Simple pictures are best

Simple Pictures book

About a million years ago when I taught preschool, I remember reading this book to the kids. I was surprised to see that I’d used this same photo back in 2012, and that I’d commented then that I often forget this lesson. Well, I forgot it once again.

Back in August I hand painted a silk warp that has sat there ever since, waiting for me to get to it. It’s another skein vs. warp dye job, this time reverting to the coral & turquoise I’ve done before, although a bit more muted than on the tencel I’ve done. I decided now is the time to weave this piece. I’m loving it going on the back beam.

beaming coral & turquoise silk

I had a draft planned on my computer.

lace dots weave draft

I was prepared to start threading, and then I realized that because of the width of my warp and the design of this draft, I’d have to move 120+ heddles on my loom. Not a fun job. So I came back to the computer and tried my colors and width in one draft after another. Spent over an hour doing this. Ended up rejecting them all.

“Simple pictures are best,” I said to myself. But how would I deal with all those heddles?

I spent a bit of time looking more carefully at the draft. Wait a minute! Shafts 5 & 6 don’t weave lace, so clearly I can modify the draft to spread the tabby heddles over 4 shafts instead of just 2.

I had a few false starts on this, and spent probably 90 minutes getting the draft fully designed. Much better; I’ll only need to move a few heddles to accomplish this. Whew!

lace dots 2 weave draft

I wonder how many more times I’ll have to re-learn this same lesson about simple pictures. I’m guessing many.

I’m going to start threading now.

Autumn work & show report

Two years ago I found a recipe online for making apple butter in a crockpot. Apple butter was a favorite of my mom’s and therefore holds some nice childhood memories for me, but I was never willing to put in hours and hours over an open fire or constant attention in the oven. So crockpot apple butter? I had to try it. Turned out well, and SO easy.

2 batches of apple butter

Finished off my stash this summer, so when the farm stand put out their 1/2 peck baskets of drops this year, I knew I had to do it again. I ended up making 2 batches again this year (that’s what I’d made in 2017, too). For the first batch, on the left, I ran out of cinnamon, not having as much as I’d thought. I bought more for the second batch. The first batch tastes more like spicy applesauce, and the second may be spicier than some people like it, but it’s all good with me.

I’ve been picking tomatoes and raspberries off my vines until earlier this week. But they’re saying I might have up to a foot of snow tonight/tomorrow, so today was the day to pull those plants, regardless of the fact that both had plenty of unripe fruit on them. No, I didn’t pick and wrap green tomatoes, nor did I make fried green tomatoes or green tomato pickles. I just tossed them. I wish I could have a compost bin here, as the plants and fruits would have gone there, but I got pinged by the Town for my bin a few years ago after a neighbor complained and I had to get rid of it. 🙁

I did great at the Weavers’ Guild Holiday Sale. I sold 14 of my 18 pairs of socks, 17 of my 23 towels, 2 of 5 scarves/cowls, and 2 of 4 mobis/wraps. Pretty amazing, I think, especially considering there were 50+ Guild members submitting items this year. I’m looking forward to seeing the aggregated statistics when they come out in a few weeks, although I’ve heard that we had more visitors than ever and higher total $$ sales than ever, so a good sale for lots of people, I trust.

I’m not a person who takes many weaving classes – most things I see offered near me just don’t float my boat. But I jumped at the chance to take a class next week that the Guild is putting on. Molly McLaughlin is teaching 2.5 days of Painting with Fiber. Look at one of this woman’s pieces – CRAZY beautiful! Looks like amoeba under a microscope to me.

Molly McLaughlin's woven piece

Also crazy, Molly prepared warps for each of the 17 people in the workshops. We each got 3 handpainted warps, each with 120 ends of 20/2 cotton. WOW – that’s a lot of prep work for the teacher! Here’s my warp, beamed and threaded on my Missouri loom, ready for the workshop.

Missouri loom prepared for workshop

I’m really looking forward to learning from Molly, and in learning how to do that technique that will provide such lovely curves and painterly finished product.

Flying by

Time is flying, and so were my fingers! How did it get to be time for the Weavers’ Guild Holiday Sale already?!?!

Weavers' Guild Holiday Sale poster

It really snuck up on me. It’s always the first weekend in November, but that often is later in the month than this year. And since Thanksgiving is so late this year, that made the Sale seem doubly early.

So I wove and finished and wove and finished and wove and finished.

First I wove 2 mobis in red stripes, all rayon chenille, using up ends of colors in the warp. I can never get reds really right with my camera and computer, but did the best I could. For the first one I used a solid red weft. I LOVE it!

Handwoven rayon chenille wrap in reds

I didn’t have enough solid red for weft for the second, so used some handpainted rayon chenille. (I didn’t paint it; I’ve had it for a while.) I always prefer hand painted skeins in warp, but since I didn’t have enough reds to do another warp, I chose to use it for weft. It’s okay. (I did get rid of that rolling edge at the front of the scarf.)

Handwoven rayon chenille wrap in reds

Then I immediately put on another rayon chenille warp, this time using a bunch of handpainted skeins (again, not my dye job) in the warp, going from dark purple through shale to silver.

Handwoven rayon chenille wrap in purple & silver

I wove half the length with silver weft and half with shale. I thought they’d meet in the middle where the twist is. Hah! Apparently the middle of the length isn’t where the twist is. I guess I’ll have to figure that out for another time.

Anyway, I wove the rest of that warp with a dark purple weft. It looks great, and will be turned into a long vest, I think. Or maybe an open front cardigan. Whatever it will be, at the moment it’s just a length of fabric, as I ran out of time.

I ran out of time because I decided I HAD to weave more towels for the sale! So I put on a warp for 8 towels and went to town, weaving off the 9+ yards of fabric in one day. My middle back was sore by the end of that day, and I treated myself to an adult beverage. And an ibuprophen. 🙂

I used a threading and treadling from the Strickler book of weaving designs for 8 shafts. I’d seen others use it beautifully, and although it’s definitely not my usual look, I just had to try it. First, here’s a close up so you can appreciate the colors and weave pattern.

Dreams of India towel, closeup

I’m calling this series Dreams of India. Seems appropriate to me. I wove two towels with a black weft. Makes those colors pop.

Handwoven striped towels, Dreams of India, black

After the first towel I had a treadle hook pop off. And when I put it back on, I put it on the wrong shaft! So I wove 20″ that produced a far-too-long float on the back before I noticed it. Grrr! I think I’ll be able to use it for a pillow or a bag or something. Some day.

After black I went with a pinkish red weft. I really liked this, one, too, so made 2 of these as well. I finished them with a different side up on each. Both sides are good.

Handwoven striped towels, Dreams of India, red

Then I thought I’d try a light weft. Wow! Very different look, and also very appealing. Here you see light blue on the left and lilac on the right.

Handwoven striped towels, Dreams of India, light blue & lilac

I only had enough warp for 2 more towels. I chose a light and a dark, melon the left and royal blue on the right.

Handwoven striped towels, Dreams of India, melon & royal blue

Because I’d messed up those 20″ with the wrong tie up, I had to really eke out the last towel. MUCH closer than I like to be, or than is easy to weave.

VERY close to the end of the warp on the loom

Whew! Then of course, they had to be washed, dried, pressed, and hemmed. Then these plus everything else I was bringing to the Holiday Sale had to be tagged with both my labels and WGR Holiday Sale labels. That always takes WAY longer than I think it will.

This morning I got 50 items – shibori-dyed socks, towels from my last 3 batches plus a few older ones, 3 recent mobi wraps, plus some scarves and cowls – to the Sale for screening. All passed, so they’ll be available for sale this weekend. If you’re in the area, do stop by! In addition to my work, weaving, dyeing, knitting, spinning, felting, and more by 54 more WGR members will also be there. Something for everyone on your list!


It’s been about forever since I posted. Why? I much prefer to post finished pieces. It’s okay to do some process photos, but only if there are some finished ones as well. And it has taken me FOREVER to finally finish those polka dot towels.

Again, why? First of all, in addition to the threading error I noticed on the first towel that had to be repaired when they were off the loom, there were no fewer than 6 places where the weft inadvertently skipped over a warp thread as I wove. Always on the bottom of the piece, so I didn’t notice them until later. Sigh. As noted in earlier posts, I HATE to needle weave, so kept putting off the task. Finally I could procrastinate no longer. So here we go.

These 2 towels have the same burgundy-ish weft. This photo demonstrates why I like the colored circles better than the white circles, at least as a general rule. So much more dramatic.

handwoven polka dot towels, red weft

This one has a bright cherry-red weft.

handwoven polka dot towel, cherry weft

And these 2 have an orange weft (2 different oranges). The one with the white circles showing was SOOOO orange it screamed at me, so I finished with the white circles as the good side.

handwoven polka dot towels, orange wefts

The top towel has sort of a peach weft, and the bottom one a bright yellow weft. If I’d had more yellow cotton I would have woven another of those.

handwoven polka dot towels with peach and yellow wefts

And this last one has a dusty rose weft.

handwoven polka dot towels, dusty rose weft

Since I was postponing doing the hand work on those towels, I quickly got another warp on the loom. This time all rayon chenille in shawl width. In the must-use-stash vein, I used up several bits of colors. I really like the intensity of these yarns. (Nope, nothing finished here yet, although it is off the loom and another warp is on.)

handwoven red striped rayon chenille wrap, on the loom

I had my 8-year-old grandson for a day when school was closed. We went to a presentation at the planetarium, went out to lunch, and I had 3 different potential craft activities for us, assuming we wouldn’t get more than 2 done.

Well. The first, a gargoyle kit, had to be returned to the store. The molding medium had completely dried out and couldn’t be used. The second, these pumpkin luminaries made by gluing tissue paper on a jar, was not as easy as it looked, and the boy HATED it. His is on the right. He couldn’t take it home with him as it was too wet…had to dry/cure a few days first. (Sorry for such a crappy photo-out of focus and the tissue paper is very orange, not pale yellow-orange as it looks here.)

jar pumpkin luminaries

The final one, ghosts made from milk jugs, was also, ummmm, a challenge. First of all, it is NOT easy to remove the labels from either milk or water jugs. Especially when you just picked them out of people’s recycle bins that very morning so didn’t have time to work on them before you had to go get the lad. Then my several sharpies were mostly dried out. Granted, I’d had them for years, and should have checked earlier, but I didn’t. So although he drew a face on one, I couldn’t let him take it home till I got new sharpies and blackened it in. I then drew all these.

milk jug ghosts

I like the concept, but those milk jugs had to be weighted or the ever-present wind at my house would have blown them away. I gathered some rocks at the bay for that purpose, and obviously wasn’t as careful as I should have been at putting them in, because now half the string of lights is dead and only 4 ghosts are lighted. C’est la vie. I plan to get a new string of white lights before Halloween. I want to put the ghosts along the otherwise impossible-to-see-in-the-dark steps up to the top of my lawn, where I’ll be with the goodies.

Working on towels

I know that I can sell a bunch of towels at the Weavers’ Guild Holiday Sale, so decided that’s what I’d work on next. I warped up the loom with that handpainted cotton shown in my last post and set about weaving. I was hoping that my dye planning worked so that each towel would have all of the colors, ideally only once.

Jack decided to photobomb my first pics, these of the two towels with dark wefts – purple on the left and marine on the right.

2 striped towels with Jack photobombing

Here they are without Jack so you can better see the colors. The warp colors worked out well on these two.

handwoven striped towels with dark  wefts

I wove two towels with blue-ish wefts in two different shades; actually teal on the left and baby blue on the right. Again the handpainting worked out pretty well.

handwoven towels with handpainted stripes, blue wefts

I wove another two towels with different yellows for wefts. Again the painting worked fine.

handwoven towels with handpainted stripes, yellow wefts

And I wove two towels with natural wefts, one with the 5/2 I’d used for warp, the other with 8/2. These 2, which would have been my favorites, didn’t have the handpainting land quite as well.

handwoven towels with handpainted stripes, natural weft

Still, I like the overall look of the stripes blending from one color to the next and am likely to do this again in the future.

But not right now. I went for another run of polka dots. Here’s the first towel on the loom. You can see a threading error in the 5th red circle from the right. This wasn’t the only threading error that I had, and when I found this one about 8″ in, I fixed it and then decided it was time to walk away for the day. You can also see that the use of the yellows, especially the light yellow, wasn’t a great choice. C’est la vie.

red orange and yellow polka dot towels

Parting shot – my kousa dogwood displaying its lovely red fruits for the fall. In the spring I was wishing I’d chosen a Florida dogwood, but now I’m glad I didn’t; they don’t fruit like this.

fruiting kousa dogwood