Post #3078: More on learning to weave

I anticipate a lot of weaving in my near future. Not only that, I anticipate a lot more methodical approaches, experiments and fine-tuning of my skills – because I think that I might actually be heading towards a solid base of knowledge at this point. That is after a year of having a loom in operation in my home – the J-Made that I set up last November.

I’ve just taken the first weave off Middle-C and am pleased with the results:

I didn’t really do much math on this project, and so it turned out to be a bit short for a wrap – I mean – it works, but it’s not as long as I had hoped. I have another ball of the striped yarn in reds and oranges and enough charcoal weft to do this project again and so I think I’m going to make the next version narrower and wider to be more of a scarf than a wrap. That will be the next project on Middle-C before I put on ten yards of warp for tea towels.

Using my newfound knowledge of back-to-front warping which I employed for the first time in this most recent project – I am in the process of warping Big-A for twill tea towels in sage green and white. To facilitate the pre-sleying of the reed (so I don’t have to use a raddle) – I made two sets of reed holders on the weekend:

Obviously a very simple thing to make – but a set of these retail for $30 US! I made two sets for $8 Cdn and about 30 minutes of work cutting the pieces and gluing them to the correct width. I am pretty excited about these because propping my reed up between two sets of coffee mugs last time was not optimal – and this solves a lot of problems.

I’m also moving to a live-weight tension braking system on Big-A because the brake-band that the former owners jerry-rigged did not hold during my first weave and I ended up hanging a weighted milk jug off the back of my loom to keep it going. Live weight tension means using weights hung off the back beam to create the friction needed to stop the warp from moving forward. My dad gave me two 4-pound sash weights during a weekend visit so I’ll be tying those on shortly and will take pictures when I do. Big-A is all around a great loom, but the brake problem really needs to be solved.

My goal this week is to get warps on the two main looms and weave off the tea towels that are on Little-J – which are within inches of being done. As I said – lots of weaving in the future – I look forward to sharing photos of all three looms set up at the same time!

Post 3073: Sketchy sketching

The smoke on the BC coast cleared this weekend. After two weeks of nicotine-coloured light and a smoke ceiling emanating from the interior fires – we can see blue sky with normal clouds passing over again, and we even had a bit of rain on the weekend which brought some cooler temperatures with it.

And that was all it took for the lethargy I’ve been feeling in this latter half of summer to shrug right off. I’ve heard that the smoke has put everyone into a state of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning – much worse if you are in the interior, but not good wherever the smoke has lingered – and I’m pretty sure that Brian and I have both been feeling that effect. Tired, sore throats, burning eyes, lots of napping – low interest in things.

But as of Friday, both of us were back in our studios working on our projects – he’s just getting ready to go into final mixing on his first solo album – and I divided my time between weaving, sewing, and sketching some new ideas into the textile notebook.

As a teenager hanging out with visually-artistic friends, I was always jealous of the sketchbooks filled with colourful images and  bits and texture and paint. My notebooks were of the word-filled type, with the occasional doodle that I quickly inked over because they weren’t any good –  those being the days of adolescence when I believed that everyone was paying attention to what I did or didn’t do well (oh! the freedom of realizing that almost no one cares about what I do at all).

Though I have filled many notebooks with writing, I have never been the type of person to create a scrapbook or even collect much in the way of ephemera to put in such a thing – though a couple of years ago I started gluing fabric practices into a large bound book I had bought for the purpose. Since 2015, many of my experiments – stitching, painting fabric, weaving – have made their way into this book. Mostly it serves the purpose of a visual reference for things I might like to return to or incorporate into later work – but more recently I find myself putting full-on sketches – in ink and fabric down on these pages.

Besides the fact I’ve had a bit of time and space this week, I think what has been making this type of “idea work” possible for me is that I have just stopped caring about how sketchy the sketches are. As you can see from the photo above, my sketch from this morning is more like scribbles than anything. It’s the idea I had while driving back from dropping Brian at the ferry – and I wanted to make sure I got it down quickly so that I didn’t lose it for later. Besides drafting this out in five minutes, I took another ten to generate two fabric swatches treated with watercolor paint which will get attached to the page when they are dry. From there, I will blow up a photo and create a sketch of the mountain range across from me, I will practice some thread writing, and then I might create a whole textile “sketch” as well. From that textile sketch, I might create a more finished work, or maybe not. One of the sketches I completed a few months ago is now hanging in my house and is commented on by visitors pretty often:


While there is plenty about this piece that I would change, working a sketch through to “finished” taught me a lot about the processes I was using and would like to use in the future.

It seems to me that the sketchier my initial sketches are – the easier it is to get the ideas out somewhere that I can reference them later. Otherwise, I just plain forget, which seems a shame when I don’t have that many good ideas to begin with.

I am hopeful that this recent  increase in putting ideas to paper will result in more original work as life space permits. While I have long realized that I need more chances to get into the studio fresh in the morning for original work – I recently came to the understanding that all the work I do in the evenings – the sewing and weaving and pattern following  – is practice for the times that I am inspired. That time of “rote” making is all skills-development so when I am struck by some new expression, I don’t have to learn all the practical elements to bring it together. I see that now, as more of my ideas are easily transmitted to textile – in the past I had no idea how to make my thoughts tangible even thought I had lots of good ones (which went unsketched!)

A few years ago I came across this passage by Ira Glass which has continually resonated with me. It’s all practice! Really. It’s all getting the ideas out until we find the thing that makes the special thing happen. I’m still finding the special thing – but I know I am much closer now than I was ten years ago:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” ~Ira Glass


Post #3072: The warping of Big-A

So! Eighteen months after purchasing the big, mysterious, countermarch loom (now nicknamed Big-A in contrast to my small loom Little-J) – I have a warp on and am weaving!

I started sleying the reed before I went on holiday at the beginning of July, and then when I got home in the middle of the month I threaded the heddles and wound on. Since then I have been slowly weaving in a basic hopsack pattern in order to learn about my loom and to get the feel of throwing the shuttle before getting too complicated with the treadling.

For this test warp, I used the yarn that came with the loom (the seller threw in a bag of brightly coloured handspun wool with no stretch – perfect for weaving). It’s a chunky yarn, heavier than worsted weight, which I offset with some skeins of Briggs and Little Heritage in black to create some colour separation. The weft is also black B&L as you can see in the photo below. The intended outcome of this is a blanket which will be created by cutting the weave in half and joining it in the middle for about 54 inches of width. I expect that lengthwise it will work out the same to create a square lap blanket. To be honest, I didn’t work the project out in too much detail because just getting a warp on was the goal, and I was improvising with the yarn on hand.

Now that I have this loom in operation – I am starting to assess it. Countermarch looms are known for being quiet – which is definitely the case with this one (jack looms have a clack and rattle to them). These looms are also known for being overwhelming or difficult to tie up – which I didn’t really find at all. Time-consuming yes, but I have read so much about these looms in the last year that when I climbed underneath to tie up the treadles, I had a good sense of what I needed to do. On the “negative” side – the homemade brake is not holding so well – the belt that the former owner rigged it with broke, so I grabbed another old leather belt that I had on hand – but it is not cinching the warp beam tightly enough to hold it. As a quick fix, I filled a milk jug with water to create enough weight to hold the warp beam back. I can live with that for now – but if I keep this loom into the future, I will probably purchase a proper brake band kit for it.

There is no question that 45 inches is probably all the loom I can handle – as I can barely reach from one side of Big-A to the other. I’ve got 27 inches on right now which I can manage with no problem. I expect that my comfortable maximum weaving width is somewhere around 35 inches. And because it requires a minimum of 2 yards (if not 2 and a half) to warp, this is definitely not a loom for small samples.  On the other hand, there is a lot of control in the overhead beater, which makes for a more even and appropriate weave structure overall. We’ll see what it’s like with 8/2 cotton on it – something I plan to do in short order to get a feel for how different weights and fibres weave on this loom. At the moment, I only have a 10-dent reed – so I’ll have to invest in others if I am going to play with different weights in the future. I will also need to purchase some additional heddles at some juncture.

Throughout the restoration and set up of this loom, I have spent a lot of time kicking myself for the purchase of something so complicated as a new weaver. It seemed to me that I spent *so* much money and time setting it up – wouldn’t it have been better had I just bought something new, with less headaches? Maybe. On the other hand, I have learned far more about loom technology than I would have otherwise. As well, this loom will end up costing me less than a fifth of what new one would cost. So far I am into this loom for about $875: $500 for the initial purchase plus $100 to have it moved, $250 in heddles and texsolv cord and $25 for the restoration wax. More heddles and a brake kit will total an additional $400. Rounding up, this loom will cost $1300 when the restoration is fully done (and I didn’t have to spend that $ all at once). A new loom of identical width/type/shaft #s and similar quality starts at $4700 US (almost $6000 cdn plus taxes!) That’s money that I just don’t have.

So yeah. I’m feeling pretty proud of myself now that I have Big-A up and running and am actually making a *thing* on it. I look forward to many more such experiments in the near future.

Post #3053: Restoration, self and loom.

Is it ironic that I took a mental health day on mental health awareness day? Because that’s what I did yesterday – I took a day off work to deal with my anxiety, imposter syndrome, and the general antipathy that I am feeling towards both my work and my co-workers at the moment. I won’t go into why I’m feeling stressed about workplace issues – because we’ve all been there and the specifics matter much less than the fact of having to sell our labour to survive in the first place.

Anyhow. I spent my day off as follows: morning meditation, long walk on the beach, studio time, 2-hour yoga class, errands, awesome healthy dinner, and more studio time. Pretty great, eh? Well yes, but the work anxiety plagued me all day and I periodically checked in on my email as a result. Turns out, I am missed when I’m not around and today I have double the number of items to follow up on. Which is why I get paid what I get paid, the buck so often stops with me.

My studio time yesterday was spent mostly on the loom. On Tuesday I was at a furniture restoration place to drop off a chair, and I picked up the miracle product: Howard’s Feed N Wax which is a wipe-on, wipe-off beeswax product that smells like oranges – and I could hardly wait to take it to the wood of my 44-year old loom. I’ve got the breast beam and the castle done and you can see here the difference between the waxed (right) and unwaxed (left) parts:


Wax on Wax off…..

Even more striking are the shaft bars that I polished and strung with new texsolv heddles (you can see them in the foreground hanging in front of the old bars and string heddles behind):

Texsolv replaces string

Texsolv replaces string!

img_20170125_204421638As I’m working on the loom, I’ve got the distinct impression that it was built sturdily but in its many decades of being moved around (the former owner moved it across the country and back 3 times), it hasn’t been put back together quite right and so there are some places that need tightening, and I might end up putting a screw or two in to straighten things up. This is one of the benefits of cleaning and waxing the whole thing at the outset – it’s giving me a real chance to look at each part carefully. I’m glad it’s taken me over a year to get to this job, for I didn’t know enough when I bought the loom, and would have done a half-assed job of fixing it up had I just brought it home and got started.

In the evening, I started winding another warp, getting about 2/3rds of the way through it (and finishing the colour stripes which are the time consuming part). This is for my hubble-photo inspired  tea towels which will be of a very plain weave – and will be woven on Little-J (my small loom). I have to admit that the more I weave on the small loom, the less I like it – it’s a table loom with treadle conversion and thus very light weight and wobbly – not to mention clacky (loud). I expect that the countermarch, when ready to go, will make a much more satisfying weaving experience – but I’m glad I’ve had the small one to work with in the meantime. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months, and Little-J was a lot less overwhelming to get started with.

I forsee that the Little J will get sold in the future, as I narrow down my needs and options. I now realize that it’s too small for most things I want to do (20 inches), but weaving on the 45-inch countermarch is going to be a bit of a reality check on what width of fabric I really want to make and my talent at shuttle throwing!

This weekend I’ve got to focus on making bags for an event next weekend, so I’m not sure if I’ll get my loom threaded for the tea towels – but I sure hope so – because there’s something nice about always having a weaving project set up and ready to go. Bit by bit, I’ve got myself a weaving studio happening here — not to mention a great beach to take walks on when I need a reality check….. now, if I could only ditch the work thing.


Post #3052: Recognizing the countermarch!

I have to confess something here and now:

When I bought my floor loom last February I had no idea what I was buying. I mean, I thought I did, but really I didn’t.

For months now, I have been circling this loom and trying to figure it out. I’ve moved it twice but never gotten it set up to weave on – partly because I want to replace all the cordage, but also because I just wasn’t *getting it*. I thought it was a standard jack loom because that’s all I really knew about, and I reasoned that it looked so different from other looms because it was hand built in Nova Scotia in 1973 (by a draft dodger and his wife) which made it unique. I figured that I had the treadles on upside down which is why they did not hang properly – I thought once I replaced the cords and tied it up, I’d get a warp on no problem and it would all fall into place….

It turns out that all of that was wrong.

Since November when I started weaving again after getting the J-made up and running, I’ve been consumed by weaving websites and discussion forums and books. It was while perusing some forum a couple of weeks ago that I found a picture of what looked almost identical to my loom…… The Glimakra Standard – and it was upon poking around some more that I realized that my loom is not a jack loom at all — but a countermarch!

While jack and countermarch looms have many things in common, they do not operate in the same way when it comes to tying them up. The weaving process is the same, but the set up process is not. No wonder I was confounded!

Now that I know what I have, I’m feeling a lot more confident about getting it up and running over the next few months. It is a beautiful piece of work, this loom – likely made of maple, with hand-forged metal fittings — a good cleaning will bring it right back again, not to mention replacing all the old string heddles and the clothesline cord before even attempting to warp and balance it for weaving on. Countermarch looms are supposed to have easy treadling and be fairly quiet – once you stop swearing while attempting to tie them up that is! So I’m eager to compare it to the little loom I’ve been working on for the last few months.

I’ve taken a bunch of photographs and created a gallery of the details here because one thing I’ve found is that there are not tons of countermarch resources on the Internet, and my pictures might help someone else ID their loom later on.  Bit by bit, I’m going to figure this one out!

Post #3049: Colour theory in weaving

This here (above) is my most recent project on the loom. A wool-silk scarf with multiple twill patterns, threaded at 24 ends per inch. I did not choose the colours or the draft, it is entirely a project straight from a book (Next Steps in Weaving) because I’m still in beginner stage and I wanted to make something using suggested materials to get more of a feel for my loom and the weaving process.

img_20161219_162249932This scarf here (on the left) is my second scarf. It has very subtle shading in the weft that does not show up nearly as well as I had hoped. I gave this to my step-daughter for Christmas because what it lacks in colour-popping beauty, it makes up for in luxurious warmth and softness (sport-weight  merino). It’s got some quirks, but they aren’t noticeable when worn. One of the things I love about making things for M. is that she is always roundly appreciative and I’ve noticed over time that she uses them all (she is what knitters call knit-worthy).

Since I got my little loom up and running last month, I’ve been a bit obsessed with weaving – I don’t think the loom has been without a project on it for more than a day at a time, and each time I am mid-way through one project, I gather the materials for the next. This level of obsessiveness is pretty much a requirement when I learn anything – – I have to engage so thoroughly that nothing else interests me for a period of time.

One thing I’ve really started to understand about weaving is that colour works quite differently than it does in crochet or knitting or even sewing – because the colours don’t just lay beside each other, they work with and through each other. It’s a little like painting in that way – how things blend is more important than how they look side by side, and *value* becomes much more important because the contrast between warp and weft is so important to the overall effect.

Colour theory is something I was never exposed to in my younger life, because I took no visual arts in junior high or high school (it was impressed upon me that I did not have visual or manual dexterity and that I should leave visual art alone – I now realize that I suffered from a lack of patience and self-confidence mostly, and the same dexterity I use for playing the fiddle adapts well to pretty much everything else that requires fine muscle control in the digits).

When I choose fabrics or yarn for a project – it is entirely intuitive and with no actual knowledge about why I might pick one thing over another. This lack of understanding about colour has lead to some disappointing results in my sewing life. Such as this quilt:

Finally! This quilt has a home!

Finally! This quilt has a home!

Which turned out just fine, but was not the effect I was going for when I started it. Because I did not expect the colour to come together as it did – I ditched this quilt top for the better part of a decade before finally finishing it last summer. While all the shades “go together” what I hadn’t factored in was colour values. I had wanted the feature squares to be the dark green ones with the leaves, but because the batik four-patches were so much brighter, they dominated the quilt in a way I did not expect. On the other hand, my colour intuition is pretty good without any book-learning, so most of the things I make turn out alright.

I am now at a place where I would like to do more than alright, and approach colour theory in a more systematic way – though I do not have the time or means to drop out of everything and go to art school (and I missed the boat on Jane Stafford’s weaving workshops for this year). So I’m working with a few things I’ve picked up in the last couple of years to choose new palettes for weaving.

A couple of years ago I took a creative skills workshop where the instructor showed us how to make palettes using nature photographs – picking up the shade, tone, and colour elements by mixing watercolours which could then be applied to another project. I was fairly interested in this process, as I had never thought much about the colour symmetry in nature until doing a few of these exercises and creating a beautiful array of choices for applying any number of ways.

Thinking about that over the holidays, and inspired by some photographs from the Hubble space telescope – I decided to run a few of the more spectacular ones through Color Palette FX which allows you to plug any photograph in and then select five shades to create your palette. From there I grey-scaled them to help determine the value balance among my choices – because, as noted in my above quilt example – value is as important as hue when putting colours side by side!

As an example, this is the photo and palette I have decided to experiment with (with the greyscale for value analysis below):


From this palette, I selected 5 shades of 8/2 cotton from which I plan to make plain weave towels – using the lightest value (ivory) as the background) with the darker values striped through the weft. We’ll see how it turns out – I was trying to get away from “typical” tea towel colours – though my finished product will be nowhere as spectacular as the hubble photo that inspired it!

As I have a weaving on the loom at the moment, I won’t be able to warp again for at least a few days (I’m hoping to weave the scarf off this weekend, and set up my dish towels after that) – so until I do, we won’t get to see how my colour play works out – but I promise to share here when I am warped, and again when I am finished. There is nothing I like more than a hand woven dish towel so even if it doesn’t turn out to be the perfect blend of value and hue, there will still be a usable item at the end.

Post 3046: My looming problem (resolved)

Moving away from the topic of zen for a moment (or not, because what is weaving if not a zen practice?) – I have an announcement to make:

I am finally in possession of a working, functionally set-up loom.

Remember awhile back when I wrote about buying a second small-ish loom because the first big one I bought was overwhelming and needed some work? Well, I did get it mostly put together right away after it arrived via courier – even getting the tie-ups partly completed – but then I was stumped. For some reason, the treadling (the foot pedals) were clunky and not snapping into place – and I had a feeling that it had something to do with the elastic cord which had been removed in the transit process – but I could not figure out how the whole thing was supposed to tie together. I wrote to the company asking for the original instructions, which came, sans any mention of the elastic cord. I now realize that the elastic cord only applied to some of their treadling kits, but not all and the instructions I got were fairly generic. Then I went online and looked around to see if that helped – but there are so few of these looms out there (or if they are, they are packed away in people’s garages) that I couldn’t find much, and what I did find didn’t really explain things. So, being really busy this fall, I walked away from it for a few months.

img_20161208_203712819Flash forward to last week when I got the bug to weave again and started thinking about my loom. I had bought replacement elastic cord and some additional heddles (the eyes that the thread or yarn passes through to form the pattern) which were waiting for me to install – and so I found a bit of time here and there over a few days to get to work on it. And what of the elastic cord? Once I got underneath the loom I could see that there were pulleys built in especially to create a track for that cordage which simply holds the lamms to the frame so they snap back in place after the treadle is released (don’t worry if you didn’t understand that sentence, weaving has its own dictionary).

All that to say – I figured it out and got the loom tied up a couple of days ago. Last night, I put together the warping board that I bought back in May – which took all of about 10 minutes – and I proceeded to put a tiny warp on my loom (the warp are the fibres that pass from the front to back of the loom, they are lifted in various combinations using foot pedals or levers to create the weave pattern).

If you look at the picture below, you can see that the warp pattern is off a bit, but no matter – I had two goals in mind when I put this on. First, I wanted to see how the loom was in operation and whether I had configured it all correctly. So far the answer to that is yes – but it needs some adjusting and the heddles that were originally on it are a bit tangled – and I definitely need to get or build a weaving bench that is a bit higher than my kitchen chair to use it comfortably. Second, I wanted to follow the steps of warping a loom without a lot of ends to manage – which went fine – but I do need to mount the warping board on the wall to curtail the back pain that goes with being uncomfortably stooped when winding meters and meters of yarn into a warp.

Once all that was sorted out, I got to weave for a bit before bedtime – the inset photo shows the results – three weave patterns (a plainweave and 2 twills) for the pure purpose of getting my head back into reading a draft and watching the pattern emerge in the fabric. This is my first time using a loom with foot pedals, and I used the Peggy Osterkamp 4-treadle tie up which is amazingly efficient and doesn’t require retying for every pattern. I’ve got a couple meters of warp on, so I plan to weave it off trying out a variety of weave sequences before putting on a wider warp and doing something a bit more planned. I think that might be a scarf, followed up by some fabric to be turned into napkins. We’ll see. But for now I’m going to enjoy the aimless weaving as I get used to this little loom.

I’m feeling so confident at the moment, that I may even get the big loom into action soon too!

(Like how I used your pun Carmen?)


Post #3031: Knitting in New York

This holiday is a visiting-oriented trip, so there is much sitting around and socializing. First in Croton-on-Hudson (where the above photo was taken), and now in Huntington Long Island where my brother-in-law lives.


Basically, I’m hanging out in suburbia and it’s giving me lots of time with my niece and my knitting – much more relaxed than any other trip I’ve taken to New York.

The weather here has been mixed, and the house we are staying at has a swimming pool – so besides knitting, I have done a lot of walking around streets without sidewalks, and swum laps. Today I walked to a fabric store and bought a couple of things but no spectacular finds. Tomorrow we’ll go and do some type of touristy activity since the rain is clearing off – but mostly this is a trip about hanging out and knitting. Not so bad.

Post #3029: Almost ready to turn on the fall projects.

It very suddenly feels like fall here – the leaves have been turning for the last couple of weeks, and this morning some much needed rain falls on my yard outside the studio (the sunrise photo above was taken last week during a sunnier commute). And though I see many of my friends upset by this turn of weather, west coast summers feeling always so brief, I myself welcome autumn with an open heart. By the end of August, I always feel like it’s time for a return to more routine and structure, and I love the return of the rains which make our part of the world so green for much of the year.

I’ve been thinking about fall projects a lot – I’m working on two different knit scarves at the moment, one of them is part of a memorial knitting project I am doing in the wake of my friend Bronwyn’s death, and the other is a lace stole that I am making for myself. The memorial knitting is great for travel and watching TV, the lace knitting is best done in silence, or to the sound of an audio book and nothing else. I have no great photos of either, but this photo of the memorial knit (triangular scarf) shows the way the colour striping from the two gradient yarns is working together. I am in love with this colour combination:


I’ve got some fall sewing also on my mind. I recently went to the wedding of my ex-boyfriend and sewed a whole outfit in honour of the occasion – dress, wrap (which I swapped out for a crochet wrap instead), and clutch:


This was my first time working with a lace overlaid on a satin lining, and I modified the Coco pattern for knits because I like the shape of it. I got lots of compliments on the dress, but there is one thing I need to change and that’s the fact that because the lining and the lace are different weights, there is a weird drag on the hem. I’m going to cut the lining free at the hem and hem it separately – which should fix it as a fancy dress that I can wear in the future. The wrap is the Elmira pattern from Seamwork/Collette and while I didn’t wear it with the dress in the end, I have found it to be a useful piece for late summer. I would like to make this again but lengthen it a bit to account for my bustline. The wrap is supposed to fall towards the waist, but in my case it sits high. That works, but I would like to size it properly for me. The clutch was made from some remnant upholstery fabric and some leftover dress lining using the Seamwork Valencia pattern.

In doing this marathon sewing blitz (all three pieces were completed in a four-day period during which I was also working), I was reminded that I really like the challenge of garment sewing and I would like to get back to more of it this fall. I’ve got fabric for skirts and a t-shirt, and an open cardigan. Additionally I’ve got two pieces of beautiful double gauze – enough for one shirt and a dress – it’s not really a seasonal fabric, but I tend to layer anyways.

I’m also itching to put another quilt together after finishing the baby quilt that is being gifted next week:

New baby quilt ready to go NY with me at the end of the month.

A post shared by Megan @ Birdsong (@illuminantmeg) on

I’ve got some remnants put together from this one that I might use to create a full size quilt, but another baby is coming to our family in the new year so there may just be a replica baby quilt made from them and I’ll pull together a new house quilt with stuff I’ve got in the stash. I would like to eventually finish off the Tula Pink 100 blocks that I started in 2014 (I’ve made 38) as well since I quite like the hodgepodge effect of many small blocks/many fabrics.

In any case, as with the start of any new season, I am awash in new project ideas – some of which will happen, some which will not. That’s the beauty of planning – it’s a creative act in itself, and when it’s not work related, you only have to finish what you feel like finishing.

Before all that – we’ve got a little holiday coming up as we fly to NY tomorrow to visit a friend in Hudson-on-Croton, and my brother and sister-in-law and their new family addition on Long Island. I can’t say that I am over-eager to travel to the US in the run-up to election madness – from an outsider’s perspective, the US looks very unsafe to me from a variety of angles – but we will be mainly in the suburbs visiting people we are long overdue to see, and that makes the trip worthwhile. After this though, it will be a very long time before I go south again – the dollar, the potential right-wing government, and the internal violence being what they are. I have to admit to being frightened for my US friends and family, and by extension, frightened for Canada and Mexico – because it’s only a matter of time before that shit impacts both sides of the border (and I’m just glad I’m living on a small island that takes two ferries to get to).

But! For the next twelve days or so, I will be in the USian east, somewhere I have not visited for four years -and I’ve never spent any time on Long Island. I’m just considering it a bit of an adventure in the upside-down-world (for what is Donald Trump if not the shadow side of Justin Trudeau – liberal capitalism has a little bit of socialism on one side, and a little bit of fascism on the other after all).

That means my knitting will come along for the ride, but the sewing will have to wait until we return – though I am crossing my fingers that a couple of fabric shops will get visited during my travels, possibly a knit shop or two as well. I’ll try to post from the road – and will definitely start project posting on our return!


Post #3027: One plus one equals two looms

I’m in the process of putting together loom number two, after moving loom number one to the new house and becoming overwhelmed by it (so big! I’ve never worked with a floor loom! needs a new brake tie-up!).

This second loom came to me via Craigslist and courier and was a very good price indeed – a J-made table loom with a treadle conversion (making it a floor loom). With 22-inches of weaving width it is half the size of my first (also, Craigslist purchase) and a totally different tie-up style.

I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself at the moment because the J-Made came in a box and was in several pieces/totally dismantled. So far I’ve managed to put it mostly together and am working now on the tie-ups. My goal is to have it warped this weekend with some practice yarn.

Funny thing though, while putting this together from pieces, I’ve got a much clearer idea of what needs to happen with the larger loom (even though it’s a different type altogether), and am feeling a lot more confident about getting that going as well. I expect that warping the smaller loom will have a similar effect – once I get a warp successfully on, the larger warping process won’t seem so daunting either.

I realize now that I never did get around to writing about the first loom, partly because I never got it set up after I moved it. Stay tuned for more posts about both looms – I’ve gotten re-energized about weaving now that we are moved and my studio is set up. I’ve also get some sewing and knitting projects on the go – really – I’ve got to start posting about this stuff more!