Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting


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Learn to Make Your Own Circular Loom and Lovely Bowl

Greetings, fellow crafters. In my Fiber Saturday class yesterday, I demo’d how to make a circular loom out of cardboard. Here, I am offering more detailed instructions and a project idea. Many of the kids I have gotten to craft with LOVE circular weaving. In a way, it’s easier than weaving on a rectangular loom because you just go around and around, rather than back and forth (coming back the other way on a loom can be super perplexing to some. What do you do with that end warp thread!) Getting into the flow is easy and you end up with something beautiful at the end.

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Quick Disclaimer: I’ve woven many things on circular looms at this point. I’ve often had the experience where I wanted my circular weaving to lay flat, but it curls up instead, or I’ve wanted the piece to be a bowl, but it’s lays more flat than I wished. So much affects the way this project turns out. The yarn or fabric variability really changes things, how tightly the yarn is pulled as it is taken around the loom certainly affects how taut it becomes… Things I always stress with this project are: have fun, the goal is not to adhere to a rigid idea of what you want but rather to play with colors and textures and see what you get! No matter what, it will be beautiful. For elementary kids, the book Beautiful Oops, by Barney Saltzberg, is a great companion to this project. I also love the book Ish, by Peter H. Reynolds.

To make a bowl on these looms, you do want to pull a little firmly on the yarn, especially as you reach the edges of the loom.

One more thing! This is a great project for kids, but elementary age kids will likely need adult or older kid help with the construction of the loom and the step-up.

Materials:

  • cardboard- the flaps of cardboard boxes are plenty strong enough
  • yarn for warp
  • yarn, fabric, ribbon, string, jute… whatever you want… for the weaving
  • marker
  • strong scissors
  • tape
  • round things that can be used for tracing a good circle- must fit on the cardboard
  • tapestry needle (or a sewing needle with the very large eye, or, you can even use a paperclip- just find the smallest one you have and tie the end of the yarn to end of it)

 

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Step 1: Trace your circle. This will be the approximate size of your circular loom.

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Step 2: Cut out the circles as neatly as you can.

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Step 3: Some folks who are really good at being precise might balk at my lack of straight or perfectly measured grid-work here. I get that. BUT, the point is to demonstrate that this does not have to be incredibly perfect. In fact, I think it’s a relief to many to not have to stress about that. You generally want to split your circle into four kinda even sections.

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Step 4: Around the edge of each section, you will start to make triangles. These will be cut out and serve as notches for your warp thread to hold on to (the warp is what you weave around). You want the same number of triangles in each section EXCEPT ONE! You can see that in each of my looms below, I added one that straddles a segment line. This is because you need an odd number of notches so that you have an odd number of warp threads. Otherwise, each time you go around the loom, you’ll have the yarn always going under the same warp thread and over the same warp thread. You don’t want that.

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Step 5: tape one side of a piece of yarn to the back of your loom.

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Step 6 (warping the loom):

  • turn the loom over so you are looking at the front (the front for me is the side with no marker.
  • pull the yarn over, crossing the loom to the other side. you have an odd number of notches in your loom… so when you pull your yarn across, it won’t land right in the center, right? So you want an even number of notches on one side and an odd on the other, of the yarn just pulled across, having one more notch on one side.

 

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  • hold yarn snuggly and wrap it around the notch, moving from right to left and then turn the loom so it is “up” again, with the notch you just wrapped on the upside

 

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  •  bring yarn down, crossing in the middle, going to the left of the notch with the yarn in it.

 

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  • wrap the yarn around that next notch, again, moving from right to left
  • repeat this step until you’ve brought the yarn around every notch
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Warping the loom:

 

Tying the center of the warp:

 

Step 8: Then start weaving! I generally weave from right to left, but it doesn’t matter which way you go as long as that is the only way you go as you weave. No doubling back! The same weaving principles apply with circular looms as do with other looms. Bring the yarn over one warp thread, under the next, over the next, under the next, and so on… The first few rounds might not look right, but as you go around, it will become more and more organized and clear whether you are to go over or under.

Step 9: Optional- You can add new colors and textures whenever you want. I usually just tie on the the thread and begin weaving. When the loose ends come up against the weaving as the new yarn starts getting woven with, I gently tuck them under the already woven part. DON’T SNIP THEM! You want them longer so you can sew them in once you are finished and the piece is off the loom.

As I make my way towards the upper part of the loom, I like to use a tapestry needle to weave. It keeps one from pulling on the warp too much and allows for weaving right up to the top.

 

Step 10: Once you feel you cannot weave anymore, it’s time to take your piece off the loom! Gently pull off the tape, and the warp that is wrapped around the notches. You will notice how it is naturally shaped- will it be a bowl, or a coaster/placemat/wallhanging? Does it curl up or lay flat? Assess and gently shape it as you wish.

Step 11: Time to sew in those loose ends with the tapestry needle. I usually sew them into the bottom/underside of the piece. Just gently bring the loose end down through the column of weaving right below and it and carefully snip the remaining bit. It will be completely hidden in your piece.

Step 12: Admire your handiwork! I love my little bowl! I can imagine making several of these and having nesting bowls all over. Or sewing them together in a way to make something that looks like coral, or finding a little stuffed bunny or chick and making this a little nest…

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Have fun with this. I’ve done circular weaving with kids as young as 6. And I intend on weaving this way for as long as my fingers let me. It is so relaxing and so satisfying, and you likely have all you need already in your home.

Take care,

Bradie


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Explorations in Weaving Summer Camp, Recap…

It’s been a while. I’ve missed writing here over the last couple of months. There’s been so much doing that I’ve had a hard time calming down enough to write about it all. But, a highlight of my summer was definitely offering two new summer camps to my repertoire of teaching opportunities: Explorations in Weaving and Making A Book From Scratch. Hanging out with kids, teaching them what I know, and having the flexibility and time to play, learn about each other and experiment with materials is an absolutely wonderful way to spend time. And, I got to have my own kids with me during both camps, which was an added bonus.

Explorations in Weaving Camp was a four-day, weaving filled (as you might imagine) practically meditative ride. All the kids that came were invested in weaving and at times, it was pinch-myself peaceful. The children’s calm and interest reinforced for me, yet again, how soothing weaving can be, and how satisfying it is as the fabric takes form and grows.

For each of the first three days, a different form of weaving was introduced. Day One was spent on Melissa and Doug Weaving Looms and Stitch Studio by Nicole Looms (can be found at A.C. Moore stores) to simply get the weaving process down.

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I had prepared a sample project that we might make, which was a bag, but all the children preferred seeing their fabric open and free. We ended up securing them to driftwood, turning them into gorgeous wall-hangings with fringe. Below is one example…

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The second day I offered each child a circular loom made from those metal rounds you can get at the craft store. I pre-warped them to save time.

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The third day, I offered each child their pick of handmade looms crafted from driftwood and twine. These were my favorites. I’m sorry, but driftwood and yarn? A match made in paradise. I can’t get enough of it and hoped to make my enthusiasm for the combo contagious.

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The fourth day was spent finishing up loose ends, decorating for our Weaver’s Art Show and just celebrating the heck out of their creativity and wonderfulness.

Lest you think all the children did was weave, weave weave… they actually mostly did, but having a sprinkler backup, ice pops and a basket of yarn to finger knit with was important. We also took walks in our field looking for wild flowers and long grasses, fairies and grasshoppers…

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What Happens When Fibery Handcrafting Takes Over My Life…

I finished my circular weaving project and what started out as one idea evolved into a moving symbol for me. Wild bird flying into golden fire 🔥. 

Tour de Fleece spinning mania!!!

Lots of spindle practicing… it’s slow going. 

Curly locks bring lots of smiles…

Yummy, yummy yarn…

More practice…

Fireworks magic for balance…

Lots of Shetland wool washing…

Lots of Shetland wool dyeing…

With some gorgeous alpaca…

And some Shetland carding while the dye pots do their thing…

Adding color to the fantasy basket…

And more spinning…

And dyeing…

And loom making for a weaving summer camp I’m hosting in a week… (yay!)

And, repeat…

Summer is my favorite time. ❤️


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Spirit Guide Becoming, and Spinning Wool Bliss

I cannot explain it, but this experiment on my circular loom has become rather powerful for me. I’m chipping away at it, round by round, section by section. Easy to do since the rain hasn’t stopped, and I’m obsessed. I’ll post the completed piece soon. 

And Day #1 of the Tour de Fleece is under my belt. Merino, fluffy and spongy, met my wheel for close to an hour while I listened to a wonderful podcast of On Being with Krista Tippet interviewing John O’Donohue. Not a bad way to be while spinning beautiful fiber. In fact, the podcast was on Beauty. It was lovely. 

Tomorrow I hope to finish this bobbin and then start plying with lovely colorful wool locks in various pinks and purples. 

Are you spinning as part of the TdF? How’d it go today? 


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Gratitude, Grief, Love and Yarn: Holding it All

It’s been almost a month since my last post. I have missed writing here and allowing for myself the space to reflect on and share thoughts about handwork, process and life. I’ve not handled political news and world news well and needed to take some serious steps back so that I could regain some sort of balance and be the kind of mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend I want to be. As I write that, I realize that the one area I’ve neglected significantly is how I want to be in relationship with myself. It’s a well-worn complaint really, one that I’m kind of tired of, but nevertheless, tending to my relationship with myself is always, always the first priority I have to take a hit when the rumblings of pressure, grief, work and responsibility register on the Richter Scale of the nervous system. I can feel the effects now, but they are more of a tugging, a call to get back to having yarn move through my fingers as it becomes part of an image made real, practicing hand-stitching so that I might learn something new and make textured and calming designs, an urge to walk through the outside, amidst people and alone.

I do have to say, another deep and abiding feeling I have as this year wraps up and a new one is about to begin, is gratitude. Immense gratitude. I am learning how to have this feeling while allowing for grief at the same time for the immeasurable suffering that is experienced by people all over the world. It’s requiring a lot of stretching and expanding and allowing for reality. All of it. Not just the little slivers that I experience in my life with my loves.

And, there’s the word… Love. It is all I come back to and all I strive towards.

“Love is absolutely vital for a human life. For love alone can awaken what is divine within you. In love, you grow and come home to your self. When you learn to love and to let your self be loved, you come home to the hearth of your own spirit. You are warm and sheltered. You are completely at one in the house of your own longing and and belonging.” Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue

There are so many ways to share love and cultivate it in a life. This will be a primary focus of mine in the coming year, years, life…

~And, here’s a bit of a view of the last month~

Some things I made for gifts and for a little vendor pop-up in our town…

And a little bit of our outside life!

 

A sweater project I’m taking on!

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My work space (a small part of it!)…

I’ve dug into working on genealogy and wow is it FUN!

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Some projects that I’ve been doing with kids at our local school. Such fun! The circular weaving bird’s nest project came from this wonderful crafter. Check her out!

 

I hope the last few days of 2016, quite an ass-kicker of a year, prove to be gentle, filled with love and all that is precious to you.

 


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Using What I Have and Adjusting to Reality

When I began this weaving project, it was in my mind a mat, a space for me to sit, to think, to feel texture and to meditate…


For a while, I worked on it every night, sitting in a dimly lit room nearby my falling asleep children… 

Then it sat,

And sat,

Waiting for me to come back.

And I did, with the same destination in mind. 

But when it was finally coaxed off its wooden support, it was not flat. 

It insisted on curving, no matter the wetting and pulling and stretching I subjected it to. 


There was never a moment I thought about starting over. It was too late for that. I suspect the too tight pulling of the cotton weft in the midst of woolen rounds was the perturbation in the otherwise peaceful flow. Ironic, given that it was those very cotton strips that inspired the piece to begin with. 

Time to reconsider, time to adapt…

A chance to use more of what would otherwise be tossed away. 

My old worn sweater,

An antique bobbin of woolen thread,

My grandmother’s very old doily, worn, strained, yet saved. 

Wrapping the outside of the now bowl in my old worn sweater, allowing for waves here, ripples there, I feel the comfort I was longing for when I first began those initial rounds. Gentle stitching with the woolen yarn offers chances to start anew, start anew, as weak spots made for unplanned breaks. 

Stitching burlap around the soft bowl suggests sturdiness and the promise of support. 

And this tired, beautiful, intricate and broken gift offers up its last, sweet breath and is saved, its softness part of something new. 


Now my mind wanders to what it will hold, this comfort bowl of mine. Old things. New things. Found things for sure. Memories, too, no doubt, of specific moments and foggy plans that were once laid out on paper with pen, changed over time with cross outs and rewrites. Maybe appreciation, too, for adaptations so subtle they are almost imperceptible in loud life.

It will all be in there. 


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Everything But the Kitchen Sink and End of Summer Turbulence

I’ll admit to being one very distractible and lack-of-focus afflicted person at present. It is hard to figure out why. Here are some possible reasons: the intense heat has made working with wool mildly unpleasant; the coming to an end of summer vacation fills me with a nagging dread and combating impulses – do as much as I can with my kids and make the remaining days epic-style awesome vs. relax and take each day as it comes and just make sure to swim; anticipation of having time to organize my projects, my work and my goals and a drive to get started, get to finishing, and get organized. I teach at a local college, have a small clinical private practice, I hope to bring fiber art and craft to more kids this year, and I have some writing projects I long to pursue. All of these responsibilities and goals, plus being a mommy to two young ones has me, well, a little all-over-place, and I think that is reflected in my project heap and book pile. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve recently finished, what I’m working on and what I’m reading with those of you who read this here blog of mine. Maybe you, too, find the end of summer to be a little, well, turbulent?

Azel Pullover

~ I finished the Azel Pullover for my daughter. I love it. I truly do. It is not completed just as the pattern was written. It’s a bit shorter, and I modified the cowl neck because the numbering of stitches was off and it was making it wonky, so I ended up just knitting in the round which made a great looking band around the neck. By the way, the creator of this pattern is wonderful, and responded to a question I had about it in a very short amount of time.

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~ As part of completing the above pattern, I acquired a whole bunch of new skills in the knitting department: the cable knit cast-on, picking up stitches, making button holes (not elegantly executed this first go-round, but I can get the buttons through them), and fixing big mistakes (I practiced understanding what stitches look like when you have to take out a few rows and get them back on the needles).

~ I also got to use the knitting needles my grandmother gave me. You can read about them here. I am so happy about that.

Circular Weaving

I just completed the circular weaving piece that I started a while back. You can read about that here. It was supposed to, in my imagination, lie flat, but alas, it does not and is currently awaiting a super modification that I am actually very excited about. The hoped-for meditation mat will turn into a bowl to hold organic materials I plan to use to spin into yarn or work into weaving pieces.

Sewing With My Kids

Both of my littles have begun sewing their own little dolls, which is truly wonderful. You know, it is one thing to practice slowing down and exercising patience when it’s just me I’m reckoning with. When I’m working on projects with my children, I’ve realized that it’s best if I have some project in my hands, but one I’m not absorbed with. Nothing kills creativity and learning like impatience from the guide. I’ve been guilty of that and have made a dedicated effort not to let my own inclination towards impatience that I so readily apply to myself destroy these quiet moments with my children. I think I’ve made headway in this department.

I recently read a book to my children called Cloth Lullaby, by Amy Novesky. It is about the artist Louise Bourgeois and especially, her relationship with her mother, who was a weaver and tapestry artist. Louise apprenticed under her mother and later in her life became a renowned artist in her own right. Her giant sculptures of spiders, who were inspired by her mother, are one of her hallmark themes. Spiders create thread and repair and build and, in one part of the book, the author describes how when webs are damaged, spiders do not get angry; they simply repair them. In this beautiful book, I was reminded of an important ideal~ steadfast and calm repairing and steadfast and calm teaching. I was grateful to have read it with my littles.

Organized My Fibers and Garage Space

I spent a good amount of time going through all of my materials and getting them organized in a way that will make project planning and gathering much easier in the months to come. I do plan on doing a fair amount of dyeing wool and experimenting in the fall.

Wool I Dyed and Carded

I’m not done with carding all of the wool yet! But here are the results of the washed, dyed and carded Shetland I wrote about recently. It’s so beautiful. Coreopsis is quite the dye plant and is shown on the right. On the left is Shetland dyed with marigold.

Books I Am Reading

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott~ I love the way she writes about every single thing. I need some writing advice and she’s my go-to for that.

Stitch By Stitch, by Carolyn Meyer~ I really want to know how to do rudimentary needlework. I’m struggling with this because it is a bit of a departure for me, and I’m not sure it’s wise to start yet another journey into another handcraft when I have so many I already love and could get much more proficient at, but have you seen this book –> Slow Stitch: Mindful and contemplative textile art, by Claire Wellesley-Smith. This book inspires me in a way that is almost painful. The colors, the textures and the soothing promise of slowing down is really speaking to me and I want to figure out a way to work this in to what I do both in my own handwork practice and with others.

Would anyone like to do a slow and consistent, chapter by chapter Stitch-Along with me, using Slow Stitch as the guide? Seriously. Write me if you do.

This summer has included many beautiful times with family and with friends, many bike rides and lake swims and creemees, lots of convalescing after some antibiotic side effect havoc, lots of chip eating and garden tending.

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Days have been long and night sounds have been welcome and wild. Temperatures have been hot and rain has been scarce. News has been painful and overwhelming. The Olympics have been awe-inspiring. And the days are going on and each one offers a new chance to get connected with the present moment, to breath and to not resist the passing of time. I think in the coming weeks before school starts, that is what I’ll be trying to keep in the forefront of my mind. To look and to truly see, to hear and to truly listen, to touch and to truly feel.

Yes. That.

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A Sweet Surprise~ The Creative Blogger Award Nomination That Made My Day

I was so incredibly pleasantly surprised to see in my email a notice that my little blog here had been nominated by another wonderful blogger, Mrs Craft of Craft and Other Crazy Plans for the Creative Blogger Award! You know, it’s really quite a lovely feeling to learn that someone reads my words, looks at my pictures and thinks that they’re cool! It’s also wonderful to have the chance to share the blogs that I love to read and look at for inspiration, information and simply because they are fabulous! So, I’ll get to that below!

This is especially tender for me because I am actively working on a “healing” piece. With heartbreaking world events, a busy life, transitioning to summer break with my children, and experiencing a bit of grief of the personal and existential sort, I needed to begin a piece I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’m using my large Majacraft Circular Loom and making a sitting rug. It will be textured and smooth, soft and hard, mostly in a beige/off-white/cream color palette. Peaceful. Natural. Cloud-like. Quiet. I want something to call my own, my little space that invites touch and that reflects the complicated aspects of life, but in dulled down color. I need that space and am making it for myself.

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Part of being nominated for this sweet award includes the act of sharing five things about myself, so here it goes:

  1. I am absolutely fascinated by ancestral history, and believe that as I age, I will spend more and more time pursuing information about all of the people who came before me in my family. I wonder about them. I thank them for surviving, because without them, I wouldn’t be here.
  2. If I could go back in time, I would not quit creative writing in college. I would pursue that interest with more devotion and more discipline. That regret is fueling my urge to write, and my discipline now.
  3. I hope to join the Peace Corps one day, even if I can’t until I’m an “old” woman. This woman inspired me not to let my mind succumb to antiquated and stereotyped images of aging.
  4. I love to run, workout and be strong, and have found this love later in my life.
  5. I used to live in Florida and I really, really love and miss the Gulf of Mexico. I also love the Atlantic and spent a lot of time at the Jersey Shore when I lived in NJ as a youngin’. There is something magically wonderful about salt water and all of the life it supports, and I hope to get to hang out by the sea a lot more in the coming years.

And here are my nominations:

  1. I Accidentally Ate the Whole Thing
  2. Begin to Believe
  3. Healing Tree Farm
  4. Mulch and More Crafts
  5. Fibery Goodness
  6. Two Hands Healing and Creative Arts
  7. Violet’s Vegan e-Comics
  8. art does matter
  9. The Archivist Cooks
  10. Ingrid Art Studio Blog
  11. alexand knits
  12. Love Those “Hands at Home”
  13. Story Skeins
  14. Crochet Thread
  15. Spin a Yarn

The above blogs are ones I love to follow and check in on. They all have inspired me, not just in the crafting way, but in the living life artistically kind of way. I hope you check them out.

Here are the rules for the bloggers I’ve nominated. I hope you all enjoy participating in whatever capacity you choose.

  1. Nominate 15-20 bloggers and add their links.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  3. Share five facts about yourself.
  4. Notify the bloggers you included.
  5. Keep the rules in your post.

Thank you again, Karen (Mrs. Craft) for nominating me. This was really fun!

~ Bradie


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Some Recent Fibery Work

Last weekend, I was able to be a part of a wonderful Open Studio day at Shelburne Pond Studios. I don’t have my own place there, but as part of their weekend, they invited local artists to show their wares. It was a good chance for me to finish up projects that had been drifting about, waiting for some attention amidst all of the things that can make a life so full. I was delighted to see how much I actually did make over the winter months. More than I realized! I think my obsession with circular weaving helped. It never felt like work, to pick up a little loom and let my gut tell me what color needed to come next, what texture, what material…

Below are some pictures of some things I had on hand.

 

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Skeins of yummy handspun yarn, all from locally sourced wool.

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Loads and loads of batts ready for spinning or felting!

This little circular weaving piece was made using a loom from this Etsy shop. I love the sizes of looms this shop owner offers. They are affordable and very, very fun.

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Circular weave wall hanging.

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A little tiny nest with a little tiny egg on a little tiny piece of wood from our big beautiful lake.

The wall hanging below was made in part with a Majacraft Circular Loom. I got mine here.

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Another Wall Hanging.

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This “doll” sort of appeared. I love her but she also gives me the willies.

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Wild hanging basket.

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Woven piece highlighting a lovely bit of driftwood that looks to me like a lady dancing.

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Hello from me.

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Mittens letting me know that for that moment, the fabric scrap basket was indeed HERS!