Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quality Time with my Loom

Diane and I put into practice those time optimization skills we've been talking about and finished dyeing a day early. We decided that was a sign to weave the next day.

Still on my loom was fabric for placemats that were to be 2009 Christmas presents! I’ve woven them off and they may make it under the tree this year.

The draft is from Weaving Designs by Bertha Gray Hayes, a book put together by the Weaver’s Guild of Rhode Island. It’s Meigs Mountain in Crackle Weave on page 188. They are selling the book and we still have signed copies for anyone who’s interested.

We've also done samples from this book with our lucious new cashmere yarns!  Come check them out at out booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool (MAIN EXHIBITION HALL:B6)!

The next one was another stash buster. The warp is cottolin, the pattern yarn is a Noro paper yarn from eons ago, and the tabby is black cotton.  I wove until there wasn’t any weft left. There was however more warp – so maybe napkins too? I switched to a cottolin tabby and used Almaza for the pattern weft.

What to put on the loom next…..


Friday, April 23, 2010

New Yarns, New Books

I love books. I come by this naturally, both my parents loved books, and in turn I have tried to instill this love in my kids. The first year my son was in college we went to see him. The first place on his tour was the used book store in the next town over. I had to buy another suitcase to bring my books back.

One of those was a French book on passementerie – just picture after picture…. This sparked ambitious ideas of weaving my own and using kumihimo cords. No actual weaving done yet, but I just bought Robyn Spady’s book, Handwoven Decorative Trim: an introduction to weaving passementerie trims and am re-inspired.

Another recent purchase is Ori Ami Knits (  One of the first projects is a block necklace – perfect for those thrums of mine. Here are 3 versions I played with –

2 are knit and 1 crocheted. I didn’t stuff them but worked around a wooden block. They are light enough to be a necklace, but I think they’re destine to be Christmas tree ornaments.

Next I turned to the Japonica Cravat –

I’m using our Atiya (20/2 weight Tencel) and a silk/stainless.  Usually I knit everything with circular needles, but this time straight needles held the stitch shape better. The ruffles were knit on 13” SPs and the I-cord was done on DPs. The left tie still to do but I’m almost finished! It should be done by the time we leave for CNCH, so look for it there and at Stitches South.

Next I want to try the pattern with our new cashmere and the stainless steel.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Inspirations

The weather has been beautiful and I couldn’t stand working in the basement any longer!

My husband and I went up to see the Cezanne exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art . There were works by Cezanne and those he influences. This picture by Oscar Bluemner sparked all sorts of possibilities for patchwork and surface design.  So too this Andrew Dasbury – I’d like to try tearing magazine pages…….

Then off to the Baltimore Arboretum. We had a few very warm days here and the spring blooms are well underway. Lots of wildflowers are out. Beautiful Virginia Bluebells. I’ve tried them my yard to no avail. And these wonderful mushrooms….
Monday…and back to work. This weekend is Stitches South in Atlanta. So here’s the start to our pack-out. Doesn’t look like much….well, that’s because we shipped the rest directly to Atlanta from the weaving show in Santa Clara last week. Sort of a dual pack out, with Maryland Sheep and Wool right afterwards.

The new patterns and samples are ready for prime time. Some luscious cashmeres. Still can’t decide what to do with the ball I’m coveting.

I was going to take pictures of the new samples, but I was too slow they’re packed already.

If you’re at either show please stop by and say hi.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dye Days and New Yarns

Diane and I were dyeing some new yarns Thursday. They are all lace weight and suitable for weaving or knitting. There’s a 100% cashmere, a cashmere/silk and a cashmere/lurex.  All yummy, if I do say so myself.

Karen Raz has designed a shrug in the cashmere/silk . Here’s a close-up of the pattern –

And we have knit our rectangular Lily shawl in the cashmere/lurex –

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Time and Books

Time…something all of us could use more of. As organization experts tell it, it’s just a matter of structuring your life, making full use of the time you have. Sorry, that’s just not true. You can’t say to yourself, “Ok, I have 20 minutes, go be creative”.  It takes 20 minutes to pull out the materials, never mind putting them away (remember that’s essential to this organizing bit). Then there’s the theory of ….. well, you get the idea.

So not having time, I buy books and materials. I get all excited about these new ideas, making notes in the margins and filling sketchbooks. Then I have to share these discoveries, so Diane is inspired to buy books and materials. What are friends for….. and we’re doing our part to boost the economy.

I’ve tried making rules – for every book that comes into the house I have to make something  using one idea I’ve gotten before I can buy another book. Truth be told, that’s not working so well. There’s so much tantalizing stuff out there – hardcopy books, digital books, online newsletters – and so many techniques I dabble in. No, narrowing my focus is probably not in the cards.

So I have a new goal – to finish up the Just Our Yarn work early enough in the afternoon that I have a couple of hours to play before I have to get dinner together. My goal is twice a week. Seems modest enough.

Here’s my first effort-

Book: Contrasting Elements, by Jae Maries (  The book is a series of exercises to spark creativity. You could begin with any chapter,  I started with  Chapter 1 Energy and Tranquility.

Materials: Only from my stash, no shopping trips. Complementary colors – a navy blue square that had been sun printed and a leftover orange oriental print – for the energy. For tranquility a hand-dyed piece of earthy red/brown with navy specks.

Using a rotary cutter, I randomly cut the complementary colored fabrics into triangular shapes and appliqu├ęd them to the background. This sat around for a few days before it talked to me again.

I had squirreled away transparent leaves, interesting but not sure how to anchor them down. Tried fusing them under chiffon – didn’t stand out enough. Tried a few other things and settled on Wonder-Under. Ok but stiff. As a wall piece this won’t matter and I’ll be quilting over them.

In the meantime….I bought some wonderful woodblock stamps. So much for not shopping. ( To shorten the clean up time, I covered the background stamp with plastic wrap and used textile paints. Not as clear a print but that worked for the background.

I tried it with some leftover dye thicken with print paste – interesting texture from the plastic wrap. Sorry, no pictures. The effect was subtle and my photographic skills are minimal at best.

I’ve pinned the quilt together (that would be the yellow dots in the picture) , but again time…..


Friday, April 2, 2010

2010 Playtime

I have lots and lots of thrums around. Some are just short ends from the reskeining, others are loom waste, and still more are substantial balls of weft leftovers. Diane’s birthday is coming up and I decided take the day off and play.

Short on time, it helped to set myself some “rules” (of course rules can be broken…..).
- Materials had to be from stash;
- Use up thrums;
- Use up some of the old buttons hanging around;
- Learn some new techniques;
- Try out come of those things I’ve been buying.

The background is loom waste couched onto 100gm Lutradur. Add some fusible Angelina fibers that have been lurking around for longer than I care to admit… those were ironed together in a wispy piece for the white area.

Then … a little time getting to know the sewing machine again; playing with the built-in embroidery stitches.

On to the drawer with ends from kumihimo braids….nothing quite right. Not to worry, I have numerous small balls of weft leftovers in almost every color. 5 or 6 braids later I had the right combination. Do I get stash reduction point for those 4 or 5 extra braids I made? Movement in the right direction anyway.

Diane, being the good friend she is, has introduced me to yet another crafty endeavor….beading. The button was glued to the background then beaded around. Beads also outline the braid and are scattered on the surface.

Finally the backing and a button loop…. Now my husband always asks “And what is it? What will you do with it?” Well, it’s not really anything, but I had a good time and Diane will find my efforts amusing. To my practical husband, I explained you could put a hook through the button loop and hang it as wall or Christmas tree ornament. Knowing my addiction to Christmas tree ornaments, that seemed to satisfy him.