Sunday, December 31, 2006

A new scarf!

I finally took pictures of the red/gold chenille scarf! I think this one came out pretty good... Still trying to figure out the best way to photograph handwoven stuff (and still too cheap or possibly lazy to have ordered a dress form).

I like the fun twill-ish pattern, looks like a graph Carlos would make at work (he's an analog design engineer). The colors are good too, a warm rusty red and golden brown in both the warp and weft. I seem to have lots of cool tones in my etsy shop - strange because I tend to lean towards warm colors, generally. Though I do wear cool-colored clothing most of the time because of my skin tone, so maybe that's why I've been weaving lots of cool toned items.

Anyway, overall I'm happier with how this scarf turned out than I thought I would be, always a good surprise.

Meeeelllllting and etsy rocks...

Well, that snow isn't going to last long - just looked out and there is water pouring off the roof. Bella and Carlos (hubby) made cute little snowmen (and a snow chicken, of all things, which is just so Carlos' sense of humor) all over the backyard yesterday, at least they're surviving for a little while, though the ones in the sun are looking droopy...

Hooray for, I must say. What a wonderful community of people, and what a great way to sell handcrafted goods. I can see why everyone there, more or less, considers eBay to be Evil ... eBay's fees are so darn high it's hard to make any profit on handmade items, and people, understandably, see eBay as a place to get things for cheap, so it's hard to charge any sort of price that takes into account the huge amount of time and work that can go into artwork. Yeesh.

But etsy is lovely. Very easy to set up a shop, lower listing fees, lower sales fees when you do actually make a sale and a great community of people, all of whom are making wonderful, artistic items instead of selling mass-produced junk from overseas... Of course the site traffic at etsy does tend to be lower, so there are trade-offs. But, anyway, if you are an artist/artisan/crafter and are thinking about selling on eBay - please check out etsy, first! You'll love it, I promise.

Speaking of which, I really have to get on the ball and take pictures of my latest scarf! It's sunny today, no excuse not to take advantage of that lovely natural light...

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Hooray! It's snowing! How beautiful!

I know a lot of you will think I'm crazy for saying that, but the url for this blog isn't for nothing... I love winter. I love to ski. I love, love, love snow. I'm a New Englander through and through, I love each season, though winter just might be my favorite (I like summer, but it doesn't like me - the sun is my Irish skin's nemesis). It took me a while to realize this - that and living in Texas for five years, where there are no seasons, despite what the natives will tell you. There's hot and hotter and maybe, if you're lucky, some rain in March. At least we lived in Austin, an all-around cool town, but I could never, ever live there again, I had to hide from the sun 11 months out of the year. Even my Latino hubby thought it was just too darn sunny (going to college in Boston made him fall in love with seasons, too, I think). Sun every day gets really boring, in my opinion.

Anyway, if we get enough snow maybe we'll get Bella's (toddler daughter) cute little mini-sized cross-country skis out later in the afternoon and let her stomp around the yard in them. Living vicariously - I can't exactly ski while I'm the size of a whale, though, who knows, maybe Conall (son-to-be-at-any-minute) was just waiting for a good snowstorm to be born.


Hopefully not, my poor mother will be driving down Route 2 in the snow if I do manage to go into labor while this is happening. On the bright side, the in-laws (who do not like snow - understandable, they're Puerto Rican) left yesterday to visit my brother-in-law and his wife in Brooklyn, so they're not having to drive through this.

But, at any rate, it's snowing, and it finally looks like Christmas, a few days late...

Weaving? Oh yeah, this is a weaving blog, mostly, right? Well, the red/gold chenille scarf is off the loom, the fringe is twisted, it's washed and dried and just waiting for it's close-up. Hmm, it might look very nice photographed against snow if I can figure out how to do that without getting it all wet/snowy (though that wouldn't hurt it any)...

And the next zephyr/bamboo scarf is wound and sleyed (meaning, I have wound the warp and threaded the ends through the reed) and is waiting for me to thread it through the heddles. Usually I really enjoy threading the heddles, but that's another thing that's gotten awkward with the big ole pregnant belly. It's a time-consuming process and I get pretty stiff sitting on the floor while I do it - normally I'd kneel or sit on the bench behind the loom but that's not working for me at all at the moment, harumph.

It is interesting, though, how much time goes into dressing the loom - getting the warp all ready to weave - as opposed to the actual weaving/shuttle throwing. Generally, for me at least, about 50% of the time to create any given project is spent winding the warp, sleying the reed, threading the heddles, beaming the warp and then tying it on (I warp from front to back, normally, maybe some time I'll do a detailed entry about warping). As my wonderful teacher, Rita Steinbach, at the Worcester Center for Crafts always pointed out to the newbie weavers - dressing the loom is just as much a part of weaving as the time you spend actually sitting at the loom weaving in the weft... If you don't like the dressing part, you won't like weaving very much.

Well, speaking of which, I should go thread some heddles. An inch here, an inch there, and before you know you're ready to beam the warp. And it's always fun to have a chance to handle the fiber you're working with, especially when it's the yummy fibers currently on my loom!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bamboo - good for me and you.

So, despite the facts that my in-laws are visiting and that I am due to give birth to my son at practically any minute (!), I'm just about finished with another rayon chenille scarf...

I'm of two minds about these rayon chenille scarves. The colors can be really nice, and the yarn works reasonably well in shadow-weave, my current obsession, but the yarn can be quite tangley sometimes and rayon, in theory at least, is a little bit of a turnoff. Though I'll take it any day over acrylic. BARF.

On the other hand, I can find rayon chenille for a reasonable price and am therefore able to offer these scarves at a much lower price than the ones I make from luxury fibers like Zephyr, alpaca, silk, bamboo, etc. And, when all is said and done, rayon chenille does create a lovely scarf after it's wet finished. Soft, drapey and cuddly, it feels nice against your skin...

But, I am happy to be just about done with this one so I can put some more of my new most favorite-ist yarn on my loom - bamboo! It's a man-made yarn, but it's made from the bamboo plant (yup, that nasty stuff that never seems to die if it manages to invade your garden - or at least a relative of the garden-invading bamboo). Bamboo groves are planted and harvested in three year cycles, are grown without pesticides or other nasties and are therefore ecologically sound and sustainable. And the resulting yarn is smooth and slippery enough that it's actually easier to work with than chenille, though the weaving goes a bit slower (it's a finer yarn than chenille, so you have more ends per inch in the warp and more picks per inch in the weft).

Hooray for environmentally friendly fibers! I really should look into working with hemp sometime...

Anyway, better yet, bamboo is unbelievably soft after wet finishing. It's amazing, like cashmere, but not fuzzy, if that makes sense, and it has a lovely sheen to it, too, like silk or Tencel.

I feel like I'm turning into a walking advertisement for this fiber. But I really do love it that much...

The purple scarf I posted below is made from a Zephyr/bamboo combination; it turned out so lovely to touch that I think I'll be doing that combo again, maybe with some blue bamboo this time. Really should buy some more colors - it's *darn* expensive, but worth it I think. Hooray for Christmas money!

Then it will be back to more chenille.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Two Posts in One Day?

I have the feeling I probably won't manage this very often in the future!

I did manage to list another scarf on etsy today, though, here's one of the pics. It takes me forever to list items, I don't know why. Hopefully it will get faster as I get more used to it... A dress form of some sort would probably help quite a bit.

Man, though, I am loving shadow weave (this scarf is in a rosepath shadow weave pattern). So many pattern possibilities! And so far I've only done it on my little four-shaft loom - when my hubby manages to find time to set my 12-shaft loom back up for me, there will be so much more to try out.

It can be a little difficult to photograph the patterns - natural light really helped with this particular piece, I think.

It came out so wonderfully soft... I love Zephyr (wool/silk blend) and bamboo yarns, and together, they're even better.

A Mom/Fiberholic's Dilemma...

OK, so there are all these evil after-Christmas sales going on out there, as we all know.

I currently have about $100 of really really cute kids' clothes sitting in a checkout basket at a high-ish end children's clothing shop (on-line) and I'm sitting here trying really hard NOT to check out. These kids already have more than enough clothing - heck, the second one (boy, due Jan. 5) hasn't even been born yet! He really doesn't need yet another outfit with penguins or bears on it. As for my daughter (3 the end of February), I know if I spend that much money on clothes I'll just be bugging her not to get jelly/yogurt/paint/markers/dirt on them, which is really unfair to her, kids should be able to play! That's what $4 Target t-shirts are for after all...

So the dilemma has now morphed into - I could spend that $100 on fiber instead. Oooh, some yummy Zephyr (wool/silk blend) or Alpaca/silk yarn to weave with... That would be fantastic.

Am I horrible to want to spend the money on fiber for me instead of more clothes for my kids? (Or, better, saving the darn money in the first place!)

I must say, though, I do now understand why my own Mum was forever buying me clothes and nothing for herself - kids clothes are so much fun!