Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Scarf 63 & Scarf 64 Get Married

Last weekend I went to Vermont to celebrate the wedding of one of my dearest friends.  It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend of tranquil scenery and lovely new friends.  Here we are with the happy couple, standing in front of Sunset Lake, where the wedding was held.  (And yes, I admit, this photo does make us look like we're auditioning for roles as hobbits and giants.  Let's just say there's a little height difference.)  

These dear friends live in Boston, so naturally I wanted to make them scarves as a wedding gift.  She had been weaving when we got married and made us the loveliest throw pillows, so it was fun to weave her a wedding gift in return.
Knowing they liked deep, warm, earth colors, I started by yarn shopping at Gauge Knits and picked up some rust and eggplant and red and brown yarns.  I started with Scarf 63 for the groom and decided on stripes.  I alternated orange and red stripes with a thin line of dark teal running between them, and used a deep, dark brown as the weft yarn (the one that goes side to side) to tone everything down a bit.  
Here's Scarf 63 on the loom.  Below you can see it all woven up.

For the bride's scarf, I went for a lightweight ruffle.  Using the same red wool as Scarf 63 and a mohair/silk blend in the same rusty orange color, I added in a stripe of dark, eggplanty-purple.  Hers was woven in a thinner stripe, with alternating purple and red, with just a few lines of the orange mohair on the end for a frothy look.  I spaced the stripe yarns farther apart than usual so the scarf would have a gauzy openness and stay very lightweight.  I used the mohair as the weft (side to side) yarn, so that the whole thing is barely held together with these very thin, fuzzy threads.  

After  weaving it, I carefully pulled the threads along one side to create the ruffle.  The openness of the weave kept it from being too bulky, but the ruffle still provides the dimensionality that I like.  I hope she does too!

I know I'm a sap, but I love the Beatles' song When I'm 64 and am so pleased that this love scarf happened to be my 64th!  

Monday, July 23, 2012

When I'm 64: My Weekend Project

This weekend I made scarves for a beloved couple about to get married.  I'll post the full deets when they've said their I Do's, but here's a little sneak peek.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stormy Seas Treasury

I'm totally digging this treasury.  Look at all that lovely turquoise!  Don't you think gray and turquoise look lovely together?  I can't get enough.
It doesn't hurt that Scarf 19 is one of my most favorite scarves - the two grays are a special alpaca blend that are super soft and squishy.  It's also super long.  And of course, there's the turquoise.

It's only 79 degrees in Austin right now, which is approximately 30 degrees cooler than the hottest temperatures of the past week.  Not exactly scarf weather (even I can admit that).  But just today the wind began to blow, the clouds turned a little darker, and suddenly it felt . . . cool.  Yes, when you're used to triple digits, 79 actually feels cool.  The sky was gray, the breeze was reminiscent of the ocean, and then I came home and saw this treasury, the perfect picture of what I'd been feeling.

I can't stay inside a moment longer - I have to go for a walk to gaze at the clouds and fully appreciate this all-too-fleeting moment of cool.  I hope that wherever you are the weather is doing something nice, giving you a fresh breath of whatever you've been craving.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Make Good Art

The best advice, given by Neil Gaiman in a graduation speech at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and illustrated by Gavin Aung Than.  I encourage clicking through to see the rest of this comic on zenpencils (it's funny - you'll like it!) and viewing the commencement address on vimeo.  

You know that making good scarves was instrumental to my recovery when things got tough last year. And now I find that making things - art or craft, good or bad - is always a great tool to lift my mood and help me center, no matter what the problem.

The other secret weapon against tough times is to do something nice or helpful for someone else.  Bonus if you can make good art for someone else.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Headband

My favorite niece is turning seven today.  Seven!  What a great age!  To honor her birthday I did something I never do:  I followed a pattern.  In all my creative pursuits - cooking, knitting, crocheting, collage -  I usually make things up or modify an existing recipe heavily.  Weaving usually requires a lot of planning and math, but with my table loom it's very intuitive - very let's-see-how-this-goes - which suits me perfectly.  

If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I pin a lot of craft projects, but the honest truth is that I rarely make them.  Sometimes I riff off an idea, sure, but I rarely follow the pattern.  Then along came Maya Donnenfeld's new book, Reinvention.  You may recognize Maya's hugely popular coffee bean bins, which were a hit on etsy and led to her developing the patterns for this book.  All the projects use materials that had a previous life, from jeans and vintage linens to tyvek mailers.  I want to make about half of them, but I probably won't because, well, you know.  I don't follow patterns.

 But with a new seven-year-old in the making, I simply couldn't resist the allure of these sweet little Blossom Bands, as Maya calls them.  They're made from old t-shirts, which of course I just happen to have on hand (being the craft hoarder that I am), and stitched together by hand.  I mostly followed the pattern exactly as it's written, though I couldn't resist a little customization in the addition of some glow-in-the-dark yarn.  Who can resist glow-in-the-dark yarn?Here's the present all wrapped up and ready to go with another little t-shirt pom-pom on top.  Happy my-favorite-niece's-seventh-birthday to you all! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Dad, Padre, Papa by Natalie Kasif

I just couldn't wait to share this gorgeousness.  Do you see that birch journal in the second row?  So lovely.   I'm also loving the old-school-meets-high-tech elements, like the typewriter iPad stand and the distressed iPhone case.
Click on the caption to go to the treasury page and see all this gorgeousness up close.

Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Turn Old Newspapers Into Scarves

Photo courtesy of Emma Jeffery on Spoonflower

That was the subject line of an email from Spoonflower, the custom fabric printing service, and you can bet it caught my attention!  Spoonflower takes any image you upload and prints it on a variety of different fabrics.  This one is printed on silk, designed as a decorative (rather than winter) scarf.  The designer had a newspaper from the day her mother was born, so she scanned the images, arranged them in photoshop, and uploaded them to Spoonflower to make this scarf.  Voila!
See the full tutorial and all the original images on the Spoonflower Blog.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Place Mats

Yep, you read that right.  Place mats.  I've been commissioned to make custom place mats for a friend of my mother-in-law.  She has a set of sturdy cotton place mats that she's had for twenty years, but the colors are all wrong for her current decor.  She gave me this swatch and asked me to make place mats to match it.  I spent a good two hours with Suzanne, the owner of Hill Country Weavers, matching the yarn and calculating how much is needed of each color.  The colors to the left will be the most dominant and those on the right will be accents, just like the swatch.  The swatch is a plaid and the place mats will be more of an asymmetrical stripe.  What do you think?

It's doubtful that I will get to this project any time soon, but I couldn't wait to share it with you.  The brown and gray houndstooth scarf that I showed you at the end of April is still on the loom.  I've had two bad bouts with poison ivy in the past two months, the second which had my eyes swollen shut.  Between these episodes I've been catching up on work and haven't had as much time for weaving.

I had a vague idea a few months ago that I might try to complete all 100 scarves within a year, which would mean making 38 more scarves by August 1st.  I don't think that is going to happen, and I'm okay with that. Besides, place mats do not count as scarves and I do want to prioritize this project.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Treasury Time Is Here Again

I'm just loving the colors in these spring treasuries.  I'm biased, of course, but each treasury seems so perfectly crafted to show off the colors of my scarves.  Those luscious, mossy greens and fluffy creams.  Sigh.

Don't you just love how the yellow chevron pillows call out to Scarf 29, in all its yellow and white houndstooth glory?  And get a load of those teals and grays.  Those teals and grays are probably my favorite.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Thank you, fellow Etsians, for wrapping my scarves up in prettiness.

Moss by meaicp
Treat mama well... by Claudia Aguilar
Mix And Match by oneperfectday

Teal and Grey Scale by Luke Kelly

Monday, March 5, 2012

Scarf 61: Another Adventure in Ruffling

Well, that didn't take long, did it? I suppose once I say I'm going to do something, it's easier to get around to doing it. Having a beautiful sunny day to take photographs didn't hurt either.

So now, at long last, I'd like to introduce you to Scarf 61. Do you remember when I mentioned buying a little bit of red yarn at Dallas' White Rock Weaving Center back in January? Well, here it is, all woven in! It was specially picked from among the hundreds of yarns by the friend who commissioned this scarf. The red yarn is a shiny cotton; the black is a soft and strong wool/alpaca/nylon blend , which was used in Scarf 59 and Scarf 23. Together they make a lightweight scarf with a subtle ruffle.
Scarf 61 is a custom order, so it's on reserve in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Checking In

Hello, my friends. February went by fast, didn't it? I didn't stop by here to post a single word in all of February, and here we are in March already. A year ago today I found out I was pregnant. After years of hoping & waiting, I was finally pregnant. It wasn't until March 10th that I found out the pregnancy wasn't going to last, so March 4th was a day of happiness, relief, and excitement. The anniversary of that day seems like as good a time as any to check in with you and let you know what's been keeping me away.

I've been taking a little break from weaving since Christmas, focusing instead on miscarriage-prevention. I've done acupuncture and Mayan abdominal massage. I've given up wheat and cold food and raw food. I've taken my temperature every day. I've taken supplements and tinctures and herbal teas every day. I've read books about fertility and hormones and miscarriage. I've read books about Victorian and Regency-period British detectives. I've peed in cups and taken tests and charted symptoms. I've joined fertility support groups. I've joined miscarriage support groups. I've done lots of yoga.

Yes, that's right. Lighthearted historical British mysteries are critical to a well-designed fertility regimen, in my experience. Doubly effective are series based on favorite characters of classic literature, such as the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mysteries or the Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes mysteries. (There's no research on this; you'll just have to trust me.)

I've also been working a lot of extra hours to pay for all these extra treatments and supplements and classes and gluten-free brownies (yeah, you'll have to trust me on their necessity as well). And all of these activities, to a certain extent, explain my lack of time at the loom and on the blog. But I've also been kept away by the fear that my emotional state might bleed into my writing a little more than I'd like.

Paul Simon sings, "losing love is like a window in your heart / everybody sees you're blown apart / everybody feels the wind blow," and I wonder if it's true for the black hole in my heart, if you can read between the lines to discover the heavy darkness that sits in my chest, even when I'm happy. And I have been happy at times. I've stayed true to my intention to make 2012 the year of being happy with what I have. But you can't want something with all your heart that you have no means of bringing into your experience - even with the best of intentions to stay happy - without a little taste of darkness.

One of the most dangerous and delicate and destructive aspects of the experience of infertility is hope. Hope is the opposite of being happy with what you have. The challenge, then, is to steadfastly pursue your goal without hope of achieving it. What?! I know, I know. It's insane. How can you stay motivated? Good question. I don't know. What's worked for me at times is to focus only on my present task, without letting my mind race to the next step or the implications of success. I break it down into manageable pieces.
Can I give up gluten? Yes. Can I do it with joy? Hmmmm . . . oh, gluten-free brownies! . . . Yes. Can I remember to take my supplements on time? Yes. Can I stop thinking about how much I'd rather be holding a baby and do my work with integrity? Yes. At least most of the time.

By focusing on the sunlight on the tree outside my window, the beloved cat snoozing on my desk, the comfort of a warm cup of tea - in other words, by staying present and acknowledging the goodness that surrounds me - I am able to stay away from the what-ifs and if-onlys. That's not to say that they never come calling. It's impossible to work so hard to achieve something that will turn your life upside down without wondering if your efforts will pay off. But it helps.

So, if you were wondering, that's what I'm doing. I'm crying the tears and acknowledging the feelings and doing the work of staying present. I'm examining my underlying assumptions. I'm letting myself learn the lessons that I never wanted to learn.

Little by little, I will get back to the loom. The picture above is of Scarf 61, the only scarf I've made since Christmas. I hope to have it finished and photographed to share with you soon.

In the meantime, I hope that March treats you well. I hope that if you are facing challenges you never asked for that the tree, the cat, and the cup of tea are there for you as well.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Treasuries

And, lest we think Scarf 39 had stolen the spotlight, here are three more January Etsy Treasuries featuring my scarves. It's always interesting to see who chooses them, what they're paired with, and what they look like in a grouping. Treasuries are like window shopping in an eclectic neighborhood of personal boutiques - they're always a treat to explore. Thanks, Treasury-Makers!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sudden Popularity of Scarf 39

Scarf 39 has been gaining a following lately. Many thanks to the awesome Etsians who found it and selected it for these treasuries!

Isn't it interesting that it often shows up in the same spot?

Scarf 39 was purchased on Etsy and is on its way to its new owner in New Jersey. Have a happy life, Scarf 39!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dallas, Part 3: White Rock Weaving Center

On Sunday I popped over to White Rock Weaving Center with a friend who had commissioned a black and red ruffle scarf. She wanted to find just the perfect shade of red, so we thought we'd check out their yarn stash and learn more about the looms and everything else they offer. If you're in Dallas and you're interested in weaving, it's definitely worth stopping by. They offer lots of classes in weaving, spinning, and basket weaving, and have looms of all shapes and sizes for sale.
One thing they do that I think is so cool is let you keep your loom there after you buy it. All the looms are on wheels and they fold up so you can move it around wherever you need to when you're taking a class, then park it in the loom garage when you're done. Seriously - the loom garage. How awesome is that? Here's a snap of the loom garage, about half full since there were so many people taking classes when we were there.
And of course they had tons and tons of yarn too. We did manage to find just the perfect shade of red in just the perfect thickness and feel, which they kindly measured and wound up for us. They took so much time with us, calculating and measuring the yarn, and in the end it only cost two dollars.
Here's just a tiny sampling of their yarn (and of course some more parked looms).

I got to chat with a very nice lady working on a blanket while the yarn was being calculated, and I learned a few neat little tips and tricks from her. With the exception of the very first beginner class that I took to learn how to weave on a small loom, I haven't been around weavers or weaving very much. I bought a little book with handy weaving tips which I'm looking forward to incorporating. I also got a new book for Christmas with all kinds of new patterns and processes, so it may be time for me to stretch my wings a little and try some more experimentation. Hooray for weaving!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dallas, Part 2: Jean Paul Gaultier

I have a confession to make: I'm not that into fashion. In fact, "not that into" might be an overstatement. I really could not care less. I realize this is a strange admission from someone making and selling fashion accessories, but it's the truth. Part of the appeal of scarves is that they can pull together or spice up an otherwise boring outfit. Since I teach yoga almost every day and am consequently almost always wearing black pants and a black t-shirt, scarves save the day.
So when I saw that the Dallas Museum of Art had an exhibit on Jean Paul Gaultier, I didn't care. "Not my thing," I thought. Fortunately, some friends took me in hand and told me in no uncertain terms that I had to see it, and I'm glad they did!
Of course I couldn't take photos from inside the exhibit, so this is just the entrance. It doesn't begin to show off the extravagant details inside. They really went all out, designing the space and using technology for high impact. As you enter the exhibit, there's an array of mannequins with films of people's faces projected onto the mannequins' faces. It's eerily realistic - it looks like a bunch of very white people standing around very still. Some of the mannequins talk and sing and some of them just occasionally blink or yawn.
In case you're wondering, there wasn't a single scarf in the whole exhibit. Gaultier takes the opposite of the scarves-let-you-get-away-with-boring-clothes approach. Every element of his costumes and outfits are carefully considered and decorated to the max. Not only do you not need a scarf to spice things up, you couldn't possibly add anything to the mix. And, while that's not my thing, it was wonderful to see in a museum exhibit.

As an artist, it's always inspiring to see someone exploring their vision with a limited set of materials in a limited context. Though, of course, Gaultier's materials may be less limited than most fashion designers - there was one dress made of film strips! Still, how cool is that? If film strips were soft, I'd love to make scarves out of them.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk will be in Dallas through Feburary 12th, when it will move on to its second and last American showing at the de Young in San Francisco. If you get the chance, I highly recommend seeing it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dallas, Part 1: Thanks-Giving Square

I'm up in Dallas for a few days, joining Henry on a business trip and taking time to visit family and friends. In spite of my three-week absence from this blog, I'm always thinking about it, and I remembered to bring along my camera so I could share my relevant adventures.

After dropping Henry and the car off at the convention center in downtown Dallas, I took a chilly stroll over to Thanksgiving Square, the "Center of American and World Thanksgiving." Since this is my year of being happy with what I have, giving thanks is a daily practice (though shouldn't it always be?). Thanksgiving Square has a museum, chapel, outside fountains, and lots to explore, but I was limited in my time and mostly hung around with the pigeons around the Ring of Thanks. There are a series of prompts leading up to the Ring of Thanks and then you step through it at the end, being conscious of your blessings. Pretty cool and powerful stuff for a public park.

I think every time we take time to be consciously grateful, we step through a ring of thanks to a brighter and calmer experience on the other side.

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