My Weaving Ways (Winter 2019)

Are you tired of reading about weaving? If so, avert your eyes!

But unless you want to read about my outings with my mother or going to the gym or learning to give subcutaneous fluids to my cat, weaving is currently what I’ve got to talk about.

It’s the craft I’m doing now, every day if I can.

Since I last reported the details, I’ve woven some scarves. I don’t actually love them, although I loved the variegated thread I started with. It’s Tencel, called Painted Desert– this combination of colors just moves me.

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But, as I tend to do, I feel like I over-complicated things and sort of lost the beauty of the thread. I made two long scarves and one that I sewed up as a cowl.

I made a set of 8 placemats for my sister’s friend, to coordinate with towels I wove for her last year.

And I wove my shawl, my gift to me.

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I’ve also woven new iterations of projects I’ve made before.

I know lots of people never want to make the same project twice but I quite enjoy it. The first time I go through the process, I learn SO much, it seems a shame not to apply the lessons.

These placemats, however, took that concept to the extreme. I had made them in off-white and in turquoise last year. This winter I made 10 in the light gray, for a customer who then decided the color wasn’t right (grr), and then made 12 more in the off-white for another customer, who loves them.

Each time I wove these I learned more about doing them efficiently and I made small changes that improved them each time.  Truth be told, I got a little bored with them and yet . . . I have a color combination in mind that I really must try. Soon.

And I’ve made these tab towels again, for the fourth time. I just really love making them. They sell well, they allow me to use up colors I’m running low on, and, because they are smallish and I can change colors with each, I never get bored. I made 12 of them from the last warp!

Right now, I have projects on two looms. I gave you a glimpse of the veggie towels last week and, to use up more odds and ends of leftovers and stash yarns in cotton, I am making these towels of bright stripes.

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And I’m thinking about what comes next.

The arrival of nice weather means I’ll have access to the loom on our glassed-in porch again. It’ll mean I can drag my small band loom outside and weave by the water. I have plans for scarves (ones I like better, I hope!), coasters, maybe a rag rug for the kitchen—think how much the cats would enjoy destroying that!

And in a few months I can write about My Weaving Ways, the summer edition.

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A Weaving Tease

I’m making yet another batch of kitchen towels. The way I have my loom set up, I see the back of the pattern when I weave.

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The back . . .

I had to use a hand mirror at first, to make sure it was all coming out correctly.

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The front . . .

Can you see what’s developing?

 

Is weaving cool or what?!

A Gift to Me

What was the last thing you made for yourself? Just as a special gift to yourself?

If you had asked me that question a couple of months ago, I would have been completely stumped.

I mean, I have handwoven dishtowels I use every day but I only keep the ones that have small mistakes that make them unfit for gift giving or selling.

I have orphan placemats, too. I might set out to weave a set of six, to sell on Etsy or at a craft show, and end up eking out 7. So I keep the extra one.

And, of course, I have kept quilts I’ve made but I don’t really think of those as something I made for myself. I just make them because I have an idea I like and then tend to stick them in a closet and forget about them.

But I’ve been working on a couple of custom orders and doing lots of making for other people lately and I simply had a mind to rebel.

I made something for myself.

Just for me.

Something sort of frivolous and not really my style. 

I made a big, comfy shawl. 

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I rarely go anywhere that this shawl would be appropriate. My clothing style runs to jeans and turtlenecks and sneakers.

And I can’t really use it at home because I am rarely without a cat on my lap and cats have claws . . .

But I love my shawl.

I chose colors that make me happy—the very low-key blue and tan go with every single thing I own, like denim jeans!

The fiber is a blend of alpaca and silk. It’s soft and light as air, and warm as well.

I made the shawl big and long and wide, in a pattern called a plaited twill. 

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The weaving of it was fun and just a little challenging. I bought one pound of yarn in each color and used almost every last inch of both.

I’ve worn the shawl twice so far, once out to dinner and once to a concert in a chilly theatre.

And it made me feel like a queen.

I intend to make more gifts just for me!

I’ll ask it again—what was the last thing you made, just for yourself?

I hope it was something wonderful—you deserve it.

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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

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!