Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Double the trouble....

Why is it I wait so long to get Christmas presents finished?  After three days of threading over 900 lilac and purple 5/2 cotton threads I finally got to sit down and begin weaving yesterday.  


Let me tell you a secret, I am a bit embarrassed to share this but I royally messed up.  This throw is supposed to be a colonial double weave - blooming leaf overshot pattern.  Does it look like overshot to you?  Nah....Seems I forgot something very elemental.

I have a countermarch loom with 6 treadles.  To weave this pattern you need to be able to use three treadles at the same time, and as we all know (well, apparently not me) you cannot do that on a countermarch loom.  Rats!  Foiled again.

What to do?  First I tried tying up just the rising treadles, this method did not work the shed was really bad.  Next I tried tying up each separate treadle to accomplish all the patterns I needed.  Did not work, I don't have enough treadles to do that and there is no way I wanted to keep climbing under the loom to retie every so often.  Too time consuming and too hard on the back.

That leaves me with two options.  One option - use what I had already threaded - remember it took me three full days to thread this pattern.  Option two - rethread a totally different pattern and get on with it.  Time is short, Christmas is mere days away....

While contemplating my problem it occurred to me that I had threaded a shadow weave pattern.  Lilac thread, dark purple thread, lilac thread, etc.

"Shadow weave looks like twill but it is really plain weave with scattered 2-thread floats" (sounds like I know what I am talking about, but I read this in Madelyn van der Hoogt's "Complete Book of Drafting For Handweavers").  After reading this, I decided to use what I already had on the loom and decided to weave a shadow weave twill pattern.

Mind you this is not how I wanted the throw to turn out, but it will do for now.

My next adventure is tie onto this warp with another shadow weave warp to weave a darker version of this throw for my Grandson.  Having never tied one warp to another I hope this experiment goes well, wish me luck.

Until then....happy weaving.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monk's Belt Revisted

For those of you who might read my poor attempts at blogging I posted a while back about some monk's belt towels I wet finished and discovered a problem of red dye running and ruining all my hard work.   Not to be discouraged or outdone by some bad yarn.  I wove these towels again with a different red yarn and ta-da success --- no red streaks from running dye when I wet finished the towels.

This particular monk's belt draft was graphed out by me on good old fashioned graph paper.  I looked at several old Swedish weaving books and combined the patterning that appealed to me on graph paper.  I don't have a computer based weaving program on my personal iMac - they cost an arm and a leg and me being the frugal homesteader I try to be cannot justify the expense.  

Traditional Swedish weaving patterns appeal to me and monk's belt is one of my favorites.  How do you like my little red cardinal, isn't he just the cutest thing.

Next up is one of two scarves I wove using mini mochi yarn as the weft for one scarf and a hand dyed superwash wool as the weft in the other.   The scarf above has the superwash wool as the weft.  Let me tell you how hard it is to photograph these colors - they either wash out or the color doesn't read true on the monitor.  Used a pattern from the 8 shaft book by C. Strickler, Yarn Barn also used this pattern on a scarf in their catalog - calling it field of flowers.  My version is wider and uses two colors of red tencel as the warp and a different epi.  This was a great project to weave and will be even more fun when I gift one of them to my daughter for Christmas (don't worry she doesn't read this blog).

In this photo you can see how difficult it is to photograph the lovely colors in this scarf.  The color combination kind of reminds me of a warm fire.

Decided to re-photograph my twill Christmas towel for my etsy shop.  This particular towel is having the same problem with the colors showing true on the computer.  Think this shot is a much better representation of the red and greens in this towel.  The two little lead German sheep are from my wee sheep collection.  Seems a lot of weavers collect sheep these days - wish my toy sheep were the real thing....someday I hope they are.   

Hope your holiday preparations are going smoothly.

Happy weaving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Aloha Table Cloths and A New Bench

After 28 hours of non-stop ironing and sewing I would like to present 80 brand spankin' new Aloha table cloths.  These cloths are currently winging their way to Verbier, Switzerland to grace the table tops of my Nephew's brand new cafe bar - The Offshore Cafe.   The Offshore Cafe's grand opening is scheduled for December 1st, how I wish I could be there to celebrate.

As you probably can tell, I am one tired Auntie M in this picture.  Had to take a picture for posterity - right after this shot was taken I spent a frustrating hour packing everything for mailing.  

Meanwhile, back to reality.... Isn't this oak weaving bench just the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?  My dear husband has been working on this project for the last few weeks.  He custom built this bench for me when I told him my Glimakra bench was causing me to get cramps in my legs when I sat  on it for any length of time.  After noticing a bench with a tilted seat on a weaving website I asked the hubby to build one for me.  Here is his lovely creation - I just love it!  All I have left to do is throw my sheepskin on it and I am ready to weave for hours in comfort.  Thanks Honey.

The bench above was also made by my husband several years ago.   It is the perfect height to use with my Gilmore loom.  I throw a cushion topped with a sheepskin on it and weave in comfort.  It is wonderful to have a resident woodworker in the house, especially when I need something made for my studio.

Need to get busy, Santa's elf should be working on presents...

Happy weaving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fabric Stash, always a good thing

While digging through some of my stash I discovered some fabric I had purchased over a year ago and of course had forgotten about.  Using a bit of this great fabric I whipped up some pillows to accent my white rocker.  The black piping trim was is a left-over from my days of designing and sewing English Renaissance period clothing.  You just never know when that extra yard of trim might come in handy!

This year is the year our dog finally gets his own Christmas stocking which meant I needed to come up with fabric.  What to use for the stocking... handwoven fabric from my stash of bits and pieces left over from other weaving projects.  I can never throw out handwoven fabrics - so of course my stash has fabrics of all sizes, patterns and yarn types and sometimes I actually find uses for these bits of fabric.

Made four new Christmas stockings for my daughter, son-law and grandkids.  Found some great Victorian holly leaf printed fabric at Hobby Lobby along with your standard plain old red cotton fabric for the lining.  Used a dark cranberry velvet ribbon to trim the stockings and bring out the red colors - I like the way the ribbon looks against the print fabric.   Easy project to occupy me for an afternoon.  Drew out the stocking shape on paper, cut out the fabrics, bag lined the stockings with the red cotton and ta-dah....4 new stockings to hang for Santa.

Last but certainly not least are the Christmas table runners I just pulled off the loom yesterday afternoon.  Used the turned monk's belt pattern from Weaver's Craft - changed a few minor things.  Used a wintergreen color instead of the black yarn Jean used in her pattern and I also increased the size of the project both in width and in length.  The short little runner is what I had left over after weaving the three 73" long runners I had planned.  Love the pattern it was fun to weave up and will make great Christmas gifts for some of my family and friends.

Currently I am waiting for 125 yards-- (yes, you read that right 125 yards) of Hawaiian print fabric to be delivered to my front door.  One of my nephews is opening a cafe bar in Verbier, Switzerland on December 1st and needs a whole bunch of new table cloths for his grand opening.   The cafe bar is very popular with the ski crowd and is known for the great food and fun atmosphere.  The Off Shore Cafe Bar has an Hawaiian surf motif - lots of Aloha and good times to be had.  If you get a chance to visit ask for Dante and tell him Auntie M sent you!

Happy Weaving! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Growing a homestead

Yet another version our redone barnette!  Note that Sam is wondering just what his Mom is doing.  Actually I am demonstrating where my dear friend Cherry has enough space to paint a barn quilt onto our new siding.

The large white chicken with the Phillis Diller hair is Weenut who has decided to learn to crow this week.  Did you know that teenage boys no matter the species all have voices that crack when they are trying to crow?  The black jersey giant is Peck, she is a quiet and gentle lady who doesn't seem to mind when I pick her up.  The ginger colored gal is Cinnamon, she doesn't really cluck it sounds more like she might be a squeek toy.  

Our newest chicks are 5 weeks old today.  Closest to you is our new black jersey giant her name is Henny Penny and she is a worry-wart!  Next in line are our two new barred rock girls, Wilma and Betty - quiet little girls.  The two light feathered girls are Buff Orpintons, Thelma and Louise - both of whom are trouble makers.  Last and biggest of them all is our barred rock boy, Guido.

A better shot of Guido, doesn't it look like he is asking you "Wha 'cha lookin' at buddy?  He is a big guy who seems to tolerate me up to a point.  It appears he will be a good protector of his little flock.  Now the question is will he and Weenut be able to live peacefully together - time will tell.

No weaving to report on at this moment, but I am working on warping a few new things.

Happy weaving!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tired but happy...

Between the rain and the howling winds blowing everything to smitherines for the last week or so I am happy to report that our mini barn rehabilitation is just about finished.  Starting with the fresh new wooden barn siding we struggled to install as mother nature conspired to blow us over each time we went to install a piece on the barn.

Next up was the red barn paint, we decided to roll the paint on...not a great idea so off to the store to buy a spray paint applicator...not a cheap invention let me tell you but it did a bang up job.

Miles and miles of 1 x 4 pine board trim that I had to paint with white barn paint not once but twice on each and every mile of the board.  Measuring, cutting and installing the white board trim all around the barn, which really looks sharp now that it is installed.

Mike installed two new windows on both sides of the coop area we are building into the the barn.  Three quarters of the barn will be used to store gardening implements, tillers, outdoor furniture, etc. while the remaining third will be my new improved and much larger chicken coop.  Next up will be the pop door installation, finishing the nest boxes in the interior of the coop and installing the outdoor run area.  After that we install our three maturing birds and pop the six little chicks I have growing in the brooder into the mix and wah - la we have egg production (well, eventually we have egg production).

Before I forget, notice my cool muck boots they are the best invention since sliced bread!  Although my muckers are not nearly as cute as Donna's a blogging friend of mine (I want hers, they are way cuter).  Check out Donna's at:  http://midlifefarmwife.blogspot.com/2012/10/boot-wellington-please.html

In the weaving studio I have been busy getting my act in gear by weaving, finishing and listing my efforts for the upcoming Christmas buying season.

Love the red snowflake pattern on this towel.

A slightly different version of the red snowflake towel.

One of kind Summer and Winter quilt pattern on a finger-tip towel.

Last on the list but first in my heart, is a table runner woven with a red background and bright white trees and snowflakes.  

With the holidays fast approaching it is high time I get busy and figure out what to weave for friends and family.

Happy weaving!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Weaving For My Shop

I am pleased with myself today, actually got a head start on my weaving for Christmas.   Altered the rosepath star pattern slightly from the original pattern I found in the 8 shaft pattern book.  My version has tighter looking star points and a decorative middle part between the stars.  Love the red and white towels they are crisp and fresh looking.  The blue glass ornament was a gift from some good friends, they know I collect hand blown cobalt blue ornaments.  I just adore it and can hardly wait to hang it on our tree this year.

Never wanting to waste any warp I squeeked out this little finger tip towel.  The green stripes help to highlight the red stars.  The hand blown cobalt blue ornament was gifted to me by a dear friend this summer, she keeps me supplied with the most beautiful hand made glass you can imagine.

Never weave when you are tired or you end up with something like this....note there are no red stars woven on the border.  There is no border at all, what was I thinking?  Discovered I had not woven any border on this towel when I cut the warp off the loom.  Not wanting to waste a perfectly nice cotlin towel I pulled out some of my Irish cluney lace and added it to the edge.  I think it kind of looks like a traditional hand towel circa 1890's or so.  

My girls are almost all grown up.  Not sure if the white chicken in front is a girl or a boy - we are leaning towards boy because it looks so much different than the other girls.  Out of 10 chicks who arrived here on the 21st of May these girls are all that have survived the terrible heat waves we had this summer.  Expect to start seeing our very first eggs any day now.  Also have 6 new chicks in the brooder, they arrived on Tuesday.  Sure hope they survive to adult hood so we can add them to our mix.

Need to get back to the loom I have a project that needs to be started and off the loom quickly.  

Happy weaving!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Nope, not a green a yellow basket - think Christmas red and green.  For once I am ahead of the game - the Etsy game.  After a whole lot of weaving I finished the fabric for 7 handwoven baskets, one lovely hand towel and two coasters.

The baskets turned out nicely I am pleased to report.  The plastic needle point canvas I used to make the basket guts was very easy to work with.  Used my handy dandy fringe twister to make the cords for each corner of the basket - it took a while to make enough cord but I like how they turned out.  Each basket has a red, green and white plaid interior with a green striped back.  They will be wonderful for filling with Christmas cookies, cards or ornaments.  The best part is that you can untie the corners and store the basket flat until the next holiday season.

The set of two coasters I made with the leftover fabric pieces are pictured above.  Seems a lot of weavers call these things mug rugs, I am not fond of that moniker and choose to call them by the old-fashioned term - coasters.  Super easy to make I used two pieces of my handwoven fabric, stitched around the main plaid pattern, cut a one inch boarder and pulled out the yarn bits and wa-lah - instant coasters.

Used the tail end of the warp to squeek out on nice towel.  I don't work with 5/2 cotton very often and it sure did surprise me at how fast this towel wove up.  Wet finished, hems sewn a hard press and ta-dah - one Christmas towel for the kitchen or bath.  Now that is what I call using each and every bit of the warp!  

On to other Christmas projects.

Happy Weaving

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Support Your Fellow Weaver

Sometimes the siren call of hand woven textiles call me and I can't resist.  I think that siren call is heard by all hand weavers.  On Etsy I have many favorite weavers whose work I follow.  Occasionally when my shop is doing well and I have a bit of extra income to spend I look at what my fellow weavers have been making and I spread the love as they say.

Today, I would like to share some of the wonderful items I have purchased from some fellow weavers.

Isn't this a wonderful hand woven tea pot cozy?  I just love the pattern, I love the linen yarn choice, I love the color palate -- yep, I love it all.   The fabric for this cozy was woven by Janice Jones, her shop on Etsy is Handwoven Home -- www.HandwovenHome.etsy.com  I have long admired Janice's weaving, she tends to use traditional weaving patterns and offers some really lovely items for sale in her shop.

The fabric for this awesome purse is hand woven by Roxanne Brown, her shop on Etsy offers some really cute handwoven purses.  I love the interior of the purse almost as much as the exterior.  The rust color silk really sets off the rust and purple hues of the exterior hand woven fabric.   Roxanne works hard to produce one of a kind purses, the high quality of weaving and sewing are evident in the finished product.


My newest find is this handwoven scarf from Weaverville Woolens.   I wish you could feel how soft my new scarf is, the weaving is impeccable.  Simple perfection.  Diane and I did a little horse trading, I traded her 6 hand woven napkins from my Etsy shop for this lovely scarf.  Personally, I think I got the best part of the deal, wouldn't you agree?


This is probably the only hand woven piece of jewelry I own.  Love the fact that it is woven in twill and is my favorite color combination of navy blue and white.  Kate Kilgus the Nutfield Weaver made made this brooch with some of her hand woven fabric.  Kate is a multi talented weaver who not only weaves wonderful textiles she also makes some fantastic rustic wedding pew decorations and flower girl baskets.

You can check out her shop at www.NutfieldWeaver.etsy.com

Yes, I do believe in supporting my fellow weavers and I hope you will get out there and spread the love at your favorite weavers shop.

Until next time -- Happy Weaving!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Rainbows & Roses

Shetland wool color gamp throw - itchy but colorful

Outside, direct sunlight

After all these years I finally got around to weaving a color gamp.  Decided to weave the Harrisville wool color gamp kit that is available from Yarn Barn.   It will probably be no surprise to anyone that I did not follow the kit directions.  

The directions stated you were to weave the throw using plain weave --  me being me decided that I liked a broken twill pattern much better.   I knew that if I used plain weave the boredom factor would set in quickly and a dog on the loom was waiting to happen.  

The kit wove up quickly which is a good thing as I was getting impatient to see how the throw would look after wet finishing.   Wow, the wool yarn really blooms and does become somewhat softer after a trip through water-- well as soft as shetland wool is ever going to be.  Itchy!  Scratchy!

It surprises me how different the colors of the wool look when they are photographed in the direct sunlight as compared to the interior shot taken in my home. Glad I wove the gamp but it was not really my cup of tea - not enough patterning to keep me occupied.

Shetland wool color gamp throw - 

Inside, indirect light

In the studio I have been busy preparing warps for the upcoming holiday season.
A Christmas project on the big loom with 8 yards of green, white and a cheerful red to keeps me busy.

These lovely roses were delivered to the house 2 days ago and I have to admit they stole my breath away for a moment.  We are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary -- both of us are wondering how the years flew by so fast!    Wondering what the next 25 years will bring us.    

With summer coming to a close and fall fast approaching I am looking forward to cooler temps and more time inside the house so I can weave.   I have been doing a bit of contemplation and have come to the conclusion that I should give the local weaving guild another try - coming out of my introvert shell will be good for me and I am sure I will meet some interesting weavers.

Until next time -- Happy Weaving!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Canning Season & Homestead Lessons Learned

Canning season is finally here and I might add it arrived even without a lot of rain this summer.  These jars are the result of two full days of hard work.  Sitting on my Hoosier cabinet waiting to be put into the pantry are italian sausage spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce with herbs, spicy BBQ sauce and a few jars of salsa.  What you don't see are a few more jars of salsa and the 15 jars of homemade raspberry jam that are already stored in our pantry.  Round 2 of canning should begin sometime around Monday morning I need to wait until the next round of tomatoes ripen.

On the weaving front I finally got enough time to actually sit down and weave these Swedish drall towels.  Above is the blue and white version and below you can see the red and white version.

Wove a total of 10 different colors of this pattern and all of them are woven with cotlin.  These towels were fun to weave and went fairly quickly considering all the time I have been spending away from my looms.

Earlier this spring we adopted our very first chicks, originally we had a flock of 10 little ones.   At this point of the summer we have 4 chicks living in our small coop.  Gave 4 girls to a good friend of ours, 2 have died and the rest are pecking along nicely.

My how they have grown!

Above is our Buckeye chick, her name is Red Beak.  

In front is Cinnamon not sure what breed she is.  Behind is our Jersey Giant her name is Peck, originally I thought Peck was a boy thus the name Gregory Peck...but mother nature had the last laugh.

Last but certainly not least is my personal favorite Weenut.  Weenut is the smallest bird of our little flock and she is Miss Bossy Pants.  We really enjoy her Ziggy Stardust hairdo and her feathered feet.  It is a riot to watch her run and try not to trip herself on her own feathers.

We had a learning experience around here last weekend, not one we will repeat anytime soon I assure you.  

Lesson the first.... 

It is always better to keep the chickens in the coop while doing yard work.  Seems the John Deere lawn tractor is too loud for the ladies and they decided it was time to hightail it out of here and hide in the soybeans (at least that is where we think they hid for the entire day).  After calling for them over the course of several hours we pretty much decided the chicks were gone for good.  Very late in the afternoon low and behold 4 thirsty and hungry little ladies showed up in their coop for dinner much to our delight.  Lesson learned....shut the girls up in the coop before mowing lawn.  

Learning lesson, the second...

Field mice will find a way into your house no matter what.  Field mice are smart little buggers.  Field mice ate my Swedish cookie decoration hanging on the Hoosier Kitchen, this same cookie has survived 3 count them 3 moves without breaking and the damn field mice ate most of it, the bastages!!!  

2 electronic mice traps set with peanut butter and cheese later - field mice still winning, Witcher's becoming more determined to eradicate the damn mice.  

4 regular snap traps set with what is left of Swedish cookie and peanut butter - Witcher's hear the snap go off in the middle of night, we turn over to get back to sleep with smiles on our faces.  Morning dawns, hurry out to see evidence of dead mouse...nothing, no damn mouse, no peanut butter/cookie either....war is declared.  

2 electronic mice traps, 4 snap traps and one dog proof poison bait trap...4 days have gone by...no mice evidence (you know the kind I am referring to).  Witcher's happy, mouse dead!!  War won.  Hah! Eat my cookie will you!!!  I think not!

On the weaving news front, went to a local guild meeting this week and I have come to the conclusion that I am just not cut out for the weaving guild circuit.  The weavers in this guild are a talented bunch but I am just not interested in the social aspects of guild life.  Being an introvert works very nicely with weaving, wouldn't you agree?

Until next time...Happy Weaving

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fair Friends

Three Amigos!

This picture was taken last Saturday at Bristol Renaissance Fair.   My dear friend Anita is sitting with my husband and myself on the brick wall outside of the Friends of Fair garden at Bristol Renaissance Fair in Wisconsin.  Contrary to our smiles, it was HOT and HUMID and we are all suffering from the heat and dust.  Well, it looks like Mike might not be suffering all that much he does have a cool mug of beer in his hand (not to mention two ladies cuddled up next to him).

For those of you who might be interested I am wearing a pair of bodies or what a modern lady would call her corset.  The corset is boned with steel boning and has a hand made oak busk running up the front of it for support.  Before you ask, yes it is comfortable to wear.  When corsets are correctly fitted they very comfortable and fit almost like a second skin.   Just about everything you see I designed and sewed for our visit to Bristol.  Think the only things I did not sew are Mike's leather vest, pirate boots, my belt, Irish dance gillies and straw hat.  

When last I posted I was off to sew a corset in some lovely red silk my dear sister sent me from India.  Alas, the silk shattered when I attempted to cut and iron the fabric.  My only guess is that that particular piece of silk must have been fairly old for it to have behaved in that manner.   What a loss, the fabric was the most beautiful shade of scarlet red.  

 My heart broke when I realized the silk was not going to work out for my project.  But, being on a short leash I needed to get something together quickly for our upcoming weekend visit to fair.  Out came the fabric stash and a few hours later I had new plaid bloomers with genuine Irish lace trim, a new new pair of bodies and a red plaid skirt to tuck up into my leather belt.  Mike's linen shirt and breeches were sewn by me a few years ago, so he was good to go as they say.  You can almost see the brand new pirate sash I wove for him a few weeks ago draping down near his pewter mug in picture.

All in all we had a splendid time visiting with friends at fair in spite of the terribly hot conditions.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pirate Sashes

Finally finished weaving the two pirate sashes I have been working on for the last week.  They started life on the loom at 100 inches long and 14 inches wide.  After washing and ironing they are each 97 inches long not including the fringe and just shy of 12 inches wide.  Not a bad ending to a big project.  

Modeled on my dress form with a very old pirate shirt I made for the hubs several years ago I present a ruby red and black pirate sash.

 You will have to imagine the sash tied around the pirate's middle with a sword and several guns peaking out at various places around said pirate's waist.  Mr. Pirate refuses to let me take any pictures of him in his complete outfit so you will have to use your imagination.  With all the sewing and weaving I do for his pirate outfit you would think I get to take a picture of him duded up!  Yes, I know the shirt has not been ironed ... do you know any pirates who iron their shirts?

In this shot you can get a better idea of the overall pattern.   I still think this particular pattern looks like Maltese crosses.  I love to weave with tencel because it behaves well and weaves like butter and I have never had a project I did not like when I have used it.   After wet finishing and ironing both of the sashes drape well making it easy for said pirates to tie them.

All in all not a bad week of weaving.  Next project on the horizon...clothing for me to wear to the renaissance fair.  I have some very expensive (meaning I would never buy the fabric for myself) red silk my sister sent from India and some steel boning and a short time to make it all work....off to the sewing machine.  Did I mention I adore draping and sewing my own costumes and period correct clothing?  Time is wasting.....

Happy Weaving!