Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We will always have Paris...

Selfie in the Louvre
We can say that now, having been there.  Paris was awesome and we enjoyed wandering around and seeing what we could see.  We do "slow" tourism, so there was no rushing around in a human clump from site to site.  We were able to spend 8 hours in the Louvre, for instance, taking our time to look and enjoy.  It was a massive buffet of artistic inspiration and the venue as striking as the art.  Bleary from our long day, we almost couldn't find our way out--we were stuck in an inspirational loop that kept sending us down a hall full of Roman sculptures instead of out of the Pyramid exit.  That was the night we found the Lebanese restaurant, I think, and a really good bottle of wine.

Rain at Place de Colette metro stop
Paris in the rain is a thing, but we only got one afternoon of it and an excuse to sit in a cafe, drink wine and watch it.  This was a nice outdoor Cafe on the Place de Colette next to the Comedie Francaise.  It was made especially interesting because there were city offices where people could get married, so there were a number of people on Saturday strolling past us in their wedding finery to tie the knot.  And people with umbrellas. I wanted to get a shot of people walking every which way with umbrellas, like in that painting, but the wine was good and I was relaxed.

Joan of Arc
My three favorite things were the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cluny, the Monet Waterlilies at the Orangerie and Sacre Couer at Montmartre.  All three of these had a spiritual dimension.  The Unicorn tapestries were beautiful and well worth finding your way to the Cluny.  The Parthenon was pretty amazing too.  Okay, and the pastry, and the little art galleries on tiny pack streets, and the Seine, the Tuillerie and the alien exhibit at their MOMA.  We spent quite a bit of time sitting in various parks enjoying the sunshine, including the Tuillerie.  We had dinner at 8 at night and slept until 10.  I suppose I could go on and on.

Paris is in me now--maybe it was always there, a byproduct of French class and knowing the language.  I know that all I saw and did will inspire and resurface in my art.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's been a long time....

I opened my Etsy shop with these two pieces.
My blog has been uncharacteristically quiet for the past few months.  Summer has been keeping me busy with travel, time in the sunshine and crafting.  Today, I opened my Etsy Shop with a couple of pieces of amethyst jewelry.  I plan to add some weaving soon, but I really wanted to get this shop going and yesterday I went a little nuts at this beading store in Downers Grove.  I also have one of these bracelets, but don't worry, I have no intention of mass producing.  I like one-of-a-kind items.  Two-of-a-kind in this case.  I love making jewelry.

The bracelet and ear rings I'm selling are made with the same quality stones and findings as the one I made for myself--the part of the ear-ring that goes in your ear is gold-filled for instance.

I'm still pretty new at this--no light box, no jewelry boxes and no labels, yet. But I have plans for creating a more sophisticated store.  Right now, I just need a sale or two to get me off the ground, so I'll be pretty busy weaving, knitting and beading so I have things for my shop. This is exciting.  Opening a shop is something I've been thinking about for a long time and with my birthday coming up, I figured it was the time to do it!. It is called Craftstead Studio, in honor of this blog.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Floating fiber

Blue false indigo leaning fro the rain.
It was snowing puffs of white cottony fluff.  Really.  I've taken to going on lunchtime walks for fitness and there's been some type of tree that has been shedding tufts of fluff that floats through the air like spin-able snowflakes! The stuff is gorgeous.  I've caught a few and it is fine and silky--but fiber is short and seeds plentiful.  I don't see myself collecting this for spinning anytime soon.  The seeds are the point of the floating fluff spreading the species reach with the wind. I need to learn the name of that tree!

And for me it is a sign that I am on the right course health wise, because not only am I getting a good walk but I'm also enjoying the sounds of birds and the sights of fiber shedding trees, flowers, plantings and more.

I have come to hate the gym and the endless pumping away on the treadmill it's view of a cracked black parking lot backed with the golden glow of the backside of a fast food joint. All this to the beat of the awful, blaring music in the gym.  It is so loud that the trainers all shout over it creating a chaos of noise. Using ear buds isn't helpful because to drown out the din I would risk ruining my hearing.

And really, do they have to play Rap and assorted weird stuff on their playlist?  They use Pandora and they could certainly filter out the offensive stuff it they wanted too--maybe the manager should take a look at their graying demographic and edit the playlist so we don't have to listen to morons and f-bombs? Their answer to any complain is, of course earbuds

Personally, I don't want to be deaf in five years.  Of course, this may explain the loud music.  Perhaps the management has had blasting earbuds for too long.  I'm sure the manager's fab Snoop Dog can give them a suggestion as to where they can put their earbuds.

And it's not just the noise, the machines break down, the cleaning is questionable and there isn't enough room to exercise if you aren't working with a trainer.  One thing training for 12 months has taught me is that I have all the equipment I need to stay toned and tough right at home.  I have weights, I have bands, I can do squats and sit ups in my family loom.  I don't have to work around trainers and their clients.  My loom is a handy place to steady myself or hold my feet for a sit up. Why bother with a gym? So we are done with the place.

When it gets too cold or wet, the Big B where I work has plenty of stairs for me to climb. But mainly, I want to walk outside.  I can do sit ups and squats at home.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A bit of knitting

This scarf is being knit from scarf yarn.
Beautiful weather and a digression into knitting have kept me away from blogging.  We've had steady flow of some really lovely weekends, so I have been out riding my bike or relaxing on the lawn chair and maybe a bit of gardening.  Since the looms are inside, I thought I'd try a bit of knitting.

Shown above is a scarf I'm knitting for a charity event my sit and stitch is planning.  It is made out of sock yarn and I'm using a simple mock brioche stitch.  I haven't knit for awhile and it took me a bit just to master this stitch.  Amazing how rusty I could get so quickly.

356 yards of two ply handspun.
The beautiful weather has also been perfect for sitting outside with a spinning wheel, so I managed to get some of that done too.  I enjoy spinning so this is a great thing to do outside.  The yarn is some superwash merino and bamboo I dyed myself using both wool and cellulose dyes.  I like the  way it came out.

 I suppose I need a loom I can bring outside to weave on--something a portable like one of those little Harrisvilles or maybe a Leclerc compact.  But I don't suppose that will be happening right away as I have plenty of things to keep me busy both inside and outside.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Days of warp and irons

Finally, the handtowels are finished--hemmed, washed and ironed and ready for use in our master bathroom. It felt like a long process, but really it wasn't.  I like the way the hems came out.  This time I decided to weave an inch before each towel design started.  I used a straight twill treadling (1,2,3,4) for an inch and separated it with a strand.  Of course, the threading did not produce a straight twill hem, but it worked. This is best shown below.

One inch wove with same thread as warp to use in hem.
I was using a slightly finer warp--a 4/2 cotton with a 3/2 weft.  This made the hem just a bit less bulky.  For the most part I had success neatly rolling it over for the hem.  I like this hem better than using the actual design as I did in some towels earlier. Plus it leaves a line of white to start off the design. I used a contrasting color to delineate the beginning and ending of each hem and finished the sides with blanket stitch before carefully cutting along the line to separate the towels.  I then folded the hems over and used hem stitch.

I am really happy with the way these turned out.

I've begun weaving a gold and green Tencel scarf on the Loomcraft.  I am liking the way this came out but interestingly, I've discovered the first and eight treadle have the same tie up!  I still haven't checked to see if I made a mistake or if the instructions called for it. I'm not sure I want to know!
Scarf with possible tie up error.
So far the scarf looks pretty good with nice looking diamonds.  This is a simple threading of a V and an inverted V and I'm treadling the same way 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,7,6,5,4,3,2, and then,8, 7,6,5,4,3,2,1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 .  I need to miss the "1" on the next round because the tie up for 1 and 8 are the same!  I suppose I should take a look and see what the tie up should have been, but since it looks nice and I'm in no mood for unweaving, I will just continue what I'm doing.

That's all for this week. Now to just make sure the DH hangs up that hook for my handtowels.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Weekend Weaving

Roll of towels fresh off the loom.

There is nothing like a nice weekend to catch up on my weaving!  I managed to finish the hand towels I was weaving on the Fanny just in time for the stitch n' bittch retreat last Saturday. I cut them all off the loom brought them with me in the roll you see above.  Now that was a relaxing time.  It was great fun to see everyone, and people I don't get to see because they go to the daytime meeting.

Work cramps my style. Time spent at the Big "B" gets in the way of all kinds of fun I could be having either at home or at some get together somewhere.  Well darn.  I do like to keep a countdown until retirement, regardless of how silly it may seem.  I do look forward to the opportunity to socialize with other stitchers.

The towels hemmed but not wet finished.
The towels are all hemmed and waiting for a chance to be wet finished, which is weaver talk for washed and ironed.  Though weavers don't iron things the way normal people do, we give them a hard press.  Which means leaning into the iron as you press. You need to do this on a firm surface as ironing boards have been reported to collapse during the "hard press" process.

I don't own an ironing board, and won't have one in the house. Ironing is for dry-cleaners. Hard pressing is for weavers and I use my workbench.

Handpsun cotton yarn.
I also finished the cotton I'd been spinning since the beginning of April.  There isn't much of it but I think it will make a nice weft for a placemat or something.  My latest spinning project is a merino/bamboo blend I dyed a few years ago for the bamboo class I taught at the spinning guild.  I dyed the wool red and then the rayon blue using the two different dye methods appropriate for each fiber.
Fiber I dyed a couple of years ago.
The fiber is enjoyable to spin. I am making fine singles to ply into a fine two ply.  This is going really well.
I also have a lot going on in the world of weaving and I'm going to try new weave structures, including rep and overshot.  But more about that next week!

Friday, April 18, 2014

TGIF weaving

I have a long weekend away from the Big B where I work because it is an institution of higher learning that celebrates certain religious holidays with long weekends so students and faculty can catch up on their work before (ugh) finals.  So I get to weave, weave, weave and maybe tool around in the yard a bit.  We should be able to plant in a month and things do need to get ready.

Canadian Snowlflake handtowels.
I've made some headway on the Canadian Snowflake handtowels, but I would really like to finish them this weekend.  My stitch n' bitch is having a retreat next Saturday and they would be the perfect project to finish while sitting around sipping herbal tea and talking.

I've just started the teal color. Can I zoom through four more towels this weekend?  My weaving progress is usually fairly  slow, so we will have to see.  I am still forever fringing that shawl I wove and still don't have a finished object to show.  Such is life.

Warp for BGH overshot throw.
Meanwhile, I have this warp to beam for a 1000+ end overshot throw.  The warp is the lovely bamboo cotton blend I purchased from Yarn Barn's mill ends.  Thankfully, they had a spare cone so I didn't have to improvise a stripe in the warp.  Overshot is a whole new weave structure for me and I am looking forward to seeing what sort of lovely designs I can make.
Giant cone of 8/2 pink.
Every since I finished those washcloths, the DH has been lobbying for more of them.  I have this 1.5 pound cone of 8/2 pink and now I am thinking of a whole new weave structure: waffle weave.  Right now it is a research/math project as I try to figure out the proper sett and width.  Waffle collapses when taken off the loom, according to the books I've been looking at, so I need to make the warp quite a bit wider than my expected finished project.  This will be done on the Loomcraft Lulu as I want to start with four shaft waffle and then move up to six and possibly 8 shaft. I have some massive cones of 8/2 cotton I picked up as mill ends, and should make great washcloths.  And don't worry, it won't all be pink! I have plenty of colors to try in the weft to spice them up a bit.

But there's still the golden scarf sitting on the Loomcraft waiting to be woven.  Thank goodness for long weekends!