Jul 30
Weaver’s Swap Update
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 07 30th, 2009| icon34 Comments »

Finally! I get to show you the fabric I wove last weekend for the Weaver’s Swap. My swap partner, Kathie Kelleher, has contacted me to tell me she has received it.

Like I said earlier, I had to redesign my project due to yarn weight issues. I used Weave-It Pro on my laptop and fiddled with it until I came up with the design I liked using the colors I had. The only thing I really don’t like about weaving programs is that there is no way to see how a variegated yarn is going to look like since all you can design with are solids.


So, here are the plan, the warp and the yarns I used for this project. As I was measuring off the warp, I began to doubt my design. I was afraid the purplish variegated in the warp and the bluish variegated in the weft would not be able to show up the pattern in the weaving very well. I had chosen a Rose Path pattern to do this with and I was afraid of how it was going to turn out.


I needn’t have worried, though. I liked what I was getting and the subtle changes in colors with the two variegated yarns gave it interest that it wouldn’t have had with just solids.

Once I was far enough into the weaving to easily view the “back” of the fabric, decided I liked the back better than the front.


I don’t know how well you can see it here, but I really liked the diamond/lattice-work pattern and decided that the back was now the front for my part of it, although I would let Kathie decided which she liked the best for the bag.

I really like the aprons I made for this loom. They let me weave right up to the knots almost touching the back of the heddles. See?


This picture gives you an even better idea of how close I can get it and still get enough shed to shove a shuttle through.


Because of the HD emblem on the side of this loom, Scott has taken to calling it my “High-Definition” loom. I know. I groaned, too.


And here it is just off the loom – all 12′ 3.5″ of it. Notice the change in color? I knew I wouldn’t have enough of the light green yarn I was weaving the majority of the fabric with, so I continued the piece using the yarn that was the secondary color in the weft. After it was done, I almost wished I had had more of this yarn because I really like it.

See the difference between the two? This is after fulling. BTW, it was 17.5 inches wide after fulling and 11′ 3″ long. So I lost a foot in length and 2.5 inches in the width.




And here is a close up of the “right side” of the fulled cloth that Kathie received:


And the “wrong side.”


Now, I think I like the right side best. It’s amazing how much difference is made in the look of the cloth just by water finishing it. Like Laura Fry says, there’s “Magic in the Water.”

What am I going to do with my part of this? I can’t tell you right now, but it is destined to go to someone because the colors work perfectly with the decor. They will make two lovely towels for her bathroom. And if you figure out who I am talking about, PLEASE don’t tell her. I want to surprise her.

Tomorrow, I will show you what Kathie sent to me! This is so much fun! I’m already looking forward to next year’s Weaver’s Swap!

Jul 26
Birthday weekend
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 07 26th, 2009| icon32 Comments »

My birthday weekend is over (bedtime is in 10 minutes) and I have pretty well lived a perfect life during it. I designed my new Weaver’s Swap project, measured the warp, warped the loom and wove. I’m about an hour from having my warp all woven off, but that will have to wait until tomorrow night after work.

I could stand more weekends like this one.

Jul 24
They say it’s your birthday…
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 07 24th, 2009| icon34 Comments »

Today is my 45th birthday!!! I’m half way through what has been the best decade of my life (so far).

And my birthday present to myself?

Starting tonight through Sunday night, the only time I will be out of my studio is to sleep, eat and take the occasional potty break.

I had my Weaver’s Swap project all designed, the yarn chosen and everything ready to begin measuring the warp tonight. Then, when I woke up this morning, something odd hit me. Why were two same-sized balls of yarn wildly different in yardage? So I ran downstairs and looked at them again. Well, well… They aren’t the same weight of yarn. And the difference is enough to not make this project work.

So, tonight, I’ll be back to digging through yarn and coming up with what I want to weave because I still want to weave this particular design – simple, sturdy and interesting to look at. It’s a good thing I love playing with yarn!

Before I go to bead, I will have the warp all ready to put onto the loom so I can weave it off tomorrow.

Jul 19

Today, I started the move into Studio B.  Mind you, everything being brought into it today came from upstairs.  My pedometer read 8587 steps when I took my shower and the vast majority of those steps were earned walking up and down stairs, usually carrying loads of books, yarn or furniture.

Just for grins, I set my camera up on a tripod and every 15 minutes of the day, took a picture.  Then Scott helped me put them all together into a stop-motion movie and uploaded it to YouTube.  And here it is for you to see how I spent my day.

Jul 18

Today, Scott and I drove out to Huddleston House to pick up our canopies, the little loom and my grill (it was too hot to bring home on Tuesday, and the rest was left for their use the rest of the week).

I asked Karen how it went and she had nothing but positive, glowing terms for the whole week of camp for the kids.  They were introduced to llamas, thanks to Mike Hoopengardner, they learned how to knit, spin on drop spindles and make bread on the hearth.

One young lady took to the knitting so well, that she was thrilled to death to learn that she could take her knitting needles and yarn home with her.  In fact, she went home and taught her little sister how to knit.  I told Karen to feel free to send some extra balls of yarn home with the kids if they wanted it.  Anything to encourage them to continue knitting.

The same young lady couldn’t wait to get her spinning off of the spindle so she could weave it into the cloth on the loom.  Karen said the girl would like that part of it to keep, so I’ll be cutting it off and mailing it to her.  Also, I’m going to invite her, her sisters and their mom to join us on BASK night.

One thing I have come to love about working with kids (and, mind you, this is my first attempt) is their lack of inhibitors.  You show them how to work a loom, hand them a stick shuttle with yarn on it, point out other yarns they can play with and turn them loose.  We adults want patterns so we can “make something.”  Well, kids do not need patterns to make something.  They just create.


And what they created was 4 feet of something that is fun, remarkable and very interesting.  You can see where they followed what I had showed them about twills, tabby and basket weave, and you can see where they left the well-trodden track and made their own paths.


Would we have woven something like this and considered it a success?  Most likely not, but this, my friends, is truly a successful thing.  I’m thinking that we adults care too much for perfection in the eyes of the world, and I know I am going to take away a lesson taught to me by these wonderful children.  Play, experiment, be freer in my creativity, and I might create something beautiful.

By the way, the young lady who wants the part with her handspun in it?  Hers is the lime green portion.

Jul 16

You have heard me mention on occassion that I am a 50% owner and creator of a comic book called Johnny Saturn.  If you are interested in how Scott and I split up our roles with the comic, there is a wonderful interview of us here by John Wilson at Comic Related.

Jul 14

Today we did the natural dye demonstration at the Huddleston House in Cambridge City, Indiana.  We woke up to glorious sunshine and cool temps.

Before I go any further, I want to take this time to introduce you to my two helpers for the day.


On the left is Ann Rockwell, a weaving student from my March class, and someone who has become a friend.  Ann is fun, smart, enthusiastic and a hard worker.  She and Scott (on the right if you couldn’t tell), worked hard helping me get the fires started and the dye pots going.  Also, Ann helped one of our campers who was in a wheel chair and couldn’t get too close to the fire.  Thank you, Ann!  You made the day so much easier with all your hard work.

I had taken 10 sets of yarn to dye as well as a book with terminology, information on the three dyes we were using today (indigo, cochineal and Osage orange), and a bibliography.


While the yarn was in the pots, Karen Trent, the manager of Huddleston House wrapped bananas with the skin split open and marshmallows and Hershey’s kisses stuck inside into aluminum foil to bake over the fire until done.  Those were wonderful and we have decided we will have to do them again at Dye Day in October.


I took several items I had either dyed or made from dyed yarns…


…as well as binders full of sample cards from dye days and other dyeing experiments from the past 10 years.  I could have taken so much more, but this worked for today’s event.


And the kids got beautiful colors!



Karen had wanted them to be able to weave, too, so I warped my little Nilus loom (and all this time I thought I had a Dorothy!) and showed the kids how to work the loom.


Then I stood back and let them go with it.  I found it very encouraging at how often over the course of the day one or more would go back to it and weave on it.



I know that one of these kids will be in my November weaving class if not a couple more.  I found that working with kids is really easy.  They don’t need a lot of instruction and are game to try their hands at anything.  They asked a few questions, but for the most part, they pushed levers, raised and lowered shafts and watched how the weft yarn went in and out of the shed. Also, they are much more likely than adults to experiment with patterns and were less concerned about what their weaving looked like as they were about having fun with color, textures and pattern.

I left the loom there for the week and I can hardly wait to see what it looks like when we remove the fabric from the loom this Saturday.


During times of waiting for the dyepots to do their thing, there were many stories, lots of area histories, family histories and tales of experiences being told.  I am a true lover of history and I was fascinated at some of the stories I heard today.

We ended the day around 3:00 this afternoon, said good-bye to the kids, gave and received hugs all the way around, loaded up the car and left.  The day was fun and educational, and I’d do it again anytime I’m asked.  If just one of these kids take up the fiber craft (and I know one young lady, Sarah, already spins and is taking my weaving class), or looks back on this day when they are adults, remembers the fun they had and starts weaving or knitting or felting or spinning, then I will be happy.

Last, but not least, I wanted to show you one of my favorite tools that played a huge part in my getting the yarn samples ready for today.  This is a click, or clock, reel.  Scott found it at an antique mall here in Indianapolis a few years ago.  It was in complete working condition and only needed a bit of cleaning up.  And we only paid $65 for it.  I love this reel and use it to wind off my handspun yarns when I am done plying it.


And, I know I haven’t gotten any further with my studio set up, but with with today behind me now, I can start concentrating on getting my room set up and ready to use.

Jul 13

I have worked very hard today getting everything ready for the natural dye demonstration tomorrow at the Huddleston House.  At this point, all I lack is punching the paperwork and putting it in their folders, washing three dye pots and warping the LeClerc Dorothy loom  to take for the day on weaving.

I sincerely with I could be there the entire week for this fiber camp.  Wednesday, Mike Hoopengardner is bringing some llamas for the kids to see, there is a day of spinning with wheels and drop spindles, a day of felting, some weaving to do and on Friday, there will be a hearthside cooking demonstration by Karen’s 15-year-old daughter.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about the good food they’ll be getting.

Jul 12

Today, Scott and I went out to the Huddleston House to set up the fire pit area and two of the tents for the Natural Dye demonstration being held there on Tuesday.  We could not have asked for a more beautiful day.  See?


Just look at that sky!  This cupola was on the bank barn and I love cupolas.


The back side of Huddleston House.  There is a very calm feeling about this old house, although, in its day, it was a humming hub for travelers.  It was built in 1841 and was a tavern on the Old National Road.  It served the purpose of giving people a place to change horses, get a meal and spend the night if needed.


I am assuming this was caused by the wind, but there is real character in this tree.  Either that or it is taking a bow for us.


This wee stack of half-grown acorns looked like a pile of fairy hats to me.


The bees were out in force today, although they were more the bumble variety than the honey ones.  I have seen a few honey bees this summer in my own yard that happens to be mostly white clover.  I have missed them and hope this is a sign they are making a come back in our area.


And while I welcome bees of all types, I do not welcome the other critter in this shot.  Go away, stupid Japanese Beetle!!!  Hey, there, Bumble Bee, look behind you!  Go and sting the beetle to death, please!


While the three of us adults and two teenagers were sitting around taking a rest break, a little lizard came out from under the porch to sun himself.  We three adults were going bonkers over him,  and Scott snuck off to get his camera while Karen Trent, the manager of Huddleston House, and I kept an eye on where the lizard scuttled off to while Scott was gone.  Scott took several pictures of him from the side, then handed the camera up to me so I could get some from the top.  We admired his coppery-bronzy shimmer and his tail went from green to turquoise to blue and then to purple at the tip.  Lovely with the sun bouncing off of him.  And could he move!!

The funny part about this little guy is that the three adults acted like little kids over him and telling stories about hunting lizards and salamanders as children –  and the two teenaged girls just could not care less.

Jul 11

Today, Sandy and I took a silk painting/dyeing class with Sylvia Gray at the Indianapolis Art Center. I’ve done some silk painting in the past, but I wanted to learn from someone who knows what they are doing. We had lots of fun!

Sandy really got to show her creative self today, and she was much more courageous when it came to color mixing. Look at the picture below, for example:
Sandy’s scarf is the one on the right and another student’s scarf is on the left. Nothing I did came out nearly as cool as these two. I think Sandy is on to something here and I can’t wait until we get to play more with silk dyes at my house. First we need to order more scarves.

Another student did this really wonderful scarf, which looks like the sunlight shimmering off of the surface of a swimming pool, so she added a dragonfly to complete the effect. I loved this one!

And here are my attempts at this. I started off pretty staid in my color sense, but I was going after the idea of a spider’s web in the bushes on a dewy morning with this one. I like it and it is pretty much what I had imagined.

Then, I started playing with folded scarves to see what they would look like when tie-dyed. My first attempt is pretty, but the colors and the flower design reminds me of the hankies that my paternal grandmother used to carry with her everywhere.

After seeing something Sandy had dyed, I tried to get more bold with my color choices, and produced this tie-dyed scarf.

Better, but I still wanted something more dramatic. Sylvia showed us how to fold a square scarf and get a square design on it. So I folded it like she did, then with the part that would go toward the middle, twisted it tightly and rubber-banded the crap out of it all. I started to squirt dye on it and when I got about half way done, I asked Sandy what she would do next, so she pointed and I squirted and together, we came up with this.

The center part looks like a bear (and the nose looks like a set of nostrils and mouth on a bear when you can see it in person).


The part I really like is the “flames in the grass” effect on the border. I have no idea how that happened, but it is really cool!


It almost makes you feel you should call the fire department.

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