Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Revisiting My Old Loom and A Warp Finishing Tip

Today is an exciting day! I've remembered a warp finishing technique that I've only tried once before and it appears to be successful. :-) But first..

Have you ever been working on a long term project with a self imposed deadline when suddenly your brain derails you with an urgent need to try out a different technique? Well, that's what happened to me this past week.

I was happily plugging away at my embroidered Tetris blocks when I got to thinking about beading on a loom. Mind you, I fall into the beader stereotype of having learned at a young age to loom and enjoyed every second up until dealing with those pesky end warps. Needless to say that I moved on to off loom stitches within half a year or so. I have occasionally gone back to the loom for certain projects, but inevitably get disgusted with the fuzzy mess at the end and abandon future ideas.

Somehow, this time it's different. I wanted to make bracelets for my two best friends. So now I have some new delicas and thread selections sitting in my FMG shopping cart, just waiting on my next paycheck.

After a fairly exhaustive search on the internet, I've come to the conclusion that no new warp thread finishing methods have been published. I'm not certain about this as I have not yet borrowed Sharon Bateman's book on Contemporary Loom Work from the library, but I'm pretty sure. And the only artist out there who claims to hold the secret still has no new book after five years.

I'm done waiting and decided to act on something I saw once. I can't for the life of me remember the source blog, as all of my old bookmarks have been deleted off my laptop. :-( I remember blue beads in the example and would love if someone recognized the following info. Here goes.

I've been really drawn to pixel art lately since it lends well to beadwork. I decided to make myself a bracelet for practice. No Face from Miyazaki's Spirited Away seemed like the perfect simple pattern for my needs. I grabbed a cross stitch pattern from and set to work.

Here are the first several rows of the panel. As you can see, I'm working with the same loom that I owned (stole from my mother) when I was 13. Also, No Face looks more like a candy skull here. And he makes a handy pincushion for when I need a bathroom break and don't want to lose my needle.

Okay, here it is: the big secret. Nothing complicated, really. Just weave each of your warp threads BEETWEEN the wefts of the previous rows. Skip the endmost weft first though. For consistency, I ended them all at the same spot about ten rows in. It also helps to have warp ends about four inches or more in length for ease of movement. The two and a half inches pictured here made weaving a bit difficult, so the first side took longer.

Here is one of the ends with all the threads woven in. They seem to stay trapped between the wefts and get hidden by the beads. I have snipped half of them off and can barely see any stuck out threads that weren't cut close enough.

Here I have folded up the piece to show the rows where I ended all my threads. Again, very few noticeable thread ends. *shrug* I'm happy with it. This definitely beats all the traditional methods, especially since I almost always broke a bead or two with too many thread passes. The only warps I passed through beads rather than going straight up were the outermost ones, and that's because I was sure those thread ends would definitely show on the edge.

Here is the finished panel. I suppose you could call this side the back since it's the side I used to weave between wefts and that the threads excited from.

I guess that makes this the front. It's only four and a half inches in length, which gives me plenty of room to experiment with a way to finish it. The whole panel from warping the loom to finishing it off took about four hours. I would consider that making good time, but then I'm a little out of practice.

I'm not really concerned that the warps will work their way loose. They seem trapped to me. Only time and wear will tell. I'm excited to finish this piece and report back.

I decided to use Nymo for this experiment because I wanted it to look like something I would have made fourteen years ago. The only difference is the subject matter (I had not yet encountered Miyazaki films at that point) and the fact that I reinforced the outer warps with strands of Wildfire for strength and to keep my edges straighter than they would be otherwise.

I hope somebody finds this information helpful and doesn't keep avoiding an otherwise pleasant beading technique. Let me know what you think!

Today's listening pleasure and highly recommended music suggestion: Caro Emerald. I'm pretty sure she's Danish. She's also one of the most stylish and beautiful slightly plus sized women I've ever seen. Happy listening/viewing!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Beading to the Sound of Your Doctor's Voice

Good morning! I haven't gone to bed yet. I've been up all evening after a three hour post work nap. I swear this a miracle since today was my fourth Starbucks morning in a row. The exhaustion always sets in about 10 minutes after I get home. Only two more days until my next day off! There was a time when I used to take those for granted...

Anyway, I've been making progress on my Bead embroidered Tetris blocks:

I've got to admit that they're looking better than I expected. Except the green 'square' blocks. The little bastards followed one of the cardinal rules of Beadwork to a T, 'Thou shalt never expect a gridded pattern to be perfectly square, ever.' I'll cope. I swear.

After realizing (from the start) that there was no possible way I was going to fit all 30+ pieces I plan to make on my single remaining half sheet of Lacy's Stiff Stuff, I knew I had to buy more beading foundation. Guys, I've pretty much stopped buying art supplies in recent years and just pull from my much diminished stash. This was a tragedy. I still had a miniscule amount of Fire Mountain credit but decided against ordering a sheet because the cost of shipping was almost equal in price to the one measly item. Instead, I bought some of Nicole's Bead Backing to try out:

After all, what harm can come from trying new materials? I did get sick of Fireline and went back to Nymo before discovering that SoNo and K.O. are far superior materials.

Have a good day! Tonight's entertainment was Cressida Cowell's How to Speak Dragonese, audio book read (and voice acted) by David Tenant. I believe I like the portrayal of her characters better than the direction Dreamworks took, but both are good in their own ways.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I Think I Forgot What A Straight Line Is

Hello all! Here's a snapshot of what I've been working on tonight:

So it turns out I forgot how to embroider in a straight line. What a shame. My work now looks like my handwriting; crooked. Here's my pattern that I'm working from:

If you haven't quite guessed it yet, I'm embroidering sprites for Tetris blocks to go on my newly finished Tetris dress, pictured here:

By the way, I learned how to sew! It only took me a year to finish this dress because it has pockets, pleats, and piping. Oh, and my best friend was holding the project hostage at her house because I didn't own a sewing machine for most of the time and she was teaching me.

Fun fact about me. When I was four I asked my grandfather how he lost his fingers (he was missing most of his thumb and index finger). He looked me dead in the eyes and said these exact words: "In a sewing machine accident." Think it might have had something to do with my aversion to the craft for the last two decades +?

Anyway, I hope to have this ready to wear to Super! Bit Con in the beginning of April. block per day should do it. *sigh* I fear Douglas Adams and I have much in common about deadlines. He was said to have loved the whooshing noise they made as they went past.

Today's listening pleasure: The Supreme Beings of Leisure. :-)