Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekend Project: Warp Speed Ahead!

Some people weave burlap into the fabric of our lives, and some weave gold thread. Both contribute to make the whole picture beautiful and unique.

Well, there's some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I am finally back in a groove and working on a project! The bad news is that it's not a sewing project. It's a weaving project. Yes, I made big strides on my Grandmother's scarf this weekend. :)

My main goal was to get the loom warped - that means, get it threaded length-wise. There are 4 main stages. From front to back (but NOT in the order that you do it), here are the parts of the loom that must be dealt with:
  1. The yarn must be attached to a beam in the front.
  2. Each piece of yarn must be passed through an individual slit in a "reed", which looks a lot like a big metal comb.
  3. Each piece of yarn must be passed through the eye of an individual needle-like thing, called a heddle, hanging in a wooden frame.
  4. The yarn must be attached to a beam in the back.
The yarn must be put (and kept) under an even tension and slowly rolled from the back beam to the front beam as the weaving is done. Here is how it looks when the loom is warped:
Here is a front view, where you can see the reed with each thread going through a separate slit:

Here is a back view - part-way through the warping process - where you can see individual strands of yarn put through the holes (or eyes) of the hanging heddles. There are four frames containing heddles, and the sequence in which you thread the frames impacts your final pattern. I was using a sequence that repeated a pattern every 10 yarns, and so I used red thread to bundle every 10 heddles to help me keep my place.

Finally, the part that all this careful threading is leading up to - the scarf pattern emerged quickly once I started weaving! Isn't it beautiful? I hope my Grandmother loves it! :)

I really, really, really want to get back into the sewing room too! But after weeks of not doing ANYTHING related to fiber arts, it felt good to get any project up and running! :)

I noticed that I'm coming up on my 300th post - I think I'll make it an official tradition and have another Kiva gift certificate give-away. (Kiva lets people join forces to give small loans to entrepreneurs in the third world. I usually help budding seamstresses or tailors, but you can choose anyone. Once the loan is paid back to you, you can apply the money towards something special for your sewing room!) Check back later this week to sign up!

In the meantime, I hope you had a productive sewing weekend and that your week gets off to a good start! :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Confession

I don't follow the fashion industry and I don't really know any designers... Well, except for Michael Kors, and I only know him because of Project Runway. ;)

Some of the bloggers I read always seem to be on top of current fashion trends - they post pictures from New York City's Fashion Week and talk about so-and-so's new collection, etc. Those clothes seem so far away from anything that I would ever wear (at least, not until my weight decreases and my height increases - each by a factor of 2!) - but still, maybe I should be looking to see the details and get ideas for my own sewing?

How about you? Do you watch the fashion industry? Do you keep up with trends? Do you know the work of different designers? Do these things inspire and influence your own sewing?

Designer: Anna Sui (2008)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Cindy, Lisa Laree, Jodie K, Lori, Gwen, Becky, Summerset, Uta and Elaina for talking back to my confession last Friday! I confessed that I haven't done any sewing for over a month and asked if others had "dry spells" and how they coped.

Just about everyone reported having some type of dry spell at least once in a while. It could be as small as having trouble getting motivated to work on a particular project, or as large as going for months without sewing. The timing varies - Jodie K, for example, gets more sewing done over the summer when she's not busy teaching school every day, while Lori gets more sewing done during the winter months when she is kept inside by the weather.

Three different strategies for dealing with a slump were brought up - each by two or more commenters! First, both Uta and Elaina mentioned the value of being a member of the internet-connected sewing community and blogging about your sewing. These activities provide both inspiration AND the motivation that comes from accountability! ;)

Second, both Jodi K and Becky talked about the value of always having a project cut out and ready to go. Jodi uses her big chunks of time (like the upcoming Labor Day weekend) to cut out several projects, and then, whenever she can squeeze in a few minutes, she can stitch a few seams.

Third, several people, including Lisa Laree, brought up the strategy of setting an attainable goal - such as sewing for 15 (or 20 or 30) minutes each day. It's small enough to squeeze into even very busy days, and, over time, it really adds up! I remember first reading about this idea last Fall, when Summerset used it to get her family Christmas presents done while also working on one of her wearable art projects, and (when I stick to it!) it really does work. :)

Finally, apropos of the photo I selected for this post, Cindy reminded me that sewing is something we do for ourselves and we should MAKE time for ourselves - no matter how demanding life can be sometimes. :)

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to write! It was good to hear that I'm not alone in my slump and you've given me some good ideas for getting back in the game! :)

Photo credit: Dennis Wong

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

I'm sorry - can you handle one more weaving project in the queue? Before I can get to my Christmas kitchen towels, I want to make a scarf for my Grandmother. She asked for navy blue and white. I picked a silk-wool blend yarn that is sinfully soft! (Okay, it has to be dry cleaned, but believe me, it's worth it!)

I have started preparing the length-wise threads, called the warp. This is a warping board, and it helps you get the right number of threads in the right length.

The pink yarn ties off bundles of 10, to help me keep count.

Here is the pattern that I think I will make (in navy and white):

The cool thing about weaving patterns is that most of the information you need is contained in those little graph paper squares - see how some are blank and some are colored in? Weavers can describe thousands and thousands of different patterns, just by which boxes are colored in and which are blank! Isn't that neat?

I'm planing to visit her around Columbus Day (early October), so I want to have it done before then. I'm not sure when I'll get to it, but, don't worry, it's in the queue... ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend Project: Reminiscing

God gave us memories, that we might have roses in December.
--J.M. Barrie, Courage, 1922

Well, another weekend has gone by unaccompanied by the happy hum of a sewing machine in our household, so I must content myself with remembering past projects. If you are ever looking for something completely silly, pointless and delightfully fun to sew - preferably with a child - you might want to check out this book:

John Murphy provides detailed instructions to make a handful of these creatures, and the inspiration to make many, many more! Here is one of his creatures, Genevieve:

And here is "Star", the Genevieve-clone that my 12-year-old niece made:

Believe it or not, even my two nephews allowed themselves to be talked into making these creatures. My younger nephew, unintentionally displaying both the sweet side of his personality and the all-boy-aggression, named his creature "Sergeant Blue Eyes". ;)

Unfortunately, I didn't think to take pictures of theirs. But, here are the 3 that I made by myself - they stand watch over my sewing room and never let me take myself too seriously.

If you think you might be interested, check out the official website, Murphy's Original Stupid Creatures. (You'll note that John Murphy has added the disclaimer that no one under the age of 13 may purchase a stupid sock creature from his web site, in response to the new consumer protection law mandating rigorous safety testing on all products for children.)

I hope you had more than just happy sewing memories to keep you company over the weekend, and actually got some sewing done! :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Confession

I haven't spent any real time in my sewing room for over a month... :(

I remember when I was a girl and summers were magical - open and free, full of uncommitted time to do whatever I wanted. Not so true, now that I'm an adult. This summer seemed even more frantically busy than the rest of the year.

Don't get me wrong - a lot of it was good stuff. Lots of special company, an exciting project that I'm not quite ready to "unveil" here, a great vacation...

But I find myself wishing that life would get back to "normal". I could use a dose of "uneventful routine" right about now. ;)

How about you? Do you have "dry spells" (or busy spells) when you just can't get to your sewing? If so, how long do they last and how do you cope? If not, how do you avoid them?

Photo credit: tawalker

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

So, this project is a bit of a stretch for my sewing blog, but it's pretty much all I've got for you today. ;)

I've started to think about Christmas gifts. Each year I usually sew something for many of my friends and family members. This year, I think I'll weave. Halcyon Yarn has these kits for making waffle weave kitchen towels. It comes with the right amount of yarn in each of a set of coordinated colors and instructions.

Each kit makes 3 towels (17" by 28") and they have kits with different color palattes. So, if I can get people to team up in small groups and agree on colors, I can buy several kits and make enough towels for everyone!

How about you? Have you started thinking about Christmas yet? Will you be sewing any/many of your gifts this year?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback

Much virtue in herbs, little in men.
Benjamin Franklin
Poor Richard's Almanac

I'm still trying to get back into a normal routine after our vacation, and, sadly, I didn't make it into my sewing room this weekend. I did spend a little bit of time working on the herb garden that I am trying to grow this summer.

I used one of those plastic mini-greenhouse kits and started with seeds. Most everything sprouted within days - I was pleasantly surprised.

Not everything flourished. So far I haven't been able to get any rosemary to grow - that's very disappointing, as I love rosemary. Any my cilantro isn't doing that great (and I thought it was supposed to be easy to grow!):

But some things are thriving - like the thyme:

the peppermint:

and the sage and basil:

I'm looking forward to starting to cook with my own herbs! Do you grow culinary herbs? If so, what are your favorite ways to use them in your cooking?

Well, I hope your weekend was more productive than mine, sewing-wise. Please send me some good wishes for getting into my sewing room soon! :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vacation Photos: Day Five

On the last day of our trip, we decided to climb the Book Cliffs above Scout Lake. The lake was named for the boy scouts, who have a permanent summer camp along the bank of the lake. While there is a direct path to the cliff through the camp, climbers are encouraged to hike around, so as to not bother the boy scouts.

Our literature said that the path around the camp was "hit or miss" - but we soon discovered that the author was being generous! Yikes! Somehow landmarks like "pond", "cliff" and "tree" just aren't that useful when you are hiking in the woods, surrounded by lakes and mountain cliffs!

We wandered vaguely in the approximate direction of the cliff for a couple of hours - convinced that we were going to help some lucky boy scouts get their "wilderness rescue" badges! But, in the end, we found the specific cliff that we were looking for and enjoyed another great day of climbing. :)

Here is a photo of my Mom on "Gone With the Wind" (5.7).

And here is a shot of my parents at the base of the cliff, overlooking the lake.

Our climbs were serenaded by the shrieks of the boy scouts as they dove into the lake below us. (Apparently the water was cold!)

That night we packed up all our gear, and after one more delicious breakfast the next morning, we headed back to the Salt Lake City airport, and flights back to home and the "real world" - mentally refreshed and physically exhausted! ;)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vacation Photos: Day Four

After a rest day, we were all eager to get back on the rock. For day 4, we decided to climb on the Scary Spice Cliff at Wall Lake. There were some cool "roofs to pull" (overhangs to get over). Here's a 2-shot sequence of my Dad getting over one of them:

One of the most fun routes on this cliff was Inside Scoop (5.9). Here I belay my Mom on the climb, while my Dad watches.

We had the cliff to ourselves all day long. And it was here that we had the only casualty of the trip - one of my approach shoes (a cross between a hiking shoe and a sneaker) split open. Mom used a sling and a carabiner to hold it together long enough for me to get back to the car.

As we hiked back to the car (looking forward to the hot tub that awaited us!) it was difficult to believe that we only had one day left of our vacation...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vacation Photos: Day Three

Day three was a rest day. (Hey, we're not spring chickens anymore...) We got some pictures of the B&B where we were staying - the Woodland Farmhouse Inn. It was a wonderful stay - the house was beautiful and the innkeeper, Sheri, took such good care of us!

In the morning we browsed around the small town of Midway, Utah.

Our best stop was at the Midway Mercantile, an antique shop, where Norman, responsible for "Customer Service" according to his business card, took excellent care of us. He was nice enough to pose for a picture before we left:

We spent the afternoon in Park City, Utah. We visited my great-grandfather's gravesite and met up with my father's cousin, whom he hadn't seen in over 50 years!

It was a really nice day, and the rest left us ready to get back on the rock! :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation Photos: Day Two

For the second day of our trip, we decided to climb on the Good Medicine Wall at Ruth Lake. Our guide book neglected to mention one tiny detail about the hike in - the HUGE scree pile that we had to scramble up at the base of the cliff! If this doesn't scream "broken ankle", then I don't know what does...
Here's my husband starting up the climb named Sun Dog (rated 5.8).
And here's my Mom on the same climb:

The cliff was laid out to simultaneously keep us in the shade AND funnel wind down on us. We thought we were going to freeze to death! (That's why you are looking at pictures of climbers in jackets, not tank tops.) Other than the temperature, it was a great day - fun climbs and (amazingly enough) no broken ankles!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vacation Photos: Day One

Hello! How has everyone been? I've missed being in touch and am happy to be back! :)

This week I'm going to post some pictures from our vacation. We flew from Florida to Salt Lake City and met my parents, who flew from Ohio, in the airport. The 4 of us shared a rental car and drove about an hour east, to Kamas, Utah, in the Unita Mountain Range. We stayed in a B&B for a week, mostly rock climbing cliffs in the Uintas. While Salt Lake City enjoyed summer temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s, we hiked and climbed in mid-70s at around 10,000 feet above sea level.

We got most of our climbing information from the book Uinta Rock by Nathan Smith and Paul Tusting. We generally went to cliffs where we could hike up the back side and hang a rope, before climbing the face.

During our first full day in Utah, we climbed at Picturesque Cliff. Here are my parents at the top of the cliff, preparing to hang the rope:
Here's a close-up of the anchors for a top-rope:
There was a perfect spot for picture-taking on a separate cliff to the side, so we got our most dramatic shots on the first day. Here I am climbing the arete (corner). (The bright pink top gives me away!)
And here's my Dad, near the top of the same climb:

My husband and I don't get out on real rock very often (very few mountains in Florida), so the first few outdoor climbs are always very intense (i.e., scary). But the rock was excellent and the climbs were a blast!

I hope everything has been well for all of you! I'm looking forward to catching up on your blogs...and I hope you don't mind a week of vacation photo posts. Hey, it could be worse - it could be a 2-tray slide show after dinner at our house! ;)