Friday, December 21, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different...

 The weather has turned chilly and Christmas-like, and while folks around me complain, I wait for that first snowflake excitedly!  Winter is beautiful here in east Tennessee, mostly because if it does snow, we know it'll be gone before we're tired of it.  No tire chains or engine warmers for us!  But just enough to know it's winter.
  In France, they don't have wedding cakes for their celebrations.  They have Croquembouche, a tall stack of cream puffs dipped in caramel and piled around a cone, usually of styrofoam covered in parchment or foil.  Two weekends ago, we had a wedding at the farm, and the bride asked for a Croquembouche, something I hadn't made since the middle term of culinary school, sixteen years ago!  I got out my notebooks and pondered this for a couple of weeks, and on the day of the wedding, I got busy.  It was a humid day and the spun sugar didn't hold all that well, but I got a photo before it let go.  Behind it is a Macaron tower, with lemon, chocolate, strawberry and spice macarons.  To the other side are chocolate petit fours.  Many people took photos, and most promised me some, of the whole display, but no one has come through yet.  All you can see now is the one awful iPhone photo!
Another new adventure for me is the log cabin warp I've put on Jenny.  It's thick red and thinner black chenille, the black bulked up with a thread of black bamboo.  You know how I like patterns that develop quickly, and this one is fun to watch evolve.  The sett is a little more dense than I wanted, but my only 15 dent reed is in the double weave sampler on Nancy.  I just decided to forge ahead.  If it's a little bulky, it'll keep the wearer warmer! I hope to have a couple done tomorrow, though I'd love to spend this windy, frosty, ugly day in the loominaria, banging these scarves out!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day Three of Tapestry with Tommye

I tried to write this last night, after the third day of tapestry weaving, but I was exhausted!  We all shared similar stories, even Tommye.  We were all exhausted but happy.
Barbara's log cabin
  The third day, we left our samplers behind and made our own designs.  Barbara made a log cabin; Cindy made a row of houses a la Charleston; Shirley wove an abstract design in bright and soft colors; Sally made a beautiful ocean with fish.
  I drew a few designs, some with a leaf, some with a few leaves, but what I really wanted to weave was a sunflower.  I asked Tommye if she thought it was too complicated and she said no, showing where I should build up first before adding features.  I started tentatively at first, then took off.  The petals just kind of revealed themselves.
  When I got to the seeds in the center, it was not so easy.  I knew I wanted to do "pick and pick" but when I started, the mechanics stopped me.  I could do it easily across full rows, as I did in my sampler, but in a circle, the whole thing changes.  Where to start?  Where to change colors?  Tommye had me change one of my color blends, since it wasn't enough contrast, and then slowly led me through the first inch.  It started to make sense, and I quickly made it to the top of my drawing.  With two hours to go, Tommye said I could probably finish the circle and make the tapestry larger, so I kept on.
  One thing I didn't expect about tapestry was how sore it makes one's neck!  By the time I got to putting in the petals around the seeds, my neck was so sore!  When I put the green background in, I started going in the wrong direction with some of the other colors, and I just didn't care!  I wanted that sucker done!  If I'd been at home, it would have been stopping time, to finish another day, but we didn't have the choice!  So It's kind of a mess, kindly concealed now with its row of half hitches.
Cindy's tapestries
But I'm hooked!  I am already thinking about where I could reassemble my Navajo loom and start a new warp before I forget all the lessons I've learned.

Cindy weaving

Barbara at work
Sally's fish!

Shirley cutting off

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tapestry Class, Day Two

 On our second day with Tommye Scanlin, we learned to incorporate a third color into our sampler.  Tommye reviewed everything from yesterday, then showed us how to place that third color.  We were intimidated, and most of us carried on with our angles and hatching to avoid the color change!

I looked at some colors to add, and at first, chose this pink.  Then, I wound it up with two other pinks, one darker and one lighter.  But when I laid them in, I didn't like them.  I went with a brick red that I liked a lot better.  I love hatching, so I tried two different directions on either side of the red.

She showed us "pick & pick," which I incorporated next, after a little more angle practice.  The photo below shows where I left it today.  We spent the last half hour discussing tomorrow's lesson, a self-designed tapestry, made on the warp you see on the right of my sampler.  I'm thinking flower petals, woven sideways, using much warmer colors than today.  But we'll see what happens, won't we?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tapestry Class, Day One

 Today was the first day of a class with Tommye Scanlin at the Appalachian Arts Craft Center.  It was really a sub-group of the Tuesday Weavers, plus Sally from the Clinch Valley Weavers.  Barbara, Shirley, Cindy and I joined Sally in learning from one of the best tapestry weavers around.  Tommye was patient and thorough, and we learned a lot on our first day.

We each had a small copper loom to work on, and first order of the day was to warp them.  That took most of the morning, but we all managed it.

 Stupid phone doesn't take very good photos, but it's what I had today.  Aren't the colors beautiful?
  We each chose two contrasting colors, though some chose a few to blend.  We wove all afternoon, and the time flew.

 This is where I left it.  I can't wait to get back to it tomorrow!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Off the Loom!

I just had to share this photo--that's what a blog is for, right?--because I'm happy this rug is done before Mom's birthday.
  No, Mom, it won't be a surprise, but I hope you'll enjoy it, just the same.  It's heavy and luscious and just the right colors.  I had a blast making it, and now all that's left is hemming and boxing it up and sending it on its merry way.
  Jennifer's patiently waiting for her next rug, and I'm dreaming of the one after that.  Maybe something to go next to the bed, to greet me with its absurd fluffiness each morning...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Slow Learning Curve

 I cut the double weave sampler off last week, and started the "quilted" portion of the sampler from Jennifer Moore's book, The 
Weaver's Studio:  Doubleweave.  The left shows the start, and I was so excited, I couldn't wait to photograph it.  But then, the brakes screeched when I noticed the design wasn't quite right.  I wove a few picks of tabby, alternating colors to keep it interesting and started again.  Oops!  Goofed again!  You really do need to make sure you have a clean shed, just as Ms. Moore says!   And because the pattern in the book only shows half the pattern, stopping with the center thread, one has to read backwards for the second half.  Apparently, that's not my forte!  Restart, stop, tabby, and then I just kept going.  There are a couple of mistakes in the next try, too, but I want to just get it done, and move on to Pick Up.
at rest

 I started having trouble with shafts sticking to each other and had to get under the loom to see what was going on.  Here are Nancy's lamm connectors, steel scissor-like things that rub on each other and on their neighbors.  It causes the shafts to come up when they're not invited.
at rest
 Here are Jenny's.  They're much smaller and they don't interfere with each other as much.  Nancy is from 1978 and Jenny is a 1979 model, so it's interesting to see how LeClerc changed them from one year to the next.  I suppose I could order new ones for Nancy.

 And here we have my day-off project for the day.  Do you think that's enough room for a new loom?  It looks pretty small to me, but I became determined to keep the looms in the same room when I realized that I love the library just the way it is, loomless.  We'll find out tomorrow, when I bring home the 8-shaft Tools of the Trade I'm buying from the Center!  If it fits in the Loominaria, it'll be cozy, but I can only weave on one loom at once, anyway, right?

Monday, September 24, 2012


To my knitting friends, is there any better feeling than binding off?  This morning, I bound off the square shawl, and I was very happy.  If you'll recall, I began the shawl during the Olympics, after I ran out of yarn for the orange silk shawl and finished the white rectangular one.  The square began as the book said to, with a weird garter stitch lace pattern.  It was supposed to proceed with another garter stitch lace pattern, but it just didn't interest me, so I found a heart pattern made of nupps that I liked better.  They were supposed to have been followed by a shell pattern, but I knew The Knitting Stitch Library had a better one, so I used it.  That went on for 12 inches and then, I picked a border pattern from Estonian Knitting.
Blocked, lying in the sun
Hot off the needles!
  This shawl was so much fun to knit!  I loved it, even when it seemed as if one row could go on forever.  I even loved it when I had to rip out six rows of the border when I realized I'd goofed up the corners.  I'll miss it, but I'm ready for the next adventure.

I "had" to go to Loopville ( to get some gentle wool cleaner, and they talked me into some blocking wires.  I'd never used them before, so I'm not sure I did it right, but the shawl looks blocked to me!    The center is gathered up from the shell pattern when its unblocked, so I'm hoping it will be stretched out enough on the wires to fix that when its dry.
  They had more of the yarn from Mango Moon that's spun by Nepalese women from shredded saris, so I looked for more of a similar color to finish my original Olympic shawl, but no such luck.  I bought a skein with some orange in it, but it's very, very different from the shawl.  I bound it off, then, and washed and blocked it.  It's also outside, drying in the beautiful fall sunshine.  I tried it on, and I love it!  It's less a shawl and more a scarf, but I will wear it a lot this winter.
   I hit the bead shop while I was in the neighborhood, but that's a story for another day.  There's so much I don't understand about beading, and I'm sad to say that the young woman in the store seemed to know less than I.  But I'm undaunted!  I've promised myself some time at the bead loom as soon as I get the house vacuumed, so off I go!  Have a lovely fall day!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Day Free of "Need To"

More Isaac on the way
I'd like to thank Isaac for making the rain, which means mowing isn't possible.  Weeding probably is, and de-flowering the front flower bed, poor tired flower bed that it is, would be possible but unpleasant.  So, I am free to be inside, enjoy a day free of Need To, and follow my heart's desire.
Tired and weedy
  And what does it desire?  A little laundry, a little sweeping and whole lot of weaving.  As I wove on Big Bertha last week, I realized how long it has been since I last threw a shuttle and how very much I missed it.  A few times this week, as I got ready for work, or after I came home from work, I walked by Jenny and ran my hands over the huck lace in progress.
Small progress, so far
  This morning, early-early, with my coffee, I sat down to see what stopped me last time I sat before her.  There was a thread catching the weft, now pulled out of shape for having been abandoned many weeks ago.  I snipped the weft, tightened the warp, read the treadling sequence and tentatively started again.  I guessed wrong on the starting point, unwove, looked more closely and started again.
Late Cosmos
  The pattern in the lace is lovely and the treadling is simple enough to be pleasurable without being boring.  I paused to measure the windows again.  I've revised the plan from full-length curtains to two panels on the bottom half of each window.  My house sits up on a small rise, so half curtains will block my neighbors' view, as well as that of passers by, without cutting the light.  I'll have to push them out of the way to see the flowers in the front yard, but it's a small sacrifice.

Window full of Weftie
  So, four panels of 25 inches wide by 32 inches long, minus hems.  I've already woven 10 inches this morning, so I'm on my way!  I've got the loominaria windows wide open, classical music drifting through the house and lots of animals nearby.  I'll listen to rain and keep rhythm with my beater.  What a perfect day!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Closing Ceremonies

 We all remember the immortal words of Kurt Gowdy.  Or was it Jim McKay?  "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."  Can't you see that poor immortalized slalom skier plunging through the turnstiles?  Ouch!
  Well, these past two weeks have not quite been thrilling or agony, but I'm so glad I competed in the Woolympics, albeit by myself!  I finished the border of the angora shawl, calling Finishing an event unto itself.  I'd say I scored high marks.  I give myself a silver, because of the missed turn on one corner, but good time on the completion.

The agony of defeat would be the realization that I didn't have enough yarn to finish the silk shawl, and it was a closeout.  Not sure how to finish it, but it will definitely not be done in the next hour.  I gave it my all, but my math skills caught me up short again.  Oh, well!  It'll make a cute scarf, won't it?
As any great athlete will do, I've already planned my next goal.  I'm working on a square shawl that starts on four double point needles.  A bit tricky to start, but once I got past the first couple rows, I fell in love with it.   The instructions on the left are daunting, but I was getting the hang of them until I decided I didn't like the second pattern.  I found some interconnected hearts by another designer in another lace book and have started them.
  The next summer Olympics in Rio will need something very special to challenge me.  This is the summer of lace, but who knows what I'll fall in love with by 2016?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Day Nine, Small Success

 Because I worked Thursday through Saturday, long and arduous days, I didn't have a chance to work on my Olympic events.  But this morning, I realized I had 1 1/2 rows left plus the bind-off of the white shawl, and I sat down to knit like the wind.  I finished, though I'm not very happy with the way the bind-off binds.  When I washed it and blocked it, I stretched as hard as I dared to get the binding to match the border lace.
  There are a couple of mistakes, silly ones.  I didn't notice that one of the markers for the corners was missing, and now one of the corners doesn't, y'know, corner!  It rounds its way around the bend.  The shawl is also smaller than I'd like, even though I added one entire pattern repeat to the pattern than it called for.   What are you gonna do?
  I do love the shawl, as one can love one's first born, and am impatiently waiting for it to dry so I can try it on.
  This morning, I had a busman's holiday, making doughnuts from 6 am to noon, for GULP, for our first-ever brunch.  I made three doughs, forming the sourdough doughnuts into balls and sticks.  The sticks were supposed to be filled with blueberry jam, but after making the jam, and making the doughnuts, I realized I didn't have any piping tips to push the jam into said doughnuts.  I dusted them in vanilla sugar and called it a day.
  I didn't take my camera to brunch, thinking that one of our members likes taking the pictures best, only to find that he was sick and didn't come.  I only have the doughnut photo to show you.  Please have a towel ready, so as not to ruin your keyboard.  They were delightful!
   And now it's back to the couch to assume the knitting position.  I must finish the orange silk shawl before the closing ceremonies!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day Five, Dreaming of Gold

When I was young, I dreamed of being a gymnast, like many girls.  I practiced routines in my back yard, over and over again.  I dreamed of being "discovered," like a movie star, but this time for my amazing hand stands!
  Alas, that dream never materialized.  And due to NBC's awful Olympics coverage, I didn't get to see much of team USA's dream coming true, either.  They managed to stretch out the gymnastics all night, well past my bed time.  I would have liked to have seen other gymnasts perform, too, rather than have NBC select what I get to and don't get to watch.
  Isn't it amazing how gymnasts bodies have changed since Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci?  Those girls are buff!  And what about the swimmers?  Even the women look like they could bench press an Escalade!
 But I digress.  My progress is measurable, at last.  On the left, you see how the whole shawl fits on one circular needle.  I was worried about it being crowded, but it's not at all.
  On the right is the pattern for the edging highlighted by being draped over my faithful Olympics partner, the remote control.  My fingers are getting a great work out, but really, who wants over-developed muscles in their fingers?