Sunday, November 27, 2011

How Knitters Say "Happy Holidays!"

This is not a new idea. Like a thousand other knitters, I got the idea from the wreaths Starbucks had in their stores a couple of years ago. I finally got around to making one for my front door.

My mom liked mine so much, she asked me to make her one, which (being the good daughter that I am), I did this morning.

This may be the easiest project you'll ever do with yarn. Get yourself an 18" wire wreath form ($2.99 at Michaels) and a bunch of styrofoam balls in different sized. I used 12 3" balls, 6 2.5" inch, 12 2", and 12 1.5". This is the most expensive part of the project, since styrofoam is evidently far more costly than I ever imagined. Michaels has the best prices I could find, and if you print out some online coupons, you can get them more reasonably. Grab some leftover yarn in whatever colors you want (or pick up some cheap acrylic while you're at Michaels), and whatever other ornaments you want (I bought a bag of mixed miniature glitter balls at Michaels for $4.99).

Wrap yarn around the styrofoam balls until you can't see any styrofoam and tuck the end a few strands to hold it in place. When all the balls are wrapped, heat up your hot glue gun and get to work! It took me about an hour and a half to wrap the yarn, and another hour to put it all together.

If you have to buy everything, including yarn, glue gun, and glue sticks, this project will run you $40-50. If you already have a glue gun and yarn, and you use coupons for the styrofoam, you can get it down to about $20, which is pretty reasonable. You don't have to use Christmas colors, of course. You could make one in blue and white for Hanukkah, or pastels for spring, or autumn colors for fall, or whatever you want for any time of year.

I suspect my door may be graced with yarn ball wreaths year round from here on out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Does eBay Know Something I Don't?

I went on eBay yesterday to look for weaving shuttles. I put in my search, and up popped "Items Recommended for You":

Do you think they're trying to tell me something?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I now know why people weave.

I wove this yesterday:

This is a 9" wide scarf, 8 feet long. And it took me--a brand new weaver--one day.

That includes the warping, the weaving, and the braiding of the fringe.

I used an ugly yarn I was never going to knit, but I think I like how it looks woven. Close up, you can see all the different colors, but from a bit of a distance, it just looks like tweed.

I haven't "wet finished" it yet, mostly because I'm not sure exactly how. From what I understand, wet finishing is the weaving equivalent of wet blocking, except it's more vigorous. The goal is to "full" the fabric to get the fibers to lock together and blend into a unified fabric--so essentially a mild felting. It seems the usual way to do this is to throw it in the washing machine, but I think I'll try it by hand first. After all, it may not be beautiful, but it is my first project, and I'd rather not ruin it right off the bat.

I would totally warp for a new project right now, but my entire stash is currently bagged up and sealed in boxes, so it will have to wait until my house gets put back together. Or until I lose patience and rip into the boxes. Any guesses which will come first?

Monday, November 14, 2011


...that doesn't look like a floor loom.

The chaos in my house continues, and I'm going to blame that.

This is an Ashford rigid heddle loom (24"). I bought it today from a local fiber friend who teaches spinning and weaving. She gave me a free, 2-hour private lesson, and taught me about floor looms at the same time.

Ignore the ugly yarn. It was the result of an ill-advised online purchase several years ago. I'm using it for my first weaving project because it was in the "get rid of" box, which is the only part of my stash I can currently access, due to the ongoing decontamination of my yarn room. Looking at this yarn makes my head hurt and makes me feel like I might have a seizure if I look at it too long. Interestingly, it is much less offensive in its woven state that either in the ball or knitted, which makes me wonder if some of my uglier stash yarn might have a new life as weaving yarn.

The rehab of Sabina the Floor Loom continues, with major effort concentrating on rust removal. I've almost got her in useable condition, but until I get my knitting room back, I have nowhere to set her up...and I guess I'm even less patient than I thought.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


On any other day, the current state of my dining room...

my living room...

and my brand new, impromptu "clean room"...

...would probably be making me crazy. There are are scary loud noises coming from various parts of my house, I have my first cold in five and a half years (thanks to going out to breakfast with my best friend and her infectious preschooler), I lost my glasses somewhere between taking this picture in the living room and transferring the pictures to my computer in the family room, and it's pouring down rain while my kid is at a parade competition with his very expensive and water-sensitive musical instrument. Despite all this, I can't stop giggling. It could be the cold medicine, but I think it's this:

Posted in my living room...and in Spanish, just to be sure everyone who lives in my house understands!

Friday, November 11, 2011


According to the conversation we just had with our insurance adjuster, our claim IS covered! Huge relief here. I've been very worried for the past week, as an ever-increasing number of workers have paraded through my house, shaking their heads discouragingly and cutting up more and more of my house in the process.

Yesterday a team of mold remediation guys showed up. Very distressing. There was no mold a week ago. Now there is. In my imagination, there is a great, fuzzy, black monster gradually working its way through my walls, eating everything in sight.

The restoration guys are on their way right now to "pack out" the areas that need repair. (Areas that include the fully-loaded china cabinet in my dining room and a 700 pound wall unit in my living room--also fully loaded--as well as most of my knitting room). Tomorrow the mold guys are supposed to start "demolition." And then I have to get the plumber back to replace the plumbing in the bathroom that caused the problem. And all of that has to happen before the restoration guys can start repairing the damage.

Do you think I can get away with a Thanksgiving barbeque on the back patio with paper plates? Because I think that's about all I'm going to be able to manage.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Um...Now What?

My house remains a minor disaster area. In addition to the industrial de-humidifiers running night and day, we now have soggy drywall and broken tile adding to the ambiance, and a steady drip into a bucket that was not all that alarming until the restoration guys who came by last night advised us to shut off the water to the house to prevent the pipe from bursting while we were sleeping. We decided this was good advice and did as they said. The insurance company still hasn't told us whether they're paying for the damage, but at this point, it's almost moot. They will cover whatever damage is done in finding the problem, even if they later don't approve the claim, which means they have to pay to put everything back together. In this case, that means they essentially have to repair everything anyway.

And I have found a new way to distract myself from the chaos. I picked this up last night (craigslist, $120):

It is marked "Sabina folding loom," made by Loom Craft Studios, Wilmington, Ohio. It came folded up--nice, as it is only about 18 inches deep when folded, meaning it can be stored against a wall without taking up much room. With the aid of some photos printed off Ravelry and the help of my engineer-husband, I got it unfolded this morning.

From the little information I could find online, these were made between 1939 and 1949. They came in at least three different sizes. Mine appears to have a 33" weaving width, judging from what I think are the reeds.

That would be these, I believe. If I'm wrong, someone please tell me. As you can see, there are three of them, and unless I am more confused than I think I am, these go into the beater bar to...uh...pack the weft together (I'm sure there's a technical term for that) as you weave. They are rusty, but don't appear rough or pitted, so I think I can clean them up and use them.

I think these are treadles (this is the back of the loom), and there are six of them, but two are missing the chains that attach them to the things they lift up and down. I think those are the heddles? (Can you tell I know nothing at all about weaving? I ordered a book but it won't be here for a couple of days.)

I mean these things:

The ones with the cords attached on the right side of picture. They lift up when I push on the treadles. What I don't understand (well, among many other things) is why there are only four of them when there are six of the treadles. Anyone know?

The loom appears to be complete, and seems to be in pretty good shape. There isn't anything broken and the wood is solid cherry and appears sound. The hardware is a bit rusty, but still functional.

There is a broken peg on whatever this thing is, but it looks easy enough to replace; it's basically just a dowel with a rounded end.

I'm a little concerned about this part. It came with the loom, but I don't know what it is or where it goes. It is the same length as the reeds, so I suspect it has something to do with them, but it is not obvious to me what it is for.

I'm not at all sure what I am going to do with this. It needs cleaning, which I'm sure I can handle. Beyond that, I'm pretty lost. I've tried to find a manual, but without success. I'm hoping the "Learning to Weave" book I bought will give me enough information that I can figure out how to use it. I do know some weavers in the area, so I have a back up plan in place, and an offer from one of them to come help me warp it the first time. She says that's a full-day operation.

Maybe I should have started with a lap loom.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What Do You Mean "If"?!

So after the little conversation with the Monday plumber (who, incidentally, was here to fix the brand new water heater, not here for the raining ceiling--and yes, that's another story), we put in a call to the insurance company about the shower leak. They sent out a restoration expert the very next day to assess the situation. There were three of them, actually, and they spent a long time poking at walls and moving furniture and scribbling cryptic notes. They were remarkably uncommunicative during this process. It reminded me of the doctor who pokes and prods and mutters, "Hmmm...that's interesting" during the exam. Not reassuring.

And then the Head Guy--I assume he was the Head Guy, since he did the talking while the other two stood in the background looking grave--announced we need to tear out half our walls, ceilings, and flooring. As he went into great detail describing the parts of my house that are now melting into puddles around us and the potential for life-threatening mold and the possibility of asbestos, all I could think, in my cynical fashion, was "yeah, yeah...that's how you make your money, isn't it?"--until he got to the part where he said, "...and that room upstairs with all the...the, know, where you do your...the room with all the yarn?" and I did the human equivalent of what my dogs do when I say the word "dinner." What about the room with all the yarn?!

It's wet, is what. Not the yarn, thank the KG--and yeah, I asked, twice--but the wall. And the floor. My knitting room shares a wall with the kids' bathroom--the same wall the shower is against. And that wall is, according to the Head Guy, "unsalvageable." As is the IKEA Expedit unit that stores the yarn. Again, according to the Head Guy. This prompted me to ask again about the yarn, and I think he finally caught on that the yarn, for some inexplicable reason, is Important. That maybe it is so Important to the crazy lady of the house that it could be used as a bargaining chip to get me on board with the whole, "we have to tear down half your house" idea. Because he immediately began reassuring me that only one corner of the yarn storage is wet, and he personally removed the yarn from the wet section and put it across the room. And, if the insurance company approves the claim, his guys will very carefully box the yarn, exactly as it is in the bookcase right now, by color, and label it, and make sure it goes back where it belongs.

Oh. Okay, then. Carry on. That will be just...Wait. If. IF? IF the insurance company approves the claim? What do you mean IF?!

And so I learned that, despite the thousands of dollars I have paid the insurance company every year for many years to protect my house--and my credit rating--in the event of fire, earthquake, accident, or other disaster, I am not guaranteed that they will ever pay me should one of these things happen. No. This is determined on a case by case basis by...the insurance company.

Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? I mean, the insurance company is in the business of taking money, not giving it, right? So what possible incentive could they have to pay out money when they have the option of saying, "Nah. That's not a covered loss. Sorry."?

So I am quietly freaking out to the sound of the ginormous de-humidifiers the restoration guys installed on both levels of my house (the knitting room got its very own) while we await the insurance company's decision.