Monday, July 27, 2009

10 Things I've learned about Samson

Here's are 10 things I've learned about Samson this weekend.

First, Samson is not his name. It must be what the Human Society gave him to identify and personalize, but he doesn't respond to it. Fortunately, he's very attentive, so we have not needed there to be a name. In fact, if he were mine his name would be Shadow because he does follow me everywhere.

Second, he's house broken! He will run in circles at the door. A rather loud and big event considering his size!

Third, he been rather well trained. He knows a number of commands - "sit", "lie down", "no", "come" and I'm sure many more I haven't used yet. He has been trained with a leash. I spent one walk having to remind him he was expected to walk well on it. Squirrels and cats are still a huge issue, but I think a month of this would have him nearly perfect.

Fourth, he takes food gently from my hand - which is great for giving him his medicine.

Fifth, this was a well pampered dog! The worst thing that has ever happened to him is this crate. He expects to sleep on the bed with us and to sit on the couch with us. To tell him to get down after he's up there really confuses him. He doesn't think he's getting away with something. He thinks it's completely natural for him to be everywhere doing everything you are doing. He will leave you in the backyard for A/C. He is accustomed to human food. He recognizes a box of Milkbones.

Sixth, he will bury whatever rawhide bone you give him. Other than that he doesn't do any other damage in the yard.

Seven, he will lie down quietly if we are engaged in another activity like watching TV or having a conversation. There is no demanding that we pay attention to him. But if you get up or look his way, he's on it!

Eight, he cannot be trusted in the kitchen if no one is in there. We lost two hamburgers Saturday night. If we're in there, he smells the air, but does not touch the counter. I also appreciate the he moves out of my way as I move around. Dakota didn't do that - probably because he couldn't.

Nine, he's playful, energetic AND knows how to play gently. He puts my hand and arm in his mouth, but does not clamp down. He loves to nuzzle my hand when I'm walking about the house. He was very tempted to try and catch my legs as they passed by on the treadmill this morning.

Ten, he hates to be alone. I let him in the backyard to do his business and when he's ready, he comes to the stoop and howls the most mournful thing. We also put him his crate to run out for 15 minutes yesterday and you could hear the howling at the street. When James left this morning, he cried at the front door and eventually quieted down lying with his back pressed against the door watching the handle. I left him with a rawhide bone and the entire back porch (with little on it) and clear the windows to the floor so he can watch birds and squirrels.... Any suggestions????? Is this a breed thing???? I think this may be why he's at the humane society. He could not live in a multifamily dwelling without the neighbors complaining....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fostering defines fostering as: promote the growth or development of; further; encourage: to foster new ideas.
2. to bring up, raise, or rear, as a foster child.

Let me share with you how we hit both of these today.
Today I went and took a class in tile mosaics from Laura Aiken. I've really only looked at geometrics in my tapestries and I wondered if I could stick with it, but use a mosaic cartoon to do some representative pieces. I thought it was worth a shot. So here we begin with a blank.

I then chose colors and went through where to place them. I tried these three combinations, but then this is there I ended up.

I liked the purple in the background and the red pear.
From there I began working on placing the tile. I'm thinking this is going to work for me. And I was able to finish the pear in the first session. It's really a great deal of fun. I always love to create something out of what seems like nothing.

Then from there I headed over to the Greenville Humane Society and looked into foster care. We have decided against a puppy at this point because of the construction, and have hesitated about a dog because I have a monumental birthday this year and we're planning to be in New Zealand for a month. Boarding fees would just be too much. We really miss having a dog around. I also made the mistake of checking out the website for who was up for adoption. There were 3 that had kennel cough and were looking for foster care. This seems like a good compromise. We can help the dog get a chance to be out on the adoption floor and we get to have a dog around again. Well, the Humane Society thought it was a good idea and i brought home Samson - a 2 year old 67 pound pure bred black Labrador retriever.
They provided us with a kennel, food, medication and a bone. He loved the bone, chewed it chewed it and chewed it. Then I let him out in the back yard and he promptly buried it. I can already see we are going to have issues about the couch. He knows the words "No" and "Down" already! I don't think his tail has stopped wagging since he got here. He'll be adopted almost instantly if we can just get him healthy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


8" x 8" Framing Mat
Tapestry, Wool and Cotton and Dakota's Hair
Dakota came to us at about 4 months old. His teeth were broken out, he was covered in ticks and was terrified of our 10 pound Shih-Tzu. He quickly took to his new home where he played with the cat and played tricks on the dog. He loved to run and go anywhere. He always surprised us by throwing his head back and singing or even having to tell us all about his day when we got home. It took years before we began to suspect he had been hit by a car at 4 months. He developed neurological disorders. We chose the route of pain management and even went so far as to get into laser treatments. There is no telling how much pain he was in. He never truly let on. True to his species of German Shepherd, he took the happiest, most forgiving view on life he could. After he was gone, I wished I had collected hair from him to be spun into yarn. It became important enough to me that all was collected from every corner and every garment we could find. A friend miraculously spun the yarn and it was used to create the fuzzy neutral stripe about 1/4 of the distance from the top of the mat. The piece is well cherished for the sight of him, the ability to "touch" a bit of him and for the many memories.

Final Touches

I am known best for my ability to start things. Blank sheets of paper are a thrill to me. I love the potential in them. Today though, I want to tell of a couple things I am finishing so we can celebrate the weaker side of me!

Dakota's picture and mat are finally in their frame. I think I may make an official page just for it - as I did for other pieces.

From there I am still preparing for the Tapestry Weavers South Exhibit in Anderson starting in August. Intersecting Sine Waves will be part of it and somehow the piece needs to hang. I have been researching on the ATA site with an article on mounting tapestries and decided that I liked the idea of hanging with Velcro and shopping confirmed this is preferred route for me and this piece. The issue though is that ISW has been through wet finishing and does lay flat, but does not hang as flat as I would like. Since it is long and thin, I found the bottom tends to twist. We can't have that, can we?

So my dear husband James has allowed me access to his tools (and his guidance in using them) and we have built an "I" that will have Velcro at both ends to secure both ends of the tapestry down and to allow it to hang up flat. The wood is poplar from Lowe's and we made 1/2 lap joints on the ends to keep the frame from tilting on the wall when it is hung. The joints were glued and then stapled. The whole piece has been sealed with clear polyacrylic. Next weekend I'll work with the Velcro. Not quite finished but getting very close.

Now the beauty of finishing is that there is space now to start something new! I thinking looking towards Christmas and that really will require a starting with blank sheet of paper. Yeah!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Play on Pipe Looms

My husband was at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts this week. So I went to the library, picked up Pride and Prejudice from the BBC and watched an episode each night while I worked on the framing mat for Dakota's picture. P&P was the 1980s version, which is not bad, but certainly no as good as the 1996 version with Colin Firth! With that I was able to complete the mat and even the finish work. Here it is. Dakota's yarn is the fuzzy neutral block about 1/4 of the way from the top. I did blend it with the white wool yarn I used elsewhere. He didn't pack down nicely on the left side, and I didn't push it for fear of breaking it. I had expected the color of his block to be more white since the yarn by itself did appear to be, but it is interesting once it is woven together the browns that came out. His yarn is definitely a warmer color than the other greys. I was able to get the photos printed out this week at Walgreens by uploading them and ordering the prints on-line. First time, I have done that and I was rather pleased with the process! We had already played with a number of prints we had made at home with the laser jet and narrowed it down to this picture. We were looking at black and white because we have a number of old family photographs that we are planning on hanging together in the heating hall. So we wanted to make sure Dakota picture was part of that. When I sent the order to Walgreens, just for kicks, I also sent the color picture. I think I've decided that I like it better with the mat. It actually ties the browns of his yarn in nicely and makes it look like it was meant to be together.
Now I just need to get it into the frame. I'm thinking of adding some spacers to ensure the weaving is not pushed too hard against the glass. It may take a little time, but I think it's worth it.

I've had a couple questions on my pipe looms, so I thought I would add a blog entry on them. Right now I have two pipe looms for 8" and 24" wide tapestries. They are essentially Archie Brennan's pipe looms with a couple of tweaks. You can find the plans for Archie's looms at :
I combined the small copper pipe loom with the leashing unit on the free standing copper pipe loom. The next tweak I received from Tommye Scalin in my first tapestry weaving class. To make the small pipe loom free standing, she took two female threaded PVC "tee" and slid it over the copper pipe. Then she added male threaded PVC pipe to the tee. Rubber feet on the ends keep it from sliding and a rubber band keeps the ends from separating.
The next tweak is just to add a copper tee to the corner at the bottom of the loom rather than an elbow. I added a small bit of pipe to the bottom of the tee and another rubber foot. This keeps the bottom of the frame off the table, floor, etc. Then if the loom is continuously warped, I can advance the warp and not have the frame sitting on the "freshly" woven fabric. Lastly, of course, are the connectors for the leashes that I talked of in the last blog entry.Hope this of help!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Something New

Got a few new things going on here. I received this award from Charlotte and I am grateful for it! Charlotte is a weaver in Norway and I always love to see her pieces. Seeing her posts also makes me reminisce about a summer I spent in Stockholm, Sweden.

With the chimney gone, the next project was a new ceiling. We talked about a number of things and agreed at least to leave the existing ceiling in tact to contain the blown insulation in the attic. So we were back and forth with how could we work with the existing ceiling or how could we cover it up. Finally in exasperation, James said, "Why we just take 4' x 8' sheets of bead board and cut them into 4 foot squares? Then in Peavey fashion install them in an alternating pattern?" I ran to do some "sketch" ups on the computer and in 10 minutes it was decided. I think it's turned out well and I'm excited to see it with the joints caulked and a final coat of paint.
With taking off Intersecting Sine Waves off the loom, there are new opportunities there! I now have Peter Collingwood's book, so I pulled it out for inspiration on the finishing. I chose a twined edge since it did remind me most of sine waves (pg 503) and then a four-strand square sennit (p 496) for protecting the warp. Again it reminded me of the sine waves the way the strands come in and out. I'm excited to be able to "quote Collingwood" and I've almost decided I may do a set of samples of these finishes just to be able to see them in real life.I have decided to warp the loom for the mat for Dakota's picture. The last time I warped this loom it was for 8" wide and I recreated the leashes "fresh" so to speak. That's where I create the leashes for the first time. The loom is warped and the leashes are fed around the back warps as seen to the right. If I'm really smart, I will create these leashes for the maximum width of the loom. I was really smart last time....
Ultimately, I am a lazy creature. I don't want to recreate those leashes. So I've been playing with ways to reuse the leashes on subsequent warps. In my first class, it was mentioned that one woman used paper clips to connect the leashes to the warp. I came home and played with "Figure 8s". These worked in principle, but I found they were weak and tended to stretch each time I pulled the leash. So I purchased some split rings. It's essentially a really small key ring that I got from Fire Mountain Gems.
I placed one on the end of each of leash just like I'd put a key on a key ring.
Then I added the back warp that I'd like to control with the leash. And here they are connected, not getting tangled and seem rather strong compared with the figure 8s.
Now I am limited to a particular epi, but I technically could make one of these leash units for each epi. For now I am not venturing from 8 epi, so I'm covered for a while without having to create new leashes for this loom.

Here's the progress thus far on the mat. It will be 8" x 8" square and the picture if 4"w x 5"l. The picture will be off center horizontally and vertically. The grey block between the two scrap pieces of warp sticking out is the hem for the opening for the picture. It's rather simple since all I am doing is blending yarns for a vertical change in color. The yarn spun from Dakota's fur is so fragile, I thought I better keep it simple.