Thursday, January 16, 2014


Dear Mom,
I've been happy dancing for the last three days, with everyone back at work and school as they should be and the house to myself (and Olive); restoring everything to order. I was craving my solitude after that extra long Christmas break. I learned that 19 days is the longest I can last without Quality Alone Time. Day 20 and the cracks begin to show. Day 21 dawned with the promise of a 2 hour school delay which then became a no-school day, and, mentally, things got dicey. So, yeah. I am soaking in the solitude and quiet and order that this week brings me. Add *A Predictable Schedule* to * Solitude Required*.

Riding high on the success of my recent handwoven kitchen towels, I immediately started my next weaving project: dinner napkins. (I have a serious weakness for kitchen linens.) Quite some time ago, I purchased a hemp/cotton blend in a natural color, for just this purpose. I did the math and wound a warp for what I hoped would be eight 12x12, fringed napkins. Then several warp threads broke as I was dressing the loom. The fiber was very sticky, with the fuzz tying itself into knots around the threads. It was frustrating, but I re-calculated for eight 10x10, fringed napkins, finished dressing Donna Reed, and started weaving.
Such was my motivation that I wove about 4 napkins worth in that first evening. I only stopped so that I would not be crippled the next day. I sensibly paced myself over the next couple of days. I took note of ways to improve my next batch of napkins. Either I have an overactive imagination or was suffering a serious Weaver's Buzz, but I was envisioning dozens and dozens of napkins coming off the loom. Hand Woven Napkins for ALL on my Christmas list next year!!!!! The shuttle was flying!
The napkins came off the loom. I finished the edges on the sewing machine and trimmed the fringe. I started thinking that maybe napkins for just this house would be enough and removed Napkins from the Christmas gift list. And then I washed them.

I now have eight 8x8, fringed napkins. Wow, Did that Stuff Shrink.
The photo below shows the handwoven napkin laid out on top of a worn out napkin in the size I was hoping for. When folded, my napkins are more cocktail size than dinner size.  I felt deflated.
BUT. I have not given up. I ordered some fiber that is the same weight as the napkins, but is the same 100% cotton as my dish towels. I made even more notes for improving the next batch. I will aim for a much bigger pre-washed size. Maybe, if they turn out, napkins will be back on the gift list. And seriously, I have the lofty  unreasonable  delusional goal of having only handwoven dish towels and napkins in this house someday.

After patiently waiting in a 1/3 finished state for a year or two, this punch needle project was finished last week. It is off being framed right now. I really enjoyed working on it and plan on making another. This never should have taken so long to finish, because it is a pleasant diversion. I just kept picking up my knitting instead. This turned out to be a nice change-of-pace sort of needlework. Like coloring with pretty floss.

Last night I finished a pair of Thrummed Slippers. These things are wonderful! Warm and comfy. Thrums are bits of unspun wool that is knitted in with occasional stitches to create a thick, warm lining- like sheep's down.  As they are worn, that fleece lining felts and conforms itself to the bottom of the wearer's foot.

The pattern is Retro Thrummed Slippers. I am teaching this as a class at Village Yarn Shop. I've been experimenting with different non-skid, sole strengthening options for finishing the slippers. These are not, but could be easily embellished with pompoms or buttons or embroidered stitches. I've been so cold lately that I am tempted to make knee-high, thrummed boots for myself! There are some cheerful thrummed mittens patterns out there, too, if you could just sit there with warm hands and not actually need to use your fingers for anything….

Keep warm!


thecrazysheeplady said...

I would love to try some thrummed mittens sometime! Love the punch needle :-).

Christine said...

That punch needle is adorable! I hear ya on the shrinkage issue. So frustrating. Sounds like you have a plan though.

To answer your question, I used Heritage Flock and Fiber Mill. She was slow getting it back to me, but she just started up and is starting to get the kinks worked out of her system. Let me know if you need her contact info. I'll probably sell off some of this once I figure out how much money I have invested in it. But in a way I think I'm better off not knowing.