August already?!

Honestly, I have no idea how I can seem (to myself at least) so busy and have so little to show for it. How does an hour, a day, a week just fly by?

Within two days of posting about my handwoven hugs in my BuyNothing group, I got 10 requests! The three July hugs were picked up by their new owners or family members by the end of two more days. And I have people waiting for my August & September hugs, plus the first person in line for October. I’m SOOOO glad I posted there!

I’d already decided that I needed to weave some colorful towels for my Etsy store – I haven’t been able to update that with new items in months. 🙁 So I decided on returning to the polka dots designed by the talented Susan Pogue.

How fun does this twist of thrums looks? All I can think of is Fruit Stripe gum. Although I liked their commercials, and could still sing their jingle for you, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the actual gum flavors.

fruit stripe gum thrums

Anyway, it didn’t take me long to weave those towels, but it took forever for me to hem them and photograph them. I was too busy! (Don’t ask what I was doing.)

I did get them listed in my Etsy shop today.

Lime Sherbet Dots towel

Oh, yeah, and I spent 3-4 days learning about loom-controlled shibori. First was a full day in class at the Weaving & Fiber Arts Center with a great teacher. Then there was the time at home: measure the warp, beam & thread the loom, and weave. I used three different threadings, so that meant threading the loom three times. And the pickup I did was MUCH slower than lifting shafts, even though this was all done on my little table loom.

After the weaving, the pattern/pull threads all had to be pulled, really tightly, and tied. I was amazed at how long that process took. Here’s what my 9 samples looked like when that piece of work was done.

9 shibori samples tied

Then back to the Weaving Center for the second day of class to do the dyeing. Then, of course, opening them up, rinsing, drying, pressing, and photographing. Ok, maybe it was more like 4-5 days all told. Anyway, here are my results. In each triptych you’ll see what the fabric looked like after it was taken off the loom, and then both the ‘front’ and the ‘back’ of the cloth. My warp and most plain weave weft was an undyed 5/2 bamboo. The pattern wefts were mostly embroidery floss. I’ve noted differences from that in the appropriate photos.

1st shibori sample

2nd shibori sample

3rd shibori sample

The blue pattern weft in the samples immediately above and below is rep weave filler.

4th shibori sample

5th shibori sample

The dark plain weave weft in the next photo is navy mercerized cotton. Then there’s some ribbon yarn for the pattern weft.

6th shibori sample

7th shibori sample

8th shibori sample

The darker weft below is a variegated cotton flake in tan-to-brown.

9th shibori sample

This was quite a learning experience. Will I do more shibori at some point in the future? I don’t know. But I think can assure you it won’t be in a piece I intend to sell – there’s way too much of a time commitment involved, and I don’t know that I could charge enough to make it worth it.

I also get the warp wound, beamed, and threaded for the August hugs. I’m loving it!

Beaming the warp for my August hugs

July updates

We’ll start with a bit of the natural world. Yesterday morning I was heading back from my walk and came upon a man who was staring up into the trees. It was clear he was watching something, so I stopped and quietly asked what was interesting. There was an adult pileated woodpecker (mama? papa?) and 2 juveniles up in the tree.

The adult was very busily working on the trunk, making a big hole and digging out bugs or larvae, and the juveniles were sort of hopping around and trying to imitate the behavior. Emphasis on trying. The adult was seen to feed one of the tasty morsels (s)he uncovered to a juvenile.

Can you see the juvenile poking around the side of the tree near mama/papa?

adult & juvenile pileated woodpecker

On to some sewing. I realize I never showed you the bead bags I made in June, so below you have 2 sets: first June’s 10 bags and then July’s. I don’t love the skull fabric, but I’m hoping they’ll appeal to some of the children in the hospital.

10 June bead bags

10 July bead bags

As for weaving, since I didn’t finish them until several days ago, I’ve decided that I’ll not call these June hugs. That boat has sailed and I have to admit that I simply missed that target. These are July’s hugs.

July woven hug-black feathers

July woven hug-crackling fire

July woven hug-Out of the Flames

Personally, I prefer the bright ones – the second two – but I’m trusting the first will suit someone. These hugs are a combination of bamboo, cotton, and tencel or rayon.

Because I’ve somewhat struggled in distributing these hugs to people with dementia or their loved ones, I added another potential avenue for these. I am a member of my local BuyNothing group, a Facebook based group. As the name implies, the concept is to give away what you don’t need or want and get what you do. I’ve both given and gotten several things. I’m hoping posting in that group will reach people I haven’t yet had contact with.

So as always, do contact me if you know of someone who could use a hug – a woven one.

Now for the closing. I take an urban/soul line dance class weekly. This is an important part of my week, and never fails to raise my spirits. The group is SO positive, so encouraging, so welcoming, so great. This week, one of the core team wore a T that struck me as perfect, so I asked for her permission to photograph it and her. I love the sentiment and this woman.

Flawesome Tshirt


Today is June 26th and I’m just getting started on the June hugs, but I couldn’t resist posting this early tease. This is the first hug on the warp. Out of the Flames. Combination of several hand painted warps I’ve had for years. Bamboo, cotton, Tencel, and rayon.

Out of the Fire June hug

As always, I’ll be gifting this to someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, or one of their caregivers/loved ones. Let me know if you need a woven hug.

On learning…

…that sometimes the sky looks like the sea.

moon or water?

…that putting blog posting near the bottom of the priority list means it’s almost a month since I last posted!

…that you can’t just grab things off the internet, even when you’re attempting to promote someone else. (#1-details below)

…that taking classes always leads to new energy and excitement. (#2-details below)

…that sometimes it’s too difficult to address challenging issues with friends. (#3-details below)

…that selling things is hard. (#4-details below)

#1-A few months ago I got a not-so-pleasant letter from a firm letting me know, in no uncertain terms, that I had used an image from the net without explicit permission from the owner. And a hefty fine was required, as well as removing the image post-haste. So I obviously can’t show it to you here. It was a photo of a model on the runway in a Mondrian dress. Obviously from decades ago. I just didn’t think anyone would care. And I posted the image on my blog in 2015. I negotiated a lower-but-still-hefty fee, removed the image, and moved on.

Only to receive a similar letter in May about another image I’d used in 2010. The kicker for me on this one was that it was a cartoon, drawn by a woman I know, and I was promoting her work and the syndicate she works for. Still, I admittedly did not have permission to post the image. Again, I was able to negotiate a high-but-reduced fee. Now I spent a few hours going through every image on my blog, back to the beginning (2008), and removing any images that were not of photos I had taken myself. So if you go back through old blog posts, chances are you’ll see blank spots where an image used to be. I only hope I got them all. 🙁

#2-I’ve taken 2 classes recently at the Weaving Center. Let’s take them one at a time. In Dyer’s Choice I worked with the instructor to dye 21 small pieces of fabric in carefully measured, varying amounts of dye to create a color wheel. Pure red to pure yellow to pure blue and back to pure red. The purpose of this exercise is to identify what the blending of colors in these proportions will get you when you use them. (You’d think I’d have taken photos of these, wouldn’t you? But no.)

I swore when I left the class that I wouldn’t do this experiment at home. You see, the company that makes the dye chemicals (ProChem in this case), has more than one each of pure red, pure yellow, and pure blue. And I have several of their pure colors in my basement. But I was sure I was done with this exercise. Until I got home, that is.

The next day I set myself up in my basement and dyed another set of 21 pieces using 3 different dyes. Here’s a photo of the process. (Still no images of the results.) Note: I scavenged the containers from people’s open recycle bins to be able to do this. 🙂

dyeing fabric for a color wheel

The following day I did a third batch of 21, using another 3 pure dyes.

The question is…will I ever use these swatches? Only time will tell. Because I also have a bunch of secondary and tertiary colors that the company mixed up, so it makes sense to use those, right? But I did learn stuff in the process anyway, so I’m calling it time well spent.

The other class was on making paper from 100% recycled materials, both paper and fabric. This photo does not do the papers justice; they are much cooler IRL.

my recycled paper

I loved it and have a specific idea for using such things, so now I’m looking to borrow a mold & deckle from someone; I don’t believe this is something I need to own, as I’ll likely spend a day doing it and then be done with the process.

#3-You know about my woven hugs. Before I show you the ones I wove for May, I have to show you what I did for a trial. I wanted to do an ombre dip dye, so used a cotton jersey tunic. It’s still very wet in this image, but I was happy with the results.

dip-dyed tunic

Needless to say, what was easy with a lightweight tunic was much more challenging with a medium-weight shawl. I will likely never do this again, and if I do, I hope I remember NOT to do it in my basement. What a mess! Anyway, here are the three May hugs.
3 May hugs

The Thistle one went to a friend of mine, who will pass it on to a good friend of hers, whose husband is struggling with dementia. The other two await their new homes. As does one from April.

I feared I would be overwhelmed with requests through the local aging support group, but I’ve not had one yet.

I have other friends who have 2 friends with dementia, but they haven’t yet approached their families with the offer of one of my hugs, feeling the subject is too difficult. Ok, I can understand.

I recently sent information about my hugs out to 5 other Guilds. I’ll wait a while, and then will consider expanding my target audience beyond people with dementia and their loved ones. We’ll see what happens. But please, spread the word. I want to give these away.

#4-I’ve firmly decided that I will not do those weekend-long art/craft shows anymore. It simply takes too much out of me. So it’s time to sell my tent. Which is a professional tent, not a $100 pop-up. I initially listed it for 2/3 of what I paid but only 1/3 the price of new. I’ve had a few inquiries but nothing serious. I’ve now reduced my asking price by 10%, and will keep reducing it. I’m also trying to figure out where else to list it. I’ve used a few Facebook pages, Facebook Marketplace, and a professional art/craft site. I haven’t used Craigslist or Etsy as I don’t see a single thing like it on there anywhere, so clearly people don’t look there for it. Here are a few pix – I have more. And plenty of goodies go with it beyond just the basic 10×10 canopy.

First is an image of my booth, last time I used the canopy, in 2019.
my booth, last time I used the canopy, 2019

Here’s one of just the canopy, with the 3 awnings, set up in my yard just to get some shots to sell it, a few weeks ago.
Empty canopy with 3 awnings up

Know anyone breaking into the art/craft fair circuit? Have them get in touch with me.

This and that

Spring is absolutely my favorite season. I LOVE seeing all the new little plants poke their noses through the soil, watching the colors of the spring blooms, the cooler temperatures of spring vs. summer, and I even like doing the spring garden cleanup. That last item does take time, however, even when I did a bunch of garden clean up in the fall. So that’s my excuse for why I haven’t blogged in 3 weeks.

I’ve moved some plants, making a new garden area. That’s always hard work and takes time. I’ve prepared the soil and planted seeds. I’ve weeded most of the garden and areas and mulched. Here’s just one pic that I like (I should take more).

silver dollar plant flowers

This is a silver dollar plant. Also called money plant and honesty plant. And those 3 common names are why I learned the Latin names of lots of plants. So this is a lunaria. After these lovely purple flowers it’ll make seeds, with pods that look like silver dollars and work beautifully in fall arrangements.

I had to take a photo of this house. During Monday’s wind, virtually all the blossoms on their tree blew down, carpeting their lawn and driveway in a vibrant pink.

raining pink blossoms

I believe the tree is a double-flowered crab.

And then there’s this:

New plant table loaded with plants

For Mother’s Day my sweet and talented son made me a planting table. He’d heard me whine about how the multitude of bunnies eat all the young plants I put in the ground and decided to do something about it. This table is 2′ wide x 6′ long. And it FOLDS so I can reasonably store it in my garage over the winter!

In the pots I’ve put a summer squash and zucchini, yellow wax beans, sugar snap peas, lettuce, and my favorite sweet pepper, Carmen. Then, just for fun I put in a pot each of green and red/purple sweet potato vine and a red-orange lantana. I stuck some nasturtium seeds in with those non-food pots, too.

Back in the house, I finished what I call my happy socks. I knit these from the sock blank I dyed in March.

hand knit 'happy socks'

Don’t they make you smile?

Here’s the ball I’m using for my next socks. I didn’t dye this but like the color shifts.

ball of sock yarn, blues & greens

As I was nearing the end of my 3rd warp of the Ukraine support towels, in my head I was planning what I’d do for the May woven hugs. But I wasn’t in any rush, as I still had 2 of the April hugs in my hands. (Only 1 left now.) That feeling – no rush – felt good.

Then, OH NO!! I remembered that I had promised to weave a shawl for the upcoming Alzheimer’s Association fundraising auction. Preferably in purple, which is their signature color. I looked up the date of the auction – May 20!!! It was already May 12 when I remembered, so there was no time to lose!

I knew I could always give them a piece I’d already woven if I had to, but it wouldn’t be purple. I went to my stash of Tencel yarn. I didn’t have what I consider to be a clear/straight purple, but I had lots of red-violet, so that would be the majority of the shawl. I threw in some random stripes of yarns that I had tiny amounts of to finish up those cones/bobbins, and set to work.

Unlike my usual practice of warping for at least 3 pieces, I warped for only 1. Gotta get this onto and off of the loom quickly.

I auditioned at least 6 different wefts for this one, and was surprised at how ‘fussy’ the warp was. Few of those weft colors looked great with it. I ultimately chose a medium blue, trying to shift the overall away from the red a bit and toward the blue. Then weave, cut off the loom, twist the fringe, wash, dry, & hard press.

Someone is coming to pick it up momentarily, so I snapped some shots quickly.

Alzheimer's donation shawl, wrapped

showing 2 sides of the Alzheimer's donation shawl

Alzheimer's shawl, 2 sides, closeup

And this morning I dropped off my 10 bead bags for May at the Weaving Center.

bags for Beads of Courage