Thursday, December 8, 2016

Donna Reed

Dear Mom,
What I should be doing is wrapping gifts. Wrapping is one of those tasks that always takes longer than I anticipate and my back always hurts about 1/3 of the way through. In a constant effort to KeepThingsSimple, a year or two ago I ordered a Humongous roll of brown kraft paper from Uline and use that to wrap all my gifts.

Brown paper packages tied up with strings.

I set up a wrapping station at the kitchen table and have a marathon session of tape, scissors, paper shrapnel and ribbons littered and scattered about. I feel relief and deep satisfaction (and the need for a massage) when it is over and Put Away.

Right now though, my kitchen table is occupied with another project. Do I get creative points for delaying my wrap session? no. I've probably earned demerits for inefficiency when I should have  wrapped first and then finished this project later.

Donna Reed (my Schacht Baby Wolf loom) and I have been busy.  One of the ladies in my knitting class purged her stash of quilting fabrics and I adopted about 100 pounds of it. Not to quilt with, but to weave rugs, table runners, and place mats.
With your help, I sorted those fabrics into coordinating 3, 4, or 5 yard bundles. After pre-washing the fabrics, I use a rotary cutter to cut them into 1-inch wide strips. After a couple cutting sprees I had a mild epiphany and realized if I folded the fabrics crosswise, I would have the nearly the same number of strips of each fabric, but in different lengths. Generally, the fabric is 44/45" wide. No matter how many yards, they are all the same width. Cutting width-wise - not lengthwise - means I can have the same number of strips, but different lengths depending on the yardage of the particular fabric. Make sense? No more figuring out how to balance the different patterns of fabric across the length of my weaving. I can just sort them in the order of how I want them to be. I look only at the color - the designs on the fabric disappear in the weaving.

I use cotton rug warp. And dress my loom according to width for rugs or placemats.
In this case, I am weaving a rug. There are 240 threads- through heddles and reed; 1 per dent in a 10 dent reed. This is the part of weaving that I thought I would hate. It was the thing I told myself would be unbearably awful when I was trying to resist the Call of the Loom.  When I could no longer resist and started weaving, I was pleasantly surprised to learn  that I do NOT hate this part!

Once all the prep is done, the weaving part goes really fast. I cut slits in the ends of my fabric strips and loop them through each other to join them together. I also don't usually fold and iron my strips with right sides out, preferring to let the right and wrong sides of the fabric add an interesting depth of color. If I think the combination of right and wrong sides will be too washed out, I will fold and iron the strips first. Generally, though, I don't think it is worth all the extra work involved.
I hand finish the beginning and end with a hem stitch. No sewing machine involved.

And this is probably breaking some unspoken weaving law, but when they are finished I coat the backs of my rugs with 2 coats of a non-skid backing. I don't want my rugs guilty of causing any slips or sprains or strains or broken bones. Obviously, I can skip this last step when I weave placemats and table runners!

So, right now, my kitchen table is working as a rug backing application work bench. We'll eat at the kitchen island tonight.

All the leftover strips of fabric are going into a canvas bag. I'll make a crazy odds and ends rug with them one of these days.  Here is a pile of some of the placemats and table runners I've finished. I've barely scratched the surface of those re-homed fabrics!