Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Handmade rescue

Hello, friends. In between weaving and working in the garden, I've been doing a bit of redecorating at home. The guest room has a new coat of paint, new pillow shams and cases, and a few homey touches. I stopped at the local Goodwill to see if I could find a mirror in a nice frame that I could hang above the small dresser/bureau.

I'm not much of a thrift store shopper, so I don't know how commonly one finds pieces such as the one that I found languishing in the back corner of the store:

The embroidered piece is beautifully framed (check out the detail below) and has the maker's initials, "SW" and date (2000) stitched onto the fabric. The price: $4.99.

I can't even begin to guess how many hours the maker spent making this -- there are at least 20 different thread colors used and a variety of stitches. As an artisan, seeing this fine example of craftsmanship for sale at Goodwill made me a little bit sad. Did the person, "SW," who worked on this item pass away? Perhaps there was no friend or family member interested in her work. Or maybe a relationship went sour and whoever possessed the embroidery simply didn't have the need for it anymore.

Well, it has a new home with me, and I was proud of my 16 year old son who said, "Some people don't appreciate how much time it takes to make something like that." I cleaned up the glass, washed the frame with Murphy's Oil Soap (it was really dirty), and gave it a bit of polish.

Here it is in our guest room, where it seems right at home (I think I'll put it on the wall, above the dresser):

Do you ever wonder, dear readers, where your handmade items will end up someday? My experience at the Goodwill did give me pause. I hope that "SW", wherever she is, would be content knowing that her embroidered item is much appreciated and is a delightful addition to our home.

Be well,
Kate K.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Take me to the fair. Maybe.

Hello, friends. Here we are well into July and I have yet to write a post about my weaving activities. While I have been weaving quite a bit (especially on wee "Bug"), I tend to get distracted this time of year with gardening and other summertime activities. I've been especially intent on reducing the effects of the dreaded Asiatic Garden Beetle and His Fatty-ness, the resident woodchuck, on our vegetables and flowers.

My latest weaving project on the LeClerc is a four-shaft shadow weave scarf. It is warped and woven in alpaca and silk in black and lavender. I really like the way it is coming together. If you have seen my Facebook posts about the weaving, you are already familiar with the struggles I've had. (The pattern has a lengthy repeat - 48 ends - and it is hard to find a good rhythm). After some serious doubts about finishing the scarf, I decided for forge ahead. Progress is slow by steady. Here is the scarf as she stands today:

I love the way the scarf looks and feels. I'm thinking about keeping the scarf for myself or, possibly, saving it for a special gift. My experiences with the local artisan shows here tell me that this scarf, or perhaps any woven from this design and yarn, will garner attention but will most likely not find a buyer. Given the price of the yarns, the size of the scarf, the time invested in the design, warping, and most importantly, the painstakingly slow weaving of the piece, I can't price this item "attractively."

So, what to do with said piece? I think the item is a pretty good representation of my ability as a weaver. I'm thinking about entering the item in a popular local fair, The Deerfield Fair, which is held here in New Hampshire in September.

Have any of my lovely readers ever taken a handcrafted item (or, perhaps, a delightful lamb or bunny) to an agricultural fair? The particular fair I'm considering has been in existence for many years (138!) and is well-attended.

Perhaps I'll have good fortune, just like one of my all-time favorite movie characters, Esme Hoggett, who was a fierce competitor in the preserves/jams/jellies division of the country fair in the movie, "Babe. "

Esme Hoggett, champion
Do share your county fair entry experiences here! I always enjoy reading your posts! Thanks for reading.

Be well,
Kate K.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Should I give it a name?

Hello, friends. I took a road trip to Vermont earlier this week, and I brought home a new addition to the workshop on Monday. We have spent the last couple of days getting used to each other. I'm the proud owner of a new, well, really, "previously loved" Harrisville Designs loom:

I purchased the loom primarily for demonstration purposes at shows and our local "Londonderry Old Home Days" event in August, where I have done weaving and spinning demos for the last four years. After participating in several exhibits/shows over the last three years, I decided that having a loom as part of my display "package" could be potentially useful. By having a small loom "in action" in my booth, I can answer questions such as "how do you do that?" and "where did you buy your fabric?" (answer: I don't buy it, I make it) and "did you knit that?" I always bring photos of my loom with me to shows, but my small album just wasn't sufficient. I also think that having a working loom on site could help to draw people into the booth. (What do you think? Would having the loom clanging away be off-putting?)

The loom needed a few small adjustments (the third shaft was a bit off-kilter) and I still need to put on a couple of new washers, but I'm finding it to be very functional and useful. I did some sampling with a short warp (an experiment in trying to use a warping paddle) to determine loom waste and to just get used to working on the thing:

Overall, I'm really pleased with my purchase. I love the tool tray on the top, and I also like the simplicity of the direct tie loom. While the LeClerc Nilus II is still my primary loom, I think that the small Harrisville will earn her keep. And justify her footprint in the family room.

Have a happy day and thanks for reading!
Be well,
Kate K.