Thursday, August 14, 2008

While I was sleeping.....

I love it when my brain solves creative problems while I am sleeping. Often, I get ideas right as I am falling asleep or as I am waking. I read that Thomas Edison used to take a nap while holding a spoon over a pie tin. As he fell asleep, his hand relaxed, the spoon dropped in the tin, waking him up, so he could pay attention to the ideas flowing through his head.

I just received this box of costume jewelry from my favorite Aunt. She is in the process of unloading clutter. Most of it is outdated-lots of huge 80's earrings. They weigh a ton. They must drag your earlobes down to your shoulders when you wear them. Not being much into torture in the name of fashion, I'm afraid to try them on! OUCH! I have been wondering what to do with it all. I can see deconstructing alot of it and using it as trim on tassels, or on greeting cards. How about something really outrageous, like a breastplate, formed over my body with plaster casting material, then embellished with jewels! I'm having a hard time deciding which jewels should cover the nipples.

AHEM....where was I!
Oh,yes,.... as I was waking this morning, I remembered this garage sale find.

I am intrigued by images of shrines, and gates, and portals, and open doors. I always wonder what is on the other side. I have wanted to make a shrine or portal with this "find" since I first laid eyes on it. I now have the materials necessary!
I do have to ask myself, though, about absorbing all of this jewlry into The Endless Stash. Aren't I supposed to be reducing the ES?

Monday, August 11, 2008

AVL Fly Shuttle Springs

Someone on the WeaveTech list is having some pain in her arms from using AVL's fly shuttle. Before I explain my modifications, you need to know that I have been rudely chastised in the past for modifying my loom. I shined it on, because my loom is not a fancy piece of furniture in my living room. It is a tool I have used to make my living. I only have one body, so my priority has been to minimize the damage to it. That means there is wear and tear on my loom. It has served me well over the last 15 years. For many of those years, I cranked out 50 yards of fabric a week. Maybe my modifications won't work for you, or maybe you don't want to change the set up of your loom. Whatever...hopefully you can use the information, or it may give you an idea of your own.

I used to have a Newcomb "Weavers Delight". It's a heavy duty rug loom, in which everything is mechanical. You only have to pull the beater bar back and forth to make it work. One day, the spring broke on the picker strap, so I took it off and tried to weave without it, thinking it didn't do much work anyway. Huh! I could barely get the shuttle across the web. That got me thinking about the fly shuttle on my AVL. Springs could minimize the shock in my arms from snapping the shuttle back and forth. It turned out to work great!

I found springs at the local auto supply. They are quite stiff, 2" long and 3/8" in diameter, (not counting the loops on the ends).

I cut the fly shuttle cord and tied in the springs. They are about 9" from the intersection of the cord that comes from the beater supports (I have an overhead beater) and the shuttle fly box. The loops on the ends of the spring sometimes get caught on the warp, and sometimes on the cables that support the harnesses. By wrapping the ends of the springs with masking tape, there is no longer a problem:

Here is what the assembly looks like:

Note the duct tape on the beater support. The spring sometimes hits there, too, and the duct tape protects the wood. You might also notice the masking tape on the cord closer to the beater support. I am parsimonious, and I think the dacron cord is very expensive when buying it from AVL, so this fly shuttle cord is cobbled together from several other broken ones. The tape covers a knot where two small pieces were tied together.

I also wax the fly shuttle race, the shuttle itself, and the grooves the fly shuttle picker runs in before each day's weaving. That really helps to reduce friction, and effort needed to throw the shuttle. I wear wrist braces, too. Mostly, they serve to remind me to keep my wrists straight in line with my hands, to prevent carpal tunnel damage. Added together, these adjustments mean I can weave for long periods with no pain at all.

I am not using a fly shuttle on the narrow warp that is on the loom in the picture. I just tied up the fly shuttle assembly for this post.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fun Pillowcase

I taught my first sewing class, and the students are at many different levels, some haven't even begun to sew yet. To get all of us on the same page and to assess skills, I have decided to take everyone back to basics. The first project will be a simple pillowcase with piping and a separate band. It's so basic that I hope I can keep the more experienced sewers interested with really fun fabric choices.

I sewed the sample from some of my own fun fabrics from the Endless Stash. The orange and yellow check for the piping was already cut to the perfect size! The green fabric has hot pink and orange hands and yellow stars.

Because the Endless Stash is so huge, I have been on a fabric purchase moratorium for a year or so. (Okay, okay, maybe I cheated once or twice when there was a sale or a fabric I just couldn't resist.) I got to live vicariously on Friday, when I went fabric shopping for the pillowcase project. I found some really fun cotton prints. At least I hope they're "fun" fabrics. I am somewhat removed from what teens think is "cool" these days. I am sure my students will quickly bring me up to speed on that subject!

The pillowcase was so quick and easy to sew, and came out so well, I think I will make some more to give as gifts. I don't sew as much as I used to as when my kids were at home; and I am always pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy it when I do.