Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bokeh-Macro : Weeks 21 and 22 Let's Do 52

Bokeh/Blur and Macro : Tomatillo Husk

1 step away from the compost bucket.  
Too pretty to let go of just yet. 

I am participating in Denise Love's 2017 "Let's Do 52 : 52 Weeks of Photo Prompts" to kick start the lull in my photography.   If you'd like to join us, find out more at the link above.  The more the merrier!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hand Made Boat Shuttles for Weaving

I think it's time I admitted I've become a collector of weaving shuttles -- So many woods, so many shapes and each one serves a purpose.  Some work better than others on the looms I have.  But you don't know until you try them out.  ;-)

One of the things I greatly enjoy about weaving is that you can make some of your own tools--which I have done at times.

My friend Lynda let me borrow a boat shuttle made from a dogwood tree on her father's property.  The shuttle is special to Lynda because she made it with her Dad, and it fits perfectly in her hands.  Dogwood has traditionally been used to make weaving shuttles because it's hard -- it literally takes a beating and develops a fine polish just by passing through the shed created by the open warp strings to weave a line.

Since I've had it in my possession, I've been studying it ---  Trying to figure out how I could make one myself.  It looks simple enough -- hollow out the middle, cut out/shape the ends, sand it down and finish it off.   I've been making stick buttons simply enough, getting comfortable with the table saw and the drill press, and the chosen finishes.  I took measurements, drew it out, looked for other shuttles online -- nothing is quite like this one in shape or width.  Looked for hardwoods I might want to work with ...   Mmmmmh!  There is some gorgeous wood out there!  Even the blanks are expensive, though.  There are other designs too, where you'd glue different types of wood together for a layered effect.

There are the competing ideas of using a piece of exotic hardwood from some far off rain forest, and using something from my own yard, or my Dad's woods (like Lynda did with the dogwood).

This would require getting a band saw ($400), and learning to use it.  Learning to use a router; working up multiple practice pieces before I get it right; Working out a pattern.  Lots of wasted time and wood, and frustration.  (Here I go back to that poor little misshapen birdhouse I made in shop class in junior high -- Ugh!)  I'd need a better way to do the sanding, too.  And I could easily get carried away buying beautiful wood blanks to have yet another stash of raw materials I never get around to using.  And the finishing is always messy.

Another Option : I could also contract with a wood worker (local or via the internet ) and commission exactly what I'm looking for.  

I finally concluded that:
  • Dogwood is hard to come by these days.  You can't really purchase it online.  You pretty much have to know someone who has a dogwood tree that's dying, and is willing to give you a chunk before they burn it up for firewood.
  • There are many artisan woodworkers out there making BEAUTIFUL weaving shuttles, like these :
Padauk Boat Shuttle by Maximum Warp
Padauk Boat Shuttle by Maximum Warp - back view
Padauk Boat Shuttle by Maximum Warp - side view
    • George Jagger at Maximum Warp in Ottawa, Canada, made this beautiful boat shuttle out of this red Padauk wood from South Africa.  I have a special place in my heart for Padauk, that's why I ordered this one in particular. 

    • HandWoven Design 

    • Bluster Bay Woodworks 
    • I bought this Bluster Bay mustasche profile boat shuttle at Wool Gatherers in Fond du Lac.  It was something I wanted to feel in my hands before investing the $$.  Obviously I decided it's worth it, since I brought it home with me!  It has a wonderful finish and a nice weight to it.  This one is Black Cherry.  I really like the feel of it -- and of course the beauty of the wood.
    • Jim Hockett
    • HandyWoman     Janet Fox makes nice entry-level and practical shuttles for weaving.  She seems to cater to the rigid heddle crowd -- the looms that suck in the knitters who have a big yarn stash.   I have a few Handy Woman shuttles already!   The red one is Brazilian Rosewood and the wider one is oak, designed for rigid heddle looms that may have a narrow shed opening.  These shuttles have a rougher finish, not quite so smooth, but they are certainly functional!  Handy Woman offers a wide variety of wood choices and shuttle styles.  Keep looking back at her website, as her stock and styles turn over quite rapidly.  She is very reasonably priced, too.
  • These woodworkers have already mastered their craft.  Why not support them?  
  • It would be cheaper in the long run to purchase a handmade beautifully-crafted boat shuttle (or several), than to tool-up, learn the skills, and make my own.
  • Unless I want to start a new hobby ...   
  • Vintage 1980s SHUTTLE
  • I picked up this like new "vintage" shuttle on eBay.  Funny to think about anything from the 1980s being vintage, as that's when I was a teenager.  I guess that makes me vintage, too!
  • And this beauty!  Antique hardwood weaving shuttle from the 1800s--another eBay find.  It's been well-used through the years, but is still in good shape.  It's got a nice patina on it.  I'm pretty sure this one is dogwood.    I am certainly planning to use this one myself!
    After I cleaned it up, and gave it a restorative coat of revitalizing oil, I discovered these little stars on the handles, and some indents for thumbs.  Very nice detail!  Not sure if the thumb prints were built in, or put there with constant use?  
    • This is the one that came with my current floor loom.  It's about 2 inches wide, and feels good in my hand.  It's big enough that it stays straight and true when I throw it through the shed.  I'm not sure of the brand, but Lynda assured me it was a top-of-the-line hardwood shuttle.  It looks like there was a label inside the bobbin case, but it has fallen off through years of good use.  Who knows : I might already own a dogwood shuttle!  Anyone recognize this one by brand?
    I might still be motivated to make one of my very own weaving shuttles some day.  Let my Dad and Unca Ray pick a good specimen from the woods (Cherry or Maple or Apple or even Pear).   But now I won't be paralyzed with ruining an expensive piece of exotic wood with my amateur attempts to learn the craft and get it right.  There are parts of woodworking I love -- the smell of fresh cut sawdust; seeing the wood come alive with the right finish.   There are parts I hate : Sanding, finishing.

    And still-- there are many designs floating around in my head ...  This might not be the end it! 

    And still -- I'd rather be weaving!  Actually -- that's the trouble.  I'm still waiting for the new 12-dent reed to come.  It's currently on back order at Yarn.com who now says it won't be back in stock until July!   Since I've already been waiting 3 weeks for it, I cancelled that order, and ordered it from The Woolery instead.  They mailed it out on the very same day.  They have excellent customer service!

    So instead of twiddling my thumbs, I've been surfing the web for gorgeous weaving implements.  
    I think I'm done for a while, though!

    This reminds me of the scene from Detectorists were Lance is telling the story about the guy who started collecting cacti, and soon had to move out of his place into a bigger house -- just for his growing cacti collection.  

    Monday, May 15, 2017

    Long Exposure : Week 20 Let's Do 52

    Long Exposure

    I realize Denise might have been trying to get us to work with the settings on our cameras and literally try some long exposure with this prompt ...  I also know how much she appreciates old and abandoned sites, as she finds some wonderful textures there.

    I took a walk this wkd and found this barn, long-exposed to the elements.  As you can see, it is not aging well.  No one is taking care of it anymore.  No one can afford to.  I'm sure the next time I go by, it will have completely collapsed, or been bulldozed to make way for a new home.

    Photo Processing :
    Layer 1) Old Barn Pic
    Layer 2) Jerry Jones Texture Photo Grunge #4 - Multiply 100% (to fix the blown out sky)
    Layer 3) Copy Layer 2 - Overlay 43% (to brighten it up a bit)

    Here's another -- more stormier version.  The main difference is a purple stormy texture :

    I am participating in Denise Love's 2017 "Let's Do 52 : 52 Weeks of Photo Prompts" to kick start the lull in my photography.   If you'd like to join us, find out more at the link above.  The more the merrier!

    Sunday, May 14, 2017

    Fiber Frolic Spring 2017

    Lynda and I went on tour for the Rites of Spring 2017 Fox Valley Fiber Frolic last wkd.

    We started with Lindago Alpaca Farm, not far from Lynda's house.  Lindago has a large needle punch felting machine, and they will allow people to rent time on it for $20 / hour.  Lynda is looking forward to working with this machine.  She and Linda from Lindago may be offering some needle punch felting classes in the near future ...

    At Lindago, I got a very reasonably-priced 1/2-batt of black alpaca fiber mixed with sheep's wool.  She said it was 2nd rate, and that was why it was so cheap.  In my mind, it's soft, already carded, clean, and suitable for my purposes.  I'm still looking for something to mix with the very fine Maggie Newfie fur and Keba fur so I can spin it.  This looks to be about the right color black.

    I also got this lovely pair of fingerless gloves made by "Elizabeth" at Classic Alpaca, though Fair Trade.

    Then we trekked out to Sabamba Alpaca Farm with B&B.  Lynda wanted another grey fleece from Abraham.  I am so enjoying spinning the alpaca roving I got there last fall, that I wanted more ...  No roving this time, but I did get a nice creamy soft fleece from "Zak."  The nice thing about the alpaca fleeces is that I don't have to wash them, like sheep fleeces (unless they are really dirty).  Alpaca fleeces don't have the lanolin / sunt (sheep sweat) that the sheep fleeces have.

    Mrs. Sabamba had a bag of a prize-winning fleece there with the scorecard from the last competition.  Very impressive.  She explained to us about the crimp.  Their fleeces tend to have a longer staple length, and if the crimp goes the whole length of the lock, you know it was a happy alpaca.  If they lose the crimp at any stage, you can tell that they were stressed in some way.  Very interesting.

    Just like big dogs ... sort of.

    Self Portrait : Week 16 Let's Do 52

    Apple Blossom Tattoo - Self Portrait
    I used one of my own textures for the background.

    A lot of photographers seem to relish being BEHIND the camera, not in front of it.  Even I am not all that comfortable seeing pictures of myself (Who IS that person?), so the idea of doing a self-portrait is fraught with issues.

    I know there's a whole movement of people doing selfies on their smart phones.  Ironically, that camera eye on my iPhone was damaged probably in removing/installing its protective shell/case.  So I can't easily do Selfies.  No great loss!

    A few weeks ago, there was something circulating on FaceBook about a photographer who takes pictures of people BEHIND the things they love.  You never see their faces, as the thing they love covers the face. 

    Still shy ...

    Still shy ...

    Did I mention I also like rust?  
    Here I am hiding behind a metal garden sculpture made by Lee Smith.

    All right -- You wanted to see the real me.  Here I am ...

    I am participating in Denise Love's 2017 "Let's Do 52 : 52 Weeks of Photo Prompts" to kick start the lull in my photography.   If you'd like to join us, find out more at the link above.  The more the merrier!

    Saturday, May 13, 2017

    DYI Dizzy Diz

    Simple Diz made of Lilac Wood

    I also a very simple Diz.  What the heck is a diz, you ask?  It's basically a 1/4-inch hole that you pass combed or carded fiber through to make roving -- which makes it easier for spinning into yarn.  Usually, I just spin from the batts made on my carder, and skip the dizzing step.  But I was recently reminded how spinning from roving is even easier.

    My friend Lynda was lamenting that she had all this fiber, but no way to turn it into roving, which would make it easier to dye.  Lucky I took that spinning class 20 years ago!  There, I learned about dizzes -- You can buy fancy ones, but why?  All it is is a hole -- In the class, I remember I made a very simple diz by cutting the corner off of a recycled tofu container.  Worked great back then!

    2 dizzes - Side view and top view. Very simple made from recycled tofu containers. 

    This time, I took a few of the larger Lilac rounds, and drilled 2 sizes of holes for different gauges of roving.  This will work fine for me, though Lynda may want a larger bored hole for thicker / denser roving.

    Anything with a 1/4-inch hole will work.  a button or a bead, or a wooden wheel off of a child's toy. Lynda may even end up using a recycled water bottle or milk jug with the bottom cut off to get the wider bore she'll need for denser roving.  The shape will also help to funnel the fiber into the whole and get the fibers going in the same direction. 

    Here are some fancier dizzes. Just so you can see what else is out there.

    And this is how you use it :
    How to Prepare Wool Fiber with a Diz  This one show using the diz with a hackle :

    How to Prepare Wool Fiber with a Diz

    A diz is used when making a combed top. It is a disc or oval made of wood, plastic, or cardboard with a 1 to 2 i...

    Spinning a batt- Dizzing

    I demonstrate dizzing a batt into roving to spin. Learn More at http://www.ccfibers.com

    Quilted Going-Places Bag

    I commissioned this quilted "going places" bag (some would call it a purse) from Pat Schneider, a local quilter, gifted with a wonderful sense of color.  She is also a superb technician when it comes to quilting and sewing.  She really knows what she's doing!

    She had a booth at the Lakeside Quilt Show a few weeks ago, where I commissioned this bag.  She had samples of possible fabrics already quilted that you could choose from.  I fell in love with this blue and rust batik.  It was a smallish piece, and she wasn't sure there would be enough fabric to make this bag.  Fortunately, she was able to squeeze out all the pieces for me. 

    Here it is from the back side, with another pocket and piping. 

    And here's a shot of the inside.  I asked her to put in a light-colored lining because I think that makes it easier to see and find your stuff inside the bag.  Lots of pockets - and more piping. 

    I am taking a couple of big trips this summer, and am looking forward to traveling with this beauty!

    Thank you, Pat! I am very happy with my new bag!

    Sunday, May 07, 2017

    Food : Week 18 Let's Do 52

    Peaches with Blueberries 
    and a little Bite-Your-Butt Spicy Sweet Honey Mustard as sauce

    I am participating in Denise Love's 2017 "Let's Do 52 : 52 Weeks of Photo Prompts" to kick start the lull in my photography.   If you'd like to join us, find out more at the link above.  The more the merrier!