Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A little bling goes a long way........

I thought I'd finish the blingy bra today but no go.........definitely tomorrow........
I started with the beaded drop fringe along the bottom of the bra....seed beads, bugle beads, glass beads and crystals......
Then I moved to adding couched beads along the top edge.....seed beads, glass beads and pearls....
Then to decorate the center with glass buttons, seed beads, crytals, pearls and sequins......I decided once finishing this I had enough bling......I could have easily kept going but really didn't want to cover up my handwoven fabric.....
Pinning the satin lining in, this step took forever..........
I started handsewing the lining in, a tedious job trying to avoid tangling the thread around the beaded fringe. I got to the other end and realized that I really needed to take out all the top pins and repin, way too much slack in the lining. By this time my shoulders and neck are aching, time to stop for the day, will finish up tomorrow and unveil the finished project.........

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fun little project

Here was my fun project for today - a knitted beaded bracelet. My friend Kathy B showed me how to make it while we were up at Sewing Expo......of course that was close to 2 months ago so I had to call her with questions this morning. Now that I've made the first one the next will have a pattern by using two different colors of beads. The yarn I used is Lana Grossa 'Secondo' (cotton/silk/poly), beads are size 6 seed beads.

Looks like a bumblebee!

My latest spinning project looks like a bumblebee! When I was dyeing 20 pounds of Polwarth I had had a 5.9oz piece of roving left (I weigh out 8oz lengths to dye) so I decided to play with the dyes. I took yellow and black and then mixed at least 8 containers of it varying the amount of each color starting at pure yellow, ending with pure black. I split the roving in half down the middle and spun each bobbin, then plyed so my resulting yarn goes from yellow to black. I ended up with approx 697 yards of fingering weight yarn (it's not washed yet so yardage may shrink a bit). I have no clue what it will eventually grow up to be........

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ready for some bling!

This morning I got some time in the sewing room to work on the blingy bra. I am spending so much time on it but am so enjoying it, smiling along the way. Today I turned under all raw edges and sewed them, got the inkle band back band on, got the straps on and the tule. It's now ready for lots of blingy crystals and beads!
The main goal of this guild challenge is to not be afraid to cut into handwoven fabric and sew it. No problem here, what I found difficult to work with was the slinky lining fabric and that very fine glittery tule. It's looking good, isn't it? My mannequin doesn't fill out those cups but it looks ok on it....hmm, she doesn't have any of those bulges on the sides either.........
Here's the back complete with regular bra hooks and plastic 'hardware'. I took three pictures of the back and this was the best of the bunch, not so good.

This afternoon I went over a friend's house to see her Brother embroidery machine in action.....oh, this is a very tempting toy to purchase, I'm thinking seriously on it. I could get the embroidery module for my Bernina but it's much more expensive and for the playing I'd do I think this machine would be perfect. I've been working like crazy the past few years selling my handwovens and roving, hand-dyed and Ashland Bay) and not spending any of the proceeds, it's time to purchase a few toys.......

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In the pink again......

I'm back in the pink again.......guild challenge pink, soon to be blingy pink. My first post when I wove the fabric for this challenge is back on March 16th, there's a picture of weaving in progress there. Our guild challenge is to cut into our handwoven and sew something, the idea is to make an art bra that the guild could then display during Breast Cancer Awareness month at one of hospitals or cancer centers......not sure how many other than me will be sewing a bra so it might be a sad display.
First step was to make a pattern, well, something that kind of resembled a pattern. I searched through my lingerie drawer for a bra that had a seam it in forming the cup which I used as inspiration. I drew out a pattern for the two cup pieces and then sewed it in some scrap cotton - whoo-hoo it worked.
Now to cutting the handwoven fabric. I knew it would need a bit more body so I backed it with a heavy weight interfacing, cut the pieces out, clipped the long end of the taller pieces and fit it around the curve of the other pieces. Lots of pins used for this step.
Hurray - two cups that are actually decent looking - good thing since I didn't weave any fabric to spare.
I sat the two cups on the cutting board, put a piece of pattern tracing paper underneath and marked the seam lines for the center piece - worked out well.
Then it was on to making more pattern pieces, cutting the fabric and attaching those to the sides of the bra.....looking good. The pink lining fabric actually has little metallic dots on it - I repeated all the steps as for the handwoven and made the lining.
Here's a close-up of the lining. Since I'm designing this by the seat of my pants I have no clue how I'll handle all the raw edges yet, I'm thinking just turn under the handwoven and lining and handsew it.....but that will come later, all the bling will need to be sewn on before I get to that step.
Next step this afternoon was to warp up the inkle loom and weave a 1" wide piece to use for the back strap, I've even got hook & eye pieces made for bras which I colored with metallic pink Paintstiks to match. I'm thinking maybe ribbon straps but not positive yet, inkle weaving might be a bit too thick to fit the plastic pieces for the adjustable straps.
Here are the yarns used in the fabric and inkle band: 8/2 pink unmercerized cotton, 5/2 perle cotton, 8/2 light pink unmercerized cotton, 5/2 cotton/rayon blend and pink metallic.

So today was a very productive day, I was a bit worried about sewing a bra without a pattern and making it look decent - it's looking great. I'm hoping to have a bit of time to work on it tomorrow morning.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Bread Recipe

Ok, yes I was a bad person posting pictures of the Easter Bread and no recipe - bad, bad me. I will type it up now.....and I will type it up combining my notes in with it because the original recipe itself in the family cookbook had very little to it, no one else could make it unless they had made it with Nani over the years.

Nani's Easter Bread

5 pounds of all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 lb yeast (this is where I had to research several years back to find out that six 1/4oz packets of yeast or 15 tsp are equal to 1/4 lb of cake yeast)
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 lb shortening (2 sticks of Crisco less 3 Tbs)
1 quart whole milk
1 Tbs lemon extract
1 Tbs vanilla
1 oz anise seed (over $8!!!)
9 eggs
1/4 cup salt

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and shortening, cut in as in pie dough, let sit 20-30 minutes.

Dissolve yeast in warm water with 2 Tbs sugar until it proofs

Add water/yeast mixture, milk, lemon extract, vanilla, anise seeds and eggs to flour mixture. Knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size

Cut into pieces big enough to roll into balls about the size of baseballs (we did smaller for these loaves) Roll balls into long strips, braid. Let rise for around an hour.

Brush tops of loaves with beaten egg yolks

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Time may vary on size of loaves, we baked ours anywhere from 22-26 minutes since they were smaller and we were using a convection oven.

The original recipe makes around 10 loaves.

Easter Bread - Oh Yum

I grew up helping my Italian grandmother make Easter Bread every year. It's a anise seed egg based bread that is to die for, tastes great right out of the oven with butter on it and even better toasted the next day or so for breakfast. I asked my cousin Jim if he'd like to come over and learn how to make it, he grew up in Ohio so wasn't there for the actual baking - Nani (our grandmother) lived next door to me so I helped with all baking that went on. So, today was bread baking day. I forgot to take a picture of the fixings starting with 5 pounds of flour in Nani's official metal bread making bowl but I've got a picture of it later down the line. She used to make Italian bread in it on an almost weekly basis while I was growing up. Jim started the mixing in the metal bowl, or let's just call it a wash tub because that's basically what it was, so he used a wooden spoon to get it mixed together, then I took over kneading in the tub. Then we dumped it out onto the counter and Jim started the real kneading process.

Next we put it back in the wash tub to raise for over an hour. Sorry I didn't get many pictures along the way but my hands were dough covered much of the time.
After the dough doubled in size we started cutting off chunks to roll out and braid into loaves. We made our loaves a bit smaller and ended up with 17 in total. The braided dough sat and rose for another hour, then we brushed it with an egg yolk and baked it- the smell was incredible.
Here are some of the loaves. My friend Yvonne could smell the bread baking all the way from her house so she came over with fresh farm eggs for Jim and left with 2 loaves........after sampling some warm bread with butter here at the house.
And here are more sitting in the wash tub we mixed the dough in - it's a huge wash tub, I think there 10 of the loaves in it right here. Nani always made us kids our own special easter bread - she braided the dough, wound it in a circle and put a hard boiled egg in the center and put two small strips across the eggs securing ti to the loaf. I can't remember much about that egg, it must have been as hard as a rubber ball after being hardboiled and baked! Someday I'll have to decide who to pass the wash tub on to - it's a pretty important bit of family history - I'd have to be assured that whoever gets it after I'm gone learns how to bake Easter Bread and carries on the tradition.

It's that time of year again.......

In spite of it not feeling like spring has sprung here it's that time of year again - poison oak season. I have my first outbreak on my arm where Bailey like to cuddle up and hold it with his leg. I have a horrible time with poison oak and it's plentiful on our 5 acres. As soon as the rains stop I will get out in Bailey's fenced area with the Crossbow to spray it. It's a yearly event, each year more of it dies but I don't know if I'll ever rid his area of it.....the rest of the property is hopeless.
We spent the weekend on the coast working in the yard. We tried hard to save a flowering currant tree that a previous owner had planted right up again the wooden front porch. Sam worked hours on trying to get the 8ft tall tree out of the ground in tact so we could transplant it - we realized that wasn't happening once we saw huge roots growing under the porch. It couldn't be saved but in it's place we enlarged the front bed and put 6 small bushes in.

I also started a new knitting project while over there, it's the Hydrangea Lace Scarf pattern from Fiber Trends. The wider 12" scarf has hydrangea flowers staggered across the scarf but since I only have 2 skeins of the Panda Silk yarn I wanted to use I'm knitting the 9" wide scarf which has a single row of flowers the length of the scarf. Panda Silk is from Crystal Palace Yarns and is 52% bamboo/43% superwash merino/5% silk - it's lovely. The color I'm using is actually much lighter and softer than how it looks in the photo. Can't wait to finish up and block this scarf. If you're wondering what the white lines are in the scarf they're my life lines - I put them in at the ends of pattern repeats or end of a page - if I make a huge mistake I can pull the needle out and pick up those stitches along the lifeline and continue knitting.

Today my cousin Jim is coming over to learn how to make Easter bread. I'll post pictures later........

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rags, rags, rags..........

Yes, I'm still here. This week has been crazy busy but not much of it spent in the studio.......makes for a grouchy me being out of the studio so much.......and next week isn't looking much better. I'm still researching compu-dobby looms but haven't had time to talk with all that have offered to help me. I did find out that AVL will be at the ANWG weaving conference the beginning of June and they will be bringing a V-Series loom for me to see and try in person - this is great as I've seen the Louet and have seen other AVL models but not the one I'm considering. I finally finished sewing the last of the handwoven rag tote bags for a while, they'll show up in my etsy shop soon.....all I need to do is find time to take 5 decent pictures of each to get them listed.....oh, how I need more hours in my day! I now need to get back to other weaving and sewing, first up is the sparkley pink handwoven fabric that's been waiting for me to cut into it for my guild challenge.
Dark blue bag with dark blue floral lining
Medium blue with natural/light blue lining
Light greens with light green floral lining (this really is lighter than it looks in the picture) 
Dark green with dark green flowered chintz lining
Dark red/neutral stripes with natural/red floral lining
Dark red/tan with very fun farm seed packet print fabric lining

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Add to the mix......

I'm adding to the mix of thinking about compu-looms the AVL V Series.....if I'm thinking a bit bigger footprint that one is around the same as the Louet.....any thoughts on that model would be appreciated too.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Decisions, decisions.......

I've been researching and talking about getting a compudobby loom now for around 4 years. Usually I have no problems making a decision on buying something but this is has me stopped in my tracks.

To start with I have a space limitation in my studio so I'm not looking for a big loom. My first thought was the AVL 24" workshop loom, not that I'd take it to a workshop, but the footprint will fit the space perfectly and I feel like 24" would be wide enough for scarves, shawls, towels or runners I'd be weaving on it, probably mostly scarves. I've heard good reviews of the 16 harness model but I was really interested in 24 harnesses - not good reviews, even from someone who is connected to AVL.......too much put onto that frame designed for 16 harnesses.

Last summer I went to visit a weaver friend out of the area to see her Louet Megado - oh my gosh, what a beautiful loom. So, this is the one I'd love to have in the 27" weaving width but being a more substantial loom it's footprint is much bigger for the space I have, I'd have to take an entertainment center and some all important shelving out of the studio to fit it in. Downside is that it comes with 16 harnesses or 32 harnesses - 32 is more than I was looking for, 24 would be perfect for me. The price is an issue too. I've got more than what is needed put aside for a loom but pulling the trigger on it is so hard, can I really justify spending around $14K for a loom! That's a hard one, it's a lot of money........a big buckeroos alot in my eyes for another loom.

This sent me back to AVL to look at the V Series loom if I was going to have a bigger footprint, price is still high but lower than the Louet. Not sure I like it as much though. So, then started looking at the AVL workshop loom again but only 16 harnesses since the 24 harness hasn't gotten good reviews, would I be happy with only 16, I currently have 10 on my Macomber (which I'll be keeping).

So, I'm still a mass of indecision after 4 years, have no clue what to buy so I do nothing. Anyone out there reading my blog that has any of these looms that could weigh in?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Some loom time today.......

I got some time at the loom today, not enough but what time I spent there felt great. Three more bags woven, three more to go on this warp.
Dark blue with some taupe
Light blue which doesn't look very light in this picture because I forgot to take a picture of it so had to catch it from underneath the loom as it was winding on the front beam
Pale greens, these are really pretty

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More rag tote bags on the horizon

More rag tote bags in the works, got the warp on today for 6 of them, blue fabrics cut and on shuttles ready to go.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Woven Rag Tote Bags

I finally got some time at the sewing machine yesterday to finish sewing together the rag tote bags. They're all lined with coordinating fabric and a pocket on the inside. The goal of weaving these and more to come is to rid my fabric cabinet of leftover cotton quilt fabrics, not sure I'm paring down the stash enough though. The bags are approximately 16" wide by 17" tall and around 3" wide at the bottom gusset. The strap is shoulder bag length. They'll make great knitting/project bags, grower's market bags, all around tote bags. They should be able to take quite a bit of weight but I wouldn't use them as a book bag full of heavy books or carry around bricks! They really aren't made to tolerate that much weight. Once I take better pictures they'll start showing up in my etsy shop. Still working on pricing, pretty much have the idea of what to charge but haven't firmed it up yet.
Medium Pink with pink english garden print lining
Light Pink with white/pink confetti print lining
Red with blue and white striped lining
Red with fun black & white cows on red fabric lining
Lavendar with tiny flowered lavendar lining
Purple with tiny purple flowers lining
These are the straps for the next 6 bags, hoping to get the warp on the loom tomorrow for them.

Monday, April 4, 2011

So......buttons on your underwear

Ok, so I don't know what that means. Whenever I'm talking to my friend Yvonne and say "So" - she quickly jumps in with "Sew (So) buttons on your underwear". It came to mind today when I dumped out bags of buttons on my work table, made me smile. There are hundreds of buttons - what a treasure! My cousin Jim sent them home with Sam yesterday for me (after they golfed) he found them in my Aunt Fran's stash that he's still going through. Now I'm trying to decide how to display them - maybe separate them into colorways and put them in canning jars. I haven't had time to go through them yet, will be a fun thing to do.....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I'm still here........

I'm still here......it feels like forever since I posted although it's only been a week and a half. I made two trips to the coast during this time so much of my time was spent there rather than weaving, spinning or knitting. I'm ready to get back to the studio this week.

One project I have been working on is Flat Stanley for my neice Anna back in Maryland. Flat Stanley arrived here folded up in an envelope with the story of how he was flattened by a bulletin board and can now travel easily all over the world. So, I took Flat Stanley all over Southwest Oregon to see the sites and put together a long report with many pictures to send back with him along with gummy candies from the coast for the entire 3rd grade class. Flat Stanley spent time here in Grants Pass going to Wildlife Images (wildlife rehab center), on a jet boat ride, river rafting, he also went to Crater Lake, Ashland, Jacksonville, Oregon Caves, The Oregon Vortex, California Redwoods, local farms and to the coast where he got to see the tall ships on their way up to Canada. Phew, I'm glad this project is finished up other than picking up a pile of brochures at the Visitor's Center and mailing it back.....this project and doing taxes have kept me out of the studio......but now both are done so it's time to play with fiber again.