Friday, August 31, 2007


I have been *hugely* lame about finishing projects lately. Finishing meaning - once something is off the loom, it tends to languish in storage because I procrastinate horribly about twisting fringe and washing/drying, etc.

So, I finally got around to twisting the fringe and washing the alpaca/silk/bamboo fuscia/lime/black scarf that I wove ages ago! Here it is...

(OK, random side topic here - how the *heck* do you spell fuscia? Fuschia? Fushia (no)? Everything I try comes up wrong, but none of the spellcheckers actually know what word I'm trying to spell. Hmph.)

In the end, I wound up liking it quite a bit. I really do lean towards brighter/more saturated colors, I think. The grey/white scarf on my little loom right now (pictured below) is boring me to tears. Poor thing. Oh well, I'll finish it up quick and maybe it will find a good home at the Weavers' Guild of Boston annual sale, coming up in November...

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Drafting Oops This Time

Good grief. It seems to be my month to make mistakes.

I'm in the midst of another shadow weave project (been a little while since I did one, I was in the mood again). I wound warp, got it on the loom, threaded, etc., and started to weave:

The colors are actually nicer than this picture shows - white, two shades of grey and a steel blue, with accents of deep red running through it. (I realized after the fact that I had unintentionally used my alma mater's colors - red and grey.)

Anyway, do you see the big fat error on the right side? It's not symmetrical. Bugs the hell out of me. This isn't a threading error - I threaded it the way I meant to - it's a drafting error. I needed a mirror image of the left side on the right side and I blew it. Whoops.

Mr. Conall was actually in the mood to nap yesterday. Amazing. After two weeks of never napping more than a half hour (kill me now, lol), he actually took a two+ hour nap yesterday mid-day. WOW. Gave me time to fix this!

So, I unwove (is that a word?), took that little hunk of 11 ends back through the reed and heddles, re-threaded them, tied on again, and started over:

Ta-da! Better, right? Can you see the difference? I sure can, no longer bugging the heck out of me. I think the whole thing will relax a little when it's off the loom and I wash it, but I like the Xs and Os, this is a fun pattern.

Hopefully, that's the end of the mistakes for a little while!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bamboo on NPR!

OK, so we're serious NPR junkies in our house... (plug for our local station, WBUR, home to great programs like On Point, Only a Game and Here and Now).

At any rate, there was a blurb all about bamboo yesterday on Morning Edition!

Listen to it here.

How cool. Like I've said a gazzillion times before, bamboo makes fantastic fiber and is soooo much more environmentally friendly than regular cotton - so great to hear that the word is getting out about it! And I would love to see more of it grown in the U.S. (what fun, maybe in my little fantasy life I'll be a bamboo farmer now as well as a grass farmer) (sheepherders = grass farmers). Now if they would just come up with a closed-loop processing system like they use with Tencel, it would be perfect...

Also, on a personal note and in case she's reading this - hello to Michelle Kwan! (No, not the skater.) Thanks *so* much for forwarding my info to Jose, we've had a great time catching up after all these years... The internet can be a wonderful thing, especially when it brings lovely people back into your life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Trouble Shooting

Oy. Every once in a while, there's just one of those projects. Everything that can go wrong, does.

I'm attempting to weave some dishtowels from some very nice, very fine, organic cotton yarn that I bought from Silk City Fibers. It's really lovely stuff, it feels almost silky to the touch.

Two major problems so far, though.... First, I was threading an Ms and Os pattern. Simple enough. On a four shaft loom, you thread it more or less like this:

12121212 34343434
13131313 24242424

I motored right along, tied it all on, wove a header, wove my hems, started to weave my first towel, and lo and behold, I got this:

That doesn't look like any Ms and Os I've ever seen, lol... It's pretty, but not what I was aiming for. What on earth happened?

Oh, goodlord. HUGE threading error. I skipped that second row up there (the 13131313 24242424 part) and just repeated the first line for the whole warp. DUH.

600 ends. 300 of them threaded wrong. Rip the whole thing off and start over? Nope, this yarn is much too expensive for that. So, I cut off the above, re-threaded those 300 heddles, re-sleyed those 300 ends, tied on again, and was finally ready to start over.

Well, that looks better. Except...

I put on a long (6 yards) warp. On my little Harrisville Loom. Which tends to give me severe tension problems with long warps. Which I had forgotten, since I've mostly just been weaving scarves or other single projects on it... So I blithely wound it on without paying extra special attention to the tension, which I need to do with long warps on this loom. So, the left third or so of my warp has gotten really loose after weaving not even one whole dishtowel...

One way for fix it for now:

Ha. Anybody with little kids will recognize those (they're the edges for the foam rubber alphabet mats that everyone seems to have now). I've heard of using upholstery foam to do this, but I didn't have any and thought of these. They're working ok, but once I'm ready to start the second dishtowel, I'll probably try to take up some slack in the warp by pulling it forward between the towels. We'll see if that works! If not, I doubt I'll have the patience to weave six or so more towels with a messed up warp...

Live and Learn. :) Two problems that easily could have been avoided if I'd been paying more attention!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Man, I have been completely lame about posting lately, haven't I?

On the bright side - it was about 60 degrees out early this morning when I went to the YMCA to work out. Wow! Felt like fall, almost. Gorgeous! I love cool weather... And I love that I'm starting to get back in shape (two kids and about two total sit-ups in three years = one very out of shape weaver). Here's hoping that this shapes up to be a fantastic ski season...

Ahhh. One of my favorite places on earth. Mt. Mansfield in Stowe, Vermont. Highest mountain in Vermont, gorgeous views from the top (yup, we've hiked up there, in the winter, no less, skis on our shoulders, ski boots on our feet, for some amazing back-country skiing...). Wonderfully challenging terrain for advanced skiers (especially off the beaten path and especially if you're not afraid of tree skiing), but also a really friendly beginners area on Spruce Peak across the street, where kids/beginners don't have to worry about being run over by skiers bombing down the black diamond runs. A really nice setup. So many ski areas just cut their green (easy) trails back and forth across the hard runs - not a nice learning environment at all. Which, since Ms. Bella will really learn to ski this year, is important to us!

Maybe I can talk Carlos into spending a week in Stowe this winter... Before we had kids we used to rent a house for the season and go up every weekend - sometimes longer (I spent one winter working as a contract attorney and could work from the house up there - hooray for the internet - so I spent 3-4 days there at a time...).

I really would love to live there someday, if we could figure out how (houses are *not* cheap in Stowe, but the school system is very good). Maybe when we retire, if we still have knees at that point, that is, lol.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Quote of the Day

Oh - I forgot to add this great line from the book I'm reading:

"I fear retirement in places where the climate is the lure."

:) Isn't that great? From "A Year in the World" by Frances Mayes. I like her prose.


30 ends per inch. I'm in warping hell...

Actually, it's not so bad. I'm setting up some organic cotton warp - this yarn has 7000 yards per pound, so it's really fine. I'm going to weave some dishtowels in Ms and Os. Huh. Haven't done many dishtowels - my first absolutely disastrous attempt at weaving involved dishtowels and yarn from a knitting store (what was I thinking?? LOL I had no idea at that point where to find yarn suitable for weaving). I made some a couple years ago for Christmas presents (along with soap that I made, too) that turned out significantly better. Here's hoping these are even better!

If these turn out well, I'm thinking of trying another set with overshot borders, using some 10/2 Tencel as the pattern weft. Supposedly, Tencel is very absorbent, and the colors are so darn striking, I thought that might be fun to try.

Not much else going on - I've started working out again. My cardiovascular system is in shock. ("You want me to do *what*??") I figured that since Conall is just about seven months old, it was time to get my rear in gear. Especially if I want to ski this winter!! I missed it so much last year! But at this point, my thighs are *not* going to be letting me telemark any time soon... Oh well, there's always snowboarding, the laziest way down the mountain if I'm still a blob by the time November/December roll around.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hot and Color Exercises

Not a whole heck of a lot going on over here - Mr. Conall just got his third tooth, so, as any parent knows, it's been a lovely couple of days with him, poor little man. Add to that the heat, and, well... yuck. We did finally break down and put in a couple window air conditioners, though, so we've stopped the melting. So spoiled - we didn't put them in at all last summer, it was so mild.

On the weaving front, I have two new projects going that I'm really enjoying - a turned twill scarf using six colors of Tencel and a turned Ms and Os in some of the new bamboo I bought. I also have a bunch of organic cotton yarn from Silk City waiting to go on my big loom - can't wait to try it out! I love working with eco-friendly yarns, and this cotton is not only organic, but raised under Fair Trade Standards, too, hooray. Expensive, of course, but worth it, I think. Must get around to taking some pictures...

The six color combination is directly from my teacher at the Worcester Center for Crafts, Rita Steinbach. She's a wonderful weaver with an awesome color sense. At some point in her education, she had a teacher tell her to experiment every day with color - and that one of the easiest ways to do that was to use crayons! Just take six colors and draw elongated squiggles with them across the page - the colors overlap and wind around one another, and it really is quite surprising to see how they work together, even colors you wouldn't necessarily think to combine. So, this scarf has two shades of green, varying shades of red/browns (adobe, sienna, and a chestnut color) and a nice little zing of red-purple.

The warp is really pretty, I think. As usual on a project like this, though, I'm second guessing my weft color (I'm using the sienna right now). Happily, I put on enough warp for two scarves, so I'll try out another weft color for the second one. Or more than one weft color if I'm feeling ambitious.

That's another Rita tip - put on enough warp for three of whatever you're making. I've found that two is about my outside limit, what with my limited attention span, I often have a tough time making it through two, never mind three!