Crazy as a Loom

Monday, December 22, 2008

I don't mind winter so much when there is sun. And today, even though the snow was deep, trudging out to unthaw the heat line, the sun was awesome. In the house, it streams through the old curvy glass windows, and everything feels better when it does.
This photo is of a high cranberry bush on the side of the house. I just love the vibrant red color of the berries against the backdrop of all the snow.
Heating a 200+ year old house is a daily challenge. While there is an old oil furnace in the cellar, that I call the "volkswagen", it is now only a backup. I have a pellet stove in the living room, a kerosene fired Monitor heater in the dining room, and a gas fired Monitor in the coldest part of the house, the old kitchen. Unfortunately, the kerosene Monitor refuses to run when the temperature falls below 12 degrees. Then I have to trudge out there and pour steaming hot water over the pipe that comes out of the kerosene tank. But today, I did it a few times, and it still wouldn't run. There is no insulation in the walls, the windows are not insulated, and the ceilings are high. You don't walk barefoot, or go without a sweater. I guess it is a reminder about how people lived in times past. You keep busy, or you stay close to the stove.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

BIG blue jean rug!!!!!

WOW! Here it is. A blue jean rug in three pieces, waiting to be sewn into one huge 11' x 15' rug. It was such an incredible job, and I am very glad it is done. The best part of all is that the three pieces are almost PERFECT in length. They match. Whew. Anyone who has ever done this knows how crucial, and how touchy, that can be.
When it is sewn together, and packed up, and weighed, we will know how many pounds of blue jeans it took to weave this rug. I know my stacks of jean legs went down drastically.
Since it is Christmas week, and I have pies to make, and some presents still to buy, I am not tackling much at the studio. I will probably put a new warp on the Toika for a 7 ft rug that I will start next week. And I may weave a few placemats.
I am starting to think about New Year's Resolutions. Actually, I have been mulling them over for awhile. I like January. It has such a "clean slate" feeling to it. A brand new start. No matter what has gone before, January seems like a chance to do it differently. This January, I am going to do inventory of all my stock in the studio. And I am going to try to keep track of it better, with a brand new system. I am also going to get myself acquainted with Quick Books. I bought the book "Quick Books for Dummies", but I think I may need to hire someone to help me get started anyway.
That's embarrassing, but oh, so true.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow, sleet, freezing rain.

Take your pick.
My student cancelled, due to the bad roads, so I made good use of my day. I hemmed a 5 x 6 blue jean rug, and also hemmed one of the blue jean panels for an 11 x 15 custom rug. Then I cut and sewed strips of blue jeans for the third panel, which we are weaving tomorrow. The three panels will "rest" over the weekend, and find their destined length, and then I will sew them together.
I cleaned the back porch, and unpacked 8 boxes of cones of weaving fibers. Beautiful colors, and I will have them up on my web site soon.
The gas man came and hooked up my Monitor heater, which is in the old end of the house, and hopefully now, I won't shiver constantly when I am working out there.
I stayed warm today, because I have finally figured out that the only way to heat my 220 year old house is to heat it the way they would have when they built it, one room at a time. There are two furnaces in the cellar....an old coal furnace and an oil furnace. The coal furnace is huge, and will probably never get out of the cellar, because no,one will ever want to dismantle it. There used to be a metal grate in the floor above it, probably someone thought it would be the answer to the cold house, but I doubt that it was. And the oil furnace, hot air, is still functional, but last year it sucked up $5000 worth of fuel oil, and didn't keep the house all that toasty either.
So now I have several heat options.
I have a very large pellet stove in the living room, and it pumps out some serious heat. In the dining room, I have a Monitor heater that runs on kerosene. It keeps that part of the house very comfortable. There is a gas fireplace in the old living room, and now a gas Monitor in the old kitchen. I turn them all down when I leave, and when I am there, I turn them up. I can keep the room I am working in the most comfortable......and change when I move to another room. It is perfect. Of course, there are negatives. There is the hauling of the pellets, but I figure it is cheaper than the gym at the Y. And of course, there is still no heat upstairs. The front bedrooms might warm up if I opened the grates in the floor. But the two back bedrooms are brutally cold. The people who have lived in this house over the years were tough.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blue Jean Rug

Working on a blue jean rug that will be HUGE. It is being woven in three parts, each one 59" wide, and 140" long.......one part is done, and the second is on the loom. I learned a valuable lesson today.....something I should have known, I guess. But sometimes, I am my own worst enemy. I have been struggling to weave the first of these 3 rugs by myself, with my rolling stool. I have done some 4 ft wide rugs this way, and they are actually quite doable. But yesterday, I was at the loom all day, and it just seemed to be alot more work than it was fun. And even though weaving is work, it is usually fun for me. I wasn't making a lot of headway, and I could see the whole job taking a lot longer than I had planned on. So I measured my progress and figured out how many inches I was doing per hour.
Today, I moved the rolling stool, and my apprentice/helper, Tammy, sat at one end of the bench, and I was at the other. It didn't take long to get into the swing of it, and it quickly became very apparent that THIS was the way it should be done. In one hour we wove over TWICE what I could do by myself in the same amount of time. Unbelievable.
And I have changed the way I sew the blue jeans together......mostly because the way I was doing it has not been very time effective.
I used to cut the blue jeans into strips, 3/4-1" wide, then I would sew the strips together at a 90 degree angle, then cut them apart, and then trim the excess fabric off the seam. Makes me tired just talking about it.
So for this rug, I have been cutting the blue jean legs off, squaring them up, and sewing the legs together. THEN, I cut them into strips with my Eastman chickadee cutter, and trim the excess. I figure it takes about 1/6 of the time it took to do it the other way, or maybe even less.
All this makes me realize how easy it is to get in a rut about the way you do things, and how important it is to be open to change, to allow new ideas to take shape.
And I love, love, love having an apprentice!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Colors

This is what I love about rag rug weaving. The colors. These are a couple of rugs I made to match the fabric in the photo. Except that the request was for a "light and bright" rug. I usually
scour the studio for fabrics that will work. I paw through boxes in the attic, climb up on the ladder in the pantry to see all the rolls on the top shelves, and trudge out to the barn to see what I have stashed out there. I usually have a pile of samples that I cut off, then with several spools of warp thread, I lay them all out to see what will work. When I figure out what I want, I get a plastic bin, and start cutting and winding strips of fabric until I have more than enough. This rug was woven with two strips at a time, instead of one wider strip. Winding two thinner strips of different colors on to the shuttle at the same time, creates a rug with a lot more life and movement, in my humble opinion.
I have to admit, once I have settled on colors, I design as I go, in a really hit or miss fashion.
I always love to see the result when I take the rug off the loom, and throw it down on the floor. Only then does it reveal whether or not it is going to work.
These rugs worked for me, and luckily, for the lady that I wove them for. That's what counts.

This week was a bust. An 11 ft rug that turned out 5" short, another rug that just didn't suit me, and a knee that persisted to cause me distress 24/7. So today, with snow turning to sleet, I quit early, came home and made beef stew and biscuits and brownies. I think I need a day off.

Monday, December 1, 2008



These are the Sol Mate Socks getting cut into strips. The cutter is an Eastman chickadee, which is worth its weight in gold. I have two of them, and can't imagine how I ever functioned without them. They will easily cut through 1/2" of fabric without hestitation.
Right now I have about 30 bags of socks looped and ready to be woven into rugs. Whew. I need to clone myself, I really do.
Today the studio was a joy to work in.......it was clean, and organized, and had an new feeling about it. It flowed. Hard to explain exactly. But it was joyful. Then Social Security called to say that they received my online application. They asked me a bunch of questions, and then said I was "all set", I would be receiving my first check in April.
Wow.
I am so excited, and a little embarrassed that I am so excited. All these years of working as a nurse, shift work, working on holidays, worrying about my kids while I worked two jobs, working overtime, finally, it is almost part of my past.
Wow.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gumball Rugs and Cleaning





Are these gumball rugs gorgeous, or what? I just never get sick of the vibrant colors. I love the socks they are made from, Sol Mate Socks, found at www.socklady.com
But I think I like the rugs that I weave from the recycled sock seconds even better. They are truly unique. The fun part of weaving them is that I never know exactly what the rug will look like til it is done. The toe clips are chained, in boxes, and I reach in grab the end of the chain, and start winding them on the shuttle. Whatever is in the box, that's what the rug is made from. I don't try to manipulate the outcome at all.
Some of the rugs are made from the socks cut up into strips, looped together and interspersed with toe clips. Those are bright and colorful, but look more variegated. The rugs in the photo are made from just the toe clips, looped in doubles to make a thicker rug. I am amazed, but I like them better. The colors just seem brighter to me, and they are even more fun.

The hard part is keeping all the pieces parts separate. Boxes of sock seconds, boxes of toe clips, bags of the sock strips and toe clips chained, boxes of toe clips chained alone. The Union Custom warped for 36" rugs, and the Reed Ideal warped for 24" rugs. It is quite a production.
Today two of my three daughters came up to help me clean the studio. Christmas in the Country is this coming Friday , Saturday and Sunday. I have been weaving all month, and making an awful mess. We moved stuff, threw stuff out, and cleaned. The place looks awesome, I am very pleased. I couldn't have done it without them.
It is interesting to spend time with them. They gripe at me for my messes, and tell me that I knew what I was getting into when I asked them to help me clean. So I had to listen to their complaints. They are right most of the time. We worked hard and laughed alot. I love to have their input, they see things that I don't, and they help me get a perspective that I wouldn't have otherwise.
If my third daughter had been there, it would have been perfect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Putting on 500 yards of warp












































































































This was the project of the week........500 yards of warp on the Reed Ideal.......
It was an huge job. Since the production wheel on the back of the loom only has six sections, and it takes about 40 threads to fill each section, I had to improvise. I did have the metal piece with holes to run the threads through. It fits in the slot on the back beam of the loom. It only had 36 holes, and I wanted more, so I had more holes drilled in it. A regular tension box wouldn't work at all, so I used two spool racks, and a clothes rack in between the loom and the spool racks. I went over one rung, and under a rung, and over another one.
You can see in the photo that the section on the far right seems smaller. I realized that I probably only put 400 yards on, so I tied the 40 threads back on, and wound another 100 yards. It looks better now.
The tension was fine, as you can see in this rug I have started.....there is already a rug on the front beam, this is the second rug.
The clothes rack kind of jumped around, probably due to the tension imposed on them, so 2 bags of pellets, 40lbs each, helped to keep it steady.
When it was done, each section measured 5 ft around, so I am pretty sure there are more than 500 yards of warp on the loom. I should be able to get 350 rugs off this warp, and that is pretty exciting.
The warp is 25" wide, and I will use it to weave Gumball rugs, and Mimi's Vintage Rag Rugs.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Labyrinth

Is this not the coolest thing you have ever seen????? I am so excited about it. My husband thinks I am nuts, I have had a couple of people look at me with raised eyebrows and complete puzzlement. The guy who delivered me the load of rocks asked me what I was doing with them, and when I tried to explain, I felt like I was speaking a different language.
But here it is. Not quite finished......my helper Miles got tired after lugging all these rocks, so he organized all my spools of warp by color for the rest of the afternoon, and he will finish the labyrinth tomorrow.....filling in all the spaces between the rocks. This is a left sided 7 circuit labyrinth. We incorporated a tree stump, and a living tree.......I think it gives the whole thing character. I was amazed at how much space it really took up. This view is from bedroom window at the back of the house. Just out of site is a stockade fence that hides the whole thing from the road.....and creates what I like to call "my secret garden". My mother wants to buy perennials for me in the spring.
This is where I plan to start, and or finish, my days at the studio. What a beautiful way to get centered, refind my focus.
I do have alot of support from friends and family.....who may wonder why I do what I do, but love me anyway.
The labyrinth will be open to the public during the Christmas in the Country weekend.......and maybe I will have handouts, so those people who have never heard of a labyrinth, won't think it is a "maze".
On www.lessonsforliving.com I found the following description, which is perfect.

"Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path... exactly where you are meant to be right now... And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love."
Caroline Adams

We are all on the path... exactly where we need to be. The labyrinth is a model of that path.

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life's journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to "That Which Is Within."

Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out.

A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.

A labyrinth is a right brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.

At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christmas in the Country


Join us for our 18th Annual Holiday Artisans Tour through northern Washington County, NY. Visit 14 locations on our tour map where you can enjoy old fashioned holiday ambiance and an opportunity to find unique hand-made gifts for everyone on your list!
Start Date:Dec 5, 2008
End Date:Dec 7, 2008
Start Time:10:00 AM
End Time:5:00 PM

This is the 4th year Crazy as a Loom Weaving Studio has participated in Christmas in the Country. Come watch me weave, or try it yourself. Enjoy some of my famous Greek Honey cookies. Pick up a map to do the rest of the tour.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gumball Rugs

Are these gumball rugs gorgeous, or what? I just never get sick of the vibrant colors. I love the socks they are made from, Sol Mate Socks, found at www.socklady.com
But I think I like the rugs that I weave from the recycled sock seconds even better. They are truly unique. The fun part of weaving them is that I never know exactly what the rug will look like til it is done. The toe clips are chained, in boxes, and I reach in grab the end of the chain, and start winding them on the shuttle. Whatever is in the box, that's what the rug is made from. I don't try to manipulate the outcome at all.
Some of the rugs are made from the socks cut up into strips, looped together and interspersed with toe clips. Those are bright and colorful, but look more variegated. The rugs in the photo are made from just the toe clips, looped in doubles to make a thicker rug. I am amazed, but I like them better. The colors just seem brighter to me, and they are even more fun.

The hard part is keeping all the pieces parts separate. Boxes of sock seconds, boxes of toe clips, bags of the sock strips and toe clips chained, boxes of toe clips chained alone. The Union Custom warped for 36" rugs, and the Reed Ideal warped for 24" rugs. It is quite a production.
Today two of my three daughters came up to help me clean the studio. Christmas in the Country is this coming Friday , Saturday and Sunday. I have been weaving all month, and making an awful mess. We moved stuff, threw stuff out, and cleaned. The place looks awesome, I am very pleased. I couldn't have done it without them.
It is interesting to spend time with them. They gripe at me for my messes, and tell me that I knew what I was getting into when I asked them to help me clean. So I had to listen to their complaints. They are right most of the time. We worked hard and laughed alot. I love to have their input, they see things that I don't, and they help me get a perspective that I wouldn't have otherwise.
If my third daughter had been there, it would have been perfect.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weaving November

At long last, I will spend some time weaving to fill the shelves with rugs and place mats and table runners. Since I opened the studio 3 years ago, I have struggled to keep up with it, doing custom orders, and trying to build up stock. Still living two lives, my life here at the studio, and my life long career as a nurse, it has not been easy. But November 2008 is going to be a month spent weaving to this end. I am so excited. All these looms, and all this fabric. Where to start?
Well, first, I am weaving gumball rugs on the Union Custom.........2'x 3' rugs in every imaginable color. The fun part is that the loops are all chained and bagged and ready to weave, so I never really know what the rug will look like til it is done. It would be nice to have 20 of them stacked up, which of course means pics of all on my web site. (I need a web site manager, but I am positive that I would drive one nuts, so it is better if I do it myself.)
Then I may move over to the Union 36, and weave some place mats. Warp is on and ready....and I have hardly any place mats left. Believe it or not, they are actually more time consuming than rugs that are much bigger, just because of the stopping and starting. The warp is lavender and sage, so I guess I will make some in both those colors.
The Cambridge is warped with brown, tan, rust, and a little dark green. I am weaving rugs on it from upholstery selvedge, which I call Adirondack Lodge Rugs. I fill a plastic container with some different colors, and then I weave the rug from what is in it. I try not to go digging for colors. I usually find that if I weave what I collected the first time, that the rug turns out fine.
Today was a really productive day........I cleaned the studio, did some much needed organizing, cut some socks, took apart some rugs that weren't quite right, tied fringe on a couple of rugs, and then wove a couple more. I brought some blue jean strips home with me that need to be sewn together. Whew.

November is going to be so much fun.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Attitude

When I started blogging, I intended to always talk about weaving, and what I was doing at the studio. But life happens, and I find myself thinking and regrouping about my direction. With an 83 year old mother who is not feeling her best, a husband with a broken ankle, a senior dog on a low fat diet, a part time job, and a full time vocation, I have had to close my eyes, and see it in a different way. Thus the photo at the top of the page.
At one time, the previous owners of my house decided they needed a washing machine. So they put it in the dining room, built a couple of walls around it, and put a door from the bathroom to get to it. When I arrived, the washer and the walls took leave, and I took back the dining room for looms. The bathroom was left with one door in from the kitchen, and an open doorway to the dining room. But first imagine that the bathroom is only big enough for one person to stand up in........it is tiny.
We found a door to fit the open doorway, and hung it. But there was no door knob, so there is a hole in the door where the door knob should be. While in the bathroom the other day, I peered through the hole, and saw a current project on the loom. I went looking for the camera, and this is one of the photos I took.
It started me thinking about perspective, and how I view what is happening around me, and how really, that is everything. And then to that end, I started thinking about attitude, how one impacts on the other.
Sometimes it feels like I am looking through the hole in the door, and I see what I see, and nothing else. It seems OK, it seems right. But in my heart, I know there is more there, and I know that I have to make the effort, like walking out through the kitchen into the dining room to see what the rug on the loom REALLY looks like, and to appreciate it for all that it is, and not just what is visible through the hole in the door.
Life is like that sometimes. You think you know. You think you see it all. But lots of times, there is more
Whew.
I hope I am making sense to someone besides myself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This is where I spend my days. This photos was taken a couple of weeks ago, one sunny morning. I call it the "house in Kingsbury".
Except that today, it didn't look this nice.

It rained sideways almost all day. And tonight we are supposed to get snow.

But I do love this house. It has its own personality. I always imagine all the people who have lived here since 1790. I know that I am not the first person to love this house, and I probably won't be the last.
I listened to NPR all day, while the pellet stove roared. It was so damp and nasty outside, but it was warm and cozy inside, and as usual, I totally lost track of time. Bob the builder, who renovated the house, fixed my Cambridge loom the other day, in 10 minutes he made an adjustment that should have been done ages ago, if I had known what to do. So I wove three rugs on it, for an order, and it went so smoothly, I decided I liked the loom better than I thought.
Tomorrow I am weaving a rug on the Toika, which is all warped and threaded and waiting.
I had decided to take November off from custom rugs, because I needed a break, but speaking of breaks, my husband broke his ankle on Saturday. So now my schedule has changed. I need to spend some time in the morning helping him, and getting him where he needs to go, since he can't drive. And at the end of the day, I have to shop and cook, and all the rest. He used to split these chores with me, which was incredibly helpful to me. It allowed me to work longer at the studio, and get more done, when I knew he was picking up the slack.
Guess I have been spoiled, and now I will appreciate him more when he is all healed up.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Late night musings

Tonight at work, there were some pretty strong rantings about the political scene. I am not about to start talking politics here. But I have to say that I am amazed at the intensity of feelings on both sides. I wonder about that, and about what makes us choose who we want to vote for. I'm not so sure that is an easy question to answer. I only hope, that no matter who is elected President, we can all come together to straighten out the things that are wrong with our country. I pray that our differences BEFORE the election, can be put to rest when it is said and done. Because someone will win, and someone won't.
That brings me to my other issue tonight. I really should be in bed, but I'm not
What exactly is success, and what do we think success is, or should be?
There was an article in the paper the other day, about a local woman who came up with an idea for a product, a simple product really. She worked on it, and probably made some herself, and then took it further. She now has them in some big stores, I think Target was mentioned. But the kicker, for me, was that she has them made now, in CHINA. CHINA.
Am I missing something? Is that what we view as being successful? Coming up with an idea to be manufactured in CHINA?
Is it me? Am I crazy?
About a year ago, one of my daughters told me that she was going to write to Oprah, and tell Oprah about me, about how I had pursued my dream and was living my passion. She said that it was a great story, and that she thought it was just the kind of thing that Oprah loved.
I thought a bit, and then I told her that maybe she should rethink that one. She asked me what I meant.
I said, well, if Oprah liked the story, and called me, and wanted me on her show, then all these women all over the country would want a rug from Crazy as a Loom Weaving Studio. I would have to hire and train weavers. I would have to build a warehouse in the back, and next thing you know there would be tractor trailers pulling in and out of the driveway. I wouldn't be weaving the rugs myself anymore, I would be too busy running the business.
So, where would my dream be then?
And to tie all this together, here is the question.........would that be success???
No, I think not, at least not for me.
Success is weaving in a sunny window, cats watching the birds at the feeder behind me, NPR on the radio, picking and choosing colors as I go, letting a cup of tea go cold, getting up to make another. Losing track of time, and loving it. That is success.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

my new helper

Today I had my 4 year old granddaughter, Gabriella, at the studio. I was weaving a rug, and she played for awhile. Then she wanted to help me clean up. So she swept, and I found that being behind her with the broom in her hand was not a good place to be. She held the bag while I put cut socks in it from a box I had filled. Then she found a huge basket, and it was empty. That was not good, in her mind, to be empty. So I suggested that she fill it with Christmas table runners that I had stashed in a drawer. So she diligently rolled each and every one of them, and stood them up in this basket, and I must say she did an awesome job. She was very quiet, and I couldn't see her in the next room, so I kept asking her if she was OK. She kept saying yes.
At one point, after I saw what a good job she was doing, I said to her, "Gee, Gabs, Mimi is going to have to hire you to work for her."
A little voice came back, "OK, just call me in the morning."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bones are good.

And by the way, after my fall, I have decided that I do not have osteoporosis. Otherwise, something would be broken.
That said, my titanium knee, which I have another name for.....hmm.......does NOT like to be twisted, and it has made that well known to be since last night.
Tsk, tsk, I said, get over it.

Your next quest.

A couple of months ago, I received a call from a very nice lady, Michele Meagher. Her calling is a new venture called Your Next Quest. She wanted to interview me for her very first newsletter, because she said that what I was doing with my life was a perfect fit. The newsletter, with my story, is coming out soon. She sent me a preview, and I am honored that she chose me. If you want to sign up for it, or just check out her site, go to www.yournextquest.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One of those days

I put a photo up of my granddaughter, Ava, asleep upstairs in the big bedroom in the back of the house, to remind me that serenity is really mine for the having.
Today was not one of those days. Putting a warp on the Cambridge, 100 yards, and everything that could go wrong, did. Broken threads, aching shoulder, you name it. Then I did the unthinkable, I tried to UNWIND a section, to find the thread that broke. You can guess the outcome of that, I'm sure. So I decided to cut my losses, and cut the whole section out, but by this time, I was tired, and I accidentally snipped threads from the section next to it, sooooooooooooo.........yup, I cut both of them out.
Luckily, at this point, it was time to go home and pick up Eddie for his appointment with the vet. So I got away from the warping nightmare. I did go back and finish it later, and then I cleaned up my mess. It made for one really long day.
When I was leaving, trying to turn the lights off, I tripped over something, the broom fell and got stuck in the sectional beam, which tripped me up further, and I went down on the hardwood floor with a bang.
So now my hip and my knee hurt as much as my shoulder.

I am spending November weaving for the studio. Custom orders will wait til December.
After all, serenity is mine for the taking.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Custom Work

I am not complaining.....custom work pays the bills at the studio, and allows me to continue to "weave my dream".....but I have decided that I need to interrupt the blur of days that go by with nothing but custom work. I need to take a day....or even two, every week, and just weave what my muse wants me to weave. Gotta love that muse.
But I find that if I don't take time out to do just that, the end of the week comes, and I am exhausted, instead of invigorated. I want to be excited about what I am doing, so I have to get better about scheduling my time, and taking time for my own creativity.
The Adirondack Business Show was quite interesting. There were a lot of people there, and I made a lot of contacts, hopefully some that will increase my sales. The only thing I didn't like was the lack of chairs.....they want people to network, not sit, so they don't provide chairs. Unfortunately, my titanium knee doesn't really like that plan, so it was a long 4 hours.
Back to the loom tomorrow. Getting ready to weave my FIRST international order. This rug is going to Spain.....I wish I could go with it! I always wanted to go to Spain. Maybe I could deliver it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sheila's Rug

I worked on Sheila's rug today, for the new "sitting room" that she and Nancy have made by knocking down a wall in their house. I love weaving rugs that are designed "on the fly"......searching around for just the right color, one shuttle at a time. Here it is.......I love it.....and I hope Sheila and Nancy do, too. It measures 5'x10'.
A young man stopped by today, when he walked in and looked around, he had that look of an animal caught in headlights.......what the ............?
He wanted to sell me space in the mall!!!!! I told him that wouldn't work, since I have to be at the studio weaving rugs, and working. I can't be sitting around waiting for retail traffic.......and I don't have time to sit at the mall selling rugs. He said there would be room at the mall for my loom....he pointed to the 7' Toika. I almost fell off the stool I was sitting on, I didn't have the heart to tell him how totally clueless he was. If I told my husband we had to take the Toika apart to take it to the mall for a 2 month seasonal kiosk, he would kill me, for sure.
Today was a beautiful fall day......sunshine, the rustle of leaves, colors to die for.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October

I love October. The only bad thing about October, is that it reminds me of my Dad, who died on October 20th. I always said I would never miss him, our relationship was so rocky for so long. But of course, that is far from the truth. I miss him terribly.
October though, is my favorite month. I love the long shadows, the bursts of sunshine and warmth, the colors..........oh, my......the colors. And I love the feeling that I have have always had, when autumn comes. I can never exactly put my finger on it, but it is a feeling of such " peace and plenty". I want it to last forever.
Today I got a,lot of cutting done.....socks......socks, and more socks. Bill says I should do a Utube video of the sock process, like I have time. But it is an interesting concept.
I use my Eastman chickadee cutter, I have two of them, and they are worth their weight in GOLD, no lie. I cut the sock seconds in 1" strips, discarding the toe, and the elastic at the top. I bag them up when I get a box full......I try to cut some every day, otherwise, it is a daunting task.
Then they have to be looped, and I went on Craig's list and advertised, and right now have 3, maybe 4, people who are looping, and I am hoping that they stick with it and are reliable. So far, so good. The sock strips are interspersed with the toe clips, and the toe clips are used 2 or 3 as one.
Then I warp the loom at 10epi, with a multicolored warp, usually whatever I have leftover from other projects. It is a great way to use up smaller spools, as long as they are colorful. I use a tension box, and a spool rack, and wind them onto the sectional beam on the back of my Union Custom, and put at least 100 yards on it.
I use cotton warp for the header, double thickness, and do seven shots. I weave the rug, 2 ft wide, and 44" long. That makes a generous 2' x 3' rug.
I cut about 3 boxes today, then I moved on to the Toika. I have an order for a 4'x6' for a lady in Spain...my first international order! But I have a warp on the loom, and I need to weave it off, so I started that today, a lodge rug in varied colors. I got alot of it done, and hopefully will finish it tomorrow. This will be a rug for my friends, Sheila and Nancy, for their new "sitting room".

I packed up stuff for the Adirondack Business Show on Thursday, in Glens Falls, at the Queensbury Hotel. This is the first one of those I have ever done. I just recently joined the Chamber of Commerce, hoping that it will help me out with local business.

Eddie is recovering well, he is presently lying on the other end of the couch, with his legs across my feet. He is SOUND asleep. His age is catching up to him, in some ways he acts older, but in so many ways he still acts like a puppy. He feels so much better, it is such a relief.
I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Mack, his wife Noelle, and all his staff, up in Ticonderoga. I trusted them to take good care of him, and they did.
Life is good.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the last time

My friend Sheila sent me a link...to a blog of another friend of hers.....and told me to read the Sept 12th entry. I did, and I was quiet for a long time. I read it twice.
I won't spoil it for you. Go read it yourself, and pause for a few minutes in your life, just to let it sink in.
The link is http://eulaliabenejamcobb.vox.com/

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gratitude

Today I am overwhelmed with gratitude......Eddie is home. He is not quite up to his old self, I am sure the week of being at the vet's, medications, tests, anxiety and missing his "life at home", took its toll. We are not entirely sure he is out of the woods yet, he is very short of breath with little exercise. But he is not a puppy any more, and with age comes infirmity, for all of us.
Bill and I are grateful to have him home, grateful that it is not time for him to leave us yet.
Neither of us blinked when we paid the bill. I would have paid 5 times that much. After all, you can't put a price on the love and devotion we get in return.

My friends Sheila and Nancy, of Simple Pleasures Farm, and Simple Pleasures Yarns, are selling shares in the wool production this year. You can find out more at www.simplepleasuresyarns.com
Their farm is a special place in the universe, and their sheep are part of the family. The yarn, of course, is wonderful as a result.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Plan B

Seems lately that Plan B is the order of the day.
I didn't get any weaving done today, I had good intentions, but Eddie, my pit bull, age 11, became very ill. The day was spent getting him to the vet, waiting for him to be seen, and eventually driving away without him. Years ago, he had a bowel obstruction after eating his tennis ball. His symptoms last night, and today, were similar, and I feared the worst. But it turns out that he has pancreatitis. Better I guess, than a bowel obstruction, not being too sure how his "older" body would handle major surgery. But he is one sick puppy, that's for sure.
My mother and I had a conversation on the way home that we have had before.........questioning why we keep getting dogs, and cats, when we know we will outlive them, and that our hearts will be broken every time we lose one of them. But the answer is always the same.......the love and devotion, company, loyalty, friendship and joy that they give us, far outweighs the pain of their passing.
I am praying that Eddie has more time with me. He is my buddy, and part of the fabric of my life. He is in good hands, with the vet who saved him 8 years ago. He will be getting IV fluids, pain meds, and antibiotics for the next few days. I hope my next entry is about bringing him home.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Plan B

I had a call today from a lady who wanted to make the "gumball rug", but after talking to her for a minute, I was moved to ask her, "Do you weave?" Her answer was, "Uh, ......no."
So I got to thinking about that. These gumball rugs are so unique, and such fun, but just like weavers wanting to weave their own, other crafters would want to make the rugs themselves. Thus, an "aha" moment. You just never know where they are coming from. So, I have added the option to "braid" the chains of loopers, instead of winding them on a shuttle and weaving them. I have two bags here, waiting for me to drink my tea, and get at them. I need to make the rug in the braided rug fashion, so I can put it on my web site, and show you the finished product.
I have long read people's ideas on the recycling of "thrums"......every time I cut a rug off the loom, and every time I cut the fringe on a rug, I have those little pieces of rug warp. I admit, I have been guilty of throwing them out. Until just recently. I had been watching the birds outside the studio, where I have several feeders, and I had suet hanging, as well. The suet was long gone, and the little cage that holds it was hanging there. And I got to thinking, why not put all those threads in that little cage, and let the birds use them to make their nests. I would certainly have the most colorful bird nests in town.
So, here it is!
More fabric coming next week.....so stay tuned. I will try to get the samples on my web page as soon as possible.




Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another week flies by.

This has been another crazy week. Due to the impossibility of stopping up all the holes in the barn...including from below...since the woodchucks dig holes up into the barn.......we bought a 10'x14' metal shed to put the wood pellets in. After the first night, I thought my husband was going to "take the bridge", but after rereading the instructions, he decided to stick it out. His comment was, "I'm Irish, and if it takes me 6 months, I am going to get that "blankity-blank" together."
Today was day 4, and he had a helper for all 4 days, and he still has to put the door on. He says he has made mistakes, but it looks good to me. 956 bolts/screws whatever.....so he tells me. Sounds like a nightmare I had once.
Anyway, I was safe in the studio.......I declined to be his helper....smart woman, eh?
And I had orders to finish, and orders to start.....so that was that.
I am still waiting on a crank for my newest loom acquisition, another Union Custom. I may try to put a warp on this week without the crank.....I just can't wait.
I had a student this week, Candy, and she was a quick study.....easy to teach, and eager to be a weaver......an eager weaver? Yup......she was loving it, you can always tell when someone has been bitten by the weaving bug. She was getting herself all set up so she could do it all herself. She made a rug, and it looked great. She is off to a fine start. I can just imagine what she will be weaving a year from now!
She will be coming by one of these days to watch me warp sectionally, since her loom has a sectional beam, and it is my favorite way to put a warp on. I bet it will be hers, too.
Visit her blog, see her rug, and even find out how to make vanilla extract......I was amazed.....I never knew! I am going to have to try that one.
That is one of the perks of teaching weaving....I get to meet the nicest, most interesting people.
After all, they are going to be weavers, so it only makes sense.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here it is September already, leaving me wondering what happened to summer.
I have a resident raccoon in the barn, who has decided to open EVERY bag of wood pellets, just to see if perhaps there might be something ELSE in the bag that he might like. The Havaheart is set with grape jelly, and let's hope that he has a sweet tooth. I don't have any particular dislike for raccoons, except when I have $1000 invested in wood pellets, and that changes everything.
I just bought the pellet stove, and the pellets, so that this winter I wouldn't cringe every time the furnace starts up, which by the way sounds like an old VW starting up in the cellar.

I am busy putting gumball rug kits together. I am pretty excited about this.........enough sock seconds from Sol Mate Socks cut into strips, toe clips, warp, and instructions, to make 2 (2'x3') gumball rugs. I sent out 5 kits today, which proves to me that other weavers are like me, they can't resist color and texture in a rug.
After my whirlwind trip to the UPS center, which has convinced me to get my own UPS account.......I met my friend Alice at the Feeder Dam, and we put our kayaks in the Hudson and paddled away. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the water was like silk, and there was just a slight breeze. It was awesome, and I totally needed the break.
Sometimes I forget just how hard I work.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I am guilty of working too much, has been a character defect of mine for quite some time.........but I do consciously try to modify that behavior. I recently did something that I have been saying I wanted to do for a long time, but somehow never got around to. I bought a kayak. My friend, Alice, and I went to Dick's Sporting Goods and bought kayaks together. True, we didn't have a clue about what we were buying, but apparently we aren't accomplished enough kayakers for that to matter a great deal.
We've been out twice, both times on the Hudson. Today, we paddled 6 miles down to Feeder Dam, and back up. I am exhausted, but it feels good. And it especially feels good to finally do it, after I have talked about it for so long. As I was driving home, with the windows down, with my orange and yellow kayak strapped to the top of my car, the sun was behind me, the kayak appeared in shadow ahead of me as I was going down the road. I couldn't stop smiling.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just concluded a weaving weekend at the studio. I LOVE this house. It has an ambience that is hard to explain. Maybe it is all the years of living that it has seen, I don't know. I only know that it feels good to be here.
Judy was my student and weaving companion for the weekend. She arrived Friday night, and started right in weaving. I set her to work on the Leclerc studio loom that was already warped. I gave her simple instructions on throwing the shuttle, and advancing the warp, and left her to it, just to get the feel of it.
I made pasta........whole wheat penne with sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh basil, garlic and olive oil. With a great green salad. We had a late dinner, and went to bed........she had a long trip here, and I had a long week!
Saturday we cut the warp off the Leclerc, and she began to wind her own warp. We didn't put a long warp on, I think sometimes that it isn't necessary to put on a long warp in order to know how to do it, and then I don't have to feel guilty about weaving it off, or not. So she put a short warp on the loom, got it all beamed on, threaded, and sleyed. It was a red boucle warp. She used a purple variegated thread for the weft, and did plain weave with stripes of twill. She made a runner that turned out to be at least 3 ft long. It is beautiful.........I said, "WOW".......either you are a really good student, or I am a great teacher.....we decided that both could be true!
We cleaned up and went out to dinner with my husband and my mother, and then to a show....."Footloose" at the Charles Wood Theatre....by the Adirondack Childrens' Theater group......it was very good. Long day, we were exhausted.
Sunday....today.....she wove a rug.....yes, an entire rug......made from loopers.....a gumball rug....about 2'x3', and she did another awesome job.
She tried a little spinning.....but I think after all that weaving, her heart wasn't in it.
We ate Mexican......and once again.....we are beat.
Where did this weekend go??? The time flew by, I enjoyed teaching her to weave......and I hope that she enjoyed her weekend at Crazy as a Loom.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mimi's Vintage Rag Rugs

Quite some time ago, I acquired a stash of fabric on bolts......prints from Joann's......nice cottons in lots of bright colors. I cut it into strips with my Eastman Chickadee cutter, each no more than 24" long, some shorter, then set out to sew them all back together randomly. I roll them into balls, and put a colorful warp on the loom, red, light green, turquoise, purple, lilac, orange, yellow, and bright blue.
The rugs that are woven with this fabric are Mimi's Vintage Rag Rugs. They are modern day "hit n' miss"........instead of using bits and pieces of old worn out clothes, I use leftover fabric, the brighter the better.
I have cut my strips thinner and thinner, so they are lightweight rugs, much like the antique rugs that I have.
The whole process is a lot of work, but I think the result is worth it, and in fact, I think these are my favorite woven rugs.
It is amazing though, how quickly I have gone through the shelves of fabric that I thought would last for a year.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today I took the day off from the studio, even though I have lots and lots to do there. I am trying to put more balance in my life, and two grandsons, Nevinn who is 10, and Logan who is 8, are definitely inspiration for that endeavor.
They had asked me if they could go to the "maze".....which in fact isn't a maze at all, but a labyrinth.
We drove over to Harmony, in Comstock, NY, a nature sanctuary run by my dear friends Bonnie and Robin. When we got there, they took off down the path into the meadow, which was over their heads in a yellow blaze of flowers. I took my time, and enjoyed the quiet, the scenery, and eventually found a bench by a babbling brook, where I sat and waited for them to slow down. After a while, they did, and we went to the labyrinth. I entered it, and purposely began my walk, and I said to them, "Come in, and walk the path, and don't jump from one lane to another, and while you are walking, I want you to see if you can figure out what it means." Nevinn said, "I don't get it." They kept walking. I said, "Keep thinking." Finally, Logan said, "Mimi, I know what it means".....I said, "You do? What then?" He said, " It is where you find the center of your heart"..............I gasped. Then I smiled, and said, "Yes, Loge, you are exactly right, it is."
Some things are, in fact, priceless.

Monday, May 19, 2008

gumball rugs

I have a new rug on my web site...on the first page......and I am calling it a "gumball rug". It is a pretty neat rug, if I do say so myself. So far, I have a pile of 2'x3' rugs.....that is approximate...some of them are a little longer. They are made from recycled socks, not just the toe clips that most "looper" rugs are made of, but the whole sock. I cut the sock seconds, the ones with little mistakes, into 1" sections. I start at the toe, cut that off.....and then just cut the sock into as many pieces as I can, each piece being a circle. Then these circle pieces, which I call sock clips,are looped together, with the toe clips(2 or 3 looped together) appearing every so often......about every 7 or 8 sock clips. They they are woven on a brilliantly colored warp that matches the socks. These rugs are soft and cushy....they are great in kids' rooms, bathrooms, or just about anywhere. They are all alike, and yet all different, does that make sense?
It is a great use of these sock seconds, that would otherwise be a huge waste product.
I love making new things out of old things, or things you wouldn't expect. I also love using things for other than they were intended, rather than throwing them out.
Today I bought some antique rugs.......from a very nice old gentleman who came to my door, because he thought I would be interested. And of course, he was right. I was. So now, I have to decide how to clean them, and then how to save them. Some of them are OK, and others are not. Some can be cut down to make smaller rugs, and a couple can be rewoven. The colors are great in them, and the fabric was cut so thin, they are great rugs. I so admire the way they were woven, and think that once someone sat at the loom weaving them, much like I sit and weave all day in my studio. Interesting.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

weaving for money

This winter I had the opportunity to weave for someone else. It was to be an ongoing job, of weaving rugs with someone else's materials. They would sell them, and I wouldn't have to worry about the marketing. It sounded easy, and it sounded like it would be a good thing.......
Fast forward many, many rugs later........weeks of shipping out 20, 30, 40, even 60 rugs. And before that could be done, there was preparation.......warping the loom, getting the weft ready, weaving, tyeing fringe, packing, paperwork. Rugs that started out to be quite attractive, eventually became drudge.
I always try to be open to the lesson, and believe me, there is one here.
The job is no more......just the way things turned out......and I have learned that I don't want to weave like that. I don't want to weave for money. I want to weave and know that I am doing what I love.
It seems that you are never too old to learn a lesson.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feb28th,2008

Wow, it has been a long, cold, snowy winter. I am tired of paying the oil man, and the guy that plows the driveway.
Heating a house built 200+ years ago is a contstant challenge, one I am afraid I have not completely figured out yet. The furnace sounds like a Volkswagen taking off every time it runs, which is often. Someone is always suggesting that I put insulation in the walls, and they look at me strangely when I tell them that there is NO space in the walls to put insulation. The walls are board on board, with lathe and plaster on top of that, so all in all the walls are very thick, but solid. It is not a typical studded construction, but rather a true post and beam. Most of the windows are original, and even though there are storms on them, they are drafty.
I dress differently at the studio than I do at home. If you keep moving, it is fine, but if you stop, you need a sweater, or a fleece.
I have been weaving things I want to weave, blue jean rugs, placemats, hit and miss rugs, selvedge rugs...........my biggest problem some days is which loom to weave on.....life is tough.
I have been battling with low back pain, and I have been taking note of how my back feels after weaving on each loom. I have come to realize that the relationship of the height of the bench to the height of the loom is crucial to whether or not I feel like I have been beaten up after a day of weaving. And you can be sure I am going to address the results.
Kismet and Miss Puss are tired of winter, they don't have the run of the house when it is so cold......the upstairs is mostly kept shut off, and they don't like it. Today I went upstairs just to check everything, and they followed me up there. ........since they aren't allowed outdoors, the whole house is their world. Now they spend alot of time sitting on the Toika bench, watching the bird feeder .......which I call Kitty HBO.
Kismet is sweet and lovable, despite being wild for the first 4 months of his life, but when he hears someone drive in, he runs and hides inside an old desk that I use, climbing up into the drawer from the back. Then he comes out if it's someone he knows, and if not, he waits til whoever it is leaves. Miss Puss on the other hand, prefers to follow people around if they come in, but doesn't like to be picked up, and will only tolerate head scratching.........she is NOT sweet and lovable by a long stretch, although she does keep close tabs on me.
I decided to do my baking at the studio.....since I am there more than I am home......and besides chocolate chip cookies smell so good!
I was going to make sourdough bread, until I realized that my sourdough starter was 23 years old.....but that's another story.
Welcome to my world.

Because every thread counts

Because every thread counts