Big boxen of yarn

The subject is a Brian Regan reference for those of you stand-up comic fans. (YouTube Brian Regan Stupid in School and laugh)

Yes. I got a big box of yarn today! I had run out of 5/2 cotton and didn’t have enough left to wind off warp for napkins! I’ve been working on pillow fronts on Foster while at the farm this week. I now have enough for 19 pillows. I’m considering weaving up more though…

I need to start on napkins soon. I wound off another place mat warp today which took much longer than it needed to because I accidentally missed some pegs on my warping board on two separate bouts. BLAH! So it took 2 hours to wind off warp when it really should have only taken one. And then I had to spend the rest of the afternoon undoing the two messed up bouts because I can’t afford to waste that much yarn. It’s probably like a 1/4 of a pound or something. Ridiculous. And now it’s 6:00 and I don’t have much to show for my day.

I did get another double batch of soap made so I’m at….180 bars (give or take a few). I was planning on making another batch yesterday or today but with the weather being so cold (yet humid) the soap is not solidifying quickly at ALL. It’s taking forever. Molly and I decided to put a space heater upstairs where the soap is “drying” to hopefully encourage it to dry up so we can take it out of the molds! I think I should only have to make 2 more double batches to get to my 300 bar quota I set for myself. Then I can start felting!!! ….oy…

I got my wool roving today also and tested it out. It seems to felt really easily so that’s exciting. I think I just have to be careful about not using too much wool and making sure it’s not clumpy. I got a bunch of white wool which I plan on dyeing with Kool Aid.

I need to zigzag stitch the 10 pillow fronts I made this week and get them washed and ready to dye. I’m also throwing around the idea of screen printing on a few of them. Although I haven’t decided what to print on them just yet.

Hmm… What else? … I’m working on color cards right now for more warp ideas. I’ve got plenty of fun colors now but I’m not sure how to combine them. Why oh why did my college colors have to be purple and gold? Now every time I see those colors I think, “Tennessee Tech!!” And it’s such a pretty color combination!! BLAH! Anyway.

So the next few days will most likely consist of winding off much warp and dyeing and sewing pillow fronts. I’m still debating what type of fabric to use for the backing on the pillows. I was considering maybe a cotton sateen or a batiste. We’ll see though. I don’t have much raw fabric left so I’d have to buy it. I’ll probably have to shop around a bit.


Fostering a loom

I got my “foster” loom all set up and in production this week! I know, I already said that. But I actually got two warps on and off it. I decided to put fabric for pillows on this baby. I started off using 6 ply rayon to see if I liked the sett and all that. Also I thought I should try and see if the rayon will be sturdy enough. I just washed it so we’ll see what happens when it’s dry. Also it just turned the pima cotton fabric I wove pink but that was my dumb mistake so I’ll just overdye those ones probably. I’m trying bleach right now but it probably won’t work. I’m not concerned, really. Just get to do some cool dye techniques to it.

Just this morning I braved the sewing machine and elastic and made my first headband. I really like how it came out and I want to make a million of them so I can maybe have one for myself. I seriously don’t want to take this thing off my head! 🙂

Anyway here are some pictures from this week:

I had a few problems while putting the first warp on the loom. Sleying the reed went fine. The problems started when I got to threading. There were quite a few heddles that were twisted around each other and I ended up having to cut them off. There are well over a thousand heddles on the loom so pulling off all of them just to get to one and then having to put all of them back on would have been time consuming, frustrating and really, a waste of time. I think I only had to cut four, but they took like 2 minutes each to get off because I didn’t have wire cutters…So that was frustrating.

Once I finished threading, I went to tie onto the back apron rod, but the apron was missing one of the rods. It’s supposed to have two: one that is inside the fabric of the apron to hold it stable and another that feeds through the string part of the apron which is the one you actually tie to. Thankfully I had the rod in my possession and was able to just put it in. I think I have to re-thread the string on the back one because the apron is a bit frayed in some places but that won’t be a big deal and it works fine for now.

Once I got all wound on, (which took less time than I thought it would, PRAISE THE LORD!!!) I went to tie to the front apron and it was missing the string and the rod that goes through the string! Again, I had the rod in my possession, but I had to create my own string. I threaded 3-4 lengths of Pima cotton (the only strong-ish yarn I had with me, but not ideal) through the apron and then put the rod in.

All in all, it probably only took about 4ish hours to dress the loom, but it felt like I was waging war! The only task that actually went smoothly was sleying the reed! Oh when I was winding on, I realized I didn’t bring corrugated cardboard or fabric or anything to wind between the warp so I had to go dig out some fabric from one of our storage boxes in the workshop. I did find some that works though so that’s good. 🙂

I’m quite exhausted from this week and slept in til 8 this morning. (Yes, that’s sleeping in for me. Usually I’m up by 7-7:30 and “at work” by 8) I’m doing random little stuff today that has to get done but I haven’t started anything big. I need to go check that fabric and see if it’s any less pink…


Monday didn’t end up amounting to much work getting done. I planned two more place mat warps and wound off one. Honestly, besides that, I don’t remember what else I did…But I’m a bit sleepy right now after staying up too late last night (late for me anyway).

Tuesday was my first day at the farm since…uhh…like a week and a half or two weeks ago? It was a beautiful day and I opened all the windows in our house to let the lovely, warm breeze in.

Ben and I set up the “foster” loom in the bedroom which took about…an hour? I had to dig through the bag and find all the screws and then we forgot how the break pedal went together so we had to go look it up on the internet. At least they have instructions on the internet!

Once we got that set up, I did a little work on the headband loom; tied on another warp and wove two headbands. This was interspersed with trips up to the in-laws to help with making the goat milk soap that I’ll be felting for the TACA fair. We made 64 bars of soap! It really went pretty quick. It’s always kind of fun because it has turned into a whole family affair. Brad (my father-in-law) does the initial part of measuring the lye crystals out and adding them to the milk. He likes to remind us that this is an “exothermic reaction” nearly every time we make soap.

Then we have to wait about an hour to an hour and a half for the lye mixture to cool down during which time my sister-in-law, Molly, preps the other ingredients. She heats the vegetable lard, adds the olive oil and measures out the honey and oatmeal. OH and grinds the oatmeal.

After everything is at the correct temperature, Byron (my brother-in-law) begins the blending process. One of us pours the oil mixture in as he uses a stick mixer to blend them together. After a few minutes, we add the honey and oatmeal while Byron continues to blend until the mixture “traces”. (thickens to something like syrup) Once the soap is tracing, Byron pours it into the molds which we have pre set out for easier pouring. My mother-in-law comes in at this point to help oversee the pouring and to make sure that each bar we make has enough soap in the mold and if it has too much, she dips it out with a spoon.

It’s about a 3ish hour process if you include cooling time. But it really doesn’t take that long at either end of cooling. The whole tracing/pouring process takes between 10-20 minutes.

Anyway we only have to do this 6-12 more times depending on if we make double batches every time. 🙂 I will be ordering my wool SOOON!! And getting a thick pair of gloves for Molly and I to felt with.

I’m a “foster parent”!

Okay, not exactly…My sweet friend Emma (that I know from school) called me a couple of weeks ago to ask me a favor and to offer me a favor at the same time.

She told me that she was informed that her apartment was being demolished (which is a shame because it’s really cute) and she had to move but couldn’t take her loom with her. 😦 Such a bummer! She asked if I would be willing to house/store her loom for her until she’s able to take it again after grad school (3 ish years) She said she didn’t want to sell it but wouldn’t have room for it in her new house. Emma told me she’d rather it were used than be stuffed in a storage place getting mildewed and gross.

I was happy to be able to say that I could take it and would have room to use it. And use it I will! As soon as I’m able to get it to the farm, I’ll be setting it up and putting it into production! It’s an absolutely beautiful loom. It’s much like the looms we used at school, but a slightly different model. And the wood is just gorgeous! Ben said it’s a special type of maple that they most likely had to pay extra to get.

I am so sad for Emma knowing she won’t have her loom. 😦 I know I would be extremely sad if I couldn’t take Mac with me if I had to move. We talked about Emma coming out to the farm sometime in the future and weaving on her baby. Hopefully that will be able to happen soon. 🙂 …well…once the house is a bit more done! haha. OKAY. Going back to work now!

44 lbs of lard?! Eeeeeeeewwwww….

Yes. 44 pounds of lard! Vegetable lard is one of the main ingredients in the goat milk soap we make at Fall Creek Farms. Today I spent my “morning shift” buying supplies for making soap. They are as follows:
1 gallon of honey
11 tubs (4 lbs ea.) of lard
1 large bottle of almond oil
3 gallons of olive oil
4 large containers of oatmeal

I had to go to the Cookeville Wal-Mart twice, the Algood Wal-Mart once, Sam’s, Hobby Lobby, Hancock and Good Shepherd Health Foods to find all of this. And I actually didn’t buy enough lard. But Ben’s getting the other 4 tubs on his way home from work. If they don’t have it, it’s not a big deal. I’m not making the soap all at once.

I also bought more soap molds so we would have enough to make two batches a day. 7 of those. They aren’t all uniform shape, but that might be okay.

I will have to be placing a wool roving order soon with either Webs or Yarn Barn. I do love Webs and they have wonderful prices and great discounts but I do wish I could order from Yarn Barn. I was thinking about adding on some more 5/2 cotton when I order the wool, but Webs really has a fairly limited color selection. 😦 Bummer. So I’ll have to think about that for a while.

I finally remembered to take pictures of the three sets of place mats I’ve woven. Here they are:

Like I said, I think the blue and white are my favorites. They’re just GORGEOUS! In the green/yellow and blue/white sets there are two of each color combination. In the variegated violet (can’t resist alliterations) set, they are all the same.

I have enough 5/2 cotton to weave maybe two more sets but then I’m out! And I need more for napkins and pillows. Although, I suppose the pillows could be of different fiber content. I have other yarns to choose from. I just figured durability, right?

Speaking of durability, I really need to do a durability test on my woven goods so I know how they actually hold up after many washings. Are they actually machine washable or do I need to say hand wash on everything?? Eeeek!

Ummm…Oh! I also found some wool roving at Hancock Fabrics so I could try dyeing it to see if it was hard to do or not. It’s not. At all. I have to wait for it to dry to see if it still felts okay, but I don’t think it’ll be a problem. So I’ll probably be buying white and brown wool. So I’ll have brown bars of soap as a base color and then I can add other colors onto the brown. Trying to keep it simple! It only took about 10 minutes to dye the wool so that’s not a problem.

I should probably go and work on whatever’s next!

I live in the land of place mats

It’s true. I wove four up today and put on a warp for 4 more and then I have at least two more warps of four that I need to do. I’m so proud of myself! I actually calculated my warp length exactly right this time!! I got exactly 4 place mats with just the right amount of waste. Back apron came just to the heddles when I was done.

I don’t have pictures yet. Sorry. My back was killing me and I just wanted to update quickly. I kinda want to wait til they’re washed anyway to post pictures. But we’ll see.

Anyway I also worked a bit on an idea for a vest. I’m not really sure how that’s going to work. I did some quick and dirty measurements to get an idea of how large of a piece of fabric I’d need to weave and it looks like I’d need a piece 20″ wide by 30″ long times 2 (one for the front, one for the back). I basically want it to be a box shape so that it will be suitable for men or women (although I doubt a guy would want one of these….but who knows. Hippie guys go to craft festivals, so…maybe? haha). I can’t remember ever making a shirt or vest before this though so I’m having some issues with the arm holes. I’m totally just making the pattern up instead of buying one. Partially because in the TACA fair info I’ve read it says that all the designs must be original. I don’t know for sure if that means I can’t use commercial patterns, but hey I kinda like the idea of making my own design anyway.

I made a small mock up just so I could see it in fabric (small as in doll size) and decide if I like the idea I have. A few other considerations are:

Closure – Do I want one and if so, what/how?
Liner – Do I need to line the vest so it doesn’t have raw edges showing? If so, with what? Do I hand dye fabric for the liner?

I have two different ideas for vests floating around in my head right now. This seems like the more complicated one (even though it’s just a box, basically). The other idea I have is very simple. It’s basically a backless halter top that buttons (or some form of closure) in front and had two ribbons (or some type of tying device) on either side that tie in the back to hold the thing together…Doesn’t that seem simpler? No arm holes. But the other thing about the halter design is that only a specific age group (and gender) would wear that. I seriously doubt that women in their 40’s-60’s would wear something like that. Maybe…Who knows.

I guess I have a bunch of stuff to think about. But I still have…uhhh…6-7 weeks before the show so I’ve still got time to figure something out. 🙂


I’ve made a bit of progress on things today. Yesterday morning Ben and I had an appointment with the CPA to give her our info for taxes. BLAH I hate tax season. It always stresses me out. It wasn’t bad before Ben was fully self employed but now it’s a bit more complicated and I can’t do it on Turbo Tax anymore. But I’m done talking about this because I HATE talking about taxes!!

Since Ben had the day off we spent the day together at home just hanging out and watching tv. That may sound boring, but I love getting to just veg out together. We don’t really get to do that anymore like when we were in school and I miss it. So while we were watching tv (How I Met Your Mother and Top Gear. Thank you Netflix!) I wound off warp for place mats. I’m pretty excited about all of them so far. Ben is so sweet and helps me out whenever he can. I told him I was struggling to come up with interesting striping patterns or just interesting color combinations so we sat down together and sketched up some ideas while watching tv. It was fun! His ideas were really different from mine and it was refreshing to see someone else’s ideas.

The pages I sketched on look like they’re covered in thumbnail drawings of flags. I mentioned that to Ben and he said that might actually be a cool idea for a future project. I think he’s right so I’m gonna let that one stew in my mind for a bit.

In my morning shift today I finished weaving the waffle weave warp (that’s kinda a mouthful to say…also I love alliterations). I’m debating what to do with the four towels I got since they really aren’t worth selling…Actually, it’s more like they’re too worth selling…? Lemme try this another way: They would be too expensive and I don’t think people would buy them. It’d have to be like $40 a towel. And I just don’t see that happening.

Once that I was done I still had a little bit of time left before my lunch break so I put the first place mat warp in the lease sticks and sleyed the reed. I’ll be threading, beaming and hopefully weaving this afternoon. I can’t wait to see how it looks! 🙂 I’ll take pictures once I’ve gotten it on there.