Sunday, January 29, 2012

Back to the Grindstone!

Friday, I headed back to work after a lovely twelve days off of doing exactly what I wanted.  Those days began with a stay at work, oddly enough, to be able to take Samantha, our lovely extern from the CIA to dinner.  Krissy, Katie, Jessica and I feted Sam, shown in the center here in my room.  The rooms at the Farm are very un-farm-like, as you can see.  Behind those drawings is a big fat t.v., and to the right of our group is the sofa I spent quite a few hours lounging on before everyone showed up.
  We all forgot our cameras at dinner, but we took some photos before and after.  The girls were admiring the bathroom and wanted their picture taken there.  It was definitely large enough for all of them.
  After dinner, we greeted Giselle who'd been working hard to plate our desserts.  Please notice Sam's dress!  She was very proud that she only spent $3.57 on it, and it looked fabulous on her!


 Last night was our fundraiser for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the reason I cut my vacation short from two whole weeks to twelve days, and I'm glad I did, after all.  The dessert took two days to create.  It's a Symphony of Chocolate, C Major in Three Movements.  It's dark, milk and white chocolate, with a little Meyer lemon thrown in for contrast.  The servers loved eating the leftovers, but hated carrying it out.  It's a good thing I don't normally see how things make it to the tables when I create something like this.  I'm sure there were treble clefs on their backs all over the place!
  A chamber group played after dinner, and I wanted to hear them, but not as much as I wanted to get home and let Bella out.  I'm always disappointed when co-workers post photos of the Barn at night because the photos never show how beautiful it is, but I'm going to do it here.  The group started playing; they're in front of the fireplace, and it just looked incredible, sounded even better.  Sorry if you can't really see what's going on, but there's a man standing up with his back to the camera.  He's conducting, and the little illuminated ovals are the musicians.  The tree-like things are the supports for the barn roof, huge rustic beams.
Well, somebody's got to make the desserts for tonight.  Might as well be me!  Enjoy the beautiful un-wintery day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Doubling Up

Dark side up
  This weekend, I tried my hand at double weave, following Jennifer Moore's book.  I'm making her sampler, something I wound the warp for last year.  I believe I have found another magic trick!  It's not --yet-- as flashy as overshot, but I like it quite a lot.

Light side up

I've threaded it in Ketchup and Mustard, colors far out of my comfort zone, but fun to watch work together.
  As I wove, I noticed two threads misbehaving, but after much agonizing and soul-searching, I told myself, "Hey!  It's a sampler!  It's not hanging in the Louvre!"  And I got over it.  I also got over the big loop of missed mustard thread in the bottom layer, when I started weaving with the ketchup on top.  Just have to keep telling myself, "It's a sampler!"
Oops! Threading error!
Can you see the two different parts?

The first time I looked inside the weaving and saw the separation, I was very excited.  I took about ten photos, and this is the best, which isn't very good, but I hope you get the idea.
  Before I started weaving this, I read and read and read the book, trying to make it sink in, but it didn't really "take" until I saw the YouTube video of Jennifer Moore demonstrating an overview.  You can buy the whole video on Interweave's site, but I think I'll just plug along with the book.  She did mention some very important details, though. 
  • Placing the shuttles on top of the piece in order keeps them from crossing each other, which keeps the two pieces separate.  
  • Starting from the left and finishing on the right helps keep your place in the treadling sequence. 
  • Weftie helps
  • The tie-up is crucial for success, as it keeps the top layer separate from the bottom layer as you treadle.
I'm pretty sure I've wound on too much for the sampler, but I think it will give me lots of room to play with this weave.  I'm already thinking of way too many possibilities for its use.

Bella waits with Hedgehog
 My excitement in double weave was not exactly matched by my furry entourage.  Our walk was postponed longer than Bella thought was necessary, and Weftie was pretty sure he could be of assistance, sitting on the stool with me.  He makes a good lower back warmer, but really isn't much good at shuttle throwing.  His fur, however, adds a little extra insulation to everything I make!
  My plans for outside work have been foiled again by the rain, but it just means I'll make more progress on the sampler.  Making a double-width piece is next, and I can't wait!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sittin' Knittin' Mittens

 I love to knit.  And I can knit for a very, very long time, uninterrupted.  But when I knit, I feel like I'm being lazy, as if I'm wasting time.  I have no idea why that is, because I never feel that way when I'm sewing or weaving.  Maybe because those two crafts are so much more active than knitting?  Whatever the reason, I have been finally spending some serious knitting time lately, trying to convince myself that if Stephanie Pearl McPhee can make a living at it, there must be something unlazy about knitting. 
  And so, I've finished my mittens that I started over four years ago.  I love them.  They're a little too big, but very warm and very beautiful, if I do say so myself.  The pattern is from Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski.  I took some liberties with the pattern, mostly when I was too lazy to get up and find the book, but no patterns were harmed in their making.

So now it's time to start the cool faux Isle socks, using Noro yarn and a contrast.  I bought the solids last year at the Knitting Nest's end of year sale, and I think they team up nicely with the others.  I'll change this pattern, too, because they start out straight, then join into a circle.  I don't have time for trickiness that makes no sense!  I just want to get to the meat and potatoes of the pattern, making the faux Isle magic!  I'll knit them on two circulars, 'cause that's how I roll, and I like the way it makes the pair finish at the same time.
  There's a lot of weaving going on, too, today, but I have to save that for my next Loomy Tunes blog entry!  If I can wait that long...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why We Celebrate

Last week, at the Center, a new weaver began to cut off her warp.  We all asked her to stop, that we needed a photo, and then we applauded her.  She asked if we always made such a big deal out of finishing, and we said yes!  Of course!
  We all know that weaving is the easy part.  There's the inspiration, the planning, the math, the charting, the yarn selection, the warping.  Should I warp back to front, or front to back?  Four shafts?   Eight?  More?  The threading is a slow, careful process that can go horribly wrong, or be effortless.  The winding on is like Tai Chi when you're on your own, or like a battle of wills when someone helps.  One part I find slightly maddening is getting the first tension just right, that back and forth dance of tying first from the left, then from the right, meeting in the middle and going back over again.
   Then there are the first few tentative throws of the shuttle, watching for threading errors, checking tension, finding out if the pattern is really what you wanted.  At that point, there can be anything from tweaking the warp slightly to complete rethreading, or anything in between.
  Finally, the pattern is just right, the weft looks wonderful, and the meaty, fun, why-we-do-it part can begin!  As the cloth grows and goes over the beam the first time, we feel as if we're on our way.  We can imagine the finished project, the oohs and ahs of our friends seeing what we woven for the first time.  We run our hands over the woven part, admiring the texture, or still wondering if it's the right pattern, weft, tie-up can creep in.  We sway back and forth with the throwing of the shuttle, eventually giving way to other thoughts as the cloth becomes cloth, that magical process of thread crossing over thread to make something real and three dimensional.
  Eventually, the warp knots come over the back beam, and we're done!  The weaving is over and the finishing can begin.  The last throw is caught, maybe there's some hem stitiching and it's time for the scissors.  To cut off a warp, especially one we've loved weaving, is momentous and special.  It deserves notice.  I always want to call someone, tweet about it or, as I'm doing here, share it with you!
 To the left is the pink silk weft, with the pattern and tabby wefts both of the pink silk.  It's going to be mine!  It has the yummiest hand, so soft and drapey; I have just the perfect beads to go on the fringe!
  On the right is the last bit of warp, using the lavender cotton as the tabby weft, the pink silk as the pattern weft.  It's going to be a small bag, though it came out a bit smaller than I'd have liked.  The warp was just starting to go wonky, and I couldn't get any more out of it.

And here is the one for my exchange with Amy, who's painting a yellow cupcake for my kitchen.  I've chosen the beads for it, too, and am itching to get started!
  But not before I finish the shag rug, get the Center challenge shawl threaded and a new project I dreamed up this morning, lace curtains for the living room, using bamboo and a Swedish lace pattern.
  My new sewer pipe made this vacation that began today a Staycation, but that's okay.  Lots to do, in the loominaria and in the yard and house, and I love staycations, anyway!  Have a lovely week and stay tuned on progress from the looms!  Remember to celebrate your beginnings and endings!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Day Late

 Yesterday was my day to post on Loomy Tunes, the blog for the Tuesday Weavers,, but I had a window of about six hours in the morning when I had no computer connection.  I switched ISP's and it took longer than I thought it would, silly me!  When has a cable guy ever shown up on time in recent human history?
  But he did a good job, and my internet is faster, my t.v. has more channels that I'll never watch and he cleaned up after himself.  But I had to run off to work as soon as he was done.  And when I got home at 11:00, well, I just didn't have it in me!
  Tuesday, I changed wefts on the New Mexican Sunset warp, and I really like the way the white shows it off!  Bad fuzzy photo, but trust me, it really POPS!  Even though I spent most of the time cutting the fabric into usable strips, I still got almost an entire place mat woven before the nap craving set in.  It happens every Tuesday after lunch.  The shuttle moves slower, my eyes begin to droop, I   can't    weave     any    more...
  And so, there was napping.  But later, I wove quite a bit on the hand painted warp at home.  While cable guy was doing his thing, I finished the third scarf.  I have just enough warp left to make the body of a purse, I think.  I'll have to decide what combination of weft to use, but whichever weft makes the cut, I know the bag will need to be sassy in form!  It's just too pretty a warp to be an old plain sack!


Work's been busier than we ever expect January to be.  The 6th was Twelfth Night, or so I thought.  After making King's Cakes for the tasting dessert, I found out it was actually the 5th.  But the guests didn't care, and I think the cakes came out cute.

One guest ordered a sampler of all the desserts.  I didn't want to cut any of them, though, so it came out quite large.  I hope he didn't finish them all!
  The 8th was Elvis' birthday, and I always try to celebrate it by having the Velvet Elvis on the menu.  It's going on the regular rotation this year, simply because there's no other fruit in season right now!
It's a peanut butter cookie, vanilla custard baked then cut and placed on top of the cookie, topped with banana slices that are bruleed with sugar, rum caramel sauce and a tiny deep-fried peanut butter-banana sandwich.
  This weekend is our annual Taste of the South, a fund-raising event and auction for the Southern Foodways Alliance,  Three guest chefs from the south give cooking demos, lecturers lecture and lots of meals are prepared.  In fact, I've got to get going soon to make Banana Pudding for 130.  Photos to follow!
  In the meantime, stay warm and dry!  The wind is kicking up outside and the temperature is dropping.  Stay inside and weave something yummy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy new year!  2012 is going to be a fantastic year, I just know it!  It's the year I turn 55, the year I figure out what to do next, a year of change, struggles, happiness and new insights into life in general.  I'm looking forward to it, and have thought of some good, basic resolutions for my life.
  1. To always be creating something this beautiful:
  1. To create a new path for my life to follow.
  2. To be kinder and less judgmental.
  3. To figure out why the e is dropped in judgmental.
  4. To live up to my own expectations.
  5. To find the spineless little bastard who did this to my 90-year-old garage and prosecute him to the full extent of the law.
  6. To stop reading and answering work emails on my days off.
  7. To understand why Blogger decides what things go where, no matter how hard I try to make it work for me.  Such as, renumbering my resolutions!
Ah, well!  On to the new adventures!  Happy new year to all my friends and family!