Manly Hands at Home: He’s Still At It!

In the hive of activity hereabouts, my hands are not the only ones that ply a needle and throw a shuttle.

I’ve written before about the manly maker in the house, the guy who has the patience for counted cross stitch and who weaves in the next room over from mine.

Don’s been busy!

His most recent weaving project was his most ambitious yet.

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He loves these complicated overshot patterns. It takes longer to dress the loom, with its diabolical threading pattern, than it does to actually do the weaving, and a moment’s inattention can throw the whole thing off.

This pattern is called Lee’s Surrender and I suspect many weavers have waved the white flag and given up on this overshot. But not Don! The weaving takes two shuttles and a combination of the off-white cotton thread, quite fine, and the tweedy blue-green wool that makes the pattern.

He also wove this runner as a custom request from a buyer. She had seen a similar runner in our Etsy shop but in burgundy, navy, and white, and asked Don to make her one in just navy and off-white. This is overshot, too, and the pattern is called Anabel.

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Weaving has taken time from his cross-stitch projects but he has worked on small projects to give him something productive to do as he watches March Madness. He’s made a bunch of these bookmarks—we will both need to do more reading!

And he continues work on his own Christmas stocking, to complement the one he made for me.

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He finished one gorgeous cross-stitched piece 4 years ago, a long, narrow bell pull design, and it has been rolled up in a drawer since then. When he recently pulled it out and asked me to finish it, I panicked! Me? Cut it? Sew it? Try to make it into the wall hanging it was meant to be? With him hanging over my shoulder the whole time?!

I don’t think so. Time to stick it back in the drawer.

But then we found the perfect solution. I’ve been following a blog for quite awhile, where the blogger, Karen, shows the end results of a wonderful service she offers.

In her business, Averyclaire Needle Arts, Karen takes other people’s work, their embroidery and cross stitch, and finishes them, in expert and creative ways, into pillows, ornaments, wall hangings, and small free-standing displays. The attention to detail is amazing! I knew Karen could handle what I could not!

I contacted Karen and within a few weeks she had transformed Don’s work.

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She communicated with me regularly, worked quickly, charged only a very reasonable fee, and amazed us with the product of her labor. Don’s handiwork is now permanently out of the drawer and being admired, as it so deserves. If you ever need finish work for your stitching, I can’t recommend Karen’s work highly enough!

Don and I do very different kinds of work. Even when we both weave, our weaving goes in completely different directions and reflects our personalities and aesthetics.

But it is wonderful to have someone under this same roof who shares my love of making and of creating, who can relate to the frustrations and the joys of the tasks at hand, who likes to be busy and productive, who loves to finish a project and can’t wait to start another one.

So I wonder—what will he make next . . . ?

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83 thoughts on “Manly Hands at Home: He’s Still At It!

    • Love that first overshot. Congratulations to your husband. My beloved tried weaving after doing a loom restoration but didn’t take to it. His engineering mind makes him a marvellous warping assistant though.

      • Yes, that Lee’s Surrender overshot is a tour de force. I wonder if your guy would like weaving more if he tried a really complicated weave structure. It seems to me that the analytic mind would be engaged by creating complex patterns. But a good warping assistant is hard to find, too, so enjoy that!

      • He makes all sorts of weaving tools for me, like spool holders and even a warping mill (that he now thinks he can redesign to make it better) so I’m happy to leave things just the way they are.

    • Thanks, Cathy! The benefit of having an engineer for a husband is that he can come up with solutions to problems around the house?? Maybe? Actually, I think weaving would appeal to an engineer–there’s a very analytical aspect of it.

  1. All I can say is WOW!!!! The work is impressive! Both the weaving and the cross stitch. Many men have had an artistic eye and it doesn’t really matter what medium that art expresses itself in. As long as it’s allowed expression. It’s wonderful you have that in common.

    • Oh, thank you, Marlene! I’ll pass this along to him. I think he loves having the outlets for his creativity–I wish more men felt comfortable with some of these crafts.

      • It’s the stupid box people keep trying to put others into. Women can handle power tools, fix cars, drive heavy equipment if they choose. Why can’t men express their creativity in the kitchen (chefs), at a sewing machine (designers, tailors) or in other fiber arts. Art is art. Smash that box!

  2. Such beautiful, intricate work! I am impressed and thank you for sharing. Also YES, it’s good to know when to hire an expert for a step in the process. Karen did a great job and turned a UFO into a treasure.

    • Thanks, Melanie–Don’s work is always intricate–he has much more patience for the finicky than I do. And I was thrilled with Karen’s work–so professional and so reasonable. I’ll be going back to her in the future!

  3. Stunning work, Kerry – what a talent Don is. And yes, as you say, so great for you both to have these shared values and interests, while still retaining your individual styles. 🙂

    • Thanks, Liz! Sharing the weaving is especially fun, since there are steps in the process where it really helps to have an extra set of hands with an understanding of the process behind them.

      • Always useful to have an extra paid of hands around. This was especially true for me in the days when I needed help winding skeins of yarn and Steve very patiently sat with the hank across his hands. These days, I have a yarn swift and a ball winder, which is much more efficient, but not so personal!! 🙂

      • I remember being that extra pair of hands when I was little and my mom was big into knitting. I hated sitting still for that long!

  4. I equally admire Don’s intricate embroidery and weaving, Karen’s beautiful finishing and your lovely writing. And hope that some day my husband Dan will join me in creating textiles!

    • You always say the nicest things, Tammy! Does Dan show any interest in weaving? Don and I started at the same time, with a teacher, which was probably a good way, so neither of us had to become teacher to the other. And we are drawn to very different weave structures so there’s really no sense of competition . . .

      • Not yet….however with his engineering mind, he does take interest in the patterns and set up of the loom.I’m hoping with time he’ll find his way with a shuttle in his hand.

  5. Isn’t it a gift Karen gave you! Not only relieving you of the stress of ‘getting it right’ but of making something already beautiful, displayable. Good on her!! Your Don is quite a man! I love the first piece shown – the colour and the intricacy of the design speaks to me. It takes patience and understanding of the pattern to thread up such a complex pattern, I’m SO impressed. And yes, it must be really wonderful to know as you work that in the room over he is there working as well. That’s special ❤

    • I was so impressed by Karen’s work! I knew it would be good, from seeing her blog, but it was even better than I expected. We’ve spent a fortune (!), in the past, to have Don’s stitching framed–I love having an option to finish the projects in different ways. And, yes, it took a lot of patience (and a fair amount of cursing!) to get the loom ready for that Lee’s Surrender project. Every step of it seemed tedious to me–but he loved it!

  6. I’m in awe of Don’s latest weaving project. That is all. I am rendered speechless: untutored as I am in weaving, I can see it must have been a very tricky project, demanding patience and concentration.

    • Thanks, Margaret–it really was a tricky project. I would walk by the room where he was working and hear grumblings and mumblings and swear words. All’s well that ends well, though! He’s working on a very straightforward, easy project now. 😉

  7. Pingback: Manly Hands at Home: He’s Still At It! | A Small Country Living

  8. Oh my gosh, Kerry, you and Don are amazingly gifted with everything you touch. I’m so glad to see that canvas out of a drawer and into the light of day. Thanks for sharing Karen’s services. I’ll pop over to take a look. And that weaving. My mind spins at the very thought of it. It’s absolutely stunning. It must be wonderful loving someone who shares your love of craft, but at the same time takes his own perspective. You two are perfect for each other. Thanks for sharing photos of his work.

    • Not with everything we touch! We only show the things that turn out well–we’re funny that way! Do take a look at Karen’s work–I was finding myself frustrated that Don kept making stitched patterns–we have NO room on the walls for more frames! But Karen shows so many other ways of displaying work and her attention to detail is amazing. I’ll pass along all your kind words to Don!

      • I actually had fun on Karen’s site. I looked at several months worth of makes and left her a comment on her about page. She does beautiful work, as do you.

      • I used to love cross stitching, but it’s been years since I’ve created anything. I have a tiny kit for a Christmas tree ornament that a friend gave me when I was recovering from foot surgery. I should pull it out and give it a go.

  9. You are both so talented! I look forward to seeing a photo of Don’s Christmas stocking hanging next to yours. I know you know how fortunate you two are to have found each other.

    • We do know we are very fortunate, indeed! And I don’t know that I think that we’re particularly talented–we do things we enjoy so we work hard at them and we get better as we go!

  10. So glad you found someone to finish Don’s work! Years ago, it was easy to find a shop that carried the supplies and patterns and did finishing as well. I worked in one. I have been trying to find someone around here to make chair cushions – I really can’t do them – and can only find upholstery places that charge a lot for small things. My mother had an upholsterer who would come to the house with velvet samples when she wanted a needlepoint piece made into a pillow! Imagine!
    I checked out your Etsy shop. I couldn’t find it the other day when I was looking. I loved to do overshot as well! And cat track snail trail was my favorite! I did a wall hanging for Peter’s interior office wall in white and a bright green. (Circa 1980’s!). It was really fun and had he not been fired, I would have gotten some orders out of it.

    • I was so glad to find Karen, to do that work for us! Now I need to go root around and see what else I cans end to her. Don LOVES overshot and did all the runners you see in the Etsy shop. I love the look of it but the process of actually weaving it doesn’t seem to appeal to me. Do you still have the bright green and white wall hanging??

      • No. I can’t remember when it “went”. Perhaps before we went to Asia. We had to do a huge purge then. I do have a photo…

  11. Kerry, I love your man who gives a new twist to “bobbin’ and weaving.” Gorgeous works. You’re both lucky to have found common threads in your retirement. You’re also an inspiration to those of us seeking the same.

    • “Bobbin’ and weaving”–I LOVE that! You crack me up, as usual. This shared hobby has worked out well for us–we help each other a lot, at stages of the process. What will you and your guy do when you retire? How about glassblowing!! 😉

  12. What gorgeous work, in both mediums. I unearthed an ancient, unfinished counted cross stitch sampler when I was looking for the magnetic board I used to track my pattern (to use for a complicated knitting lace pattern.) don’t know if I’ll ever pick it up again, but good to know there are finishers out there.

    • Thanks, Jennifer! If you ever do finish that sampler (and you should!), Karen would probably be able to do wonders with coming up with a good way to display it!

  13. So, I have to ask: do you all talk while working? listen to music? take breaks for food and drink? I’m curious about the process since both of you put produce such beautiful work.
    My March Madness activity? Catching up on blogs 🙂
    My team, Gonzaga, is in the Final Four! I’ve been watching the Zags since 1995, their first trip to the tournament. I am thrilled!!

    • You’ve had a good year for your sports teams, between VaTech and the Zags! And, regarding our process–we work in different rooms, so we don’t talk, but he plays music REALLY loud in his room, loud enough that it’s just about right for me the next room over. We visit each other regularly, to check on progress and admire. I put more hours into weaving on a daily basis–I seem obsessed!

      • Kerry, I was almost able to visualize this. You all going back and forth, checking out each other’s work, that REALLY loud music 🙂 Thanks for sharing … I am such a process person.

    • Not a rivalry, really, at all–we like to do very different kinds of weaving, so that works out fine. The crafts is SO varied that we could work for years and never cover the same ground!

  14. Such delicate, intricate astounding work, I should think Don has many an envious blog follower who would give their high teeth to create a piece of art half as beautiful as his x

  15. Wonderful. I imagine that some weavers have spouses who fret over all the time spent weaving. No worries for you two! I love that your weaving interests are different. Overshot has long fascinated me, as much for its history as part of Appalachian culture as anything. Lee’s Surrender, for example. What an evocative name–just think of what was going through the mind of the person who designed it. And it’s a beautiful pattern. I love, love the cross-stick bell pull. Add my compliments to Don for his work.

    • It’s funny about overshot patterns–they do have special names. One of the patterns he’s done is called Mary Ann Ostrander, which fascinates me because my great-grandmother’s maiden name was Ostrander! I do find myself drawn to patterns with these names that seem to really have people and their places behind them. I will definitely pass your kind words along–he has been so pleased with all the great feedback he’s gotten!

  16. Simply gorgeous. And so good that you’ve found a way to get that bell pull piece on display; it deserves to be seen and admired! Thank you for sharing these beautiful pieces with us, Kerry 🙂

  17. Wow – it takes concentrated dedication to produce such beautiful results. Don must be a complex man. I’m so glad the bell pull is on display – it’s a shame when finished pieces just go to storage.

    • Don loves a challenge and seems to be easily bored! In the middle of these big projects, he does a fair amount of grumbling but the finished products are always spectacular!

  18. Pingback: A Girl Having Fun, and a Giveaway | Love Those "Hands at Home"

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