an old craft and a new one

I forgot to post this earlier. I also made this ornament for my mother for Christmas.

cross-stitched star

I actually did most of the work about nine years ago, when I was pregnant with Niels. Back then the main craft I did was beadwork. I made off loom woven bead pieces like this. (Pardon the quality of these photos, they’re actually scans of pieces that I made many years ago.)

bear beaded bag

My most ambitious beaded piece was a bag I intended to carry for my wedding (in 1998).

maui beaded bag

I still have this bag somewhere in exactly that state. No lining, no handle. It took many hours of precision work and it weighed a ton from all those beads. It’s beautiful though.

Before Niels was born I had moved on a bit to doing wire and bead pieces and eventually, making chains out of wire.

queens link chain bracelet
flower chain necklace

I still have those. I should wear them sometime. Anyway, the point of all of this is that when I was pregnant I decided that those activities were not exactly baby friendly. Lots of sharp tools and bits of wire or tiny beads flying around. The craft I thought I was going to take up instead was cross stitch. I made a little framed piece for my niece, a pillow for my sister-in-law and then that star for the ornament. I never finished it and it ended up in a box. This Christmas I went searching for embroidery floss in the appropriate colors for the little felt ornaments and I opened the box that I thought just had floss and discovered that star, just waiting to be assembled. I think I originally intended it for my mother so I finished it up and gave it to her. She hung it as the star on her tree, which felt like an honor to me.

As you can tell, cross stitch didn’t really stick with me and I became a knitter instead. Of course, I have no knitting to show you in this post (though both of my Aidez sleeves are done to the armpit and I’ve started the body). What I do have to show is the results of a Rigid Heddle Weaving class I started yesterday at A Verb for Keeping Warm.

threaded loom

Ready to tie on to the front apron bar. (So much new terminology to learn!)


Tied on and starting to weave. The pieces is a bit bigger than that now. We are supposed to finish all the weaving before next Sunday (ack). Somehow when I signed up for the class it didn’t occur to me that I’d have homework between the two weeks. I think I can get it all done but I might not get much knitting done this week. The ivory yarn is Panda Cotton and the pink is Maizy. It’s the yarn I had in the right weight with the right amount of stretch for this project. I’m remembering now one of the ideas I had when I first got the loom was to weave napkins out of kitchen cotton so after the class is over I might pull the 8-dent heddle back out and try it. I happen to have a bit of kitchen cotton on hand. Teenuh is taking the class with me, and I know she happens to have a bit of that as well. Maybe we could have a napkin-a-long.


it’s that time again

Well, we see how well my posting schedule is working. I haven't posted in a week! Of course, I was sick as a dog last week adn not knitting much and then I started on a gift knitting project that I think I will be abandoning.  My "November" sweater has one sleeve and I started the second one, so there is progress being made but not much. We have Arts Focus at school this week so I had to warp the looms again.

I might venture to say that I'm getting good at it. In the last class the other mom who is sitting at the weaving table with me and I decided that something between the warp and the two pieces of wood that hold it tight might help with said tightness. We opted for paper towel since we had that on hand. It seemed to work so I used those same pieces again. Fabric might be a better permanent option but I can't decide if the fabric should be attached to the bars or if it needs just sit between like the paper is. I'm not sure I'll get a chance to find out. We have one more class after tomorrow's class and in the spring we go back to our old class format which includes a smaller individual weaving project where each child weaves on an improvised weaving frame. In the past we used plastic lids from file boxes that we could get cheaply at RAFT (Resource Area for Teachers) but we are going to try paper plate weaving this time. It looks easier to tie off and remove than the plastic lid ones, which usually stayed on the lid.

So there you have it: warping, not knitting. It's a lot like November, except it's not daily.

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NaBloPoMo Day 18: still tired

Today wasn't quite as crazy as yesterday but I started to get a migraine during preschool so that knocked me down for a bit. I can head it off with ibuprofen and luckily I was able to get some. Because of that I fell asleep on the couch so I just finished warping the last loom and winding some more yarn onto shuttles and now I'm off to bed. Good night!

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NaBloPoMo Day 16: photo from yesterday, weaving

I had a post in my head for yesterday, and I even took a picture to go with it of my fake seam in progress.

The fake seam is in the middle of the underarm bind off and the seam went in smoothly but for some reason I miscalculated several times how many stitches to bind off and how they should be divided between the fronts and the back. It started because I was working on it too late at night and somehow it just escalated. Three tries later, I had the number of stitches I wanted bound off (22) and they were divided as I wanted them (10 from the back, 11 from the front and the 1 seam stitch) and I started the left front. I love the fronts of a sweater like this because it's decreasing fairly rapidly and it just goes faster and faster. I'll probably do the right front immediately because it's so fast and satisfying but also so I don't forget what I did on the left. The final advantage will be that if I do the two fronts first when I finish the back I'll be ready to attach the shoulders. I'm doing to do a three needle bind off, I think. I am a fan of the three needle bind off even for shoulder seams. I know others feel that's not strong enough.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Before any of this can happen I need to finish off the two woven pieces on the Beka looms and rewarp. The cricket still has a bit of warp left on it so I'm not going to rewarp it yet. We have three more weeks so after this coming Thursday I'll rewarp it with a bit of a longer warp. I'm torn about the Bekas. I'm tempted to just warp them with the same length and let each kid do a bit less so that the end result is pieces that are about the same length. We'll see, though.

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NaBloPoMo Day 12: woven

Today was the big day, or first textiles class of the year in a different format than usual. First of all, the kids usually weave on individual frames where the woven piece stays attached and they take it home at the end. This was the first time I had attempted to teach them loom weaving. Then I had my trials and tribulations of figuring out the Beka looms which I detailed here and then I wasn't sure the kids were going to be able to do it. I was sort of right, it was much more fiddly than the Cricket loom but the kids handled it fine and most of them didn't get very frustrated or anything. I think it helps that I was only expecting them to work on it for a few minutes so if they were having too much trouble I just sent them back to the other projects.

One thing I didn't expect was that they wove all they could on the Beka loom pretty quickly. There's a fairly large space on there that is unusable, as far as I can tell. I'm going to warp it longer for the next group. I also can't figure out how to get it to hold the warp snugly enough. You have to push the heddle up and down yourself (There's no up and down spot to rest it) and it pushes the warp threads loose every time. Maybe it's the warp but maybe it's just the way the loom works. Who knows. I think the piece on the Cricket looks better but it might be that the other is pulled out of shape right now by the loom. I need to weave a couple of waste yarn picks and then cut it off and see how it looks.

My sweater is also progressing. It's now 12 inches long and I have started the increases on the waist shaping. Four more inches to the armholes then I'll have to divide it up for the two fronts and the back. Exciting! I love watching a sweater grow.

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NaBloPoMo Day 11: warped!

I warped (and rewarped, in one case) both of the Beka looms for class today. I inherited some weaving yarns from the same friend who loaned me her warping mill (by way of another friend). I think what I used is mercerized cotton. It is thinner than the acrylic yarn I was using and stiffer so I could actually thread it through the heddle without using the dental floss threader. I didn't discover that until I was into the second loom but… live and learn! This yarn (thread?) isn't stretchy at all, though, so I'm not sure my tension is exactly even and the use of this loom seems somewhat more fiddly than my Cricket. We'll see how the kids handle it.

I have no pictures today because you've already seen the looms warped and my knitting is still a big dark blob of a sweater. Not much to see. I'm finishing the waist decreases on the next row, just to give you an idea of how far I've gotten.

So… boring, eh?

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NaBloPoMo Day 10: finishing, warping, failing

I had some success and some failure today. I finished the cap I started yesterday.

I found another hat that I made for myself last year that I never wear and I think will suit my friend's needs. At least, it will keep her head warm and it will be large enough! (She says she has a big head.)

I learned to use a warping mill.

And to thread the Beka Child's Looms that we have for school.

You may also be able to tell that I got my card reader to work again and was able to get photos off of my camera rather than just using my iPhone. The iPhone is great outside but inside it basically stinks.

I am thinking now that I should reassess my summary statement. I really only had one failure. The yarn I used to warp the loom is far too think. It gets caught on itself when I try to move the heddle up and down to, you know, actually weave. I have to say that I found measuring warp on the mill and threading the heddle one strand at a time with a dental floss threader to be surprisingly meditative. I was resisting doing it because I thought that it would be horribly tedious and much more complicated than warping my cricket loom which is done with a warping peg and the warp is measured directly onto the loom, basically. That way gets it all down to one step, more or less, but this was less stressful, perhaps because I could do the steps sitting down either in front of the mill to measure or at the table with the heddle propped between two books to thread. Having my friend Victoria's mill was key, clearly, as was her advice to use the lease sticks (the sticks you see in the above photo between where the yarn crosses itself) to maintain the cross. Excellent advice!

Tomorrow I hope to obtain thinner yarn and rewarp the loom I threaded and warp another one. I might have to give up on the idea of exclusively working with our school colors because I do have some cotton yarn that was far too thin for the Cricket loom which I think means it will be just right for the Bekas.

I have to say that I was worried that this month being our Arts Focus workshops at school was going to interfere with my daily blogging but it's actually given me more to talk about! If you don't mind reading about weaving, of course.

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NaBloPoMo Day 5: finishing socks, scarf, not sweater

It turned out that I needed to knit a few more rows before I could bindoff on my socks so I did that last night and didn't end up knitting on my sweater at all. I have a cool new pair of socks though. I love them so far. I am curious to see how this yarn holds up because I have definitely durability issues with some cotton sock yarns. Time will tell!

These are the Upstream Master pattern from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways book 1. I think it might be my favorite architecture. The increases happen on the sole and there's something about it that makes a sock that hugs my foot well.

I also finished a woven scarf today. I started it waaaaay back in May when I first got my loom and just kind of lost my oomph. I will be teaching the kids at Niels' school how to weave this week, though, so I need my loom for the class and had to finish off the project that was on it.

I thought we had enough of the loom that you can half see in that picture for the class, but I was wrong so I am going to be taking my Cricket in so we can have several kids working at once. The loom pictured is a Beka 10-inch rigid heddle beginner's loom. Here it is with my Cricket.

They are both the same type of loom but the Beka is much simpler. I have to work on getting it warped over the weekend. I'll probably also weave an inch or so on each loom to make the starting easier for the kids. I got Weaving Made Easy out of the library this week. It happened to be in the new craft book section, I wasn't actually seeking it out and I really like it. It's simple projects for rigid heddle looms. I might actually try to make the bag in there after the kids are done using my loom. It will depend on me being able to warp it long enough for the bag. I have to figure out a way to clamp the warping peg farther away without taking up the whole house with my warp yarn. Perhaps a warping board would be more useful at some point. Not yet though.

My sweater continues to grow. I have started the waist decreases but the edges of the fronts continue to increase more rapidly so the quantity of stitches is still growing fairly quickly. I can take it though. I'm tough like that.

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So, I've been wanting to weave. I think it started when I heard Brenda Dayne talking about the Ashford Knitter's Loom on Cast On. Then Faith got a Schacht Cricket Loom. This post in particular intrigued me. (Scroll past her very impressive pregnant belly there.) I then found out that the Textiles class at Niels' school owns a loom. I thought it was a big floor loom model and had decided I would figure it out over the summer, having never actually seen it. I took a close look at my friend Victoria's floor loom (which I think is a Schacht Baby Wolf) and panicked. I happened to be in Purlescence last week (funny how you know even now that this sentence ends wth me buying something, don't you?) and looked again at the Cricket looms and, as you guessed, brought one home. Yesterday, I assembled it.

Assembling turned out to be easier (for me) than warping which challenged me. I ended up warping it incorrectly the first time.

I'm not sure how I'm going to warp it longer than my kitchen table in the future.

I had missed bringing the wap over the beams when I set it up the first time. It wasn't too hard to fix, though.

Once I fixed the warping I got off and running…

And tonight I have my first finished woven object!

So it isn't very long (about 30 inches) and the edges aren't great but it's my first project and it was done so fast I'm astonished. I have ideas about what my next project might be. Kristi gave me some cone cotton yarn when she moved that I'm thinking might make nice placemats, or a handtowel or something like that. The possibilities are endless! Well, 10" wide but as long as I can stand warping!

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