Archive for the ‘Fiber Arts’ Category

I can’t do much more on my adoption paperwork right now besides wait.  Which, of course, means it’s nesting time!

When DH is stressed, he shoots things on the computer.  When I’m stressed, I work.  It drives him crazy.  Once, I was painting the living room (which I had decided to do on a whim; I had the paint and everything, was feeling down, and decided to paint the room that night instead of at some later date).  “I feel so much better!” I commented as I got going, admiring the new, non-off-white shade on the walls.  “What am I going to do when I run out of rooms to paint?”

DH ducked behind the paper and muttered, “Take up drinking?”  Thanks, dear.

No, usually what I do is crafting.

So, we’re getting a toddler sometime before the end of the year.  That means he’ll need a quilt for his toddler bed.  I pulled out the scraps of Chinese-themed fabrics I have and started messing around…

(Why did WordPress just eat my first four photos and the comments under each?  Beats me, but I hate rewriting!)

The geometric batik and the dragons at the top are leftovers from the Storm at Sea quilt I did for my bed.  It’s gorgeous, so I thought I should try to use it.  Then I thought of the Chinese legend of the Carp Jumping Over the Dragon Gate.  The carp worked really hard and finally succeeded in jumping the huge Dragon Gate and was rewarded by being turned into a dragon.  (Empress got the reference and remembered the story right away.)  So, there’s sort of a hint of an elaborately patterned gate at the top, with dragons in the sky beyond.

Strips of diamonds are coming along, but I’m still not sure I like all those wild patterns right next to each other…

Maybe the gate should be more than a hint; it needs side posts.

More tweaking on gate shape (angled roof instead of straight), more experimenting with borders.

Does a narrower gate roof help?  Not really…

Maybe the bamboo should extend above the gate to tie it more to the carp pool?

Wait!  Instead of a vague reference to a gate, let’s make it a proper gate with roof tile edging (the gold).  And add a calmer green-on-green edge around the carp pool.

There we go.  The calmer prints set off and sort of calm down (a little) the wild variety of patterns, while emphasizing the carp pool and the gate, then the sky of free dragons stretches all the way across.

Quilted, backed with a section of symbolic Chinese kites and all of my remaining red fabric with calligraphy good wishes words (which was going to be the red corner blocks way back in the original plan; the fabric is the main border on Empress’s toddler quilt).  Edged in red, of course, the color of happiness and celebration in Chinese culture.

Now I just need a particular little boy to wrap in it. 🙂


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7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 112)

I’ll put it at the top this week: Jen hosts 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.  There are dozens of people participating every week; go check them out!

I was going to post this last week, but couldn’t, because my Vista-infected laptop wasn’t working.  It finally turned out to be a malfunctioning virus protection; apparently, it got stuck partly updated during the intermittent internet incident or something, causing the computer to refuse to work for five days.  Now that my computer has recovered from its autoimmune disease…

1.  Oooh… internet rabbit trails!  And what I found was a list of converts to Catholicism.  Really, it’s more interesting than it sounds, especially since there are a number of surprises on there.  Did you know that Cardinal Arinze converted as a child?  The priest (Fr. Thomas Byles) who stayed on the Titanic to hear the last confessions of those who were sure to die was also a convert.  Cool stuff.

2.  First vocabulary word for the year: groppel, also spelled graupel.  I looked out the window and said, “Um… it’s raining tiny snowballs!”  It isn’t hail; it’s soft.  The kids said it looked like styrofoam pellets.  You can hear and feel it hitting, but the balls fall apart easily.  Really weird stuff.  (We had to listen to the local weather report to find out what it was; we sure didn’t know!)

3.  I have it!  Photographic proof that Diva can concentrate… when she wants to.  And has enough art paper and a new set of markers.  (Our lake looks funny because it’s frozen just enough to have jumbled ice and areas of flat ice.)

4.  So, Crash shows up, all upset, and announces that Empress told him, “Wo bu xihuan gege!” (I don’t like big brother.) because she was mad at him.  Of course, I had to chastise Empress for telling her big brother she didn’t like him… but I was secretly proud that she put together an unpracticed sentence in Mandarin.  Just not that particular sentence.

5.  In other random, “oops, I took a photo but forgot to put it up on the blog” news, I decided that we needed some Chinese food for the kids’ play kitchen.  We had been learning all kinds of vocabulary, but didn’t have noodles, fish, dumplings, or several other things.  Since they’re rather hard on plastic sets (and the Chinese food sets I found were both pricey and sort of short on variety), I decided on felt.

The noodles are just lengths of yarn, knotted firmly in the middle.  The fish are “fresh” on one side and “grilled” on the other.  There’s also clumps of bok choy, scallions, pan-fried dumplings, fat steamed buns (upper left), and siu mai (open pork dumplings, usually brown with some pink shrimp showing).  I made the sushi by rolling scraps from the other pieces up in the middle of scrunched-up white felt inside of a sheet of black, then cutting, the way sushi is actually made.

I keep debating opening an Etsy shop…

6.  It took seven months, but the tooth finally came out (with some persuading by Daddy)!  The kids’ dentist says Crash has “stubborn teeth.”  No kidding.  I mean, it started wiggling in the middle of the summer.  Diva, on the other hand, shows me a wiggly tooth at breakfast, and it’s usually out by dinner.

7.  We had a rough week, starting with freezing all day at the March for Life in DC.  Tuesday was supposed to be a school recovery day, but nothing went on schedule.  Wednesday was doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment (interrupted by a pleasant lunch with Mary; thanks Mary!).  Just when I’ve about had enough, I get out of the shower tonight to hear… talking, coming from the girls’ room.  At 10:30 at night.

When I went to check on them, they were snuggled together in Diva’s bed, reading Aesop’s Fables.  It isn’t even an illustrated version.  I remember when I thought Diva would never read all that well.  Empress protested that she wasn’t sleepy and really, really wanted to keep listening to the stories.

Ok, maybe they’re doing all right, after all.

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On the 10th Day of Christmas…

… I finally got my house back.

(And yes, for all you sadly confused people (including most of the comic strip authors), Christmas does NOT end on the 25th.  It starts on the 25th and runs for twelve days.  So, again, I’m the last one in my neighborhood with Christmas lights still on.)

I like to see my relatives.  I like having my normal life back, too.

My mom’s gift became a performance art piece… which is a fancy way of saying that Mom got to see her table runner from start to finish, in spite of my better intentions of having it finished at least a few weeks ago.  Me being me, I had to go and suggest a complicated pattern for my fifth piece of weaving ever (not counting potholders).

I was actually pleasantly surprised to see the pattern emerging properly.

Pattern: Overshot “Same But Different”, from Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon

I have a wonderful new book (Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler) that has cleared up a number of confusions.  Plus she commented on (and allowed for) people who are anti-social weavers.  Yep, that’s me.  I don’t seek out classes.  I have no burning desire to join the local guild or clubs.  I really prefer books: no drama, no personality conflicts, just a bit of assistance when I need it and some peace and quiet.

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In progress…

Ta-da!  It’s so much nicer to have treadles…

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No, I’m not weaving (still).  I said I’d post progress pictures on the woodworking project to turn my table loom into a floor loom with treadles.

Um… have I mentioned I’m a bit overzealous at times?  Remember my friend that called me “Martha Stewart on crack”, attempting to describe the frenetic pace and quantity of my projects?  (My DH will tell you I’m very bad at sitting still.  I see all the activity as using that fault to good advantage.  Although I need to be better about sitting still, too.)

I don’t have any progress photos.

… because at 11:30 this morning, we’d finished homeschooling for the week, and I started with some boards and hardware.

By 11:30 PM, I had this:

One harness lever (raises the harness, which holds the heddles, which are threaded with the warp yarns so that some yarns go up when the harness goes up) is tied to one lamm (that horizontal, pivoting arm with the holes in it), which is tied to one treadle (the foot pedals).  I forgot to account for the front and back beam cranks, and I’ll have to lop off one support.  It isn’t as snug as I’d planned (I measured twice, honest!), so I don’t think I’ll bolt the loom to the frame; I’ll probably use padded clamps.  And something is better than nothing, which is what the manufacturer offers for this particular loom (LeClerc’s Dorothy model, 16 3/4 inch (I think- the narrower version, in any case)).

But it is so cool to hit a pedal and have the harness go up!

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My DH read the last several posts on the blog last night and informed me that I was getting too “gloom and doom.”

I was beginning to think that myself, a bit.

So, I’m going with photos of my weaving exploits… which have been on hold, since I have decided that what I really need is a stand and treadle system for my loom.  Keeping up the treadling patterns with no treadles is highly annoying (more on that later).  Consequently, even though the “weaving” housewyf is sitting on top of the sidebar, the truth is, it’s more of a woodworking project right now.  And it’s blasted near impossible to find a good photo of how the lamms and treadles are set up to pivot or what not.

As I mentioned, my first project was a small play dishcloth for the kids.  Next, came the table runner.  It’s a very simple pattern; each line of weft laid down only required one harness raised, so treadles wouldn’t be a tremendous advantage, nor was their lack a terrible inconvenience.

I was amazed how nice it felt when it was done.   The kids liked it, too.

Weaving: PHW, medium: cheap leftovers, set dressing: Empress.

My first attempt at yarn photography, shot on the background of a new shirt.  Yes, it isn’t the really cool stuff… but it also didn’t cost what the really cool, gorgeous stuff costs!  Maybe if I get better at this later…

Experimenting with the same threading, but different treadling.  They aren’t laid out nicer because I was also trying to show shrinkage; the two cloths started out the same width, but the top cloth had been washed and dried.  I also figured out that an even weave at start and finish is often wise, and floating selvedges are important.  These were done in the plain old cotton stuff all the craft stores sell.

I bought wood today, and I intend to start on the new loom mount tomorrow.  My loom (a LeClerc model, Dorothy, the narrower one) doesn’t have a manufacturer-offered treadle option.  This means that if your weave plan calls for a line in the weave to have three harnesses up, you have to operate all three levers each time you go through that part of the pattern.  In the case of the top cloth above (which my mother-in-law picked for her Christmas gift table runner, to be done with the yarn above that), the pattern calls for multiple shafts on almost every line.  It gets really hard to keep track of!

On the other hand, when I have treadles, the harnesses can be connected so that each foot pedal (treadle) pulls one or multiple harnesses up, as the pattern requires.  So, instead of a complicated pattern of combinations of levers, the difficulties are all in the threading (of the warp yarns through the harnesses) and the tie-up (of the harness levers to the treadles).  Then, it’s just treadle 1, treadle 2, treadle 3, treadle 2, treadle 1, treadle 4, treadle 5, treadle 4, repeat.

More tomorrow on the progress.

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New Loom

Yes, I still have two of the homeschool conference talk summaries to type up.

And, if you’re keeping track of these things, I started several series (de Tocqueville comes immediately to mind) that I have failed to ever get past “part 1” on.

And, no, I haven’t posted any garden pictures.  No, it isn’t a complete muskrat-ravaged wasteland; there’s lots of gorgeous stuff growing, and I have pictures.


Right now, I keep trying to catch up with the rest of the stuff going on around here to allow more time to play with this:

Yep, that’s the first project.  No, I didn’t really do the warp right, so it only goes from the front to the back bar.  Plus, as you may notice on the left-hand side, one warp was pulled through the heddles (the wires in frames that go up and down with the levers on the top right) out of order, so it didn’t shift properly and got completely left out.  And the edges are all loopy because I was more interested in the cool levers and stuff than making the weaving neat, and I miscalculated the threads per inch I needed (by a factor of two or so).

But it made a great dishrag for the kids’ play kitchen.  They loved it and polished everything in sight with it.

It’s a good bet that they’ll be getting some more dishrags and probably a bunch of dishtowels for their play kitchen as I continue to experiment.

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