Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tape Loom Progress and More Slippers

I had a fun time today sewing slippers for two of my granddaughters, Quinn and Eve. They both love dogs so I chose two different doggy prints from my fabric stash. These took me a total of about four hours, to make two pairs. I'm getting faster! I did experience my first snap mistake, putting two snaps on the wrong side, but it was easily fixed by using cuticle scissors to cut the snap away, then re-applying new ones facing the right direction. And I finally have a use for those cuticle scissors!
Bob was busy today, too, and spent some time working on my tape loom. I think it's looking so good, and I am having a blast designing my very own loom. I decided that the uprights that hold the warp beam needed to be higher so that the top of the beam would be about the same height as the holes in the heddle. The box has been screwed together and Bob got a plug maker so he can eventually hide the screws. This will make the loom look like a vintage one. 
I believe that the next step will be to rough fit the cloth beam and the cogs. And I have asked for a handle on the back beam. This is such fun! By the way, if you are on Ravelry you can see more details of the progress of the loom on my project page. 

We are enjoying it he weather this weekend here in New Mexico, with temperatures in the low 70s. Next week it will turn cold again for a few days so we appreciate what we have now. The weekends have been very pleasant--we've been lucky.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Today I tried out a slipper pattern that I purchased from Etsy from BeautifulPieShop. This pattern has its own Facebook group for lots of inspiration, and I liked the face that I could make any size from newborn to adult sizes (there's even a doll slipper pattern, too!) I plan to make slippers for all the grandchildren. But before I use my handwoven fabric in a slipper I want to know I like the pattern. And that it fits me.

So, ta-da!

Here it is. By the way, it is not an easy task to take a photo of a slipper with your foot in it! It took me much of the day to sew these, in part because I was sewing a rather cantankerous leather-like fabric, I but I know the next one will go quickly. People claim they can knock these slippers out in 45 minutes. But do NOT expect that the first time. I had to rip out a couple of seams in there and re-sew at one point, but I persevered. I like the snaps, too, and there was a bit of a learning curve to use the KamSnap setter, but it was not hard. You may notice the cuff is a bit crooked, but that's because my ankles are, shall we say, sturdy? No worries though, at least they do the job! I may alter the cuff pattern to make them to fit my unique shape.

Bob has been working on my loom. I designed some ratchets that I like better than the original plans and Bob cut them out.
He then glued up some cherry for the beams and did a rough assembly of the warp beam, enough so decisions could be made as to placement of the beam uprights. The plans we have are not really detailed so a lot of details are left up to the woodworker.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Rock Hunting in Hatch, NM

Our friends Joan and John offered to take Bob and me out into the desert to look for minerals, something we had never done before.  We met up in Hatch, NM at Sparkys, home of the World Famous Green Chili Burger.
 And what a cool place this was! Sparkys has a collection of kitschy items that hang on the wall and are tucked into corners. We were greeted by this seal named Harbie, a former gas station mascot.
 We also saw Colonal Sanders and Ronald McDonald out front. Over our table was a huge moose head.
After we finished admiring the decor we had a great lunch. We ordered the World Famous Green Chili Hamburgers and I tried the pineapple coleslaw and a lemonade. Yum! I can see why they are World Famous! We will come here again.

Then it was on to the rock hunt. We rode with Joan and John to the entrance of BLM land a little over a mile away. BLM is short for Bureau of Land Management, federally owned land that is open to the public and is often leased to cattle owners for grazing. We drove about 6 miles in, along a dirt road that was in pretty good shape. When we reached a spot where the road had been washed out, we parked and started hunting. It was a pretty area with mountains in the distance, and with temperatures in the 60s we soon shed our jackets. It was a perfect rock hunting day.

Joan gave us a quick lesson in some of the various minerals found in the area, including jasper, black onyx, Quartz, and Druzy, which is a rock that has little sparkly bits that look like sugar embedded in it. I just picked up rocks that looked pretty or interesting.
This one was too big to bring home but shows jasper, a smooth rock that breaks into sharp shards. We had a really nice time meandering in the desert. It was so quiet and peaceful and saw not another soul out there. After a while it was time to return to our car and we made plans to meet up with Joan and John again in February.

I now have a big bag full of rocks and a lot of great memories of our day with our friends. Life is good!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bob's Tape Loom Project

For years I have looked at antique box looms, aka tape looms, and have wanted one. So my wonderful husband said he would build me one as soon as we were in a campground that had a workshop. Well, that time has come. Bob ordered some cherry lumber, I decided on a design, and he is building it. So far he has done the basic cutting out of the box base and the heddle.
It's not glued up or finished yet but you can see the size and shape of the loom. Next will be building the warp beam and cloth beam, with handcrafted ratchets and pawls. We are using plans that we found on the Internet as a springboard for the design for this loom, with some changes. When the loom is all finished I will go over those changes, but the basic plans are here.

Today we were not scheduled to work so while Bob was up at the shop working on my loom I was weaving. I am using Cascade 220 for warp and weft on my 20" Ashford Knitters Loom, and weaving cloth to be felted for my slipper project.
As you can see, there are some asymmetrical stripes on one side of the warp for added interest. And also because I knew I would not have quite enough of the dark blue warp yarn to go all the way across! If I don't like that after it is felted I can always use it for the soles. I'm still not sure what pattern I will use, though. There are some free ones online or I may just buy a pattern.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My NuWave Induction Cooker

I don't go for a lot of gadgets but I recently purchased one that has greatly improved my ability to cook in a small space. It's the NuWave Induction Cooktop. Before I bought it I had to convince Bob that adding something to the kitchen would save space; sounds counterintuitive, doesn't it? Typically when preparing a meal I will only use one burner--Bob grills some meat and I prepare either a salad or a vegetable. Sometimes brown rice or a potato. But I have to open up my range lid and uncover three gas burners just to use one. This takes up a large amount of my prep space.

No more! My new induction burner gives me precise temperatures and takes up little space on the counter. It workers with my Presto stainless steel pressure cooker and my cast iron pans, as well as my La Cruset pot. I just love it.
In fact, I am giving away my rice cooker because it is so easy to make brown rice in the pressure cooker, using this cooktop.  I can use it to slow-cook and make yogurt with it. Plus, in confined spaces it is much safer than using an open flame. I don't have to run the overhead fan when cooking, either, like I do when cooking with the propane cooktop. It wipes clean easily, too. This gadget is a winner in an RV!

I have warped up my 20" wide Ashford Knitters Loom to weave fabric to be felted, for slippers. I plan on working on this project tomorrow. Pictures to follow!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Gamp is Finished

On Saturday, Bob and I went into the town of Elephant Butte to have lunch at a cafe called Hodges Corner, where we had some good eats. This time of year business is slow but we hear it's a hopping place come summertime when people vacation in this lakeside community.
I finished my color gamp! After playing around with joining the panels by hand, I decided the sewing machine was a better way to finish this blanket. I overlapped the panels slightly and straight stitched them together before hemming the top and bottom. It came out square, about 42" after finishing.
This past week it has been chilly, so when earlier in the week dog jackets arrived in the mail (sent to Desert Haven by a kind supporter) we were pretty excited. My boss, Eliana, took these photos of me opening the package and sitting with two of our now-warm little guys. 

The dogs love the bench Bob built for them, too! Here are Jack (behind me) and Foxxy. 

We are now halfway through our volunteer gig here, and time is passing quickly. This week looks like we will be seeing warmer temperatures, in the low 60s. Nights are still in the 30s but it won't be long before that will change, too. This is more like it!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Meeting a Weaving Friend

I love meeting with friends I have gotten to know on Ravelry, because as fun as it is to talk with other weavers online, there's nothing to compare with being face-to-face.  Today I had the pleasure of getting together with Oddsoxx (AKA Linda) for a private weaving lesson at our motorhome. She had questions about warp tension, improving edges, fixing a broken warp thread, joining colors using various methods, how to warp and weave houndstooth and log cabin, and finishing handwoven cloth. I also gave her tips on using pattern sticks and she learned how to weave the windowpane pattern and to use two sticks and manage two colors. Linda was a fast learner and picked up new concepts easily. I just wished I had thought to take a photo of us!

Later I finished a great book by N. Gemini Sasson called "Say That Again," about a young girl on the Autism spectrum and her dog, Echo. An inspiring story with a fabulous ending! If you love dogs you will love this book.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Color Gamp is Woven

Bob and I had a nice weekend. Weather continued to be cold and unseasonable here in NM and we really didn't feel like spending much time outdoors. So other than our Friday work with the animals and a trip to Walmart, we pretty much stayed in.

I did finish weaving my color gamp, though! This photo was taken prior to washing, and I was pleased with the way the blocks lined up. Not perfectly, but close enough.
I think I will really like it when it's finished. I have washed and dried the panels and they have become nice and soft. Now I have to decide whether to join them by hand or by machine.

I was able to store away some equipment and tools after the weaving was done so we have our open space back. It feels nice, but probably won't last because I have another project churning in my brain that wants to be woven. This one will be a rigid heddle piece.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Panel Three and a Stray Kitten

It has been a nice week. On Tuesday I was able to spend a lot of time with my three "shy guys," the small dogs Jack, Foxxy, and Li'l Roxie. Up until now, Roxie has been very afraid of being touched, but Tuesday she let me put a leash on her for her very first walk.
I really doubt that she has ever been on a leash before, but she made it to the small dog yard and back. It is very rewarding to teach these dogs that humans can be kind. I really hope they get adopted!

It was cloudy all day, but on the short walk back to our home we were treated to the sight of sun glowing on the mountains south of us. The photo doesn't do it justice.
On Wednesday we had a knock on the door and there stood a woman with a seven week old kitten, all black with golden eyes. The woman said that she found the kitten by the side of the highway, surrounded by the bodies of it's litter mates. I took the kitten, called our neighbors Tom and Joe, and they took her home until it could be figured out what to do with her. Since she tested negative for Feline Leukemia, she will probably be put in the large enclosed cat area with the adult cats.

I have been working steadily on my color gamp and have finished panel number two. I set it next to the first one for a photo op, and was pleased with how they look together.
Since we have Thursdays off, I worked all day and warped up the loom with the third panel. It should be finished this weekend if all goes well.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tire Issues

I have spent a bit of time weaving today, but I find myself holding back. The warping part of this project takes so much more time than the weaving and I want to savor the weaving part of it! So I spend hours on the set up each weekend but weave in time blocks of 15 minutes or a half hour at a time. Panel #2 of my color gamp is looking good.  

As you can see, I am done with the greens and have moved on to the yellow/reds, and am already more than halfway done with the weaving. I'd like to make this panel last for a few days, anyway.

Bob has been noticing that one of our tires, the inside back left dually, has been losing air steadily since we've been in NM. If you have been a long-time reader of my blog you'll probably recall the story of our blowout in Livingston, TX. Not wishing to repeat that experience, we called our roadside assistance company, Coachnet, and had them come out today to replace that tire.

I just can't get over the cost of these tires! Over $800 to replace one--yikes! It's something we need, though, and when the dealership inspects it, we may get some money back if the leak was caused by a defect (as opposed to a puncture.)  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

This 'n That

I had a lovely phone call from my sister today, and she posed some excellent questions about some things I have written in my blog. I figured that others might have wondered the same things, so I thought I'd answer them here.

"What's this about white peacocks? I've never heard of such a thing!"
White peacocks are a sub-species of regular peacocks. Offspring of two white parents may or may not be white.  Technically they are called "peafowl," as only the males are peacocks. The females are called peahens. But just as we refer to cows (which are only the female cattle), most people just say "peacocks " when talking about this type of bird.

"What are white doves raised for?"
White doves are kept as pets, and are also released at weddings, funerals, and special events. They are trained to fly home to their roost after being released, like homing pigeons.

"What's a color gamp?"
In a gamp,  the warp is threaded with wide stripes that start with one color and progress through the colors of the rainbow. The same colors in the same order are used to weave with. Thus, you will end up with an interesting set of color combinations.

I finished my first woven panel and spent the last couple of days getting my loom ready for the second one. Actually, while I had my warping board out, I measured out the third panel as well. That way I could put away my warping board and not have to bring it out again next week. I carefully cut off the first (completed) panel, then tied the second warp on to the leftover threads that were still on the loom. It saved me quite a bit of time, since I didn't have to thread the heddles or correct mistakes. I am getting pretty good at tieing a weavers knot, which is a specialized knot used just for this purpose.  I'll show photos of this warp section after I have done some weaving on it.

Today I also made a scissor holder out of a pirn (a kind of bobbin used on a specific type of weavers shuttle) that my friend Joan gave me. I had purchased beads in Las Cruces to use on it. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.

I have several small pairs of scissors that fit well in it. I was able to deconstruct a brass chain I had to extend the leather cord.

Tomorrow I weave!