Upcycling clothes into rugs!

Upcycling clothes into rugs!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wait -- it's almost the end of June? I lost a few weeks somewhere!

Well, last week the family went on vacation to Fairfield Glade, Tennessee. It is a beautiful place, very green and hilly, which I always appreciate after living in flat as a board Illinois. But you don't want to hear about our vacation. You really don't. There would be words like "nausea", "diarrhea", "intestinal cramps" and of course "thunderstorms and record rainfall".
The only bright spot in the whole week was when Justin pulled out a small box and asked Katie to marry him. Tears were shed. Facebook posts were instantly texted. So between now and next June 9, there may some wedding posts. I apologize in advance, but I've been waiting 21 years for my baby to be a bride, and I'm going to go whole hog.
I posted a handful of jewelry on Etsy over the last two days, and I'm really interested to see how my "pi" necklaces do. I think they're adorable, but all parents think their offspring is wonderful. See, you find the bullseye bead. That's the decimal. The three yellow beads to the left start it off.... 3.14 etc. To 100 places to pi! Because I use odds and ends of bright colored beads, each is a unique creation...and a possible source of cheating in class. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Can I Have Another Weekend?

Sorry about the lack of posts. Prom was this past weekend, and I was in a whirl of dresses, ties, corsages, and pictures. Glad that's over with. I will try to post a pic of the fabric corsage I made my son's date. It took a long while, especially since I decided I needed to use tissue lame' which slithers around like an alien lifeform while you're trying to tack it in place. But I needed metallic silver to match her dress, so I didn't have a whole lot of choices.
Katie came home for the weekend and worked on scraping old loose paint in the basement, washing down walls with Pine-Sol and bleach. Fumes wafted up from the basement, chasing me out to the front porch to do cutting and balling as I tried to cut enough strips to finish my jean rug.
I blame the fumes, or the stress of getting everyone out the door to prom on time, but I made a LARGE boo-boo. I finished weaving the jean rug, threw in a few spacer rags, and cut it off the loom. WITHOUT A SELVEDGE!!! I don't think I've ever made that mistake before. I tried tying the ends without a selvedge. Yuck. So I machine-stitched across the weft and chopped the warp off short. Looks unfinished. Maybe I'll turn the ends under and hand-stitch them. Sigh. Poor rug -- it started out so well, and ended up being screwed up totally.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

WIDE warp

Continuing the story of the wide warp -- it took probably three hours to finish warping this monster. 
This is the warp completely pulled through the heddles, and tied loosely in groups. This pic is actually from the front of the loom, and here is where I switch my chair from the back to the front, reaching over the beater bar and the front beam to work on it. 
Now, one by one, I pull the warp threads through the reed with a hook that looks like a giant crochet hook. At this point, you can start to see the patterns and color combinations coming together.
Then I tie the warp onto the apron bar and start adding my mother's secret spacers: cereal box cardboard strips.

 Please be assured that Simple Dog is watching over every step of this operation. Especially if I have snacks involved. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Warping up

I know I've read in a lot of weavers' blogs and books about very complicated methods of warping a loom, but I only know one way. It takes a lot of time, patience, and ipod music to get through the whole process. The first step is to decide what colors of warp to use.  Then you haul out the warping board, that  looks like a medieval torture device. Someone made it for my mother about forty years ago.

It has 28 huge nails in the bottom, and heavy staples in the board across the top.

With supervision from the Simple Dog, Jon and I decided on a mix of colors, framed by black and white.

Each warp must be threaded up through the staples and through the Official Metal Hanger Thingy, in specific order. Then the bunch of threads are taped to the back beam and wound around and around -- twenty times in this case.

You really should keep track of how many times each section gets wound. Of course, this supposes you live in a world where your children don't call your name half a dozen times, your husband doesn't ask you questions while you're doing this, and the dog doesn't have to pee Right Now!

Now the backbreaking part of the job. Each section (24 threads in this case) must be taken one thread at a time, over the back beam and put through metal heddles. I have a four harness loom, and each thread must go in a heddle in the correct order of harnesses. I'm doing plain weave or tabby weave, so the pattern is 4 3 2 1 on the right side of the loom and 1 2 3 4 on the left side. Again, don't get distracted, or you'll end up having to redo this part. This step can take hours, especially since sitting bent over the back beam with your arms extended to the middle of the loom is uncomfortable to say the least. I tend to work in spurts, interspersed with things like... writing on my blog.

There's still more to be done, but at this point I've put in a lot of hours today working on this, and I'm done. I like the color combination. Sarah says it looks Mexican, which I can see -- it does sort of look like a serape.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do Not Adjust Your TV Set

My husband and son have discovered the design feature of Blogger, and are busy playing with my header and background. I fully expect it to be plaid with purple polka dots next..... I feel like the Looney Tunes cartoon where the artist is continually erasing Daffy Duck's scenery and drawing in weird things. The red and the bright orange of the T-shirt post are a little cringe-worthy, I know.  I have pictures of the T-shirt rug I'm working on, but I just don't have the courage to post a bright yellow/blue/orange/green rug in the midst of this right now. Just keep checking in, and who knows what you'll see next!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

T-shirts into rugs

I have spent the last two days working on cutting up Jon's old t-shirts into 'yarn' in order to weave it into rugs. Luckily for me, he had a lot of bright orange, green and blue shirts that will be colorful and cheerful in their new incarnation as soft, durable rugs.
The best t-shirts for this project don't have a large area of rubbery imprints. Stains, rips, and tears, however, will probably not even show up once they're cut up.
Start at the bottom of the shirt and cut along the hem. I usually cut strips as wide as the knuckle on my thumb to the tip of my thumb. Handy measuring tool to have along! Once you've cut all the way around the hem, start spiraling up the shirt, keeping the strips as consistent as possible.
The fun part is, once you've begun cutting the strips, you can stretch the material a bit and it will roll up into a coil, looking sort of like yarn.
I definitely love to recycle clothes that otherwise would head to the landfill into something beautiful and useful. Just wait till I get to weaving with these beauties -- soft, durable, bright rugs!!

A New Beginning

I lost access to my old blog, so I'm starting over. In more ways than one. I've had my Etsy site up for about a month now, and made three sales, which thrilled/petrified/astonished me beyond belief. Now I just need time to weave, and get my supplies together. Katie will be home from college in less than a month, and the plan right now is to make over the basement for her room (with the Ulterior Motive of making it into a weaving studio once she's out on her own).
As for my story, I am a fourth-generation weaver, and I learned at my grandmother's knee. My great-grandfather had a huge iron-beamed Union loom that he wove rugs on exclusively, and sold to the neighbors, along with Watkins products and the honey and beeswax he collected from his hives. My great-aunt Hazel continued the practice, although she did tend toward the scary bright double-knit materials, which made rugs that were hideous, but lasted forever. My grandmother was the first to branch out into smaller and more complex looms, weaving baby blankets, shawls, tablecloths and more on her Schacht looms. She raised me, and I knew how to tie fringe knots before I knew how to tie my shoes. My biological mother, being the butterfly that she was, never lit long enough to learn to weave much, but she did carry my grandmother's handwovens to St. Louis, where she sold them hand over fist for exorbitant amounts. When I married, I left weaving behind for quite a few years, as I was busy raising babies. My children, though, spent lots of time at "Nana"'s house, and they all picked up weaving quite handily. My son actually tends to be the best of us all, as he's very picky about his selvedges.
When we moved into the country, I was given a 46" 4 harness Schacht loom, which I must admit, I have neglected more than I should have. But now, I'm trying to get my weaving business off the ground, which takes a whole lot of work.