busy work schedule this coming week but this morning I wound some pirns and began the adventure.

As a refresher, here is the photo that inspired this warp:



And here are the first few inches woven with a black tencel weft:


The draft is from http://www.handweaving.net/, and the draft is #63044.  The treadling sequence is 146 picks long, so I'm still using a small post-it note to keep my place.  I feel like I'm learning it bit by bit, and I'm sure I will have it memorized relatively soon, but for now, no music or podcasts, just some slow, methodical weaving.



and a bit of a close-up:



This first customer chose the black tencel to help highlight the weave structure.  The other wefts will be a speckle-dyed peppermint yarn (yes, I typed "peppermint!"), and Zephyr wool/silk in the "indigo" colorway.  I can't wait to see the way the different yarns affect the warp!

In other "news," the weather has turned colder here, finally.  Though overall I'm happy about that, we are still trying to keep our heat off until the arbitrary date of October 1.  Last night it got down to 39 degrees F outside, and today there are clouds and sun, so the house isnot warming up much, just staying steady at 65 degrees.  When I was weaving this morning, I was quite comfortable, but sitting still, I am wearing a headband and some hand spun fingerless gloves, while having a folded quilt on my lap.  Yeah, I'm apparently not very cold-hardy!  Great that I live in Maine, right????

And thanks to the suggestions about painting the doorway between the living room and the dining room from the last blog.  I think I will paint the living room side white; it's just a question of when at this point.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Living Room

Here are some quickly snapped photos of the living room after being painted.  They were taken in the middle of warping the next project onto the loom, and none of the pictures/paintings are up, but you get the idea.

First, pre-paint.  This is how the living room has looked since we bought the house many years ago.


You can see the bit of green where I got the excess paint off of the brush after painting the stairwell.

And today:




I'd love to hear people's opinions about that double entry with the brown painted trim that you can see on the right.  The dining room, which is on the other side of that entry, has all darkish brown stained trim.  This entryway is stained on the dining room side and the underside that is parallel with the floor, but the side that faces the living room is painted brown.  As I was painting the ultra white trim in the LR, I voiced that I thought we should paint over the brown paint, and leave the stained parts unchanged.  Two members of my family voted that down, saying that it would look "weird."  In my mind, the brown paint looks awful.  What do you all think?

Looking towards the west wall with the new windows:


You can see that it is a vast improvement over how it looked before.  And that the loom pretty much takes up the whole room.  There's an old wooden rocking chair nearer to the corner that you can't see because it's behind the warping Square, and on which one of the cats is usually napping.  This other chair used to be by the entry into the room, where the spinning wheel is now, and my hubby would sit in it while on the phone occasionally.  I like the new location, mostly because it makes the entry less cluttered.

As for that warp, it is on the sectional beam, and so far, I'm loving the colors!




Threading is up next - not my favorite part, but with these colors on this soft Supima yarn, it might be a bit more enjoyable!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Been Busy, Very Busy, But...

I've nothing impressive to show for it.  Well, not online, anyway.  The hand dyed warp is being wound onto the back beam, and as of this moment, 9 of 16 sections are done and nicely even.  I haven't taken any pictures of the process, though why, I'm not sure.  Perhaps too busy working, both on this warp and at my nursing job - lots and lots of babies have decided that September is a great month in which to make an appearance!

Our weather, which has been so hot and humid all summer, is showing glimmers of change.  Today is blessedly cool and comfortable, starting the day in the mid 40's, now hovering in the upper 60's with a nice breeze.  I made a point to get outside, just for a short walk, because this is the weather that I long for throughout the year.  The air seems clearer, the colors more vibrant...I just love it.   Unfortunately, my walk was quite short, as my legs are feeling a bit rubbery today.  I worked non-stop 12 hours day shifts on Friday and Saturday, then a non-stop 12 hour night shift last night (Sunday), and, as seems to be my usual, I have not yet gone to bed.  Ten o'clock tonight will suffice, but my legs are quite tired.  Winding the warp requires 90% standing, then 10% crouching, and that after so many hours of standing and fast walking at work have done the old gams in, at least for today!  I don't have to return to work until Thursday, and hope that the yarn will be on the sectional beam by then. Pictures, I promise.

I did post a draw for semi-custom slots on this warp, with the winners able to choose the length of their wrap and the weft they would like.  One customer, the one who submitted the photo chosen as inspiration for this warp, has decided she would like a 4.2 meter piece with tencel weft.  For now, the rest of the warp is open.  Perhaps some shots of in-progress weaving will inspire someone else??

Here's the collage that I used for the draw:


The renovations to the west wall are (mostly) completed.  The contractor's work is done, but we are still completing some finishing work ourselves.  There was an issue with incorrect caulking being used on the clapboards, such that the paint won't adhere despite attempts at scraping the offending silicone off by the contractor.  He returned again and replaced some of the clapboards, but there may be some issues higher up.  My hubby is spending some time scraping the old trim and trying to get the exterior ready to paint.  The living room is painted, and as much as I think I like that sort of thing, after 4 days of it, I.was.done.  All that is left is to rehang some paintings/photos, but the warping process has taken precedence.  Again, next time!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

All Balled Up!

The yarns that I dyed for the upcoming baby wrap are dried and wound into balls!  It was so much fun to see the colors emerge and run through my fingers.



Next stop is to reload them on the Square, this time using the mini-reeds and feeding them onto the sectional beam.  I can't wait, but will have to for a bit as the living room renovation is completed but still needs a light sanding and then painting.


I really want to paint the north wall before I move the loom back there.  The wall needs a good scrub before that, but hopefully I can work on that tomorrow or over the weekend.

The craft fair went off without a hitch.  We got up at 4:15 and hit the road by 5:30.  Congress St in Portland (Maine) was closed off, and there was a sea of white tents by 9 AM.  The Maine Crafts Association, which put on the show, had two city blocks, and there was an adjacent sidewalk art festival going at the same time on the next two blocks down. so four city blocks of white tents and vendors.  It was a very hot day, and though a breeze was present for most of the day going down the middle of the street, the sides of the tent prohibited them from wafting in our direction, so we sweltered.  Later in the afternoon, our nice neighbor vendors took pity on me and lent me one of their portable fans for the rest of the day - what a life-saver!  I ended up selling more than I had last year, so over all it was a positive experience.






Towels were definitely the most-purchased item, but I did also sell a few scarves.

Portland has some interesting architecture in its old buildings.  These two were looking over our shoulders all day;



And also on watch was this tiger in the window right behind us!



On the way home we stopped at our son's house and had dinner that he cooked for us.  It was yummy, but I was also so happy to visit for a bit and be out of the sun.  We got home at 8:30 PM, so it made for a very long day, plus it took most of the next day to organize and put everything away.

It is now the end of my very busy but productive vacation, but I have Labor Day off this year, so will spend much of that with family.  I hope everyone enjoys a nice unofficial end to summer!