Monday, April 30, 2012

Second Verse, almost the same as the first...

I was thrilled with my first woven bit of plaid cloth- sure the edges weren't perfectly even, and there were obvious crookedy parts in the weft, but for a first time, I was pretty proud. Unfortunately, pride notwithstanding,  I still didn't have enough fabric for the bag I envisioned making. I had plenty of that handspun cotton yarn left, so I decided to warp the loom again, this time with much longer ... warps? Weaving words are complicated...
I still don't have a warping board, so I improvised. 18 times around the chairs for each color section (once apiece for blue, white, and dark brown, twice for the mottled brown).

 I underestimated the tangling capacity of long cotton strands. They were a mess by the time I got the heddle threaded. It took me over an hour to straighten them out and chain the sections. Won't let that happen again... nosiree...
 My friend Helen suggested using drinking straws or strips of paper to help the first rows stay neat and even. I love Helen.
 Look at how nice this is coming out! I'm thrilled with the even edges and fairly straight rows.

Oh no! Disaster! The warp was cut from handspun cotton yarn, which has thick and thin spots. One of the thick spots frayed with the repeated motion of the heddle, and it broke. Now I know that broken warp threads happen to everyone eventually, but I panicked a bit anyway. I tried several solutions to replace the thread and none worked. Since I now had enough plaid fabric for my project, and it wasn't necessary for this piece to be *all of one cloth*, I wove in a few spacer strips and advanced the warp past the break (I advanced enough past the broken spot for the warp tension to be restored,). Then I went to Facebook to whine, which is what I should have done in the first place because Helen and Connie both told me how to fix broken warp threads. I love Helen and Connie.
But, as I said, I already had enough plaid fabric, so I decided to weave some stripes, just for the hell of it. I Used up the last of the mottled brown yarn, and am now weaving up the rest of the blue in stripes.
Stripes are pretty too, no?

I should finish this piece today- I have *plans* for the next project.

Oh, and the correct heddle is on the way. Woohoo!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Warp Speed

Okay, so I wanted to weave some plaid cloth with handspun cotton yarn, and I wanted to weave it using the same size heddle (8 dent- 8 threads per inch) as I used for the strap. I ordered the right size heddle but they sent me the wrong size and I grumbled.
I had woven as far as I could on the strap
and I cut it off the loom- 102" long, about 2" wide, 2.5 ozs of handspun cotton yarn. I packed the weft tightly so that it would be a sturdy strap. It took me awhile to get the rhythm, and to keep the selvedge even.

So with an empty loom, I looked at my 10dent heddle (the one that came with the loom), and I looked at my yarn, and then I looked at the heddle, and then I said the hell with it, I don't feel like waiting for the replacement to arrive.
 I used my niddy-noddy to wind the warp- it makes a skein 60" long, which I thought would be long enough (I learned later just now much warp at the beginning and end is unusable, but it still worked out). 18 strands in each section.
 I used a very small crochet hook to thread the heddle (I'm sure there are weaving words for that action, but I don't know them)
 There's a reason why no one says *Gosh, I love warping a loom*.
 All threaded... I have to pull the warp through the heddle and wind it on the warping beam (in this case, a board).
 It's a slow process, prone to tangles... and bad words...
 Lots of leftover warp (I know better how to deal with that now- with less wasted yarn).
 All warped and ready to go...
 oopsie, I missed a slot...
 ... all better now... (I had to unwind the rest of the warp to add it in, but all is well).
 First few rows- I also know now how to make that look neater and more even (I love Facebook- it's full of wonderful teachers). I'm actually glad that I used the smaller heddle- here and there the slubs in the yarn hung up on the holes, but for the most part, I was able to weave the cloth just fine.
 Not bad for a first try, eh?
 It's subtle for a plaid, but still pretty. BTW- the blue yarn was spun from recycled blue jean cotton, the rest of the shades are natural cotton colors. You can see a couple of my mistakes...

 It took almost less time to weave the cloth than it did to warp the loom.
 28" of cloth, 7" wide (after washing- it shrinks a bit). The fringes won't last, I just tied them to keep the ends from raveling during washing.
Cool, right?

And I'm already planning my next loom. Mary- it's all your fault.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Not totally wordless Saturday

Almost done...
 ...handspun cotton yarn for bag body...
... ready to warp...

...they sent the WRONG size heddle...


Thursday, April 26, 2012

AI Season 11- Top 6 Elimination 04-26-12

We open with a Freddie Mercury quote, and segue to Queen quotes, Randy quotes, Elise, Skylar, Phil. Steven, Hollie, Joshua and Jessica quotes. All of this is setup for the punchline: Another one bites the dust.

Ryan wastes very little time on the Judge Entry, so I can't tell at first whether Randy's leather jacket is brown or black. I can, however, clearly see that the front of his dark tee shirt says Yo Yo Yo in big letters. Steven is in a white shirt, a black vest, and a dark arm band, like he's a riverboat gambler. JLo is in a very short, very tight lace dress (over a nude underdress). It has big black spangles, and an open back. Her hair is in a messy updo. Ryan is wearing a charcoal three-piece suit over a blue shirt with a white collar, and a puce pocket square.

Ryan says that 58 million votes were cast, and then he threatens us with Katy Perry and Stefano.

First on stage is a Queen Tribute band whose members were chosen by Queen themselves. I don't know  why Queen is concerning itself with hand-selecting their own replacements, but at least the band sounds good. I'm enjoying this more than most of the guest singers. Then the curtains open, and the rest of Queen joins the Tribute Band. This whole scenario makes no sense to me.

The Fordmercial has Skylar shopping, and the rest of the kids (minus Phil, who is nowhere to be seen) practicing magic. It also has Hollie and Joshua making hearts out of little fishies. It's every bit as lame as it sounds.

We waste time on clips of the kids visiting TMZ. Harvey Levin is creepy and wizened and orange and nasty.

Ryan calls Jessica and Elise down.
Jessica is wearing a turquoise skirt, an orange top, and a gray denim vest.  Iovine says that Jessica's Bohemian Rhapsody was a mistake but that she bought back good will with her last song.

Elise is wearing Aunt Grace's peach bed jacket over a short, blue butt-hugging dress, and a flowered headband. Iovine thinks that both of Elise's songs were mistakes, though for different reasons.

I am thoroughly tired of Ryan jerking the kids around on Elimination Night. He toys with Jessica and then sends her to safety. Elise pouts over to the Stools of Shame.

And since we have endless time to waste, Ryan sits down with Casey Abrams, who looks like a bearded, bushy-haired mountain man. I love me some Casey, but there's no reason for him to be on stage tonight. I think maybe he flew in with Stefano.

Speaking of Stefano, he's wearing an incredibly drapey black leather jacket, black jeans, and red shoes. In fact, all of his Backup Boys are wearing red shoes. There is an awful lot of computer assistance in this vocal. The whole thing (the song, the vocal, the presentation) is pretty sorry, and it gets sorrier when some other dude starts rapping. Stefano skips and lip-syncs over to the judges, where he greets Steven and JLo. Randy desperately angles for a fist bump.

Commercial Note: You could not pay me to see Dark Shadows.

Next down are Hollie and Joshua.
Hollie is wearing a white tank top, an orange and peach hankie skirt (which has what looks like a bright green stain) and a belt. Iovine says Hollie's first song ended up being out of tune but her second song maybe sort of bought her some time. Iovine hopes.

Joshua is wearing a denim jacket over a black shirt. Iovine liked Joshua's first song (boo!) and  loved  his second and says if Joshua goes home tonight, something is wrong with the Show and America. Tell us what you really think, Jimmy, why dontcha.

But I guess nothing is wrong with either one because Joshua is safe and Hollie joins Elise.

Commercial Note: Steven shills for Burger King, JLo stumps for Kohl's. What does Randy represent, outside of a life filled with bitterness and babble?

Katy Perry Apocalypse Nows onto a smoky stage, dangling from a "helicopter", along with eight of her closest camo-shorts-clad girlfriends. Katy and her purple hair and knee pads dance and prance and do calisthenics. The Soldier Besties work some business with nets and broken fences, then they march and Riverdance to an audience that does not include any judges (which means that this performance was taped earlier).

Skylar is wearing a blue dress with knife pleats, a cardigan, and sparkly boots. Iovine thinks her #1 song was good and #2 was self-indulgent and may not have had broad enough appeal.

Phil is colorful for Phil, in a lighter blue tee and a green shirt. Iovine says that Phil didn't feel well last night (first we've heard of that), and therefore his #1 song was lacking, and #2 was not right for the show. He's worried about Phil tonight.

Ryan sends Phil to safety, and Skylar to the Bottom 3, where she spends approximately 3 seconds before Ryan rescues her.

So, it's down to Hollie and Elise, which surprises exactly no one. And Elise is going home, which is also not a surprise to anyone, especially Elise, who actually looks relieved that the hammer finally fell. Elise sings herself out with Whole Lotta Love. I liked Elise, but she didn't play the game well enough, and there was absolutely zero chance that she could win. I wish her well, and I'll probably buy her eventual album.

Thursday Tab- #1756 Saalfield Party Play

This is surely a reprint of an earlier, larger set, but it's nice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

AI Season 11-Top 6 Performance, 04-25-12

Oh hey, I forgot until just this minute, that Colton went home last week. That makes sitting through yet another 2-hour show a little more bearable.

Tonight the kids are singing Queen, which seems like a recipe for disaster.

Randy is in a gray jacket over a yellow shirt. He has a lapel *YO*  pin (not the knitting abbreviation for *yarn over*, but the actual letters *Y* and *O*) that looks like it was made in a kids' craft class at Hobby Lobby. Steven is in a dark shirt, a spangly vest, and a blazer composed of mummy wrappings tacked together here and there. It looks like it smells. JLo has her front hair barretted back, and her lipstick, once again, is nude. She's wearing a gold lame, puffed sleeve, shortie top with a zipper front, and low-rider lame (I can't make the accent work- they're shiny and sparkly... that kind of la-may... though they're pretty lame too) almost-Hammer Pants. We're talking ugly, here. So ugly that Randy is the best dressed of the judges tonight.

Ryan's hair is higher and more sculpted than ever. He's wearing a blue three piece suit, with no tie, and the collar open. He looks rather rumpled.

Since we have to fill up 2 hours with only 12 performances, we have lots of time for surviving Queen members to remind us of their prodigious catalog. We're also reminded that orthodontia wasn't as ubiquitous back then. The Queen fellas give the kids some generic encouragement.

And in a departure from the usual format, the Top 6 sing a medley of Queen songs, with Queen itself.  And indeed, we fat-bottom girls do make the rockin' world go round. Phil and Joshua flounder. Elise and Skylar do well. Hollie can't sing low enough, and Jessica's vibrato is totally out of control.

Tonight, there are no individual mentor clips, and no Jimmy Iovine opinions. In fact, there is very little chatter in between performances for this first half. Ryan marches things along smartly.

#1 Jessica is singing Bohemian Rhapsody. Her hair is in a small pompadour, and since the performance starts out in black and white, I don't know what color her vaguely Navajo print skirt, unlaced tennis shoes, shirt and vest are. Three Jessicas (all with much higher hair) sing to us from the big screen, and then everything colorizes and I see that her vest is brown and her skirt is sparkly red, black and white. She's wearing a pink glittery choker that may actually be a zipper running down the front of her shirt. Her performance is totally underwhelming, not worthy of the song, but the judges overpraise her.

#2. Skylar is in a tan, strappy dress with copper sparkles all over, and a black belt. Her hair is soft and pretty, and she's wearing rhinestone pistol earrings. She's singing The Show Must Go On, but it's not the song that I think it's going to be. She ditches the Country altogether, and is doing very well with this,at least until the end. Her last couple of notes were off. JLo gets goosies! (she's not particularly enthusiastic about them- they're lower-case at best). Steven was overwhelmed, and Randy thought it was incredible.

Gah- I hate Subway commercials. Why oh why are they trying to convince us that normally sized people are fat enough to burst swimming pools and break swings? (Nevermind- I know why and I hate them for it).

#3 Joshua is singing Crazy Little Thing Called Love. He's dressed all in black, and is using an old-fashioned microphone, which he holds weirdly throughout. Yikes, this is awful- shrieky, tuneless, thin, and it makes my ears bleed. Also: really awkward dancing. Randy and Steven stand, JLo stays seated, though when the camera pans back to them, she is standing with the others. Randy keeps comparing Joshua to Sam Cooke, which is ridiculous. Sam Cooke understood the power of restraint.

#4. Elise is singing I Want It All. she's wearing a long, floaty sleeveless tie-dye robe over a short leather flapper skirt and black top. Her necklace appears to be made of chain mail. She's playing a tambourine and there's definitely a Hippie Vibe going on. Elise is doing her Janis Joplin best with this, and I like it a lot. The judges enthuse.

#5. Phil is in a blue tee shirt and tan shirt. I am surprised to find that he's singing Fat Bottomed Girls, since they sang that in the opening medley. He's singing without guitar... and... well... this is Phil's first phizzle. It's not awful, but it's not good either. Steven needs to watch it with the more cushion for the pushin' jokes. Steven and JLo are gushy, and Randy is vaguely neutral.

#6. Hollie is in a slim-legged red satin pantsuit over a black shirt. Her necklace has lots of heavy, square stones. I don't know this song, but she's doing well with it. I would have bet that Hollie was going to crash and burn, so I'm glad for her. The judges are critical though- JLo going on and on about connecting to the song (or rather, Hollie's lack of connection).

Ryan asks the Judges who the Round 1 winners are. JLo says Skylar, Randy  says Skylar, Joshua, and Elise. Steven says Skylar. They all agree that Hollie needs to pick it up.

Round 2 is songs that the kids chose for themselves.

#7. Jessica is in a Shrek-green, one-shouldered toga with a mullet hem. Oh no, she's singing Dance With My Father, which she considers as a tribute to her own father (though I'm pretty sure that her father is still alive, so she has no real notion of what the song is about). Before she starts singing, the other kids interview about Jessica- saying that she's a kid, and still in school, and teeny, and is perhaps an alien. Onstage, Jessica sings with the wind machine. I would probably think this performance was okay if I did not absolutely loathe this song (it's the musical equivalent of a dead-dog story... sad for no other reason than to make you cry). The judges love it.

#8. Skylar has lots of cleavage in her cream dress with the scalloped hem and scattered sparkles. The others  interview that Skylar talks a lot, all the time, and is a bundle of energy. Hollie says that Skylar is "thick-boned" when she really means  "thick-skinned". The twang is back, front and center. I don't know this song, and did not catch the title, but it seems to be about tattoos. JLo babbles, Randy speaks his own language, and Steven missed... something... I think.

#9. Joshua is in a tan leather jacket, a brown loopy scarf, and a white shirt. The others interview that Joshua is loud, crazy, messy, and he screams a lot. Joshua starts out on a stool, and the back lighting shines through his ears, making them glow redly. I don't know this song, but Joshua is far more restrained than usual. I figure that means he's about to go purely crazy, but... and you may need to sit down for this... he doesn't. In fact, Joshua controls himself and his voice throughout, and he delivers a really lovely performance. For the first time ever, I hear the Sam Cooke similarity. He gets a thoroughly deserved Standing O from the Judges.

#10. Elise is wearing a vaguely Grecian, blue, strappy, satin, mullet dress. She has an orange tie-dye scarf that attaches to her ring, and then loops around behind and is somehow anchored to the back of her dress. The other kids make fun of Elise's laugh, and her goofy hand motions. I don't know this song, but it's jazzy and bluesy and growly and exactly the kind of song that Elise needs to sing. Steven loved it but cautions Elise to pick songs that people know. JLo understands what Steven is saying, but thinks that Elise did well enough for it not to matter (I'm with JLo on this one). Randy gives some kind of silly critique. Ryan makes a point to mention that the guitarist is from Elise's own band.

#11. Phil is in all black, and playing the guitar. Jessica says that Phil is handsome in regular life but goofy looking when he sings. Onstage with a baritone sax and a violin, this song is odd. There's no real melody, and Phil is not making as many weird faces as usual. It's fierce and yet the vocal is soft. It's weirdly good. Mesmerizing.  Steven commends Phil for damning the torpedoes and full-speeding his Philness ahead. JLo worries about choosing such an obscure song. Randy is actually coherent. Ryan says that his "girlfriend" is backstage and she has a crush on Phil.

#12. Hollie is wearing a cute dress with a gold-banded, black circular skirt, and a sparkly gold bustier top whose neckline seems to be encrusted with metal flowers. The others make fun of her Texas/English accent. She's singing that inspirational Miley Cyrus song, and since she only has to sing it better than Miley does, the bar is set pretty low. Even so, Hollie is doing very well with this- she's hitting all of the notes (something she doesn't always manage), and she seems to be connected to the song emotionally. It's a very good performance, and she gets a Standing O from the judges.

Ryan did his job too well, after the recap-clips, there are still 3 minutes to kill, which feels like 3 hours by the time he gets done letting the judges blather. They all stress the importance of voting.

Tonight's Best:
Joshua #2
Elise #1
Phil #2

Honorable Mention: Skylar #1-#2

Tonight's Worst:
Joshua #1
Phil #1
Jessica #1

Dishonorable Mention: Jessica #2

Me Tube

I belong to a group on Facebook that is doing Fat Mum Slim's Photo a Day Challenge. The theme for Day 25 is Looking Down. I decided to have The Hub take a picture of me at my spinning wheel (I would have done it myself, but you know, the ability to spin and take a picture at the same time is not one of my Super Powers).
I'm wearing handspun, handknit socks, and I'm spinning hand dyed (not by me) Corriedale wool. I'll spin 2 bobbins full and then ply them, and if I am very lucky, the yarn will be self-striping. We'll see.

And then, while we had the wheel up and all was going smoothly (not always the case), I had The Hub take a couple of very short videos of me spinning, which I uploaded to You Tube.

I wasn't kidding about short- this is 28 seconds of incredibly exciting spinning... silent spinning (though you can hear the wheel whir if you listen closely). Note- the Corriedale roving is extremely well prepared, so I can strip and spin on the fly. Not all fibers are so perfectly ready for spinning.

And if one short, silent video wasn't enough, I have 23 more thrilling seconds, this time with The Hub asking at the end, if he could please stop now. The Hub has no Film Maker Aspirations.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Weaving Retreat #3- The Rest

It's amazing how much time I have for picture taking when I don't teach...

Anyway, here's the rest of Saturday...(and again, sorry that some of the pics are less than wonderful- it's the photographer, not the camera).

 Here's where we were- a wonderful big old building at a Youth Camp. The morning started out beautiful and clear, but by evening, it was sprinkling and dreary. Outside that is, inside it was wonderful.
 I went up into the loft to get a shot of the spinning circle below. Look at all those spinning wheels!
 The longer shot shows the tables, more looms, and the kitchen.
 Sara gave a presentation on the history of women in Fiber Arts.
 While she spoke, I finished spinning a little batt of wool and silk and sparkle. In this crowd, it is not considered rude to spin and listen at the same time.
 Here's a shot I should have included yesterday- Connie taking warp off the warping board, as Jill watches.
 And another one I overlooked yesterday- Marie and Lyla warping a rigid heddle loom.
 Kelley did some organic dyeing. Look at those wonderful colors!
 Betty showed off a few of her little weave-it squares. Most were made from handspun yarn. She makes the most adorable flowers with these squares.
I won a Nostipinne as a door prize. It was made by  woodcrafter David Lindquist. Don't know what a Nostipinne is? It's a device for winding a center pull yarn ball, like so. I have always wound my center pull balls with a ball-winder or by hand- it will be lovely to have this tool at my disposal.

Next year, I hope to stay the whole weekend, or at least overnight. I missed out on the evening shenanigans (pajamas and wine... woohoo!)

For another take on the Weaving Weekend, check out Connie P's blog. She stayed the whole weekend, and her pictures are much better than mine!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weaving Retreat #2- Warped Minds

I was able to spend a lot of Saturday watching real weavers do their work. It was amazingly instructive just to see how people who know what they're doing, do what they do. I am all for winging it (it's my Standard MO), but when I can learn, I am happy to do so. I was especially interested in learning about warping a loom (warping is to weaving as steeking is to knitting- scary for many people).

Connie spent much of Saturday using a warping board to wind warp for her 8 harness floor loom. I'm sorry for the quality of some of the pictures- sometimes my phone takes great shots, other times, not so much (which tells me it's the photographer, not the camera). A warping board allows the weaver to wind hundreds of lengths of warp, many yards long, without having to walk around a building to do so.

 Anyway, Connie wrapped and wrapped and wrapped fine green thread around a complicated systems of pegs (It wasn't just wrapping, there was some looping involved). She was doing some counting, so I did not want to disturb her to ask silly questions. And I'm sorry that I didn't get a closeup of the warping board. Here's picture of warping boards, all loaded up.

I also didn't get a picture of Connie taking the warp off the board- she hand chained it to keep the strands from tangling. Then she spent the rest of the day, threading each thread (hundreds and hundreds of them) through metal reeds using little white threads. I wasn't able to stay until Sunday, but I imagine she was able to start weaving by late evening on Saturday.

This is what she's making- wonderful wonderful tea towels and runners with SHEEP WOVEN INTO THE CLOTH!!!!!!! (Connie apologized for not having the towel ironed first- but you can see that there's some really intricate woven texture there...)(apologize... pfft... when you can do work like this).

Sort of makes my beginner band, woven on the warp that came with my Beka loom, look sad. It certainly looks like a first try, though I'm pretty proud of it anyway. I finished weaving that band, and took it off the loom, and then took a deep breath and started to warp my loom (with a lot of advice from the others).

This is handspun organic cotton- I have a lot of it, and I decided it would be serviceable warp and weft for a future bag.

 I only needed 20 warping strands, and my loom will only handle about 12' of warp, so I didn't need to use a warping board. I looked around and improvised- my warping board was an upright table stand. I wound the yarn around the upper and lower legs 20 times.
 Closeup of said warpage.
 And then I cut the strands and hand chained them (they managed to tangle anyway).
 I fed the individual strands through the holes in the heddle (I don't know if they have a specific term) with a teeny little crochet hook. Every other strand went through a hole in the center of the reed (I think that's the term), so that the strands (the shed, I think) can be lifted and lowered for weaving. The warp was then pulled straight (untangling what was tangled) and wrapped around the backboard (not the right term, I'm sure).

Update: Connie P just told me that the long skinny holes in the heddle are *slots* and the ones with a hole in the center are called *dots*. Woohoo for correct terminology! Thanks Connie- and thanks again for the encouragement!
 Voila! All by myself, no less!!!
 And here's some of my first weaving with the cotton yarn. It's a nubbly, thick and thin yarn, which accounts for some of the unevenness along the selvedge edge. But it only accounts for some of it. The rest is all me (and since I spun the yarn, it's all me anyway). I am packing the weft fairly tight for this strap, because I want the fabric to be firm and sturdy. I'll weave the body of the bag a little looser because it will be lined.
And here's what I wove on Saturday afternoon, before my back gave out (there's a lot of Leaning Over in weaving). I am thrilled. Totally thrilled. By the time I get this warp all woven, I'll be ready to tackle a wider project- which will be the body of the bag. I have a lot of this handspun cotton on hand, in several colors (white, dark brown, blue, green), so I think I'll make the body plaid.

The loom came with an 8 dent (8 holes per inch) 4" wide heddle, and a 10 dent (10 holes per inch) 10" wide heddle. I want to weave the body of the bag on the same size heddle as the strap, so I've ordered both a 4"- 10 dent heddle, and  10" 8 dent heddle. By the time I get this part done, the new heddles should be here.

Part 3- everything else, tomorrow.