Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting


6 Comments

Ahhh, Satisfaction! 

Yesterday evening I took a piece off my rigid heddle loom I’d started weeks ago. September 1st, I think. 


I used a yummy mohair yarn and what I’m fairly certain is a kind of thick cotton thread. I love autumn-esque colors. I was going for a shawl that both looks warm and delicate, airy and solid. I also wanted to practice a weaving technique called Leno as described in the book, Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom, by Syne Mitchell. 

The cotton thread behaved so much differently than the wool yarn. It is much less forgiving and had almost no elasticity. Sometimes the selveges were a catastrophe. I thought about bailing on the project about halfway through because I was worried it was just a hot mess and I should start over. Then I got stubborn and opted to carry on ~ best case scenario, I reasoned, was that I’d love the shawl and want to show it to the world, imperfections and all. Worst case? That once off the loom I’d lament wasting hours of my life weaving cloth not fit for mouse bedding. 

I tried out some things in an effort to minimize loose ends. Oh loose ends! They are part of things, aren’t they? 

When I had to switch colors (according to my own pattern; I’d arrange the color changes much differently if I were to make this again) I tried securing the loose threads in the loop of the weft as it was going back through the warp. That worked out pretty well. Wish I’d have figured that out sooner! 




Taking the shawl off the loom was nerve wracking! Not sure why. It feels both sturdy and fragile at the same time, and all of the loose ends made me wonder how the hell I’d get them all sewn in without ruining the fabric. 


There it is all laid out. 


I stayed up until the wee hours last night sewing all the strands in, those that couldn’t be trimmed as they were. It was so worth it. 

The shawl isn’t blocked yet but here it is. I’m so happy I kept at it. I learned so much about how different threads behave, selveges, the utter importance of a proper tension in all warp threads (obvious I know, but I thought I’d done that and still there were problems throughout. I think I need to make smaller groups of weft threads in the beginning stages). 


Here’s an up-close view of the general pattern. 


Here’s some unfortunate selvege proof. 


And there’s me, still proud as hell of this piece! 


Advertisements


Leave a comment

Fun Kid Craft ~ Sock Puppets! 

I’ve been meaning to write a post about sock puppets for months! But, you know… life. I was reminded of these hilarious characters when I read through the stupendous thank you notes I received from the kids in my son’s class for all the activities we did over the year. A large number of them said making sock puppets was one of their favorite activities. So, of course I should share what we did! 

#1: Gather socks you are willing to separate from. Got any loose ones kicking around, lonesome without their mate? 

#2: Collect random bits of stuff you have in the arts & crafts category. Pom-poms, beads, googly eyes, moss, old costume jewelry, felt, buttons, yarn…

#3: Get glue ready. I found my glue gun to be the most effective but standard glue works, too. Clear glue is better because you don’t see it once it dries. 

#4: Arrange sock on hand. I find that the heel of the sock fits nicely over the knuckles. When you open you hand, keeping your fingers together and away from your thumb, you can tuck the extra sock fabric that would otherwise be around your toes, into that space, creating the mouth. Close your hand, holding the mouth in place, and glue on the eyes where you want them. Then, gently remove the sock and lay it on the table. 

#5: Notice the personality that is already evident! Amazing, what eyes do. 👀 Start adding whatever you want to your puppet, being careful not to overglue. You don’t want the sock to stick to itself. On mine I knew mossy hair was necessary, and feathers. 

And more hair… and a nose…

#6: after the adornments dried for a few minutes, I started on the mouth. I propped open the space designated for the mouth and eye-balled the size. 

And cut out a felt oval…

I tucked it into the sock mouth to ensure a good fit, then took it out, put glue around the edges of the felt, and tucked it back in there. 

Then I added a felt tongue which was simply a smaller oval with one side cut off. 

#7: And Voila! You can introduce yourself to your new friend! 

Here’s another one I made with a tube sock. 

Ugh, do I need to use bleach?

Nah…

Shiny red yarn for a lovely lip expression. This took a little patience as the yarn needed ample time to dry in order to withstand this character’s rather loud voice. 

I can’t share pics of other people’s kids, but I can tell you, we had so much fun that day! These characters come out of nowhere and invite story telling, play acting, comfort enjoying and frivolity! Here’s some other perks:

👉 They are inexpensive to make. 

👉 They require only as much detail as you feel like giving them. A sock with a mouth on its own is fun. Each thing you add gives it more flavor. 

👉 Patience is needed, and flexibility in expectations ~ both good things for projects to support us in practicing. Sometimes we gotta weight for glue to dry. Sometimes we don’t know how to make top hats. 

👉 Puppet shows never get old. 
Have fun! 


5 Comments

Thank you, Mema.

Last week, I received a box from my mom and grandmother. I call my grandmother Mema. Others in my family call her Meme, or is it Meemee? I don’t know. I have to call her Mema, because it’s what I have called her my whole life. Anyway, this box that they sent me contained some yarn that Mema is no longer needing, and some sweet treasures meant for my kids’ dollhouse. There was also a book, or binder, or container of some sort. I had no idea what it was when I first saw it, but when I opened it, I lost my breath.

FullSizeRender-72

FullSizeRender-75

It was a vintage Boye Needlemaster Knitting Kit. I’d never seen anything like this before! The place holders, the circular needles that you could change out for different sizing. All kinds of cool stuff! I was truly overwhelmed when I saw it. Ironically, that very day I was struggling with knitting. I really want to up my skills and was having a hard time figuring out a pattern, or really, the stitches that were called for in the pattern. I had to put it down for a while and was lamenting my weak frustration tolerance. And then this came. Way to raise the bar, Mema!

Mema is a master knitter. She has some serious skills. It’s funny because I cannot recall a time actually seeing her knit when I was little, but I have seen the things she has made, and I remember hearing my grandfather speak with pride about how she worked on certain sweaters. Now that I’m older, I think I understand that he wanted to make sure we kids understood how much work and love went into the things she made, and that she was really talented.

When I was in high school, Mema gave me this sweater.

IMG_7564

I loved it then, but I definitely did not have a good appreciation for how complicated it was to make this. If you’ve read others of my posts, you may have read about my growing edge with reading patterns and understanding measurements and all of the technical stuff. This sweater is technical, and I can remember Mema telling me that she had to really concentrate when knitting it, counting and marking, and doing over… I love this sweater more now than I can even describe. To me, it means love, and commitment, and patience. It is soft and delicate, and very beautiful.  And, now I have the knitting needles that were part of her arsenal of tools used to make such beautiful things. I feel so lucky.

I love how Mema made her own tag and wrote, “Made By Mee Ma”.

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone I consider a mentor and a guide in my life. He said, “you can’t carry history with you.” We were talking about the kind of history that hurts, that isn’t yours to carry. Then I told him about the knitting needle kit Mema sent me. That is the kind of history I want to carry with me. Things that my grandmother touched and took such good care of, and used to make things with love, while sitting at night with my grandfather. Thank you so much, Mema.