Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My cherry wood Mighty Wolf

My loom came in!!! I was so freakin' excited that I was practically tap dancing in place when the gentleman called to let me know he was about an hour away with the delivery. I knew the loom was about 100 lbs, but I was not expecting the HUGE box it came in! (That's Vanya, my smallest Aussie pup in the pic and you can just barely see her sister Blyx's head.)

First thing was to take it out of that huge box since that sucker was NOT going to fit up the stairs. We had to move all of the living room furniture to make room for the box You can see my awesome hubby in this pic helping me and the front of my biggest Aussie, Isil. :)

Of course there are several things on the loom that need to be assembled and the majority of those were wrapped separately and taped under that upside down v shaped cardboard under the x frame. Once we got the cardboard box and cardboard frame taken off of the loom, it wasn't quite as bad when taking it upstairs to my craft room. I've got a spot right in front of the window for it that is perfect. It is only 18" deep when folded up and can be folded out of the way even with a warp on the loom. Open, it pretty much takes up the entire floor space in my craft room (which is only the size of a small bedroom anyway).

The loom has 8 shafts and comes with 1000 inserted eye heddles, 80 tie ups, the brake shaft handle, beater pegs, 2 apron cords, 3 apron bars, 2 lease sticks, a cherry mighty wolf trap and a cherry mighty wolf stroller. Most of that is pictured above.


I'd post a better picture of it freshly opened, but I didn't realize this one was so blurry when I used my camera phone. *shrug* You can see it pretty much takes up most of the floor and I have to be able to pull it away from the wall to get underneath the loom from both sides.

One of the things about this loom that makes it so special is that it is a limited edition and they only made between 35-50 of these cherry mighty wolfs, usually they are made out of maple. Here is the limited edition symbol (located on the front of the castle) for this year to commemorate Barry Schacht's 70th birthday.

First things first: tying on the apron bars.

Then came putting on 200 of the heddles and 20 of the tie ups. It was getting a bit late by this time, so I decided to just put a few of each on the loom to see the (almost) finished product. I also had my hubby help me find some screws to put together the little black nylon wolf trap that's hanging on the front beam and is holding my 3 new cherry wood shuttles in 9", 11", and 15". I was a bit surprised at the fact that all of the shuttles were open bottom and I had thought they were closed bottom. It turns out to be a great thing though as it makes them much lighter weight when handling them.

Here's another view of the wolf trap.

Here's the final view. It's folded up next to the wall and you can see how much space it saves. In this pic the cherry stroller has been added to the base of the loom's legs to allow me to roll it around once in the folded position. When the loom is open, the wheels are not touching the floor to make a solid flat base.

I am so thrilled about the color of the wood! I've always loved cherry floors, but knew this was going to look totally different - no stain and no age. Both of those age cherry to a nice and warm dark orange. This cherry is a clear light reddish-orange with hints of natural iridescence in the wood that is extremely hard to capture on my crappy little camera phone. I will love looking at this beautiful piece even when not using it, which was the point! I didn't want just another piece of furniture, but something I loved to look at and touch.

I have yet to get a warp put on it as I'm waiting to get the perle black 10/2 cotton cone that I ordered last week from here.. I want to use that and Madeline Tosh Vintage yarn in Spectrum for the weft. The warp is intentionally a smaller diameter yarn in order to make the weft stand out more. I'll post pictures when I get it started on the loom.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Smoky Mountain hideaway

It's getting to be that time of the year where the leaves will start to change their colors. The stress of daily life, being isolated at home convalescing for an entire week and starting back to work have all taken their toll on me and I'm ready for another escape to my favorite hideaway. The leaves are always filtering the sun with light dappling the ground and the gently rushing water of the creek sets a soothing atmosphere like no other place. Sitting on the porch in the swing looking out at the forest, just letting time flow gently past without having to listen to the noise of a population nearby or being inundated with the emotions of a hundred others is a magic all on it's own.

The deck has a long staircase down to the creek allowing one to dip one's toes in the clear mountain stream water, if one were so inclined. (I highly recommend it, especially after a long drive.) My hubby and I explore our surroundings every time we go and revel in the majesty of nature.

The stream is pristine, framed in rhododendrons and loaded with mossy rocks and tree trunks laden with lichen and fungi.

I would buy this place if we ever win the lotto. As a friend of mine has said, "It makes my soul sing." We are going again this fall for a very short vacation and it will be the second time this year we've been, but I long to see the leaves in all their glorious colors high up in the mountains I love.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Healing and sourcing

It's been a long week. The surgery went well as far as I know. I don't have my first follow up until Monday to find out what the surgeon did and what I'm looking at in the way of recovery time, although I know I'm not supposed to lift anything until then. As you can see, my wrist and hand are pretty swathed in bandages.

 It's hard to be home from work for an entire week and not be able to do anything with all the free time. My quilts and yarns are calling my name..

I have been out in the garden and harvested some fresh lavender, rosemary, foxglove and sage to hang up to dry in the kitchen on the potting bench. Nothing like having fresh rosemary in a bread recipe. The whole house smells fragrant and clean with that sharp, herbal smell permeating the air. I missed most of the lavender flowers this year, but managed to grab a few. I'll make some sachets with them to tuck away into drawers and hidey-holes sometime soon. The sage will make a lovely incense and the foxglove will be used later in an ointment.

I've been combing the internet for tiny bones and feathers to make some fetishes and talismans with. I am trying to incorporate my spiritual practice into my daily life more often and trying to branch out with my crafting into other areas. Once I'm healed, I'll not only be weaving, but I'm going to start carving and have a bunch of beautiful woods just waiting for the right shape. I have a Gaboon Ebony piece that is waiting to be carved into a wand, some purple heart, pink ivory, Lingum vitae, and Bubinga that are all waiting to become hair sticks. I think I'll even make the hair sticks to be used as wands as well and may add a small charm or crystal on the end to catch the light.

After my husband took down several branches in our back yard to make more sunlight for the vegetable garden, I have a new source of elm, cedar and Osage orange just waiting for the appropriate usage. i just love the colors of the woods in this picture and the fresh wood smells so wonderful.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Big Damn Needles 2.0

Ok, so my hubby finally finished my huge knitting needles and I wanted to post a couple of pics to show what the final product looks like.

Here they are with the big ones up against the side of the table so you can get a better feel of how big these suckers are. Keep in mind that the big ones are 36" long each and the "small" ones are 18" each.

Andrew wanted to get fancy with them and put a shiv in the end of each of the walnut ones that was cherry and an oak one in the end of the cherry ones. That would just give a little bit of interest on the ends and the shivs would keep the ebony knobs from coming off. I just need to sand them a bit to smooth out the shafts and they are ready to go!

Sewing my heart out

The first quilt top I've done is with the Foliage line of fabric by Sentimental Studios for Moda. I bought 2 layer cakes of this fabric from Amazon (there are several places online that have it). The layer cakes have some of every fabric from the line in conveniently pre-cut squares. Here's what the layer cakes look like when opened:

I didn't have a pattern in mind when I started working on this quilt, I just wanted to practice at sewing blocks together and seeing how even I could get the seams (as it turned out, not very even).


I started by sewing strips of the blocks together and as each block is 10" x 10", I decided to do 8 blocks wide and 10 long to make a queen sized quilt top. I knew that 2 layer cakes was not going to be enough to make a top 90" x 100", so bought 4 yards of matching fabric by the yard to make the trim. I think I spent 3 or 4 days sewing it all together and since my seams weren't the same sizes, I ended up staggering the blocks to hide that. I think I like this look better anyway, so here's my finished top:

I am still waiting for the backing fabric to come in, otherwise I would have sent this on to the quilter already. I think I'll have a pattern of leaves quilted on top. I can hardly wait to see the finished results!

As my wrist surgery on Tuesday looms on the horizon, I am almost desperately trying to get my second quilt top done and I just realized I need another entire jelly roll to complete it. *sigh* I'll have to wait until after I've healed up enough to attempt working on the second half as there is no way in hell I'll get the new jelly roll in the mail by tomorrow and complete the second half of this quilt top. On the up side - I LOVE IT! Here's a preview of the first half of it:

(if you look at the bottom of the picture, you'll see the one strip in orange that has been sewn in at a wrong angle, I've got to fix it next otherwise it will drive me insane.)

The jelly rolls are of the Haunted Mansion line of fabric by Sanae for Moda and I bought the last two of these for sale anywhere on the internet (I found these on etsy). I'm a little surprised at how hard it was to find, but this line of fabric was from at least 2011 or maybe earlier. I remembered seeing this fabric at the stores when it was out and now that I've started quilting, I really wanted to use it to make a quilt.

To make a quilt large enough to fit on a queen sized bed, I would need  more than 2 of these jelly rolls, so I bought a plain black roll to supplement. I have a quilt top that is 59" x 99" using one roll of HM and the black one. I still have one entire roll of the HM left, so I'll use half of it and half a roll of black to give me another 30" inches of length so the quilt will be 99" x 99" and then I can add trim around the edges. There are still several places online that carry some of this fabric by the yard, so the edges will match the rest of the quilt. I can use the rest of the HM and black to make pillow shams to match.

The back fabric for it is After Dark! by Alexander Henry. It doesn't match, but I wanted an alternative fabric that I would not mind being used as a bedspread on it's own.

At some point I'll have all of the fabric to make the Night Shade quilt top (see Quilting Crash Course blog for pic). Some of these fabrics are from the Night Shade line by Tula Pink and some are from the Ghastlies fabric line by Alexander Henry. I wanted a really good selection of several coordinating fabrics and I think these all work well together. Funny that this was supposed to be the first quilt and I haven't even started it yet. For this one I intend to use a pattern and make it look like a more traditional quilt top with pinwheels and hourglasses.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quilting Crash Course

Well after buying the quilting and embroidery patterns from my last post, I decided to just go ahead and make a practice quilt just to "get my feet wet." I know it will probably not have lines matching up and be a little wonky in some places, but at least it will be mine and I know I'll love the fabric I put into it. The first line of fabric I chose was from Tula Pink called Night Shade. It has apothecary jars bubbling with brews, stars and moons, clockwork ravens on lace, and flowers with spider webs and skull and crossbones hidden amongst the greenery. It has soothing cool colors with 5 fabrics patterns that come in 3 color palates: vapor (blue), absinthe (green), and nightshade (purple). One of the fabrics with the three witches on it is sold out in most places and if you can find it, it's on etsy or ebay for $50 a yard. No thanks, I don't like it that much. I have most of the other 4 fabrics in all 3 colors and am waiting for the rest to come in the mail. Since that wasn't enough fabric to make a quilt, I decided to supplement with some of Alexander Henry's Ghastlies fabrics. which have a very similar color palate and are also Halloween/witchy in feel.

Here is a photo of the fabrics I've gotten so far:
Photo: Here are the fabrics my first quilt will have in it. I'm waiting for two more fabrics to come in before assembly. Each of these is a 10" x 10" block.

I've got all of these pre-cut into 10.5" squares and will make hourglass quilt blocks for most of the quilt. I haven't quite decided on the final layout yet as I'm waiting to see how these fabrics look when combined with a solid gray. I'm hoping I can make these into a queen sized quilt top, but will settle for a throw if necessary.

I'm so anxious to get started! I'm afraid I'll lose my impetus to get this done if I can't work on it now. I've still got to wait for the rest of the fabric to come in though. *sigh* Still waiting for 5 more fabrics to come in. *tick, tock, tick, tock* I haven't even picked out a backing for this yet since it all depends on how big the quilt ends up being. Another reason I'm in such a hurry is that I'm having surgery on my wrist soon. No date scheduled yet, but I anticipate it being done within the first two weeks of August and I REALLY want this part done before that happens.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Halloween quilting and embroidery

I'm still looking for the perfect quilt for the bedroom. I stumbled upon Crabapple Hill Studio which has lots of lovely patterns for fall and Halloween themed items. I have chosen a couple to start with to see how long it takes and whether or not I can stick with it. The first one is Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage. *LOVE*
Is is fairly large at 66.5" x 72.5" and combines both quilting and embroidery. The designs are fun and witchy themed, which is just perfect. My only issue with completing this masterpiece of art? If I put that on my bed, my dogs would ruin it. So, what will I do with it you ask? I suppose I'll either make it into a throw blanket to display in the living room or a wall hanging for the kitchen. It would kill me to have it ruined by the dogs after putting what will most likely be months of work into it. The floss used for the embroidery is also available in a kit from the studio here.

The other pattern I decided to buy is a little different, but still Halloween themed. It's called Dance by the Light of the Moon (go here to get it). It has a very festive feel to it that makes it a light-hearted piece.
The kit for the embroidery part is here.

Don't those look like fun? I will be so proud if I can manage to stick with them long enough to finish them. Apparently I have this tendency to stop working on a craft if it gets too boring (read: I have a few projects that I've never finished.)
They have several other patterns that I was really trying to decide if I wanted to buy them or not. I erred on the side of caution and just bought the two above. If I can manage to get one of them done, I will buy the others I want just to make sure I have the pattern available. I have this almost irrational fear that if I don't buy it when I see it, it will be discontinued and I won't be able to find it anywhere. Anyone else ever feel like that?
This one is called Spellbound.
This one is called Hocuspocusville
I didn't link the one's I didn't buy, but you can find them all on the link at the top of this blog. You can also use a magnifying feature to see the details of each of these designs on their page. 
Maybe since I'm right handed, these won't be so hard on my left wrist until I can get it fixed. I know weaving takes both hands equally, so I won't be able to do that or knitting for a long while it looks like. As for what I did to my wrist: Last October 30th, I was catching an IV pump as it was falling off an IV pole at work with just my left hand. I had a bunch of IV tubing in my right hand, so couldn't grab the pump with both. I felt a sharp pain in the ulnar side of my left wrist and it has been giving me fits ever since then. I'm finally getting to see a hand surgeon next week about it and I'll see how long he tells me recovery is going to take. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Quilts and Venetian Plaster

I have been searching online for a new bedspread for the past few weeks. It's time to do an overhaul of the bedroom and I'm tired of the leafy green faux paint job I've got. After 9 years, I think it's ok to paint over it, no matter how many hours it took to do. I loved it when I first did it, but I'm so ready for a change!

I have newish furniture that my grandmother gave me for my wedding present 3 years ago that is victorian style cherry, so I want a victorian feel to the room this time. I've been thinking orange, copper, gold, burgundy, or browns for the walls in possibly a venetian plaster finish. That will take just as long (if not longer) to do than the faux painting I've got now. Here are some examples if you're curious:

I want a warm feel to the room where I can have some low lights on and have a warm glow from the reflection of the light off the wall, as you can see in the 3rd pic above. That's why I was thinking a copper or gold sheen of some kind like in the 2nd pic above.

I haven't been able to find a picture online anywhere that I can try and imitate like they show on HGTV programs. The last time I decorated my bedroom, I chose the wall colors first and had a devil of a time trying  to find a bedspread to match. This time I'll do the bedspread first and match the paint colors to it. Live and learn, right?

I have one item that is a recent purchase that I want to be able to integrate into the theme of the room, if possible, and that is a black handira that looks like a night sky. This is it:
Night sky wedding blanket. My ultimate desire! *covet*

I just LOVE it! I will turn it sideways and use it as a headboard, but you can see how that would be a challenge to incorporate this in a victorian theme. I got this from The Red Thread Souk and it was pricey, but exactly what I was looking for.

I've tried to see if I can go with a night-time theme, or celestial theme, or even dark blues. Nada. No luck finding anything that looks good. If I get the rest of the room the way I want it and find that this just does not fit, I will put it in my craft room so I can look at it as inspiration. I have found some stunning work by quilters, but WAY out of my price range.

This one is by Susan Brubaker Knapp at Blue Moon River. It's gorgeous (and sold), but is strictly for wall decoration.
Yggdrasil-Queen size quilt by Crow Woman Quilts
This one is queen sized and available, but $2200. Made by Crow Woman 88 on her etsy store.

There are many more, but I just can't post everyone's stuff. Just go look up quilts and pick a topic you like and see what comes up! Here's a couple of Halloween quilts I found that I love:
Halloween Quilt at Heritage Park
Photo taken by Nancy Chow at Heritage Park from her Flickr page.
Queen Size Quilt "Gothic Ghastlies" Handmade by Kristen Symons
Queen Size Quilt "Gothic Ghastlies" Handmade Halloween Bedding
This one is by Kristen Symons and had been in her Etsy store. (this one has been sold, but I believe she will make custom quilts if you ask her.)

As you can see, there are a wide variety of quilts available for purchase. I have one on my bed now, that is mostly (of course) green. It's been slightly chewed on by my pups, but it has been well loved while we've had it. Thankfully, it was store bought and not someone's hard, back breaking work that got nibbled on.

I've had a mind to see if I could stick with making a quilt of my own and even have a couple of patterns already. I'm not much for sewing, although I can and have a sewing machine. I have to be in the right mood to want to sit and cut out all that fabric. Even the thought of that makes me cringe. I may just have to stick with knitting and weaving for now... Hopefully, I'll find the right blanket soon.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Big Damn Knitting Needles

So in an earlier post I made reference to the big knitting needles that The Bagsmith offered here in size US 35 and US 50. I also found a site by Ingrid Wagner that sells big needles that are 25 mm (US 50) and 30 mm (US no idea, but it's 1.18" in diameter). The 30 mm ones are 4 feet long! You can find hers for sale here, but these are overseas so shipping is probably a bunch. These are some whopping big needles!

Well I didn't want to pay $50 for a set of basswood needles when I can buy dowels myself for a whole lot cheaper and in a wood I find beautiful. If you are going to be looking, handling and working with wood tools, why not make them pretty too? I went to a local wood shop down the street from me and bought 2 walnut 1" dowel rods for just under $10 each that are 36" long, which is roughly the same diameter as a US 50 knitting needle (which is 25 mm or 0.98"). I also bought 1 cherry 3/4" dowel that I plan to cut in half to make 2 - 18" long knitting needles that are the same diameter as a US 35 (which is 19 mm, or 0.748"). For the 3 dowel rods it only cost me $24. All I need to do is cut the cherry rod in half, then shape one end of each of the tips into gentle points and sand the crap out of the shafts to make them smooth.

I already have a piece of ebony wood that I will get my husband to machine down into either a donut, or a square and then drill a hole that will fit on the ends of the needles and them wood glue them on. Ta da! Super sized knitting needles for a fraction of the cost that you could buy them online. Here are the dowel rods before any work has been done and you can see the difference in color:

Here is the scrap of ebony I'm using to make the end caps with. The color really shows up well next to the walnut and cherry dowels.

Here are the designs laid out on the ebony.

I'll post pics when I'm done with them. :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Budget cuts

It seems as though the rather large trip I was planning on taking at the end of the year is not going to happen. The Affordable Care Act has put such a stress on hospitals that budgets cuts need to be made everywhere. Including employees. With that thought in mind, I can't justify spending the amount of money it would take to fly to AZ and CA and back home for both me and my husband, then spend the amount of money it would cost to board three dogs and a cat for over a week. I need to have at LEAST a few months worth of money for bills saved in case I were to need it. That means a lot of cuts need to be made for expenses this year aside from what I've already committed to spending. *sigh* No Dragoncon for us this year. No trip to see my friends or my dad for Christmas. It really sucks to be an adult and be responsible sometimes.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Moroccan Wedding Blankets

I want to share something with you that I think are some of the most beautiful pieces of handmade artwork - Moroccan Wedding Blankets or Handira. Here are a few that are for sale as of right now from Beyond Marrakech.

H639 € 225

H641 € 275

Aren't they stunning?! The sequins are a shiny metal that make a jingling sound when the blankets are moved. Some of these beauties are amazingly heavy at over 10 lbs for a single blanket. They are made from wool and cotton that the Berber women weave by hand. Each blanket is begun at the birth of a girl child or when the girl is very young by the women of her family. These blankets can take a very long time to complete and each one is unique. The sequins and kilim bands are said to ward off the evil eye and bring good luck for the bride and her husband. The bride wears the handira on the day of her wedding as a cape over her head and shoulders to keep her warm on the trip to her new home. The mountains there can be very cold in the winter time, so some of the blankets are extra thick to keep the bride warm. The shoulder straps are for her to hold on to keeping the blanket in place. Here are a few more that have been sold:






I have an unhealthy obsession with these beauties and own a few of them myself. Each blanket has it's own story and a history rich with family tradition. The blankets shown here are all vintage blankets, meaning they are about 20 or more years old. Some have spots on them, some have tarnished or rusted sequins, but they all have a story to tell and each and every one of them was worn by a woman for her wedding day. Different tribes, sometimes, have different variations like the blankets below. These are from the Beni Ouarain tribe, who live high up in the Atlas mountains. The wooly side was worn facing out to allow snow to fall off of the tips of the fringe instead of soaking into the blanket.
Side of blanket facing bride:
Side of blanket facing out:

I am, by no means, an expert on these blankets. I'm just someone who loves them and wanted to share. There are other places online that sell handira, but Danielle has the best prices in my experience.