Friday, September 24, 2010

Crafty Quicky

I have been getting a big of crafting done lately. Not a ton and there is still a lot that is 'in the works' but here is what I have finished in the last little while:
A skein of yarn. I made this from a Hanks in the Hood batt I bought at Paradise Fibers when I ordered a new drive band for my spinning wheel ages ago. They call it Grasshopper and I think it's an appropriate name given the colors.

I also made a pillow for my niece to match the ones I made for her sisters last summer...can you guess what her name is?

Finally I was at the craft store and saw that they carry small bags of random/reclaimed buttons and so I bought a bag...this is what I came up with using 6 of them:
I have several more ideas of things I would like to make as well as some projects that are currently in the works and I'll post those as I finish them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Time Trial

Sooooo back to the crafting....
I had so much fun with Jacob's place mat I decided to do one for Abby too. Again I used scraps I had, rather than going out and buying more yarn (see profile pic....). This one has a very different look than Jacob's even though it's essentially the same. The reason it's different is because of the variegation in one of the warp yarns I used.
I thought it would be interesting to time each step of the process to see how long it took me, find out where my 'time sucks' were, and have relevant information should I choose to start selling my weaving.
So here is Abby's place mat:

It took me just under 4 hours from when I began measuring the warp until I had finished cutting the fringe. I think my time will go down as I get more practice with the loom and the dressing process (putting the warp threads on). Also If I were to warp say 4 mats at a time my time would not increase to 16 hours, it would actually go down on the time per mat since the dressing of the loom is the longest process and I would only have to do it once.
I would have to increase the measuring time by a very slight amount and I would have the same 'finishing' time for each one but overall I would save time by doing them all at once.

For now I have saved my threading from Abby's mat and I am tying new threads onto the ends of the old and will beam them through so I don't have to re-thread the reed and heddles. I think it will be less time to do it this way rather than re-threading the whole shebang.

In other news I have housekeepers now. I know it seems silly and self indulgent since I am a stay at home mom but how else am I going to get my weaving done? I snuck a pic of them at work the other day:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dead to me

After getting the results on the van I was not pleased. It needed 550 bucks (before taxes, etc) to fix the current problem and another 480 for the bumper issue (long story - not my fault but it never got fixed). Plus there was the whole 1100 for a/c. Even if we just put in the 550 it was really more than we wanted to for that stupid piece of crap van. So we decided to cut our losses and go ahead and see what was available to buy with what we could get on a trade for the van. It took some serious juggling (the dealer actually came and picked me and the kids up at the house some 15 miles from the dealership) but we were able to leave in a new car. Well, new to us anyway. We now have a car payment again (haven't had one of those in several years) but I think we'll manage with some belt tightening.
So the van is dead to me. I was darned near ready to leave it on the side of the road for the buzzards but was happy to find out that it was worth something after all. And now, I feel secure in knowing that if I ever have a problem with the new vehicle, I at least have roadside assistance via the warranty we purchased with it.
So I give you our new Suzuki Grand Vitara:
We went from a van with 7 seats to this that has 5 (3 can squeeze into the backseat) and less 'cargo space' since I can't fold down the 3rd row anymore as there is no 3rd row, but I think it will suit our family just fine. We tested the space in the back today with a monthly grocery shop and was able to squeeze it all in there with no crushed bread or broken eggs and I rarely ever do that much shopping in one trip so we should be all good to go. The picture doesn't show the color well, it's a bluish silvery grey. I think I'll call her Sally.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Remember, Remember the 11th, September.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Money Pit

Have I ever mentioned that my van is a money sucking death trap? Well, OK it may not be a death trap (yet) but it eats money like Americans eat potatoes. Stupid thing broke down on me again on Wednesday (of course I had somewhere to be as is usually the case when I am in the damn piece of crap van. The misbehavior was rather familiar and I got to thinking it was the exact same problem it was having about this time last year. Andrew convinced me to call the dealer and find out if it was still under warranty - it was exactly one year ago TO THE DAY that they did the work. The service tech was kind enough to open the ticket for me that night, even though I couldn't get it in until the next day - thus keeping it within the warranty period. If the problem is the same they will cover the cost of fixing it but if not I pay  $100 diagnostic plus whatever other fix it might need. We decided to have a dealer take a look at it to see what they will give us for it on a trade in....still waiting to hear back from both the dealer and the mechanic. Part of me (ooh goody something new!) hopes that it is bad enough we have to trade it in. The other (sensible) part of me doesn't want to deal with a big problem or trying to add a car payment into the already thin budget. I suspect I am just going to sit here and wait for the phone to ring and burn cross that bridge when I get to it. I need to do some research on when the best time to buy a car is (I am thinking it is close to the new year) and hope we can hold out until whenever that is. There is also the possibility that the economy is bad enough that the dealer will be needing a sale badly enough to really work it. Again, new car may not even be in the picture for now but I am trying to have all of my options laid out before I get to them.
I think I'll go warp the loom...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Starting Smaller

A while back I started to weave some green and white place mats. I had it all figured out and got so excited about it I measured out enough warp to make 12 of them. Well, it did not work out so well and it sat and sat on my loom. I ignored the loom every time I looked at it, or got dejected all over again...I mean it was a ton of work to get that thing all strung up and I didn't want to cut the mess off and loose all of that work. Meanwhile the loom just sits, not working at all. I got re inspired after participating in the San Juan County Fair Sheep to Shawl and so I cut the warp off of the loom, rolled it up and sent it to shame itself in a closet until I can figure out what to do with it.
All of that being done I decided to start smaller and just go for ONE place mat to see if I could get it to work. I had a bit of cotton from when I was making Jacob's belt with the tablet weaving and decided to use that. Here is the process that I used to get a couple of balls of leftover cotton to look like this:
First and foremost, I did what I failed to do in my last project and that was determine what the 'sett' should be. I used the WPI method...wrap around 1inch and count the number of threads. Divide by 2 and that is generally what the sett should be for a plain weave.
I think my number came out to be 10. Because I was doing a Twill, rather than a plain weave, I rounded up to 12. So my sett was determined to be 12 dents per inch.
I had originally planned to have a solid dark blue background and a weft of the light blue. After I started to measure the warp I counted, rewound the dark blue back onto the cone and determined that it would have to be a 3 colored place mat if I was not going to go buy more yarn (not really an option according to the bank account at the time). So I collected the materials and started again.
Then I wound the warp. It didn't take too long and since I was just doing 12 ends at a time it was really easy to keep track of how many ends I had and it made it easy to stop and tend to the children when I needed too.
Then I cut it off of the warping board....
Then the tedious work begins...sleying the reed. Every single one of the 156 threads has to be threaded through the reed. It took some time but eventually I got here:
Then all of those individual threads have to go through a heddle, in a certain pattern. For me it took about 3 hours to thread the ends through the 4 heddles in pattern.
After it is all threaded I had to tie the warp to the back apron and then roll it up (not really since this warp was so short) and tie it to the front apron, adjust the tension, fix a couple of heddle threading mistakes and then tie up the harnesses, again in a certain pattern. This would have been a lot easier if I had not had to get out the pliers and pry apart some of the hooks so I could get the cord in, I also had to make a couple of new cords since there were a limited amount on the loom.
Then I could get to the business of actually weaving. Sort of. First I put in the header and then I got to weave a couple of inches before hemstitching the beginning of the weaving.

Then I got to weave away until it got too close to the reed. Then you roll it onto the front beam and keep weaving until you get to your desired length (I added about 1/2 inch to account for any drawing in after the tension was taken off of the warp threads). Add the final hem stitch ...
Remove from loom and set on a table edge with something heavy, like a couple of books so that you can carefully pick out the header yarn...
Then let the recipient of the place mat check it out (he rubbed it and said it was soft and pretty) He said "is it for Daddy?" I said "no" he asked "is it for you?" I said "no" and with an excited raised pitch he asked "is it for me?" and I said "yes!" and he said "oh goody goody!"
Then I gied off the fringe in over hand knots. I did this in groups of 4 threads. This of course has to be done on both fringed ends, and then up to the cutting mat to even out the edges...
And finally, forbid the intended recipient from touching it so you can take a 'good' picture.