Whether you are a fellow fiber artist, enthusiast or just an admirer, walk along and talk with me on my journey.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tale of the tobacco twine bath mat.

Once upon a time, I made custom order bath mats made of tobacco twine.  I sold them on Etsy and had quite a bit of business generated from them.  The bath mat business was good.  Then one day, a customer ordered a very odd and specifically sized bath mat. The customer wanted the width to be within a half inch.  This is difficult to do with such large yarn.  But I did it.  They also wanted it to be quite long.  In my opinion, this was no longer a bath mat, but a runner or a rug.   I made the mat and sent it off to the customer.  A few days later, I was contacted and told the mat/runner was the wrong size.  I let her know I would do whatever it took to make her happy with her purchase. The mat was sent back and remade and returned to her at no cost-to her.  Before mailing it, I measured and photographed it on a freshly washed floor...

 I did learn something valuable about my mats in this process.  It's a crocheted item and somehow with the size of the tobacco twine, it will decrease in size from the first couple of rows to the last row.  So when I measured it after the first few rows to make certain I had the dimensions right, it wasn't.  I gladly remade this item and sent it back to her. However, I sensed a storm coming and took these photos.

A few days later, I received a message from her telling me there was animal hair on the mat and because of her allergies, she felt she had to wash it. I made a point of vacuuming and washing my floor before I put it down to be photographed.  She measured it after washing and again, noticed it was too small.  If she had laundered it according to my instructions, which I included with her sales receipt and on her mat, this wouldn't have happened.  I will make a long and frustrating story short.  Nothing I did made this person happy.  She would only be satisfied by a full refund-which she received against my wishes.  I  am still not happy with PayPal over this.

So, the mat/runner sat in my laundry in a sealed bag room for a long time.  It had an odd odor and  was slightly discolored.  I have no idea what was done to this mat, but I hardly wanted to touch it.

Months later, my sister and i discussed dyeing this rug.  I was resistant to the idea because cotton (and this very thick yarn in particular) doesn't do well when dyed.  I reluctantly agreed to give it a try.  With all the necessary dye materials in place and a large cup of motivation at hand, I began the task.

I used a largish kid pool I found on sale at the end of the Summer season.  I put it on my back deck so I could carry out buckets of hot water to dissolve the dye.  I thought this was a great idea...until I started wondering how I would drain this pool of it's dye later on.  I really didn't want dark green dye all over my deck and driveway...

So, after following all the directions from the special solution to pre-soak the item to soaking it in vinegar and salt afterwards, I was greatly disappointed in the results.

I removed the dyebath from the pool with a garden hose.  I ran the hose from the deck, down a small hill to drain.  After pinching a portion of the hose shut, I filled the remaining portion with water from a pitcher.  I then plunged the filled hose into the dyebath, released the pinched hose and the suction  did the rest of the work!  It was a proud moment.  :)  

This is the mat after dyeing it for a second time.  I made a more concentrated solution of the dye and painted it on!  It still had areas where the dye hadn't even bothered to take-and other spots, the dye actually took-twice!   More disappointment.

At this point, I wanted to set it on fire and let the ashes blow with the four winds.. But I didn't.  I thought about it at great length. I thought about the last year I had basically wasted with this ill fated bath mat.   Finally, I came up with 2 (more) possible solutions.  I could disassemble the mat and re-make it with another strand of unifying yarn.  I could also, simply make it again using only the partially dyed tobacco twine.

I consulted with my sister about our choices.  She agreed with my first solution.  As I was taking the mat apart, I saw the pile of yarn at my feet.  Oh my goodness, it was lovely!  It was a tweedy combination of the natural and green dyed yarn.  I finally loved something about this thing!   Now, I was actually excited about this project. 

I purchased a synthetic yarn to combine with the tobacco twine that would subtly pick up on the colors in my sisters kitchen.  It was such a joy seeing something so lovely come from something that, up to this point, brought me nothing but grief.
  This is the final bath/kitchen/mat/runner/rug.  I can honestly say it was an enormous pleasure to give this to my sister! 

This is almost the end of the Tale of the Tobacco Twine bath mat...

I don't do custom orders...any more...
and they lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

That's it, I'm weaving!

This is my current project.  It's a cotton table runner woven in a twill pattern. When I'm done, it will measure about 80" long and 15" wide.  This project is destined for Etsy!   I've had this warp on my loom for a very long time.  But it's coming along nicely now. 
I love these colors together.  They're simple and calming and remind me of the beach!
The next project for my loom will be a huge undertaking.  I'm planning to weave an overshot coverlet in "Cat Track and Snail Trail" or "Orange Peel".  "Cat Track and Snail Trail" is very old and has roots in a Tennessee family dating back to 1812.  This pattern was first called "Drunkard's Path" and then "Wandering Vine" in Scotland around the turn of the 18th century.  In the United States, it has become known as "Cat Tracks and Snail Trails".  Examples of this pattern can be seen from the mid-18th century, through the 19th and into the 20th centuries. 
This photo is of another weavers lovely interpretation of "Cat Track " or "Snail Trail"  http://deborahbee.wordpress.com/   

Orange Peel
The other pattern in the running  is called "Orange Peel" This photo is a table runner I wove for my sister many years ago.  It's familiar territory for me and has a short-ish pattern repeat.  This might very well end up as my coverlet pattern. It will be woven with 10/2 mercerized, natural cotton (warp) and the pattern yarn (weft) is Peruvian Highland wool in fingering weight.  The color is indigo. 

Weaving overshot patterns is somewhat of an undertaking.  You really have to love the processes of weaving to begin and finish a project of this magnitude.  I have a friend who firmly believes this will still be on my loom in ten years.  I'm pretty sure I'm up to the challenge and out to prove her wrong! Wink! 

I can't wait to start sharing my progress on this project! 

If you would like more information on Overshot weaving, I'm including a link that gives a bit of history.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On the fifth day of Spring...

It's still chilly here in Middle Tennessee.  In fact, it snowed this morning!  I am always happy to see snow falling from the sky.  It has almost the same effect on my psyche as seeing and hearing the ocean..  The thought in the back of my head has always been "If I were an orphan, I'd want to live in the mountains."  However, these last few years, I've begun to understand how "Snowbirds" evolve and eventually migrate! 

Chip didn't care about the snow-he cares about his grain.  :)
 The bottom line for me today is I woke up to a sweet frosty surprise from the sky.  It didn't make anyone's commute dangerous or cancel classes for the day.  I might have been the only one-

but it put a smile on my face.

Here's hoping something unexpected comes along in your day that makes you smile too!

Monday, March 24, 2014

La Mer

I've been thinking about this place on this sunny, but very chilly morning in March.  Here I sit in my warm socks, jeans and hoodie.  There-I could very well be wearing the same thing.  Simply being near the water, with the sand below my feet is soothing in ways I can hardly explain.  The sound and the smell of the water give me a feeling of freedom I didn't know I was lacking.  I'm transported somewhere blissful.  It's like a glass of wine or massage that hits all the right reflexology points.  My eyes relax and I feel a smile come across my lips.  I can spend hours, no-days sitting or strolling, picking up seashells I swear will become something lovely when I get home.

Nighttime on the cape evokes the same feelings.  It's time for family, a fire and a glass of 2 of good wine.  The crabs come out and run with wild abandon to and from the water's edge.  They make me laugh.  My son chases them on his hands and feet-this makes me laugh even harder.  He is filled with the same abandon as those little crabs.  It's good to be twelve.  I'm glad I get to witness his twelve-ness in this beautiful place or...at all. 

Even a stormy, chilly day at the beach is a good day.  It awakens the artist and dreamer in me.

Now, I can go back to my weaving and daydream some more about waves, beaches and the delightful, ever-changing  skies above them.