Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh - klahoma!

We live in downtown proper of our medium sized town and not two blocks away is a church that installed a carillon a few months ago. There are other churches with carillons, but this is the closest, so even inside the house we can hear the bells. In general it's what you expect, chiming of the hour (and fortunately these do not persist all night), and old hymns of various sorts, but occasionally there something out of the ordinary that catches the ear. For example, in December, there was "Here Comes Santa Claus!" along with other popular tunes. It makes one pause in the wonder of it all. My favorite now that it's spring is "Oklahoma - where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain!" My husband had gone out to the detached garage and I ran out to sing with gusto. My "Ohhhhhhhh!" got the neighbor's dog to join in! Oh my!

I did also accomplish some weaving between the musical performances - broadway musicals in the backyard and harp accompaniment on Sunday AM. The weaving is steadily coming along. And I can proudly say at this point this is the largest piece I have ever made! Yeah! I was able to finish the purple block of color and start the next color which is blend of the purple with the blue. I learned in the wedge weave class that I particuluarly like to have a blend or a varigated yarn that shows off the angle of the weave. With a solid block the angle is easily lost on inspection.
So there you have it - "And when we say Yeeow! Ayipeoeeay! We're just saying, You're doing fine, Oklahoma, OK!"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kreativ Blogger

Life Loom Large has nominated my for the Kreativ Blogger award. I've watched this award floating around enjoying it's ping pong, but am shocked to be suddenly in the fray! YAY!

So here are the rules for accepting this award:

  • copy the Kreativ Blogger award to your blog (check that off...)

  • put a link to the person from whom you received the award (yup there she is up at the top)

  • nominate 8 other blogs and

  • link to them

  • then leave a message on the blogs you nominated

8 blogs... Wow, trying to not pick those who have already been awarded, but here goes...

Works in Progress Tommye was the one who introduced me to tapestry weaving and I'm always facinated by her work and thoughts. Take a look at the tapestry diary she's started.

My life is but a tapestry Kathy does a great job of posting instructions on her process of developing, making, and finishing tapestries, so I always keep it in my hip pocket, but I read it for her fresh honesty.

Sherri Woodard Coffey Sherri creates rugs and tapestries in Texas.

YarnGarden - Katie is in Australia and is passionate about whatever is going on. Right now it's quilts for survivors of the fires in Victoria.

Rebecca Mezoff - Rebecca is a tapestry weaver in New Mexico. I enjoy her weavings, but am particularly jealous of her life in New Mexico!

Argoknot - OzWeaver has much going on, but if you get a chance read this post about the meaning of art.

Magic Warp - Steve Bremner has been out of the loop for a while, but I'm sure whenever he's back it will be well worth the wait.

Tangled Web - Another tapestry artist with wonderful work.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just Weave!

One of my gifts is the ability to generate a number of ideas. In fact, I can gauge how much sleep I'm getting and how little stress there is by how quickly or easily they come. If I lose myself in the fountain, there's something regenerating in it for me. Now, they aren't all practical ideas and for those who are very practical my idea spouting is rather irritating. But within it, there's always something worth looking into. Sometimes I'll find someone has already tried it. that's okay - there's another idea behind that one. I sadly realized sometime around 30 that there are more decent ideas that come than there is life left in me. Now I'm in a phase of filtering. I may even be so kind as to filter before I present them to the practical people! So the question becomes - what do I really want to do?

Case in point - I have fallen in love with weaving. I only have a limited amount of time to dedicate to it since I do still have a full time job and do play the harp. The ideas that spurt around weaving are wonderful, and complicated, and engrossing, and require large blocks of time to get started. My looms sit lonely while I try to figure it all out.

Last Friday, on the way home from work, a concept that hit me during the wedge weave class came back. What if each alternating wedge were from one picture and the others were from a different one? For example, all the odd passes were strips from one picture and all the even were from another. All sorts of geometric patterns flew through my head. "What if?" is one of my favorite questions. Still all of this was too complicated to not get some paper out and carve out time to plan. A second concept came back from class. What about something simple where a beautiful variegated yarn does all the work and I just weave? (Let's forget I don't own said yarn and would have to drive up to Asheville to get it...) Hey, I now have multiple looms and one can be just for simply weaving. I need the practice and it would be great to have something I can work on in large blocks of time or just for 15 minutes after work.

I pulled out my colored pencils and started sketching on grid paper. Be proud - I chose the simplest sketch and picked out colors based on yarn I actually own! And you know I don't feel I compromised - amazing! Basically, the design still takes into account every other wedge is from the same picture. The "pictures" are sine waves and the background is blocks of color. This weekend I was able to complete 3 inches of an 8" wide weaving. This week I've been able to start on the 4th inch. I'm enjoying it and it's keeping my hands in the wool!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Last weekend I was on a retreat in the "mountains" of South Carolina. We had 60 women up there at a camp. It was cold and rainy all weekend, but I was glad to be there. I was helping out leading music. It was a chance to play my harp with a violinist that was with the symphony BK (before kids) and a professional organist. We had worked together before, but it was 3 years ago. We pulled out a few of the same pieces and I was thrilled at how much better I've become in those three years. It makes me look forward with great excitement and what could happen next time.

It's having those realizations that gives me great hope with the weaving. It's just a matter of putting the time in, choosing wisely what to work on, and enjoying the journey. One day I'll look back and say - "Look, where I've come from."

Now I begin the retreat of "getting back home". I had barely gotten the laundry done from the wedge weave class before I turned around to head out for the retreat. I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend of unpacking, laundry and finding that one item I seem to have misplaced. Somewhere in there will be some weaving and a little March Madness!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From 28 to 82 - part 3

Friday at the Folkschool can be a crunch day. The idea is to finish the piece, clean up the studio and head over to a closing ceremony where our pieces are displayed, OR in the case of performing arts, performed OR in the case of cooking classes, served. Above is the table with all of our weaving pieces. Our instructor was pleased particularly with each of the different styles from each person. Wedge weave is essentially a simple technique, but like plain weave there are so many possibilities. For example, most of us worked in yarn, but one student chose thread. She blended 4 pieces of thread and simply changed the blends throughout the piece. It was quite exquisite. My job may be changing just enough over the next year to require some travel and I'm thinking her home built loom and thread may be a way to keep me weaving no matter where I am. Finally, here is my completed piece. I am pleased with it and particularly enjoyed the free form process. I'm looking forward to getting into the companion piece on the tapestry loom to see where it goes.

Saturday is the sad day of packing up and leaving school. It was nice to have a week of focusing on just one thing. I forced myself to linger by packing after breakfast rather than before. I even carried smaller loads to the car, just to stay slow. Then I headed over to the craft shop and picked up another tapestry weaving book, a pair of earrings, and a piece of pewter from the scratch and dent sale. I figured with my husband as a pewtersmith he could fix the piece.
The weather was beautiful by that point and the school was practically empty. I took my harp out to an arbor not far from the cooking studio. There is a sleeping herb garden behind the arbor to support the studio. I played there for about an hour and found for half of it I actually had an audience! There was robin spending time in one of the sleeping shrubs who listened and then would sing between pieces. At one point during a piece, he sang very loudly jumping towards me and then flew off. I packed up soon afterward, but two robins came by and just stared. It's likely my imagination it was the same one, but what do you think happened? In any case, it was a great ending to a great week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

From 28 to 82 - part 2

I tend to get up early at home and was one of the first up at school - even though I was sleeping in 1.5 hours! I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise. These views are from the common area of the Hubbell House at the Folkschool.

Weaving also changed everyday throughout the week. As was shown yesterday, I started with a solid color. I realized when I looked at the instructors work what I loved best was the ability to see the wedge weave. What I mean is that she had dyed her own yarns and the varigation of the yarn allowed me to see the yarn was woven on an angle clearly from a few feet away. Learning that lesson, I started blending my colors to attempt the same effect. I also chose a contrast from the first block of colors and a sharp change was born. I struggled with those first few wedges wondering if this is what I really wanted. There was a lot trying something with the next wedge, but then tearing out again. I also had decided that the wedges would not be the same thickness so there would not be symmetry in the piece. One because I like assymetry, but also I felt it would hide my mistakes better! So Tuesday I didn't advance very far, but learned a great deal! I was also brave enough to put in a bit of the tangerine for a little pop of color.

Wednesday I felt a better rhythm, but I also stuck with just working on the floor loom. I had grand plans of moving between the floor loom and the tapestry loom I brought thinking that I'd be in the same mind set, etc. I then decided that I would be better served to concentrate on the floor loom since I cannot take it home with me. I again changed shades with the next block of colors, but I kept one constant dark green solid zig zag. It sometimes "falls off" the piece to the right. I thought it would be interesting for it to "reappear" on the other piece. So I let it run where it may. I'm really enjoying having no plan and just deciding one wedge at a time.

Thursday was the big decision day. I had woven 9 inches the past three days. I decided that I wanted this piece to be at least 4 inches less or more than 16". That ensured the companion piece on the tapestry loom would not be square (again my hope to hide mistakes). I had woven 3 inches on Wednesday night, so I thought it was possible to weave 3 inches by lunch time. If it worked then I would shoot for 3 inches after lunch and 3 Thursday night. That would leave me only 2 inches for Friday to get to 20" long. That seemed reasonable and fortunately it was. I did complete all 9 inches on Thursday and fell into bed late that night!

Monday, March 9, 2009

From 28 to 82 – part 1

When I arrived at the Folkschool Sunday it was 28 F and when I arrived home Saturday it was 82 F! I asked my husband when did Spring happen this week? I made it through without a snow sighting, but heard many stories about other’s traveling through. It seems it snowed everywhere around but not at the Folkschool. My husband actually made a snowman as large as he is. I can’t remember when we had enough snow to play in. Here’s his snowman – and here’s the view from my room!
It was a wonderful week as always at the Folkschool. Sunday at school, we began with introductions and learning the basic wedge weave technique on a piece of cardboard with acrylic yarns. Then we talked a bit about how we’d start the next day. There were only 5 of us in the class, so the instructor offered to help me warp the floor loom if I’d like. I jumped at that. I decided to only make a 4” wide piece on the floor loom that would complement the 16” wide piece on my tapestry loom. The Folkschool has a number of looms and have named each one to differentiate - and so much more creative than a number! Mine was "Norman" - He was the only "male" Macomber in the room! Being an engineer I thought I could handle it! Norman taught me all sorts of new vocabulary words - like rattle, leases, heddles, harnesses, reeds... I don't know that I could warp a loom on my own, but I do think I could at least ask intelligent questions the next time.

My walk back from lunch was accompanied by the rapping of Woody the Woodpecker. The birds were quite vocal with the end of the rain and didn't seem hindered by the cold in the least. I was glad for the warmth of my down vest - I think I understand why they can stay out in it.
We warped the loom from back to front and tied off to the front rod. From there we used sticks to space the warp back out evenly rather than waste yarn. The main reason was not just using something besides waste yarn, but to avoid starting out with a header whose corners frown or smile. The stick always gives a straight hard surface to pack against. I thought it was clever. From there we put in twining and were ready to weave. I was able to put in a wedge and begin the second one the first day on the 4" piece on the floor loom. I was pleased to see that the wedge was actually starting to make the selvedge undulate or scallop! More later....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Heading to the Folkschool!

Saturday was spent getting ready to head to Folkschool. I wandered around the house sometimes aimlessly looking for things like alarm clocks and flashlights. We're getting some badly needed rain and the temperature is supposed to drop Sunday, so I put out more seed - much to the enjoyment of Rocky, the squirrel!

One hitch I've had is that I play handbells with an auditioned group and we have a concert scheduled for Sunday afternoon 3 hours away in the opposite direction from te Folkschool. Classes normally start Sunday evening, but I've worked it out to be there first thing Monday morning - which means leaving at 6 am from here. Not excited about that, but I really want to do this class. Now with the temperatures dropping, the weather forecast is for snow (which I know to some is no big deal - but before and after snow could come ice.) The likelihood of snow here is minimal. It's even laughable where the concert is. BUT the Folkschool likely will get some today and I am concerned I won't be able to get there tomorrow morning with the overnight temps of 12F! So when I got the call this morning that the concert was postponed, I jumped for joy! I am now frantically trying to get myself out of the house to get there before any weather starts - even if I am sitting at the Folkschool hours before registration begins.
That means putting in the loom - that now has it's foundation, twining and header. And to take along my new beaters that my husband made for me. I had heard that Kathe Todd-Hooker has fixed washers onto fork to increase the weight of her beater. I wasn't sure that washers would be enough weight, so we looked at nuts and bolts. He drilled a hole through the face of the fork and fed the bolt through it to fasten to 2 hex nuts. I've got 4 beaters then - plain, 3/8" bolt, 7/16" bolt, and 1/2" bolt. I am guessing these would then range from 1 to 3 oz. in weight. The next question is how they will hold up. I'll put them through the ringer this week and we'll see!
I'm sad to say that I will not have a computer with me - I've decided to take my harp instead. So look for a BIG blog entry when I get back! Till then enjoy!