Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Aug 21, 2015


Bella Rossa was a restaurant where I spent much happy food time with friends. And alone with books and tea. It opened the same year I helped to start Wabash River Books with Tim Kelley and Todd Nation. Patrick and Molly used to go get us lunch on the two days a week we staffed the shop. They felt very grown-up, walking about downtown by themselves, greeting people. I remember thinking that it was rather wonderful that the whole family* was in a several block radius - Paul at the University, Shaun…if he wasn’t at the Tribune-Star newspaper yet (2 blocks south), he was at ISU as well, and his first apartment was around the corner.

I’m thinking about these things this morning because of these things:

When Bella Rossa closed, Norbert the owner sold all the stuff. The big dry-erase menu board is now in the children’s wing at the Unitarian Universalist church. And I have one of the small iron teapots, a simple white bowl, and a spoon** that became the only spoon I ever want to use. I eat my oatmeal and barley every morning out of this bowl and when I travel, the spoon and the bowl travel with me. They center me, I think.

I just realized that my cutting board was purchased at Bella Rossa as well. Long before it closed. The board was handmade by Jim Campbell, the husband of Marie - a friend of mine for years and years, in our food buying club and later at the UU church. They moved away to Nashville. I hope they are well.

These  things delight me to own. They are a pleasure to use and they have magical powers.  They are catalysts for memories of the most pleasant kind.

* 'Whole family' meaning those of us in Terre Haute, Paul, me, Shaun, Patrick and Molly. Eldest son Ian and his wife Lisa are always with me in spirit and internet, but physically have been far away for more than two decades -  over the years that has meant their own lives in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Florida, Washington, Vancouver, and now, Massachusetts.

**I confess the spoon in the picture might not be the exact spoon I got from Bella Rossa. I truly liked it so much, the shape of so deeply pleased my eye and my mouth and my hand,  that I searched out the pattern (Creation I by International Stainless) and bought three more on eBay. And discovered that the forks, too, please me. So now I no longer suffer the aesthetic discomfort of using the badly weighted, ugly Martha Stewart forks I got at K-Mart in what was obviously a bout of temporary insanity, a fit of design-blindness.

Aug 14, 2015

Spiritweaving; Sun Riff

New spiritweaving completed.
Same warp as Midnight Riff.
This is Sun Riff.

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Aug 10, 2015

Small (is beautiful) weaving on the Pocket Loom

Finished and shipped off this small piece for my granddaughter Raven.

It was made on my Good Wood Pocket Loom, a splendid loom that's small and perfect for travel. I just tried to access the Good Wood site, but it appears that it no longer exists. That is a disappointment, it's such a simple, lovely loom. Occasionally, they show up on eBay or Etsy.
I first wrote about using it here.

I used Maysville carpet cotton for warp. Weft is the cotton-rich Noro Kibou.
Hung from a gathered stick, sanded and beeswax polished, with a crocheted round included,  and sent off to live in Caspar, Wyoming.

Aug 7, 2015

Weaving #20150807

New piece completed this morning.
Untitled as yet.  It gets a number based on the date.
Cricket loom. Same warp as Midnight Riff in my last post.

This piece was full of new ideas and techniques I've never done before. I hem-stitched it on the loom at both ends, I turned the weaving 90 degrees, sewed a backing to it and figured out a way to secure the fringe neatly.  I always have problems with the finish work on pieces and the logistics of hanging fiber art. I'm pleased with the things I figured out to hang this one.

I backed this piece with a lovely commercial cotton quilt backing from Inda that is dyed a lovely and uneven saffron color. I love this material so much I've gone back twice to buy additional yards.
I stitched it on the machine on three sides and hand-stitched the 4th side by the fringe.

I am especially pleased with how I was able to secure the fringe, so it hangs down in a very free, flowing way, but is completely secured in place. 
I am not sure if my pictures and explanation will be able to convey what I did, but I'll give it a try.

First, remember this edge is hem-stitched, so the threads are secured pretty well, in twos. Starting at the top, I tucked the first two threads under the next two, and put them to the side. The next two threads were tucked under the third set of two, the third set under the fourth and so on, all the way down the edge.

I then wanted to make sure the pairs of threads would stay tucked under, so I used regular sewing thread and needle and, starting at the top, I made two half-hitches around each place where the threads crossed, coming up through the fabric underneath the next hem-stitch, between the two warp threads in that hem-stitch group, then around them with the half-hitches and on to the next.  

I chose to hang it on a piece of branch I gathered when I was down in Bloomington at the IU Writers Conference. Sanded and beeswaxed mindfully.

I like the look of a crocheted hanging cord and the way I can make the loops around the branch without knots.
This piece was very firm because it is backed and I was able to hang it by connecting it at only two points to the hanging cords. Without the backing, most weaving is too drapey not to support it all along the top edge.  I really like the way the stick looks without a lot of hanging cord wrapped around it. 
I firmed that top edge further by running long ends of the cord through it.

Finally, I crocheted a little round to cover the nail head or hanging fixture.

Now back to the loom!

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Aug 4, 2015

Midnight Riff and Maysville carpet warp

Finished Midnight Riff with long braided and knotted fringe and hung it from a gathered stick which I sanded and polished with beeswax polish. The 'stick practice' is something I do as a conscious, spiritual practice and I should perhaps do a post about that one of these days.

MIdnight Riff was woven on a 10" Cricket loom, dressed using mostly Maysville cotton rug warp. I love that cotton. It is unmercerized and isn't a fine yarn at 1680 ypp  (size 8/4), but it comes in a nice lot of colors and it's sold on small 800-yd. tubes at $8-9 each, rather than pound cones at $18-24. A stash of these doesn't require a lot of space to store either. I keep more than 20 in a drawer (I lucked out in getting a large number of these at a yard sale!)

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Jul 31, 2015

Midnight riff

Warped my 10" Cricket, too. Another direct warp done on my laundry room table. About 4 yards. Thought I would just do some quick small pieces.
This one, to start.
Calling it Midnight Riff.

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Jul 29, 2015

Direct Warp Using Warp Board

Yesterday I tried something I've been thnking about since I put 18 feet of warp on my 10" Cricket rigid heddle a month ago.

 I love direct warping, but it has always been difficult for me due to the space needed. I've had to take over my dining table and the length of my living room, creating a blockade for however long it took me to walk threads 80-100 times from loom to the warping peg. Limbo skills were required to get to the bathroom.

I realized that I should be able to set up the warping board (mine is good for up to 10 yards) so that the footprint required would be much smaller for direct warping of a very long warp.

The experiment was a success! I can now warp using only the table in my basement laundry room right next to my studio space. No more trudging upstairs, shlepping an extra table, loom, cones of yarn. No more blocking living space and feeling I had to hurry to wind that warp. I can now pause when I need a break.   Behold:

Saori weavers call these 'fingers' or tabs. It's a little fiddly and slow, but I love beginning a weaving this way and I love that it makes use of what is often waste yarn.

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