Scrap Happy, Interrupted

It was to be the perfect scrap happy project. Scraps of leftover handwoven fabric, scraps of leftover commercial fabric, scraps of sweet-smelling filler what had been languishing a long time.

And, yet, it has not come to pass.

It seems that whenever I weave multiple kitchen towels, from lovely cotton and linen, I inevitably end up with a piece of pretty fabric that is too short to be a towel.

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I’ve tried passing them off as bread basket liners or small table mats but discerning folks seem to know that they are simply too-short towels.

What to do with pretty scraps? I mean, it’s woven by hand and I can’t just throw it away!

Well . . . how about combining them with scraps of white cotton fabric, leftover from some long-finished quilt project, and adding some balsam or lavender or even cedar shavings, all of which I have on hand (I know—that’s odd, isn’t it?) and making sweet sachets?

I love this idea. Easy to make, cute to behold, perfect for a little gift.

Off I went to make a prototype. I had fusible web already cut in 5-inch squares from another project. I stabilized and cut my handwoven fabric, I cut my backing, I sewed them together, I clipped the corners, and turned it all right side out.

I cut the top off a plastic soda bottle to make a little funnel.

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And I went to dig out my bags of balsam, lavender, and cedar shavings that had been languishing.

Languishing far too long, as it turns out.

They all, every one, have lost their scent. Nothing sweet, or spicy, or woodsy left at all.

And what is a sachet without a scent? Just a bag of organic matter . . .

The scentless stuff won’t go to complete waste—it will add depth to my compost pile, I’m sure.

I know where to get more balsam, and lavender, and cedar shavings. Scraps of fabric, both commercial and handwoven, seem to multiply while I sleep.

This scrap happy project has not come to pass. But it will.

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ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen and Connie

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Happy Weaving and Spinning Week!

I’ve recently learned from Chris, at Acton Creative, that this week is Weaving and Spinning Week!

How did I not know that?! Heaven knows, after the news of the last couple of weeks, I need something to celebrate . . .

And it seems the perfect excuse to show you what I’ve been working on since the last update.

A long time ago (May, in fact), I showed you this project of two scarves in pink and white while they were still on the loom. It’s a good example of how the weft color changes the overall look.

Let me explain a little—in weaving, the warp is made up of the long threads that are attached to the loom and are vertical when I sit facing the loom. The weft threads are the ones that come out of the shuttle as I weave and are horizontal.

In this project, one scarf is done in just two colors—rosewood and white—for both warp and weft.

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The other has those same two colors in the warp but the weft is lighter pink.

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Pretty cool, huh?

I’ve sort of been in placemat mode, too. It turns out that buyers like placemats and I like making them. I get the satisfaction of achieving a “finish” pretty quickly since each individual mat is fairly small and quick to weave up, even though the entire project may be on the loom for a while.

I did this pattern in off-white—it uses two weights of thread in both warp and weft, which creates the nice texture.

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I liked the results so much that I went ahead and did it again. The second time, I used two shades of blue. The effect is tweedy and interesting.

I keep thinking of other color combinations I could try. Maybe dark brown with the lighter-weight thread in a bright yellow-green? Or bright orange?

And, of course, I’ve made more towels. I wove the striped ones I’ve already shown you and six of these.

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And this boring-looking bunch of threads will turn into towels, too. I hope they’ll be more interesting soon!

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Some of my projects have been repeats of ones you’ve seen before. I know weavers who never, ever make the same pattern twice because they want to move on to something new. SO much to weave, so little time!

As much as I like new, I do have some favorites and I really like doing them over. (I’m the same way with books—I love re-reading my favorites, as visiting old friends, and will cycle them through my reading every few years.)

So, my weaving re-dos are more of these placemats (buyers like placemats!) I hemmed them this time, instead of leaving fringe. I like the look of the fringe better but it means the mats can’t go into the washer and they are white, after all.

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And I making more of these Christmas towels. This shot is a good demonstration, again, of how the weft color can change everything. You can see the unwoven warp on top, then, going around the front, a towel where I’m using white as weft. Underneath the loom, you can see what that same warp looks like when I used red as the weft.

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Here’s another view of the red weft and the obligatory photo of the weaver’s apprentice.

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And that’s it for this update, with many ideas percolating in my mind! Thanks for celebrating this special week with me!

From Waste to Wonderful: ScrapHappy

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From April to June.

From string to fabric.

From threads to towels.

From waste to wonderful (if I say it myself!)

I wrote in April about my weaving project that began with miles of leftover thread from previous projects. In fact, I used up almost two miles (or 3 kilometers, if you prefer) of thread that otherwise would’ve been considered waste!

From that, I got 4 thirsty kitchen towels, each slightly different. (You can click on the photos, to see the differences clearly.)

I also wove a small band from my leftovers, to make hanging tabs for each towel.

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And, because I wanted to leave pretty striped fringe on one piece, and fringe doesn’t really suit kitchen towels, I made a table runner, as well! Hemstitching secures the fringe.

I liked everything about this project and am unabashedly thrilled with the product. Once again, scraps make me happy.

Do they make you happy, too?

You might want to contact Kate and get in on the fun of sharing your creations!


From Kate: ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn,  Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren, Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon and Hayley

One Day, Weaving

There was a time, when I first retired, when the hours that stretched before me every day seemed endless. I was a little anxious about that—what would I do to fill my time? 

I started selling vintage linens on Etsy.

I started making candy.

I found unfinished quilts to work on and undertook new ones.

I began blogging.

I took up weaving.

My days were full and utterly my own.

Times have changed and I have some different responsibilities now. I embrace those responsibilities but they mean that I haven’t unlimited time for all those other things I did, and enjoyed. I gave some up and all get less of my full attention.

So, yesterday was super special—all I did was weave.

I didn’t do any of those other things and I didn’t work outdoors, either, because we had a day of welcome rain.

I worked on a warp that will become two scarves, pink and off-white. Not my colors at all but I had this yarn and wanted to use it. I have to change colors every 16 passes of the shuttle so the process is slowish. But the pattern is interesting, as I watch it develop.

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Then, when I’d had enough of that, I moved to the loom with the scrappy striped towels, and I finished the weaving of these! It’s actually going to end up being 4 towels and one longer runner and I’ll tell you more when they are completely finished. For a project that began as a way to empty some bobbins, I love the way these are turning out!

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And then I turned to my band loom. I need handing tabs for those striped towels and I love dragging the little loom outside when the sun shines. This time, though, I made a gazillion little mistakes and had to fuss and re-do and mess round some more, just to get this narrow, ultra-simple strip. 

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After that slog with the band loom, as an antidote, I played for awhile with a new loom. Actually, it represents the first weaving I ever did, as a child.

Did you have a potholder loom?

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A month ago or so, my blog pal, Debbie, who is a quilter and weaver, wrote about one of these looms and I knew immediately I needed one.

This is not your grandchild’s potholder loom! Unlike the ones you can buy now for children, which are plastic, small, and use nylon loops, this loom is sturdy metal, 12 inches across, and uses all-cotton loops.

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The end products are potholders or hot pads that are large (about 8 inches), thick and beefy, and can actually be used to handle hot dishes out of the oven without melting.

This silly loom has given me hours of fun lately. I sit on my deck with my big bag of loops. I dump the loops on the bench and root around to find colors I like. The cats come and root around, too. 

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My only complaint with this loom and its use is that the loops are expensive and come in bags that have a modest amount of a lot of colors, in one the three different colorways. One can choose either brights, pastels, or “designer” colors, which is what I chose. I ran out of the colors I liked early and have been challenged to find color combos that work with colors I like less or, in the case of this medium brown on the right, loath.*

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Today, it’s back to the other things that need to be done. The sun is shining, the weeds are growing, my mother’s summer place needs to be cleaned out and readied for sale. Our house needs to be spiffed up for company, errands must be run, chores must be checked off the list.

But, I had my day of weaving, and I know I’ll have more. And I’ll appreciate that time all the more, I suppose, because it is no longer unlimited. I hope you get a day, soon, to fully devote to something you love to do!


* The company, Harrisville Designs, does offer smaller bags of single colors but then the cost of the loops gets even more expensive.

Scrap Happy Weaving

Scrap happy? 

What’s so happy about scraps?

Scraps are just unwanted leftovers, right?

Not so fast, my friends!

For a substantial group of people scraps are the source of great happiness. Blogger Kate, from Tall Tales from Chiconia, has provided a space for happy scrappy crafters to showcase the ways they make beautiful things from bits and pieces that others might consider trash.

Why do scraps make us so happy?

Some of us are frugal and scraps used represent money saved.

Some of us are committed to sustainability and limiting our use of raw materials to make new when we can make do.

For some of us, scrappy is a preferred aesthetic. We like the look of a casual, unpredictable mix of colors and patterns, nothing too matchy-matchy and fussy for us.

And sometimes, using scraps solves a practical problem.

My scrappy project, a set of kitchen towels I am weaving, could be said to fall into all of these categories but it is primarily motivated by the last.

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The section at the bottom is woven with sewing thread and will be folded up as hem. This towel has small chevrons in the stripes.

Weavers deal with warp and weft threads. The warp is composed of long threads that are attached to the loom and the weft is made up of the horizontal threads that are interwoven into the warp. This interweaving is done with bobbins of thread placed in a shuttle. Each color thread uses a bobbin.

The amount of thread on the bobbin does not always run out at the same time the warp thread does.

We have dozens of bobbins here but, with two weavers weaving and leaving leftover thread on bobbins for nearly four years now, all the bobbins were used up! 

I could either buy more bobbins or free up some of the ones I had by using up the scraps.

My towels are made up of those scraps. Each warp stripe is 6 threads wide and I used scraps of colors interspersed with scraps of neutrals. All the threads are cotton or linen or a blend of the two.

Each warp thread is over 7 yards long and there are about 450 warp threads so my project used a lot of scrap!

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This is the warp, ready to go on the loom. Each thread is about 7 yards long.

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There are 24 ends, or threads, per inch

And I freed up a lot of bobbins and even a few cones.

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Empty bobbins mean potential weaving!

I should be able to weave 4-5 towels from this warp but may make a table runner with part of it. I’m doing the second towel now.

I quite love the look! I’ve learned that I must lean toward fairly subdued colors that are sort of “grayed”—my scraps contained very few clear bright colors and very few pastels. I have a lot of scraps of neutrals but more were unbleached or natural than pure white.

I dressed them loom with a very simple twill structure and I can change the look of each towel a little by the way I press the treadles. The towels will be first cousins, not identical twins!

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The first towel had little chevrons in the stripes. This one has little florets.

I will admit, I love getting a big box of new weaving yarn in the mail. I like planning a project and then purchasing the colors especially for that project. 

But as happy scrappers the world over know, there is something even more satisfying, and just as lovely, that comes from using what we have.

Are you, too, a happy scrapper? You might want to contact Kate and get in on the fun of sharing your creations!


From Kate: ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn,  Lynda,

Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,

Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys and Claire

Crafting for Comfort or for Challenge?

For those of you who make things, or garden, or write, or bake, or even take walks in the great outdoors, do you tend toward challenging yourself in new directions, pushing yourself to do more and more difficult? Or do you choose familiar, comfortable techniques and projects and paths to soothe you?

For most of us the answer is probably, “It depends.”

It depends on mood, other stressors in our lives, the time have available to work on a project, and maybe, basic temperament.

My basic temperament leads me to the familiar, the soothing, the comforting . . . the easy.

I don’t especially like fussy, complicated designs that seem, to me, overwrought. And I seem to have enough tenseness in my life without looking for more stress in my crafts. So I very often do more of the same, return to the familiar, make more of what I’ve already made, just variations on a theme.

But even I, sometimes, feel the need to push myself a little. My two most recent weaving projects, while not at all, in the least, wild and crazy, were forays into slightly different techniques.

And what I learned was that, even though I was moving away from my comfortable, known weaving, I was moving into weaving that was, almost immediately, as comfortable and manageable.

In other words, just because it was different, it wasn’t hard or stress producing or uncomfortable. And that was important for me to learn.

One project was kitchen towels. Nothing new and different about that! Kitchen towels, made of cotton and linen are, by far, my favorite weaving product. What made these towels a little bit of a walk on the wild side for me was that I used a weave structure I hadn’t before—called false damask—and I used 8 shafts, not for the first time but I haven’t used them too often.

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Many (most?) floor looms have 4 shafts—when you add more shafts, you can achieve more complex designs. My loom actually has 12 shafts but I’ve not used all 12 yet!

The thing that drew me to this particular weave structure, was the way the checks on the towels look like they are made of interwoven bands.

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For weavers, this pattern is #246 from A Weaver’s Book of 8 Shaft Patterns, edited by Carol Strickler.

IMG_1793I honestly wouldn’t’ve looked at this draft twice if I hadn’t received email from my prolific weaving pal, Joan, with a photo of her towels. They were so fab, I had to do my own!

The details: 8/2 cotton warp in white, with narrow navy stripes; 24 ends per inch. Weft in varying colors of 8/2 cotton and narrow navy stripes.

I like the yellow one best! And I wove coordinating tabs on my band loom.

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My other recent project was two scarves from one warp.

This structure is called Atwater Bronson lace and, honestly, it couldn’t be much easier! But it achieves this pretty lacy effect.

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For weavers, this pattern is straight out of Next Steps in Weaving by Patty Graver. Her project is for a table runner in 3/2 cotton. All I did was substitute finer, 8/2 rayon and Tencel, which achieve the narrower width and a super silky drape and feel.

I used warp stripes in both a deep teal in Tencel and a variegated rayon thread that included teal, purple and turquoise.

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I lined the lace “windows” up with the warp stripes so, when I wove the pattern, the windows alternated between the plain stripes and the variegated.

For one scarf I used the same deep teal as weft and, for the other, I used navy blue. I was surprised that I liked the effect of the navy better—it makes the brighter colors glow. The only other difference between the making of the two scarves is that the windows are shorter in one and quite long in the other.

 

 

Both of these projects were a joy to weave. I expected them to be difficult and to create agita but they were both manageable and  . . . really easy.

I was avoiding branching out because I craved comfort and reassurance yet I found just those things by taking a baby step outside my comfort zone.

And I achieved a different kind of comfort and reassurance in knowing that I was becoming the kind of weaver who could branch out, who could attempt new approaches, and could be successful, without drama.

A lesson, perhaps, to apply to other aspects of my life  . . . ?

My Weaving Ways (Winter 2018)

I’ve just realized that I have not written anything about weaving since mid-November!

That’s kind of crazy, really, since I weave almost every day and miss it when I can’t. I love weaving and when I’m not weaving I’m usually thinking about it, reading about it, wishing I could spend more time at it.

I guess I haven’t written about it for a few reasons.

Some of what I’ve woven hasn’t seemed that noteworthy. I wove a lot for two craft shows we participated in and, while the things I made were pretty and well crafted, they weren’t difficult or technically impressive, by standards of accomplished weavers.

Sometimes I’ve thought about a post about weaving but would think, “Oh, I’ll finish this project first and then I’ll write about it.” But then, I’d finish and immediately start a new project and the cycle would begin again.

Sometimes I’ve thought about a post about weaving but, honestly, resisted writing one more post that is nothing more than, “Hey, look at what I made!” That’s not really what I ever intended this blog to be, simply, a place for me to talk about myself and do a perpetual show-and-tell.

So, why am I’m finally writing the show-and-tell, catch-up-on-weaving post?

Well, since I spend SO much of my time at it, if I don’t write about weaving I’m not sure what else to write about. And I do want to stay in touch with you, through the blog, and I do want the blog to reflect where I am in my own “loving hands at home” world.

So, here goes nothing:

I’ve made a few scarves and have more on a loom right now.

I made several sets of these chunky placemats and similar coasters. These have been very popular and I should really make more . . .

I made a zillion coasters because Don wound a warp for coasters before he hurt his ankle. I decided to do the weaving, to free up the loom. He said the warp would make 15 coasters . . .  but 36 coasters later, I finally got them off the loom!

And I’ve made a LOT of towels. I continue to like making towels best of all.

There! After waiting so long to do this, I have to admit it’s kind of fun to see all the weaving in one place. Thanks for indulging me . . . it’s great to have friends with whom to share!