How I spent my…

…Tuesday afternoon.

Before: house-front-before

After: house front after

Although this color – Dried Lavender at Sherwin Williams – wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I really like it. It makes my house looks more like me. Since I plan to live here until I can’t live alone anymore, I am not concerned about what the next homeowner might think; I’m much more focused on what I like, what makes me happy. This was one more step.

I took the shutters down in the morning (with some difficulty as the old flathead screws were very rusty and I had to be careful not to strip them), then started painting at noon when my daughter and grandson left after their visit. I got 2 coats on the front door, the shutters, and the side door, and was putting things away at 5PM. Not bad for 5 hours work! This morning I got new phillips head screws for the shutters and put them back up in literally seconds per shutter.

A few days ago I also got some shots of recent weaving. So here you go.

You’d seen the flat black and white hand painted Tencel shawl. I turned one of the three into a mobius. A standard shot first.

black and whit hand painted tencel mobius

What happens when you turn it sideways? A slightly different look. If Dolly was larger than a size 8, it would be easier to dress her differently.

hand painted black & white tencel shawl

And if she had arms, even more so. Photographing my shrugs well seems impossible to me. So how the heck will I display them at a show? I have no idea and am hoping you have suggestions.

Here’s the first one, with a mostly cotton warp (the hand painted parts are a bamboo-cotton blend) and a natural cotton weft.
cotton & bamboo handwoven shrug

And the second, with a black tencel weft.

handwoven shrug

Since that photo doesn’t really show it well, I tried another way. Not better, just differently not-good.

handwoven shrug with black

I have two more pieces woven and finished, but no photos. Next post…

Not idle hands

My hands are most decidedly not the devil’s workshop of late. In addition to the weaving — which I will photograph and post soon — I’ve been preserving fruit.

Yesterday I made my second batch of refrigerator pickles from cukes in my yard. (FYI although I had some trepidation about using my English cukes for this, they worked beautifully.) These sweet pickles are SO easy and SO good, and they can be kept in the frig for about ever. Even better, they can be FROZEN and still retain their crunchy goodness! I didn’t get any pix of them, so instead am posting the recipe for you.

REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER PICKLES

Thinly slice 7 cups cucumbers and 2 large onions (I use the slicing capability of my food processor to make short work of this step.)
Add 2 Tablespoons salt and stir

Mix together:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Pour this over the first mixture and stir. Sit on the counter/table and stir occasionally for 2-3 hours. Now you can put it in jars for the frig or freezer bags, as you prefer. (Truth be told, I save a second bowl and just put the juice ingredients right into the cukes/onions/salt and stir well.)

Then I cleaned a HUGE bunch of kale from my CSA share. Next I blanched, de-cobbed (is that a word), and froze 4 ears of corn, also from my CSA share. Then I spent a few hours visiting with a friend and playing Carcassonne. An interesting game. Only my 2nd time playing, but I enjoyed it and would play again for sure.

After he left I ran to the store for some supplies and set to work with jam. I made one batch of nectarine-raspberry jam (berries from my yard, nectarines purchased from a local farm) and one batch of peach jam (also purchased from a local farm) with lemon and ginger. Both jelled well. Isn’t it funny though, how I left the nectarine-raspberry jars upside-down too long so that the jam in the little jars is now firmly affixed to the top of the jar? Whoever receives these will have to accept my foibles.

2 homemade jams

(Another truth be told: When I pulled my SureJell out of the cupboard, I saw that it was outdated by YEARS. Perhaps that’s why my prior batches didn’t set? DUH!)

Then I went to my African line dance class, seeing these wonderful women I’ve missed for 3 weeks – 1 ‘cuz I was out of town and 2 ‘cuz the rec centers were closed.

Today I started the day with an exercise class at the Y. My favorite class all week, but the regular teacher wasn’t there, and I don’t really care for the woman who taught it. C’est la vie.

Then I made a run out to scope out a house for my son. (No, he didn’t get the one you all sent positive thoughts on. It is SO a seller’s market here, his bid of $15K over asking was the lowest of the 3 bids received on the day the house went on the market.)

When I got home I threw a load of clothes in the wash, and hung it on the line while I was heating lots of water in the kitchen. This rather forced me to close all my windows and turn the air conditioning back on while I canned 9 pints of Vanilla Spice Peaches.

vanilla spice peaches

Then I prepared several Asian pears for dehydrating.

drying Asian pears

This is a lot of fruit and so few veggies. I need to get some more veggies ‘put up,’ as my grandma would have said.

Shrugging along

I really like making the mobius wraps, and my customers seem to like them, too. I’ve wanted to expand beyond straight flat pieces for a while, and mobiuses (mobii?) was my foray. Next up for me are some shrugs. Again, weave something flat and sew just a few straight seams to turn it into something else.

In the use-up-the-stash mode, I wound a warp long enough for 2 shrugs, starting with 5/2 pearl cotton and moving to some hand painted (not by me) bamboo-cotton blend I’ve had for some time. I really like the way the warp looks going on the loom.

warp for 2 shrugs

I decided to use an undulating twill I like and sett the warp at 18 ends per inch. For the first shrug I used a natural 5/2 pearl cotton. Although this isn’t a great photo, I like it the overall look.

white weft on shrug warp

I have very little 5/2 left, so for the second am using 2 strands of 8/2 black tencel. Ooo la la!

shrug warp with white and black weft

Eager to get these off the loom, wet finished and sewn.

Good news/Bad news

In my world, the good news is often the bad news and vice versa. It all depends on perspective, right?

The good news is that my second (and last) show of the summer was great, as was the first. I sold lots of items, making the summer rewarding, both financially and emotionally. That, however, is also the bad news, as it means I have to work very hard again this year. To simply make up for the things I sold at those two shows, I once again have to weave at least 6 good pieces per month for the next 10 months. Plus somewhere stick in weaving 2 dozen towels and a similar number of bookmarks, as those aren’t counted in the above numbers.

Fortunately, I don’t have another show for a few months, so can breathe a bit, even though I can’t stop weaving.

FYI, included in my sales this past weekend were that baby-to-mobi wrap, the black & white shawl, and both the purple weft and azure weft scarves from the last post. No surprise to me on any of them.

I do like to demonstrate at shows when possible, and learned my lesson with the sock yarn warp on my rigid heddle loom in July. So this time I tried something else new-to-me-on-the-RH loom. I consulted with a friend and the internet, and chose warp rep for placemats. I used doubled 8/4 cotton rug warp for my warp, using 16/2 cotton for my thin weft and 4 strands of Sugar and Cream cotton for the thick weft. Here’s how it looked on the loom.

rep weave on rigid heddle loom

I finished the weaving at home, and after cutting them off the loom, immediately saw a fairly large Oops! Apparently I was distracted and didn’t pay sufficient attention to how many inches I’d woven rep weave for the first (shorter) placemat – which is actually an appropriate size for a placemat. The second is a solid 6″ longer.

rep weave off the RH loom

Oh well, I said, so it’s not a set. I wet finished them yesterday, and here they are after that process.

rep weave after wet finishing

I was a bit surprised to see that the long one had lost a full 4″ (17%) of it’s length. Anyway, I will use these myself but won’t sell them. They are too ‘soft’, too wimpy. You can see that the weft isn’t tied in well in a few places on the shorter piece; they won’t hold up well at all. Another rigid heddle lesson learned.

So today I had to get back to the Macomber. Before I started tensioning the warp, I decided to step on the treadles and make sure the shafts were lifting well. Lo and behold, I had 2 shafts, #6 & #7, that were fine on the left side of the warp but were substantially low on the right side. So it wasn’t really the warp from hell, but a loom issue.

I spent a bunch of time looking at various parts of the loom trying to determine what was wrong and finally decided I couldn’t figure it out the cause of the problem. Instead I simply needed to figure out a solution. This morning I walked to the hardware store with one of the S hooks from the loom, and bought new S hooks that are 1/4″ shorter. Instead of 1″ hooks, I bought 3/4″ hooks. I put them on the shafts 6 & 7 and tried stepping on treadles again. It looked good to my (crooked-blind) eyes.

smaller S hooks

So I tied up the loom, and gave it a go. Yay! This warp is now weaving beautifully. I should be able whip out these 2 black and white hand painted shawls with ease and move forward.

From baby to mobi & the warp from hell

August has been crazy busy for me, in a good way. Another night of silent disco with friends. A trip to Longwood Gardens, meeting my BFF from West Virginia there, and watching a wonderful, uplifting concert by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. They sang this beautiful song, among others. Shopping with my son for his first home. (He’s putting in an offer today for one he’s really hoping for, so send all your positive thoughts this way.) So far less weaving than usual for me.

I did, however, come across a custom baby wrap that a mom had ordered and subsequently didn’t buy. (Just one of several reasons I stopped weaving baby wraps.) I decided to turn it into a mobius wrap. Based on comments I received at my last show, I decided not to cut the length, instead making it into a large size wrap. We’ll see how it goes. I can always shorten it later if needed.

handwoven mobius

I also squeezed in time to weave that red-violet and teal warp I’d hand painted. Decided to use a huck lace pattern. Wove the first one with a red-violet warp that was almost identical to the color I’d dyed. I was surprised that I didn’t like it better. Even as I was weaving it, it was too dark, too much red-violet for me.

hand painted red-violet and teal scarf

For the second scarf I used an azure weft that was almost identical to the blue I’d dyed. I also modified the treadling slightly to weave what I’ve called huck-ish…only half of the weft pattern as above. Love it!

hand painted azure and red-violent scarf

I’d planned to weave 1 long cowl, but based on my sales in July, modified that to 2 short cowls. Wove the first, again with that huck-ish treadling, using that green that I’ve-had-hanging-around-forever-and-hated-but-loved-when-I-used-it. Love it here, too. 😉

hand painted red-violet and green cowl

For the next cowl I went back to that red-violet weft, this time using the huck-ish treadling. Meh.

hand painted red-violet and teal cowl

Then my loom magician and the parts from Macomber lined up with my schedule and my Macomber was fixed! I knew I didn’t have time to weave all 3 shawls I’d warped it for, but believed I could do 1. I did, but it wasn’t fun. This warp is turning into the warp from hell. Although I completely re-tensioned it after the loom repair, my shed was consistently full of threads hanging low, so the weaving was slow with plenty of unweaving as I spotted a skipped thread some picks back, and there are still some treadling errors. Nothing that will impact the usefulness of the shawl, but it annoyed the heck out of me. Just like my weaving with rayon chenille, it’s a good thing I like it so much when it’s complete or I would have cut it off and thrown it all away.

hand painted black and white shawl

I’m hoping that when I return to it, again re-tensioning it, that I can eliminate the frustration. Keep your fingers crossed.

Now, if you’re anywhere near Buffalo this weekend, do come to the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. I’ll be there with all my wares. 🙂 Gotta run now – time to drop Jackie off at my daughter’s for the weekend.