Slow Art/Craft

I am going to start off this post the way I originally planned to start it which is:  Looking for a quick and easy project to give away as a gift, something you can make in an hour or two and make a whole bunch of?  Well, then this project is NOT for you . . .

That’s the way this post was supposed to begin, but now I am forced to digress madly. Recently, my job at Mirrix has been to make things.  Elena thinks I should be designing projects every waking moment (in between the basic stuff of running Mirrix).  If she had her way I’d be designing a new kit every other day!  But am I complaining?  I wrote down a bunch of our ideas and then while stewing about them I randomly decided to weave a long strip of hand-painted silk just because I wanted to.  In fact, it will be two strips because I wanted to weave it on the eight inch loom, I wanted it in my lap sometimes and I didn’t want to use the loom extenders with the 12 or 16 inch loom because I wanted that “in your lap intimate” experience.  Even before I started weaving the strip I realized I could use it for a strap for this “failed” tapestry that became a purse but whose strap had gone missing.  I don’t think it was a very good strap but the purse . . . well, as I said, it was a failed tapestry but it was one intricate piece of tapestry.  Not the kind of thing you would ever weave to make a purse.  Oh, darn, now I have to photograph it.  Wait a minute while I do that.

Okay, just took a couple pictures of the purse (and please pardon my photographs . . . my photo tent is officially dead and I am waiting for the new one to arrive. . . so it’s hard to get the light correct but I am too impatient to wait for the ten to post this blog post!) . . .

This is the front.  I think the tapestry was going to be a garden of sorts.  It was a very long time ago that I wove it and I only just discovered the purse hiding underneath a pile of tapestries that hadn’t met their goal.

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This is the back.

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Don’t want to lose my thread here.  So while contemplating new kits I, as I said, decided to weave this strip which I then realized I could use as a strap for above purse.  Let me show you the strip:

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I didn’t use the shedding device.  It’s not done yet, so I should put that in the present tense.  In any case, I needle weaving it because I wanted to feel that very rhythmic movement of under and over with a needle.  There is something very primal about that. But I had promised Elena I would come up with a Christmas ornament, which leads me to another digression because she asked if I had every made one before and I replied:  “Yes, I made one for the White House Christmas tree when Clinton was president.”  I think she was a little surprised by that answer.  The deal was, members of the NH League of Craftsmen were asked that year to make an ornament for the White House Christmas tree, so I did.  I have no photographs of it and I can’t even remember what it looked like.  But I do know I made it and I do know it hung on the White House Christmas tree for at least one season and now is probably buried in a box somewhere.

After we spoke I warped an eight inch loom with shedding device.  The warp spanned about two and a half inches.  The idea was to weave a five inch strip and then fold it over.  Elena wanted me to weave in some standard Christmas image, which I knew I would not do and she knew I would not do!  I loved weaving this piece, but before I even show you the pictures, I need to return to my original theme:  Slow art/craft.  After I wove the ornament I said to Elena:  there should be something called “slow craft.”   I thought I had just made up a new trend and then this morning I found out courtesy of the internet that indeed someone got there before me.  Well, in reality it is an old theme.   It’s the theme of tapestry weaving essentially.  I mean, you just can’t rush a tapestry and if yo are sitting there counting your hours while you weave because you want to actually make money by selling it someday . . . forget it.  Tapestry isn’t like that.

I think there are two ways to approach craft/art, whatever you want to call it.  There is the quick easy approach.  The “I want to make a dozen of these things to give to friends and family at Christmas or to sell at the local craft fair or even in some high end gallery . . . the point being, the final object becomes almost more important than the journey.  Sure, you may still have fun making it, but that is not the entire goal.  With my strip though the goal was to enjoy making it.  The goal was not to rush.  The goal was the experience itself.  Hence the thought “slow craft,” came to mind and clearly it came to other minds as well!

I decided the Christmas tree ornament was going to be a slow craft too. I wanted to play with my hand painted silk.  I wanted to see how it would weave up in a wider strip.

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Before I folded the piece together, I embellished each side.

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I then sewed up the sides, embellished with beads, added a braid to hang it . . . eight hours later I had my “slow craft” Christmas Ornament. I imagine I will only make one because my next project is to make a “slow craft” eyeglass case, again out of hand painted silk.

In short, I am on a slow craft adventure.  I have done my time making work to sell in galleries.  I know I owe several wrap bracelets to one gallery and even though I love making them, I don’t know if I am in the mood.  I am in the mood to slowly and patiently weave row upon row of hand painted silk and then turn it into something that can be used or seen.  I want the experience itself.  And when you want that, you often don’t even want it to end.  I always mourned the finishing of a large tapestry.  What would be next?  My life had been somewhat regulated by this constant theme of a large tapestry in progress and then when it was done I had to find something to replace it.

So . . . slow craft, slow art.  Even if I didn’t make it up, I am going to be talking about it a lot.  Next post is going to be about my “slow scarf”.

Weave-Along 11 Updates!

Weaving is easy

Because the weave-along is going over many different basic things (loom set up, warping, how to weave different ways), we suggest you just have some basic materials depending on what you’re interested in.

For bead weaving you will want a bead mat, beading needles, beading thread (we love C-Lon), and some beads. If you’re just starting out, 8/0 beads are great! You may also want to start with one of our kits and warp for that. If you want to weave for bead weaving with the shedding device, you’ll want heddles as well.

For tapestry you will want warp (we like Navajo wool warp), weft (some type of tapestry wool), a tapestry beater (or fork) and heddles.

You can find all of these supplies on our website and most of it at your local bead or fiber store!

Intro to Tapestry Class: Pick and Pick Combination Plus Chevrons

This week in the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class I took on a combination pick and pick plus hatching technique, along with geometric chevrons.

Pick and Pick Plus Hatching and Warp Interlock

This is the first time in the class that we combine techniques to create an interesting effect.  We’ve already covered basic pick and pick, but now we’re adding the color blending technique called hatching as well as a new way to create the boundary between colors by using warp interlock.

I started out with pick and pick, using blue and black yarn. Because I started these wefts initially going in the same direction, I wove the blue yarn one extra time. This put the wefts in opposite directions, which is required for the next technique, warp interlock.

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Warp interlock is similar to weft interlock, which we used earlier in the class, except that you wrap the yarn around a shared warp, rather than around each other.

Here’s my first warp interlock, at the center of the tapestry between the blue and black weft yarns.

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We’re using this interlock to begin the next technique, which is called hatching. With hatching, you blend one color into the other using a series of partial horizontal lines. Hatching can be simple, like we’re doing in this tapestry, or it can be very complex and used to create subtle artistic effects.

Here’s my piece after several rows of even hatching with the blue and black.

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Next, we move into some pick and pick, eventually adding in some purple yarn. Notice that the black vertical lines are on different warps than they were the previous time we did pick and pick.

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After several more rows of purple, it was time to advance the weaving, which means to move it down on the loom to free up space on the warps at the top. To do this, you need to loosen the tension and then pull the warping bar on the back of the Mirrix loom upward.

In this next photo, I’ve advanced my weaving so that much of the already-completed tapestry is now facing the bottom and back of the loom.

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After advancing the weaving, it’s a good idea to check your top warp spring. I find that mine often pulls down out of its bracket while advancing and needs to be pushed back up.

Chevrons

At this point in the class it was time to make chevron shapes. I had never made these before. Although their principle is simple, I struggled a little with keeping my wefts in the proper sheds.

You start by marking the boundaries of the bottoms of the chevrons with short lengths of yarn, just like we did for slit tapestry. A note here: although the class calls for seven warps between markers (if I’m interpreting it correctly), I actually found that I needed eight warps between markers in order to have the correct number of color blocks.

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Next, you need to lay in your different colors of weft yarns in opposite directions. This is also like we did previously with slit tapestry. Just like back then, I had to watch my pattern of hills and valleys, but I can tell I’m gradually getting better at this.

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I should point out that we are technically using slit tapestry here, but instead of making blocks with straight borders, the borders will create chevron, or zig-zag, shapes. To start making them, you need to shift over by one warp with each of your colors. For me, this is where the technique got a little complicated. I’m sure I made a minor mistake here and there, but overall I was able to keep the chevron shapes looking relatively even as I went along.

Here are the first two shifts toward the right.

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And here are all of the rightward shifts completed.

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You may notice that not all of my wefts are running opposite to one another anymore, darn it…. Still, I was able to fix things enough to proceed. The next step was to start shifting back in the opposite direction for the top halves of the chevrons. And here they are.

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Pretty cool, eh? I figure it’s not bad for my first attempt. After the last row, I went back and made sure all of the yarns were in the same shed so that I’ll be properly set up for the next technique. Stay tuned for my next post to find out where it takes us.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

Intro to Tapestry Class: Slit Tapestry Technique

My journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class continues. You might recall from my weft interlock post that I mentioned a different color-block technique that results in open slits in the tapestry. That technique is called slit tapestry, and it’s the topic of my post today.

We’re making five color blocks with straight, vertical boundaries which are the slits. You start by using short pieces of yarn to mark the edges of the color blocks. Next, you weave-in a warp yarn for each color block. My yarns were all between about three feet and five feet long, although the five footers tend to be a little too long for my bobbins. (You can see the type of bobbin I’m using in this post.)

When I wove  the initial rows, I initially left the short ends of each weft sticking out the front of the tapestry.

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I then needed to push those short ends to the back of the tapestry. When you do this, keep on eye on your pattern of hills and valleys to make sure you cover the warps that need covering.

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From this point on, you just need to weave each color back and forth to build up the blocks. It’s a simple technique, but you need to watch your tension at each turn to make sure the slits that you’re creating aren’t too tight, which makes a hole in your tapestry, or too loose, which creates excess bulk.

After the first few rows, I recommend going back and making sure that your blocks are going to be the correct size. You can do this by counting the number of warps covered by a given color; that number needs to match the number of warps that you originally counted between markers. (Those markers useful, but I still found myself making one block too short and the next one too long at first.)

Because the wefts don’t interact with each other in slit tapestry, you can build up blocks of color one at a time. I chose that approach because it was faster than weaving single rows of colors all the way across, especially because I can change sheds very quickly with my treadle. Here are my first two completed blocks.

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Notice that the vertical line between colors is straight and doesn’t have the slight zig-zag look of weft interlock.

For this sampler, we need a total of 16 half passes of each color. If you lose your place, you can pull that weft up and space out the rows so that you can count them, as shown below with the purple weft.

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And here are all five blocks of split tapestry complete.

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The final step for this section of the sampler was to cap off the color blocks with a pass of black warp. I used the same length of warp that I used for the last color block on the far right. However, if you’re in the same shed that I was in at this point, you can’t just weave the black across, because you’ll be in the wrong shed. To get around this, I gently crossed the weft behind the warps to the selvedge before weaving back (across the tops of the color blocks) in the opposite direction. This method is called looping behind, and you can learn more about it in Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book Line in Tapestry.

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Finally, here’s what the completed section looks like.

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The borders between the color blocks are actual slits that you can pass your finger through, kind of like button holes. When you use them for larger areas, it’s a good idea to go back and stitch them closed. For these small blocks, they should be fine as-is because they won’t pull open.

The sampler is starting to get really vibrant, isn’t it?

That’s all for this post. Next time I’ll try the technique called hatching, combined with pick and pick and something called warp interlock. It sounds complicated, but the effect will be well worth it. See you then!

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

Intro to Tapestry Class: Weft Interlock

Today I continue my journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class with a technique called weft interlock. It’s used for making blocks of color without leaving open slits in the tapestry fabric. This was my first attempt at weft interlock, so I was a little nervous getting started — but I think it turned out beautifully.

The first step is to mark the spaces between warps where your color blocks will begin and end. These markers are crucial for helping you decide where to begin and end weft yarns of adjacent colors. I followed Claudia’s approach and used pieces of black yarn as markers. In our sampler, the color blocks are all of equal size, and so the markers are equally spaced.

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Next, a separate length of weft needs to be woven in for each color. This means a total of five lengths of yarn.  I used three in green and two in dark yellow. Importantly, they’re all woven in the same direction.

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Because the color blocks will be relatively small, the lengths of these weft yarns are all short enough that you don’t need to use butterflies or bobbins.

What’s also different here from when we made wavy lines is that our weft yarns are all woven for short distances across, rather than traveling all the way from one side of the tapestry to the other. This means that you need to use your fingers to select the warps that you want to weave through, before sliding in the yarn. In the next photo, I’ve selected the warps under which I’ll be weaving a green yarn.

(A quick note for anyone else taking the class: You may be selecting either four or five warps, depending on where you are and which shed you’re in when you begin. I think I started in a different shed than Claudia starts with in the class.)

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I actually found this very first row of wefts to be the most challenging. Because you’re leaving the end of each yarn on the front side of the loom, you occasionally end up with two side by side warps that both look bare. One of them will not really be bare, because it will be covered when you weave back in the opposite direction. However, I really had to slow down and check each warp to make sure I was creating a pattern of hill, valley, hill, valley, etc., all the way across (a hill is a weft over a warp, and a valley is a weft under a warp).

After weaving that first row of all five weft yarns, it’s time to change sheds and then go back and weave each weft in the opposite direction. To begin the “interlock,” you wrap each weft around the end of the previous weft in the row.

Here’s what my weaving looked like with the second row complete.

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When you weave back in the other direction again, the interlocks between wefts are complete.

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In this next photo, I’ve completed four rows of weft interlock. I pulled a couple of the weft ends out of the way so you can better see what the interlock join looks like between colors.

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Finally, here’s what my completed blocks of color look like.

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I love the look of this technique because the borders where the colors come together form vertical lines of tiny zig zags. They have a very Navajo look and appear so much more “woven” than when you make lines with slits (which also often need sewing up).

Next up in the Introduction to Tapestry Techniques class, we’ll try some vertical lines using pick and pick.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

Intro to Tapestry Class: Header and Wavy Lines

In my last post I shared my progress warping my Mirrix loom for the Introduction to Tapestry Class on CraftArtEdu. This week I completed the header and the first rows of actual color weaving.

The header is the initial band of weaving that you create using the same yarn you used for the warps. I’m using the class kit, and so my warp and header material is the Navaho wool warp.

Before you start the header, you need to weave two strands that serve as a base for your tapestry to rest on. The base yarn is wrapped around both sides of the loom and tied to hold it in place. You weave it like you do anything else, passing the yarn through one open shed, then changing sheds and passing back through.

Here’s my base.

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I used my weighted tapestry beater to beat those strands down.

To begin the header for this project, we’re weaving a row of twining. This was my first time doing twining, and it wasn’t difficult at all.

Twining is performed with the shed closed, meaning that there is no space between sets of warps for passing the yarn through; all the warps are on the same plane. I mentioned last time that I’m using a treadle to change sheds on my loom, instead of the standard handle. Before I show you how the twining turned out, here’s what the treadle setup looks like.

This is where the treadle device hooks up to the loom.

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The two cords are cables that run all the way to the floor and connect with the foot treadle itself.

Here’s the treadle on the floor.

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I have it sitting on a stair runner carpet to keep it from sliding. The big flat silver portion is the pedal. It rotates like a seesaw. You press it forward and down to open one shed and backward and down to open the other. If you’d like to see how to install the treadle, check out this free video by Claudia.

To close the shed for twining, you position the pedal so it’s flat, which is halfway between one shed and the other shed.

Twining uses two bundles of yarn that cross one another between warps. Here are my first several “twines.”

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They almost look like a rope running along the warps.

Here’s my completed row of twining.

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It probably could have been a little neater toward the end. I think I allowed the strands to twist too much.

Next up is the main portion of the header, which simply involves weaving a bunch of rows that reach from one side all the way to the other. When you do this, you need to create a hill, or bubble, with the weft yarn, rather than pulling it straight across in the shed. This ensures that the weft is long enough to zig zig between the warps when you close the shed without pulling in the sides of the tapestry. Claudia explains this in more detail during the class.

Here’s my first header weft making a bubble.

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And here I am beating down the wefts after making a few rows of bubbles.

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To use the weighted beater, I used a sort of loose tapping motion, letting the beater do the work. Here’s a look at those first few rows completely beaten down.

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The next step is to just keep weaving for a while. The biggest challenge at this point is learning how to keep the sides of the tapestry straight and even, and keep them from pulling inward. Which reminds me, I need to correct something I mentioned in my previous post. I had stated that my tapestry would probably end up pulling in a little on the sides — but that’s not correct! In the class, Claudia shows you how to measure as you go along to make sure your sides don’t pull in.

Looking closely at this next photo, I see that I could have done a better job keeping my edges even.

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With the header complete, it’s time to start some real weaving using the beautiful wool/mohair yarn from the kit. We begin with several regular rows of black. You usually start a color by cutting a workable length and then deciding how to manage it. Claudia shows you how to make and use butterflies for the class, where the only tool you need is your hand. Another option is to use tapestry bobbins. I recently got a great deal on a bunch of bobbins on Ebay, and I decided to practice with them for this project instead of using butterflies.

This is what a bobbin looks like with some black yarn loaded on.

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And here I am using the bobbin to pass the yarn through a shed.

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One of the nice things about using a bobbin is that you can use it to push down bubbles between beatings. (I know…that sounds a little strange! Weaving has some interesting terminology.)

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If you’d like to learn how to use bobbins, check out Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book Tapestry 101.

Here are the first few rows of black yarn completed.

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The wool/mohair yarn is a little puffier than the Navaho warp yarn, which means that you need to experiment to determine the right size of bubbles to make. I found that my edges tended to be too loose if I wasn’t careful.

Next we switched to a few rows of magenta.

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At this point it was time to try the first special technique: wavy lines. They’re super easy. We were supposed to use orange yarn for the first one, but for some reason I grabbed yellow. So, my wavy lines are going to be yellow.

Here’s a close look at a pig tail which is used to secure the new color of yarn to a warp.

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After making some wavy lines, I actually decided that my edges were unacceptably loose.

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I wanted to redo them, so I un-wove several rows of weaving. The downside I’ve found with un-weaving is that wool yarn tends to get fuzzy from pulling it through the warps multiple times. I always end up trying to snip off the extra fuzz with my embroidery scissors. Maybe one of those little sweater fuzz eater machines would work better.

Here’s my initial weaving after re-weaving to tighten up the edges a little.

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The left hand side looks a little bulky because I used that side to carry up each color when the opposite color was in use (for the wavy lines), but I think the right hand side looks much better.

Next, we’ll make some blocks of color, starting with the weft interlock technique. Stay tuned for my next post to find out how it goes!

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

New Online Tapestry Course

Our tapestry course at Craftsy was a huge success (and if you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time to since it’s selling from $14.95.  Six hours of instruction for $14.95 is really inexpensive.  Check it out here:  http://www.craftsy.com/class/Bead-and-Tapestry-Cuffs/78.

 

If you want to read about someone else’s experience with this class, please check out this fabulous blog:

http://www.mirrixlooms.com/socialmarketforacraftsycourse.html.

But right now we are working on another online class, this one for craftartedu.org.  This one is straight tapestry.  It’s done in a different format.  Lots of photos and voice overs and possible some videos thrown in here and there.  It’s designed such that it can be endless updated and changed, which I love.  But right now I have to survive the voice overs, which are taken a huge amount of time.  We plan on having this launched on Nov. 15th.  The kits that go with the class are available now on our website:  ooms.com/store/craftartedutapestrykit.html.  Here is a picture of the kit wool/mohair yarn, a 100 gram tube of Navajo wool warp, twill binding tape and velcro for finishing.  

Here is a picture of the sampler you will weave for this class:  

You will learn a bunch of techniques in this class including: slit tapestry; weft interlock; warp interlock; weaving in opposite directions; geometrical shapes; hatching; shading; making organic shapes; dotting.  You will be armed with all the techniques you need to go on to the next stage:  designing and creating a tapestry.

Kits in a basket and Crystal bead bracelet

Ah, this is the kit in a basket.  Filled with 39 skeins of tapestry yarn and including a 100 gram tube of Navajo warp . . . you could play all month with this gorgeous stuff.  Included, of course, is this beautiful Bolga basket that you can refill when your beautiful yarns run out.  I am showing you two different ones to remind you that every basket is unique so you won’t be able to pick an exact design.  Literally, of the dozens and dozens of baskets we purchased, not one is alike.

This is a picture of the Navajo warp which is included in the kit in a basket.

And now for the third bracelet:  Beads and crystals:

To find these go to the kit section of our store: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/kits.html

Happy shopping!

New Kits!

I have been dutifully designing and making new kits for a new season.  I want to share three of the bead weaving kits (one more to go which I will share later on in the week, I hope!).  On Wednesday I will share the new tapestry kit:  kit in a  basket.  It is full of color and inspiration plus a gorgeous basket.

The first bracelet kit is a very simple piece with not so very simple beads.  Using a combination of my all time favorite size 11/0 Delica beads including:  24 karat gold, rhodium (no longer available anywhere but I bought a half of a kilo before they stopped being made), copper and gold iris.  We call this kit Precious Metals.  It requires a no warps kit so you don’t have to sew in any of those ends or hide them in some other way.  Included is a very pretty mother-of-pearl button to make the closure.  Sneak preview:

The second of the three beaded bracelets borrows from Navajo tradition.  This one is made exclusively from size 8/0 beads.  Fun to weave and fun to give away or wear.  I have had a couple of people come into my studio and try to leave with it.  This one includes the 8/0 Japanese seed beads, a dyed mother-of-pearl button and a silk wrapped O-ring.  Hey, who doesn’t like borrowing ideas from the hardware store.  The nifty O-ring holds the button really well because it is stretchy.  But black O-rings are not so adorable.  I got this great idea while on a plane recently (what else can you do on a plane after you’ve played backgammon on your ipad, checked your email obsessively (yes I fall for buying internet access when I fly) and discovering that without noise reducing earphones you can’t hear one word of that movie you so diligently downloaded before departure).  I had brought along some O-rings and some silk but it wasn’t until I was hit with deadly boredom that I realized how I could marry the two.  Now you get to use the results in this lovely bracelet.  Here is the cute little covered O-ring:

And here is the bracelet in all her glory. Note how we’ve covered the knotted ends with ultra-suede. Makes for a nice finishing plus you don’t have to deal with all those pesky warp ends:

 

 

Stayed tuned for Wednesday when I reveal the crystal and bead bracelet and the tapestry kit in a basket!

They say time flies

When you’re having fun. And the Social market for a Mirrix has been just that…if you scrap the fear! It feels like yesterday when I was one of the chosen ones! I have to admit, at first I thought I’d chewed off more than I could handle. But it’s been great!! It’s helped me enjoy weaving even more…as if that were possible!

It forced me to weave regularly! Yes, that is a good thing :) I sometimes become lax when I’ve been working on something for a while. Having to blog regularly meant I had to have done something!

Lastly, I’ve (somewhat) conquered my fear of doing videos for YouTube. I really do hope the ones I did we’re useful and helpful.

The one thing that I refuse to let beat me is beadweaving with the shedding device. Yes, that old chestnut. I WILL try until I get it. Lets hope that’s sooner rather than later though! I become more frustrated each time I fail. I don’t want to end up a mess lying in my own puddle of tears! Ok that is quite an exaggeration.

The good thing about the Mirrix is its’ multi-purposeness. In future I hope I can do some (basic) tapestry weaving. For now I have plenty of projects I need to get on with. As a last show, I took the first half of the belt off the loom. The warps on the end are almost done sorting. The others will be needed to join this to the other section. I’m still debating whether to edge it or not. I hope to wear it on a week from the coming Saturday! Must. Weave. Fast! :)

It has been a worthwhile and fulfilling journey. Hopefully I can continue in the same vein. Thank you for reading, commenting and watching. And for providing motivation when I lost it sometimes. It doesn’t end here – you cn check on me at http://brendakbeading.blogspot.com

Happy reading, beading, weaving and ciao all!