Monday, September 28, 2009

An old story and a new story

Ah me, this is a bit harder than I thought it would be. I have an ending to post and a beginning. I am afraid the time has come to put my weaving blog in mothballs for a while. I have not done much weaving and spinning this summer due to our move and transition to a new life. I am not giving it up all together though. I will need to weave and spin occasionally to keep my sanity!
I have created another blog. This one is about my journey through art school, which is the reason I will not be doing a lot of work with fiber or blogging about it. My blog is called Art=Life and can also be found in my Personal Links list.
I wish to thank the Whidbey Weavers Guild for getting me started with this blog and my weaving friends at WWG, Skagit Valley Weavers Guild, Seattle Weavers Guild, and Whatcom Weavers Guild for your friendship, mentorship, and tremendous support.
I wish to give a special thank you to my fiber blogging friends. You are all awesome and I have been so inspired by reading your blogs. I will still be reading!
I start art school next week. I can't believe we finally made it to this point!
Thank you everyone. I hope you get a chance to enjoy my new blog. -Renee

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Balls, Buttons, and Bounty

I couldn't resist posting the juggling balls my husband crocheted for me. I have taken up learning to juggle for my own amusement. It also enhances creativity believe it or not. It is nice to take a juggling break now and then.
There is a little town down the coast from where we are staying called Manzanita. It is not quite as tourist clogged as Cannon Beach. There is a lovely cafe where we like to sip hemp milk mochas. They sell all kinds of interesting bumperstickers, magazines, and of course, buttons. I couldn't resist these two.

We have a wonderful farmer's market that meets just a short five minute walk from our RV. I have been enjoying the local bounty. I picked up all this yummy stuff this afternoon and am off to cook us up some dinner.
We have been enjoying long walks on the beach and poking around. Not much time for weaving these summer days but I hope to get another project on my loom before I start school...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beach Idyll

I see from my blog list that so many of you have been busy weaving and dyeing this summer. Alas I have not! It has been a while since I posted mainly because I have been enjoying the coast and exploring many other things besides fiber.
We spent a month near Astoria, Oregon. It is an interesting town. The people who live there must be very hardy. The elements get pretty rough there, particularly in the winter. They have a wonderful maritime museum that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the area. Then, there is the whole Lewis and Clark saga since they ended their epic trek on the coast there. I could probably make several posts about the rich history of the area.
We have relocated back to Cannon Beach. This morning while walking on the beach I came across this gentleman creating a labyrinth in the sand. It has been wonderful to rest and explore and get set for our next adventure.
Next month we do our final relocation down to Ashland where I have new fiber friends to meet. I will have a month before I start art school. I plan to start another blog dedicated to that journey. I expect my weaving blog will dwindle to a trickle but I hope to be able to keep my hand in. I certainly plan to incorporate fiber into my drawings. I will share those here too when they happen.
In the meantime, I am enjoying peeking at everyone's projects. They are wonderful to see and keep me going. Thanks! -Renee

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cormorants, Puffins, and Yarn Shops. Oh My!

OK, so there aren't exactly any Puffins in this picture but I did see some earlier, honest! There is a large variety of sea birds nesting here. They come to nest in spring and summer. In this picture the black bird is a Brandt's Cormorant. The cute black and white ones are Common Murres. There may be a Western Gull tucked in there as well. There are literally thousands of sea birds nesting on the rocks. I was able to get this close to one of the large rocks they are nesting on because there was a minus tide. Usually the rock is surrounded by a very cold Pacific Ocean. I also had to use the zoom feature on my camera.

I continue to be fascinated with the marine life and all the wonderful moods of weather and ocean here. I grew up by the sea and I don't think I will ever lose my love and respect of it. The picture on the right was taken on the same morning. Again, this area is usually submerged in water except at very low tides. In addition to the birds there are huge, fat, purple and orange starfish, urchins, mussels, various seaweeds, barnacles....and much more. There are broken sand dollars sprinkled all over the place. I did find two large whole ones and threw them back into the ocean.
Twill and I have been enjoying long walks on the beach. Twill has a propensity to roll in the dried seaweed and heaven-only-knows-what-else that is a bit disconcerting. I have to watch her. She usually picks a moment when I am busy photographing something!
Before I get to the local yarn stores, some of the sea birds to be found in this area during the summer are the following; Common Murre, several varieties of Cormorants, Tufted Puffins, a few varieties of Auklet, Leach's Storm Petrel, Western Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, Black Oystercatcher, Pelicans (I think Brown but am not sure), and various shorebirds too. The birds go elsewhere for the chilly dark winters.
Cannon Beach has a lovely yarn store called Coastal Yarns located on the north end of the main street of Hemlock. They are well stocked with knitting yarns and supplies. They had a few very small bags of wool fiber for needle felting and other small projects but not much else outside of knitting.
My favorite LYS is one we found in the little coastal town of Manzanita, about 15 miles south of Cannon Beach. We spent the afternoon browsing the town as we were, ahem, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary relaxing and enjoying the moment. I wasn't looking for a yarn store or anything but this one caught my eye. It is called T-Spot, Yarn, Teas, and Chocolates. The store lived up to its name with a lovely variety of yarn, tea, and chocolate. Hard to go wrong with that combination. They had a bit of dyed roving as well. I plan to go back and get some Soy Silk yarn and a bar of pure chocolate and sugar. Two ingredients, nothing else added. The owner had the cutest little needle felting kits and the store was set up beautifully. The website for T-Spot is here an in my fiber links.
I really like Manzanita. It isn't as touristy as Cannon Beach. We actually stayed there on a past Thanksgiving with some friends. We are making plans to meet our friends there one day again.
Finally, we are about to move for the month of July to a spot east of Astoria, Oregon. The disadvantage of not having several months notice to make reservations is that every RV place worth staying at on the coast is full. We will be coming back for the month of August though before heading to Ashland in September. We are not used to hot weather and wanted to ease into a warmer climate. It is cool and wet here on the coast.
More to come! -Renee

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Greetings from Cannon Beach Oregon

Hello from beautiful Cannon Beach. I didn't get a chance to post a few pictures of the beach last time because I wanted to get to the post on the skeinwinder that I had promised a while back. Here I have my husband and our dog Twill posed in front of Haystack Rock. The picture is very deceiving because we are actually quite a ways down the beach from the rock. It stands about 200 feet high and is home to many sea birds. I haven't had a chance to stop by the mobile interpretive display on the beach but hope to soon so I can post a little bit more information on the flora and fauna.
I have been taking nice long walks on the beach with Twill in the mornings and exploring the little coastal town bit by bit in the afternoons. It is one of these towns that survive on the tourist trade but is still charming none the less. It is also one of the art towns listed in the 100 Best Art Towns in America by John Villani.
I must also mention here that Ashland, Oregon, the town we are moving to, is also listed and is in fact number two in the top ten list.
Cannon Beach does have a yarn store. I popped in for a bit of a browse. The store has quite a nice selection on yarns that cater to the knitter or crocheter. Alas nothing for the weaver or spinner although I have used knitting yarns in my weaving on occasion.
This picture on the right is a bit goofy I know. It is essentially a self-portrait. I set my camera up on a driftwood log and set the timer then ran out in front. The problem is Twill thought is was a really fun game and kept trying to grab my drop spindle. I am leaning away from her while trying to spin and get it all in motion before the timer goes off! It took a few tries and some of the pictures look pretty funny. It was a lovely sunny day but still quite cool. We have a storm moving in at the moment but I hope to break out my spinning wheel and loom soon. It has been too long and I am itching to get back to it before I get bogged down in school.
I have been enjoying the art galleries and the farmer's market as well. There are a few art events coming up which will be lovely to see. We are still catching up on sleep but the area is beautiful and peaceful. Just what we needed to restore the color and sparkle in our faces.
It is starting to sink in that I have a bit more time at the moment to catch up on the blogs I am following and post a few tidbits myself. I shall return soon! -Renee

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An Epic Move and a Skeinwinder

WE DID IT!!! Our house sold and we are now drinking champagne as I post in Cannon Beach, Oregon. OK, I need to back up a bit. I personally know that there have been folks that have had a far more epic move than we have but moving after living in one spot for 22 years is always a huge undertaking. We have been paring down and packing for quite a while but when the sale looked like it was going to actually go through this time, the packing got serious. The house closed on Thursday and we signed the papers on Tuesday. We managed to pack what was left from the purge into one big Penske rental truck and a U-Haul trailer. We ended up loading a bit later into the night than we thought so we left for Ashland, Oregon later than we planned on Wednesday morning. We drove for 12 hours in tandem with me driving our pickup with a U-Haul trailer and my husband driving the big Penske. We spent Wednesday night in Grants Pass, Oregon about 30 miles north of Ashland and drove to a storage place on Thursday. The manager was out doing errands so we didn't get to start unloading until late in the afternoon. We finished unloading our worldly goods about 7 pm and left off the rental trailer and truck. Needless to say it was quite late when we finally headed back to our trailer 500 miles away in Washington State. We ended up driving through the whole night.
Now, when we were younger we could do that and shake it off but, alas, we are middle age at the moment and the body doesn't recover quite as fast! After a week of being short on sleep, it has been pretty hard to recover from the hard physical work of loading and unloading, a long drive, and the mental strength that has been required. We put off moving our trailer for a day but yesterday, after another very long drive, we arrived at Cannon Beach for the first stop over on our way to Ashland. We will be spending the summer before school starts resting up along the Oregon coast. It is beautiful. I will be taking pictures tomorrow to post really soon.
In the meantime, we sleep a lot. I have absolutely nothing planned for the week except to eat, sleep, walk the beach, and, ahem, enjoy time with my husband.
I think I can tell you now that all the stress and exhausting work will be well worth it.
Now, to change the topic a bit, I promised last post that I would show the homemade skeinwinder my husband made for me several years ago.
These pictures were taken after the winder had been packed, but I was able to haul it out to take a couple of hasty pictures. The picture on the left shows the full winder. I clamp the bottom of the winder to a table. The metal plate is attached to two arms that have dowels with knobs on the ends to wind the yarn on. I can unscrew the dowels and move them to the holes you can see toward the middle and I will get a one yard skein. The two yard skein works best for most of my purposes and I can get that with the dowels placed at the end of the arms.
I have a dowel with a screw in the end which I insert in the notches in the metal plate to turn the winder which ever way I wish. I can get that baby really humming too! One of the knobs on the end of the dowels unscrews so I can pop the finished skein off.

The picture on the right is a closeup of the turning mechanism in back. There is a pulley with a ball bearing insert that is screwed onto the back mount and the metal plate is bolted through the center of the winder arms so that they turn freely.
I hope this makes sense. It can be a bit challenging to describe. I guess the best I can do is to perhaps give everyone a general idea so that if they wish to make one themselves they can have a good starting point. I will admit, I love tinkering and building tools to use in my studio.
I keep count of the number of turns by simply marking one arm of the winder with a red "X" and counting every time it flashes by. I sometimes use a tie to tie up every 50 or so threads when making larger skeins of fine threads. Low tech yes, but sometimes that works the best.
So, Priscilla, I hope this helps a bit if you haven't already solved your winding needs. I find it helpful when I need to make my own tools to look at similar ones online. That reminds me, I need to make a shuttle bobbin winder. I have always used my AVL electric pirn winder but that won't work in our trailer (no room!) and I don't need that much power for winding bobbins for the Jane loom. I am thinking of a simple attachment for a small power drill...
More from Cannon Beach soon! -Renee

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spinning on the Skagit and a Skeinwinder

I am taking a breather from packing and cleaning to post a quick post. My spinning wheel is living nicely in its new home and the repair I did to it seems to be holding up too.
Our Pacific Northwest weather has suddenly turned glorious. "Sucker weather" is the term that is often used. Many people that happen to be visiting when the weather smiles as it has been suddenly feel compelled to move to the area, not realizing the stunning emerald green of the land is due to many wet grey days. The land is breathtakingly beautiful in the sunshine though.
We can see two significant volcanoes along the chain, Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier. The San Juan Islands which stretch out to the west and north of us are crystal clear too and the Olympic peninsula rears up to the south. Is it any wonder that people want to move here if they happen to be visiting when all of this is at its most beguiling?
I celebrated the lovely weather by spinning on the bank of the Skagit river (the "g" in Skagit is pronounced like a "j" so it sounds like Ska-jit) which is about 25 feet from our trailer door.
Our house sale reels from one potential catastrophe to another but is still going forward (knock on wood). I am still braiding my fingers and trying not to hold my breath. We have 8 more days before closing and anything can happen. Yikes! So much to do still.
I had a new comment from Priscilla on my old post about my dream skeinwinder I built. She was asking about my homemade manual skeinwinder! I hadn't really thought about posting pictures of that with an explanation about how my husband built it until she asked. I want to do it justice so I won't be posting about it in this post. I have found it in the studio (I thought it was packed! It is now.) and took some pictures so I will be posting the details soon. It is nothing fancy but it does the job nicely.
I have been reading everybody's recent posts but haven't had a chance to leave a comment or two. As soon as we move time will ease up and I will be able to catch up. I can hardly wait!
Skeinwinder post coming soon Priscilla!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Up and Spinning Again!

Well, I managed to get my spinning wheel repaired and working again. A big thank you to Ellen H. who left a comment about a fix she did on my last post. I didn't need to replace the actual bearing but I got a neoprene washer that held the bearing nut in. I haven't had my camera and my wheel in the same place to take a picture yet but will soon.
We are now camped by the Skagit River out in the farmland. It is quite picturesque but the Whidbey Island Navel Station has fighter jets flying quite a bit and at times they come right over us. It often sounds like they are about to land right on top of us!
Today was warm enough that I finally got to do what I had envisioned. We put the awning up and I sat outside our trailer with my husband and dog and spun for about an hour. I am spinning a three ply sock yarn. I am not using the fibers pictured to the left yet. I pulled up an old photo to post today until I can get a new picture. At the moment I am spinning a 54's Australian wool roving. Not as fine as a merino wool but almost as soft.
We have been quite busy since the last post. Our house has an offer on it! There are a few complications but so far the buyer has stuck with us. If all goes well (knock on wood, fingers not only crossed but braided) we can be rolling out of here by the middle of next month.
Our trailer has undergone a few modifications and now has a special place for my spinning wheel and the Jane loom. I haven't brought Jane to the trailer yet but soon. Little by little the shakedown continues and we are settling in.
I hope to have triumphant news in my next post. Now to go catch up with what the other weavers are up to out there. -Renee

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Roving Weaver

I haven't exactly been on the road but I, along with my husband and dog, have been living at an RV park beside a lake in our travel trailer. It is on the left. This is the first time we have lived in it for any length of time. We figured since we plan to live in it for quite a while, now is a good time to give it a shake down trial. We aren't too far from where our house and property is. That is convenient since some of the things we thought we needed we brought back to the house and various items we actually did need were brought to the trailer after we had been there a few days. My husband has been busy modifying the interior to fit our needs, for example, room for his trumpet and my Jane weaving loom. I haven't actually brought it out to the trailer yet as I have visions of weaving on it during a warm spring day underneath the awning. So far, we have only had one really warm spring day. That is, warm for here. It actually got into the 70's! We spent the day being tourists in a near by town as it actually fell on my birthday (and a lovely present the sunny day was too).
I wish I could say I have the warp off the Jane loom. Unfortunately I have only had about 5 minutes here and there to weave. It is getting there but oh so slowly. At the moment I am traveling between our trailer and our house to keep it maintained and ready to view by potential buyers. I will be one excited weaver when the house is sold and we are on our way at last. In the meantime, we endure.
Spinning has come to a screeching halt for me as well as my spinning wheel has mysteriously lost a little tiny part that holds the bearing where the flyer is inserted. My wheel is a Schacht Matchless double treadle. It is about 12 years old now and has been a wonderful wheel for me. I contacted Schacht to see if I could get a replacement part. It is a little tiny metal clip. Unfortunately so far they have quoted me a price to replace the whole assembly. I will have to call them directly and see if I can get the part. I might see what I can do on my own as I like to repair my own appliances and things.
So, all of the above is part of the reason for the lack of posts. I hope to make up for the long silence soon. In the meantime, I have some weaving blogs to catch up on. I look forward to seeing what my weaving friends have been up to!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Reflecting Interlude

I have to beg indulgence from one and all. This is such a strange time in my life. It is definitely a time of transition. I have been away from the blog for a time. My meager online time has been devoted to researching some of the choices my husband and I have on where to go from here.
As I have mentioned from time to time, our house is for sale. This is a house that my husband and I designed in our mid-late 20's then built in our 30's. The house is now 16 years old and it sits on our 5 acre property that is becoming increasingly surrounded by the encroaching city of Stanwood.
It is time for us to move on and make a mid-life transition. It has been a long wait from the time we first put the house on the market until now. A lot has happened in this time period such as the economy and housing markets crashing, and a new U.S. president being elected. It hasn't been always easy to wait in limbo but when looking at the pain that other folks are going through, we feel we have been fortunate so far.
The silver lining has been the time to really think things through and take a look around. After a lot of reflective work, journaling, and digging through the layers of oneself, I have decided to take a rather huge leap...
I have drawn and sketched pretty much most of my life. I can't help myself it seems. I have sketch journals and sometimes when looking through my weaving folders I find odd sketches here and there. I once sketched my water bottle when sitting through a particularly long (and, yes, boring) business meeting at the Seattle Weavers Guild! Deep down inside was always the thought of "what if?" What if I were to pursue this?
I don't think I need to tell any weaver, artist, or fiber artist what happens when you pursue a higher calling. The obstacles, the nay-sayers, the wet-blankets, the cold, icy water flingers, all come out of the woodwork. As if your own feet didn't get in the way!
I drew the above drawing a few years ago. It was donated to one of my weaving guilds for a fund raising auction for the guild (Marie take note, you have one of my early works!). I recently started another weaving related still life drawing and it was as if I were coming home. A lot of things fell into place that just felt right. The result of all of this preamble that you have kindly read through (5 gold stars for making it this far!) is that I am going back to art school. I am going to seriously train in the fine arts.
There, I have said it! I am older, stronger, and hopefully a little more wise enough now to stand fast when the waves of Resistance* come flooding in.
I am still a weaver. I love fiber. It will have to find its place in my life. It might take a few years to settle in its place but it will still be part of my past, present, and future. Thank goodness!
I have been focusing on getting our house sold and getting resettled. The potential buyers are starting to come out of hiding and we have actually had a few stop by recently. I have been getting drawings put together for a school application but will be getting back to the warp on my loom soon. The story will continue...
* The idea of Resistance is from Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art. I highly recommend reading it to everyone. I have read it many many times. I will warn folks, it contains very blunt language. I enjoy that sort of thing but not everyone does.

Monday, February 23, 2009

There's That "S" Word Again!

I debated whether or not to take the time to sample this warp. I just put the warp on to get to know my new Jane loom. I don't really have a particular end use in mind. I finally decided that there was no sense in weaving four yards off on a table loom unless I have the sett just right. As I have done in the past, I cut off the bit I wove and divided it into thirds. One of the thirds I kept as is right off the loom and it is the sample on the left. The sample in the center I washed in the sink with a bit of detergent and warm water and swishing it around.
The third sample, on the right, I threw in the washing machine and dryer with a load of towels!
I have mentioned this technique before after Daryl Lancaster mentioned it on the Sew Your Weaving Weavecast episode. On the right is a close-up picture of the three samples. You can see the third sample looks fuzzy and the stars are smaller than the others.
I am using an unknown wool yarn in the warp. Even more reason to sample. My sett was pretty close, I sett it at 15 epi.* After the samples were dried and given a quick steam press, I decided that I am going to nudge the sett together to 16 epi. It doesn't seem like a huge change but I know from experience that it will make a big difference in the final fabric. So now I need to change the reed and re-sley. It shouldn't take me very long on a small table loom. If this were an expensive fiber or a very special fabric, I would sample again but I think I am going to just re-sley and go on from there. It will be close enough.
On a different topic, I have to give a shout out to the magazine Wild Fibers. This is its fifth anniversary year. I got my current copy in the mail the other day and stayed up late reading it from cover to cover. If you have never read this magazine and have any interest in fiber or fiber animals, I highly recommend it. It isn't full of projects but Linda Cortright, the editor and publisher is, compared to me, an incredible adventurer. She takes her readers around the world and to remote places in pursuit of fiber stories. I have a link to the magazine in my Fiber Links or you can take a look at the website here.
I will be back soon with the results of another project I am working on. In the meantime, is that a whiff of spring I smell in the air?
*see glossary

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Humble Color and Weave

A color-and-weave effect on a twill weave structure can be a lot of fun. One can take a simple weave structure such as twill or plain weave and make it look a lot more complex with just two colors of yarn. Of course, twill can get complex, specially for those lucky weavers who have 32 shaft Megado looms! This is a simple 8 shaft, straight-draw* twill. The picture to the left is the beginning of the warp. I am still getting used to a table loom. I must say, the weaving action is quite nice on the Jane. I chose not to do a detailed posting on the warping process since Susan at Thrums did such a lovely post on that earlier. She has some pretty amazing posts at the moment so be prepared to spend a bit of time reading and then dig back a bit to find her post on warping the Jane loom.
I am about to cut this bit off and wash it to see how the sett is. Judging from the little bit of weaving I just did on it, I am guessing I need to tighten the sett* a bit.

Here is a close-up picture of the weave. This particular draft can be found in various weaving books. I pretty much had this in mind to put on for the first warp and I used the draft from pg 55 of Color-and-Weave II by Margaret B. Windeknecht. It is one of my favorite color-and-weave resource books.
She defines color-and-weave as a
"...pattern effect produced by combining a standard weave structure with a dark/light color sequence in both warp and weft. The color-and-weave effect is a pattern on the surface that is quite different in appearance from either the original weave structure (as seen with solid color warp and weft) or the dark/light sequence."
(Color-and-Weave II, pg. 2)
For those who may not be familiar with how color-and-weave works, the loom is threaded using a standard weave structure with two or more colors in a particular sequence. If L stands for a light colored yarn and D stand for a dark colored yarn, a few examples of color threading sequences would look like this; DDLLL, or DDDLDLD, or simply LDLD. In this particular warp I threaded 8 dark threads followed by 8 light threads and continued the sequence across the warp. The color sequence looks like this: DDDDDDDDLLLLLLLL. Where it really becomes interesting is you then can cross the warp with many different color sequence wefts to get different effects. Color-and-weave gamps can be very educational to make.
To get this spinning star effect, I simply used the same color sequence I warped with in the weft. I throw 8 picks of the dark yarn and the 8 picks of the light yarn.
The tie-up or lift plan on a floor loom or, in my case, the lifting sequence on the table loom adds another dimension. When you start getting into color-and-weave effects you start to see how fascinating and complex it can really be.
I like to use a black and white yarn combination because I can then go back and paint dyes on the fabric to make things even more interesting.
I will be cutting this off and washing it and will post the results of the sample.
*see glossary

Monday, February 9, 2009

Inventive Warping

Phew! I know, it has been a while. I seemed to hit a streak of computer glitches, server glitches, and general time glitches. Somewhere in there we had a couple of house viewings we had to stage the house for. We are a bit out of practice since the housing market has been at a standstill around here.
I do have the Jane loom warped with a 8-harness twill color-and-weave in black and white wool. I picked the wool up at the Christmas guild sale for a couple of dollars. I will have fun overdyeing it after it is woven.
Now, for the past eleven plus years, I have warped sectionally (and love it by the way). Now that the AVL is dismantled and crated and Jane is here, I have to change my warping ways.
I do not own a warping board at the moment. I do have a huge warping mill which is made for those mega-long warps without a sectional beam (another long story for another time). It too is packed and definitely would not be appropriate for the petite Jane. So, how to warp?
We will eventually be moving to a 24 ft. travel trailer for a while so I am limited in the number of objects I can have on hand. With that in mind, my dear darling (not to mention very cute and sweet) husband made a nifty portable warping system for me. It is not a deluxe warping system by any stretch of the imagination but it works! That is really all that is needed. The picture above shows it in action. It consists of several "platforms" that can be clamped to, well, clampable surfaces. One inch dowels are inserted and away you go. There are several pieces so one could make the classic warping board zigzags if one wished. I clamped them to the loft railing which was the perfect length for a four yard warp. Note, I put enough dowels up to make a cross.
Once the warp is finished and moved to the loom all the pieces store in this handy little box shown here. I stuck one of the dowels in to hopefully make it easier to see what I am talking about. The box is about 8"x 12" and about 4" deep. Quite compact and it works beautifully. I suspect I would have a bit more of a challenge if I needed to do a warp wider than 16 inches but I could work around it and do it in "sections" if need be. I could always cut longer dowels too.
Jane is indeed warped and the first weaving has been started. I will take a picture as soon as I get the beat and sett right. A new loom always takes a bit of getting used to, specially when one goes from a huge 60" wide loom that one can walk into, to a sweet little table loom. So far I like Jane's action. It is everything the human Jane promised!
Now, if I can only get that little voice going "flippy floppy, flippy floppy" out of my head when I work the levers! Oops! well, you had to be there to understand that last bit.
I have several projects, well OK, a few projects going at the moment and will be posting about them over the next few weeks. I have also been busy researching Tencel(TM) yarns. I have found a few sources but would welcome any recommendations!
Oh, before I forget, I have added another fiber link to the list. It isn't about weaving but textiles in general and is called Textiles Environment Design. I have it listed as "upcycling" which was one of the concepts they are exploring. It is interesting, you can check it out here or at my fiber links list.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Ok, as promised, I have a list of books on creativity that have had a lot of influence on my creative life. None of them are about weaving per say, many are by writers. I have always found it pretty easy to just substitute “weaver” for “writer”, or just think “artist”. The first book on my creativity reading list has to be The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This was a very important book in my life and is a big part of why I became a weaver at age 35. I had graduated from college with a BA in apparel design at age 30. As I tend to live in jeans and a t-shirt and really don’t enjoy sewing all that much, getting a degree in apparel design is a bit ironic ...and another story. After graduating, I was working as a para-educator and not too happy about it when I picked up this book. This would be somewhere in the mid 1990’s.
This is a book you both read and do. Actually, many of the creativity books have this aspect. I actually did everything in The Artist’s Way from the Morning Pages to the Artist Dates. I read and wrote for the total prescribed length of the program outlined in the book. I still do morning pages when I need to refocus or work something out.
So, what happened? I realized several things, one of which was that I wanted to be a weaver. I jumped into weaving and playing the cello at the same time and haven’t looked back since. Playing the cello was another dream I had even though I had never so much as touched a cello before. Come to think of it, I never had woven anything before either!
This was a very powerful book for me and I highly recommend it. I actually have three or four books written by Julia Cameron.
Another powerful book is The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. This book is a guide to the sometimes difficult, everyday work of creativity. The first sentence on the back of the book jacket sums it up pretty well;
“Being creative is not a once-in-a-while sort of thing. Being creative is an everyday thing, a job with its own routines.”
The next book is another favorite of mine that was brought to my attention by Mary Zicafoose. Anyone who has attended a workshop or program given by her will recognize the title. It is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This is an easy book to read as you can read for five minutes a day and put it down until the next day due to the way it is written. I read and re-read this book constantly.
That reminds me, I own copies of all of these books. I usually start at the library, check a book out, and then if it is worthy, I buy it. I could never afford to buy all the books I read. I read, and re-read, a lot!
More books to take a look at: Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd, Art as a Way of Life by Anne O’Shaughnessy and Roderick MacIver.
I also like to read about the science of the mind behind creativity. One such book is Cracking Creativity: the Secrets of Creative Genius by Michael Michalko.
I have just finished a book by Daniel H. Pink called A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. Pink discusses in an easy to read and amusing format how right-brained thinking (creativity) will be playing a huge part in the way we live and work in the near future and how to cultivate the right side of the brain.
I also highly recommend any book by SARK. Her latest book, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper is particularly good. One of the things I love about a SARK book is the colorful and creative way they are written.
These books are just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on listing books for quite a while! These books all have meaning for me but may not always have meaning for others. Take a look at them. If you are just starting out reading about creativity, start with The Artist’s Way or The War of Art.
I will compile the books into a book list on a side-bar on the blog. If you have read a good book on creativity that I haven’t mentioned yet, please leave the title and author in the comments section. One can never ready too many books.
My next post will be about a warped Jane, er that is, the first warp on my new Jane loom.
Almost there (hit a few snags, details later) so it will be soon!
Hmm, I think I will take an artist date next week. -Renee

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wild Weather Inspiration

Well, I have been eager to get my Jane loom up and running but have hit a few delays, in part due to the wild weather we have been having. At the moment, the only road into our neighborhood is under a few feet of water. I was hoping to get out to get a few things at the hardware store so I can get to warping. You see, as I have mentioned before, I am set up to warp sectionally. That equipment is all packed for moving (long story) and wouldn't work well for a table loom. This is the first non-sectional beam loom I have owned so I don't have the standard warping equipment. I do have a system but I need some clamps, which I think I must have packed!
I hope to get out tomorrow and get what I need. In the meantime, if you want to see a Jane loom in action go to Susan's blog here. I thought I had her blog on my list but I see I don't. She has a beautiful weaving blog called Thrums and it is one of many I like to keep up with when I have a chance. I will get her blog and Shannon's blog on my list.
While waiting for the floods to subside, I have been busy reading through my stack of library books. I like to read books on creativity now and again. In fact, I have read quite a few of them over the years and am thinking that others might be interested in reading them too. I will be creating a book list on the blog on creativity in the next week. I always learn something and am often inspired even if the books don't address weaving per say. I just finished reading several books by SARK. I love her books as they are wild and colorful. Her latest book is called, Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper. It is about writing but there is one piece of advice that I think I will make a sign using it as a motto for my studio. It simply states to do the following whether you are "stuck" or not:
Now SARK is talking about writing tools of course but I think it is pretty easy to substitute weaving for writing here. Sometimes when we are dealing with resistance just taking 5 minutes to work on a warp (or unweave a mistake!) is all it takes to get us over the hump. In other words, just moving the tools works their own magic.
Well, I hope to get out tomorrow so I can get back to warping the Jane loom. It seems like it has been quite a wait. I am sure one day I will be humming along on the Jane and have completely forgotten about all the waiting and scrambling around it took to get her here and up and running.
Oh, the picture above! That is my dog Twill playing in the snow we had recently. She has had to be patient too as our thrice weekly hikes in the woods have been cut short due to the severe weather. She teaches good lessons on patience and joy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Jane" is in the House!

Well, she sailed the big blue ocean, spent a bit of time in U.S. customs (gotta watch those radical weavers you know), and slogged through snow and ice and six days bumping around in a Fedex delivery truck waiting to be delivered, and here she is! She had quite a journey. Customs released her just in time to hit the snow storm and holiday delivery rush. I had to all but ransom her from the Fedex delivery truck that never could seem to get here. I finally had Fedex pull her off the truck and went to pick her up at the warehouse. As you can imagine, I wasn't the only one trying to get my parcel from Fedex. The small office was filled with six rather portly men all waiting to collect undelivered packages. Some had been there for three hours and more while the employees searched the backlog of packages. I wedged my small 5' 2" frame in the only remaining seat between a couple of the men and imitated their stoic staring at the wall. The silence was all but deafening. A bit spooky really. It wasn't all together friendly as patience had been frayed on all sides by the storm and holiday stresses. I had been there for about 10 or 15 minutes when one of the warehouse workers came out with a box I immediately recognized. The man joked that he wasn't going to tell us whose it was quite yet until he double checked the info but by then I had seen the picture of the loom on the box and the "Louet" logo stamped all over it. I jumped out of my seat and was jumping up and down saying "It's mine! It's my loom! I gave the men some amusement as they broke their silence and were all grinning at my excitement and started asking questions about the package. I signed off on the parcel and was out the door and on the way back home in no time. It was New Year's Eve and I finally got Jane home.
The first picture is what I saw as soon as I opened the top of the box. Jane is only partially assembled. Here she is on her side. You know, my AVL loom never was named. Perhaps it needs one but this loom comes with its name already emblazoned on the front beater. She is so lovely and light one cannot help but anthropomorhize the loom. I have a feeling she will develop her own personality in no time.

Here she is all assembled with two of the 8 harnesses raised. I spent a lovely New Year's afternoon blissfully finishing the assembly. Much easier to assemble than a 60" AVL production loom which, by the way, is now completely disassembled and crated in one corner of the studio. I had a hard time finding a place to take a decent picture of the loom as the studio has boxes and bins stacked until we can clear the snow to get the truck out and haul it to our storage unit.
The final picture is is the loom from the side. When I get it warped I will take a picture of the loom fully upright like it is now and folded for storage. Speaking of warping, I am used to warping an altogether different kind of loom. Jane comes with a DVD with Jane Stafford demonstrating the warping process.
Well, I am ready for a cup of tea while I pop in that DVD. I want to wish everyone a safe, healthy, prosperous New Year. Hopefully this time next year the world will be more at peace.