Beamed On

The warp is wound onto the plain beam of my AVL, and awaiting threading.

beamed on and ready to thread

The warp separator I ended up buying is six bamboo blinds from the hardware store, handily precut to 46-inch widths, 2 yards long.  I use pliers to remove the blind hardware and ta-da!  Perfect warp separator.  Infinitely reusable, works a treat, and you don’t have to figure out if it’s time to insert another stick yet.  (This was a tip gleaned from Laura Fry.)

bamboo blinds

Note: See those pliers?  Those are another hardware store find.  You know how Irwin Quick-Grips revolutionized the bar clamp?  Irwin has done it again for vise grips.  These are the 8-inch vise grips ,they adjust beautifully and stay put while you use them without slipping.  Not cheap, but the first vise grips I’ve ever had that actually work and don’t pinch my hand.  These are now part of my loom tool box.

Evelyn suggested that instead of buying warp separator, I simply wind the warp onto the sectional beam, no warp separator needed.  I appreciate suggestions, and gave it a thought, but decided to go with my original plan because the threads are so heterogenous in size and shape.  Some are slubby handspun and some are skinny, and some are boucles and some are smooth.  Also, the warp is spread pretty loosely in the raddle.  If it was a dense, homogenous warp, with smooth threads, I’d have totally given it a try.  But with this warp I wanted the safety net of knowing that there was no way threads from one layer of warp could sneak down past their fellows into the preceding layer.

It’s entirely possible Evelyn’s trick would have worked, I was after all completely skeptical of the wind-two-warp-threads-together-with-a-finger-between-and-they-won’t-tangle thing when Barbara Miller and Pam Howard told me about it.  And that works.  But like I said, this was too precious a project to risk.

Speaking of mitigating risk.  I have now moved from the we-don’t-need-no-stinking-muslins camp to the muslins-we-loves-them camp.  It took one eye-opening experience with my fiber-buddy Selah.  Remember the chenille and the pattern I had planned for it?    She took one look at the pattern and in the gentle way she has, encouraged me to mock it up in muslin first.  Here’s the muslin.

muslin test

Not my most flattering look.  Even looking past the pale, stiffness of the fabric, I realized immediately that it was a design that would look better on an apple-shaped figure, not an hourglass-shaped gal like me.

For comparison, here’s me in a custom-fit garment that Selah and I and will be teaching at Madrona.

kimono fabric vest

Note: This fabric was woven on a rigid-heddle loom, using the 2-3 yard scraps of yarn left over from winding the blanket warps.  (You send me precious yarn; I make sure none of it goes to waste!)

The take-away: handwoven cloth is worth test-driving a new pattern in muslin.  If I ever forget, I’ll just point myself at this blog post.

And the pattern?  I’ll be taking it and the muslin to Madrona.  Hopefully one of the students will be a good body-match for the design and I can gift them the pattern.

Since I’m responding to questions and comments today, Ruth asked me in email whether I was still maintaining my goal weight.  Thus far, yes.  I’m still wearing size 8 clothes and weighing in a scootch under 145, the goal weight I reached in August.  My friend and weight-loss inspiration, Bonnie, warned me that maintenance is in many ways harder than losing, because you still have to eat right and there are no little payoffs in progress along the way.  Tis true.  It’s something I have to think about at every meal, and likely will for the next 5-10 years, or perhaps even the rest of my life.

When the urge to fall off the wagon and into a pile of crusty bread hits me, however, I think about how much healthier I feel.  How much better a mom I am to Kai now that I can run around and chase him.  How laying off the sugar has largely cleared up my allergies.

The toughest part is when I want to reward myself with a little “good-good” for accomplishing something hard.  Right now, I give myself 5 minutes to spin up some hand-painted merino, or if I’m at the grocery store, some bath salts instead of Mint Milanos.

I’m a work in progress, always.

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