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Whew!

It’s been a wild ride, hasn’t it? We’ve all done – or at least attempted to do – things that make us happy, help us retain some sense of our sanity while we tighten our grip on our health and our loved ones. Sometimes those activities and those grips are virtual, sometimes they’re in real life.

So what have I been up to for the last few weeks?

Well, I opted to start with the handpainted cotton warp in blues & greens. Here it is going on the back beam. This happened on October 25th, just 2 days after my last post.

beaming handpainted blue & green warp

I chose 20/2 mercerized cotton in a deep, dark purple-blue for those solid stripes, used doubled. Once it was all beamed, I threaded heddles and reed and set to weaving with the solid dark denim I’d dyed for the weft.

weaving my blues & greens warp

This was a draft I hadn’t used before. I downloaded something from somewhere (I’d happily give credit if I’d made notes – could be Cait Roy Bell, but maybe not), and then made some modifications to end up with this. Initially I loved it, but then I thought, “Uh oh. It looks like a chain link fence.” My sister assured me it doesn’t, so that’s good.

I only got about 60″ woven when life intervened. First up was Halloween with a full moon. I tried for some good shots of that great moon with clouds in front of it, but they all failed to show what I saw with my eyes.

Then the clocks changed and it was SO DARK in the evening when I was walking Jack that I decided I needed to make myself a hat to help me show up more. I bought this weird yarn at my local craft shop – acrylic plied with some reflective threads. The yarn is bulky so it knitted up quickly – just one day of knitting and watching meaningless TV and I got this.

my purple knitted slouch hat

Doesn’t look so impressive, right? Well, I took the hat off and put it in my dark green chair with a table lamp off to the side. That’s different.

my slouch hat in the dark chair

But look at this! I used my flash when I took this photo. WOW!!

knitted slouch hat with flash

That should get me noticed when a car drives by, right?

Some time passed, and I finally had a chance to do something with my grands I’d planned for several weeks – mud dyeing! This totally non-toxic method provided a great opportunity to do some tie dying with them. The results are rather subtle but very on trend, or so my stylish daughter tells me. 😉 Here’s the bigger grand with his newly-dyed hoodie. We also dyed some jeans for him in a reddish hue, and 2 Tshirts for the little one, one in each color dye bath.

mud dyed hoodie

Next I decided it was finally time to paint the bathroom. Given that I HATE to clean, it took me most of a day to do a deep clean on the room in preparation. Then another day to do the painting. Although it may not look it in this photo, my bathroom is tiny, so there was mostly time consuming cutting in with a paint brush and very little roller work.

new bathroom paint and fixtures

I am very happy with it. Here’s a piece of info for you all. If you buy your paint at Sherwin Williams like I do (and maybe even if you buy it elsewhere, I don’t know), you can have them not just mix the color on the paint chip as is, but you can also ask them to do a percentage of the value if you want the paint lighter. I chose 75% and could have gone to 50% for sure. The color is called Open Air and it sometimes looks like the seaside to me and sometimes like a robin’s egg; depends on the light.

Speaking of light…you see those light fixtures by the mirror? New. And I installed them myself. I’m always proud of myself when I do something like this. Something that is outside of my comfort zone for sure. I didn’t take a before photo, but here are the old fixtures, hoping someone in my BuyNothing group wants to claim them for their own vintage look. But I disliked them from the day I moved in; one of the few things in my house that I didn’t like. At all.

old bathroom light fixtures

I needed to leave those lights in place while I painted to give me working light. The next day I turned off the breaker and removed the fixtures. You know how everything old is new again? Well look at the original paint under those light fixtures. Pretty close to my new paint, right?

old & new paint

So I turned the circuit breaker back on while I painted as it turned of my radio, too. Then I watched paint dry for a while, turned the breaker back off and installed the new fixtures. Sweet success!

Today I painted a bunch more rocks for my kindness rocks as I only had 2 left to distribute. This is the fourth batch of rocks I’ve painted for this purpose.

more painted rocks

Leaving you with few nature shots and a wish. First, here’s my Japanese red maple putting on a heck of a show on Saturday morning. A beautiful start to the day.

Japanese maple ablaze

Then a great sunset in my neighborhood on Saturday evening. A beautiful end to a beautiful day.

Sunset on November 7

Now my wish…I wish for calmness, for peace. I wish that our country can begin healing the deep divide that we clearly have. I wish that we can begin to see some real justice – in education, health care, housing, policing, environment, and much more. This will take real work. Hard work. A willingness to really hear each other. To stop and listen. To breathe. To let go of our anger and hurt. To link arms with those who voted differently from us and move forward to create a future that will be better for our children and our grandchildren. It all starts with a single step. Will you take one with me?

Waddaya do

You got all that undyed cotton. And you recently picked up a large shoebox full of dyes from another weaver/dyer. So what do you do? You dye, of course!

Before the cotton actually arrived I measured out a Tencel warp for a scarf – mostly one handpainted colorway with a second, much smaller, that I’d use for warp stripes. I am very happy with these warps.

handpainted tencel warps

I have plenty of Tencel and rayon on cones to choose from for weft.

Once the cotton got here I did some planning and measured out 3 bouts to make some yardage and a shawl. In my head I wanted to do a similar blue variation like on the Tencel above, with neutral tans for the stripes.

Well. Remember I said I’d picked up a mess of dyes from another weaver/dyer? There were 3 different blues in her box, and silly me, I thought they’d all be pretty different. But when I mixed them up they were all very similar. So I reverted to a strategy I haven’t used since I first started dyeing – I just started dumping things together. Then I added a bit of this and a bit of that from my own dye shelf. The colors all looked pretty dark when they were wet, so I wanted to make the neutral/tan bout light. I was careful with my mixes for that, since I was using all my own dyes that I’ve used before and knew what I wanted.

After the overnight batching, morning rinsing, daytime soaking, then more rinsing and finally drying, it was completely clear to me that this was NOT going to work as intended. I didn’t like the way these bouts looked together. NOT. AT. ALL.

handpainted cotton - blue, green, and tans

So waddya do? If you’re me, you prepare more yarn for dyeing. This time I made 24 ounces of cotton into skeins for immersion dyeing for weft for that blue/green warp, knowing I had sufficient solid colors to use as offsetting stripes. I wanted a nice, rich, dark denim color, and think I achieved it.

hand dyed blue & green warp with dark blue skeins for weft

I have a weave structure planned that I think will look great with these colors.

I also measured out another bout to dye just like that first bout with the golden & light chocolate splotches. I think I’ll just use undyed yarn for my stripes. Keep it simple & neutral. I checked my stash and have a variety of browns and oranges in mercerized cotton I can use for weft, but I dyed a skein of purple anyway, thinking it might make a nice contrast. I didn’t want to do a dye bath, so painted the purple dye on this skein and clearly didn’t get the solid coverage I wanted, but I’m not worried about that.

hand dyed tan & brown warp with purple weft

So now I have 3 distinct projects to get on the loom. I’m going to put each in a bag – with notes about length of the warp bouts and number of threads (guess who learned the hard way that her memory is unreliable on this score) – and I’ll have to decide which one I’ll do first. But for now I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished with the dyeing – and with using a bunch of that 14 pounds of cotton. 😉

Some good things, some ????

In my last post I showed you a piece of weaving produced on my inkle loom, and told you that I was working on a project I hoped to submit to a show. After much work, I now think I have all the weaving done. Some finish work remains, and I have to determine how I will hang the various pieces and make it work all together. But here are all the woven pieces, in the orientation I currently intend.

BLM project weaving

I spent at least 12 hours between my computer and the inkle trying various methods to weave the 3 ‘banner’ sections at the top. I wanted those words to be larger than the names, but couldn’t figure out the best way to do that. So I’d warp the inkle with scrap yarn and try something. Nope. I’d come to the computer and try to work out a draft that I’d do on my 8H loom. Nada. I’d warp the inkle again to try a different method. Closer, but no cigar. Go back to the computer and try again. This time try both 8H drafting and in Excel, shape the rows and columns to try and graph the letters differently.

Finally I warped the inkle with scrap one last time and finally got something that met my expectations. Then I could warp it again with the real yarn and move forward. I am happy with my final decision on all of that. The only part I don’t like is how the zeros look in the years with a 20. I didn’t want them to look like the Os in the names. Oh well. C’est la vie.

Now if I can figure out how to display it appropriately without detracting from the overall look and impact.

I started this project in late September. So it’s been weeks since I’ve done anything else that’s even faintly weaving related. Except…

I’d like to make some more garments, and cotton is the fiber of choice. So when I saw a good deal on large cones of 8/2 cotton, I ordered two. It’s natural/undyed, so it will give me dye opportunities, too. The seller, who is reputable and has sold me yarn previously, sent me the FedEx tracking number. Which showed the shipment as Pending for 10 days. At that point the seller said she’d send me 2 more cones immediately. And since I’d been so patient she’d add more yarn to my order at no additional charge. Well. This box arrived the other day.

a LOT of yarn

That’s A LOT of yarn! Roughly 14 pounds of it, for total yardage of about 47,000 yards! Guess I’d better get busy now that my time at the inkle is complete.

And now it’s October

I sound more and more like my mother – like everyone’s mother – every day. Where does the time go? Last time I looked it was mid-September, and now it’s rapidly closing in on mid-October. And when I try to figure out what I did in the past month, I can’t come up with a lot. Am I forgetting stuff? Perhaps. But I can’t do more than report what I can remember.

So the first thing I accomplished since my last post was finish my tunic sewn from my handwoven cloth. I used a few different techniques, in combination, to secure my cut edges. I used a very thin, knit, fusible tape along the edges. Easy enough on the straight pieces; I used lots of little pieces to go around curves. I also used a 3-step zigzag along the cut edges, on top of the fusible tape.

edge of fabric with fusible tape

Since the sleeves had to be eased to set them in, I couldn’t use the fusible tape, so they went with just the 3-step zigzag.

edge of cloth with 3-step zigzag

And every seam got pressed open (sleeve seam pressed toward the body) and topstitched for even more assurance.

I got it done just in time to wear it on September 24th.

handwoven tunic from front

handwoven tunic from side

I’m happy with it overall. Again, I’d make a few small changes next time. The store-bought bias tape is a bit stiffer on the neckline than I’d like; next time perhaps a facing from the handwoven. I’d make the sleeves a bit shorter so I didn’t have to roll them up to be my desired length. I’d leave the body the whole length of the pattern, adding another inch or two to the total length.

I made a yummy batch of raspberry-peach jam, with berries from my garden and peaches I’d frozen.

raspberrry-peach jam

I’ve spent quite a bit of time at my inkle loom. Doing a lot of pickup, which is a slow process. I can’t share more of my work than this at the moment, but I will give you the teaser below. And tell you that I’m working on what I hope will be a project I’ll submit to an upcoming show.

Inkle woven band, Emmett Till

Other than that? Some of this and some of that. I’ve been doing garden cleanup. I’ve been helping out with my grandsons when I can. I’ve spent some amount of time, from a distance, helping to make sure that things are running smoothly at the Weaving & Fiber Arts Center. I’ve been text-banking for the Biden-Harris campaign.

I’m going to leave you with a few nature shots. My lovely Japanese dogwood. (Jack thinks he should eat whatever fruits fall or the squirrels knock down. They’re not poisonous or anything, but I will tell you we’re using a lot more poop bags these days.)

cornus kousa in Autumn

A lovely evening sunset on my street.

cloudy sunset

More Not-Weaving

I have been busy. Here’s what I’ve been up to, in chronological order.

Almost 2 years ago I paid someone to strip wallpaper and paint my kitchen. He did a great job. You can see the before and after pics here. I really like the light green on the top portion of the wall, but that blue on the bottom? When I walked into the room partially painted I was taken aback. I made him show me the paint chip I’d chosen and the paint we ended up with to make sure they matched. I figured I’d get used to it.

But 2 years later? Nope. That blue is still way too blue. I thought there was probably enough of the mint green in the can to paint over the blue and make the walls all one color. Now that there was no pressure to produce weaving, it was time to get to this.

So first I had to move everything – furniture and appliances – into the center of the room.

kitchen mess-prepared for painting

You know how that job you’ve been putting off can often make you wonder what took you so long when you jump in and do it? This wasn’t like that. 🙁 The opposite. Maneuvering around everything, scooting along the floor, getting up and down a lot, this took longer than I’d anticipated. But at the end of the day everything was back where it belonged and the job was done.

kitchen walls all light green

I’m much happier. Although now my sort-of-chartreuse table doesn’t look good at all with the green walls. I’m thinking I might paint the table that blue as an accent. But I don’t know if I’ll like that, either. Actually the blue of my chambray shirt looks pretty good with the walls, doesn’t it? Whatever color paint I choose for the table, it’ll have to be clear-coated after painting to stand up to daily use. This isn’t something I’m going to do immediately.

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Since I was on a roll I decided to move into the living room. The house had mini blinds on all the windows when I got here. Although I didn’t remove them in the kitchen, I put up those cafe curtains I’d woven so never use the mini blinds. I replaced the blinds in my bedroom with cellular shades and hung the curtains I’d woven in there, too.

But five years later the ones in the living room remained. It was time to do something about that. I decided to make some Roman shades. I gave some thought to what color and pattern I might want, and tempered by my kitchen experience decided I’d best not go with my usual too-bright/too-busy thought. Go with something neutral. Although I’d intended to buy drapery fabric, Joann was having a huge sale on their outdoor fabric as it’s the end of the season, so I bought that at 70% off and went to town.

Hmmm. That’s not right. In reality I struggled through following the online directions to turn my mini blinds into Roman shades. The first window probably took me 4 hours. I was DONE for the day at the end of that. The next day I spent probably 5 hours to make the other two shades.

Roman shade raised

Roman shade lowered

I’m reasonably happy with them. The two side windows, 27″ wide, raise and lower fairly smoothly. The front window, 35″ wide, raises well, but I have to play with it a bunch to get it to lower. I believe it’s a matter of weight. All those vinyl slats that I removed weighed a LOT more than the fabric does, and I think the mechanism needed that weight to work smoothly. I’ve considered trying to figure out how to add some weight to the bottom of the shade, but haven’t done anything about it.

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As always, I have socks on my needles. It’s what I do in the evening while I’m vegging out in front of the TV. A friend gave me a very lovely gift of a kit that contained undyed sock yarn and the dyes to make them colorful. I finished knitting them a few days ago. All ready for the cooler temps. I opted for a simple lace pattern and like the way that worked up and how it looks. (Sorry for the blurriness.)

hand painted hand knit lace socks

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I found an interesting new pattern for face masks. It’s called a 3D mask, and the design does hold it away from your mouth, making it more comfortable. The pattern and directions are free from See Kate Sew. I made myself one in Adult Medium and tested it out at the grocery store. The top part had a real tendency to ride up under my eyes, so that wouldn’t do. I picked up several small pieces of fabric and made myself another in Adult Small. Much better.

I admit I had to laugh when I saw the photo. I like Laurel Burch’s designs, but hadn’t considered that the part of the fabric that I’d chosen would make it look like I had 4 eyes. Or 6 if you count my glasses. 😀

3D mask, front view

3D mask, side view

Here’s what it looks like flat.

3D mask, flat

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In between all of that I did manage to get the remaining needed fabric woven for my tunic. So that’s up next. Or maybe I’ll paint the bathroom next. And there’s all the fall garden cleanup to do. I am never at a loss for projects. 🙂