Crazy as a Loom

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Getting it right.


This is the beginning of a custom rug. the warp on the spool rack, waiting to be wound on the 7 ft Toika. The order is a 10x12 blue jean rug. It will be made in two 5 ft wide sections, each 12 ft long.
The warp is interesting, mostly blue, but with some cream, some variegated beige, and a touch of rust.






I personally have marked each and every loom I own with an arrow on the side. I am often asked why.
The truth is that some of the warp beams are wound towards the loom, and some of them are wound away from the loom. Winding the warp on backwards is a disaster. You usually only do it once. I did it on the first Union 36 I bought, and as soon as I realized what I had done, I talked my husband into turning the back beam around.
I then proceeded to put arrows on my looms near the crank, and on every other loom that I have acquired.
Here is the tension box, doing its job.
I have intended to buy a counter, so that every section is exactly the same, but I continue to rely on my counting skills, and every time I finish a warp, I am amazed at how really bad I am at it.
I put a little masking tape on each section when I'm done with it.
The warp is on, all 5ft of it, and now all I have to do is tie it on to the old warp that was on the loom, carefully pull the knots through, and tie it onto the front beam.
Then we're ready to weave blue jeans.
Got a chance to see my grandson play baseball last night. He is SO serious. And hard on himself, a family trait I'm afraid.

He is only 11, but very tall, like his Dad.
While we were watching, he had a hit.
Which his attentive Mimi caught with her new camera.
It was a chance for us to connect, spend a little time together. I have the best family.......I can't imagine my life without them.

We used to live two hours apart, and that was difficult. When they came to visit for the day, they had to factor in 4 hours of driving. With little kids in tow, that is tough. So five years ago, I moved an hour closer. We still moan and groan about the distance, but then we remember what it USED to be like, and we are grateful. I don't know how people manage when their kids live across the country. I would be flying back and forth all the time, and I would rather have a root canal than fly in an airplane. I would rather sprout wings and fly solo.

I love this picture. It isn't a great photograph, but I love the hazy look of the late day sun, and the way my mother and my daughter are looking at each other, in conversation, on their way to the rest rooms.
It says a lot to me.
My mother has been very close to all three of my daughters since they were born. Now at 84, she is getting to spend time with their children, and loving every minute of it.
So that is what I have been up to. A relief after all that dyeing.

Just another day in paradise.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Going green is good!

(click on any picture to see it bigger and better)


The fabric sat in the dye all night. When I started to rinse it this morning, a lot of the color seemed to be washing out. So I took my friend's advice, and mixed another batch of soda ash, poured it in, weighted it down, and left it for another hour or so.

Then we rinsed it........and hung it every available place, so it would dry.
It was windy, which dried the fabric quite quickly, but unfortunately, the clothes racks kept getting blown over, and they the wind even blew some of it totally off the porch.
When we got inside, Ava wanted me to take a picture of her sandals, and her creation.

She tried to help me roll the fabric back up into balls. Twenty pounds of dry fabric is a LOT of fabric.

The pillow actually has a brownish color under the red stripe, and the green I was trying to match is the area under the white stripe between the red stripes. It is a pretty darn close match, and after two days of work, green fingers, and an aching back, I am happy with the results.
Then we planted a clematis vine near the barn, in the secret garden.
And some hostas behind the barn. Hopefully, they are too big to be tasty treats for the woodchucks.
I continue to pour dirty cat litter down every wood chuck hole that I find, and we filled the area under the porch with rocks, so they couldn't use that one anymore. This is an ongoing battle, but I am relentless.
Kids love hoses. That is a fact of life. Give a kid a hose, and tell them to fill this, and clean that, and let them go. You will have a dirty, wet, happy kid.

I think Ava has some creative talents lurking.......she made this with a piece of old wood, a couple of sock loopers, and a stone. She said she was taking it home for her brother.
And at the end of the day, this little face is what it is all about.
What a beauty.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stupid, stupid, stupid

Yup, that's me.
I had this crazy idea that I could dye this fabric without taking it off the rolls.
My husband said "no way".
My friend Chris said "don't think so".
But I had to try it.
First I weighed the rolls, I needed 20 lbs of fabric dyed a olive green.
Now these gloves look all professional, but in reality, they are useless. Stay tuned.

The powdered dye was a coral color, but it really is olive green, actually it is called celery, not sure why. It is a MX reactive dye for cotton from Pro Chemical. They have a great site, and they even have directions. Of course, none of those included dyeing fabric in rolls.
Three teaspoons of dye per 2 cups of water is enough for 1 lb of material. Get out the paper and pen, do some calculating to get it right.
I had to put all this salt in the water first, and mix it thoroughly.
I use this rubber tub that my husband bought for me at Tractor Supply. I just filled it with the hose. Today was a really warm, sunny day, a "perfect day to dye".

I started mixing the dye in the kitchen, then moved out to the back yard.
This is the soda ash......which I also mixed with water after the fabric had been in the dye bath for a while.
OK, here we are......putting 20 lbs of rolls in the dye......but of course they wouldn't stay submerged, so I had to innovate. My husband had just brought some bricks over from our back yard at home, so I used them to weight down the rolls.
This roll of fabric.......this is what I SHOULD have done......what do they say about hind sight being 20/20. Yeah.
Had I spent the time to unwind all those rolls into balls, while annoying at the time, I would have been done with this dyeing project in a couple of hours.
But I had to know if this would work. And I found out. It doesn't.
The fabric is just wound so tight, the dye could not completely seep through. When I unwound one, about half way into it, the original color and the dyed fabric were about 50/50. Not good.

By this time, the gloves had ripped, my nails were stained, and I had splashed it on my pants. And I realized that I needed to unwind all this fabric from the rolls, and rewind it into balls. Which I did. It took a lot longer than I care to divulge at this time. And by the time I was finished, my pants, my socks, my shoes, my hands, and one arm to the elbow were a lovely shade of olive.
And the fabric was not yet the color I wanted.
So I decided to take yet another chance.
If I took the fabric out of the tub to rinse, I would have 20 lbs of fabric the wrong shade of green, so I figured I didn't have much to lose by leaving it in the dye all night.
So that is where it is. Weighted down with a couple of boards and bricks.
In the morning, I will rinse it all, and hang it on a clothes rack outside to dry.
And while it is drying, I will be upstairs weaving the last towel on the Macomber.
A prospect that looks like a whole lot more fun than what I did today.
And little Ava is coming to visit her Mimi, and her little face is guaranteed to make me smile.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dreaming on Sunday

(click on any picture to make it bigger)

I just bought myself a new dresser, and a night stand, at my favorite furniture store. Tops, in Hudson Falls, NY.......I just LOVE that place. It is a huge place, two floors, and everything on the left is new, and everything on the right is second hand, both levels.
I have bought many different pieces there over the last 4 years, for the studio. I always get a great deal, and the people that run the place are friendly and helpful.
But today, I needed a dresser for myself, and decided it was time to do it. I should have taken a picture of it, but didn't, so you will have to wait til Wednesday when they deliver it. But it is a lovely honey color, and it is higher than most dressers, but not as high as some. It is an in between height, with a great mirror. And the top, middle drawer has glass in the front, and the front of the drawer flips down, so if you want to, you can put your DVR in there, and it is big enough to put my small, flat screen TV on top.
So I should be upstairs, cleaning the room, and getting ready for this, but I'm not. I watched my grandkids last night, and didn't get home til 1am, and then I have been busy much of the day.
I sold a loom yesterday, which may sound strange, since I am such a dedicated collector of looms, but lately I have been really zoning in on the looms I love, and getting annoyed with the ones I don't. This loom was an OK loom for me, but I so love the 4 Unions, and the Reed Ideal that I do most of my production work on, that I really never got to this one. A former student of mine, who just learned to weave in January, wanted a loom JUST this size. It seemed a perfect match.
But she didn't have a way to get it home, so I volunteered my husband. Wasn't that nice of me?????
So even though I got to bed late, we were up early, and went to the studio, and loaded up the loom. Of course, it is never that easy. It wouldn't come out the front door in one piece, so we had to take the castle off.

It was a lovely morning for a drive, if a bit cloudy. Here is a shot of the Hudson River, as we crossed it. Thurman is a small town is the Adirondacks. There is a train there, called the Upper Hudson River Railroad. This is purely a site seeing train, that eventually will go from Hadley to North Creek. At some point, it was decided to build a train station in the little hamlet of Thurman. This is a sore point with my husband, who feels very strongly that his job as a Warren County supervisor is to protect the taxpayers that he works for.
Here is a picture of the tracks leading up to the new "train station". The question here is about money; how much money, and how it was spent. Now you have to prepare yourself for this, try to imagine what you could build with $1,300,000 + or - a few dollars.
And this is what they built.
Now there is no denying that there are some HUGE questions here that need to be answered. Who got all that money? Who approved that kind of money? Why did it cost this much? Or, did someone pocket the difference? Not very nice questions. But the public deserves some answers, some explanation. My opinion. What will it take for someone to initiate an investigation? And why is everyone afraid to talk about it?
Anyway, on a nicer note, we traveled over hill and dale, and finally arrived at Caroline's house. She lives in the WOODS. For sure. These rocks are in her back yard.
She has no neighbors, and it is absolutely QUIET. She did complain that the frogs were quite noisy this morning. :)
I had to take pics of her house inside, it was just awesome. The light alone was breathtaking.

She is putting her loom in a sunny spot, perfect for weaving.
I have always thought I would love to live in a log cabin, and seeing this one made me start dreaming of one. Honey, can we build a log cabin? Please????? Can we start next weekend???
We walked around outside for a bit....she gave me a dozen FRESH right out of the chicken eggs to take home.
Ahh......rhubarb is up. I make the BEST rhubarb pie you ever ate.........I can't wait.

Here is her shed and chicken coop......I love weathered wood, and buildings that look like they have been around for a while.
And a lovely arbor that goes to her vegetable garden. She said this vine is an Arctic kiwi.......something that I have never heard of.
So mission accomplished, loom delivered, another weaver starting on her own loomy quest.
Tomorrow starts another week, and I have lots to do.....a loom to warp, fabric to dye, rugs to weave.
But for right now, we just got back from walking Eddie along the river, and dinner is cooking, and there is a mourning dove that I can hear through the open window.
And it is Sunday. A time to rest.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My special day.



This week has been one of chasing my tail, and today was no different. As you can see, I am making a huge mess. So rather than just show you a photo of a stack of beautiful, colorful rugs, I have to also show you a picture of the incredible mess I make preparing to make rugs, in this case, blue jeans. There is a whole lot of cutting and sewing and cutting going on, and so far this week, I have 50 lbs done. Whew.
When I get through the stack of jeans still waiting to be processed, I will clean up the mess.
Honest. I will.










Today was a VERY exciting day for me. Now I know it sounds hokey, and unless you are over 50, you may not appreciate it, but today my FIRST social security check was deposited into my checking account. WAHOO!!!!!!!!!!
I am still working one day a week as a nurse, and will give it up gradually this year. And of course I am still working at the studio.
But I don't really think of that as work, because I love it so much.
I never dreamed I would be so excited and pleased to be 62 years old. I don't feel 62 years old. Most of the time, I feel like I am about 12. Maybe because I quite often act like I am 12. My body does try to remind me quite a lot, and I do listen most of the time. OK, I try.
Getting to this stage of my life reminds me of where I have worked all these long years.
Age 17, as a nurse's aide, right out of school, as a waitress (I was lousy), as a dishwasher, off to college, then in a paper mill, my own furniture stripping business, then on to nursing school. As a nurse, I worked on a medical surgical unit, on an IV team, in dialysis, in the Emergency Room, in a maximum security prison (this for 20 years) with occasional stints in maternity, ICU, and most currently in Urgent Care, and then the county jail. I started working in 1964......... and that is a grand total of 45 years out in the work force. Working shift work, daycare, working overtime, in good weather, and in bad. I did get a few months off each time I had daughters, but other than that, I have been working. It seems impossible to me now, that I have worked for a living for this long. I should be rich, right?
So I am pleased to be here, finally. The word "freedom" keeps coming to mind. Free to get up when I please, even though I always get up early. Free to go to bed whenever I want, even though I am usually in bed by 10, 11 at the latest. I am a morning person at heart.
Free to do what I want, pretty much when I want. What a concept!!!



I guess my life has come full circle. I feel a lot like I felt when I was 12. Doing what I want to do.
I walk around smiling to myself, thinking that this "getting old" gig is quite the secret. Who knew?????

I am still that same person I was when I was 12, even 25, or 40. She is "in there" to coin a phrase. True, I don't look quite the same, but if I don't walk by a mirror, I forget that.
Just like some of the favorite things I have dragged around most of my life, like this picture..........the Hilary through the years comes with me wherever I go.

All my hopes and dreams throughout my life, and all my hard work, have brought me here.
My life is quiet, predictable, I laughingly say that it is "boring". But I love where I am, and who I am with, and what I do.
At the end of the day, here I am, Eddie on the couch next to me, my husband watching the Red Sox, in our own little world.
I am 62, and all is right in my world.
It doesn't get any better. In fact, it's priceless.
Welcome to my world.

Because every thread counts

Because every thread counts