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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Home Again!

I made it back from the craft fair in one piece, and that's saying something.  I don't know why, but the thought of interacting with the public is very difficult for me, both because I'm quite shy, and because part of me feels like I (and by association, my wares) won't measure up.  There were a lot of nerves working up to the date, but by the time it rolled around, there was so much to do that I forgot to be nervous, at least at first.

We got up at 4 AM, and arrived in Portland at 6:50 or so.  The directions were a bit nebulous, so we took a few extra minutes to find the street.  Both ends were blocked by police, who would wave you in if you were part of the show.  After that, there was a bit of mayhem, with folks driving their vehicles in to off-load, and tents already set up on the sides of the street.  These are old time New England streets, so not very wide.  There just wasn't room, so lots of stopping and squeezing by before we could get all of our stuff off of the truck.

I've never been very good at setting up a display for shows, and this year was still a work in progress, although I think it was an improvement over other years.  Here are three shots showing the three sides of the display.

I've used this rack for scarves before, but it definitely worked better with towels.

The table set up towards the back of the tent.  We had a rather nice backdrop behind us.

This side was the weakest display, I think.  Originally, I was going to use the dress form for my tencel shawl, but then I thought the wrapped teddy would be an eye catcher, which it was.  That left the shawl to be folded and draped over pegs with the other scarves, which did not work.  We eventually moved the shawl to hang from one of the tent supports in the middle, and later moved a few of the scarves to the support on the side of the tent.  A bit better, but scarf display still needs improving.  And yes, we got a few smiles from adults, and a few "can I touch him?"'s from little ones towards Ted.

From 9 AM to 2:30 PM, I had only managed to sell 4 items, barely making back the cost of the show. Standing up to greet people isn't too hard, but selling is.  I dislike being pounced upon, so I tend to not engage potential customers much, but after awhile I felt comfortable enough to ask if there were any questions I could answer for them, which helped.  In the last hour or so, two customers came and purchased several towels, the shawl, and a scarf! Plus, the weather held all day and we didn't get the predicted rain!!

We were both exhausted when we packed up to leave, and I was unfortunately dealing with some gluten contamination issues, so we were very happy to stop off at our son's place just 25 minutes up the road to get a bite to eat and visit for a bit.

At that point I was thinking that I would not be doing another fair, but now I may consider signing up for this one next year.  I'd like to get a better handle on what sorts of things people might like, but I'm not sure how to go about it.  Any advice from more experienced vendors out there??

Till next time...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Last Push

Finished up the last project for the craft show - inkle band key fobs.  I was going to use half for fobs and half for bookmarks, but wasn't sure how many people read real books anymore, so I went with the fobs instead.  Of course, many folks have a black plastic fob for their cars already, so I might have made the wrong choice.

The band off the loom;

Have I said how much I love this pattern?  And the colors make me smile!  Yes, the selvedges still need improvement, but I still get a bit of a thrill that I can create something that looks like this.

With the hardware attached;

Besides creating my treadle gate, which I showed in my last post, my hubby also used his creativity and skill to make a postcard display for the show;

Sometimes I don't know how he comes up with these things, but I sure love it when he does!

He also built a display rack for the wallets that I've sewn.  It will work well, I think, but it really looks like the Starship Enterprise, don't you think?  It will work for displaying some towels, too.

The shelves slide in and out easily without fasteners, so it will be very packable, always a good thing!

(Lest you think that his talents are always at my disposal, we have many many projects around the house that have needed attention for many years.  I'm just grateful that he was willing to help as much as he has this time around.).

I've also decided that instead of using my dress form to display my tencel shawl, I would use it to display my one remaining baby wrap for sale.  It was sent out as a tester and so has had light use, but I washed, dried and inspected it yesterday, and it's in fine shape. Even so, I have marked it down a lot, so I hope that helps it go to its new home.  And because I don't have a baby around to wrap, or a doll for that matter, I decided one of my kids' old teddy bears would do.

Crappy photos, but you get the idea.  It's standing in our kitchen right now, and every time I go by I think there's a person over there!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Treadle Gate!

Ever since I bought my Glimakra Standard loom, my biggest complaint has been that the rear-hinged treadles move side to side when in use.  This makes it hard (for me) to find the correct treadle with my foot without looking, plus they clack together quite a bit.

After much cajoling, my hubby made me a treadle gate!  I'd done some research and found a couple of photos online of some, but he took it to the next level, as he is wont to do.

It is movable front to back, but fits very snuggly, so it doesn't move at all when in use.  The pegs are just the right height to rest the treadles on while doing my tie up, so no more balancing them on my knee while sitting on the floor.  If I ever get around to adding more shafts, there is plenty of room to add to the treadle gate as well.  (Please excuse the dust - woodworking does create a lot of it!).

I've been pretty busy these last few days before the fine arts craft fair this weekend.  Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating, so we'll see how many folks are out wandering the streets of Portland in the rain they are predicting.  I pulled out my inkle loom the other day to see if I could quickly weave a few key fobs/bookmarks. This time I used 5/2 cotton, instead of the thinner 10/2 that I've used for my wallet straps, and they are working up very quickly.  Still having some issues with the selvedges, and the 5/2 won't advance without a struggle, but I am liking how they are working up.

Wish me luck!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Craft Fair Bound

I finished the Pebble Weave towels that I was posting about last time, and I love love love the texture! I'm not alone - 3 of the 4 towels are already sold, with the fourth spoken for unless sold at the fair. Slightly nubbly, the texture really shows off the colors, much better than my old stand by, plain weave.  Easy threading, easy treadling...what's not to like?  I will definitely be using this again, in baby wraps and more towels.

Black 10/2 weft (colors are truer in the second and third photos):

Purple 10/2 weft:

And all together:

I just spent my last few days off trying to finish a few more wallets.  Not using handwoven material for these - they are just quickies for the fair.  Can you tell I like purple??

Just three more shifts until my vacation!!!  Where has the summer gone?

My crafting time was rudely interrupted on Saturday when I had a sudden onset of pretty sharp chest pain.  No shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness - just a strong sub-sternal pain/pressure.  So I was a good girl, took an aspirin and headed to the ED.  At the hospital where I work.  On my day off.  The good news - yet again, no cardiac issues whatsoever.  Still not sure what it is, though it could be esophageal spasms, for which there is no treatment.  The pain had dissipated quite a bit before I arrived, but I had to spend 6 hours there to get the serial labs required for a cardiac workup. My physician was familiar to me, because she had a baby 9 months ago that had delivered at a tertiary center and then come back to transition to home.  I got to take care of them for a couple of days, so she showed me pics of how much he's grown.  So very cute!  She also told me that if this happens again, I should come right back, though she did concede that I could try lying down for a short bit first to see if it passes.  Isn't aging fun??

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lots Done!

Sorry about the long absence!  Life, as always, gets in the way of blogging, but also I sometimes have a hard time formulating "interesting" and coherent prose.  I suppose I could just bombard everyone with photos..

The never ending warp did, in fact, end, and I came away with 12 twill towels, plus one with a treadling error.  For weft I used a dark green, light blue, a medium ocean blue, jade green, aqua, two slightly differing reds, 2 slightly differing purples, and a silver with red accents, as well as magenta (the one with the error).

I really like having the narrow white borders - they seem to highlight the contrasting colors well.

Here's another view of them;

It's a really fun pattern to weave!  I have meant to list these in my Etsy shop, but finding time for this always seems to be a problem, plus I still have to come up with decent text.  Grumble grumble..

I also wove up a couple of merino wool/tencel huck scarves.  Hard to work on when it's hot outside, but a nice quick project, and by the time the craft fair rolls around, it should be a bit cooler; folks might have autumn on their minds.

No beauty shots yet - they are still on my camera waiting to be edited, but here are a couple of shots.

I love the subtle sheen the tencel brings.

My next project is a short run of towels on the big loom to try out pebble weave.  On the baby wrap groups on Facebook there is a huge interest in that structure right now, and it looked intriguing, so I warped enough for 4-5 towels using purples and blue, with a touch of green.  It was a chance to try out my mini Warping Square for the first time since Mitch altered it. It worked very well!

This is the yarn loaded on the sectional beam.

I initially stopped and tied new yarn on thread by thread to follow the draft, but that got old VERY quickly, so I grouped yarns together, planning on threading them slightly out of the order they were in on the lease sticks.  I got the loom threaded and sleyed in record time, and began weaving yesterday.

Black 8/2 weft;

and purple 10/2 weft;

Now I see what all the hubbub was about!  The combination of plain weave and twill makes an interesting texture with very short floats.  The treadling is simple, as is the threading.  I'll be using this more in the future, both for towels and wraps.

Speaking of wraps, there is a friendly competition starting over in Facebook land.  It's called the Fall 2015 Competition of Weavers, and those who participate are charged with creating a wrap using the theme Children's Lit.  I signed up, even though I know I won't win, but because it seems like it will be fun and I had an idea of what I wanted to weave.  No spoilers yet, but the finished product has to have it's photo submitted by October 1.  I don't know when the public group will be up, but will keep you posted.  What I can't do is keep you posted on my progress, because one of the rules is to not let the voting folks know who they are voting for, just what they are voting for.

My other task is to sew up a few more wallets for the craft fair in August.  I have some material already cut out, and have meant to get back to sewing, but when the weaving mojo visits, it's hard to turn away! The plan is to start them after the pebble weave towels.  I swear.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Never Ending Warp

I'm still plugging away at the tea towel warp that I put on the big loom awhile back.  Much has happened with it since I last posted, and not all of it was good.

The first issue was that the warp was NOT 8/2 mercerized cotton, as the label stated.  I had noticed that it seemed finer than that, but I tend to believe what I read, so when I tried to weave using 8/2 weft, the pattern wasn't even visible.  This meant that I had to cut and resley the warp at 27 EPI, so the towels are going to be quite narrow, truly fingertip towels.  I settled on using 10/2 merc cotton (what else??), and being careful to beat semi-gingerly.

After that was settled, the first towel I wove was with a red weft, called Lipstick, and it was a joy to weave;

The second was a different shade of red, a bit brighter, and it also wove easily, until I came to the hem at the end of the towel.  I was using 20/2 bleached cotton for the hems, and I had had no problems with the previous three hems, but then this happened:

The temple broke several weft threads, along with 6 warps in a row on the left side, and one on the right.  I couldn't figure out the reason, since all had been well before.  All I can think of is the the tension on the warp was high, the temple was set at exactly the width of the warp (and had been), and I may have beat the 20/2 more firmly.  I hung some repair warps off the back of the loom, weighted, but to have 6 in a row meant lots of problems starting to weave again.  The ends could easily be pushed out or drawn in, so I had to loosely weave quite a bit with some green 3/2 cotton, careful to leave the left selvedge edge a bit loose, until I had enough "cloth" to weave normally. I don't know if the second red towel will be sellable, with the wonky hem.

After all of that, I was so frustrated that such a basic warp was so slow to progress, but now I'm having a slightly different feeling about it.  I. Am. So. Bored.  I've woven 10 towels, and am more than halfway done with the 11th, and I really wish I was done.  With all of the mistakes, I was sure that I would get fewer towels, but I think I have enough for 2 more.  The treadling is like a mantra now, but not in a good way - 4,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,3,2,3,4,3,2,1.

These are the colors I've used so far (after the lipstick):

The first purple;

A bright blue - I wove two of these!

A beautiful, rich medium marine blue;

Forest green and jade:


Dark Turq, which is actually a very bright aqua;

And the not quite finished Purple Passion;

I need your input!!  Should I just repeat some of what I've already done, or do you think that some more unusual colors might interest people?  I have more yarn from my autumn-themed towels (brown/rust/bright yellow), or a light silver, or charcoal??  I also have two pinks, one brighter than the other, and two oranges, but it's hard for me to choose colors like that when I don't personally like them much.  That's why I need others' opinions!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Bit of Organization

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a bit, um, tightly wound.  I like things in order, or my little brain has a hard time thinking clearly.

You can imagine my difficulties after I received that big box of yarn I posted about last time.  That yarn had nowhere to live, because my one and only yarn storage looked like this:

(I took that picture after I had organized the second shelf down.  Believe me, it was as bad as the rest!).  The yarns are "organized," in that similar sizes and materials are together, but I found it harder and harder to function in that room as it is, and now I had all that extra yarn to deal with.  My hubby made a few simple half shelves, but even so, they sat on the floor for longer than they should have.  I was truly overwhelmed. So I started by organizing the yarns that I had just purchased, so I could see what I had.  That big jumbled box o' yarns went from this;

to this;

When I look that this photo, I see a beautiful gradient baby wrap in there!

I then took all of the yarns off each shelf, one shelf at a time, and tried to replace them in some kind of order, still keeping similar yarns together.  The half shelves helped a lot, though there is definitely room for improvement.

At least the big box is off the floor.

I also finished another wallet.  This one also used handwoven wrap scraps for the exterior, and several different fabrics for the interior.  I made this for one of our travel nurses, who swooped in and has helped us so much! She'll be leaving soon, so now she has something to remember us all by.

I thought I had done a better job of matching the stripes, but no dice!

I've started a new project on the big loom - more towels for the craft show, this time four shaft M&W twill.  The warp is 8/2 mercerized cotton, and I will mostly use 8/2 unmercerized stash for weft, but may sneak in a bit of the new yarns.  I also tried a new method for tying and spreading the warp.  It's called "Magic String," and is described in the book "Dress your loom the Vavstuga Way."

It's quite simple, and seemed to do a good job.  Now I have to start weaving and hope I don't muck it up!  Any hints on starting with a temple would be much appreciated.  Any time I use one, I adjust it at the reed, so it's the correct width, but the cloth behind it is much more narrow.  When I take the material off, the selvedges almost seem a bit wavy, which mostly resolves with wet finishing.  I've seen some incredible photos of cloth in progress that is straight and flat from reed to front beam.  I'd love to achieve that!

Two long days of work ahead, then the weekend off, so I should be able to get a good start on these.  I really need to finished bricking the edge of the garden too.