March is a lion so far

March moon glory

I’m betting young people have no knowledge of that old saw – March either comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.

Although I honestly don’t remember exactly what the weather was like for the first few days of the month, for at least the past 8-10 days March has been very leonine. Cold temps. Snow and then snow and then snow.

So it makes it somehow less understandable to me how I have managed to go another whole month without posting. It’s not like I don’t have things to share; I do. Yes, I’ve been busy, but really? I could always choose to write more frequent, shorter posts. So I’ll try to remember do that, for a while, at least. ‘A while’ is ill-defined and therefore appropriate in this case.

I freely admit that I can almost never capture the beauty of the sky. Day or night, sunrise or sunset, my phone – which takes good pix – just can’t do it justice.

That being said, the above photo was taken of a full moon in March. When I first saw it – while driving – it was newly above the horizon and so golden! I tried pulling over a few times to capture it through the windshield, but couldn’t get away from the street lights enough to make it even begin to work.

By the time I got home the moon was higher and white, not gold. But it was as bright as the streetlights near my house. I was in awe! I did not see the rings of moisture around it that show up so clearly in this photo.

Back in February we had some freezing rain. The temperatures were exactly right (or wrong, depending on your perspective) that the ice that was on every branchlet stayed exactly the same for at least 3 days. I captured this bud cluster (I think from a red maple, but don’t quote me on that) while I was on my morning walk. It had fallen on the sidewalk and sat there in all its glory.

Moving on…here are my bead bags for February.
February bead bags

I didn’t actually get them dropped into the collection box at the Weaving Center until March. I’m currently almost done with my March bags, but haven’t taken photos of them yet. Hopefully I will do another post before the month is out and will include them at that time.

As long as we had some lovely-looking snow, I had to snap some shots. My daughter gave me some solar lights for Christmas which I installed near these 3 steps to the sidewalk. I LOVE the way they look shining their light on the snow.

stair lights on snow

Back on the fiber front…I did finish the February hugs and have gifted them to their new owners. All are 100% rayon chenille. From left to right they have a purple weft, a navy weft, and one with random weft stripes of various silver-grays and red, with narrow stripes of navy separating them.

3 February rayon chenille hugs

And here are the beginning stages of the March hugs. First are the two chained warps. The gemtones of these warps made me happy.

March hug warps, chained

Here they are being beamed. This warp is mostly various weights of cotton, all on the fairly thick-for-me side. The squiggly-looking variegated section is a cotton/rayon blend.

beaming March hugs

The three hugs are woven and wet finished. Hemming remains.

Closing with a shot of a STUNNING sunrise.
Beautiful sunrise - a storm is coming

While people may not know about March weather and lions, I think most people know the saying, “red sky in morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors delight.” We did, indeed, get hit with another winter storm starting that afternoon. The lion is still roaring.

Weaving and knitting and dyeing, oh my

Fair warning – this is a long post with lots of both words and images. Proceed at your own risk.

I’ve been busy. And enjoying being busy, so it’s all good. As faithful readers know, I have determined through experience that I need to make my Christmas cards in February for the holiday that will arrive 10 months later. It’s February or never. So I had to make some decisions…will I weave them? If so, what? Will I make more paper and use that? Will I embroider or…? Although I am open to creativity that may arrive later in the year, I settled on weaving, using established designs (from the Strickler book of 8 shaft patterns). I’d chosen 5 different patterns, knowing that meant I’d have to change the tie ups on my floor loom 5 times; not the world’s most fun nor the most onerous task.

I decided I’d make the warp wide enough to get 4 cards across the width, and I’d weave a minimum of 10 motifs, 40 cards. I selected 10/2 cotton in bright white, as my card blanks were bright white. I did all the math needed, measured the warp, beamed and threaded the loom. Did my first tie up for a sort of snowflake design and set off.

The plan was use the 10/2 for tabby weft and 8/2 rayon, doubled for the pattern. Wove the first motif. (Strickler #128) Um, nope. The cloth wasn’t solid enough and the motif was too elongated. For attempt #2 I double-beat that same 10/2 weft and the same 8/2 rayon, doubled. Better, but not ideal, IMHO.

2023 cards, attempts 1 & 2

For the 3rd attempt I added a metallic thread to that rayon and liked that look. I stuck with the 10/2 for the solid white area, double beating it. I went with sewing thread for the tabby picks in the pattern area. Meh. It was kind of a pain in the butt and didn’t move me. Attempt #4 I used 20/2 for the white thread throughout, single beating it. Again, better but still not quite right.

#5 I used 10/2 for the plain white areas, double beat. 20/2 for the tabby weft in the pattern areas, and 8/2 rayon plus a metallic thread for the pattern picks. This was clearly the best and what I’d stick with. I stuck with the first motif for all of these, plus one more set, so now I had 24 of the snowflakes, some of which may or may not be usable.

Now was the time to change the tie up. I switched to a pine tree motif, (Strickler #119) using green 8/2 rayon, still doubled, still with a metallic thread.

2023 cards, attempts 6 & 7

Whew. I liked them. I wove 2 or maybe 3 of these, and switched to a different tree design. Wove the motif and didn’t like it, so took it back out and went back to the original trees. Ended up weaving a total of 4 of these tree motifs, so 16 cards. Based on what did and did not happen with the other trees, I had some insight into which of my other chosen designs I’d like.

I switched tie up to a star-like design (Strickler #134). This enabled me to use different colors of the rayon. I ended up with enough length on my loom for 5 of these motifs, each row a bit different.

2023 cards 12 & 13

So I ended up with 15 motifs for a potential total of 60 cards. We’ll see how many I actually need and how many are usable. Here’s the whole warp fresh off the loom.

2023 cards off the loom

Once they came off the loom, a bunch of machine stitching needed to be done. Horizontally and vertically to provide cutting lines. With careful measurements and stitching. I divided the length in two so I could more accurately do the measuring and sewing.

2023 cards with machine stitching

Then, because they would be easier to store for 10 months without fold lines getting pressed in, I cut them into lengths.

2023 cards cut in  widths

The last step — for February — was to roll those lengths and store them in a ziplock bag.

2023 cards on a roll

Meanwhile, in the evenings in front of the TV, I was knitting myself another pair of socks. No surprise there. I chose a new-to-me lace-like pattern on Ravelry, called Soda Water and applied it to my tried-and-true sock pattern. I found it both easy to knit and pleasing, and will definitely use it again. This is a commercially-dyed yarn.

soda water socks

I’m actually about 3/4 of the way through another pair of socks, again with commercially-dyed yarn, using a different lace structure. No pics, sorry.

Because I am about 3/4 through that pair of socks, I got motivated to dye another sock blank. I’ve had 2 blanks hanging out for probably a year waiting for me. I decided to do the painting in a diagonal fashion on the blank, just to see how it would knit up. Previously all my sock blanks have been dyed width-wise, which makes for longer-or-shorter stripes of color. This method will, I think, give me shorter runs of color that will be more like a commercial variegation. Time will tell on that.

diagonal-painted sock blank, wet

So down to the basement. Soak the sock blank with 2 TBSP of white vinegar in the water bath. I mixed up 5 colors of dye. As soon as I started painting I realized the red was too jarring, so I overpainted with a blue as soon as the red was on. That had moderate success, as the red dye struck pretty quickly.

I wrapped the blank, steamed it for about 1/2 hour, then let it cool in the steamer for a few hours until it was cool to the touch. Back downstairs at that point to rinse, wash, and rinse.

I am always amazed at how little color rinses or washes out of the sock wool. SOOOOO much less than rinses or washes out of plant fibers, regardless of how long I’ve let the dye batch. I’m sure it’s all about chemistry. Here’s the sock blank dried.

diagonal-painted sock blank, dry

And here it is rolled into 2 balls, waiting for me to finish the socks currently on my needles. It’s a real motivator for me to finish them up, as I want to see how the color plays out.

diagonal-painted sock blank, rolled into balls

When I finished weaving those cards, I knew that next up on my loom would be my February hugs. For reasons I don’t understand, my rayon chenille scarves and shawls aren’t selling well, so I’d weave another batch of rayon chenille hugs to use up more of that yummy yarn. Here is is going on the back beam.

beaming February hugs

Another bin empty – YAY!!

In between all of that we had a major cold snap here in Rochester. Highs in the 20s with wind chills of almost 20 below. Jack needed something for his feet. So I took an old wool sweater that my daughter had shrunk at least two years ago – it’s been sitting in my house waiting for me to get inspired to make something with it. I sewed them into simple tubes. Then I took the outside off some waterproof pads and sewed slightly bigger tubes. Wool next to the little guy’s legs and feet, waterproof pads on the outside, held on with some very classy rubber bands.

sewing boots for Jack

Poor Jack looked like he had duck feet.

Jack in duck feet

If I thought we’d have lots more cold that deep I’d make him an actual pair of boots that were shaped. But these only had to work for 2 days. And they did.

February Freeze

If you’re in the northeast this week, you know it is C.O.L.D!! Wind chills hover around MINUS 20 degrees (F) today! The perfect opportunity for me to take some photos and post to both my blog and Etsy.

Although today is February 3, I did manage to finish the promised (to myself) 10 Beads of Courage bags for January.
Bead bags for January

I succeeded in making 10 bags in each of 6 months in 2022. I’m shooting for more in 2023. In fact, I got 20 more cut out, so bags cut for both February and March. I find it easiest to cut the fabric when I’m hosting at the Weaving Center as their tables are larger than mine, so I’m happy to have a bunch more cut and ready to sew.

I just finished hemming another batch of Fibonacci towels last night. So today I got them photographed and the listing up in my Etsy store.

Here’s a shot of all 8 towels.

8 Fibonacci towels for February

That multi-colored one was inspired by the fact that I’d auditioned various weft colors in my weaving software. I liked the way it looked on the computer so wanted to try it in real life. I wasn’t sure if I’d like at much woven up, but I do. We’ll see what potential buyers prefer.

To see all of them in their individual beauty shots, you’ll have to go to my Etsy store, as I didn’t want to resize each twice – once for the size needed for my blog and once for the size needed for Etsy. I call it a way to both minimize my time in front of the computer and maximize my laptop storage space.

As far as my hugs go, I ended up posting the offering of the last remaining hug from January to my wonderful BuyNothing group. I now have 9 people on my list, so I’ll be weaving more hugs, probably starting next week.

For now, my loom is taken up with my traditional February activity – my Christmas cards for 2023. I’ve taken some on-loom shots, but don’t want to spoil all the surprises. They’ll come off the loom this weekend, and I promise I’ll take photos then and post again soon.

I’m going to leave today with a group photo from the most recent class of the Grateful Line Danze Krew. These women provide me with more joy, love, and support than I can adequately express. I am truly grateful to have them in my life.

Grateful Line Danze Krew

It’s a new year

Wishing everyone the time and ability to identify and find peace and joy throughout the year.

wet snow on cornus kousa

As I get older, I do find it easier to let go of (most) negative things, see the beauty around me, and be truly grateful for all that I have.

I plan to get back to my much-more-regular blog posting this year. Sometimes I’ll have things to share, sometimes I may just blather, but I’ve found that the blog is somewhat important to me and have actually missed recording my work and my thoughts on a regular basis. So this is the first of a yearful.

I made & sent lots of Christmas cards from the weaving I did last January, but didn’t get a photo of even a single card. Too busy.

Then I set about making some gifts. Which I obviously couldn’t show you till they’d been given. And then, of course, I didn’t get photos of them, either. Still too busy. But here’s a photo of the prototype I made for myself.

my bowl cozy

It’s a bowl cozy, making it possible to heat your soup or stew in the microwave without burning your fingers when you retrieve it. I made them using the template and directions from sewshecan. I actually made 16 of these. People who got an apron from me last Christmas got bowl cozies this year, with one side made from their apron fabric. I also gifted a good friend and neighbor, as well as six of my besties from my line dance group with cozies.

Then I saw something else that I thought was too cute not to try. Although I definitely think they should have a different name since they are nothing like dragon boats, these wrapped ornaments were fun to make and look much more complex than they actually were. I got the directions and template from CraftSanity. I gifted 8 of these to people, but only managed to snap photos of these 2. The one on the left is purposely not made of ‘Christmas colors’ so that the recipient can display it for longer.

2 dragon boat wrapped ornaments

The last few I made were much easier than the first few, and looked nicer, too, IMHO. (The photo is of two near the end of my work.)

As a Christmas gift, my daughter gave me this jigsaw puzzle.
jigsaw puzzle box
She’d given me one for my birthday in June that I hadn’t opened yet, so I figured I’d better get on it! I chose to start with this one. It’s an interesting concept, in that the picture on the box isn’t what the completed puzzle will look like. Inside the box there is some printed material that gives you clues to the finished image. At least that’s the concept. It didn’t do me much/any good. But I realized that the box image itself provided some decent clues.

I know myself well enough to know that once I start a jigsaw puzzle I really can’t do anything else until it’s completed. For 2 reasons: I am obsessive-compulsive about this kind of thing; I want to finish the challenge. But also, it takes up my entire kitchen table, leaving me just a tiny corner for eating, so it really can’t take months, or even weeks, to be done. Once I started, I completed it in five days. Here are days 1, 3, and 5 for you.

jigsaw puzzle, day 1

jigsaw puzzle, end of day 3

Fair warning – if you might want to do this puzzle, don’t look at the next image; it’s what the completed puzzle looks like.

jigsaw puzzle, completed

Then it was time to get back to some weaving…use up some more stash! Although I don’t have a single towel for sale, my heart told me I needed to prioritize making a warp of my handwoven hugs. After all, I hadn’t been able to weave any since October, and I definitely wanted to use up some of my rayon chenille and now was the season. So I warped up the loom in earthy colors and set to weaving. I finished the hemming yesterday and have sent out the photos to the next 3 people on my wait list.

This is the first one I wove and it turns out to be my favorite. Rayon chenille in both warp and weft, the weft is mostly dark brown with random stripes of golden brown along the length.
January hug-random stripes

Next I wove one with a cotton weft. I used a 20/2 mercerized bright orange cotton. It is the lightest weight of the three.
January hug, orange cotton

Finally I returned to rayon chenille weft. Mostly dark brown, I wove a few subtle stripes of reddish-brown, symmetrically at the ends.

January hug, subtle red stripes

I expect all three will be leaving my house to hug someone within the coming week. I only have 1 more person on my wait list, despite the outreach I have done, so this year will expand my target audience. I will continue to offer a handwoven hug to individuals and/or their families dealing with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and I will also offer one to a person suffering from depression or his/her loved ones. If you fit into either of these categories, don’t hesitate to contact me to get on my list. I plan to get back to weaving 3/month.

Next up, however, I will weave another batch of Fibonacci towels. I enjoyed making them and people enjoyed seeing them, so that’ll be fun.

In the not-so-fun category, I managed to complete my dreaded year-end inventory AND all my record-keeping for the accountant. As soon as I receive my 1099s I’ll be ready to send things off to the tax professional. That makes me REALLY happy!

Closing with another shot from my yard of the beautiful snowfall we had on Friday morning. The quality of the light and the way the snow outlined everything…ahhhhh.

wet snow, 1-13-23

8 Weeks Later…

You just have to trust me when I tell you that my life has been crazy busy for the past 2 months. Family always comes first, and it has…again and again and again. That’s just the way it is. So I have barely had time to do the ‘must do’ list; the ‘should do’ has fallen off the priority list, and forget about the ‘like to do’ list.

Although I can say that at this stage of my life, the ‘must dos’ include taking care of myself. It’s like that message you get on an airplane – put on your own oxygen mask first. So I’m now going to my wonderful urban soul line dance class twice a week instead of just once, and maintain my weekly zoom guided meditation group as well as my morning yoga and walking, eating healthy and drinking water.

But blogging? It’s been an endangered species of late. Hopefully my life will settle down soon and I can get back to my regular weaving, blogging, reading, and other routine activities. (Fingers crossed, but in reality I expect more craziness to come.)

So I won’t spend lots of time on any one thing that I’ve been doing since my last post (October 18!!!), just give you the highlights. And not necessarily in chronological order.

That pastel multi-colored warp I was winding way back then…this is how they turned out. I didn’t get closeups. And I sold all 6 of them at the Weavers’ Guild Holiday Sale on November 4-6.  I liked the fact that they weren’t really very pastel because of the wefts I chose.  That pastel warp gave me so many options.

pastel towels - not really

The Guild Holiday Sale was good for me. I sold 7 of the 8 pins that I’d made, all of the towels I’d brought (19), a rainbow chenille shawl, and a few other items.

Then I signed up to do a one day, brand new small-ish show set for December 4. Only 40 artists/crafters. But I liked the location so figured I’d give it a go. And it turned out GREAT for me!!

Based on the Guild Sale, I definitely wanted to weave more towels. I barely managed to get 2 warps onto and off of my loom. Another batch of circles, focusing on blues…

circle towels, focusing on blue

I only sold 1 at the December show, so just listed the remaining 7 in my Etsy shop, if you’re interested. They were okay, but I think I’m done with circles for a while.

I did, however, have great fun both planning and weaving a set of 8 towels based on Fibonacci numbers. They were twill blocks, with units of 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 13 in both the warp and weft. I sold 7 of those 8 towels (5 at the December show and 2 when I brought them to the Weaving Center with me to photograph for Etsy posting), each with a different color weft, so only have one left. I do plan to make more of these…sometime.

Fibonacci twill blocks towel

I was unable to get either bead bags or handwoven hugs done in November. I have a tiny twinge about that, but it couldn’t be helped. Doubt that I’ll get them made in December, either.

I did get a bit of a dyeing bug, so hand painted 2 different bamboo warps to use together. They are bright, for sure. I wove them in huck lace, and sold the Blue Parrot at the December show; the Green Parrot is up on Etsy.

Green Parrot bamboo shawl

I also did a bit of double-knitting for a Christmas gift, but haven’t yet taken any photos. And because I find it relaxing in the evening, I’m knitting yet another pair of socks for my tootsies. And spent more time than I like to devote to such things doing all the computer entry for the Guild show and the December show and filing my quarterly sale tax report. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to get started on making my Christmas gifts.

May your days be merry and bright!

P.S. Someone asked, so here’s a section of the draft of that Fibonacci towel. Make the blocks the sizes that work for your desired finished piece, just use the Fibonacci numbers for your block sizes: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,etc.

section of Fibonacci weaving draft