Crazy as a Loom

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Big doings.

Can I just say that baby chicks are a pain in the..............well, you know.
They are a lot of work.   I have had chickens in the past, but NEVER chicks.
One night I actually stayed over at the studio, so I could run out there every couple of hours to make sure the light was at the right height that they didn't freeze.
I had them in a huge metal water trough inside the chicken coop.  They are growing so fast, I think they were getting overcrowded.
The other day I noticed one little barred rock crouched down and not moving.
I picked her up to find that her neck was pecked and in rough shape.

 So I put her in a box by herself....with food and water.  I have fed her a little boiled egg, and while I was expecting to find her dead, she is actually doing much better.
But she wants out.
Chickens are social birds.  She doesn't like being alone.
So today, after two days of being in this box, I tried her in with the rest.  They immediately started pecking the back of her neck.

I fetched her out quickly.

Then I had a bit of a brain storm.   I went to the barn, where I had a bird cage hanging.....cleaned it out, put some shavings in it, some food and water, and put her in it.
As you can see, she can see them, and hear them, and while it may not be a perfect solution, it is the only one I could come up with for the time being.
I would love to hear any suggestions.

Oh, and I did take them out of the metal container, and put up this corrugated cardboard, so they wouldn't hide under the nesting boxes, where I couldn't keep a good eye on them.

I think they will be easier when they are grown.

Finally the kitchen construction is done.  And while I could have opted for the "Country Living" completely new kitchen, I am pretty happy with my old/new kitchen.  
It's perfect.

I have to get knobs for the cupboards, and the floor needs to be sanded and refinished around the new ones, where the bathroom used to be.

I love my old house, and it's important to me that any renovation I do feels right.

This does.

It's especially fun, when an idea that was brewing in my head, comes to fruition, and is even nicer than I expected it to be.

I'm not keeping you awake, am I Sydney???

Monday, May 26, 2014

Easier days.

6am.   Every morning.  Wide awake.
That's me.

What better time to make rhubarb pies?

I don't put strawberries in my rhubarb pies.  I might have told you that before.  When it comes to rhubarb, I am a firm believer that it is fine all by itself.

Then I made some whole grain orange quinoa  muffins.... and I didn't take a picture, and my daughters took them all home.  They were met with rave reviews.
It is good to have family that appreciates what I cook up.

We found some sherbert loopers in the attic and L wove them up into 3 nice rugs.  One of them is sold, just from putting them in my newsletter.   
I love the sherbert rugs, but bleaching out the color to get those shades is a giant pain.

I have been going to my chiropractor for a few weeks.  He has been helping me with the pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders, from all the trauma of three surgeries, and the presence of rods holding my cervical spine straight.
I think it's helping, and maybe the reason my headaches seem to be better.  
I am almost afraid to say that.

But being joyful  is easy with this girl around.
She lights up our whole family with her smile. 
We all love her so much.

So much to be grateful for.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

good news

I finally got the AVL up and running.   I was beside myself for a week.
I could not get a shed.
I was convinced that something had happened to the loom, and that I needed to figure it out.
I reread the manual.  I called AVL.  I posted on a weaving group on Facebook, and got a lot of advice.
I tried everything I could think of, still I could not get a clean shed.

Finally the other day, after crawling under the loom for the third time, and seeing nothing that might help me understand it, I sat at my computer, and stared at the loom.

Then I had an "aha" moment.  I could see that there were tight and loose groups of threads across the warp.  I got up and checked them out, and they were not specific to any particular harnesses.  As my eyes followed the threads back to the warp beam, I suddenly realized that the sections on the warp beam were not flat.  There was a slight rise  on one side, and the loose threads were coming from that rise.   The tight threads were coming from the low side of the bout.
Embarrassing to admit, but the problem was not the loom, it was the warp.  I was not careful enough when I wound the warp on, and the sections were not even.
The problem was simple............I didn't do a good job putting the warp on.

My friend, Chris from Homestead Weaving, suggested that I try to even out the sections with a tapestry beater.  I did just that, and the problem disappeared.
I guess you can get away with a little deviation in the height of the sections of the warp beam on a 2 harness rug loom.
You cannot get away with it on this 16 harness AVL.
I am humbled.  I have put on hundreds of warps, and have never had this problem.
It is a reminder, to slow down, and do it right, and that no matter how much you think you know, there is always something to learn.

 The baby wrap is well on its way.  I am loving it, and loving the loom again.
I am actually happy that it was me, and not the loom.

Two happy little chick mamas have been with me for two days.
Feeding, cleaning, checking for pasty butt, they have settled right into it.
They tried to talk me into letting them sleep out there.
That didn't happen.

 It's been a busy couple of days, but in a productive, happy way.

Today, on several different occasions, for long periods at a time, I had almost NO headache.

Gulp.  It was so alien, and such a surprise.  I felt giddy.

I can't say more.  I am joyful.  Grateful.  Hopeful.

Happy, happy day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Castle Cluck.

Last year, I made a promise to my granddaughters, who are now 8 and 9 years old.
I felt like I had missed so much time with them, because of my head injury/surgeries, etcetera, and I wanted to make it up to them.
I committed to raising chickens with them.

Can I just say that I will have to raise chickens for eggs, and maybe sell them door to door, for about ten years,  before this venture even begins to break even.
I could have bought a tractor trailer full of eggs.

But that's not what it's about, is it??

They arrived Monday.   26 little balls of fluff.  Half of them are going to my bff's house, when they are bigger, and half are residing here, at Castle Cluck.

 There are 5 barred rocks, 5 buff rocks, 5 buff orpingtons, 5 rhode island reds, and 6 araucanas.
But don't try to count them.  It's impossible.

Isn't it awesome to see green grass, and green leaves?
I am loving it.

Roy and I walk almost every day.  His favorite walk, and mine, is down by the river.

It is blissfully quiet there this time of year.
Summer, not so much. 

It is the best place to walk.  

I have been wicked busy this week, with the weaving weekend, then the chicks, babysitting the grandbaby, and it's not over yet.  I have two little girls that are "itching" to get to the studio to bond with their chicks.

Only problem is, they're not going to want to leave.

Spring and grandchildren and chicks.
My, my.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Starting again.

My first weaving weekend/bootcamp this year.   I was a little nervous, since the last one I did last year was made extremely difficult with a slamming headache.

But the stars were lined up, or something.  My head cooperated the whole weekend, and it was such a huge relief.

 I hosted two ladies from Massachusetts.

 It is always amazing to watch a student working through  the warping process, threading then sleying, beaming  on the warp.   Working hard, and concentrating, to get it just right.

And suddenly, it is done.  The loom is ready.  Time to weave.
I always love the looks of disbelief and amazement.

They both did a marvelous job.
Time flew by, as it always does on these weekends.

But of course, there was good food.
Weaving can make you hungry.

 It was a lovely weekend, and I was glad to be back at it.  It felt good.

Two happy weavers.  Lots accomplished.  Being hopeful is huge.

Thanks Barb and Pat, I had a wonderful time, and I hope you did, too.

Next weaving bootcamp June 21-23.  Email me at  or go to my website, and click on Weaving Weekends.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Full steam ahead.

Thanks Karen over at This Old House
 for telling us all about the phone app called Waterlogue.
It is my go to for treating boredom, you know the kind, waiting in a doctor's office, or whatever.  I try to take shots that I leave on my camera, just to have them to play with later.

This is an old dead flower out in the garden.

And this is the Waterlogue I made from it.

 After getting a lot of stuff done this past weekend, Lois and I finally got to tie up the Cranbrook.
For any of you who have struggled with a countermarche loom, do not despair. 
We hate that part of it.  H.A.T.E.
But we love weaving on the Cranbrook, once we finally get it operational.
So under the loom we go.  
Not an easy feat, like I told L, we aren't spring chickens anymore.
She just grumbled.

Anyway, we had the paper with the draft on it.  We tied the treadles to the botton lamms  where all the x's were, and we tied the treadles to all the upper lamms where the blank spaces were.

And glory be to the HEAVENS, with only one mistake, which we quickly fixed, it was UP and RUNNING.

L is playing with the first rug.....which is hard to see the pattern in  when you are sitting at the loom, but from just a little distance, you can see the rosepath design working.
I can't wait to try it.
And we put 30 yards on the loom, enough for a couple of our fave weaving friends to try it out, too.

 I am getting ready for a weaving weekend/bootcamp, so it's time to get the house in order.  We have a brand new Miele vacuum, which we have sorely needed.

And outside, it truly is spring.  Today I rototilled the garden at the studio, and it is just intoxicating to see fresh earth, and no snow in sight.

 I love the feeling of things getting done.  And while I can't do all the things I want in my "new normal",  as long as I can figure out ways to get them done,  I'm ok.
 I have given up trying to maintain the acre or so of lawn at the studio.  I hired my neighbor to take care of it, and what a freaking relief.   I resisted that for way too long.
I hired someone on Craigslist, someone who has actually worked for me before, to help me move all the construction debris off the porch.  A wise decision.

I still do what I can, and sometimes, I do too much.  But I learn, and I adjust, and then I can  spend more time doing what I am able to do.
And isn't that all we can do, anyway?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A free loom and giveaway results.

I warned DH that the bird was making a nest in the gazebo again.  His assignment was to deter it from doing so, otherwise sitting in the gazebo is impossible, because momma bird won't feed her babies if you are there.  That happens just about the time you want to open the pool.
He informed me the other day that he did in fact go out there, and was going to take down the nest that was already completed, until he saw the little blue eggs in it.
So once again this year,  we will be banned until the babies fly the coop, so to speak.

As of today, there are hungry babies in the next.

I will admit that it has been the week from hell.  To be honest, I don't think anyone who has had surgery for Chiari Malformation, ever wants a head cold, complete with violent coughing spasms.
It is just not pleasant.  Whether it is the hole in my skull, (sorry to be so blunt), or the rods in my neck, coughing makes my head hurt in a way that I find difficult to even explain.  It is more severe and disabling that a headache.  So all week, I have done what I could early on in the day, and ended up on the couch with Roy.  I slept a lot.
This is the first cold I have had since my first surgery in August 2012.  Pretty impressive.  I hope it is at least that long or longer before my next one.  I know next week will be better.  Just goes to show,  when you think your life is hard, hold on, something will come along to prove to you that maybe it could be worse.

In my weaving endeavors, I would like to share my troubled warp with you weavers. (otherwise, skip this paragraph, it will bore you to tears)
  I put on 30 yards of 8/2 cotton for a baby wrap for my granddaughter.  768 threads.  I wanted to do 24 ends per inch.  I didn't have a 12 dent reed for my AVL, so I used a 6, which meant putting 4 threads per dent.
As soon as I got it all threaded, and started weaving, I knew I had a problem.  The threads were sticking together so badly, I couldn't throw the shuttle through.  If I cleared the shed with my hand, or pulled the threads tighter across the sticky beam, the shed was great.   But as soon as I changed sheds, the threads stuck together again.   I am not positive, but I think it is threading them 4 to a dent.  The threads are too close, too many, too close.
I have woven with 8/2 cotton on this loom for a year, and never had this issue before.  So I ordered a 12 dent reed from AVL, and weaving is at a stand still until I get it.  I just don't know what else could be the problem.


Yes, I am serious.   A while back, I was gifted with a loom.  While it was beautiful, I just did not have room among the 13 or so other looms I already owned, so I re-gifted it to a friend of mine.
Fast forward, she bought a smaller loom that she is smitten with, and she wants to re-gift this loom again.  So.......
It is a 16 harness loom....only 12 on it...........60 inches wide, a jack loom.  Please email me for more information.  I will give you her phone number.  It needs to be picked up in Hudson Falls, NY.

Here it is:

Today was a lovely day with all my daughters, son in laws, and grands here for lunch.
I love them all.   They keep me young.

Without further ado, after subtracting duplicate posts, there were 44 posts in all.

Using, I came up with 36, so the winner is "thotlady".   
Congrats!!   Email me with your mailing information.  My email is on my web page 

Happy Mother's Day everyone.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book Review and a Giveaway.

A while back, I was asked to do a book review by Stackpole Books.

The book, by Tom Knisely, is Weaving Rag Rugs.  Right up my alley, wouldn't you say???

Tom Knisely has been weaving for more than 30 years, and is the manager of The Mannings Handweaving School in East Berlin, Pennsylvania.

I got the book in the mail, and was pleasantly surprised.  It is colorful, and fun, and reading it doesn't feel like reading a textbook at all.
The funny part about it, while I was reading, I remembered learning all the things he talked about.  Years back, when I started my weaving career, I took a somewhat pathetic basic weaving course.  I bought a second hand loom, and spent every bit of spare time I could find, learning my craft.
There were no weavers around.  There was no where to go to find out what I needed to know.  Because it wasn't just about learning to weave, it was a niche all its own, weaving rag rugs.
I read everything I could get my hands on, and searched online for all the information that was out there.

I found a couple of weavers online, that I became friends with.  I badgered them with phone calls and emails, with questions and rants.  I made so many mistakes, and learned so many things the hardest way possible.
My point is that I could have written about every subject in Tom's book, the hows and the whys, but I didn't.   My book would have been "the long way around".
Oh, how I wish I had this book way back when.

It starts with basics, so that if you only have rudimentary skills, you can brush up.   Especially welcome to the new weaver, there is a wealth  of information on what to do and how to get started before you are ready to sit down and weave.  Because while weaving is the best part, good technique and skill at setting up your loom, and prepping your materials, is invaluable.

Throughout this lovely book, there are pictures showing you how to do all of it.  As someone who has tried taking pictures of projects for this blog, I can appreciate how great Tom's photos are, and how informative.

I laughed when I read his description of tying fringe, holding one thread back.  I thought I was that was some strange deviation of mine.  Tom shares with you those helpful hints that he has learned over all his weaving career.  They are priceless.

I have met many rag rug weavers.  One of them told me a long time ago, that we are all unique, and our choices of colors and patterns, and styles make our rugs special, and only ours. 

I am a spontaneous kind of girl, and love to design random and wild colors at the loom.  That being said, that method doesn't work for everyone.  Many weavers are intimidated by weaving without a plan.
In Tom's book, he gives you specific plans for weaving 30+ incredible rag rugs.  From plain weave to twill, flannel to denim, there is something for everyone.

I think that once the weaver has tried a few of these designs, they will be more than ready to design rag rugs  on their own.

This is a great book, easy to read, one you will go back to again and again.

Now all you have to do to win this book, is leave a comment.  I will do a random draw on Sunday,  Mother's Day.  What better time to get something special?

I have immersed myself in rag rug weaving for the last decade plus,  I have taught many people to weave over that time.   I think this book would be a great addition to anyone's weaving library, student or old timer.

This is my favorite.  I can't wait to make one of these.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Look Up

I once said I wouldn't use Facebook.   I am so glad I changed my mind, and got with the program.  While it can be addictive to some, and a big time waster, for me it is a way to instantly see a picture my clever daughter took with a tripod and timer.  A way to stay in touch.

This is her beautiful family.

That being said, I do worry about the future of  all of us, who are so tuned in to our computers and our smart phones.  Including me.

There are people on FB that I read about often, I know a lot about their lives.  They are people from my hometown, people I have met along the way, people who I know, but people who I would know NOTHING about, if it were not for FB.  I would not visit their houses, I would not call them on the phone.    I would not drop them a note in the mail.
Why is that?

I think about how different it was for me growing up, as for many of you.
If I got to watch an hour of TV in the evening, I considered myself lucky.

We played outside.  Our imaginations ran wild.

One particular memory is of me, and four friends.......Gayle, Jill, Amy, and Sally.
We started a "Horse Club", because we were all 'horse crazy', or so our parents said.
My father, who had a used furniture/junk business, acquired a black buggy somewhere.

We took turns, being the passengers in the buggy, and the horses who pulled it.
All around the neighborhood, we trotted.

There is something precious about that childlike innovation and wonder.  I still remember that time and smile. 
We would sit in a circle on the floor in my attic, and pore over horse books.  We gave each other tests about the anatomy of a horse.  I still can recite them to this day.
When I was 13, and graduated from 8th grade, my parents bought me a Royal typewriter out of the Sears Roebuck catalog.  I longed for it.
It was $88, which I now realize was a LOT of money back then.  I taught myself to type from the book that came with it, and by the time I was a sophomore in high school, ready to take typing, I could already type 50 wmp, and I am sure I was a total annoyance to the teacher.

We hiked up the mountain weekly.  We swam in the lake, or skated on it.   We played BASEBALL in any field we could find.  Or dodge ball.

Ah, what a childhood I had.   And at 9, my father bought me a horse that wanted to kill me.
But what fun, what adventure.  Life was incredible and good and new every day.
And when it was time to stay in, I huddled in my room with books, and notebooks, and dreams.
Why the hell did I need a smart phone? Or a computer?  

Watch this, dear blogger friends.  Tell me what you think.  It's our new world, not necessarily a better one.  Think back.

Welcome to my world.

Because every thread counts

Because every thread counts