Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's All Coming Together

My dream of having a weaving studio and sewing room is realized. Now for the hard part, becoming proficient at both weaving and sewing. I've been a fair seamstress in the past. But that was the distant past. I haven't tried to operate a sewing machine in over 10 years. Yesterday I completed my second weaving project and was ready to free it from the loom. Was this project successful? I'd say so, although I did not meet all of my goals. A cool thing about weaving? There are no failures, just plan changes. Because of my woeful lack of math skills I did not estimate my warp or weft needs accurately. Instead of four 12 x 14" place mats I now have a set of 3 mats (2 smaller, one larger) suitable for use on either a coffee table and 2 end tables OR a dresser and 2 night stands. See? Plan change! Easy as that. I will not know the actual finished dimensions of the mats until they are hemmed and washed. But I'm fairly confident that the 2 smaller mats will NOT be 12 x 14". I did manage, however, to weave multiple items on the same warp. Rather sloppily, but I did it.

Now for the next step, hemming the mats. I've been putting it off, but it is time to get one of the sewing machines ready for action. I chose to start with the Singer 328 as it is already in the cabinet. This is my free machine and the first of my vintage Singers. I sat down with the manual, some oil and lube, and began the task of dismantling, cleaning, lubing, and reassembly. Not a big deal, you say? I am the least mechanically inclined female on the planet. Couple that with my intense fear of electricity and you realize just how badly I wanted to sew. The job was a breeze. The most difficult part was removing the dust bunnies from the bobbin area. The innards of these older sewing machines are so straight forward and well built.

(pardon the poor picture quality)
In no time at all I was ready to plug her in and see what she could do. Threading her was incredibly easy. I was expecting problems, as the previous owner had warned this machine was in the habit of breaking threads. She had inherited it from her mother-in-law and admitted she new next to nothing about sewing. I suspect her problem was incorrect tension on the upper thread. She had the dial set at 0 when it should have been somewhere near 4. I played around with the tension a bit, loosening the bobbin tension, and soon had her ready to go.

Her first official job?
Zig-zag the edges of my mats so they don't unravel.

This is a very loose weave and the threads are shifting like crazy. I need to anchor them (and fast) before hemming and washing the mats. In the future I will use the slats from mini blinds as spacers to hold everything in place until after sewing. Live and learn.

The first edge zig-zagged and trimmed. Ready for hemming. Dang it! I wish I could locate my magnetic pin cushion. It's got to be around here, somewhere. I haven't unearthed it yet. Must do more excavating.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

CAUTION: Item In Ad May Be Larger Than It Appears.

So I'm making my daily cruise around Craigslist, as is my habit, when I notice this cool old Butterick pattern file is still looking for a home. It's been on Craigslist for about as long as I've been looking for sewing items. At least 2 months, or possibly more. It appears to be in fairly decent shape. The asking price? $39. "Hmmmm", I think to myself. "That could come in handy for storing my growing sewing pattern collection." So I shoot the seller an offer of $15. He says he won't sell it for that, but it's mine for $25. I counter and it's mine for $20. Now I should know better. I've browsed through pattern files before, at fabric shops. But in the ad this looked to be about the size of a regular garden variety file cabinet. Fortunately the husbeast volunteered to take me to pick it up, in his car. I could've never fit this behemoth in my trunk.

It just barely fit in the Subaru. But we managed to get it home and into the sewing room. Not without scratching up the tinted film on the Subaru's back window and smashing my knuckle (and the husbeast's hand). Then, right after taking these photos, I dropped my beloved camera and broke the lens cover. I think this is the cursed pattern file of doom. It sure holds a lot, though. I have room for plenty of patterns and a whole lot more fabric.

Monday, December 26, 2011

J-Made 4 Harness Loom (no longer) For Sale.

On the way to a new home in Idaho. :-)

Now that I possess three 4 harness floor looms, it is time to cull the herd. My 4 Harness J-Made Conversion is available. This loom was built in the 70's by a fellow in Portland, Oregon. He is still around but no longer builds looms. I think he's now into building yachts or some such. I was able to track him down and he provided the original assembly documents. This is a well built loom which can do everything that more expensive floor looms can. The top half is a table loom with approx. 30" weaving width. The bottom half is the floor loom conversion stand which has 6 treadles and lamms. The 2 parts clamp securely together, but are easy to separate for transport. We brought it home in my husband's Subaru WRX Wagon. The treadle stand was bungeed to the roof while the loom rode inside the vehicle. The loom comes with a 27" 12 dent reed. I will include a couple of stick shuttles, 3 weaving books and the above mentioned documentation which includes detailed schematics and assembly instructions. Possible delivery in the Tacoma area. Otherwise must be picked up.

Note: I will consider bartering for a Bernina 830 or 730 Record sewing machine in very good condition.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Second Weaving Project: Placemats

Today I began my second weaving adventure. For this project I hope to accomplish 3 goals. One: correctly calculate the amount of yarn needed (both warp and weft). Two: weave multiple items on the same warp. Three: have those finished items be the desired dimensions (or at least close to it). I chose to weave place mats for this project. They are a simple plain weave hounds tooth pattern. I started with 4 skeins of an inexpensive cotton/acrylic blend yarn, Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend, which I got on sale at Fred Meyer. 2 skeins in Green and 2 in white. My warp is 99" long and 126 ends (64 green, 62 white). I am using an 8 dent reed. I am shooting for a finished size of 14" x 12" per mat, with 1" hems at both ends.

After sleying the reed and threading the
heddles in a 1-2-3-4 sequence for tabby.

Getting ready to beam the warp.

Now to tie onto the front apron rod.

And away we go.

I managed to finish weaving one mat, today.

That red yarn is waste yarn which will be removed to make the hem easier to turn under. I'd better get one of my sewing machines ready. I'll need it for zigzagging the ends of the mats before I cut them apart.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Crazy Christmas

Nothing like a nasty head cold for the holidays. All that mucus is making it difficult for my brain cells to rub together. I've been sick for 2 weeks and I just remembered, today, that I have the fixin's for Hot Toddies! What's the fun of being sick if you don't guzzle toddies?!???

All you need is boiling water, a large mug, a shot of Bushmills and a heaping tablespoon full of Korean citron tea. Which isn't really tea, at all. More like a marmalade made of citron (including seeds, so be careful), sugar and honey. After a couple of those you'll feel much better. Oh, you'll still be sick. You just won't care. I'm enjoying one as I type.

The husbeast took me out to lunch for some Holiday Pho. A hot tub sized bowl of noodle soup sounded like just what the doctor ordered (besides lots of toddies). I decided to wear my latest finished knitted object, a Noro Sweater. I finished this back in June, right before I took a sabbatical from knitting to focus on weaving and quilting.

Yes, this old broad is still rockin' the FUGGS (faux UGGS). There's nothing more cozy than an inside-out sheep on your feet. Please note the festive bow on my head. Once back from lunch, the husbeast and I exchanged gifts. He got me just what I wanted, a box of Padron 2000's. Christmas cigars. Sweet! He is much harder to shop for. But he does enjoy watching those HBO and Showtime series' with me on the weekends. I had always heard this one was the best, ever. Neither of us has seen it. So I got him the super duper awesome gift set, complete with astro turf and a gravestone.

Now to finish my toddy and go play with my toys.
Enjoy your holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2011

So This Is Christmas?

Things feel a bit "off". For the past 12 years I had been working retail at this time of year. Bombarded with non-stop Christmas music and too busy working to enjoy home or family. This year is the polar opposite. I think I've only heard 2 carol's this season. We now have an empty nest. Instead of decorating a huge tree, and our entire home, we've downsized to a teeny 2 ft tree and a few strategically placed decorative items around the house. I feel out of sync with the rest of the world. It doesn't help that the husbeast has to work this weekend, as do many of our offspring. Instead, we'll be celebrating our family Christmas on the 27th. That means I will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with 2 of my favorite fellows, Reggie and Singha. I'm sure they'll occupy most of those days napping, leaving me to entertain myself. It sounds like the perfect opportunity to warp up Perrito, the Wolf Pup. He's been feeling ignored. There is a fresh warp ready and waiting, draped over his back beam.

Merry Christmas to all of my friends and readers.
Wishing you all a very happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ooops! I Did It Again.

It really wasn't my fault. Honest. What can I do if looms just keep throwing themselves at me? I am too weak to resist. I had an ad up on the local Craigslist (one of my favorite things), seeking a used 8 harness Schacht Baby Wolf Loom. That ad had been up there for at least 2 months. Then one day, out of the blue, I receive an email telling me that someone has a 4 harness Baby for sale. I really wasn't looking for another 4 harness loom (I've already got 2) and told them it would have to be a smokin' good deal for me to be interested. Well, it was. So good, in fact, that I am now the proud owner of an older 4 harness Baby with a birth date of Feb, 17, 1989.

She came with a Schacht warping board, some lease sticks and a stick shuttle, as well as some yarns.

A brand new 4 harness Schacht Baby Wolf will set you back at least $1,400. I paid $350. See? Too good to pass up. And the seller actually delivered her to my door. Perhaps because he didn't want some fiber crazed maniac knowing where he lived? But still, much appreciated. Her only issues, that I can tell, are some light rusting on her harness frames (from being stored in a garage) and she's missing the pin to lock the beater into place for warping. Not huge issues. I think she and I will have lots of fun together.

As if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, I also turned this unwanted bag of yarn....

...into all this thread (and bobbin boxes), via bartering.

And this yarn...

...into this lovely batik print fabric.

All in all a wonderful, stash enhancing day!

Jo-Ann's Is A Dangerous Place

I recently headed to Jo-Ann Fabrics to look for some dog and cat themed printed fabrics. It has been over 10 years since I used a sewing machine and I want to start small. I plan to make little quilts for my pets. They both enjoy laying on blankets, afghans, sweaters....what ever is handy. I figure they will not complain if the seams on their blankies aren't perfectly straight. Everything I bought that day was on sale, and I still managed to leave over $50 there. That's scary. But I found some nice fabric for my boys.

For Reggie.

For Singha.

And a pattern to get me started.
Don't tell them mom is making them doll blankets.

I also found these in the remnants pile.
I especially like the vintage cherries.

I picked up some quilt batting as well. However I may card up some wool to use as batting in their quilts. I haven't made up my mind whether it's more important for them to be warm or washable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bartering. Gotta Love It.

Since I seem to be in a state of flux, changing from knitting to quilting and weaving, there are a lot of yarns in my stash that I am no longer very interested in. I got this wild idea to barter my yarn for other folks' unwanted fabric. Today I received my first package in the mail, which contained the following.

That is over 6 yards of fabric. The ones to the left are all at least one yard pieces. The ones to the right are little leftovers she threw in.  And what did she want in return?

It's a win-win. New toys, without having to spend much other than postage.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thrift Store Finds For 12-19-2011

Today I paid a visit to a couple of my favorite thrift stores. The first was St. Vincent De Paul. This particular store usually culls out the best items and offers them on Ebay. But they don't always recognize quality items. This is the same store where I found my gorgeous faux fur coat for $12. Today I was surprised to find this gem tucked in among the more mundane sweaters. It is an Aran fisherman knit, 100% wool, made in Ireland by Aran Crafts. Their sweaters sell for $100 and up. I checked it all over, looking for some kind of obvious blemish. A stain or a moth hole? Nothing. Granted, it was used but gently so. Certainly worth more than the $3 it was marked. And since today they were offering 50% off all clothing I took it home for a mere $1.50.

Yes, it's a man's sweater but it fits me so it is now transgender. I'm not bothered that the buttonholes are on the wrong side. I couldn't leave it there to be unappreciated. That wasn't all I found at SVDP.

I found some fabric.
2 1/2 yds. brown/blue floral ($.49)
4 yds. solid green ($.69)
4 yds. green multi ($.69)
1/2 yd. red floral ($.49)
1 1/4 yds. bleached muslin ($.49)
3/4 yd. gold bees ($.49)
1 1/2 yds. red/green plaid ($.49)

Close-up of bee print.

I also found 5 patterns for $.19 each,

seam binding and bias tape for $.10 each,

a Tupperware funnel for $.20,

and this cool cross-stitch kit for $1.99.

It's going to be a bit like cheating because the design is pre stamped and you just embellish it with the cross-stitch. But it's a Singer treadle sewing machine! Besides, I'm not feeling up to doing a whole cross-stitch picture. I did enough of those back in the 80's. I almost didn't get the later as someone had torn open the package and removed the floss. But I was able to locate it on the shelf and rejoin it with the kit. Total spent at SVDP? Less than $10.

On to my second stop. I don't even know the name of this store. I just refer to it as the Hispanic thrift store. It's a bit of a chaotic mess but there are bargains to be had if you don't mind digging around. Here are my finds.

Some more fabric:
3 yds. blue calico ($2.50)
2 yds. penguins ($1.25)
2 yds. Indian print ($3)

4 more patterns ($.39 each)

A  jar for Reggie's cookies. ($2)

A cotton blouse for me. ($3.50)

And a smock apron to wear when I am sanitizing beer
bottles so I don't splash bleach on my good clothes. ($1.25)

I think I spent about $16 at this second store. Not a bad haul for $26.