Thank you, my love.
Two weeks ago, I finished my first weaving project on the loom I built last month. I learned a lot, one thing being how little room to create sheds I had with how I warped the thing. I ended up with over a meter (4′) of fabric created. If I want a longer piece, I’ll have to warp it like a tapestry loom and move the work around the frame. Anyway, this piece works for a short scarf.
You all remember Toby, the werewolf scarf model:
It is just long enough to wrap once and maybe loop once. I finished the ends with a hem stitch, then overhand knots of fringe. The whole thing is alpaca, so it is nice and soft.
The front ended up fuzzier than the back side. The weft yarn had a knobbly texture to it that fluffed up in a lot of places. This being my first weaving work, I made a lot of errors; missed warps, inconsistent tension, that sort of thing. But, even with its many imperfections, it is still a soft and fairly attractive scarf. I had fun making it and I will weave more things in the future, most likely.
Last year, we stumbled onto something that in hindsight, should have been obvious. We’d gone out, unaware, on Super Bowl Sunday for dinner and we were the only people there. We quickly realized that any place normally crowded by particular people (anyone who likes, follows, or pretends to give a shit about football) would be largely empty, like our restaurant. After that dinner, we drove to the nearby Super Wal-Mart and found the isles pretty much unoccupied. We had discovered a short window of reverse crowd status! We declared that Super Bowl would be our “out on the town” night.
This year, we were ready. We even looked up what time the Super Bowl was at so we could leave the house just when everyone was starting up their parties and such. Slick took some quick cell phone snaps of each location we went to yesterday.
We began with a quiet, pleasant and almost solitary dinner at the Olive Garden. There were three groups getting their checks and leaving as we entered = perfect timing. One couple shared the dining room with us. The place is more enjoyable when sparsely populated.
After dinner, we visited the Office Depot for some office sundries. This was less dramatic since that store is usually fairly empty anyhow.
To the local Barnes and Noble, for a coffee refresher and a browse through new books.
The ultimate: Wal-Mart. I was disappointed at how many people were there, honestly. There were at least a dozen or more people in the store while we were there. I’d hoped for a ghost town. We got some toiletries and toys, but we didn’t have to wait in line at all! So that was good.
The practical goal for the night, the weekly grocery store trip. While the shelves of chips and dips were shockingly emptied, the rest of the store was as desired. Very few people makes for a stress-free grocery run.
Not wildly exciting, I know, but it is a treat for introverts to run errands in a town where the majority of people are somewhere else! I recommend it.
So, it was 2F this morning, but the sun was shining so it felt more like 5F.
There is some weird thing that happens when it gets this cold. Snow just vanishes from places. There isn’t significant wind, the sun isn’t out long enough to melt the snow, there is no water or evidence of melt. There is snow when you go to bed at 10F and when you go out in the morning at 2F, the snow isn’t there in places.
Over the weekend, we had two sunny days. The temperature even hit 50F for a short while! We opened the door and pulled back the curtains for maximum sunlight. The cats, expectedly, loved it.
Moxie is quite cautious for being the head cat. She watched the door view for a while before laying in front of it. Nora has taken over the loveseat in the background and held it as her own for most of the day.
The Captain, interrupted cleaning. Love that expression. They like to clean in the sunshine. I wonder if it is because their fur dries faster, or if it simply feels good. Everyone likes to combine pleasures.
Friday, our quirky, pretty cat. She spent the whole rest of the day curled up on the back of the fat chair, soaking up the sunlight right after The Captain moved.
Oz just couldn’t stop yawning while I had my camera out. I have at least five shots of him yawning.
All together, now. Nora refused to interrupt her nap, so I could only get four of the five. I love having five cats, but I have been unable to train any of them to sleep on my feet for warmth. Oh well.
Love that as a title.
Phew. I finally got my made-from-scraps loom warped up. This is attempt number three. The major problem was that beautiful heddle I showed you a picture of before. It is solid and pretty, but it only leaves about 1 cm for me to get my shuttle through. Obviously, that won’t work. I tried making a second one and drawing up some other solutions, but it simply won’t work. So, I went with a string heddle as I had dismissed originally. Of course, about 67% through making it I realized a better way to do it, but that improvement will have to wait for the next time I warp.
It was stupid difficult to get the first few weaves in, but after a couple wefts it became much easier. I’m certainly learning a lot. I think the next weaving project will go more smoothly since:
1. I’ll know how to warp and only have to do it once,
2. I’ll use my new and easier method of stringing the heddle and,
3. I’ll know to use a couple shed sticks to get the first few wefts in without using muscle to force it.
Also, I should have just drawn this damn thing up to begin with, instead of keeping it all in my head. There were too many moving parts for me to use my head as a blueprint display and if I’d drawn it up I’d have saved myself at least a couple hours of pointless work. At least it was fun.
I think this weaving work will take somewhere in the range of 6-10 hours. That is a wild estimate based on the two rows that went okay after it was started. We’ll see how long it really takes when I time it as I work. This currently warped project is a gift for someone, but the person doesn’t check my blog very often so I hope to have it done by the time this picture divulges the details. My next weaving will perhaps be something practical. This would be a great way to turn ruined clothing into a sturdy rug. Plus, if I want to get insanely detailed, this could house a grand tapestry. Not that my skill would accommodate such a thing, but I like having options.
Found this guy under my car. Hope I’m not the one to cause it to be there. Weird. Pretty markings.
ETA when I moved my car later, I saw that it is a woodpecker. Possibly a Williamson’s Sapsucker or maybe even a female Norther Flicker – hard to tell from the mangled beak. This is about my speed for bird identification – when they are completely still.
At reader request, I have added a +1 button feature to my site, at the bottom of posts. Instead of mocking the non-computer-savvy, I will admit that not everyone spends hours a day using computers, internets, etc. and that remembering how to login may not be as easy as breathing for every person. Even for the regular internet users, I get that sometimes you may not have anything to say, but want to give some acknowledgement of the article, a “yeah, that’s cool” or “cheers” sort of feature. That feature is now alive with the +1 button. I’ve also added a Twitter and Reddit button, since those are the other services/sites I am willing to allow.
Try it out, below. You can just Plus One it, or you can also share it on G+, if you want. The dialogue opens up on its own, but you don’t have to share.
The first few days of the new year were spent finishing up last year’s projects. Now I’m ready for new work, new projects, new skills and crafts!
Over the weekend I made myself a loom. It is a simple frame loom, but I’ve made a sweet heddle (pictured above), a smooth and basic shuttle, a rod and a shed board. I don’t know if shed board is the proper term for it, but my loom is somewhere between simple, basic and intermediate – so it isn’t another heddle (and I have no harnesses or shafts at all) but it is more than a rod, so I’m going to call it a shed board until I find out differently. It is much larger than I originally planned, but as I was gathering scraps to put it together, I realized I would have a lot more flexibility if I made it bigger to begin with. If it turns out I won’t use it, I can simply unscrew it and cut it down to a more useful size. So, I went big – it is about 80×180 cm (around 3×6′). And, as always, this project turned into a more involved project as I worked on it. Honestly, I was planning for a simple crochet/thread loop heddle, but I was able to find a whole mess of tiny eye hooks at Lowe’s when I was getting some small pieces of wood for the accessory tools. Woohoo! 120 eye hooks, smooth and stable for a heddle. Math that up and find that I have a lot of warping options! Weaving is one of those crafts that can give great results from a simple, over-under weave or an intricate design. And you can get very intricate if you want, even on a very basic setup like this.
So, I made a simple loom. I have a couple things to do tonight – including watching the S3E3 of Sherlock!!! – but I think I have enough time to get my first project warped up. I am eager to see this work out.
This project has been a long time to start. Almost two years ago, after we’d moved and I didn’t have a workshop to do it in, I had the idea to make a series, a collection of vehicles or conveyances that were close to existing reality, but not aligned with it. I wanted plane-like things, dirigibles, crawlers, buggies, submarines, sailing boats, rafts, carriages, rockets, sliders, and sleds – everything I could think of. But with all our home belongings in boxes, us working on normalizing The House for sale, and me still traveling for work; there was no time, space, or available other resources to make models like this.
In the meantime, I figured that I would need pilots and drivers for these conveyances. That was something small, with no designated space or special supplies needed. I scaled my Adventure Bunnies to what I thought would be a good conveyance pilot size and got to work. You watched the ten versions of the bunnies, and you’ve seen the four fox versions so far. Honestly, I need to do another revision to the fox yet. I may split the back body pattern – since I’m inserting a tail connection anyway and since pulling the tail rightside out through the body seems to stretch the body-neck area a bit too much to gather well once assembled. Summary: pilot and driver critters first, thus bunnies and foxes.
Finally, in 2013 I got about halfway done with my workshop. The wood to build the rest of the furniture and the finishing pieces (window trim, electrical covers, overhead lights, etc.) are all purchased and waiting patiently for their/my turn. But, a big countertop is plenty of space to start work on a conveyance and I did so in November. This weekend past, I finished it!
Less than stellar first shot. Ignore the slanted wheel – I failed to touch the front axle down to the surface, so the wheel is floating sideways in the air. I made the front and back axle moveable so the conveyance could go up and down surfaces with ease. The boot is in the front of the vehicle and currently houses only the power source, to be discussed in a moment. There is plenty of room for a picnic basket and some climbing gear, two favorite Adventure Bunny pastimes.
There are three steering controls and an upholstered seat for comfort. The windshield helps keep the wind out of their ears when they go fast. Of course Adventure Bunnies like to go fast.
A good view of the wheel system. The side wheels bear most of the balance and weight, while the front and back are mostly for support.
A view of the driver’s seat.
How ABs fit in the conveyance.
Doesn’t she look dashing in her new ride?! And racing stripes!
A closer view of the power source, an Imagical Battery. They are part Imaginary and part Magical, but all battery. They are made, sold and maintenanced solely by the Fairy and guaranteed to work as long as the owner or user believes in Fairies – a clever marketing ploy.
The gold attachments for battery and vehicle.
Warning label – don’t void your warranty.
This initial project, Conveyance Primo, turned out alright. I used a new material, a paper mache clay. The stuff is excellent and I will be using it for other projects (things like the Devil Heart), but it wasn’t really the best choice for this project. The clay is good at covering a form and giving texture, but I needed something to make the form with and ended up spending a lot more time with it than I should have. And I don’t need that much texture for something that I wanted mostly smooth. For the next conveyance, I will use a different material, probably plaster cloth or a more strip-focused mache for sculpting. My windshield is pretty thin, many of the vehicles will need thicker windshields. I will make a small assembly line for the Imagical Batteries, since all conveyances will be powered this way. I need to make sure I have enough batteries, too – not that you can see them since they’re sealed inside the housing box, but still. The fox rockets will need more elaborate control panels and I haven’t made them space suits yet, either. Lots to do.
Back in the May of 2013, I got a very special sewing machine, a Sashiko II by BabyLock. It makes what looks like handstitching, especially looks like sashiko, on the top of the fabric, with a sorta-triple-backstitch on bottom. It doesn’t look at all like machine stitching, but it doesn’t work like regular machines, either. It is a rare and costly machine – and it turns out it is a bit of a diva, too. A tangle led to a tension mistiming, which led to a couple trips to Fort Collins (closest BabyLock dealer) where I bought it for repair, which ended up being a straight replacement for a new machine in the end. So, it took six months and two new machines to finish what was supposed to be a simple and fast demonstration of the cool stitching. Let’s hope future projects on the Sashiko II go more smoothly.
For now, the placemats:
They are somber but bright, pieced, stitched things. My only thoughts were to do a haphazard patchwork of colors I grabbed at the store, avoid using black or white, throw in a couple prints or ribbons for variety, and let the stitching shine.
Mission accomplished. The binding took forever, as it always does. The multiples edges meant I spent more time binding these than I did any quilt. Always the binding that gets me.
Look at that stitching, though. Isn’t that cool?
The backs. I’d originally meant to stitch them all over as well, but when the fronts were finished I realized that would make them too busy; that they’d be overpowered, so I left them plain. Wow, I really should have pressed these before photographing them. At least I got most of the lint off them.
Now what to do with them? I thought, way back last summer, that I might make a few projects like this to sell at the craft fairs, to help balance out the significant cost of the machine and to get used to working with it. We can’t really use them (our dining table is black) and I don’t know anyone who would use these colors. I guess they’ll go in the sell pile, but I have yet to sell anything really. That Etsy shop doesn’t get a lot of selling attention from me. I am much more interested in making things and keeping to myself.
I do love this stitching, though. I look forward to the next Sashiko project.
While making a batch of paper mache clay to use on the Adventure Bunny Conveyance Primo (pics coming soon), I made a second item, simply to play with the material. I made a full, huge batch and still have more than half of it left. Thankfully, it lasts a long time so I think I can use it for a few things yet.
The Devil Heart: some trash paper, a couple pieces of masking tape, mache clay, paints and a GLOSSY varnish hanging from a chain.
Too Lazy To Be Evil. I couldn’t decide if I wanted my website name on it or my shop name, so I did one on each side.
Creations of Dubious Utility. One day I will get around to registering the shop name, for tax purposes, and I think I will turn the devil heart into my logo. Maybe. It is a far off thing I’m not really ready to think about yet.
This hangs in my workshop now and we’ll see if the cats can bear to leave it alone.